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MARDI GRAS-NEW ORLEANS

Mardi Gras parades to role, minus fire trucks, amid dispute

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Fire trucks traditionally bring up the rear of Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans _ but not this year. As the city's Carnival season kicks into high gear with parades starting Friday night, city officials say fire trucks won't be rolling behind parades. Fire chief Tim McConnell and Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Friday the tradition is being abandoned to make sure more trucks are available when needed anywhere in the city. They said it has nothing to do with an ongoing labor dispute over staffing and overtime. Parades are scheduled almost daily until Mardi Gras — or Fat Tuesday — Feb. 25

FORMOSA PLASTICS-LOUISIANA

Groups challenge Louisiana permits for plastics plant

Groups that challenged federal permits for a Taiwanese company's plastics complex have now taken Louisiana's air quality permits to court. The lawsuit filed Friday says the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality made only minor changes to permits requested by the Formosa Plastics Group member called FG LA LLC. The Louisiana department says it cannot comment on ongoing litigation. The company says it followed all regulations and is committed to protecting the health and safety of its employees and the public.

PRINCIPAL-DRUNK DRIVING

Louisiana principal accused of drunk driving retires

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana man has retired has retired as principal of a high school after being accused of driving while intoxicated. News outlets report the Lafayette Parish School Board's status for 55-year-old Ralph Thibodeaux was listed as service retirement on its meeting agenda Wednesday. He was principal of W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center in Lafayette. Louisiana State Police say he broke off one of the wheels on his own vehicle during a series of crashes last month. No one was injured. It's unclear whether he had an attorney to speak for him.

SHERIFF SUED

US agent sues Louisiana sheriff over defamation arrest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal agent is suing a Louisiana sheriff, saying he was illegally arrested last year. The lawsuit claims Jerry Rogers' arrest for defamation last year was in retaliation for Rogers'criticism of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office's handling of an unsolved death case. The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate and WWL-TV report Sheriff Randy Smith calls the suit a “publicity stunt.” Rogers is an investigator with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was arrested after sending anonymous emails to relatives of a woman who was fatally shot in 2017. The emails were critical of the investigation.

FATAL SHOOTING-WALMART

Man indicted in fatal shooting of Louisiana Walmart employee

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A district attorney's office says a man accused of fatally shooting a New Orleans Walmart employee and wounding a female customer has been indicted on murder charges. An Orleans Parish grand jury indicted 21-year-old Kentrell Banks Thursday of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Banks is accused of fatally shooting 28-year-old London McKnight and wounding an unknown female bystander in January. Magistrate Court Commissioner Melvin Zeno ruled that Banks was mentally unable to proceed with a trial currently. Banks was sent to the state's forensic mental health hospital for treatment. The case is still in line to be moved to another judge at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

GIRAFFE NAMING CONTEST

Baby giraffe named 'Burreaux' after LSU's star quarterback

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana State University's Hesiman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow inspired the name of the newest male giraffe at the zoo in the state's capital city. A public naming competition selected the name Burreaux for the giraffe calf born on Dec. 26. The spelling is a Cajun-inspired riff on Burrow's last name. The Baton Rouge Zoo announced the selection Friday, saying the public chose the winning name from three options. Zoo staff took nominations for the names and narrowed them to the finalists. The public voted with donations. The zoo says it raised more than $2,000 that will go to its conservation efforts. Burrow is LSU's most decorated quarterback, leading the Tigers to a national championship victory earlier this year.

AP-US-COLD-CASE-SERIAL-PODCAST-SUSPECT

DNA links dead criminal to a 1996 South Carolina cold case

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — A cold-case slaying in South Carolina has been closed, as police believe the killer died in a Louisiana jail more than a decade ago. Shawn Marie Neal was found strangled in her North Myrtle Beach condo in 1996. North Myrtle Beach police told news outlets Wednesday that DNA in the case was tested and was a match to Ronald Lee Moore, a convicted serial burglar from Baltimore County, Maryland. Detectives reopened the case in 2017. In 2014, the popular podcast “Serial” had named Moore as a possible suspect in the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR-RAISES

Louisiana governor plans nearly $1M in raises for appointees

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to dole out nearly $1 million in pay raises to his staff, Cabinet secretaries and other high-level political appointees across state government. In response to a request from The Associated Press, the Edwards administration provided the names of more than 150 top-level political appointees who have already received or are in line to receive salary hikes. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told lawmakers the employees hadn't received pay raises over the governor's first term. He says most of the raises are 4%.