- The Washington Times - Monday, March 2, 2009


County tries cuss-free week

LOS ANGELES | Pay no attention to that eerie silence in the nation’s most populous county this week; it will simply be the sound of 10 million people not cussing.

At least that’s the result that McKay Hatch is hoping for once his campaign to clear the air is recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, the board is scheduled to issue a proclamation by Supervisor Michael Antonovich making the first week in March No Cussing Week.

Not that Mr. McKay, 15, expects complete compliance. When his No Cussing Club meets at South Pasadena High School on Wednesdays, it’s not unusual for a nonmember to throw open the door and fire off a torrent of four-letter words. He’s also been the target of organized harassment by pro-cussers.

And Mr. Antonovich’s county motion carries no penalties.

“But it’s a good reminder for all of us, not just young people but everybody, to be respectful to one another and watch the words we use,” said the supervisor’s spokesman, Tony Bell.


Bus driver accused of not halting abuse

PORTAGE | A school bus driver has been charged with felony child neglect for reportedly doing nothing to stop three teenage boys from terrorizing female students on his route.

Court documents say Terry Burch, 67, of Portage, failed to prevent physical abuse to the girls or failed to report it.

The documents filed Friday also say Mr. Burch did nothing when the three boys - two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old - threatened Mr. Burch and others, exposed their genitals on the bus, exposed their buttocks to passing motorists, ignited a flammable body spray and created other disruptions.

Mr. Burch denied knowing that such behavior was occurring on the bus, said Cpl. Troy Williams, a Portage Township schools resource officer.


Former mayor installs tombstone

NEW YORK | Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch isn’t ready to die, but he’s already made his arrangements for that day.

Mr. Koch, 84, has a gravestone already inscribed and installed in a northern Manhattan cemetery, and he has chosen the temple where his funeral will be.

Mr. Koch bought his burial plot a year ago at the nondenominational Trinity Church Cemetery, and he recently propped up the memorial stone.

He had the stone inscribed with the last words of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl - “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

Mr. Koch also includes a familiar Jewish prayer and words he wrote about his faith after he suffered a stroke in the 1980s.

Mr. Koch was mayor from 1977 to 1989.


Military mom heads to post with kids

DAVIDSON | A North Carolina woman who was recalled to the Army four years after being honorably discharged is braving the winter storm pounding the Southeast to report for duty, with her children by her side.

Lisa Pagan was driving to Fort Benning on Sunday, and said in a phone interview that she hoped to reach the Georgia post by early evening.

Mrs. Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, only to be recalled to service.

She appealed, arguing that because her husband travels for business, no one else can take care of her kids.

All were rejected, leaving Mrs. Pagan with what she said was a choice between deploying to Iraq and abandoning her family, or refusing her orders and potentially facing charges.


Twain church funding protested

RENO | A group that advocates separation of church and state is protesting a Nevada city’s decision to provide funding to a church that Mark Twain helped build as a fledgling writer in the 1860s.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State contends that Carson City supervisors’ votes concerning the First Presbyterian Church violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.

City and church officials disagree, saying the money is merely going toward additional costs stemming from an agreement that paved the way for the congregation to build a new church in return for backing off its plan to raze the original one.

Last month, supervisors voted to give $78,800 to the church for sidewalks, landscaping and roof repairs. In 2006, the city gave $67,700 to help with design costs for the new church, which is adjacent to the old one.

Americans United will consider a lawsuit if supervisors fail to rescind the votes, said Alex Luchenitser, a lawyer for the Washington-based group.

City officials said the money is intended to save the historic brick church and not support religious activity.


Wildfire destroys 23 homes

BASTROP | A wildfire fueled by grass, brush and trees has destroyed at least 23 homes and three businesses in Central Texas.

Two National Guard helicopters joined other aircraft Sunday in dropping water on the blaze near the towns of Bastrop and Smithville, officials said.

The wildfire charred just more than a square mile since it was started Saturday by a fallen power line.

Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney said the fire was about 50 percent contained Sunday.

He said some residents who were evacuated during the night were being escorted back into the area Sunday to identify their property.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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