- - Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Study finds increase in beach pollution

LOS ANGELES | Those envisioning July Fourth celebrations at the beach may be swimming at their own risk, according to a study that found the number of beach closures because of dirty water soared last year nationwide.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which released its annual report Wednesday, found that beach closures and advisories across the country increased by 29 percent in 2010 compared with a year earlier. The conservation group used data from 3,000 locations nationwide and found that waters in Louisiana, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan had the highest levels of contamination.

“It’s a summer rite of passage,” said David Beckman, a senior attorney who directs the nonprofit’s water program. “Unfortunately, it can also make you sick.”

Eleven percent of California’s beaches reported elevated levels of bacterial contamination, the largest amount in five years. Among those at the top of the list were Avalon Beach, Cabrillo Beach and Colorado Lagoon in Los Angeles County, Poche County Beach and Doheny State Beach in Orange County and Candlestick Point in San Francisco County.


Man pays $1 parking fine 35 years late

ORLANDO — A Michigan man has paid a $1 Florida parking ticket more than 35 years overdue.

Orlando police said they received Stanley Baker’s payment for a Nov. 7, 1975, parking ticket Tuesday. The 89-year-old Pentwater, Mich., man included a note reading, “Better late than never!”

Mr. Baker’s son, Fritz Baker, said his father found the ticket in a book bought at an Orlando garage sale in 1995. He said his father decided to pay the fine as a lark, even though it wasn’t issued to him.

Mr. Baker sent the $1 payment in the ticket’s original envelope. That got it delivered to a police department auditorium that was a night and traffic court in 1975. Orlando’s parking violations from 1975 have been destroyed.

A police spokesman said the department thought Mr. Baker’s payment was funny.


Atlanta schools chief leaves amid cheating probe

ATLANTA — Longtime Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall has been lauded nationally as a leader for turning around struggling urban districts.

But Ms. Hall, 64, leaves office this week amid allegations of widespread cheating in the Atlanta system and accusations that she ordered a cover-up of test tampering. The district has denied the allegations against Ms. Hall.

It’s not the ending that Ms. Hall’s supporters imagined for her nearly 12-year career as superintendent of the 50,000-student district.

Ms. Hall’s actions are being scrutinized as part of a yearlong criminal investigation into the cheating allegations. A state report showed high numbers of erasures on standardized tests given to Atlanta students in 2009.

The district also faces the loss of accreditation after school board squabbles over the cheating scandal led to probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Homeless man charged for charging cellphone

BANGOR — Police have brought charges against a homeless man in Maine who helped himself to an outdoor electrical outlet to charge a pair of cellphones.

A Bangor police officer checking downtown businesses discovered Shaun Fawster, 23, charging his cellphones in an outlet hidden behind some flowers.

Mr. Fawster was charged last weekend with theft of services and carrying a concealed weapon after the officer found a folding knife tucked underneath his shirt.

The Bangor Daily News said Mr. Fawster has been released from jail. It was not known whether he had an attorney.


Football star fatally stabbed after graduation

NEW YORK — New York City police say a high school football star was fatally stabbed after a fight broke out between his father and parking attendants after his graduation.

Police charged the father, Andre Muller, with assault stemming from the argument in which he brandished a weapon. He is not accused of stabbing his son, Isayah Muller.

Police are questioning two parking attendants.

Isayah Muller died Tuesday, just after his high school graduation.

Police said he was headed to a celebratory meal with his family when his father noticed something was missing from their car. They drove back to the Bronx parking lot and accused the attendants of stealing.

Police said a fight broke out and the son was stabbed.

Andre Muller also was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.


Atheist billboard removed from church-owned land

COLUMBUS — A billboard supporting atheism has been taken down from property owned by an Ohio church after the pastor complained.

The ad put up in Columbus by the Freedom From Religion Foundation featured the beaming face of a local nonbeliever and the man’s message: “I can be good without God.”

The sign upset the Rev. Waymon Malone of Christ Cathedral Church. The church owns the land where the billboard was posted. Mr. Malone was unavailable for comment, but his mother-in-law told the Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday that the pastor ordered the ad’s removal.


Woman, 89, dents car, aids in duo’s capture

NEW CASTLE — Pennsylvania police say an 89-year-old woman used her cane to dent the car of two people who stole her friend’s purse, and authorities were able to track down the getaway car based in part on the cane’s imprint.

New Castle Police Chief Thomas Sansone said the woman and her 82-year-old friend were accosted outside a pizza shop Sunday. Police said 27-year-old Jerry Brown Jr. grabbed the purse but couldn’t peel away before the 89-year-old banged the car’s trunk with her cane.

Police found the car and, based on the description of the robber — and dents matching the cane — arrested Mr. Brown and 21-year-old Tatiana Vargas.

The two were jailed in Lawrence County on robbery charges and on warrants for unrelated crimes. Online court records don’t list attorneys for them.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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