The U.S. appears to be moving away from medical research on chimpanzees, announcing in late September that the National Institutes of Health will retire all 110 of its 563 research chimpanzees housed at UL Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center. Non NIH-owned chimps will remain at the controversial facility. The Humane Society of the United States welcomed the NIH’s decision to make the chimps at the center “permanently ineligible” for research. NIH is moving 10 of the chimps to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary here in the state, and the remaining 100 are being sent to a research facility in San Antonio but will not be used for research. All of them will be moved out of NIRC before August 2013. NIRC, where The HSUS conducted a comprehensive and widely publicized undercover investigation in 2009, will no longer be receiving funds from NIH for chimpanzee research. “This is a significant step in winding down NIH’s investment in chimpanzee research based on the way science has evolved and our great sensitivity to the special nature of these remarkable animals, our closest relatives,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins told the Washington Post. He said the NIRC decided not to seek NIH funding for its chimpanzee program beyond August of next year, a decision that provided an opportunity for NIH to permanently move those chimps out of research.
Louisiana’s people are getting poorer, according to recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. That data was used by the economic news site 24/7 Wall St. to compile a top 10 of the nation’s richest and poorest states. Taking seventh place among the country’s poorest states was Louisiana, which had a 20.4 percent poverty rate in 2011 — 1.7 percentage points higher than in 2010. That makes Louisiana, according to Census Bureau data, the third most poverty-stricken state in the nation. Statewide, there are about 910,000 people living below the poverty line. For a single person, that equates to an annual income of less than $11,170 a year, or $19,090 a year for a three-person family. Also on the rise is the number of Louisianans deemed to be living in “deep poverty,” which is half the annual income established for the base poverty line. The number of deeply impoverished residents — about 419,000, or 9.4 percent of the population — climbed 8.1 percentage points from 2010. The Census Bureau data also shows that more black Louisianans, 34.7 percent, live in poverty, compared to 13.1 percent of the state’s white population.
Lafayette residents who fear that “smart meters” will sap their vitality, scramble their brains or otherwise render them incapable of living rich, fulfilling, private lives will have to pay a smidgen over $12 per month to keep one foot in the 20th century, assuming the City-Parish Council approves an ordinance setting the opt-out charge at $12.20/month. LUS began converting to so-called smart meters — meters that transmit utility-usage data remotely and consequently don’t require monthly visits from meter readers — in an effort to spy on, sorry, an effort to promote efficiency. Proponents say the new meters will also detect abnormalities in usage that can signal leaking water pipes or dangerous electrical situations, helping customers reduce their utility bills and not die. The meters are being installed through a Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Smart meters came under attack from the Tin Foil Brigade as soon as they were announced, and in February the City-Parish Council approved an ordinance letting customers opt out of having the meters installed at their homes and businesses. According to an LUS memorandum sent to council members earlier this month, about 430 LUS customers, or less than 1 percent, opted out.
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