- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

CALIFORNIA

Monitoring extended for police reforms

LOS ANGELES — A judge yesterday extended for three years a federal program to monitor reforms in the city’s Police Department, saying key requirements to reduce officer misconduct have not been met.

U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess rejected the city’s request to extend only portions of the program, which resulted from a 2001 settlement between the city and the Department of Justice after officers were found to have routinely planted evidence, framed and beaten suspects, and lied in court.

The judge said key requirements of the consent decree, including the use of a computer system to track misconduct, had not been met. The system is “not just a material part but an essential part of the consent decree,” Judge Feess said.

The decree also called for improving internal oversight and training.

GEORGIA

Fraternity plans disturb residents

ATHENS — The predominantly black Hancock neighborhood is fighting a University of Georgia fraternity’s plan to build a house there starting this fall.

In addition to fearing an increase in property taxes, bad behavior and noise, residents resent Kappa Alpha’s displays like the Old South Parade, in which some sport Confederate-style outfits. This year, trying to reach out to its future neighbors, the fraternity canceled the parade and vowed to find other ways to celebrate its founding in 1865.

HAWAII

Baby’s hand severed in conveyor belt

HONOLULU — An 18-month-old girl’s hand was cut off when it became caught in a conveyor belt at a chocolate factory she was touring with her family, officials said.

The girl’s left hand was caught Saturday in a belt at the Menehune Mac Factory Gift Center, fire officials said. By the time firefighters arrived, employees had bandaged the girl and retrieved her hand.

“Our guys just put it in a bag on ice, just to preserve it in case doctors are able to do anything with it,” said Fire Capt. Chris Ah Mook Sang.

The girl was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center, which did not release her condition.

The girl and her family were attending the company’s fifth annual Mother’s Day Candy Making Event, a fundraiser for the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation.

ILLINOIS

Beethoven’s hair will be real gem

CHICAGO — Beethoven composed many enduring symphonies, but now a Chicago company wants to make a Beethoven piece that lasts forever: a diamond made out of strands of the 18th-century composer’s hair.

LifeGem Memorials, a company that first gained attention in 2002 by making diamonds out of the carbon from cremated human remains, now says it can make diamonds out of human hair, allowing people to bury their loved ones but still have a memento they can carry with them.

To publicize this — and to raise money for charity — the company has teamed with John Reznikoff, who is in Guinness World Records for having the largest and most valuable collection of celebrity hair.

Mr. Reznikoff is giving six to 10 strands of Beethoven’s hair to LifeGem, which will use it in a process to create three diamonds of between 0.5 and 1 carat in weight.

KANSAS

Toto’s breed posed as state dog

WICHITA — Kansas often has capitalized on its designation as the home of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” and now one resident thinks the state should honor Dorothy’s buddy Toto.

Annette McDonald is leading a petition drive to designate Toto’s breed — the cairn terrier — as the state’s official dog.

The Wichita resident acknowledged that she has a special interest in the breed, having owned cairn terriers for 25 years and shown them in national shows. She currently owns five of the animals.

Fewer than half of states have designated an official dog.

“I think that’s a terrific idea that the lady had,” said Paul Miller, interim director at Dorothy’s House in Liberal, a museum to the “Oz” star.

NEW YORK

City sues gun shops in other states

NEW YORK — The city is suing 15 out-of-state gun stores it says supply a significant portion of the guns that flow into New York, including some that end up in the hands of criminals.

The lawsuit filed yesterday asks the federal court to order supervision and extra training for the dealers in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. It also seeks some damages and compensation.

“By and large, most gun dealers respect and follow the law, but the small group of dealers that do not should be held accountable,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

The city’s law department singled out the 15 gun shops after hiring private investigators who fanned out to dealers in the five states over the past several weeks.

Wearing hidden cameras, the investigators entered stores in teams of two and attempted “straw purchases,” in which the buyer completes the paperwork and passes the background check, but later hands over the weapon to someone else who is not allowed to own a firearm. The scam, prohibited by federal law, is typically used by people who are younger than 21 or convicted felons.

RHODE ISLAND

Closure looms for 1-room school

PORTSMOUTH — Town officials again are considering closing the state’s last one-room school. Four students attend Prudence Island School this year, and just two will attend next year.

Students attend the island school through fourth grade, then take a ferry to Portsmouth for middle and high school. Superintendent Susan Lusi said operating the school would cost $200,000, which could pay for sending the students to private boarding school.

WASHINGTON

Web site links teens to graffiti

WASHOUGAL — It didn’t take long for police to arrest a couple of brothers suspected of going on a graffiti-making bender. The authorities just logged onto the Internet.

Thirteen colorful scrawls appeared in March and April on business walls, fences, a billboard and bridges in this town of about 10,000 east of Portland, Ore. Last week, Officer Tom Davis made posters offering a $150 reward for tips leading to the conviction of whoever was responsible and hung them at Jemtegaard Middle School and Washougal High School.

Within two hours, police were contacted by two witnesses who directed investigators to Myspace.com, a Web site that is popular with teenagers, Sgt. Kim Yamashita said. The two brothers reportedly had a site that boasted of their handiwork.

“In some of the pictures, they actually posed with the graffiti,” Sgt. Yamashita said. “That makes it a little easier.”

Police obtained a warrant, searched the home of the brothers, ages 16 and 13, and seized paint, pens and markers, as well as a compact disc with more images of the graffiti.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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