hate crime cases see sharp spike after dropoff
The Justice Department has brought more federal hate crimes cases this year than in any year since 2001. Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division said Thursday that he was "shocked" by the dropoff in prosecutions during the Bush years. A total of 25 hate crime cases were filed for the budget year that ended in September, encompassing most of President Barack Obama's first year in office and the last few months of the Bush administration. In 2001, there were 31 such cases filed. The number fell to a low of 12 in 2006, before starting to rise again, reaching 23 in 2008.
Gangs worse than Gitmo detainees?
Royce Lamberth, chief judge of the federal court in Washington, told lawyers Thursday that domestic street gangs are more deadly than some Guantanamo Bay detainees who could face trial in U.S. courts. Lamberth, speaking at an American Bar Association breakfast, rejected criticism of Attorney General Eric Holder's decision. "The gangs are more murderous, I think, than some of these people at Guantanamo," Lamberth said. "They've certainly killed their share of witnesses here."
'Too early' to tell if H1N1 has eased
With swine flu cases continuing to mount in many countries, it remains far too early to declare the H1N1 pandemic over, Keiji Fukuda, special adviser to the World Health Organization director general on pandemic influenza, said Thursday. He said that while the second wave of infections has peaked in the United States and some other countries in the Northern Hemisphere, the level of flu activity remains high in Switzerland and the Czech Republic and parts of Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan.
Foreign adoptions dropped in 2009
The number of foreign children adopted by Americans plunged by 27 percent to 12,753 in the 2009 fiscal year, reaching the lowest level since 1996 figures released by the State Department on Thursday show. Big declines were recorded for all three countries that provided the most adopted children in 2008: China, Russia and Guatemala. There were 17,438 adoptions of foreign-born babies in 2008; the all-time peak was 22,884 in 2004.
Three killed: A gunman shot and killed three men and wounded a woman in their apartment Thursday, then died in a fall from a fire escape, New York police said. Killed were Fernando Gonzalez, 87; his son, Carlos Rodriguez Sr., 52; grandson, Carlos Rodriguez, 24; and alleged gunman Hector Quinones. Giselle Rodriguez, wife of Rodriguez Sr., survived.
Fake Marine: Douglas Burton, 39, of Palm Springs, Calif., pleaded guilty to federal charges that he masqueraded as a highly decorated Marine at his 20-year high school reunion. He faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced March 1.
Sled dogs seized: About 100 starving sled dogs were seized from a racing business in Colorado. The state veterinarian said an anonymous tip led authorities to Pawsatrack Racing Sled Dogs in Hartsel, about 70 miles southwest of Denver.
Water main breaks: Officials asked 1.8 million residents in the Baltimore area to conserve water after a 42-inch pipe burst and flooded streets in the latest in a series of such problems.