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Boston marks July 4th with Pops, fireworks

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Boston marks July 4th with Pops, fireworks

Boston marked Independence Day, and its rich Revolutionary War history, with music, fireworks and fighter planes.

People filled the banks of the Charles River last Saturday to grab seats for the free annual Boston Pops concert that evening, featuring singer Neil Diamond.

The concert kicked off with the national anthem and a flyover by the Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing and the Air Force’s 131st Fighter Squadron. It ends with a nationally televised fireworks display.

Last Saturday morning, the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship, the USS Constitution, performed its annual turnaround in Boston Harbor. “Old Ironsides,” which was launched in 1797, fired a 21-gun salute and 19-gun salute along the way.

Mass. weighs tax credits for video game makers

Massachusetts is weighing a bill to extend the state’s motion picture tax credits to video game makers.

The Boston area is already home to top gaming companies like the developers of the hugely popular “Rock Band.” But it’s just fourth or fifth on the list of top video gaming clusters, behind cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A bill by state Rep. John Binienda, D-Worcester, to extend existing motion picture tax credits to video game companies was scheduled to come up for a public hearing at the State House on Wednesday.

Tax breaks could be a tough sell after lawmakers just approved a sales tax hike. Also, a new report says Bay State taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from an incentive program to boost filmmaking in the Commonwealth.

According to the state Revenue Department, Massachusetts is getting only 16 cents for every dollar it gives up in incentives and much of the benefits from the program go to out-of-state companies and workers.

The program was enacted in 2005, and effectively underwrites a fourth of filmmakers’ production costs.

From 2006 through 2008, the state granted about $166 million worth of tax credits to 267 projects from 2006 through 2008. The Revenue Department report says the state is set to spend nearly $100 million more on 30 projects in the works.

Hub officers disciplined over steroids

A probe of steroid use by Boston police has resulted in suspensions of 11 officers.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis announced the disciplinary action last Thursday following a nearly three-year internal investigation into an after-hours club in Hyde Park.

Davis said seven officers will serve suspensions ranging from 15 to 45 days for using steroids.

Four other officers received shorter suspensions — one for knowing about steroid use and not reporting it and three for what were termed issues related to improper activity at the club.

The officers will not face criminal charges.

Davis said he’s considering adding steroid testing to the department’s current drug testing policy. All police recruits will be tested for steroids prior to their employment.

Oceanarium opens full-time in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford celebrated more than just Independence Day as the city welcomed the full-time opening of the Ocean Explorium.

More than a decade in the making, the aquarium and ocean science center overcame major financial hurdles and finally opened to the public last year — but on Saturdays only. As of July 4, it will be open seven days a week.

The Explorium features a computerized image of Earth in 3-D and a living coral reef exhibit that highlights issues of coral bleaching and global warming.

It also includes an activity center for children.

New Bedford was once among the world’s foremost whaling ports and remains a major fishing center.

(Associated Press)