- - Thursday, September 2, 2010

ARIZONA

Littering conviction overturned by court

TUCSON — A federal appeals court in San Francisco has tossed out the conviction of an Arizona man who left water jugs in the desert for migrants passing through.

Two years ago during a bench trial, a U.S. Magistrate in Tucson found Daniel Millis guilty of littering.

Mr. Millis and the faith-based aid group No More Deaths had regularly helped migrants by offering them food, water and medical aid. Prosecutors said Mr. Millis was leaving behind garbage and failing to follow orders by federal agents to remove it.

In reversing the conviction, the appeals court said the term “garbage” is “sufficiently ambiguous” and should be resolved in favor of the defendant.

CALIFORNIA

Woman killed in plane crash

REDWOOD SHORES — A 40-year-old woman was found dead next to the wreckage of a small plane that crashed Thursday in a lagoon off San Francisco Bay, officials said. Divers were searching for two more people who may have been on board.

Redwood City Fire Battalion Chief Dave Pucci said the twin-engine Beechcraft crashed at 11:53 a.m. Thursday in a lagoon in the city’s Redwood Shores neighborhood, near the offices of Oracle Corp.

The plane took off minutes earlier from San Carlos airport about a mile away.

ILLINOIS

Embattled prisons chief resigns

CHICAGO — Illinois’ prison chief, who became a political liability to Gov. Pat Quinn during an election year because of a secret prisoner release program he oversaw, is stepping down, the governor said Thursday.

Corrections Director Michael Randle is resigning as of Sept. 17. He will return to Ohio, where he had been assistant director of the state prison system, to run a community correctional facility in Cleveland for a not-for-profit agency. He will be taking a huge pay cut.

Mr. Randle’s departure comes after a review last month of the early release program that found the corrections department didn’t consider possible dangers to the public when it tried to save money by letting prisoners out early, including some who were violent.

Mr. Quinn canceled MGT Push — named for the “meritorious good time” that was granted to prisoners — after the Associated Press revealed the program’s existence last fall. By then, some 1,700 inmates had been granted early release, including hundreds of prisoners with records of violence.

NEW YORK

Court: ‘Ladies Night’ promos not discriminatory

NEW YORK — Call it a victory for women of the velvet rope.

A U.S. appeals court has tossed out a lawsuit against New York nightclubs that sought to brand their “Ladies Night” promotions as unconstitutional.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected lawyer Roy Den Hollander’s bid to outlaw the specials — in which women are let into bars and discos for free or half price — on the grounds they violate gender equality laws, according to a ruling issued Wednesday.

New York state has no control over the matter because “liquor licenses are not directly related to the pricing scheme,” at an establishment’s door, the court said in its ruling.

OHIO

Agencies: No link between rash, diapers

CINCINNATI — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada say they haven’t yet found a link between Pampers Dry Max diapers and some babies’ unusually severe diaper rash.

The CPSC said Thursday that both agencies will keep evaluating consumer complaints and provide updated information. The CPSC received nearly 4,700 diaper rash reports from April through August and says both agencies evaluated the diapers’ materials, construction and other characteristics.

Claims that the new version of Procter & Gamble’s biggest-selling brand can cause severe rashes triggered lawsuits as well as the government probes.

CPSC says it cannot rule out that some babies may react differently to the new product, especially those who are sensitive to materials in Dry Max.

WYOMING

Human ashes mistaken for drugs

FARSON — The powdery substance that Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers found in a zip-close bag during a recent traffic stop didn’t turn out to be drugs after all.

Sgt. Stephen Townsend of the patrol said when troopers pulled over two men in a car Wednesday, they found small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and thought the bag might hold illegal drugs. Troopers contacted the car’s owner — the girlfriend of one of the men and asked her.

The woman told troopers the baggie held her grandmother’s cremated ashes. She said they had been very close and she always keeps the ashes in her car.

Sgt. Townsend said troopers put the ashes back.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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