- - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ARIZONA

‘Biased’ Mexican-American program illegal, judge rules

PHOENIX — An administrative law judge ruled Tuesday that a Tucson school district’s ethnic-studies program violates state law, agreeing with the findings of Arizona’s public schools chief.

Judge Lewis Kowal’s ruling marked a defeat for the Tucson Unified School District, which will have to change the program or risk losing state funding.

The ruling said the district’s Mexican-American Studies program violated state law by having one or more classes designed primarily for one ethnic group, promoting racial resentment and advocating ethnic solidarity instead of treating students as individuals.

The judge said the law permits objective instruction about oppression, but “teaching oppression objectively is quite different than actively presenting material in a biased, political and emotionally charged manner.”

MICHIGAN

Police: Killer may be targeting Detroit escorts

DETROIT — Detroit police fear a killer may be targeting escorts after finding that three of four women found dead in car trunks over the past week had placed sex-related ads on the same website.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee says authorities find the link “disconcerting.”

The latest victims were found Christmas morning, when Detroit firefighters discovered two badly burned bodies in the trunk of a car that had been set ablaze in a garage.

RHODE ISLAND

Ex-stripper files lawsuit against police chief

PROVIDENCE — A former Rhode Island stripper has filed a federal lawsuit against a police chief who is accused of stealing $714 from her purse after an August car chase.

Pawtucket resident Justina Cardoso, 21, is seeking $250,000 in damages from Col. John Whiting. Mr. Whiting, 57, of North Attleborough, Mass., has been suspended from his job as police chief in North Providence.

TENNESSEE

TVA ask its neighbors to watch for copper thieves

JOHNSON CITY — The Tennessee Valley Authority is asking people who live near its power substations to watch for copper thieves.

Utility officers have been going door to door in neighborhoods where TVA has switch yards, electricity substations and construction sites setting up what are effectively neighborhood watch programs in which they ask residents to report any suspicious activity.

INDIANA

Police say baby sitter confesses to child-killing

FORT WAYNE — A baby sitter and trusted neighbor has confessed that he bludgeoned a 9-year-old Indiana girl to death with a brick, then dismembered her, hiding her head, hands and feet at his home and dumping the rest of her remains nearby, police said Tuesday.

Allen County sheriff’s investigators said in an affidavit that 39-year-old Michael Plumadore admits he killed Aliahna Lemmon on Thursday, when she and her two younger sisters were staying with him because their mother had been sick with the flu.

According to the affidavit, the man told police that after beating Aliahna to death, he stuffed her body into trash bags and hid her in the freezer at his home in a rundown trailer park in Fort Wayne.

NEW JERSEY

Plane crash probe: Owner warned about maneuver

NEWARK — The owner of a small plane who perished along with four others in a 2010 crash told a friend the aircraft was leaking fuel and oil on the day of the crash, according to documents from a federal investigation.

The friend, an airplane mechanic, told investigators he had previously cautioned owner Jacek Mazurek against performing a specific aerial maneuver that the pilot may have attempted just before the accident.

“I’m like, ‘You can’t do that with this airplane, it’s not built for that,’” Michael Petrossian said Tuesday. “I guess he didn’t heed my warning and did it again anyway.”

The February 2010 crash killed Mr. Mazurek, his 14-year-old son, Patryk, and three Polish tourists who were family friends of the 45-year-old pilot.

TEXAS

Authorities identify dead in Christmas shootings

GRAPEVINE — Authorities in suburban Dallas say a 56-year-old man, his estranged wife and their two teenage children are among those killed in a Christmas Day shooting carried out by a man dressed as Santa Claus.

The Tarrant County, Texas, medical examiner released Tuesday the names of the seven family members who died in the shootings at the apartment in Grapevine.

The seven include 56-year-old Aziz Yazandanpanah. Police believe he arrived at the apartment dressed as Santa Claus as those inside were opening presents, killing them before turning the gun on himself.

Among the dead were his estranged wife, their 19-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, and his wife’s sister.

OHIO

Nativity display sees birth of the lamb

CINCINNATI — A lamb has been born unto a Cincinnati nativity display.

The Krohn Conservatory says that a night watchman oversaw the Christmas Eve delivery for a sheep that was part of the live-animal display.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that conservatory officials say the birthing went well and the mother and lamb were doing fine. The conservatory’s director says they are thinking of calling the female lamb “Merry,” for “Merry Little Christmas.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports