- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

ILLINOIS
Police officers saved scores of Irish songs
CHICAGO On St. Patrick's Day, raise a glass to Francis O'Neill.
If the name doesn't ring a bell, he was police superintendent in Chicago a century ago. If it still doesn't sound like he warrants a toast, listen to traditional Irish music. He saved it.
Francis O'Neill, who left County Cork during the Great Famine, listened to and played the traditional music in the United States but saw that nobody seemed to be writing it down.
By the time he died at age 87 in 1936, he was credited with collecting about 3,500 songs, some dating back as far as 1550 or 1600.
When Irish musicians were in town, he'd track them down. "The joke was he'd try to put them on the police department so he could keep them here," said Leonard Aronson, who produced and wrote a documentary, "Francis O'Neill: The Police Chief Who Saved Irish Music."

MICHIGAN
Eminem appears on hometown stage
DETROIT Eminem took the stage, and his hometown fans went wild.
"Detroit! If you had one shot," the rapper began as the audience repeated the words to "Lose Yourself," the Academy Award-nominated song from his film "8 Mile," the DVD release of which Eminem was in town to promote.
Joining Eminem at the party were the Detroit-based rap group D12, and hip-hop artist Xzibit and actor Mekhi Phifer, who both appear in "8 Mile."
Near the end of his brief appearance, Eminem leaped backward into the crowd. He was mobbed, losing his hat and bandanna, and was pulled back onstage by security guards.

ALASKA
Board approves plan to kill wolves
ANCHORAGE In an effort to increase the number of moose where villagers rely on game for food, the Alaska Board of Game voted to kill wolves and move brown and black bears from a 520-square-mile area in the state's interior.
A national animal-rights group has pledged a tourist boycott if the state approves the predator control program a decision now in the hands of the acting commissioner of the state Fish and Game Department and Gov. Frank H. Murkowski.
The four-year plan also calls for a temporary ban on hunting in the area near McGrath, 200 miles northwest of Anchorage, which is already off-limits to out-of-state hunters.
The goal is to increase moose numbers so hunters can harvest 130 to 150 animals a year.
"We've got a constitutional mandate and the people of McGrath are suffering right now because they don't have enough food on their table," board member Ted Spraker said.

COLORADO
Casino worker pleads guilty to stealing
DENVER A casino worker named Crapps, too fat to fit into his company-issued pocketless uniform, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the slot machines by stuffing the bills into his sweat pants.
Leonard Crapps, who is 5-foot-6 and 280 pounds, pleaded guilty last month to stealing the cash from the Gilpin Hotel Casino in Black Hawk. He was put on 12 years' probation and ordered to repay nearly $200,000.
Crapps, 35, was assigned to help empty the slot machines after closing time by pulling out full money canisters and replacing them with empty ones. He figured out how to open the tamper-proof canisters, and with his back to security cameras, stuffed the money into his pants.
His co-workers were required to wear pocketless jumpsuits, but Crapps was granted a weight-based exemption.

FLORIDA
Papers, broadcasters back public records bills
TALLAHASSEE Florida's daily newspapers published articles and editorials yesterday reminding readers of the state's strong public records laws at a time lawmakers are proposing more exemptions to the measures after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Led by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and the Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation, 36 papers participated in the "Sunshine Sunday" initiative, which began last year to stress the importance of maintaining open government.
"Government is made better by exposure to the people it serves, and each year, as some legislator tries to dim that view, the question must be asked: What are you trying to hide?" the St. Petersburg Times said in an editorial yesterday.

GEORGIA
Boys drown in septic tank
WARNER ROBINS Authorities said over the weekend they were investigating the deaths of two boys who drowned in a neighbor's septic tank.
The boys' bodies were found submerged Friday in a partially uncovered tank filled with 4 feet to 5 feet of water.
Houston County Sheriff's Sgt. Bill Kast said it appeared that Tremaine James, 4, and Tyrin James, 3, had wandered into the neighbor's yard while their mother was asleep.
The septic tank had been in disrepair for about two weeks after a towing company pulling a car out of the yard broke the concrete top of the tank, officials said. The tank had been pumped out, but water had accumulated and it had rained heavily the night before the boys drowned.

INDIANA
Lawn mower trip is a fund-raiser
TERRE HAUTE One cross-country trip on a lawn mower apparently wasn't enough for Brad Hauter.
The soccer coach from Terre Haute's Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology plans to start a second trip this week in San Francisco as a fund-raiser for Keep America Beautiful Inc.
Mr. Hauter expects to average about 16 mph maybe 25 mph with a good tail wind, he said, chuckling during the 5,500-mile trip scheduled to end June 4 in New York.
Mr. Hauter's 1999 trip covered more than 4,000 miles from Atlanta to Santa Monica, Calif. He was recognized as a Guinness World Record holder for being the first person to drive a lawn mower across the nation and for the longest continuous journey on a lawn mower.

MAINE
Rape trial set to begin after plea deal nixed
LEWISTON Christian Averill, 21, goes on trial today on charges of raping a Bates College student in April.
The trial opens a month after Superior Court Justice Thomas E. Delahanty rejected the terms of a plea agreement reached by Mr. Averill's attorney and the state prosecutor.
Under that agreement, Mr. Averill was to serve 12 years in prison and 10 on probation in exchange for a guilty plea. Justice Delahanty rejected the agreement as too lenient, and Mr. Averill changed his plea to not guilty and requested a jury trial.
Prosecutors told the Lewiston Sun Journal that DNA evidence against Mr. Averill makes it "almost impossible" for him to be the wrong man. Mr. Averill's DNA samples were taken three years earlier when he was convicted as a juvenile in another sexual assault.

MASSACHUSETTS
City to wage battle against bedbugs
BOSTON City councilors are resolving not to let the bedbugs bite.
After a city resident brought a bowl full of bedbugs to a Boston City Council meeting to prove a point about the critters' rising numbers, councilors promised to wage a citywide battle against the bloodsucking parasites.
In two weeks, the city council plans to meet to find out whether bedbugs are increasing in the city, and discuss how to prevent and eliminate them.
"Of course we'll have an expeditious hearing," said Councilor John Tobin. "As long as you don't keep bugging us about it."

MINNESOTA
Store owner sentenced in worker cruelty case
MINNEAPOLIS A store owner was sentenced last week to eight years in prison for leaving an employee handcuffed to a pole in a burning basement.
Judge LaJune Lange ordered the sentence, twice what state guidelines recommend, because she said store owner Rex L. Rogers had used "particular cruelty" in dealing with an illegal-alien employee, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The judge also said that Jose Lopez Garcia was "particularly vulnerable" because he was an illegal alien, and that Rogers' offense had involved a "high degree of planning" that included help from three men.
Rogers accused Mr. Lopez of stealing from the store, beat him and placed duct tape over his mouth before handcuffing him to a pole for seven hours.

MISSOURI
Man goes to jail, but never convicted
ST. LOUIS A judge signed the wrong paperwork and sent a burglary suspect to jail three months ago, but the man was never tried and never convicted.
While rules bar lawyers from publicly discussing the case, court documents reported yesterday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provided some details.
Circuit Judge Julian Bush said the suspect's attorney evidently prepared a judgment document in anticipation of a guilty plea, but Michael Cook instead pleaded not guilty.
"I carelessly did not look at the papers carefully enough and signed the sentence and judgment," Judge Bush said Wednesday in a hearing transcript. "And off went Mr. Cook. It's my fault."
Judge Bush rescinded his five-year sentence for Mr. Cook, 46, of Belleville, Ill., who has been in custody since he was charged nearly a year ago with second-degree burglary in two break-ins in 2001. He is unable to raise his $5,000 bail.
His trial, originally set for Dec. 16, will be rescheduled.

NEW YORK
Prosecutors accuse agency of misconduct
NEW YORK Federal investigators accused the city's Department of Environmental Protection of failing to clean up toxic leakage at some of its facilities.
U.S. Attorney James Comey sent a letter last month to federal Judge Charles Brieant, recommending that an independent monitor be appointed to help the agency comply with its court-ordered responsibilities.
Mr. Comey said the DEP violated the terms of its previous probation, set in 2001, by letting hazardous materials leak from some of its containers into the soil and by failing to ensure the safety of the city's drinking-water supply, the New York Post reported in yesterday's editions.
The DEP pleaded guilty in 2001 to knowingly dumping mercury into the city's water supply. The agency was fined $50,000, placed under a three-year probation and required to operate under the auspices of an internal oversight monitor.

OHIO
Hog farmers fight federal program
CINCINNATI A lawyer representing small livestock farms predicts their battle to overturn a federal mandate that they pay for government advertising campaigns for beef and pork someday will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers argued Friday before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that hog farmers should not be required to help pay to promote pork. All U.S. hog farmers have paid the fee for 17 years to fund the $54 million program, best known for its pushing pork as "the other white meat."
Smaller farmers say the required checkoff violates their right to free speech and want the appeals court to uphold a federal ruling in Michigan that the fee is unconstitutional.

OKLAHOMA
State may ease fines for cockfighting
OKLAHOMA CITY The Oklahoma state legislature is considering steps that might ease penalties for cockfighting after judges challenged the ban on the blood sport, saying it may be turning chicken farmers into felons.
The Oklahoma Senate approved legislation a few days ago that would ask voters to decide whether cockfighting, outlawed by the state's voters in November, should be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor and the fines dramatically scaled back.
The state's House of Representatives also is looking at reducing penalties.
Proponents of the ban called the move a bid to subvert the law. They say the resulting penalties would be a slap on the wrist that cockfighters would see as a cost of doing business.

OREGON
Producer missing after fall from cliff
PORTLAND The creator of the reality television series "World's Wildest Police Videos" fell 300 feet from an Oregon cliff into the Pacific Ocean and was feared dead, authorities said yesterday.
Paul Stojanovich, 47, and his fiancee, Kim Srowel, were hiking Saturday at Treasure Cove, a bluff overlooking the ocean, when he slipped while stopping to pose for a picture, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Jamie Desanno.
Mr. Stojanovich grabbed a tree limb but plummeted into the surf below, said Sgt. Mike Zimmerman of the Tillamook County Sheriff's Office. Waves were 14 to 16 feet high at the time, and rain over the past week had left the trail slippery.
Miss Srowel called 911, and officers searched for three hours but found no sign of Mr. Stojanovich, Mr. Desanno said.

RHODE ISLAND
Men plead guilty to bribing screeners
PROVIDENCE Two men have pleaded guilty to bribing federal baggage screeners in an attempt to help their company win a contract at a Rhode Island airport.
Darrall Redburn, 39, and Angelo Troisi, 59, own Air Tag, which manufactured a system being tested at T.F. Green Airport. They admitted they gave $1,000 to two screeners to work faster, knowing that the machine had to screen and seal a bag in less than 30 seconds to be deemed a successful test.
Each pleaded guilty to one count of paying an illegal gratuity to a public official, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Friday. Prosecutors said there was no evidence the pair asked screeners to cut corners to improve their times.

WISCONSIN
New cases of deer disease reported
MADISON Wisconsin wildlife officials Friday confirmed two more cases of chronic wasting disease in wild deer taken from the same area as most of the state's previous cases, raising the state's case total to 64.
Wisconsin is testing brain tissue from nearly 40,000 deer for the fatal illness, which afflicts deer and elk with symptoms similar to mad cow disease. Most of the tissue samples came from deer carcasses hunters submitted in the autumn.
Unlike mad cow, chronic wasting disease has never been proven to spread to cattle or humans. But as a precaution, health authorities have warned against eating venison or other parts of deer that appears sick.

WYOMING
Snowmobilers receive more tickets than ever
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK Park rangers handed out a record number of citations to snowmobilers this winter, but supporters and foes of allowing the vehicles in the park disagree over the reasons.
Rangers issued 358 citations for entering restricted areas, careless driving and other violations for the season, which ended Friday. The total is 20 more than the number of violations issued last winter and more than double the 2000-01 figure.
The increase was particularly startling because paltry snowfall shortened the snowmobile season to 87 days from the normal 100, said Charles Clusen of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that wants snowmobiles phased out of Yellowstone.
"Yellowstone's snowmobile problems are getting worse, not better," Mr. Clusen said. "This is not what anyone expects in a national park."
But Bill Dart of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a motorized recreation advocacy group, said the rise is "just a product of an increased level of enforcement, not an explosion of violations."

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