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Nation in brief

Hope for monument? They pray

By Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 24, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - About 100 demonstrators kept vigil Saturday outside the Alabama Judicial Building, singing, preaching and praying for a way to prevent removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the building's rotunda.

After losing court battles at all levels and the suspension Friday of the monument's champion, Chief Justice Roy Moore, protest leaders concede the 5,300-pound marker will most likely be removed. State officials have not signaled when, where or how they will move it.

Although Moore's supporters have said they will try to prevent removal of the monument, his attorneys have told the federal judge that ordered it removed that Moore himself will not interfere.

Protest organizer Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition showed fellow demonstrators Saturday how they might block the doors to the building by kneeling and locking hands.

Mahoney said his group will file a federal lawsuit Monday in Mobile, claiming that Alabama's associate justices violated the First Amendment when they ordered the building manager to obey the federal order to move the monument.

A spokesman said Friday that Moore still intends to formally appeal the federal removal order to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mexican officials link deadly Texas, Iowa cases

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - The deaths of 19 illegal immigrants locked inside a sweltering tractor-trailer near Victoria in May are related to the deaths of 11 immigrants found last year inside a rail car in Iowa, according to the Mexican attorney general's office.

"We don't have any doubt that both cases are related," Mexican attorney general's office spokeswoman Elizabeth Juarez told the Brownsville Herald for its Sunday edition. Juarez cited a report titled "Arrests of Human Trafficking: Victoria Case."

Mexican officials have issued 37 arrest warrants in the Victoria case.

Rain helps firefighters in scorched Montana

HELENA, Mont. - Rain fell over much of western Montana Saturday, clearing the sky of smoke and bringing relief to thousands of firefighters trying to control blazes that have blackened more than 400,000 acres.

Some parts of western Montana received more than half an inch of rain from late Friday into early Saturday, the state's first significant rainfall in a month.

The Forest Service said it has spent more than $100-million fighting dozens of fires in Montana this summer. A number of blazes in eastern and central Montana have been contained, including a 38,000-acre fire near Billings.

Also ...

SEARCH CREWS FIND BODY OF MOTHER IN FLOODED KENTUCKY: Searchers found the body Saturday of a woman missing since a flash flood swept her home in Frankfort into a swollen creek a day earlier. Her 6-year-old son, who had also been in the home, was found dead Friday.

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