In the Nation

Posted: August 05, 2010

Group sues to halt N.Y. mosque plan

NEW YORK - The debate over a planned Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero became a court fight Wednesday, as a conservative advocacy group sued to try to stop a project that has become a national political flash point and a fulcrum for balancing religious freedom and the legacy of the 9/11 attacks.

The American Center for Law and Justice, founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson, filed suit in a Manhattan state court over a decision by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to let developers tear down a building to make way for the mosque two blocks from ground zero. The center represents a firefighter who responded to and survived the 2001 attack at the World Trade Center.

The group behind the $100 million project, the Cordoba Initiative, describes it as a Muslim-themed community center. Spokesman Oz Sultan declined to comment on the lawsuit but asked that people "give us a fair shake." - AP

His family away, Obama turns 49

WASHINGTON - Home alone, President Obama turned 49 Wednesday.

First lady Michelle Obama has taken their daughter Sasha, 9, to Spain, and daughter Malia, 12, is away at summer camp. But the president received birthday phone calls from them that were "the highlights of his day," spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Also, Gibbs said, "the Secret Service detail got him a nice gift," though he declined to say what it was.

Obama flew home to Chicago for a birthday dinner with friends, and was to spend the night in his house in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood.

He hasn't shied away from talking about his birthday, noting that his hair is getting grayer and his metabolism slowing down as another year passes. - AP

Kagan assured of majority in vote

WASHINGTON - Elena Kagan's elevation to the Supreme Court appeared virtually assured Wednesday as a majority of senators declared their support for her nomination during a second day of debate over her confirmation.

A floor vote on Kagan's nomination is likely Thursday. Republicans are not expected to attempt a filibuster.

Some senators' decision may have consequences beyond confirming the nation's 112th justice. Several Democrats casting votes are in tight reelection struggles, including Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a moderate from Arkansas. Lincoln's office said she would vote to confirm Kagan. But when Lincoln took to the Senate floor in the afternoon, she spoke at length about a child nutrition bill and did not mention the nominee at all. - Chicago Tribune

Elsewhere:

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to head the military's Central Command. The nomination now goes to the full Senate.

Rep. Don Young's office said he was notified Wednesday by the Justice Department that he had been cleared in a corruption investigation. Young (R., Alaska) faced a probe of connections to a businessman convicted of bribing Alaska lawmakers and a spending-bill earmark that benefited a campaign supporter.

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