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Laws for silence on the western frontThe...


Laws for silence on the western front

The Newport Beach, Calif., City Council took the first step toward approving a tougher noise ordinance, but not before the city's most famous noisemaker spoke his peace.

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman, who has received more than 50 police visits and been fined more than $8,500 for violations of the current ordinance over the past year, told council members Tuesday that authorities are unfairly targeting him.

"My complaint is that I get harassed every day," Rodman said. "I throw a lot of parties -- yes I do -- but at all my parties there aren't any kids in danger ... everything's controlled, I have security guards all over the perimeter."

Rodman may face misdemeanor disturbing the peace charges from his 40th birthday party May 12, with what officials said was an illegal helicopter landing, a rock concert without a permit and hundreds of invited and uninvited guests.

Deputy City Attorney Daniel K. Ohl said proposed changes to the ordinance are "not just for Rodman," although he acknowledged the former NBA star "helped move the rewrite forward."

If council members give the proposed rules final approval next month, they will take effect 30 days later.

Good business

America's oldest family business is neither a farm nor factory nor public house, but a cymbal manufacturer, according to a compilation of the nation's 102 hardiest companies in the Spring 2001 issue of Family Business magazine.

The Zildjian Cymbal Co. of Norwell, Mass., was founded in Turkey in 1623 and has been run for 14 generations by the Zildjian family. The clan moved to the United States in 1929.

Two plantations and seven farms rounded out the top 10.

Others include: Barker Farm, a dairy and apple operation in North Andover, Mass. (founded in 1642); Laird & Co., a brandy distiller in Scobeyville, N.J. (1780); Hayes' Coffee, a coffee roaster in Oak Park, Ill. (1787) and Crane & Co., a Dalton, Mass.-based paper manufacturer (1801).

Their secret? Good genes, luck and location, the magazine said. Only 21 of the "Oldest 100" are based in major metropolitan areas.

But who's counting?

Prosecutors have reduced one of the charges in Robert Downey Jr.'s Palm Springs, Calif., drug possession case to a misdemeanor.

Downey was scheduled to be arraigned today in a Riverside County court on the reduced charge after his attorneys filed a court document arguing he should be charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly possessing Valium, Deputy District Attorney Tamara Capone said.

However, Downey, 36, still faces a felony count of possessing cocaine and an additional misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance, she said.

Downey was arrested in a Culver City alley last month and was booked for investigation of being under the influence of drugs. Prosecutors have said that arrest will be handled as a parole violation.

What about the Bunnies?

Playboy has been awarded the rights to the Internet domain name in a U.N. panel ruling released yesterday.

The adult entertainment empire brought the case against the Good Samaritan Program of Owings Mills, which had registered the name.

The U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization based in Geneva, ruled that Good Samaritan had no right to the name of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and ordered it transferred to the company.

Playboy contended that the Hefner name is an integral part of the corporation. Hefner, 75, has been editor in chief of Playboy magazine since 1953 and was president of the Playboy Club from 1959-1986.

Playboy said its name was used simply to attract Internet traffic to Good Samaritan's sites.

Good Samaritan failed to respond to Playboy's complaint, and presented no evidence to the U.N. panel.

Today's birthdays

Comedian Tommy Chong is 63.

Singer Bob Dylan is 60.

Actor Gary Burghoff is 58.

Singer Patti LaBelle is 57.

Actress Priscilla Presley is 56.

Country singer Mike Reid is 54.

Actor Alfred Molina is 48.

Singer Rosanne Cash is 46.

Actress Kristin Scott Thomas is 41.

Actor-dancer Gene Anthony Ray is 38.

Actor John C. Reilly is 36.

Actor Eric Close is 34.

Rapper-recording executive Heavy D is 34.

Rock musician Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) is 32.

Actor Billy L. Sullivan is 21.

Actor-rapper Big Tyme is 18.

Country singer Billy Gilman is 13.

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