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This Hour: Latest Massachusetts news, sports, business and entertainment

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REPUBLICANS CHAIRMAN

GOP chairman: Party competing for black votes

BOSTON (AP) - The chairman of the Republican National Committee says the GOP has been working to better compete for black and minority votes as it eyes the 2016 presidential race.

Reince Priebus (ryns PREE'-bus) said the party has established a "full-time engagement program" geared toward black, Latino and Asian voters even as he defended his party's push for stricter voter identification laws that have been unpopular in minority communities.

He spoke Thursday at the National Association of Black Journalists' annual convention in Boston.

Priebus has served as party chairman since 2011. He said the GOP is also working to diversify its staff, while also acknowledging it must do more at the senior level.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, will address the convention on Friday.

CARDINALS-RED SOX TRADE

AP source: Lackey traded from Red Sox to Cards

BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Red Sox have traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday's deadline, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither club announced the trade.

Earlier, the Red Sox sent their top starter, left-hander Jon Lester, to the Oakland Athletics with outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and a 2015 draft pick.

Lackey was 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA as the No. 2 starter in Boston's rotation.

Kelly is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in seven starts. He has made four starts since being activated from the disabled list on July 11. Craig is batting .237 with seven homers and 44 RBIs.

RED SOX-ATHLETICS TRADE

AP source: A's acquire Lester, Gomes for Cespedes

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A person with knowledge of the trade says the Oakland Athletics have won the Jon Lester sweepstakes, acquiring the left-hander along with outfielder Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes before Thursday's trade deadline.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither club announced the deal.

Lester was sought by many teams, including Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers, when A's general manager Billy Beane pulled off another blockbuster trade.

Lester is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts.

Cespedes won the past two Home Run Derbys at the All-Star game. He is in the third season of a $36 million, four-year contract he signed before 2012.

ASH BORER

Invasive beetle found in Boston

BOSTON (AP) - An invasive and destructive beetle has been found at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.

State officials say it's the first emerald ash borer to be detected in Suffolk County.

The small, green beetle is native to Asia and was first discovered in North America more than a decade ago. It feeds on ash trees, often killing the trees within three to five years.

The emerald ash borer was previously detected in Berkshire and Essex Counties.

Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jack Murray said the beetles represent a serious threat to ash trees and action has been taken to contain them.

Those steps include a ban on bringing firewood into state parks and forests and placing quarantines in areas where the ash borer has already been discovered.

MBTA-CRIME

MBTA reports overall drop in crime so far in 2014

BOSTON (AP) - The MBTA is reporting a drop in the overall rate of serious crime during the first six months of the year, though the number of aggravated assaults on the Boston-area transit system was higher than in the same period a year ago.

According to crime statistics released by transit police, 384 serious crimes were committed between Jan. 1 and June 30, compared to 395 over the first six months of 2013.

While the number of simple assaults has fallen by 22 percent, there was a 38 percent jump in aggravated assaults in which some type of weapon was used.

MBTA police chief Paul MacMillan tells The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/1n60VH6 ) there is no obvious explanation for the increase.

The T says robberies, including thefts of smartphones, were down 28 percent from a year ago.

UNNEEDED BOARDS

Report: Many state boards should be eliminated

BOSTON (AP) - )Massachusetts has dozens of state boards, commissions and task forces that no longer meet or file reports, or have simply become irrelevant.

That's according to a report issued by a Senate committee that reviewed nearly 400 state entities and offered a serious of recommendations to fix the problems.

The panel found that many of boards and commissions that have been created over the years continue to exist, but many do not meet. In fact, some appear to have never met at all.

Many boards also have empty seats because members have not been appointed or reappointed.

The Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee called on the state to identify and dissolve unnecessary panels, and take steps to find people qualified to serve on those that still have a useful purpose.

MASSACHUSETTS COURT-HINES

New justice to join Massachusetts high court

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick is set to administer the oath of office to the newest member of the state's highest court.

Geraldine Hines will be the first black woman to serve on the seven-member Supreme Judicial Court. She's scheduled to be sworn-in as an associate justice during a ceremony on Thursday.

Hines was appointed to the Superior Court by the late Gov. Paul Cellucci in 2001, and was named by Patrick to serve on the state appeals court last year.

Earlier this month, the governor's council unanimously approved Hines' nomination to the SJC. She fills the vacancy left when Ralph Gants was elevated from associate justice to chief justice of the court, replacing Roderick Ireland who retired after 17 years on the high court, the last four as chief justice.

HIGHWAY PURSUIT-ARREST

Suspect facing many charges after police chase

DEERFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A Vermont man faces a variety of charges after a police pursuit in Massachusetts.

State police said in a statement that the incident began Wednesday night when a state trooper, Charles Murphy, made a traffic stop on Interstate 91 in Deerfield.

Police said 30-year-old Paul Heim of Woodstock, Vermont, drove off after a struggle with the trooper, briefly dragging Murphy. The trooper was able to get back to his cruiser and begin a pursuit that ended when Deerfield officers used a device to deflate the tires on the suspect's car.

Police said Heim threw an object from the car that, among things, contained 182 bags of a substance that appeared to be heroin.

Among the charges he faces are drug possession, assault and battery on a police officer, and driving without a license.

CHURCH VANDALIZED

Pastor angry after church vandalized

(Information in the following story is from: The (Quincy, Mass.) Patriot Ledger, http://www.patriotledger.com)

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) - Police are asking for the public's help as they try to find out who vandalized a Quincy church.

The Patriot Ledger (http://bit.ly/1k9brTd ) reports a custodian at the Community United Methodist Church discovered the damage on Wednesday, which included two stained-glass windows smashed in by rocks. A gymnasium and youth center in the building was also ransacked.

The Rev. Susan Jarek-Glidden calls the damage "infuriating," though she was at least grateful that no one was injured and no fires were set during the vandalism spree.

Jarek-Glidden said she has no idea why anyone would target the church, and plans to devote her Sunday sermon to the consequences of the act.

In December, someone broke into the church and stole a laptop computer and cash donations.

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR-BAKER

GOP's Baker to unveil plan to fight drug addiction

BOSTON (AP) - Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker has unveiled what he's calling a comprehensive approach to tackling the drug addiction crisis in Massachusetts.

The plan announced by Baker on Thursday would require hospitals and first responders to report overdoses directly to the Department of Public Health and mandate doctors consult the state's Prescription Monitoring Program before writing or renewing a prescription on an annual basis.

Baker said the state should work with schools to develop age-appropriate programs to help children understand the physical, social and economic consequences of addiction. He said the state should also ensure there are suitable in-patient facilities for teenagers and young adults fighting addiction.

The GOP gubernatorial hopeful says his approach to the addiction problem would address prevention and treatment at the same time.

NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS

Jobs bill keeps non-compete policy intact

BOSTON (AP) - State legislators have apparently decided not to restrict non-compete agreements in the private sector.

A compromise version of an economic development bill does not include language that would discourage businesses from asking employees to sign the agreements, which can limit the ability of workers at cutting-edge technology firms to quit their jobs and take their knowledge to competitors.

Gov. Deval Patrick has said non-competes stifle competition. He proposed eliminating the agreements and implementing the federal Uniform Trade Secrets Act in Massachusetts.

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President Paul Guzzi backed the Legislature's decision to keep the state's current law on non-competes, saying it strikes an "appropriate balance" between the interests of companies and workers.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the economic development bill on Thursday, the final day of the formal legislative session.

BICYCLIST KILLED

Foreign worker dies in Cape Cod bicycle accident

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) - A young man from Kazakhstan has died after his bicycle was hit by a car on Cape Cod.

Police said the man was riding on Route 132 late Wednesday night when he was hit by a car exiting Route 6. The driver of the car, who stopped at the scene, told police she did not see the bicycle.

The man who died was 21-years-old and was working in the U.S. under an exchange program. Officials did not immediately release his name.

Sgt. Thomas Twomey said the accident remained under investigation and no charges had been filed against the driver.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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