Tax-repeal effort brings out dancers

OLYMPIA - Dozens of people protesting a decades-old state tax on dance venues swayed to the rhythm Monday in support of a repeal being considered by lawmakers at the Washington state Capitol.

Koe Suzuteki performed the Charleston on the steps of the Capitol amid the groups that had gathered to dance in protest.

"Dance encourages social culture, getting into your body and being out in the town, spending money on local night life. It's a wonderful way to connect, and it makes people smile," said the Seattle resident, who goes dancing twice a week. "Why are those always the things that need to be taxed and pushed away?"

Washington state has had the tax, which targets venues that provide an opportunity to dance, since the 1960s. A measure to repeal it has cleared a committee and is awaiting a floor vote in the Senate.


Marine-base worker charged with bribery

SAN DIEGO - A Department of Defense employee who oversaw construction contracts at Camp Pendleton used his position to extort bribes from businesses seeking to work on the California Marine Corps base, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Natividad Lara Cervantes was arrested Thursday after authorities say he accepted $10,000 of a $40,000 bribe offered by a witness working with federal agents, said Daphne Hearn, the special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego office.

Cervantes believed he was receiving the money in exchange for helping the witness secure a $4 million flooring contract, according to a federal complaint.

Prosecutors say Cervantes referred to himself as the "Godfather at Camp Pendleton."

New Jersey

Tanning-bed use now barred for minors

TRENTON - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation banning anyone under 17 from using a tanning bed and anyone under 14 from getting a spray tan a year after the state's Tanning Mom became a tabloid sensation.

The legislation was developed after a northern Jersey woman accused of taking her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth was charged last year with child endangerment. The deeply tanned woman became known as the Tanning Mom, but a grand jury declined to indict her in February.

The measure signed Monday allows 17-year-olds to use tanning salons provided a parent or guardian accompanies them to their first visit and consents.


Suit seeks removal of Jesus portrait

CINCINNATI - Two groups that sued to stop the display of a Jesus portrait in a school district's middle school now want the portrait removed from the wall of a high school where it was moved last month.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in February charging that the portrait, which was then displayed in the Jackson City Schools middle school, unconstitutionally promotes religion in a public school. They filed an amended complaint Monday, asking the court to also prohibit the portrait from display in the high school for the same reason.


Raid breaks up a large dogfight

JACKSON - A raid on a barn in northern Mississippi over the weekend busted up what is thought to be one the biggest dogfights in the United States with organizers and participants from around the country, authorities said Monday.

A raid Saturday night found at least 200 people gathered in a barn at the end of a dirt road in Benton County, authorities said.

Authorities are looking for the man who owned the property. The authorities said they believe the fight was among five of the biggest held annually in the country.

The Associated Press