Turning Stones in the Granite State
True to its nickname, New Hampshire has long been stony to the blue politics of its neighbors. But the Granite State joined the rest of New England last week when legislators in Concord voted to create a system for legally recognizing same-sex couples. Democratic Gov. John Lynch said he will sign the bill, which would allow civil unions starting next year. The vote had special significance for some lawmakers. "My partner and I have already spoken to our minister, and we will be having a civil union the instant it is possible to do so," said Democratic State Rep. Gail Morrison, who voted for the measure. Republican lawmakers expressed worry that the bill essentially endorsed gay marriage, and they lamented what they say is a threat to traditional values. The measure's passage underscores the shift in state politics since November, when Democrats seized both houses of the legislature and ousted the state's two GOP congressmen.
A Terror Trial That Could Have Errors
When "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla was nabbed at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago in 2002, then Attorney General John Ashcroft made world headlines by announcing the arrest during a trip to Moscow. But the actual indictment of Padilla, 36, and his two codefendants, issued in Miami, doesn't mention a dirty bomb; instead, the trio is accused of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists engaged in a global jihad effort. Critics say the disappearance of the "dirty bomb" allegation is a symptom of the inherent weakness of the case. U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke has said the indictment "is very light on facts." Jury selection has already lasted two weeks and could drag on still further; the trial is expected to begin in May.
Breaking Up a Big-Time Forgery Ring
Producing fake documents always seemed like a mom and pop business. But last week's raid of a discount shopping mall in Chicago showed much larger and more violent organizations may also be finding gold in the trade.
The raid led to 12 arrests, including that of the alleged ringleader, Julio Leija-Sanchez, and broke up what federal officials described as a sophisticated, multistate document-forgery operation in which fake driver's licenses, green cards, and Social Security cards could often be produced within an hour.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said the group netted more than $2 million a year in profit. Prosecutors alleged that Leija-Sanchez had one former associate killed and was planning to have another killed when the feds swooped in.
Not everyone was pleased with the news; some immigrants complained that the daylight raid was designed to intimidate them. But Fitzgerald said it could have happened no other way. "There is a great debate going on in our country about the immigration situation," he said. "This case is not about that debate." Ten others are still being sought.
The Lovers' Quarrel in Disney's Land
In a rare lovers' spat with its cash cow, the city of Anaheim, Calif., opened the door to low-income housing near Disneyland, where "explore your dreams" is a mantra. By a vote of 3 to 2, the City Council allowed construction a few blocks from Disneyland of 1,500 condos-225 of which are for low-income families. The dispute gets to the heart of the city's class struggles; Disneyland employees often can't afford to live in Anaheim. The heated debate between housing advocates and tourism supporters shocked Disney officials, who typically enjoy a close relationship with city leaders. "Most people have never stood up to Disney," said a city councilwoman.