Lawmakers Move to Seal

U.S. Cemeteries Against Killers

Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer convicted of murder and sentenced to 175 years in prison, is an Air Force veteran. Under existing law, he is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

Last week, the two senators from Kansas introduced legislation to ban military burial and funeral honors for anyone convicted of a capital murder and sentenced to life. A bill was also introduced by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).

Last month, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced a similar bill, noting that in July, Vietnam veteran Russell Wayne Wagner's cremated remains were deposited in Arlington National Cemetery after he died in a state prison where he was serving two life sentences for murdering an elderly couple.

The proposals by the Kansas lawmakers would ban burial in national cemeteries and forbid military honors and color guard ceremonies at funerals for capital offenders such as Rader.

"For him to be buried next to our nation's heroes is just unconscionable," said Molly Mueller, a spokeswoman for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

-- Kari Lydersen

In New England, Fall Hasn't

Fallen and Tourists See Green

Autumn's last hurrah before the Northeast bears down for the winter threatens to become a drooping disappointment. Tourists flowing in for the weekend expecting fall colors -- the reds, oranges, and yellows -- instead will find a whole lot of green in New England.

The sunshine that has kept folks in short sleeves and sandals is bathing leaves in rays that delay the autumn bloom. Still, that has not kept tourists away. The Associated Press reports buses have flowed into the region like clockwork, dropping off binocular-toting leaf-seekers.

"I think we as residents are a little discerning and particular about our foliage," Susan Roy, head of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce in central Vermont, told the news service. "People who visit enjoy it all. If they see one red tree, they're happy."

Nature's tardy autumn arrival has been noted as far south as Tennessee, where naturalists say the Cherokee National Forest and Smokies might wait until November to reveal their colorful foliage.

-- Michelle Garcia

Sophomoric Comedy, You Say?

That's Exactly What They Want

The National Lampoon franchise is known for a string of movies that celebrate all that is lewd, crude and sophomoric in comedy. The group got its start on campus as a Harvard humor magazine and broke into the entertainment industry with "Animal House," that famous film about drunken frat brothers and doltish deans.

So when National Lampoon execs went looking for fresh material for their campus-based cable-television network recently, they went back to the well: college sophomores.

This fall, the entertainment company is pairing with the University of Texas at Austin to bring students "National Lampoon's Master Class in Comedy." Twenty-seven aspiring film and television writers get to learn from Hollywood producers how to make a funny movie. And the producers get to use their ideas.

"They need us, and we need them," Ryan Scott, a student in the class, told the Austin American-Statesman, displaying a touching optimism about the writer's role in the great machine of Hollywood filmmaking. "They're dire for content, dire for programming. Hopefully, we can give them that."

-- Sonya Geis

Anaheim Mayor Supports His

Angels -- Not That Other City's

Mayor Curt Pringle of Anaheim, Calif., roots for the Angels, who made this suburban community proud when they brought home a World Series trophy in 2002.

But this year Pringle has cheered the team from afar. He and two members of the City Council have sat out the season to protest the team's name change from the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a marketing ploy team officials say has helped boost ticket sales.

The City of Anaheim has filed a lawsuit over the name change. It refrains from using the name of that other, more famous city in official references to the local baseball team. So it was big news last week when Pringle put aside his protest to attend the Angels first postseason game, with the New York Yankees (of the Bronx).

Pringle told the Orange County Register he wanted to support the players without supporting the team management.

"It's one of those fine lines," he said.

No telling whether Pringle and other Anaheim loyalists felt any small glimmers of satisfaction when the team lost, 4 to 2.

-- Sonya Geis