Widespread Panic singer dies

Athens, Ga. � Michael "Mikey" Houser, guitarist and singer for the rock band Widespread Panic, died Saturday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 40.

Houser released a statement last month explaining his illness and saying he would not participate in its summer tour. His death was reported in The Athens Banner-Herald and on the band's Web site Sunday.

Widespread Panic, which developed a large, faithful following, is known for its blues-based music with long, improvisational passages and progressive percussions that attracted fans of "jam" bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish.

Baseball fans to wig out

Niles, Ohio � Fans who go to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers minor-league baseball game on Wednesday should ditch the glove and take a toupee.

The Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians has made Aug. 14 "Jim Traficant Night," and hairpiece wearers and sons of truck drivers get in free.

The former Ohio congressman, serving an eight-year prison sentence for bribery and racketeering, often calls himself "the son of a truck driver."

His gravity-defying hairstyle caused rampant speculation among journalists and residents on whether it was real or a rug, until he had to doff it for booking.

The baseball event also features a Traficant impersonator, Traficant trading cards and a mock election.

The House expelled Traficant in July.

Country music to enshrine two

Nashville, Tenn. � Porter Wagoner and Bill Carlisle will be joining country music's most elite club � the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Nov. 6 induction will be part of the Country Music Assn. Awards, broadcast live on CBS. Hall of fame members are selected by a committee of the CMA, a trade organization that promotes country music.

"I want you to know that I feel very honored tonight," said the 93-year-old Carlisle. "Thank you, thank you."

Carlisle's hits include "Too Old to Cut the Mustard" and "Is Zat You, Myrtle."

Wagoner, 74, had a syndicated variety show for 20 years ending in 1981. His hits include "A Satisfied Mind" and "The Carroll County Accident." He helped Dolly Parton get her start, and the two had hit duets, including "Please Don't Stop Loving Me."

Arnold's proposition

Sacramento, Calif. � Arnold Schwarzenegger is putting his financial muscle behind a California ballot measure to fund after-school and early morning programs.

The November initiative has received $3.6 million so far, with the actor kicking in $1 million, new campaign finance reports show.

The measure, Proposition 49, is widely viewed as a way for Schwarzenegger to establish his policy credentials and to provide a prelude to his eventually seeking public office.

The initiative would earmark as much as $550 million a year for after- and before-school programs for elementary and junior high school students.

A. Jerold Perenchio, chairman of the Spanish-language Univision network, also donated $1 million to the measure, according to campaign finance reports.


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