Local Leads: 4/18/2010 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 4/18/2010

News you need to know



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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    A dark blue sport-utility vehicle that belonged to beloved D.C. schools Principal Brian Betts turned up Saturday, parked next to a church van and tucked behind a children's ministry in Southeast Washington.   The clean, apparently undamaged Nissan Xterra was 14 miles from the Silver Spring home where Betts, 42, was found dead Thursday of at least one gunshot wound. Montgomery County detectives retrieved the car and searched it for evidence.   "Somebody was in it," said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman. "We want to find out about the person who was in it."

    All that talk about the Capitals star players not showing up in Game 1? Fugettaboutit.  Nicklas Backstrom capped off a goal-scoring explosion by the Caps in Game 2 Saturday night at the Verizon Center by netting the game-winner just 31 seconds into overtime -- his third goal of the game -- to even up the series as it heads to Montreal.  The 6-5 win was quite a test of the Caps' will to win. They found themselves down 2-0 early in the first period, then down 4-1 late in the second period. But the team's top players finally found their way onto the scoresheet. And once they did, there was little the Canadiens could do to stop them.  "That was the only way we were going to win this game, by going all offense," coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    A four-alarm fire in an historic Annapolis retail district just a block from the State House damaged two buildings and put on a show for tourists, but a quick response by firefighters appeared to have held losses to a minimum.  The Saturday afternoon fire broke out in a space between the buildings at 54 and 56 Maryland Ave. at a time when the capital city was crowded with visitors to a love-themed city festival and the annual croquet grudge match between St. John's College and the Naval Academy.

    With about 5,000 brands of liquor available on store shelves nationwide, suppliers of some of the top-selling spirits are hoping the modernization of state alcohol laws will entice customers to try new products _ and help both state and their companies' bottom line.  Virginia is one of the latest states that are changing what critics say are outdated alcohol laws. Beginning in July, the state will let customers sample products before buying at its about 330 Alcohol and Beverage Control stores.  New Jersey, Vermont and Maine also eased their tasting laws in the last year, and a total of 43 states have changed liquor laws to allow spirit sampling at stores, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade association representing nearly 70 percent of all liquor brands.

    NASA will host its first Earth Day Tweetup on the National Mall in Washington with @NASA Twitter followers and NASA scientists on April 18 at 1 p.m. EDT.  NASA will host its first Earth Day Tweetup on the National Mall in Washington with @NASA Twitter followers and NASA scientists on April 18 at 1 p.m. EDT.

    Dutch airline KLM said it safely flew aircraft without passengers through a window in the cloud of volcanic ash over Europe Sunday, and pressed for an end to the total ban on commercial air traffic that has paralyzed travel across the continent.  Other airlines including Lufthansa and Air France said they, too, were conducting test flights. Authorities, however, extended airspace restrictions across Europe and said there was no end in sight to the plume spewing out of a volcano in Iceland, which they insist is dangerous to planes.  KLM said the planes, of various types in its fleet, flew at normal altitude above 10,000 feet but did not encounter the thick cloud that had hovered over the continent since Wednesday, apparently indicating the Icelandic dust had thinned or dispersed.

    Arlington County officials are preparing to drop the guillotine on taxpayer funding for the county's prized arts programs.
    The county plans to chop arts grants by 36 percent next year, or about $100,000. Officials also expect to eliminate all county contributions to arts education programs and reduce the funding for supplies for public arts programs.   "On a good day, we'd never cut any of these programs, but we've got a deficit here," said Susan Kalish, a spokeswoman for the county's parks and recreation department.   Arlington leaders have long touted their community as a bastion for the arts. But tough budget times have refocused the county's fiscal priorities.   "Arts or cops? The county's got to make a tough decision," Kalish said.