Freelance sports writer Dan McDonald, a regular contributor to The Independent, was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Sports Writer of the Year, an overall honor that included two first place awards for his Ind cover story on UL football coach Mark Hudspeth (College Feature) and for his coverage in these pages of the Cajuns’ New Orleans Bowl victory (College Event). He also won third place for his Independent online feature that looked back on the Lafayette Little League’s 2005 Little League World Series run. McDonald’s honors came in Class II competition, which includes publications across the state with circulation below 50,000; the winners were announced over the weekend in Natchitoches. Dandy Dan also garnered a first place award for his coverage in The Daily Advertiser of the Louisiana Open golf tourney.

The inaction of Congress so far to halt the doubling of Stafford college loan interest rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent has prompted student government presidents from five Louisiana universities — including UL Lafayette — to urge federal lawmakers to take action before the increased rates take effect July 1. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are still trying to reach an agreement on how to fund potential legislation that would keep the current interest rates intact. “If Congress fails to freeze Stafford Loan interest rates, our students take an additional $79 million in total debt as classes start in the fall,” the students’ letter reads. “This means we will spend millions of dollars each year repaying loans rather than buying our first homes and cars, investing in new companies, or starting families in the next decade.”

Sen. David Vitter wasted little time in decrying the U.S. Supreme Court’s dismantling of Arizona’s draconian immigration law, issuing a press release within an hour of the ruling in which he complained, “All the Arizona law tried to do was fill the void that the federal government has created by neglecting its duty and letting illegal immigration get completely out of control.” A member of the U.S. Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus and a champion of tough immigration laws, Vitter doesn’t acknowledge in the press release — it wouldn’t serve his ideological needs after all — that illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America is down sharply in the last few years due mainly to the weak U.S. economy, and deportations of illegal immigrants are at an all-time high. Hardly the “completely out of control” crisis the senator makes it out to be.

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