Man convicted in murder of black man is executed

One of three men convicted in the 1998 dragging death of a black man in Jasper, Texas, was executed Wednesday for his part in the slaying.

The racially motivated killing of James Byrd Jr., 49, stunned the nation, sparking protests, inspiring the movie “Jasper, Texas” and leading to hate-crime legislation.

Before the lethal drugs were injected into his veins, Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, was asked if he had any final words. “No. I have no final statement,” he replied. He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. at the state prison in Huntsville.


As Islamic center opens, developer admits mistakes

The developer of an Islamic cultural center that opened Wednesday evening near the site of the terrorist attacks that leveled the World Trade Center says the project’s biggest error was not involving the families of 9/11 victims from the start.

People crowded into the center, where a small orchestra played traditional Middle Eastern instruments and a photo exhibit of New York children of different ethnicities lined the walls. The enthusiasm at the opening belied its troubled beginnings.

“We made incredible mistakes,” Sharif El-Gamal said earlier.

The building at 51 Park Place, two blocks from the World Trade Center site, includes a Muslim prayer space that has been open for two years.

Bill to ban paddling kids in school comes up again

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., today will reintroduce her bill to ban schools from paddling students, a legislative measure that stirred a national debate last year but died in a congressional committee.

The bill would withhold federal funds from public and private schools that allow corporal punishment of students, McCarthy said in a conference call Wednesday.

“Schools are the only institutions in America in which striking another person is sanctioned,” she said.

About 200,000 students a year are spanked in the 19 states that allow student paddling, she said.


More young adults insured since law changed in 2010

Nearly 1 million more young adults have obtained health insurance since the 2010 health care law began requiring insurers to let adult children stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, according to government data released Wednesday.

The jump in enrollment caused the share of young adults who are uninsured to drop from 34 percent at the start of 2010 to 30 percent – or 9.1 million people – by March of this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Romney attacks Perry’sSocial Security strategy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday questioned how Rick Perry would fix Social Security.

In a likely preview of a debate today in Orlando, Romney took issue with Perry’s contention that each of the 50 states would better handle the huge federal program.

“In my opinion, this does not work in any way, shape or form,” Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said at a town hall meeting. Romney also asserted that Perry called Social Security “unconstitutional” and added: “I believe it is constitutional. I think that’s proven and settled.”

– From news service reports