- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006

ARIZONA

Officer apologizes for rap song request

PHOENIX — A Tempe police sergeant has apologized for a television program that showed him asking two black men to perform a rap song to get out of a littering ticket.

“Nothing I did on that day, or nothing I’ve done in any day of my 25 years as a police officer, or nothing in my 48 years of being a human being, was ever driven by race, by the color of a person’s skin or anything of that nature,” Sgt. Chuck Schoville told the Arizona Republic on Wednesday.

Sgt. Schoville stopped two men in August in a mall parking lot after seeing a motorist toss a paper bag from his window.

The stop appeared on a segment of the police-produced “StreetBeat.”

Sgt. Schoville said he talked to the men before the camera started rolling and learned that they were aspiring rappers, which led to his asking them to rap.

On Wednesday, authorities said that Sgt. Schoville would not be disciplined, but that the department would have to undergo diversity training, and that the show will be taken off the air for a few months.

GEORGIA

CDC ties 1 traveler to 34 measles cases

ATLANTA — The biggest U.S. measles outbreak in a decade — 34 persons stricken in Indiana and Illinois last year — was traced to a 17-year-old girl who had traveled to Romania without first getting vaccinated, government health officials said yesterday.

The outbreak accounted for more than half of the 66 measles cases in the United States last year. Widespread use of the measles vaccine has sharply reduced the incidence of the disease in the past four decades; in 2004, there were 37 cases, the smallest number in nearly 90 years of record-keeping.

The girl unknowingly brought the viral disease back to her home state of Indiana, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Thirty-two persons in Indiana and one from Illinois became infected. Three persons were hospitalized, but no one died.

Only two of the 34 persons had been vaccinated against measles.

Nearly all of the 32 other U.S. cases last year originated abroad, including 16 involving U.S. residents infected while traveling overseas and seven involving foreigners who were infected before visiting the United States.

HAWAII

2 hikers fall to their deaths

WAILUA — Two women fell about 300 feet to their deaths while taking an off-the-beaten-path hike to the base of a waterfall, officials said.

Authorities are investigating exactly how the women fell Tuesday but don’t suspect foul play.

There is no state trail from the lookout at Opaekaa Falls on Kauai island to either the top or the bottom of the waterfall. Officials posted warnings after previous accidents, but many visitors attempt the trek anyway, some relying on guidebooks with sections on secret hikes.

It was not clear from where the women fell, but a small clearing at the top of the falls allows hikers to look down to a pool nearly 300 feet below. The two women hit about 35 feet from the pool.

The women were identified Wednesday as cousins Elizabeth Ann Brem, 35, of Encinitas, Calif., and Paula Gonzalez Ramirez, 29, of Colombia.

IDAHO

Environmental groups fight logging plan

BONNERS FERRY — Environmental groups will fight a Forest Service proposal to log 2,200 acres of timber within the municipal watershed of Bonners Ferry.

The agency wants to thin the forest to lessen the chance of catastrophic fire. Mike Petersen of the Lands Council said the logging threatens the town’s water supply.

MICHIGAN

2 teens sentenced in school bus beating

MOUNT CLEMENS — Two teenage boys charged with beating up a younger student on a school bus have been sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to serve 40 hours of community service.

Macomb County Chief Circuit Judge Antonio Viviano sentenced one boy, 14, on Tuesday and the other, 13, on Wednesday for misdemeanor assault and battery.

The May 12 attack was recorded by a bus surveillance camera. The tape showed the boys taunting and teasing a 10-year-old on their way home from school. The child told police he was hit about 15 times on the head and face.

Despite the altercation, the bus driver continued on her route and yelled for the boys to stop fighting, the child told New Baltimore police. She also asked whether he was all right and handed him a paper towel for his bloody nose, he said.

Both of the sentenced boys are due back for separate progress hearings in June, a court clerk said. Their names were withheld because they are minors.

MINNESOTA

Highway ‘Pac-Man’ targets tailgaters

BUFFALO — Pac-Man is back. Only this time, he’s bigger — and he’s gobbling up dots on Highway 55.

Large white dots painted on the highway to deter motorists from tailgating have been joined by a giant, yellow image of the video game icon.

“I drove that road the other day,” said an amused Wright County Sheriff Gary Miller, “and drivers were bunched up to figure out what it was.”

The oversized Pac-Man has been on the highway for about a month, and the artist or artists behind it have been back to touch it up at least once.

“I’d hate to say positive things, because I don’t want to encourage people to try to paint something on a busy highway. But at least it has made the project a little more noteworthy,” Tom Dumont, the area traffic engineer for the Department of Transportation, said of the addition to the $15,000 project.

The 7-foot dots are 225 feet apart — the distance officials say is needed for a vehicle traveling at 55 mph to stop in three seconds without hitting the vehicle in front of it. Road signs tell drivers to keep two dots apart.

OKLAHOMA

2 small earthquakes strike central region

MIDWEST CITY — Two minor earthquakes shook central Oklahoma, rattling nerves but causing no serious damage or injuries, authorities said.

The quakes were centered in the Del City-Midwest City area east of Oklahoma City. The first struck at 8:41 p.m. Wednesday with a preliminary magnitude of 2.6. The second, at 12:14 a.m. yesterday, had a preliminary reading of 2.7, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

“The quake scared a lot of people,” said Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes. “We had multiple calls about shaking homes. They thought it was some kind of explosion.”

Central Oklahoma sits over a subsurface geologic structure called the Nemaha Ridge and experiences up to a dozen earthquakes each year, said Charles Mankin, director of the survey.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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