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33 Die in Stampede At Hindu Festival in India


Thirty-three people, including 29 women, died on Wednesday in a stampede at a Hindu festival in western India where tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt to take a bath in the holy waters of the Godavari River in a single day.

Many of the victims were elderly women, witnesses said. At least 74 people were injured.

What caused the stampede was unclear. Some witnesses said a fence had collapsed; government officials said the crowd rushed forward too quickly after a fence was opened. Whatever the cause, the deaths marked one of the worst disasters in the vibrant religious festivals that are a hallmark of India.

“Old women were crying, ‘Take me out! Help me!’ ” Lalji Mistry, a 35-year-old pilgrim, told an Associated Press reporter. “People, even women, were pushing forward. Because of the weight of the crowd, people started falling down.”

Uday Giri Mahant, a spokesman for Maharashtra state, said the stampede occurred at around noon when the police opened a fence blocking the main crowd from the river.

“The barricades were released to allow devotees to go for holy bath,” he said in a telephone interview. “Because the number was overwhelming, some people fell down and died in the stampede.”

Father Sues New York, Claims Police Killed His Son


The father of a 22-year-old Washington Heights man who died after being pepper-sprayed and restrained by the police is suing the city, claiming that the officers attacked his son, Jose A. Mateo, without cause.

On the afternoon of June 4, the police received a 911 call from Mateo’s girlfriend, who said he had acquired “some type of drug” and was having a “bad reaction.”

“He’s hallucinating,” she said, according to a transcript. “He’s getting violent.” The police said that when officers arrived at the apartment at 604 West 178th St., the son was assaulting his father.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the following day that the use of pepper spray was justified. The city’s medical examiner listed the cause of death as accidental, occurring “during excited delirium following ingestion of unidentified substance.”

But the victim’s father, Jose Mateo, 47, said his son was merely complaining, in conversational tones, about an upset stomach when the police burst in and sprayed him.

The medical examiner’s autopsy report said Mateo tested negative for drugs.

The autopsy also cited bruising around the chest and blood in the brain that the family’s lawyer, Mark J. Manus, said were the results of of a police beating.

Alabama Rock Rolled Away


After two years of controversy, a week of protests that resembled revivals and $1 million in lawyers’ fees, the Ten Commandments standoff was resolved on Wednesday in about an hour, by five men and a jack.

A moving crew, hired from out of state because no Alabama company would do it, lifted the 5,280-pound Ten Commandments monument installed by Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama, slid a wheeled jack underneath and rolled it away.

All the speculation about the titanic slab of granite crashing through the floor of the Alabama Supreme Court or being too heavy to budge ended as the moving crew pushed the monument out of public view, as federal courts have demanded.

Dozens of protesters watched, furious and helpless, from behind the locked glass doors of the courthouse.

Many have been camping out on the courthouse steps, wearing their beliefs on their backs, with T-shirts like “Jesus is the Standard” and “Satan is a Nerd.” As the workers readied the monument, a preacher belted out, “Pray the wheels crumble!”

After they did not, protesters started screaming: “Bring the monument back! Bring the monument back!”

Moore, who was suspended last week for defying a federal court order to remove the monument, was nowhere to be found.

Logan Weapons Confiscations Reach 15,000 in June


A record number of potential weapons -- 640,891 -- were confiscated last month from passengers trying to board planes at the nation’s airports, according to federal officials. But the record at Logan International Airport was set in June, when screeners seized 14,900 potential weapons -- the most since federal officials took over security at the airport last year.

In Boston, federal screeners discovered many ordinary items that concealed knives, including lipstick containers, cigarette lighters, belt buckles, pens, even a cane. Yet some passengers were stopped at checkpoints with more obvious contraband, like a 6 1/2-inch bowie knife in a sheath and a straight-edged razor.

“I just think it’s ignorance,” said George Naccara, the federal security director at Logan for the Transportation Security Administration. He said most passengers claimed they forgot they were carrying the weapons or didn’t know the items were banned from carry-on luggage. “There’s no malice.”

As for the secretive, spy-like items seized, Naccara said most of them were probably bought over the Internet. “I think people are just coming up with some of these creative weapons, artfully concealed, for personal protection ... People still forget that these are prohibited items and they still forget that they’ve got them on their person.”