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NEW ENGLAND IN BRIEF

Slots turn up lemons in House vote

There'll be no slot machines at Massachusetts' four racetracks -- for now. House lawmakers yesterday dealt a losing hand to a bill designed to allow each of the state's dog and horse tracks to install up to 2,000 slot machines. Backers of the bill warned the 100-to-55 vote could sound the death knell for some tracks, but supporters failed to convince fellow House colleagues that the state could reap hundreds of millions if it allows slot machines. Critics, including House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, have said the social cost of expanded gambling outweighed the benefits. (AP)

Lawmakers OK MCAS graduation bill
A push to let special-education students who flunked the MCAS attend their high school graduation ceremonies sailed through the House of Representatives yesterday. Lawmakers passed the bill, 155 to 0, in hope that the Senate and the governor would approve it by June. The MCAS has been a statewide graduation requirement since 2003; students who fail are denied a diploma, but some schools let those students attend graduation, where they receive a certificate. Boston, however, excludes from the ceremonies students who fail, saying it lowers standards. Boston makes exceptions only for vocational students or those with severe special needs.

Ship worker sentenced in sludge dumping
The chief engineer of a container ship was sentenced yesterday to two months in federal prison and fined $3,000 for his role in illegally dumping tons of oil sludge into the Atlantic Ocean last year. Mani Singh, 58, of India, had pleaded guilty to charges of making false statements and obstruction of justice for concealing the pollution from the US Coast Guard when officers boarded the 663-foot vessel Elena for a routine inspection last summer when it entered Boston Harbor. MSC Ship Management Ltd., the Hong Kong owners of the ship, agreed in December to pay a fine of $10.5 million, the largest environmental fine in New England history, for the discharge of more than 40 tons of oil sludge into the ocean and trying to cover up the crime.

Council seeks to ban more firearms
The City Council yesterday unanimously passed a petition to ban certain ''cop killer" firearms and stiffen offender penalties. The legislation will add the FN Five-Seven, .50 cal. Smith & Wesson, and .50 cal. Barrett to the city's assault weapon's ban. Possession of illegal firearms also will now carry a minimum, mandatory one-year jail sentence under the legislation. Before it takes effect, the petition must be approved by the mayor and state lawmakers.

CAMBRIDGE

Barrios ends run for AG, seeks reelection
State Senator Jarrett T. Barrios announced yesterday that he was suspending his campaign for Middlesex district attorney and would seek reelection to the Cambridge legislative seat he has held since 2003. ''I have no doubt that we would have been successful on Election Day," the Democrat wrote in an e-mail sent to his supporters. ''However, the rigors of working more than 100 hours a week on the campaign have imposed major burdens on my young family. . . . I simply could not justify the sacrifices involved in running for this office, when there is so much that I can continue to accomplish in the Senate." While he had raised more than $700,000 for his race for district attorney, Barrios had lagged in support behind former prosecutor Gerard T. Leone, who was backed by current Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley, who is running unopposed for attorney general. In his reelection bid, Barrios will face at least five candidates, including Cambridge City Councilor Anthony Galluccio. The announcement leaves Leone as the sole candidate for chief prosecutor in the state's largest county. (AP)

MARLBOROUGH

OSHA fines granite company $55,300
A granite company has been fined $55,300 by federal regulators in the death of a worker who was crushed last year by a granite slab. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited ASI/Massachusetts Stone Fabrication & Supply for 15 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards. Valdecir Rodrigues, 38, was killed Oct. 3 while he and a co-worker were trying to move a 6-by-10-foot granite slab that was stored between other slabs. The slabs fell on both workers, killing Rodrigues and injuring the other man. OSHA found that the company neither properly stored the slabs nor properly trained workers to move them. (AP)

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