DNA Is Key as Game Warden
Goes High Tech To Bag Poacher
The crime scene was nearly clean -- just a hank of hair and a few drops of blood splattered in a Northern California alfalfa field. But using the latest in DNA technology, investigators linked that scant evidence to a body, zeroed in on a suspect and won a conviction . . . on charges of poaching.
Call it "CSI: Fish and Game."
In rural Shasta County, state game warden Ken Taylor got a tip last summer that a local man had bragged about illegally killing a deer on a private lot off-limits to hunters -- and that he planned to do it again.
So as a new hunting season began, Taylor staked out the area until he spotted the suspect. Later, he found drag marks, fur and dried blood on a barbed-wire fence and thistles within the off-limits area. He confronted the suspect, Clayton Bethel, and took deer meat from Bethel's freezer. Then, in a step increasingly common in hunting regulation, he sent it to a state lab for forensic testing.
Two months later, the results came back: a match.
Now, Bethel's father -- the local volunteer fire chief -- faces charges of unlawfully validating his son's deer tags. Meanwhile, Bethel, 31, pleaded no contest this month to five misdemeanor charges. He faces fines of nearly $7,000 and a prohibition on hunting for the next three years.
"I'll take up golfing or something," he told the Redding Record Searchlight.
-- Amy Argetsinger
Houston Stadium Clause Seeks
To Keep Shows Family-Friendly
No more "wardrobe malfunctions" allowed at Houston's Reliant Stadium, home of Janet Jackson's infamous breast-baring halftime performance during the 2004 Super Bowl.
Promoters are now required to sign contracts stating that performers will not use Reliant Park for any "immoral purpose."
Shortly after Jackson's performance, Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack called for adding a "morality clause" to the contracts of promoters who bring in acts to Reliant Park.
More than a year later, the "immoral purpose" phrase -- in boldface -- was added to Reliant Park contracts.
Willie Loston, director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., which oversees Reliant Park, chose not to impose an extraordinarily strict morality clause, saying that immorality is subjective, and that certain acts are protected under the First Amendment. He also said Reliant Park would lose business to other venues.
"We talked about how restrictive can we get and still be competitive," he told the Houston Chronicle.
-- Caroline Keating
Horse Has the Perfect Pedigree
For a Naming-Rights Squabble
Okay. Let's play follow the bloodline.
Once there was a horse named Colonial Affair. Hmm. Sounds intriguing.
So, Colonial Affair, being a stud and doing what studs do, became a daddy. The pretty girl horse he sired added some more intrigue: She was named Jefferson's Secret.
Now, what do you think comes next?
Garrett Redmond, who is a history buff and a thoroughbred owner, didn't have much trouble deciding: The offspring of Jefferson's Secret should be named Sally Hemings, after the slave who more and more historians have come to agree was, indeed, Jefferson's secret -- his lover and the mother of at least one of his children.
But Redmond's little walk through history is troubling to horse racing's upper echelon. The Jockey Club, a thoroughbred registry, has told him that naming a horse after Hemings could offend blacks. The club says he can't do it.
But Redmond, of Paris, Ky., doesn't take his history or his horsing lightly. He has filed a lawsuit to force the Jockey Club to relent. Redmond perused the history of horse racing and found some horse names that make him wonder what's wrong with his.
"President's Affair, One Night Love Affair . . . Slam Bam Thank You Ma'am," he said. "Those don't have negative moral implications?"
If naming a horse after someone is a bad thing, Redmond figures he has got bigger troubles than the Jockey Club. One of his horses is named after his wife.
-- Manuel Roig-Franzia
If Pay Increases, Comics Could
Laugh Their Way to the Bank
When it comes to wages, New York City comedians can't get any respect from the comedy clubs. The weekend rate of 50 bucks for a night of yucks has remained the same for two decades.
The comics found a champion not among the state politicos who represent the downtown club districts but in working-class Upper Manhattan. Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, whose constituency largely consists of families, immigrants and small businesses, deemed the comics' plight a populist cause.
Espaillat wants a minimum wage for comics. The bill he introduced in the State Assembly would raise the weekend rate to $120 and applies to "professional" comics.
Joel Barkin, a spokesman for Espaillat, said that comics, like other workers, have felt the pinch from soaring real estate prices and stagnant wages. "We have had an influx of artists and comedians moving into our district because it's the only place they can live," Barkin said.
-- Michelle Garcia
A Claim in the Heartland
The ads began appearing recently in Iowa newspapers. They said a certain nonprofit organization would "welcome the interest of 5-10 prominent families of the city." The goal is the construction of Peace Palaces devoted to Transcendental Meditation and an enlightened and creative life.
As the latest project of followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, made famous as the Beatles' guru in the 1960s, the effort is designed to reach dozens of U.S. cities, first with advertisements, ultimately with hundreds of prefabricated, marble-veneered spas, sales centers and houses of yogic proselytizing. One already exists in Bethesda.
The goal for Iowa is nine. Each is projected to cost about $3 million.
"We'll be advertising in all the major papers everywhere in the United States twice a week," said Bob Wynne, mayor of Maharishi Vedic City, a southeastern Iowa town dedicated to the movement. "We want to create world peace, you know, peace for the individual, peace for the environment."
-- Peter Slevin