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After an Acquittal on Terrorism Charges, a Case for Deportation

Youssef Megahed toyed with a piece of lint on the other side of the bulletproof glass and described his case as simply “weird.”

In April, a federal jury acquitted him on charges of transporting explosives during a road trip with a friend who had packed model rocket propellants in the trunk. But three days later, in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Tampa, Megahed was arrested again in connection with the case, this time by immigration authorities.

Some national security experts say the country is safer without such men, and immigration officials declare the deportations both legal and fair. But with President Barack Obama scheduled to speak in Cairo on Thursday about repairing relations with the Muslim world, Megahed is being presented by critics of the immigration strategy here and abroad as a test case of the president’s pledge to break with some of the Bush administration’s most unpopular policies.

Senate Passes Bill to Ease Government Consolidation

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would make it easier to cut or consolidate layers of local government in New York, a measure that supporters hailed as a significant step toward relieving tax burdens across the state.

The bill, drafted by the New York state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, simplifies what is now a byzantine set of laws specifying how voters or government officials can choose to dissolve or merge towns, villages and the hundreds of special districts that provide water, sewage treatment and other services throughout the state.

Senate passage of the bill — which was approved by the Assembly on Monday — was also a political victory for Cuomo, who by proposing legislation in May and persuading lawmakers to approve it in a matter of weeks, overshadowed Gov. David A. Paterson, who embraced a related proposal last year but did little to advance it at the time.

At a news conference on Wednesday morning, Paterson, who is expected to sign the bill despite the tension with Cuomo, described the legislation as a collaboration between him and the attorney general.

All told, there are more than 10,000 taxing entities in the state, ranging from special districts that provide volunteer fire departments to those responsible for disposing of duck waste or maintaining fallout shelters. Special districts are especially plentiful on Long Island, where they generate half the special district tax revenue in the state. Many districts are considered by critics to be little more than patronage mills.

NBA Is Asked to End
Minimum-Age Policy

A congressman has written a letter to the NBA and its players union asking them to repeal its minimum-age guidelines.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., wrote that the four-year-old rule, which requires players to be 19 years old and a year removed from their high school graduation, is of “deep concern.” He added that essentially forcing teenagers to go to college had led to recent college sports scandals.

“It’s a vestige of slavery,” Cohen said Wednesday in a phone interview, noting that most of the affected basketball players are African-American. “Not like the slavery of 150 years ago, but it’s a restraint on a person’s freedoms and liberties.”