- - Monday, July 9, 2012

BISMARCK — A North Dakota man is charged with manslaughter after two young brothers from Texas died when authorities say he lost control of his speeding pickup truck and drove over their tent at a campground.

Bottineau County prosecutor Swain Benson says Juan Acosta, 30, also is charged with reckless endangerment, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and drunken driving.

The Newburg man was arrested after the Sunday crash and is expected to appear in court Tuesday. Mr. Benson didn’t immediately know if Mr. Acosta has an attorney. There was no answer Monday evening at a phone listing for Mr. Acosta.

The crash killed 5-year-old Alaries Ruiz and his 9-year-old brother, Cyris. Their 28-year-old father suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries. A 9-year-old friend of the boys also sustained minor injuries.


NAACP head: Voter-ID fight akin to ‘60s battles

HOUSTON — The head of the NAACP on Monday likened the group’s fight against conservative-backed voter ID laws that have been passed in several states to the great civil rights battles of the 1960s.

Benjamin Todd Jealous, the CEO and president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said these are “Selma and Montgomery times,” referring to historic Alabama civil rights confrontations. He challenged those attending the NAACP’s annual convention to redouble their efforts to get out the vote in November.

“We must overwhelm the rising tide of voting suppression with the high tide of registration and mobilization and motivation and protection,” he said.

“Simply put, the NAACP will never stand by as any state tries to encode discrimination into law.”

The power to vote will be a key theme of the weeklong 103rd convention, which was expected to host about 8,000 attendees. An appearance by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was postponed from Monday until Tuesday, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Vice President Joseph R. Biden were also expected to speak at some point.

Since 2010, at least 10 states, including Texas, have passed laws requiring people to show a government-issued photo identification card when they go to the polls.


Elizabeth Edwards’ grave marked with footstone

RALEIGH — Nineteen months after her death, a permanent marker has been placed on the grave of Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

A modest marble footstone was installed last week at Raleigh’s Oakwood Cemetery. It was commissioned by Mrs. Edwards’ siblings and is carved with lyrics from a Leonard Cohen song she placed on her kitchen wall shortly before she died of cancer in December 2010.

A more elaborate headstone is still planned from the same sculptor who chiseled the towering angel adorning the neighboring grave of Mrs. Edwards’ 16-year-old son Wade, who died in a 1996 auto accident.

The Associated Press reported last month that people touring the historic cemetery had expressed concern that Mrs. Edwards did not yet have a stone so long after her death.


Developers asked to test tiny apartments

NEW YORK — New York City renters have long made a habit of sacrificing square footage to save money. Now, the government wants to help them move into even smaller spaces.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is inviting developers to propose ways to turn a city lot into a building filled mostly with micro-units of no more than 300 square feet.

The pilot program could lead to a change in regulations that currently require new apartments to be at least 450 square feet.

Mr. Bloomberg said Monday the shift will help accommodate the changing population. He says young professionals are waiting longer to start families.

Mr. Bloomberg says a shortage of small homes is forcing people to move into illegal subdivisions. The city has 1 million studio and one-bedroom apartments for 1.8 million one- and two-person households.


Systems to protect miners from black lung failing

CHARLESTON — Black lung diagnoses have doubled in the last decade, and a new investigation blames a combination of factors, including operators who cheat the system and lax enforcement by regulators.

Experts have warned of the resurgence since 1995, but an investigation by National Public Radio, the Center for Public Integrity and the Charleston Gazette concludes all the systems designed to protect coal miners have failed. That includes federal lawmakers, who won’t pass regulations to toughen 1969 standards for coal dust.

The number of people with advanced stages of the disease has quadrupled since the 1980s in the region stretching from eastern Kentucky through southern West Virginia, into southwestern Virginia.

“This is clearly a public health epidemic,” said epidemiologist Scott Laney at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. “This is a rare disease that should not be occurring.”


Mother watching probe of fatal hug

DETROIT — The mother of a Detroit woman shot when an off-duty officer’s gun went off during a party says she is going “to stay on top” of the city’s police department during the investigation into her daughter’s death.

Yolanda McNair says Adaisha Miller would have been celebrating her 25th birthday Monday and was invited to Saturday’s fish fry by friends who knew the officer.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee told reporters Monday that Miss Miller was dancing with the officer and touching his waist from behind when his holstered handgun fired, striking Miss Miller in the chest.

Chief Godbee says the gun was in a waist holster made of soft material. He says there is no evidence the officer fired the weapon, but he stopped short of saying Miss Miller may have accidentally pulled the trigger.


School board nixes bid to change mascot name

DAGSBORO — A Delaware school district is rejecting a bid to remove the word “Indian” from its name.

The Daily Times of Salisbury reports that the Indian River school board unanimously rejected the request to remove the Indians as the name and mascot of the Indian River School District. The request came from an Ocean View man who said he found the name racist.

The mascot name was adopted in 1967.

Indian River High School Principal Mark Steele, who played sports there and has been associated with the school for 31 years, says he had never heard a complaint about the mascot name until now. The board of education president says he considers the Indian name a sign of respect.


Police: Pittsburgh woman attacks women at son’s pizza party

MONROEVILLE — A Pittsburgh woman has been jailed on charges she attacked her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend and other women with a knife and a brick at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant during a party for her son.

Monroeville police say Lynaa Eva Dobbins, 20, attacked four female guests at the restaurant at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Investigators say Miss Dobbins was apparently upset that her son’s father had a new girlfriend at the party. Police say Miss Dobbins cut one woman’s ear with a knife and hit another with a brick. She’s also accused of hitting two other women in the brawl that ensued.

Miss Dobbins remained jailed Monday.

She faces a July 17 preliminary hearing on aggravated assault and other charges, including stalking her ex-boyfriend.


Parents of teen swept away criticize tour group

HONOLULU — The parents of a New York teen missing in the waters off Hawaii criticized tour company guides who led their son on a hike that ended with waves sweeping him out to sea.

Tyler Madoff, 15, of White Plains, N.Y., was on a kayaking expedition on the west coast of the Big Island last week with a tour group. They were hiking near the Captain Cook monument at Kealakekua Bay when they stopped to rest at a tide pool, authorities said. That’s when large waves washed away Tyler and another 15-year-old boy. The other teen, from Miami, was eventually rescued and is recovering in a Honolulu hospital.

Tyler’s parents made comments over the weekend from a Big Island resort, saying Bold Earth Teen Adventures showed “poor judgment” and that no staff members stayed behind to search for their son. “You have a small and cold heart,” Michael Madoff said. “Shame on you.”

Tyler was with a group of 11 other 14- and 15-year-olds, along two contracted guides from Hawaii Pack and Paddle and two Bold Earth team leaders, said Abbott Wallis, founder of Colorado-based Bold Earth, which organizes teen adventure tours on six continents.


Items from crime fighter Eliot Ness up for auction

CLEVELAND — A Massachusetts business plans to auction memorabilia from crime fighter Eliot Ness, the onetime Cleveland safety director and federal Prohibition Bureau agent whose unit brought down Chicago mobster Al Capone.

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported the collection up for auction Sept. 27 includes his signed credentials, his business card and photos of his unsuccessful bid for Cleveland mayor.

Worcester-based Central Mass Auctions says the items were appraised at $30,000 to $50,000 and came from the estate of the lawman’s personal secretary. It’s not clear how she obtained them.

Ness made his name during the Prohibition era and headed a special unit dubbed “The Untouchables,” which had a reputation that members couldn’t be bribed. He worked as Cleveland’s safety director in the 1930s.

Ness died in 1957.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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