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Nation roundup for October 12

Body found amid missing girl search

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (AP) — Colorado police looking for a 10-year-old girl who disappeared on her walk to school have found a body in a park, but are not saying whether it is linked to the case and noted Thursday that officers are still searching for her.

The discovery of the body is the latest turn in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway that has seen police look for clues in a reported sighting in a car with Colorado plates in Maine and a Wyoming abduction. The FBI said Thursday that abduction was unrelated.

Police spokesman Trevor Materasso said the body “is not intact,” and that has slowed the work of identification.

Materasso said no other information would be released until today, and he left a brief midday news conference without answering any questions.

Police earlier declined to say whether the body was that of a child.

The body was found late Wednesday at Pattridge Park in the Denver suburb of Arvada, about seven miles from where Jessica disappeared in the nearby suburb of Westminster on Oct. 5.

Materasso said investigators were processing evidence from the park and that no additional information was available.

In tweets, Westminster police said investigators had worked overnight to identify the body.

Officers searched more of the park Thursday as well as areas closer to Jessica’s home.

Police said photo radar vans — normally used to detect and photograph speeding vehicles — were being used to monitor some streets near the girl’s house.

Suspect’s beard raises bias issue

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (AP) — An Army appeals court on Thursday questioned whether a military judge exceeded his authority in ordering the suspect in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, to remove his beard or be forcibly shaved.

Judges on the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals in northern Virginia also delved into a claim by Maj. Nidal Hasan’s lawyers that the military judge who issued the order is biased and should be replaced. The American-born Muslim psychiatrist claims he grew his beard for religious reasons.

Hasan’s murder trial in Texas is on hold while his lawyers pursue the appeal. Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack that killed 13 people and wounded more than two dozen others at the Army post about 130 miles southwest of Dallas.

Hasan’s attorneys also want the appeals court to overturn six contempt-of-court rulings Col. Gregory Gross issued against Hasan for having a beard at pretrial hearings this past summer, when he first showed up in court with facial hair.

Army grooming standards prohibit beards but allow for religious exceptions. Gross denied Hasan’s request for such an exception. He found that Hasan’s claims of religious sincerity did not outweigh prosecutor’s arguments that Hasan grew the beard just before his August trial date so witnesses wouldn’t be able to identify him in court.

Fourth victim is sought in rubble

MIAMI (AP) — Workers inched closer Thursday afternoon to pulling a fourth likely casualty from the site of a parking garage collapse as a search for answers continued over what reduced a routine construction project to piles of twisted steel and crumbled concrete.

Family members of a still-missing worker huddled near the site, a day after the collapse at Miami Dade College, waiting for a crane to remove large debris and potentially remove a body from an area search dogs had identified. Some still held out hope for a miracle, but authorities said they didn’t expect to find anyone else alive.

A police officer who spoke with relatives at the site said that rescuers planned to search until nightfall Thursday, but that it could take days to find someone. When family members asked whether survival was possible, the officer tried to offer encouragement. Afterward, though, several turned their backs to the rubble and sobbed.

“We break down and we console each other,” said Steve Budhoo, who identified his brother as the missing worker. “We are just going through the motions.”

Earlier Thursday, a third worker succumbed to injuries from the collapse. Samuel Perez, 53, had been pulled from the piles of wreckage just hours earlier, after being trapped for about 13 hours. He was found after rescue workers heard his cries. Perez and the two other confirmed fatalities — Jose Calderon and Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza — all died at hospitals after being rescued and worked for subcontractors of the firm handling the construction of the five-story garage, Ajax Building Corp.

Circumcision ritual spurs fight

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of rabbis is clashing with New York City health officials over the safety of an ancient circumcision ritual.

Three rabbis and three Jewish groups asked a federal court Thursday to block enforcement of a new regulation requiring written parental consent for a rite called “metzitzah b’peh,” in Hebrew, which city health experts said can spread infection and has killed two children since 2004.

During the ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside.

The saliva contact puts the infant at increased risk of getting herpes simplex, a virus that is carried harmlessly by a large majority of adults but that can be deadly in newborns.

New York City’s Health Department said it has documented 11 cases of the infection since 2000 among children believed to have undergone the ritual. Ten required hospitalization. Two developed brain damage. Two died. The deaths prompted some doctors to call for the practice to be banned. entirely.

, but the city’s Board of Health adopted a compromise approach instead last month. Under the new rule, mohelim performing the circumcision would be required inform parents that the city believed the procedure was dangerous and have them sign a consent form.

No one would collect the forms, and the mohelim would be required to keep them for a year before destroying them.

In their lawsuit filed Thursday, rabbis Samuel Blum, Ahron Leiman and Shloime Eichenstein said the city had exaggerated the potential for harm and infringed on their religious freedom.

If the regulation were to take effect, rabbis “will be forced to serve as the Department’s mouthpiece for dispensing opinion and ‘advice’ that directly undermines the required religious ritual that these mohelim regularly perform, in violation of their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religious exercise,” the suit said.

The lawsuit, joined by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada, Agudath Israel of America and the International Bris Association, also argued that the city’s safety studies were flawed and that the procedure, when performed properly, was “very safe.” It said compelling the rabbis to warn against the procedure was unconstitutional.

In a statement responding to the suit, the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, called the regulation “lawful, appropriate and necessary.”

“The city’s highest obligation is to protect its children; therefore, it is important that parents know the risks associated with the practice,” he said.

Concerns about the safety of metzitzah b’peh go back to at least the mid-19th century, when most Jews abandoned or modified the rite because of concerns about its role in spreading disease. Today, most Reform, Conservative and modern Orthodox mohels use gauze, or a sterile tube, to pull blood from the wound.

The ritual is still practiced widely, however, in New York City’s large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews. After the regulation was adopted in September, some rabbis vowed to ignore it, saying the government had no business regulating a religious practice.

 

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