Local Leads: 4/5/2009 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 4/5/2009

News you need to know



    Celebrating Life After Breast Cancer
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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    Christian churches in the U.S. are turning over a new leaf for Palm Sunday.  About 2,500 congregations from every major denomination this weekend will use fair-trade palm fronds in their annual celebration of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem in the days before his crucifixion. They say it's the Christian thing to do.


    Large police departments across America are looking to the federal stimulus bill as a lifeline that will save jobs and help keep crime in check, but many smaller departments, which are less hard-pressed, see it as a chance to go on a shopping spree.  The Washington Times contacted 19 police departments of varying sizes across the country, and found a wide disparity in needs between the larger and smaller forces.


    Neither side is prepared to lay down its sword.  University of Maryland students -- protesting what they see as an intrusion by Big Brother -- are planning to defy authority and screen a hard-core porn movie in the name of free speech and academic freedom.  "What we're upset about is somebody is trying to control what goes on on campus. This is symbolic," said Liz Ciavolino, a sophomore who is active in the group Feminism Without Borders.  In response, one conservative state legislator revived his threat: If the porn flick is shown on campus, the university might just kiss some state dollars goodbye.  A university spokesman declined to comment last night.  The tale of the scheduled screening of "Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge" has roiled the university's flagship campus and hit newspapers as far away as Australia.


    As many as 350,000 licensed Maryland drivers might soon face a seemingly impossible choice that could upend daily life for their families and gum up the gears of the local economy: Stop driving or get behind the wheel illegally.  They're illegal immigrants but not illegal drivers. They've been carrying licenses endorsed by Maryland governors and lawmakers for years, thanks to policies shaped with a sensitivity to newcomers and a belief that state-certified drivers are safer drivers. But the General Assembly is shifting course to comply with a federal security law that requires states to issue licenses only to lawful residents.  Lawmakers are debating whether undocumented immigrants who have licenses should lose them or be eligible for a second-tier driving permit that would prevent them from boarding commercial flights or entering federal buildings. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has said he will sign either a bill that keeps them in the system or stops it entirely.

    Hopeful winery startup files lawsuit against Fairfax County  A mother-son team is suing Fairfax County after being barred from opening the county’s first farm winery. Jane and Kirk Wiles have fought the county for months to open a small winery on a 35-acre plot next to Clifton. Zoning staff and the Board of Zoning Appeals have both said no; because the Wileses’ plan to import grapes from off-site, they argued the project is an “industrial” use prohibited in the area.  The Wileses want a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge to reverse that decision. The suit, filed last month, argues that the county overstepped its legal authority, that its conclusions lack legal basis and it undercut Virginia’s efforts to promote a thriving wine industry.  “We have a right to agriculture on that property,” Kirk Wiles told The Examiner. The suit comes after the Board of Supervisors mounted an abortive attempt late last year to override its own zoning staff and, presumably, to allow the winery to move forward. Once they realized they would have no ability to regulate the business, however, supervisors rescinded that vote.

    A Manassas area college student became $250,000 richer this week.  Ryan McCoy, 20, claimed a $250,000 prize from the Virginia Lottery's $250K High Roller scratcher game, Virginia Lottery officials said.  McCoy bought his winning card at the Bloom supermarket, at 6306 Hoadly Road in the midcounty area. He said he went to Bloom to pick up some things for his mom.
    While he was there, he bought some scratcher tickets, which he split among his family.  The ticket he scratched himself turned out to be a $250,000 winner.