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NEW ORLEANS | It isn’t easy being a blackbird in the South.

First, New Year’s Eve fireworks were blamed in Arkansas for confusing thousands of blackbirds and sending them crashing into homes, cars and each other. Then 300 miles to the south, in Louisiana, power lines likely killed about 450 birds, littering a highway near Baton Rouge.

It’s almost certainly a coincidence that the events happened within days of each other, said Louisiana’s state wildlife veterinarian, Jim LaCour, on Tuesday. “I haven’t found anything to link the two at this point,” he said.

The birds in Louisiana died sometime late Sunday or early Monday in the rural Pointe Coupee Parish community of Labarre. The birds — a mixed flock of red-winged blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles and starlings — may have hit a power line or vehicles in the dark, Mr. LaCour said. Two dozen had head, neck, beak or back injuries.


Gun-show sponsor blamed for death

SPRINGFIELD | “Reckless and illegal actions” by a former police chief led to the accidental death of an 8-year-old boy who shot himself in the face with an Uzi submachine gun at a gun show, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

But a defense attorney said others, including the boy’s father, made the fatal decisions.

Former Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury, whose company co-sponsored the event, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and furnishing a weapon to a minor in connection with the 2008 death of Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn.

“As a direct result of that reckless and illegal behavior, Christopher died,” District Attorney William Bennett said in his opening statement to the jury in Hampden Superior Court.


O.J. accomplice avoids more jail

LAS VEGAS | A one-time golfing buddy of O.J. Simpson’s whose conviction in their 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping case was overturned in October took a plea deal Tuesday to be freed from prison and avoid a retrial.

Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 56, stood in shackles before a Nevada judge and pleaded an equivalent of no contest to felony robbery and conspiracy. The plea didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors could prove their case at trial.

“Mr. Stewart will be released after he pleads … with the understanding and agreement that he will begin house arrest,” his attorney, Brent Bryson, told the judge.

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