Tuesday, February 3, 2009


$83 million donated to gay nuptials vote

SAN FRANCISCO | At least $83 million was donated to support or oppose the ballot initiative that abolished same-sex marriage in California, according to campaign filings released Monday.

The new filings cover the weeks immediately before and after the Nov. 4 election. They show that elected officials, businesses, churches and individuals poured more than $28 million into the campaigns during the contest’s closing days.

The final tallies show that opponents of Proposition 8 raised $43.3 million in 2008 and had a little more than $730,000 left on hand at year’s end. The measure’s sponsors raised $39.9 million and had $983,000 left over.

Even before the late contributions were added, the race was the most expensive ballot measure on a social issue in the nation’s history. Proposition 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote. Gay marriage backers have asked the California Supreme Court to overturn it.


Police take back JonBenet case

BOULDER | The investigation of JonBenet Ramsey’s slaying has been returned to Boulder police, who say they will apply new technology and expertise in hopes of solving the 12-year-old case.

The decision, announced Monday, came six years after police transferred the probe to the district attorney amid criticism of how it was handled.

“Some cases never get solved, but some do,” police Chief Mark Beckner told the Camera newspaper in Boulder. “And you can’t give up.”

JonBenet, a 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant, was found bludgeoned and strangled in the basement of her Boulder home in December 1996.

L. Lin Wood, an attorney for JonBenet’s father, John Ramsey, said the decision was a “positive sign in terms of my hope that the Boulder Police Department will take not only a new review in terms of a cold-case review, but that it will go in this time with an objective review.”

Mr. Wood and Mr. Ramsey have been critical of previous police efforts, saying they unfairly focused on the family and ignored other evidence.


Boy, 11, killed in gun mishap

LAKE WORTH | An 11-year-old Florida boy died from a gunshot wound to the forehead after he and friends were playing with a loaded gun that went off, sheriff’s officials said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office identified the boy Monday as Jason Gilmore of Lake Worth. Deputies said that a 9-year-old was holding the weapon when it fired Sunday but that five minors and one 18-year-old were present.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said the children were playing with a laser on the weapon when it discharged.

An investigation revealed the gun, a Glock .40, had been stolen from a car in West Palm Beach in January.

No charges had been filed, but the sheriff’s office will turn over the investigation to the state attorney’s office for review.


Marijuana use dips among teens

CHICAGO | Teens on both sides of the Atlantic are smoking less pot and going out less often with friends at night, a study of 15-year-olds in 30 countries found.

The double declines occurred in the United States, Canada and mostly European countries from 2002 to 2006. The trends are likely related, because other research has found that youngsters who spend many evenings out are more likely to smoke dope.

Because few parents approve of marijuana use, teens are most likely to use the drug secretly away from home, said lead author Emmanuel Kuntsche of the Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems.

Reasons for the declines are unclear. But the researchers said drug prevention efforts and technology may have contributed.

Instant messaging, e-mail and cell phones “may have partly replaced face-to-face contacts, leading to fewer social contacts in the evenings,” Mr. Kuntsche said.


License lifted in tour bus crash

LAS VEGAS | California regulators on Monday suspended the charter certificate of the company that owned the tour bus that crashed in Arizona last week, killing seven Chinese tourists.

The California Public Utilities Commission did not elaborate on the suspension on its Web site. Requests seeking comment from the commission and the suspended company, D.W. Tour & Charter of San Gabriel, Calif., were not returned.

The lead federal investigator for the crash said Monday that the company, which owns two buses and employs four drivers, passed its most recent federal review in August 2007. Six months earlier, a review showed the company had insufficient drug and alcohol testing and policies for drivers.

Pete Kotowski, lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said D.W. Tour & Charter was considered a “satisfactory” carrier by federal standards at the time of the accident.


Cockfight raid nets 73 suspects

RALEIGH | More than 70 people have been arrested in a cockfighting ring that secretly gathered in central North Carolina to watch a $40,000 tournament so gruesome that one of the roosters splattered blood on the investigators’ search warrant, authorities said.

Deputies didn’t expect to find so many people crammed into three chicken houses that had been cleaned out to provide hidden parking spaces and a cockfighting pit, Randolph County Sheriff Maynard Reid Jr. said in an interview Monday.

Authorities arrested 73 people, ranging in age from 16 to 79, and charged them all with felonies for cockfighting and cruelty to animals.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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