- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2007

Tahoe blaze traced to illegal campfire

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Evacuated residents prepared to return to their burned-out streets as officials announced that an illegal campfire caused the inferno that destroyed more than 200 homes and charred 3,100 acres.

A U.S. Forest Service investigation found that the fire south of Lake Tahoe was built in a campfire-restricted area, but it said there was no evidence it was deliberately set to spark the devastating wildfire that has displaced about 3,500 people.

Donna Deaton, an investigator for the U.S. Forest Service, said Friday the fire was built about a quarter-mile south of Seneca Pond, a popular recreation area south of Lake Tahoe. There were no suspects, she said.

Tennessee to require ID for all beer sales

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Comer Wilson hasn’t had to show his ID to buy beer in awhile. Maybe it’s the 66-year-old man’s long white beard.

Starting today, gray hair won’t be good enough. Mr. Wilson and everyone else will be required to show identification before buying beer in Tennessee stores — no matter how old the buyer appears.

Tennessee is the first state to make universal carding mandatory, the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association says. However, the law does not apply to beer sales in bars and restaurants, and it does not cover wine and liquor.

Supporters say it keeps grocery store and convenience store clerks from having to guess a customer’s age. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said it’s a good way to address the problems of underage drinking.

31 men accused in gang-related killings

ST. CHARLES, Ill. — Thirty-one men have been charged with murder in 22 gang-related killings that date back nearly two decades, authorities said Friday.

Many of those charged were former leaders of the Latin Kings gang, and some still possibly could be in the gang’s upper echelons, Aurora police Chief William Powell said. Twenty-nine of those accused were in custody Friday, authorities said.

The men range in age from 17 to 55, but most were in their mid-20s to late 30s. The oldest homicide dates back to 1989, and the most recent took place in 2005. Chief Powell said many of those killed belonged to rival street gangs, but some were innocent victims.

While some of the suspects already have made preliminary appearances in court, none has entered any plea, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Sea lanes shifting to protect whales

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