- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

CALIFORNIA

Proposal: Strike ‘marriage’ from law

SACRAMENTO | California’s top election official said supporters can start collecting signatures for a proposed ballot measure to strike the word “marriage” from all state laws.

Supporters of the ballot measure want to replace it with the term “domestic partnership,” while keeping all the rights of marriage in place.

The proposal is in response to a voter-approved gay marriage ban that passed in November. The new measure would repeal the ban, and define domestic partnerships as unions between all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.



Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Tuesday that supporters must gather nearly 700,000 signatures by early August to get the initiative on the ballot.

The measure is the grass-roots effort of two heterosexual college students.

FLORIDA

Search for players cost $1.6 million

ST. PETERSBURG | The search for two NFL players and two other men missing in the Gulf of Mexico cost the U.S. Coast Guard $1.6 million, a Florida newspaper reported.

The St. Petersburg Times reported Tuesday that the three-day search covered more than 20,000 square miles and required 230 combined hours of Coast Guard aircraft and boats.

Former University of South Florida football player Nick Schuyler was the only survivor. He was found atop the capsized 21-foot fishing boat on March 2, about two days after it overturned in rough seas off Clearwater.

Searchers never found Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, free-agent NFL defensive lineman Corey Smith, who played for the Detroit Lions last season, or former USF player William Bleakley.

MASSACHUSETTS

Real-life ‘Cheers’ bartender laid off

BOSTON | Eddie Doyle was the guy who really did know everybody’s name.

But after tending bar for 35 years at the Boston tavern that inspired the television show “Cheers,” Mr. Doyle has been laid off.

The bar’s owner said the economy is to blame.

Mr. Doyle, 66, was a fixture at the pub known as the Bull & Finch long before his TV counterpart, Sam Malone, entered the mainstream of pop culture.

After the NBC show debuted in 1982, the bar started serving 5,000 people a day. Mr. Doyle used the bar’s fame to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity.

Mr. Doyle told the Boston Globe he is not bitter and may write a book about his experiences.

MISSOURI

Police say pastor tried to flee gunman

ST. LOUIS | The clergyman gunned down during his sermon at an Illinois church was trying to run from his attacker when he was shot through the heart, according to an investigator’s affidavit filed Tuesday.

The account by Illinois State Police Detective James Walker’s account provides a clearer picture of the Rev. Fred Winters’ final moments before he bled to death in front of churchgoers at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., a St. Louis suburb.

Terry Sedlacek, 27, of nearby Troy, was charged Monday with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in connection with the shooting of Mr. Winters and the knife wounds inflicted on two congregants who wrestled him to the ground after the shooting.

Mr. Sedlacek remained in serious condition Tuesday in a St. Louis hospital with self-inflicted stab wounds to the throat, hospital officials said. One of the injured congregants was still hospitalized in fair condition.

Funeral services for Mr. Winters, 45, will be held Friday at the First Baptist Church, where he served as pastor for 22 years.

NEW JERSEY

State considers casino smoking ban

ATLANTIC CITY | New Jersey is considering a ban on smoking in all of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos, something the city itself has been unable to impose.

A state Senate committee is considering a bill to remove the casino exemption to the statewide smoking ban in public places. That’s something the Atlantic City Council has tried, and failed, to do three times.

Under a compromise that seems to be pleasing no one, smoking is restricted to no more than 25 percent of the casino floor. That has smokers fuming there’s not enough space for them, and many casino workers angry they still have to breathe second-hand smoke, even in non-smoking areas.

NEW MEXICO

Committee OKs death penalty repeal

SANTA FE | Legislation abolishing New Mexico’s death penalty has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee - its highest hurdle yet - and is headed to the full Senate for a vote.

It has passed the House, so if it were approved by the Senate without change, it would go to the governor for his signature.

The bill replaces capital punishment with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. There have been serious repeal efforts in New Mexico over the past decade, but no bill has gotten this far.

TEXAS

Driver detained after coke seizure

PHARR | A Mexican truck driver was being detained in Texas after more than $8 million worth of cocaine was found in a shipment of brooms, officials said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not identify the 33-year-old man from Reynosa by name. Agency spokesman Felix Garza said the man had not yet been charged with a crime.

Customs officers discovered 253 pounds of cocaine on Friday evening when an image scan of the tractor-trailer and a narcotics detector dog alerted them to the drugs. The cocaine was hidden in two metal boxes inside the trailer’s refrigeration unit.

ARIZONA

Tough sheriff target of federal probe

Federal authorities have told a high-profile Arizona sheriff that they will investigate his department over allegations of discriminatory practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a letter delivered Tuesday to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that the investigation will focus on what it said were patterns of discrimination based on a person’s national origin.

Sheriff Arpaio, who gained national attention for his efforts to arrest illegal immigrants in the Phoenix area, said that he will cooperate with the Justice Department.

GEORGIA

Killer executed after 22 years

Robert Newland, a killer on death row since 1987 for murdering a neighbor who resisted his sexual advances, was executed late Tuesday, Georgia prison officials said. Newland was executed by injection and pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m., according to a corrections spokeswoman.

After a night of heavy drinking in May 1986, Newland, a drywall finisher, headed across the street to the home of neighbor Carol Sanders Beatty. He then called out to her and tried to kiss her. When Ms. Beatty, a former amateur diving champion, rejected his advances and fought back, Newland slashed her throat and stabbed her in the stomach.

Ms. Beatty, 27, died about 20 hours later, using her remaining strength to spell out the name of her attacker by nodding her head and squeezing the hand of a policeman.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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