National Roundup

New York
Prof suspended for Colorado shootings remark

KINGS POINT, N.Y. (AP) — A United States Merchant Marine Academy professor faces dismissal for joking about the Colorado movie theater shootings in front of his students.
A student’s father was among the victims.
The New York Times says Gregory F. Sullivan has been suspended from his tenured position as humanities instructor.
The newspaper says the academy on Kings Point, Long Island, informed Sullivan on Aug. 10 that he had 10 days to contest his dismissal.
According to an internal personnel document, Sullivan told the class: “If someone with orange hair appears in the corner of the room, run for the exit.” He had just turned down the lights to show a documentary.

Louisiana
Two sheriff’s deputies dead, 2 hurt in shootout

LaPLACE, La. (AP) — Two sheriff’s deputies in Louisiana have been shot to death and two other deputies were wounded in an early morning shootout in St. John the Baptist Parish, west of New Orleans.
Parish sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Dane Clement confirmed the deaths of the two deputies Thursday.
One suspect was in custody and a search was on for at least one other, according to law enforcement officials who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak for the multiple agencies involved.
The shooting occurred around 5:30 a.m. in a parking lot used by workers in an area of manufacturing plants and refineries along the Mississippi River. Cars from multiple area law enforcement agencies and state police flooded the area soon after the shooting.

Missouri
Report: Drought intensifies in Kansas, Nebraska

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A new report suggests that while recent rains stabilized the devastating drought gripping Iowa and other key farming states, the dry conditions intensified in Kansas and Nebraska.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows the overall expanse of land across the contiguous U.S. states weathering some form of drought dropped less than 1 percent to 61.8 percent as of Tuesday.
In Iowa, the nation’s leader in corn production, the amount of land mired in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — dropped 7 percentage points to 62.05 percent over the past week.
But the amount of Nebraska in exceptional drought spiked 19 percentage points to 22.5 percent, while that number in Kansas rose from 38.6 percent last week to 63.3 percent now.

Pennsylvania
Police: State rep assaulted wife, drove drunk

FOUNTAIN HILL, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania state lawmaker faces assault and other charges after police say he punched and choked his wife, then drove away drunk.
Democratic state Rep. Joseph Brennan was arrested Wednesday following a 911 call about a man hitting a woman outside their home in Fountain Hill, Lehigh County.
Norma Jane Brennan told officers her husband had choked, punched and wrestled her to the ground. Joseph Brennan was pulled over a few blocks away, where police say a breath test found he had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit for drivers.
Brennan was arraigned and released on $7,500 bail. A message left with his office early Thursday wasn’t immediately returned.
Brennan said last year he was experiencing a “long and personal struggle with alcohol” following a DUI arrest.

New York
Poll: NYC racially divided over stop and frisk policy

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City voters are divided along racial lines over the New York Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” strategy, according to a poll released Thursday.
The Quinnipiac University survey found that 57 percent of white city voters approve of the Police Department’s practice of detaining and sometimes searching anyone officers deem suspicious. But only 25 percent of black voters surveyed said they approve of the policy, which affects many more minorities than white residents. Of those surveyed, 53 percent of Hispanics said they approve of the practice.
The NYPD stopped close to 700,000 people on the street last year. Nearly 87 percent were black or Hispanic, and about half were frisked. About 10 percent were arrested.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg argues that the program is an indispensable tool in the fight against illegal guns. But critics argue the practice unfairly targets minorities.
Overall approval for stop and frisk was at 45 percent, while disapproval was at 50 percent. Some 64 percent of voters said they approve of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s job performance. His approval among whites was at 77 percent, while among blacks, it was at 51 percent.

California
LA restaurant offers discount to phone-free diners

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — A Los Angeles restaurant is offering a deal to customers who agree to look at their fellow diners instead of their phone screens.
Eva Restaurant is giving a 5 percent discount to customers who will leave their cellphones with staff when they are seated.
Owner Mark Gold told KPCC radio on Tuesday that the policy isn’t about other diners who might be annoyed by cellphone chatter or the glow of smartphone screens, but an attempt to create an environment where diners connect to each other instead of to technology.
Servers make the offer to diners when they introduce themselves.
Gold says nearly half take advantage of the discount, and many express gratitude at the opportunity to let go of their devices for a while.

Tennessee
Elvis’ ex-wife, daughter greet fans at Graceland

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The vigil marked the high point of Elvis Week, the annual celebration of Presley’s life and career. Organizers have said they expected 75,000 people to attend Elvis Week, with many taking part in the vigil that was beginning Wednesday evening and to last into Thursday.
This year also brings another highlight with a 35th-anniversary tribute concert planned at an area arena Thursday night. Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley were expected to attend the concert featuring live musicians playing along with videotaped footage of Elvis singing.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cheryl Skogen and friend Susan Struss held up black umbrellas with polka dots near the front of the line as they waited to enter Graceland’s grounds for the vigil.h

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