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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

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Purple reign: St Aug wins first ever LHSAA baseball series, with game 3 9-5 win over Rummel

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 10:13 PM PDT

For the first time ever, St Aug is advancing in the baseball state playoffs.

The Purple Knights won their first ever playoff series, winning game 3 over Rummel, 9-5  Friday night in the Division I playoffs at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.

Here’s the highlights from Friday Night Fastball presented by Delgado Community College, education that works.

Watch Friday Night Fastball at 11:00 pm on Nola 38, and again at midnight on WGNO. You can also watch the program on the live stream at wgno.com.

A Panther: Donte Jackson is first LSU player drafted: watch his reaction here

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 09:52 PM PDT

Former Riverdale star and LSU Tiger Donte Jackson was the first Tiger selected in the 2018 NFL draft.

He was chosen in the second round with the 55th pick overall by the Carolina Panthers. WGNO Sports’ Karen Loftus was with Jackson in Metairie when he was drafted Friday night.

Four picks after Jackson, the Redskins drafted LSU running back Derrius Guice. Two picks after Guice, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected LSU wide receiver DJ Chark.

In the third round, Oakland selected LSU defensive end Arden Key, with the 87th pick overall.

126 pounds of meth found in semi carrying Starbucks products

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 07:47 PM PDT

The bundles of meth found in the cab of a semi en route from California to Spokane, Wash.
(Photo: Centralia Police Dept.)

CENTRALIA, Wash. — Officers have seized 126 pounds of methamphetamine from a semi that was hauling Starbucks products between California and Spokane, Wash., the Centralia Police Department said Friday.

The driver and passenger in the 1996 Freightliner tractor and refrigerated trailer began acting suspiciously during a traffic stop on Thursday, police said, prompting the officer to request a narcotics-sniffing K-9.

The dog alerted officers to the presence of drugs in the truck’s cab, police said, and a search of the sleeper berth revealed 40 bundles of meth, weighing a total of 126 pounds, hidden in a television box. Also found were 2.4 pounds of suspected heroin, several thousand Oxycodone pills and a few grams of cocaine, police said.

The driver of the truck, a 22-year-old man from Mexicali, Mexico; and his passenger, a 62-year-old man from Fontana, Calif.; were booked into the Lewis County Jail on drug charges. The truck had California license plates.

“No contraband was found in the trailer and none of the food product in the trailer was exposed or compromised,” police said in a news release, adding that the load was transferred to another truck and continued on its way.

The semi that was carrying 126 pounds of meth, police said.
(Photo: Centralia Police Dept.)

Bundles of meth found in a TV box in the cab of a semi headed for Spokane.
(Photo: Centralia Police Dept.)

Mother hopes social media can help find late daughter’s organ recipients

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 07:37 PM PDT

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SAGNINAW, Michigan – A mother is using the power of social media to find the organ recipients of her late teenage daughter.

Julia Griffin lost her life on Aug. 28, 2016 at just 15-years-old when she fell down basement stairs and hit her head on the concrete floor.

Her mother, Melissa Lownsbery, said when doctors told her Julia had little chance of survival she knew exactly what her daughter would want.

Julie was able to save the lives of three people through organ donation by donating her heart, both kidneys, and her pancreas.

“I don’t know why, but it laid really heavy on my heart,” Lownsbery said.

After her daughter died nearly two years ago, Lownsbery said she felt compelled to donate her organs, hoping to provide a source of life, through her painful loss.

“Knowing the type of person my daughter was, I just felt like that something Julia would want me to do,” Lownsbery said.

"Julia was a kind, loving, talented, outgoing, sassy, beautiful girl with a bright future ahead of her. Julia was a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a best friend to many, and my first love," Lownsbery wrote in a Facebook post.

Now Lownsbery is hoping to make contact with the recipients.

Lownsbery said she has reached out to Julia's heart recipient and was fortunate enough to hear from him and his family, however, she said the agency that handled the transplants keeps everything very confidential.

"All we want is to meet the people who have part of our JuJu in them," she said.

She learned it’s still possible for her to make that connection in person.

“Some of the identifying information needs to be stripped out of it initially, until the recipients say they want to have that information or even want to receive the letter,” said Tim Makinen, the communications director for Gift of Life. “Then we facilitate that, and eventually there might even be a meeting.”

Which has given Lownsbery hope that she’ll be able to meet the lives of those her daughter saved.

“That would be, I’m sorry I’m getting emotional, but there would be no better gift for that to happen for me,” Lownsbery said.

Lownsbery said the transplants took place in Saginaw during August of 2016. She and Julia’s twin sisters now live in Florida, but she hopes the power of social media can help track down the people Julia helped save. Her Facebook post has been shared nearly 600 times.

Robber stabs victim to take his backpack in Treme

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 07:26 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Police Department is trying to solve an armed robbery that happened this morning, April 27.

According to police, the robbery happened inside of a business in the 1500 block of St. Philip Street in Treme at about 10:30.

Police say a man followed the victim into the business and tried to remove his backpack.  The victim struggled to prevent the robber from taking it.

At one point, the victim was pulled to the ground, according to police, and the robber pulled a knife and stabbed him in the upper, left part of his chest.

Police say the robber was last seen running westbound on North Robertson.

Neighbors tell WGNO News that the victim was probably in his 20s, but the NOPD did not provide any update on the man’s medical condition after the attack.

Police describe the suspect as being in his early to mid-30s, about 5’7″ with a slim build.  They say he had a bald head and a chin strap beard with a mustache.  To get a better look at the suspect, click on the gallery of photos below that were provided by the NOPD.

If you have any information on the case, call CrimeStoppers at 504-822-1111.  You don’t have to reveal your name or testify in court, and you could earn a cash reward.

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Paralyzed in a football accident 7 years ago, groom walks down aisle on his wedding day

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 04:12 PM PDT

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JUPITER, Fla. – Her floor-length veil blowing gently in the wind, the young bride glances at her beloved, dressed in a navy, three-piece suit, on this, their wedding day.

Then, she crouches over his wheelchair, slips her arms under his armpits and heaves.

Together, they stand in their first moment as husband and wife and embrace in a kiss. Then, she braces him from the side as he takes one wobbly step at a time, the unsteady — and extraordinary — effort captured in video of the ceremony in Jupiter, Florida. Some steps are harder than others as he swings his leg out front, focusing on each and every step.

Chris Norton, 26, was told nearly a decade ago that he might never walk again. Alone in his motionless body, he feared he’d never find love.

Then came Emily Summers.

After working for years to rebuild Chris’ strength, the couple on April 21 managed what even experts once thought impossible: They walked seven yards together — their arms intertwined as Emily bore much of Chris’ weight — down the aisle. The moment, first reported by People, was not just a personal triumph but also the latest chapter in a young couple’s mission to help and inspire others.

“When I walked with Emily at the wedding, it was such a special moment to share with her and to know that we did this together,” Chris told CNN. “It wasn’t just me, or her, but we did this together, and how powerful love can be and how far love can carry you in life and to know that we’ll have each other going forth until we pass.”

‘Not part of the plan’

Chris was an 18-year-old freshman when his life changed in an instant, just six weeks into college.

He was playing football for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. On October 16, 2010, it was the third quarter in a game against Central College, and Chris was about to make a play he’d made many times before.

“I was running down to make a tackle at kickoff after we scored a touchdown, and I made a diving tackle at his legs,” Chris recalled. “I mistimed my jump just by a split second.

“Instead of getting my head in front of the legs of the ball carrier, my head collided right with his legs, and instantly, I lost all movement and feeling from my neck down.”

Chris lay in the grass, face down. He couldn’t push up. He didn’t know why.

“‘Chris, you have to get up,” he told himself, embarrassed that the game would stop.

Trainers ran onto the field. A helicopter arrived. Chris knew something was very wrong.

“I just closed my eyes and started praying and trying to block out what was happening around me,” he said. “I did not want to accept what was unfolding.”

At the hospital, Chris learned he’d suffered a spinal cord injury, fracturing his C3-C4 vertebrae. He needed surgery.

“I asked a surgeon, ‘Will I walk again?’ And he said, ‘Chris, I don’t know.'”

“At that point, I just lost it,” Chris said. “I was completely scared for my future because up until this point, as an 18-year-old, my life went according to plan. Everything was working out for me. For me, this was not part of the plan.”

‘Take care of today’

Each day in the hospital was like a fight, Chris said. Now a quadriplegic, he had lost much of the sensation below his neck.

Chris had suffered an incomplete spinal injury, and over time, some feeling returned to his body. Eventually, he’d be able to feel touch — but not temperature, pain or texture — he said.

At first, though, Chris couldn’t scratch his face. He couldn’t bathe. He couldn’t feed himself.

“I know everyone really just focuses on the walking part, but there was so much more that I couldn’t do,” he said.

But instead of focusing on what he couldn’t do, Chris tried to concentrate on tiny successes, like when he started feeding himself, or the day he first drove a motorized wheelchair.

“It’s about sending the correct signal through my muscles to communicate,” he explained. “The signal is getting messed up because of my injury. In training, they’re trying to work me through walking patterns, working through my hands and arms and putting me through the motions I’m used to doing so I can reconnect and get those signals strengthened and controlled.”

A major success came when he returned to school in August 2011.

“I just focus on that day,” he said, referring to every day. “‘What can I do today to get just a little bit better?’ and that’s been my motto. I just knew the future would take care of itself when I take care of today.”

‘She saw me for who I was’

Three years after his accident, Chris met Emily on a dating app. She was in college at Iowa State University, about three hours away.

“I was nervous because I didn’t know if I would find love,” Chris admitted. “I didn’t know if that was on the realm of that actually happening, for me to find my true love.”

The connection was instant.

“For someone to look past my injury and my physical challenges, and instantly I knew, Emily, she didn’t see that — she saw me for who I was, and I instantly had a connection with her.”

Emily felt a similar vibe.

“I just remember feeling a sense of peace that I knew that if I had Chris, that no matter what I went through in life, that I was going to be OK,” Emily Norton, formerly Summers, told CNN recently. “I could never have imagined this is where we would be right now, thinking back to when we first started dating, that this was the plan that God had for us.”

There was a lot that attracted Emily to Chris. He wanted to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, and so did she. He loved God, and so did she.

By then, Chris had started the Chris Norton Foundation, a nonprofit “dedicated to helping people with spinal cord and neuromuscular disabilities live their best lives,” according to his website. And, he was working as a motivational speaker.

Emily got involved in Chris’ recovery just a few weeks later. She went with him to physical therapy and learned how to help him stretch, exercise and practice walking.

“Now, she can walk me better than any physical therapist I’ve ever worked with,” Chris said with a smile. “She just knows how to get me around, move me around.”

Chris, who was still enrolled at Luther College, moved to Michigan so he could train at Barwis Methods, a program known for helping patients regain independence after a serious injury.

He had a big goal: to walk across the stage at his college graduation.

Chris trained four or five hours a day. Emily, now a college grad, moved to Michigan, too, to support him.

The night before his graduation in May 2015, Chris asked Emily to marry him. She said yes.

The next day, she hoisted him up out of his wheelchair and he made that walk. Chris’ arms shook quickly as Emily positioned him. She stood in front of him, just like a physical therapist, her body weight supporting him as he made tiny, unbalanced steps. The crowd roared as the pair slowly crossed the stage.

“I just always knew that I wanted to marry Emily,” Chris said. “It was even more special that she was the one that walked me across the stage of my college graduation as my fiancée, not just my girlfriend, but someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

With one walk behind them, the couple hatched their next challenge: walking together down the aisle at their wedding.

‘The best thing that we’ve ever done’

To focus on Chris’ training and to enjoy more accessibility and sunshine, Chris and Emily moved to Florida in May 2016. Not long after, a call for help came that they couldn’t ignore.

A student Emily had mentored in high school, Whittley, was now 17 and faced aging out of a group home for foster children. She had nowhere to go.

Emily and Chris, then just 22 and 23 years old, became Whittley’s foster parents for a year. They loved it and decided to foster more children. Soon, the couple — in the throes of wedding planning and Chris’ therapy — took in a 3-year-old and a 2-month-old.

“It’s slowly grown … and now we have five kids, 8 and under,” Emily said. “It is the best thing that we’ve ever done.

“Life has never been easier, and I know that’s crazy, but when you find something that you love so much, it just doesn’t seem like work, and it brings us so much joy, and it’s incredible to see the power of love.”

Chris’ motivational speaking supports the family, and he and Emily are also working on a book. Like any couple, they do their best to share the workload, but their situation is not typical.

Chris handles the finances, including paying the mortgage and bills, which he can do easily without moving his body. He has someone come clean the house, do laundry and wash dishes. “I wouldn’t want all that to be put on Emily,” he said.

“With the kids, I know that there wasn’t a lot I could do with helping them put a shirt on,” he said. “I can be more of a cheerleader and helping them grow as a person rather than being physically active.”

Some outsiders have admitted they don’t quite get Chris and Emily’s relationship.

“We do sometimes get that that people think I’m his sister or something, but honestly, just because we are so close and just with everything, me helping him feels like nothing. It’s just what you do when you love somebody,” Emily said. “Chris helps me as much as I help him, not necessarily in a physical way but in emotional ways. That’s the big part for me.”

To Chris, Emily “is just Wonder Woman.”

“We can travel all over the place, and she can get me in these awkward cars and down or up stairs,” he said. “She doesn’t complain. She just loves it and just has so much joy. I’m just in so much awe of her every single day.”

‘We all want to rise again’

After Chris’ graduation walk, the couple’s story gained national attention, and training for their wedding walk became less a personal duty than a mission to help others find hope, they said.

“I don’t have to walk to be happy,” Chris said. “It’s not me trying to get back my independence. It’s about me not being defined by my physical ability, being defined by a wheelchair — I’m so much more than that.

“We need to spread more hope in the world, and we need to be a light in the world,” he said. “We feel that it’s our calling from God and it’s our purpose, and it just brings me to life and it just energizes me.”

documentary by Fotolanthropy, which describes itself as a “nonprofit organization that celebrates stories of hope of those who have defied great odds,” follows the couple’s journey to the altar. Called “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story,” crowd-funding has raised almost half the $250,000 goal to cover production costs.

“What I’m passionate about is to share the experiences from the worst day of my life of suffering a spinal cord injury seven years ago to walking seven yards with my bride, the greatest day of my life,” Chris said. “I think that we all want to come back, we all want to rise again, and I’m just really excited to be able to share that.”

‘Hero’ officer recalls bloody battle to save woman from ex-boyfriend’s torture-kill plot

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 03:43 PM PDT

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — A Mississippi officer saved a woman from a likely horrific death at the hands of an ex-boyfriend thanks to a chance encounter that brought them together.

Officer Sean Shelton is living his childhood dream of being a police officer. He says he always wanted to protect and serve, so he didn't hesitate when a woman at a local store needed help in 2010.

"The store clerk (Joyce Betts) was in there and she said, 'I'm glad you came in the store. We have a lot of kids running in shoplifting and causing disturbances. By the time we call the sheriff's department and they dispatch you guys here, the kids are gone," Shelton told WREG.

That chance meeting would play a profound part in both of their lives.

"I said I'm going to give you my cellphone, and the next time it happens call me," he said.

Just two hours later, Betts was calling officer Shelton, but this time, she was standing in front of her house, too afraid to go inside.

According to a Panola County offense report obtained by WREG, deputies say Betts' ex-boyfriend 50-year-old Lawrence Richardson had disabled the electricity and was waiting inside her house to kill her.

"I told him I was breaking up with him. He said, 'I'm going to cut your heart out like you cut my heart out," Betts said.

Officer Shelton walked Betts in her home and made sure everything was safe.

He had no idea that her ex-boyfriend was hiding in the dark with a torture table set up.

"I went flicked the light switch and it didn't come on," he said. "I walked in about eight feet."

The house was pitch dark, and Officer Shelton only had the light from his flashlight to see.

"As I was turning around to walk back out of the door, I saw a guy come out of the closet," he said. "He walked out and he had a small .22 gun out."

Shelton found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

"He fired one round, and the round went under my vest in my side," he said. "I started shooting back."

Betts says she ran out of the house to get help.

"He had everything set up not only to restrain me, but to restrain my daughter. He was going to kill us both," she said.

Shelton and Richardson continued firing shots at each other.

"He got off another round. He hit me right under my right here, and that shot knocked me on the ground," Shelton said.

When Officer Shelton hit the ground he dropped his police radio, leaving him trapped and unable to call for backup.

"I could feel blood filling up my mouth. I could see the blood shooting out of my face, and I'm thinking I'm going to die," he said. "Then I heard a voice said, 'Sean. You need to get up. You're not going to die."

Shelton believes it was the voice of God telling him not to give up.

"I started looking for a way out of the house, but I didn't want to go back by the guy," he said.

But that was the only way out. He ran to his patrol car to call for help.

Officer Shelton tried to drive to a nearby fire station, but before he could get there he was met by another officer who was monitoring his radio and understood his call for help.

By the time Officer Shelton arrived at the fire station, his blood covered the inside of his patrol car.

He was airlifted to Regional One Hospital and spent almost two weeks in the hospital fighting for his life.

Panola County deputies later learned that Richardson – who died of his wounds – had hitchhiked all the way to Panola County, Mississippi from Virginia with an elaborate plan to torture and kill Betts and her teenage daughter.

"Officer Shelton is a hero in my book," Betts said.

Hollywood South News with Jabari: NCIS: New Orleans renewed for season 5

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 03:34 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- NCIS: New Orleans has been around for a few years now. They've been filming in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Many folks who are out and about can sometimes spot the cast and crew working. Fans and tourist sometimes will even get a photo op if they're at the right place at the right time. Now it seems like they're going to stick around for a bit longer. The hit crime show that airs on CBS was renewed for season 5 so this marks their 5th year filming in Hollywood South.

If you want to see behind the scenes of NCIS: New Orleans CLICK HERE.

Florida dad angered by ‘highly inappropriate’ question on daughter’s anatomy assignment

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 03:12 PM PDT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Florida school is thanking a father for bringing a ‘highly inappropriate’ homework assignment to their attention.

Omar Austin demanded answers from Westside High School in Jacksonville after seeing his 11th-grade daughter’s homework for anatomy class, according to WTLV.

Austin posted a Facebook video of himself reading from the homework with the caption, “This needs to be seen. WTH is going on in our schools???”

One of the questions on the assignment read:

Ursula was devastated when her boyfriend broke up with her after having sex. To get revenge, she had sex with his best friend the next day. Ursula had a beautiful baby girl 9 months later. Ursula has type O blood, her ex-boyfriend is type AB blood, and his best friend is type A blood. If her baby daddy is her ex-boyfriend, what could her baby's possible blood type(s) NOT be?”

Austin said he thought it was a joke at first, telling WTLV that the it was a question better left for “reality TV and soap operas,” and lacked morality.

"The words 'baby daddy' and 'baby mama' being used, that's foresight," Austin told WTLV. "The fact that she's having sex with one guy and to get revenge on this guy she has sex with his best friend the next day? I mean, that's just not something that I want to teach any student."

Austin said he doesn’t fault the school after the principal told him the assignment came from the school district, so now he is pushing for change from Duval County Public Schools.

School district officials said in a statement to WTLV that “the question was highly inappropriate and was not part of a district assessment.” Duval County Public Schools thanked Austin for speaking out and said they are conducting a full review of the situation to find out how a student could have received that worksheet.

Officials added that “appropriate and corrective action will be taken.”

Report: Police investigate possible link between severed heads found in Louisiana, Texas

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 02:31 PM PDT

Police are trying to determine whether there’s a link between two severed heads found in Louisiana and Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The first grisly discovery was made March 1 in a grassy marsh near Calcasieu Lake in Cameron Parish, where inmate crews found a woman’s head wrapped in a plastic bag. Police believe the auburn-haired victim’s head had been there for about three months, according to KATC. The coroner’s office said the woman had extensive dental work. There was no trauma to her skull.

About three weeks later, on March 24, a volunteer cleanup crew in the Houston area — about two-and-a-half hours from Cameron Parish —  found a severed head in a large plastic bag on rocks along Lake Houston. This woman also had reddish hair and “good teeth.”

The Houston victim was believed to be between young adulthood or middle age and Hispanic. The Cameron Parish victim was between 25-40 years old, authorities said.

Investigators say they recognize the similarities between the cases and the victims. They’ve agreed to update each other on updates in the respective investigations.

Houston Police have released information about a person and vehicle of interest, while Cameron Parish investigators are waiting on forensics from LSU to learn more about the victim.

From the Chronicle:

The officers are looking for a man in his early to mid-20s who was seen about 2:30 to 3 p.m. (March 24) throwing a black plastic bag off the bridge near where the head was found, two weeks prior to the discovery.

The man, described as having short dark brown hair with long bangs, was seen getting out of the front passenger side of a teal or a bluish green Chevrolet Silverado extended cab truck. He is about 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-8 tall and has light skin. The truck was rusted and appeared to have been in several wrecks. The back left passenger window was missing and was covered by what looked like cardboard.

Anyone with information is asked to call HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

How Richard Branson went from high-school dropout to billionaire entrepreneur

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 12:35 PM PDT

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As a teenager, Richard Branson never imagined he’d be where he is today.

“I was seen as the dumbest person at school,” the founder and CEO of Virgin Group told CNNMoney. “The idea that I could be successful didn’t dawn on me.”

As a young student, Branson struggled with dyslexia. He had a hard time keeping up with his classes. But what was perceived as a weakness became a source of strength.

“What’s interesting about people who are dyslexic is that they can often excel at things that they love and have a passion for,” he said. “And I have a passion for quite a lot of things.”

The billionaire has turned those passions into a far-reaching business empire. He had to take a lot of risks along the way.

A voice for young people

Branson’s first business was a magazine for young people called Student. He was 15 when he started it, and dropped out of school to talk to people around the world and learn about what was happening.

“I felt that I could get out and start creating things that would make a difference in the world,” he said.

To support the magazine, Branson started selling records by mail. Ultimately, the magazine failed. But the mail-order record business turned into something huge: Virgin Records.

After mailing records and opening a store, Branson started a label to help support an artist he believed in, Mike Oldfield.

“I went to seven record companies, and none of them would put [his Tubular Bells] out. So I formed a little record company on my own,” Branson said.

The risks paid off. “It sold millions and millions of albums,” Branson recalled.

After Oldfield, Branson kept signing “bands that nobody else would sign,” including The Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols and Janet Jackson.

Once he’d established Virgin Records as a success, Branson switched gears.

Shooting for the stars

In 1984, after working in the music industry for more than a decade, Branson launched the airline Virgin Atlantic.

“Nobody thought we would survive,” Branson said. But Virgin was good enough to win customers over.

“We created an airline that people loved to fly in a marketplace where other airlines were dreadful,” he said. “People went out of their way to fly us.”

Over the years, the Virgin travel family expanded globally to include Virgin America and Virgin Australia. And with Virgin Galactic, Branson is setting his sights on commercial space travel.

Branson doesn’t want to fall too far behind his space travel rival, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

“Right now, there’s about 700 engineers who are beavering away to make sure that Elon’s little car in space does not stay lonely too long,” he said, referring to the Tesla roadster that Musk sent into space as part of the maiden launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. “I feel quite soon that little car might have another friend or two out there.”

Related: Billionaire real estate developer: Getting fired was the best thing that happened to me

Failures along the way

Branson has had his fair share of public failures. In 1994, the Virgin Group introduced the public to Virgin Cola. “Declaring a soft drink war on Coke was madness,” Branson said in a 2014 Virgin blog post. “I consider our cola venture to be one of the biggest mistakes we ever made.”

“Virgin Cola just wasn’t different enough,” Branson continued in the post. “Virgin only enters an industry when we think we can offer consumers something strikingly different that will disrupt the market.”

But he doesn’t see failure as a bad thing.

“Failure is a wonderful way of learning,” he said. As “an entrepreneur, if you’re not taking risks, you’re not going to achieve anything … I’ve learned the hard way sometimes.”

He’d rather give something a shot than not try at all. “If you give something a go and it doesn’t work out, you certainly haven’t failed,” he said. “You just learned.”

Do I have enough saved to cover my spending in retirement?

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 12:31 PM PDT

Most retirement projections seem to be based on how much income you’ll need in retirement. But shouldn’t my planning be based on how much I’ll actually spend after I retire? How do I figure out what my spending might be and whether I’ll be able to meet my spending needs?—Jeff

You’re right. Ideally, you would want to base your retirement planning on expenses, or how much it will actually cost you each year to live the post-career lifestyle you aspire to. Knowing that, you could then better estimate how large a nest egg you’ll require, how much you’ll need to save on a regular basis during your working years to build that nest egg and how many years your savings stash is likely to support you in retirement.

But when retirement is decades away, it’s tough to get an accurate fix on what your future living costs will be. After all, that figure can vary significantly depending on such difficult-to-pin-down factors as how healthy you’ll remain as you age, which can determine how much you’ll spend on health care; whether you’ll pay off your mortgage and other debt before or soon after you retire; whether you’ll have an active retirement that involves spending considerable sums on travel and entertainment or live a more modest lifestyle closer to home, etc.

And in fact research shows that the amount retirees think they’ll spend and how much they wind up shelling out can be quite different. According to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index, more than a quarter of retirees said their daily living expenses were higher than they expected and nearly 40% said they underestimated health care costs.

Related: Late start on retirement saving? Here’s how to play catch-up

So instead of trying to forecast what our actual expenses will be 20, 30 or more years down the road, we rely on “replacement ratios,” or the percentage of our pre-retirement income we must replace to maintain our standard of living in retirement.

By going to a retirement income calculator and plugging in the percentage of income you think you may need to replace — somewhere between 70% and 90% is typical — you can come away with a decent sense of how much you’ll need to save each year to build a nest egg that’s large enough, with help from Social Security and any pensions, to generate sufficient income in retirement.

Make no mistake: these replacement ratios are still estimates, albeit ones that are grounded in research based for the most part on spending data from the Department of Labor’s Consumer Expenditure Survey. But these rules of thumb can at least provide a reasonable framework for planning in the face of many unknowns, allowing you to set a savings target and then periodically revisit the calculator to monitor whether you’re making progress toward your retirement goal. If you find that you’re not making headway, you can see how moves like saving more, investing differently, retiring later or ratcheting down your retirement lifestyle might improve your outlook.

Once you’re in the home stretch to retirement, however — say, within 10 years of exiting your job — chances are you’ll have a better handle on how your retirement spending might shape up. At that point, it’s a good idea to do an actual retirement budget. You could go old school and just jot down what you think you’ll spend in various categories using a pencil and a legal pad. But it’s probably more convenient (and easier for making revisions later on) if you use a budgeting tool or worksheet online.

One such tool is the Retirement Expense Worksheet that giant asset manager BlackRock offers free online. You can enter upwards of 50 separate expense items, ranging from essentials such as food, housing, transportation and health care to discretionary outlays like travel, entertainment, gifts and charitable contributions. Aside from an overall total, the worksheet gives you a tally for both your essential and discretionary items, a breakdown that can come in handy for gauging how much leeway you have for reducing expenses later on should that be necessary.

Once you’re satisfied that you have a relatively firm grasp on what your retirement expenses will be, you can then plug that figure into the calculator instead of a replacement ratio to gauge whether you’ve got enough saved for retirement (and, if not, estimate how much you’ll need).

Related: Where can I find no-risk investments?

Of course, unless you’re clairvoyant, the retirement budget you come up with isn’t going to be 100% accurate. Some expenses will come in higher than you expect, others will be lower and you’ll no doubt have to deal with some expenses you didn’t anticipate at all. Life isn’t as predictable as a spreadsheet.

But the idea is to be as accurate and thorough as you can, and then revise your budget every year or so based on reviews of actual spending as you near and enter retirement. To the extent that in the years leading up to retirement you can do some “lifestyle planning,” or thinking seriously about how you’ll actually live after leaving the workforce, you should be able to better anticipate the costs you’ll face after you retire.

Fact is, by its nature retirement planning doesn’t lend itself to certainty. There are too many unknowables — how much your earnings will grow during your career, whether you’ll be able to stick to your savings regimen, what size returns the financial markets will deliver, what share of those returns you’ll capture with your retirement investments.

You can’t even be completely sure when it comes to such major assumptions as when you’ll retire (EBRI’s Retirement Confidence Survey shows that nearly half of retirees left the workforce earlier than planned, usually because of health problems or downsizing) and how long you’ll live (although this longevity tool can at least help you assess the probability of living to different ages).

But if you take the approach I’ve outlined above and do some fine-tuning periodically, you should have a reasonable shot at ensuring that your nest egg along with Social Security and other resources will allow you to live an acceptable lifestyle as long as you’re around.

The case for raising the minimum wage keeps getting stronger

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 12:14 PM PDT

It’s been too cold to campaign in frozen North Dakota. But as spring has crept across the state, an unusual ballot initiative is starting to emerge: One that would more than double the minimum wage, from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2021.

“The places we can gather signatures the best are at the parades and the waiting lines at the outhouses,” says Scott Nodland, a citizen activist leading the effort. “We expect that now that the snow just melted and temperatures hit the high 50s, we can begin to do something.”

It’s an unusual platform for the deep red state, which voted 63% for President Trump in 2016.

But support for higher minimum wages has transcended partisan politics before. A wave of purple states — including Colorado, Arizona, and Maine — voted in wage hikes last election cycle.

Raising the minimum wage has been hotly debated in cities and states for years. Supporters argue that it’s a remedy for widening wage inequality and will boost consumer spending, while opponents counter that it could reduce opportunities for employment, particularly for teenagers and others looking for entry level or low-skilled jobs.

Now, another batch of proposed wage hikes is headed for ballots in 2018, with initiatives underway in Massachusetts, Missouri, Michigan, Washington, and Washington D.C. And this time, as research on earlier minimum wage hikes piles up, the impact on workers is starting to become more clear.

The outlook? While some jobs could be lost as a consequence of more ambitious jumps in the minimum wage, the vast majority of workers who remain employed will enjoy higher pay and the economy overall isn’t expected to suffer as a result.

For example, one study released last month by economists at the University of California, San Diego and the American Enterprise Institute estimated that minimum wage hikes of more than a dollar implemented between 2013 and 2016 — such as those in California, Washington, and New York — reduced employment among low-skilled workers by just under 1.5%. The impact on jobs in states with smaller wage increases was more variable, and occasionally there was a positive outcome, possibly because more people were drawn back into the labor market by the better pay.

However, research has also generally found that minimum wage hikes put more money in workers’ pockets overall. Another study out last month from two Census Bureau economists found that, based on previous minimum wage increases, a 10% hike would raise income growth for workers in the bottom quarter of wage earners by about 10% — even including any possible reduction in hours.

Considering this new evidence, progressives have shifted from arguing that minimum wage hikes don’t lead to job loss to arguing that even if they do, most workers are still better off.

recent paper from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute points out that people often switch jobs in low-wage industries, so even a 3% loss in jobs could just mean that all workers end up with 3% fewer total hours — but if they were paid 10% more for those hours, everybody comes out ahead.

Another strand of research from economists at the University of California, Irvine and the London School of Economics finds that higher minimum wages push employers to automate low-wage work — think ordering kiosks in fast-food restaurants — which opponents have used to slam minimum wage measures.

But here’s another way of looking at it: America has seen low-productivity growth for the past decade, so investments in labor-saving technology should be welcome. A slew of reports, including one released this month by the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that displaced workers should then be trained for higher-value, better-paid jobs that robots have yet to learn how to do.

That’s not the only way in which higher minimum wage could make the economy more efficient. As the market for low-wage labor has gotten more concentrated, some economists have theorized that large employers haven’t needed to bargain as hard for workers, so they’ve kept pay artificially depressed.

“Employers have the power to set wages,” says Ben Zipperer, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “And when it’s not completely determined by perfect competition, they are going to set wages too low, and they will always complain that they can’t find enough workers at the going wage.”

Scott Nodland sees that phenomenon at play in North Dakota, which has an ultra low 2.6% unemployment rate and hourly wages that have fallen behind the national average, despite the abundance of highly paid oil and gas work.

“On the North Dakota job service site, there are 14,400 jobs available,” Nodland, who has worked in many fields and refers to himself as an “entrepreneur,” says. “And last year, there was a net loss of population in North Dakota. Obviously something is out of balance, and I’m suggesting it’s wages.”

It’s not just North Dakota. Activists pushing minimum wage increases all over the country are doing so out of a sense that poor people haven’t shared in what otherwise looks like a booming economy. Although wage growth did accelerate for lower income workers in 2015 and 2016, it hasn’t been enough to make up decades of lost ground.

A national group called the Fairness Project, funded by a California healthcare union, is taking that message to several states this cycle with minimum wage campaigns as well as ballot initiatives that would expand Medicaid and require employers to offer paid sick leave. They’ve calculated, based on data assembled by EPI, that wage increases implemented since the beginning of 2017 have put an extra $4 billion in workers’ pockets.

“While unemployment is low, we’re seeing pretty stagnant wages,” says Fairness Project director Jonathan Scheifer. “And the only places we’ve seen wage increases is where there’s been an increase in the minimum wage.”

Presidential debate celebrity Ken Bone posts photo of son at gun range, gets him suspended

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 12:10 PM PDT

BELLEVILLE, Ill. - The man in the red sweater who became an overnight internet sensation during the 2016 presidential debate has gotten his son into trouble at school.

On Thursday, Ken Bone told KTVI that a picture he tweeted of his son at a shooting range got the 14-year-old suspended from the St. Claire County Regional Office Safe School.

Bone said he shared the two-year-old picture out of sheer innocence, showing his support for Kyle Kashuv, one of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting massacre.

"He was having trouble with security at his school because he had tweeted some pictures of himself with his father at the gun range," said Bone. "And I wanted to show my support for him, so I tweeted basically the same photo with me and my son."

But school officials didn't take that lightly.

"She (the administrator) said that the caption where I said, 'The security officers should talk to my son,' she says that was threatening," he said.

Bone said he's concerned his son will fall behind, especially because this isn't the first time he's faced school discipline.

"He took a pocket knife with him to school and he said he didn't mean to," Bone said. "It was zipped up in his binder, he got expelled from his old school, which is why he goes to St. Claire ROE now."

It's not clear how long his son is suspended for, but Bone said that there's a learned lesson.

"Definitely be responsible with what you put on social media. It stays around forever," he said. "And be really careful with your words."

School administrators told KTVI that they cannot comment on specific discipline cases, at least not until Bellville police complete their investigation.

Manure message: Farmer gives residents whiff of what could happen if his land deal fails

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 12:06 PM PDT

LORDSTOWN, Ohio - An Ohio farmer is going to extreme measures to show he's not happy with some Trumbull County residents.

Harvey Lutz has planned to sell property to the company that owns TJ Maxx. But the people in Lordstown aren't happy about the idea of the traffic and put the deal in jeopardy.

"Fine. I'll raise chickens for Kentucky Fried Chicken instead," Lutz told WJW.

And, to give his neighbors an idea of what they would be in for, he dumped chicken manure on the land.

"Guess what? I'm allowed to build a chicken barn if I want, and that's my statement so I'm working with two barns, 650 feet long, 55,000 birds per barn. Wake up, smell the roses, maybe; hopefully instead of manure," he said.

Lutz says he's hopeful he proved his point and the original land deal will be given the green light. But, he says he's prepared to make good on his threat to become a mega chicken farmer.

What’s going on? Our non-Jazz Fest weekend event picks for April 27-28

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 11:45 AM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- Are you skipping Jazz Fest this weekend?

Fear not. There's still plenty to do. Here are our top non Jazz Fest events for the weekend of April 27-28, 2018:

SATURDAY 

  • St. Tammany Collectors Con - Looking for some fun on the North Shore? Collectors Con is Saturday at the Clarion Inn on Highway 190 in Covington. You'll find over 8,500 square feet of toys, comics, records, video games and more. It's from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. More info here.
  • Treme Threauxdown - Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will host the fourth installment of their Treme Threauxdown. Special guests include Irma Thomas, Jon Cleary, Kermit Ruffins, the Soul Rebels -- and Big Freedia! It all happens Saturday at the Saenger Theatre at 8 p.m. Get tickets here.
  • Camellia City Fun Fest - The Camellia City Kids Fun Fest is a not-for-profit event intended to provide an affordable fun-filled opportunity to bring together the community and organizations that offer resources for parents, while dedicating proceeds to a St Tammany Parish Children's Organization. It happens at Slidell's Heritage Park from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission is $5 per person. More info here.

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

  • Zurich Classic - Ready to watch the masters at work? See them on the green at TPC Louisiana in Avondale. "Watch golf like a pro. Follow your favorite golfer. Feast on po-boys, crawfish, margaritas and more. Daily Tickets are valid any single day Wednesday – Sunday. Fans 17 and under are admitted FREE with a ticketed adult."  Get tickets here.

Three U.S. Marines booked, one wanted in alleged rape of Tulane student and friend

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 11:42 AM PDT

Alexander Davenport, left, and Jared Anderson, right

NEW ORLEANS – Three Marines have been arrested and one is wanted for an alleged rape of a Tulane student and her friend.

NOPD confirms that the sexual assault occurred in the 6100 block of South Claiborne Avenue on April 15, 2018.

The men were arrested after a Tulane University student and her friend reported being raped by multiple men at a home near campus, according to the New Orleans Advocate.

Jared Anderson, 18, was booked with first-degree rape, Antonio Landrum, 18, was booked with third-degree rape and Alexander Davenport, 20, was booked with two counts of first-degree rape. Matthew Farrell, 22, is wanted for aggravated rape.

The three individuals were handed over to NOPD by the United States Marine Corps.

Photos: Jazz Fest 2018 Day 1

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 11:40 AM PDT

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NEW ORLEANS – The sun is out, the music is playing, and the food is better than ever as Jazz Fest 2018 gets underway.

The Fairgrounds are crowded with music lovers who took off of work (or called in sick) to help kick off this year's Jazz Fest.

Sting, Steel Pulse, Eric Lindell, and many, many more are taking the stage on this beautiful day.

Happy Jazz Fest!

Bayou Wear’s kicky, fun and fabulous new design excites for Jazz Fest 2018

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 11:00 AM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- Bayou Wear is New Orleans' version of the Hawaiian shirt. Since the company Art4now first introduced this casual, kicky line for Jazz Fest, it's gathered quite a following all its own.

"I know that I need an umbrella, I need a dress and probably a shirt as well since normally I get a shirt every year," says Bayou Wear fan Eileen Jackson.

Art4now's Theresa Shea is the brainchild behind this year's design. It's an overhead tribute to the New Orleans Tricentennial. The website describes the shirt as a saint's view of Congo Square, Audubon and City parks and most importantly, the Fairgrounds, home to Jazz Fest.

"We really try to embody what makes New Orleans, New Orleans in the Bayou Wear. Every year we feature a print that has something specific to say about the city that makes it unique," says Ashlee Mixson with Art4now.

Bayou Wear excites with unique designs, and it's all about the detail, right down to the buttons themselves.

"So the buttons, they're really unique. They are a compass and it points to New Orleans Jazz Fest instead of North, South, East, West, which is cool," says Garrett Kessling with Art4now.

"Cool" serves more than one purpose here in the Crescent City. Your snazzy and classy Bayou Wear is breathable too. It's a must have feature for New Orleans humid, subtropical climate. This year's design even hints at sunny skies. If you look close enough, you'll notice interesting shadows at play all throughout the fabric.

"They are really fabulous and it's very interesting the way they're camouflaged, the design of the musical instruments in there when you don't recognize them. You don't notice them at first but once you point them out there you can really see them," says Jackson.

Because what's Bayou Wear, without a tribute to the music?

 

 

Second Round of the Zurich Classic is Under Way

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 10:56 AM PDT

Zurich Golf Classic

Click here for more information about the Zurich Golf Classic.