- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

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Aug. 30

The Courier of Houma on the crawfish industry:

Ask just about anyone in south Louisiana about crawfish, and you will hear that it is more than a part of our agriculture industry and that it’s more than just part of our locally produced food supply.

Crawfish also carries a cultural significance that is impossible to ignore.

Crawfish is a quintessential part of our regional cuisine. It is associated with us as much as alligators and swamps.

More importantly, though, it plays a part in our own traditions. Families and friends gather with at crawfish boils, and the crawfish is what provides an excellent background for these family functions.

Unfortunately, there is a possibility that the floods of the past several weeks could affect our farmers’ crawfish crop.

“We really won’t know the extent of damage until we get into the harvest season later this winter,” said LSU AgCenter researcher Mark Shirley.

The Louisiana crawfish industry produces 130 million to 150 million pounds a year, a crop worth about $172 million. It employs 7,000 people and has a total effect of $300 million.

That is a significant economic impact, and the hope should be that the flooding will have a minimal effect on it.

The harvest won’t come until next spring, so there is plenty of time for the crop to recover even if there was widespread damage.

Already, though, state officials estimate the agricultural damage from the storms at $110 million.

However, there is no guarantee that crawfish will see a terrible effect.

“We shouldn’t assume that there is going to be a blanket negative impact for the industry as a whole,” said AgCenter researcher Ray McClain. “I really think there will be negative impacts for some producers, yet others probably will see little or no effect.”

The fact remains that crawfish, besides being a delicious seafood delicacy, is an important economic factor and cultural connector in south Louisiana.

Along with all the people who lost homes, business and belongings in the recent floods, there are crawfish farm workers and owners who could be severely affected - even if that doesn’t end up happening for months.

Our people are hoping for the best for all the folks who were affected by the flooding. It was a deadly and devastating catastrophe that will be remembered for years to come. Let’s hope that all the businesses and people relying on crawfish over the coming year will see little impact.

Online: https://www.houmatoday.com/

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Aug. 31

The Monroe News-Star on the “war on mosquitoes:”

They’re out there, and they’re bloodthirsty.

At their best, they’re nuisances. At their worst, they’re killers.

And with the large amount of rain that has fallen on northeastern Louisiana, the mosquitoes late this summer are plentiful.

The officials with the Ouachita Parish Mosquito Abatement District are doing all they can. In addition to continuing truck spraying on a rotational basis in the evening as weather permits, the district ordered aerial spraying of 200,000 acres last Saturday and Monday. The district also is spraying schools on a rotational basis every morning.

The war is on in earnest. So far, the target has been nuisance mosquitoes.

Increased rainfall over the past two weeks has led to a large hatch-off of nuisance mosquitoes across northeastern Louisiana. They are present in the hundreds of thousands, and while they do not transmit disease, the common mosquito bite is aggravation enough.

But word also came this week that the active mosquito season includes disease-bearing pests.

Two mosquito pools, representing two Ouachita Parish locations and collected Aug. 17, tested positive for the West Nile virus. One was located in West Monroe near Hidden Lakes subdivision and one near the intersection of Warren Drive and Cypress Street.

Also, the Louisiana Department of Health confirmed the first cases of West Nile virus of the year, with one case reported in Ouachita Parish out of 14 statewide.

And that single case, in the reporting period through Aug. 20, was the worst form, a neuroinvasive case.

Dr. Shelley Jones, Ouachita Parish Health Unit director, said neuroinvasive disease is the most severe form of West Nile virus as it can cause brain swelling and, in some instances, death. A portion of those who recover can also experience continued complications.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, for every neuroinvasive disease case, there are approximately 10 cases of fever and 90 asymptomatic infections. However, it is estimated only 1 percent of those cases are reported.

The Ouachita Parish Mosquito Abatement District, headed by Shannon Rider, should be commended for being on top of the situation and continuing to do what it can to control the mosquito population.

But those who live in northeastern Louisiana can take steps to fight off the pests.

The steps are just as important to those traveling, especially heading to South America but also Florida, to safeguard against the Zika virus. While not a threat in northeastern Louisiana, Ouachita Parish has documented one travel-related case of the Zika virus.

The precautions are common sense ones:

-Use an EPA-approved insect repellent.

-Wear light-colored, long sleeves and pants.

-Sleep under a mosquito net if you are outdoors or in an area without door and window screens.

And people should also make sure their house is mosquito-proof by ensuring their windows and doors have intact screens. Once a week or after every rainfall, empty standing water from any containers around your home, especially small containers.

By doing these things, you’ll have done all you can to fend off the diseases mosquitoes carry. Don’t take any chances.

Online: https://www.thenewsstar.com/

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Aug. 31

The Advocate of Baton Rouge on the country’s immigration policy:

After a season of heated rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail about immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, a tragic accident in flood-ravaged Louisiana has underscored how broken our immigration policies really are.

Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, a Honduran national who was in the U.S. illegally, was driving a bus full of workers from New Orleans to Baton Rouge on Sunday when the bus struck a vehicle and three firefighters who had been responding to an earlier crash, sending them over a guardrail and into water 40 feet below. Spencer Chauvin, a district chief with St. John Fire Services, died in the accident. A passenger in the other vehicle, 21-year-old Jermaine Starr, of Moss Point, Mississippi, also died in the crash. Another firefighter, William Mack Beal, was treated and released, while a third firefighter, Nicholas Saale, remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

Amaya, who has been charged with negligent homicide and several other criminal counts, has been in the U.S. illegally for years, apparently beneath the radar of federal immigration officials even though he’s had numerous run-ins with the law. He’s been cited five times since 2012 for driving without a license, and before Sunday’s accident, he had also been cited with improper lane usage and careless operation of a vehicle.

Even with that checkered past, Amaya was obviously not a priority for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who instead focus on the deportation of felons and largely ignore traffic offenses that might involve immigrants here illegally. In the wake of this weekend’s tragedy, ICE has hinted that Amaya will be deported after the court system is through with him, which is probably meager comfort to the victims of Sunday’s accident. Little wonder that many voters this year have focused on immigration enforcement as a prime example of bureaucratic indifference.

The recovery from last month’s massive flood in Louisiana, like the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, will likely rely on a large pool of immigrant labor. The case of Amaya, who was here illegally and hiding in plain sight for a long time, doesn’t suggest there’s a strong enough deterrent to breaking immigration laws.

Politicians have talked for a generation about reforming immigration policy, but not much happens. We’re stuck between a moral imperative to enforce the law and a market imperative to ignore it. Immigrants provide lots of cheap labor for dirty jobs, and disaster recovery is among the dirtiest. When the job gets done on time without breaking the bank, few seem greatly worried about the immigration status of the hardworking people doing the rebuilding.

If the nation’s next president can work with Congress to create a functional immigration policy, it will break a stalemate that’s existed for a generation. Who can be surprised that our leaders are conflicted? The people they serve, as it turns out, are deeply conflicted about immigration, too.

Online: https://www.theadvocate.com/


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