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ST. LOUIS – Lambert Airport opened its new runway on Thursday, even as critics of the $1.1 billion project called it a waste of money that destroyed a community. The St. Louis airport’s first new runway in 50 years was designed to reduce weather delays and allow the airport to manage increasing passenger demand, officials said at a dedication ceremony for the project, which was more than 15 years in the making. The expansion meant the loss of more than 2,000 homes, businesses, churches and schools near the airport, mostly in the suburb of Bridgeton. The new runway allows for simultaneous arrivals in more than 99 percent of weather conditions, the airport director said.

D.C.: Gay, lesbian activists to line up

Hundreds of gay and lesbian parents hoping to take their families to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll plan to start lining up this evening to make sure they get tickets for the Monday event. Thousands of tickets are given away on a first-come, first-come basis beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. “I don’t think this is a protest,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Pride Coalition. “Showing up, participating fully in an American tradition, showing Americans that we do exist, that in our minds isn’t a protest.”

New York: Bone fragments found

Another 300 or so human bone fragments have been found in recent days on the roof of a skyscraper badly damaged by the collapse of the World Trade Center, officials said Thursday. Workers have been removing toxic chemicals and dust from the former Deutsche Bank building before they begin dismantling it. They found 10 bone fragments on the roof when the cleanup began in the fall and another 80 in recent weeks. Recovered remains are taken to a DNA lab for testing, and those that are identified are turned over to families.

Utah: Rare Mormon books stolen

Two first-edition copies of the Book of Mormon were among a dozen rare books worth more than $300,000 stolen from a museum, authorities said. The theft at the Pioneer Memorial Museum in Salt Lake City was discovered early Wednesday, and investigators believe someone used a hammer to shatter a glass case where the books were stored. Stolen were 11 copies of the Book of Mormon, the central text of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a Tibetan wood printing block, police said.

New Jersey: Depression warning

New Jersey doctors will be required to educate expectant mothers and their families about postpartum depression and screen new moms for the disorder under a new law signed Thursday. Gov. Jon Corzine called the new requirements, which take effect in the fall, “a significant and positive step for New Jersey’s mothers, newborns and families.” Corzine was joined at the bill signing ceremony by his wife, who has suffered from postpartum depression.

California: Eagle hatches on island

For the first time in more than 50 years, a pair of bald eagles hatched a chick on Santa Cruz Island, wildlife biologists said Thursday. Scientists say the successful breeding marked a significant milestone in their four-year effort to reintroduce the eagles to the island off Southern California. There was more reason to celebrate: Another nest was found on the island, and a female eagle has been observed sitting on it since March 28, possibly guarding an egg. Bald eagles once flourished on the island.

Ohio: Amish scammer sentenced

A man was sentenced to four years in prison for helping to extort $67,000 from an elderly Amish widower in exchange for keeping quiet about his solicitation of a prostitute. Patrick Lansdowne, 41, of Cleveland was also ordered to pay $14,327 restitution to Jake Byler, 75, of Burton Township. He pleaded guilty March 2 to two counts of theft from an elderly person and extortion.

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