- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

Oct. 7

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Gov. Bobby Jindal:

Gov. Bobby Jindal can rattle off facts and figures, and he’s certainly had to when he’s talked lately about the emerging technology sector in Louisiana.

The list includes major players in the industry and some that are hardly household names, but it’s a long one even for Jindal to cram into his sentences: “. from EA, Gameloft and GE Capital to CGI, CSC and IBM. We’re also adding key emerging players, such as Perficient, Enquero, 4th Source, Performance Software and, now, Stixis.”

That last firm is a software company relocating to Baton Rouge from Dallas, an announcement that came on Thursday. If it is less familiar than the computer game companies like EA, or names like IBM and GE, that’s because it is based in Bangalore, India. Several states, including Virginia, Florida, Texas and Wyoming, competed for the Stixis site.

That it is going to the Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge’s midcity area will mean by 2019 another 230 direct jobs, with an average salary of almost $60,000 a year.

As the governor rightly said on Thursday, “We’re proud that this global company selected Louisiana over many other states as the very best place to grow its technology business.”

The jobs that have already come to Louisiana in the software industry have concentrated, probably not at all by accident, in cities where there are major universities - Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette. But those have not been the only cases, as the Shreveport region also hosts university resources (particularly Louisiana Tech in Ruston) and major consumers of software services (such as Barksdale Air Force Base), so CSC has located in that area with a projected 800 jobs to come to Bossier City.

There is also, as in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, robust growth in film and digital media in Shreveport.

Despite all these announcements and growing payrolls in knowledge-based industries, Louisiana’s economy remains firmly rooted in traditional sectors: oil and gas, petrochemical manufacturing, timber and paper. All are important, but it is the rapidly growing tech sector - and in this we include emerging biomedical service companies - that represents a significant diversification of our economy.

It is an important element in any long-range plan that will allow the state to grow but also give our economy more resilience should traditional industries suffer a downturn.




Oct. 8

American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Ebola and traveling:

With news that the Ebola epidemic has spread from West Africa to both the United States and Europe, it’s time for the U.S. government to step up screening at airports and impose commonsense travel restrictions on people arriving from nations facing outbreaks of the disease.

It can take as many as 21 days before Ebola victims fall ill.

Ebola is spread via direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person or animal.

A nurse in Spain recently contracted the disease after treating two priests who caught it in Africa and were taken to Spain for treatment.

It has been reported that flights with passengers coming from West Africa - which usually arrive from other destinations since there are no direct flights from West Africa to the U.S. - are not being screened at all.

The U.S. government should immediately order commonsense protective measures to be instituted at airports. Banning travel to and from West Africa should be considered if any more cases occur here. There is no need for panic, but both the CDC and the Obama administration should do more to ensure this disease doesn’t take root in the United States.




Oct. 6

The News-Star on no phone zone:

All of us - OK, at least most of us - are guilty of illegally using our cellphones while driving at one time or another.

Pull up to any red light or pull beside any moving vehicle and chances are good the other driver - and perhaps even yourself - is texting, talking or even engaging in social media.

But police are about to crack down on cellphone use in school zones and rightfully so.

The new law prohibiting cellphone use while driving in school zones during posted hours went into effect in August.

So far, only the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office reports having written any tickets, but enforcement is about to ramp up. Louisiana State Police, West Monroe police and Monroe police said they are still educating the public about the new law, issuing warnings and posting warning signs.

When enforced, the penalty for the first offense is not more than $175. Each subsequent violation carries a penalty of up to $500.

Consider the stakes of distracted driving in a school zone where children are being dropped off by parents, filing out of buses or crossing the street to reach their classes.

Consider in just four seconds a car moving at 50 mph travels the length of a football field.

Though driving speed should be reduced considerably while traveling through a school zone, it only takes a split second distraction for tragedy to strike.

But we’re a stubborn bunch.

Although 72 percent of drivers surveyed in 2012 strongly agree with laws or regulations prohibiting texting or emailing behind the wheel, only 45 percent said they were extremely likely to support technology that would prevent texting or talking on a cellphone while driving.

That makes it unlikely that lawmakers will go so far as to require technology disabling devices while driving.

So we must practice self-discipline. Putting the cellphone before driving should be the second thing we do - after buckling our seat belts.

Be safe. Honor the “no phone zone” near schools. It may avert a tragedy.



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