November 4, 2005 in Nation/World

Rockettes kick to canned music

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

New York For the first time ever, the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall performed the Christmas show Thursday without the accompaniment of live musicians. Instead, they high-kicked to recorded music.

The decision by Radio City Entertainment, owned by Cablevision, to replace the 35-member orchestra with recorded music came after the members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 staged a walkout Wednesday night amid a bitter, months-long contract dispute. Two pre-season performances were canceled that night as a result.

Then Thursday a union spokesman said the orchestra was ready to accept an updated offer management had put forth last Friday. The musicians showed up at the Music Hall for the two performances dressed in tuxedos, but were turned away by security guards.

The orchestra wants to play in the “Christmas Spectacular,” said the spokesman who did not want to be named. He said they thought people who paid $250 or more for a ticket deserved live music but management had locked the musicians out.

Man who spread HIV sentenced to 21 years

Washington A former D.C. government worker who has known since 1996 that he has the AIDS virus was sentenced to a 21-year prison term Thursday for luring women and teenage girls into sexual relationships without telling them of the risks.

Sundiata Basir, 34, a onetime assistant to a deputy mayor, had unprotected sex with at least seven partners in what prosecutors called “a stunning picture of criminal recklessness.” Four women and girls, including a 15-year-old, later discovered that they had the AIDS virus, prosecutors said.

The judge called Basir a “violent, self-absorbed outlaw,” and prosecutors expressed concern about the broader impact of his behavior. Basir had sex with an unknown number of others who might be spreading the virus, they said. Authorities urged people who think they might have been exposed to seek medical screening.

Senate takes vouchers out of Katrina aid bill

Washington The Senate on Thursday rejected direct private-school vouchers for hurricane victims, but its proposed aid for private schools still drew fire from public educators.

In amending a massive budget bill, senators took aim at helping the Gulf Coast schools damaged by Hurricane Katrina – and the schools nationwide that have enrolled displaced students.

Vouchers, one of the most politically touchy issues in education, entered the debate again. Supporters of these private-school scholarships say they offer much-needed choice for poor children, while critics say they rob money from public schools at taxpayer expense.

By a 2-1 margin, the Senate rejected a plan to create individual accounts of $6,000 per student, or $7,500 per disabled student. The amendment would have let parents request a payment of that money, then use it to send their kids to the private school of their choice.

Then, by a voice vote, the Senate approved a $2.7 billion amendment aimed at reducing fees for college students and providing hurricane relief to school districts. Specifically, it includes $1.2 billion for public and private schools that have enrolled hurricane victims.

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