Nation, World Briefs: Muslim group cancels festival set for Sept. 11

LOS ANGELES — For nearly a decade, the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno has held a carnival on the Saturday following the end of Ramadan, during a festival that has been called the Muslim equivalent of Christmas. With pony rides, carnival attractions, games and Middle Eastern food, it’s a popular event for the community’s children. This year, the center’s leaders had a sense of foreboding when they noticed the date on which the carnival would fall: Sept. 11. This week, after listening to escalating rhetoric over plans for an Islamic community center within blocks of the destroyed World Trade Center site in New York, the Fresno center canceled the carnival.

Space firm’s test successful

The rocketry firm SpaceX said this month’s test of a parachute system to land a cargo or crew capsule safely in an ocean was fully successful. The Hawthorne-based company said Friday that on Aug. 12 a capsule was lifted by a helicopter to an altitude of 14,000 feet and released over the Pacific off Morro Bay. SpaceX hopes to become a commercial supplier to NASA, carrying supplies and astronauts to the international space station. Earlier this year, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

New York: Tribal cigarettes

The Seneca Indian Nation is seeking a federal order to stop New York state from following through with plans to tax reservation cigarette sales, tribal leaders said Friday. Lawyers for the western New York tribe filed a request for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court that would temporarily block the state from enforcing new tax laws on the tribe. Under the plan, the state would collect its $4.35 per pack sales tax on cigarettes sold by Native American retailers to non-Native customers.

Florida: Ruling on astronaut

The Navy should discharge former astronaut Lisa Nowak, who lost her NASA job over a bizarre airport attack on a romantic rival, according to a Navy panel that reviewed her case. The panel of three admirals made the recommendation Thursday after a daylong hearing at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. The recommendation now goes to the Naval Personnel Command. A final decision will be made by the Secretary of the Navy. In the meantime, Nowak will continue working on the staff of the chief of Naval Air Training in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Virginia: Religious dispute

The Army said Friday it was investigating a claim that dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band’s concert at a Virginia military base were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up. A Fort Eustis spokesman said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the investigation. At the Pentagon, an Army spokesman said the military shouldn’t impose religious views on soldiers. “If something like that were to have happened, it would be contrary to Army policy,” he said.

Virginia: Fine for a hot goat

A driver has been convicted of animal cruelty and fined $100 after authorities found a goat stuffed in the trunk of her car. Bedford County sheriff’s deputies found the goat bound and in the trunk during a drunken driving checkpoint in June. Fiona Ann Enderby of Washington, D.C., told police she bought the goat from a farmer to give to four passengers in her car, who are from Kenya but reside in Lynchburg. The goat was panting heavily and animal control officers say the temperature in the trunk was 94 degrees.

Netherlands: Air traffic woes

A regional air traffic control system outage sharply limited flights around much of northern Europe Friday, causing delays for tens of thousands of passengers aboard some 700 flights. The computer outage at the Maastricht, Netherlands, radar facility of the continent’s Eurocontrol system lasted about an hour and a half, a Eurocontrol spokeswoman said. Delays across the region were expected to last throughout the evening. Nearly 30,000 flights were using European airspace Friday.

Afghanistan: ‘Tough’ talks

Afghanistan’s president pledged Friday to let Western-backed anti-corruption teams pursue investigations free from political interference after two rounds of candid talks with U.S. Sen. John Kerry that the lawmaker said were marked by “sometimes tough” conversation. Kerry urged President Hamid Karzai to move quickly to combat corruption or risk losing support in the U.S. Congress at a critical phase in the war. U.S. lawmakers have expressed doubt the military effort can succeed without a serious campaign against bribery and graft that have eroded the Afghan people’s trust in the Karzai government.

From Herald news services

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