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Poisonous smog returns to Moscow

The poisonous smog that contributed to a higher death rate in Moscow last week returned Sunday.

The concentration of carbon monoxide in Moscow air early Sunday was more than five times normal, said Alexey Popikov of weather monitors Mosecomonitoring.

In addition, he said, "The level of hydrocarbon emissions — the substances that give the air this unpleasant smell — was 5.5 times higher than the usual Moscow level this morning." He added, however, that by today winds will disperse most the smog.

Acrid smoke from forest and peat bog fires blanketed Moscow until this week, nearly doubling the number of recorded deaths and grounding planes in airports.

Officials said the number of wildfires outside Moscow stood at 16 early Sunday.

Muscovites expressed disappointment with official efforts to stop the fires.

"I thought this nightmare was over, but here we go, it's back," 28-year-old graphic designer Mikhail Talalikhin said.

HEREFORD, Ariz.

Tea party holds desert immigration rally

Tea party groups converged on a remote section of the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday to show support for Arizona's controversial immigration law and hear from more than a dozen conservative speakers, many of them GOP primary candidates.

Several speaking to the crowd of more than 400 demanded Congress and President Barack Obama devote more resources to border security in remote areas like the site of Sunday's demonstration southeast of Tucson.

"We are going to force them to do it, because if they don't, we will not stop screaming," said former state Sen. Pam Gorman, one of 10 Republicans vying for an open congressional seat in north Phoenix. Gorman carried a handgun in a holster slung over her shoulder as she mingled with demonstrators.

Obama on Friday signed a bill directing $600 million more to securing the U.S.-Mexico border — money that will pay for hiring 1,000 more Border Patrol agents along with customs agents, communications equipment and expanded use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

VIENNA

Arabs urge opening of Israel nuclear program

Diplomats say Arab nations are urging Washington and other powers to end their support of Israel's nuclear secrecy and to push the Jewish state to allow international inspections of its program.

Islamic nations have long called for Israel — which is commonly assumed to have a nuclear arsenal — to open the program.

But the fact that the Arab League has directly approached Washington and other Israeli allies for support at the September meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency is significant.

POINT BLANK, Texas

DNA tests ordered in case of executed man

Ten years after he was executed, new questions have emerged over whether a lifelong criminal killed a 44-year-old man while robbing a liquor store owner in a tiny Texas town.

Claude Jones was executed for the 1989 slaying of Allen Hilzendager. A judge has ordered DNA testing on a strand of hair that prosecutors used to link Jones to the murder. Jones was put to death in 2000.

Boston

Craigslist killing suspect found dead

A former medical student accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist committed suicide in the Boston jail where he was awaiting trial, authorities said.

Philip Markoff, 24, was found unresponsive in his cell Sunday morning in the Nashua Street Jail, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said in an e-mailed statement.

Markoff, a former Boston University student, pleaded not guilty in the fatal shooting of Julissa Brisman of New York City and the armed robbery of a Las Vegas woman in April 2009.

New york

Ever bigger money goes to judge races

Campaign fundraising for elections to the nation's top state courts has doubled to more than $200 million over the last decade, fueled partly by super-spending individuals and groups investing big money to influence down-ticket races, according to a study released today.

Between 2000 to 2009, campaign spending for state Supreme Court posts surged to $206.9 million compared with $83.3 million in the previous decade, the report showed.

"These corporations and trial lawyers have millions of millions of dollars at stake, and they feel if they can just spend a few million dollars to influence the outcome, it's worth it," said James Sample, a Hofstra Law School professor who was the study's lead author.

BUFFALO, N.Y.

Charges dropped for mass killing suspect

A prosecutor dropped charges Sunday against a parolee initially accused of killing four people and wounding four others outside a downtown Buffalo restaurant, and said the real shooter had been caught on tape.

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III asked a judge to dismiss four murder counts against Keith Johnson, 25, of Buffalo in light of new evidence.

"We can see the race, gender, the height, build, the clothing of the perpetrator," Sedita said after City Court Judge Patrick Carney granted the request.

Times wires

Poisonous smog returns to Moscow 08/15/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 15, 2010 11:53pm]
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