Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Written by The Independent Staff

We’ll never know just how critical a role he played, but U.S. Sen. David Vitter certainly sufficiently pressured the SEC to make a determination on whether victims of Allen Stanford’s alleged Ponzi scheme are entitled to insurance coverage. The long-awaited recommendation came after a two-year battle that started with a Securities Investor Protection Corp. opinion that Stanford victims were not eligible to file claims. It also came a day after Vitter put a hold on two SEC member nominations. In its decision, the SEC said people who bought so-called CDs through the Stanford Group Co., Stanford’s U.S. brokerage arm, are entitled to the insurance; the SIPC says it’s studying the decision. Those who lost money can only recover up to $500,000 of their investment (unrecoverable is the interest most paid taxes on for years), which won’t make all local investors whole, but it’s a start to rebuilding their financial futures. Though its recommendation is a major victory for Stanford victims, the SEC’s Stanford problems are far from over, as local investors have sued the regulatory agency, alleging negligence and misconduct.

When Louisiana Family Forum backs a bill, be afraid — be very afraid. Joining a long list of bait-and-switch legislation, led by the granddaddy of them all — the Louisiana Science Education Act — is House Bill 580 by West Monroe Republican and avowed proponent of “academic freedom” for creationists Frank Hoffman. HB 580 neuters the state Board of Elementary & Secondary Education in its oversight role for vetting textbooks in public-school science classes, giving over authority for such purchases to local school boards and, consequently, opening the door for pseudo-scientific claptrap like Intelligent Design filtering into the curriculum. The Louisiana Coalition for Science and other groups have come out strongly against the bill, which sailed through the House with all of Lafayette Parish’s reps voting in favor. As The Ind headed to press Monday the bill was scheduled to be heard by the full Senate. By this reading it has likely passed and is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has a biology degree yet, as we unfortunately know, holds his political base in higher esteem than he does the basics of mainstream science.

Maybe the best argument for evolution and its quirks is U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who believes Intelligent Design — that’s creationism in a lab coat, kids — should be taught alongside evolution because, well, just because and Obama’s bad, America first, bomb Iran, hotdogs and apple pie. Bachman made an off-hand reference to Nobel laureates having doubts about evolution in 2006, a claim challenged by recent Louisiana high school graduate Zack Kopplin, leader of the doomed charge to repeal the LSEA in the legislative session and a top-notch student who, not coincidentally, will attend college outside Louisiana this fall. More than 40 Nobel laureates — all of them in the sciences — signed on to Kopplin’s mission to repeal the LSEA. The outspoken Tea Party fave was in New Orleans last week for the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference, and Gambit Editor Kevin Allman asked Bachman to enumerate her Nobel ringers on the anti-evolution side. Bachmann cited “reasonable doubt” in the evolution debate before rolling into a rambling answer involving “government bureaucracy,” states’ rights and block grants. What she didn’t do was answer Allman’s question.

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