- - Thursday, March 18, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Episcopal church OKs 2nd gay bishop

LOS ANGELES — The Episcopal Church has approved the election of a lesbian assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The announcement Wednesday makes the Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore the second openly gay bishop in the Anglican global fellowship.

Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno said the approval demonstrates the Episcopal Church does not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Ms. Glasspool was elected last year, but needed the full church’s approval to be consecrated in May.

The Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Episcopal conservatives have formed a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America.

NEW JERSEY

Blacks told to leave Wal-Mart

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — An announcement at a Wal-Mart store in New Jersey ordering black people to leave brought chagrin and apologies Wednesday from leaders of the company, which has built a fragile trust among minority communities.

A male voice came over the public-address system Sunday evening at a store in Washington Township and calmly announced: “Attention Wal-Mart customers: All black people leave the store now.”

Shoppers in the store at the time said a manager quickly got on the public address system and apologized for the remark.

Officials with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., said that the announcement was “unacceptable” and that they’re trying to determine who made it — whether an employee or a rogue patron — and how it happened.

“We are just as appalled by this incident as are our customers,” the company said Wednesday. “Whoever did this is just wrong and acted in an inappropriate manner. Clearly, this is completely unacceptable to us and to our customers.”

NEW YORK

Toyota, inspectors inspect wrecked Prius

HARRISON — Investigators from Toyota and the U.S. government inspected a crashed 2005 Prius in a suburb of New York City on Wednesday to see if a black boxlike device or its wreckage could point to problems with the brakes or accelerator.

The black box, known as an event data recorder, yielded information on engine speed and pedal position, Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Wade Hoyt said. Investigators were still downloading additional data, he said.

A housekeeper who was driving the car told police that it sped up on its own as she eased forward down her employer’s driveway on March 9 and hit a wall across the street. She was not hurt. Harrison Police Department Capt. Anthony Marraccini said driver error had not been ruled out or indicated.

Mr. Hoyt said Wednesday that Toyota will share the results of its investigation with local police.

PENNSYLVANIA

Prosecutor cannot bring ‘sexting’ charges

ALLENTOWN | A U.S. appeals court ruled Wednesday that a northeastern Pennsylvania prosecutor may not pursue felony charges against a teenage girl who appeared in a racy cell phone photo.

In the first criminal “sexting” case to reach a federal appeals court, the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled against Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell, whose predecessor had threatened to pursue felony charges against the girl unless she agreed to participate in a diversionary program and write an essay explaining what she did and why it was wrong.

That violated the teen’s constitutional right to be free from compelled speech and infringed on her parents’ right to direct her upbringing, the court said.

The photo, which wound up on students’ cell phones, showed the girl just out of the shower and topless, with a towel wrapped around her waist. It surfaced in October 2008, when officials at Tunkhannock Area High School confiscated five cell phones and found that boys had been trading photos of scantily clad, seminude or nude teenage girls. The students with the cell phones ranged in age from 11 to 17.

WASHINGTON

Millennium plotter appeals ruling

SEATTLE — An al Qaeda-trained terrorist convicted in an attempted bombing on the millennium is appealing a federal court’s ruling that his 22-year sentence was too lenient.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 last month that the sentence for Ahmed Ressam was too short. The court removed U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour from the case, saying it doubted his impartiality after he twice sentenced Ressam to 22 years.

Ressam was arrested in Washington state in December 1999 on his way to bomb Los Angeles International Airport.

Ressam’s lawyer, Seattle Federal Public Defender Tom Hillier, said Wednesday that he will file a petition for rehearing in the 9th Circuit Court.

From wire dispatches and staff reports