Mall reopens after shooting
A shopping mall where five people were gunned down this week reopened Wednesday, as authorities tried to figure out why a teenage Bosnian immigrant committed the rampage and how he got his hands on a gun.
FBI agent Patrick Kiernan, in Salt Lake City, said the bureau had no reason to believe Sulejman Talovic, who was killed by police, was motivated by religious extremism or an act of terrorism.
Armed with a .38-caliber pistol, a shotgun and a backpack full of ammunition, Talovic shot nine people, five fatally, at the Trolley Square shopping center Monday before he was stopped by police, including an off-duty officer from Ogden.
“We are Muslims, but we are not terrorists,” the boy’s aunt, Ajka Omerovic, said Wednesday at the family’s house.
She rejected any religious motive and said the family can’t explain the shooting. The Talovic family fled Bosnia for Utah in 1998 “to be free,” she said.
Senate passes spending bill
The Senate on Wednesday passed a $464 billion spending bill that closes out last year’s unfinished budget business.
The bill, passed 81-15, sticks to Bush’s overall budget caps but finds numerous ways around them to add to programs favored by lawmakers, such as education, health care, food inspection and mine safety.
The mammoth bill pulls together nine unfinished spending bills funding foreign aid and every domestic agency budget except the Homeland Security Department.
The bill provides small but welcome funding increases to agencies that have been limping along at or below last year’s funding levels in the four months since the budget year started Oct. 1. Democrats put off some costs, chiefly $3 billion to implement a 2005 round of military base closings, for a $100-billion-plus war funding bill to be debated next month.
The measure now heads to Bush, who has signaled he will sign it despite unease over the temporary cuts to the military base closing program. The money would help pay for the redeployment of 12,000 troops stationed in Germany and South Korea to domestic bases and to prepare closed bases for economic development projects and other uses.
Al Franken says he’ll run for Senate
Al Franken announced Wednesday that he will run for the Senate in 2008, making it clear that the comedian and author of “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot” wants to be taken seriously as a political figure.
Franken said he would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and immediately acknowledged the doubts voters may have about electing a former “Saturday Night Live” performer.
“I want you to know: Nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state, and over the next 20 months, I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously,” Franken said in a video on his Web site.
Franken’s announcement came on the final day of his show on the liberal radio network Air America. His decision to run will likely bring national attention to the race.