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Around the Nation

- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2007

ARIZONA

Mosque targeted in 'acid bomb' attack

PHOENIX — Police in Arizona said two men tossed a bottle filled with acid at a Phoenix area mosque early Monday, splashing a caustic chemical near a Muslim cleric involved in a high-profile discrimination suit.

A Glendale Police Department spokesman said two men driving in a red car threw a soda bottle filled with acid and a reactant at the Albanian American Islamic Center of Arizona, in Glendale, west of Phoenix, about 1 a.m. Monday.

The bottle, which contained pool cleaner and strips of tin foil, burst about 20 to 25 feet away from Imam Didmar Faja and another mosque official. Neither man was injured, Sgt. Jim Toomey said.

"We are treating it as a hate crime. We are taking it very seriously," he said.

Imam Faja is one of six Muslim clerics known as the "Flying Imams" who are bringing a suit against US Airways claiming discrimination in being removed from a Minneapolis-to-Phoenix flight last November.

FLORIDA

Town bans cop's boots after crash

TRENTON — A police officer who crashed his car into a convenience store when his cowboy boot slipped off the brake said yesterday that he was embarrassed and not opposed to a new department ban on the smooth-soled footwear.

"They had leather soles and when I hit the brake, my foot slipped off and hit the accelerator. It was my fault," said Michael Herko, one of two full-time officers in this rural northern Florida town.

Officer Herko, 62, said he was pulling into the store when his squad car crashed Sunday night. The 40-year police veteran was wearing a type of cowboy boots called ropers.

As a result of the crash, police Chief Bill Smith banned cowboy boots for officers on duty.

LOUISIANA

Population adjusted for New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — The city's population has grown to an estimated 273,600 people, or 60 percent of the number here before Hurricane Katrina struck nearly two years ago, a new report shows.

The report from demographer Greg Rigamer indicates that a population smaller than the 297,000 recently estimated by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which relied on U.S. Postal Service data.

Mr. Rigamer bases his estimates on utility hookups, and his figures have tracked closely with U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Both sources, however, show a population continuing to rise since Katrina hit in August 2005. According to Mr. Rigamer's report, 273,600 people lived in New Orleans as of last month — 50,200 more than a year earlier. In July 2005, the month before Katrina, the population was about 455,000.

MASSACHUSETTS

Company indicted in Big Dig death

BOSTON — The company that provided the epoxy blamed in the fatal Big Dig tunnel collapse was indicted yesterday in the death of a motorist crushed by ceiling panels.

Powers Fasteners Inc., was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, Attorney General Martha Coakley said. The Brewster, N.Y., company is the only one involved in the construction and design of the tunnel to be indicted by the Suffolk County grand jury, Miss Coakley said.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board released last month found the July 10, 2006, collapse could have been avoided if designers and construction crews had considered that the epoxy holding support anchors for the panels could slowly pull away over time.

Milena Del Valle, 39, was killed when 26 tons of concrete panels and hardware crashed from a tunnel ceiling onto her car as she and her husband drove through the westbound Interstate 90 tunnel. Her husband crawled out of the rubble with minor injuries.

Prosecutors said Powers Fasteners knew the type of epoxy it marketed and sold for the nearly $15 billion project was unsuitable for the weight it would have to hold, but never told project managers.

MISSOURI

Court denies hearing in death penalty case

ST. LOUIS — A federal appeals court has refused to consider whether Missouri's lethal-injection method of capital punishment is constitutional, leaving it unclear whether executions will resume in the state.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied a request by condemned inmate Michael Taylor to consider the question. The inmate's attorney vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Taylor had appealed to the full appeals court after a three-judge panel ruled in June that Missouri's execution procedure is not cruel and unusual punishment. That ruling had overturned another judge's decision to ban executions until the lethal injection process was reformed.

Taylor's attorney said yesterday that she will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Although the high court accepts only a small percentage of the thousands of cases it is asked to review each year, "this has a better shot than most," attorney Ginger Anders said. "It's an extremely important issue, one that is going on in a lot of states."

PENNSYLVANIA

Bigamist slain hours before trip to 2nd wife

PHILADELPHIA — A Muslim man who had taken a second wife in Morocco earlier this year was fatally shot in his bed on the day he was to travel there, and his first wife has not been ruled out as his killer, authorities said Tuesday.

Jereleigh Morton's first wife, Myra, told police that she chased the intruder who shot him Sunday in their $1 million suburban home. But police found no signs of a break-in and focused their attention on the victim's marriages after reading Mrs. Morton's diaries.

No charges have been filed, but police took cheek swabs from Mrs. Morton to compare to DNA found at the scene, court papers show.

Mrs. Morton, 47, had reluctantly agreed to her 47-year-old husband's second marriage and even traveled to Morocco this year to sanction it under Muslim law, authorities said. Prosecutors, however, say her husband may have married the other woman — who is in her 20s and whom he met on the Internet — even earlier than Mrs. Morton knew.

WISCONSIN

Milwaukee airport loses power

MILWAUKEE — A small electrical fire at Milwaukee's airport forced officials to shut down power for more than two hours Tuesday, causing flight delays and requiring hand searches of baggage and terminal shops to close.

Officials at General Mitchell International Airport were investigating what caused the fire. A contractor had been working in an underground utility tunnel, airport spokeswoman Pat Rowe said.

The medium-size airport, home to Midwest Airlines, has more than 230 daily departures to more than 50 cities.

Flights were able to continue during the failure because the traffic control tower has its own alternative power supply, officials said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports