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MAINE

New 75 mph limit puts state in fast lane

AUGUSTA — On one lonesome stretch of Interstate 95 north of Bangor, motorists often put the pedal to the metal. Soon, it will be legal to do so.

An approximately 110-mile stretch of I-95 will be under a 75 mph limit. That's the fastest in the East.

The new law authorizing the higher limit went on the books Wednesday, though it actually takes effect when new signs replace the old 65 mph ones Tuesday.

Residents had asked for the change, saying no one obeyed the limit anyway.

The state Transportation Department had done studies showing the change was justified.

MASSACHUSETTS

Feds: Man planned to blow up Pentagon

BOSTON — A 26-year-old Massachusetts man has been arrested and accused of plotting to destroy the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol with large remote-controlled aircraft filled with explosives.

Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland was arrested Wednesday in Framingham when undercover federal agents delivered materials he had requested for his alleged plan, including grenades, six machine guns and what Mr. Ferdaus thought was C-4 explosive.

Mr. Ferdaus is a U.S. citizen and graduate of Boston's Northeastern University.

According to the federal affidavit, Mr. Ferdaus began planning "jihad" against the U.S. in early 2010. He allegedly believed he would have a large psychological impact by killing Americans, whom he described as "enemies of Allah."

NEW YORK

Students arrested in SAT cheating case

GARDEN CITY — A prosecutor in New York is investigating whether students in other districts on Long Island took part in cheating on college entrance exams that resulted in the arrest of seven current or former students at a prestigious high school.

The arrests were made Tuesday on allegations that one of the seven associated with Great Neck North High School - a 19-year-old college student - took the SAT exams for the others in exchange for payments of up to $2,500.

Sam Eshaghoff provided fake IDs when he sat in for his classmates on the exams between 2009 and this year, prosecutors said. In one of the cases, he is accused of taking the SAT for a girl, although in that case he did it for free, Nassau County prosecutors said.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of scheming to defraud, criminal impersonation and falsifying business records. He is a student at Emory University in Atlanta and also attended the University of Michigan; he posted $500 bail and was released.

Mr. Eshagoff's six current or former classmates were released without bail after being charged with misdemeanors, prosecutors said.

TENNESSEE

Woman to be freed after execution commuted

NASHVILLE — Tennessee is freeing a woman who once sat on the state's death row for hiring a man to kill her husband.

The state Board of Probation and Parole voted Wednesday to release Gaile Owens, 58, whose death sentence was commuted last year by then Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Owens was convicted in 1986 of hiring a man to kill her husband, Ron. He was beaten to death with a tire iron at their suburban Memphis home.

Mr. Bredesen said he commuted the sentence because Owens once had a plea deal to avoid the death penalty that fell through when her co-defendant refused to plead guilty.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Melissa McDonald told the Associated Press that Owens could be released within the next three weeks after paperwork is completed.

WISCONSIN

Denomination holds first gay ordination

MADISON — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) plans to ordain its first openly gay candidate since the denomination struck down barriers this year to clergy who have same-sex partners.

Scott Anderson will be ordained as a teaching elder on Oct. 8 at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison.

The new policy won approval from a majority of the denomination's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies, and took effect on July 10.

The denomination eliminated language in the church constitution requiring that clergy live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." The new provision instead requires ministers to "submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life."

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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