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Farrakhan calls for ‘new beginning’

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan stressed unity among religions, while still preaching a message of black empowerment, at a rare public event Sunday deemed “a new beginning” for the Chicago-based movement.

In the nearly two-hour speech, Farrakhan covered topics including immigration, public schools, violence and morality. He vaguely referred to the presidential election but did not specifically mention any candidates.

“We are all in a journey to become complete human beings,” the 75-year-old Farrakhan told the crowd of thousands gathered inside Mosque Maryam and in white tents outside. “Look how we have become so divided, so hateful, while claiming the same creator.”

Farrakhan renewed a call for many to get back to the basic tenets of Islam, while still encouraging black pride.

Sunday’s event was a rededication to the historic 1948 building. The mosque, once a Greek Orthodox church, has undergone major renovations, including getting new marble floors, since it was bought by the Nation in 1972.


Deployed auditor up for re-election

There’s only one thing missing from Thomas Salmon’s re-election campaign – Thomas Salmon.

Serving in Iraq with the U.S. Naval Reserve, the Vermont state auditor isn’t allowed to participate in his campaign because of a Pentagon ban on politicking by active duty members of the military.

And his absence from the three-way race has made for a curious campaign, prompting one rival to pass up the race, two others to wage halfhearted campaigns and Salmon’s wife, campaign manager and father to act as his surrogates.

“It is a very bizarre situation,” said his wife, Leslie Salmon.

Salmon, a 45-year-old Democrat whose father once served as governor, was elected state auditor in 2006. He was notified about his yearlong deployment last May and shipped out a month later, leaving behind his wife and four children, his job as Vermont’s chief fiscal watchdog and his campaign for re-election.

Republican Randy Brock, who narrowly lost to Salmon in 2006 and had been mulling another run, backed off.

“With Tom Salmon being deployed to a combat zone, I just did not feel it was at all appropriate to enter into a contest against someone in that situation,” said Brock, who is a Vietnam veteran.

Martha Abbott, a professional tax preparer who chairs the state’s Progressive Party, says she’ll put up some lawn signs but won’t raise money, print fliers or send campaign literature to homes – out of deference to Salmon, since he can’t campaign.

The third challenger, Liberty Union candidate Jerry Levy, 68, of Brattleboro, is on the ballot but not actively campaigning.


Golf cart driver eludes officers

A Utah sheriff’s office has found that it shouldn’t underestimate the golf cart as a getaway car.

A suspect in a souped-up cart managed to elude officers who pursued him last month through an alfalfa field – but only for a while. He was arrested the next day at his grandmother’s house.

Officers started pursuing the driver after he was spotted spinning out in a city park in Morgan. He took off into an alfalfa field and jumped irrigation ditches that the sheriff’s cruisers couldn’t cross.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Peay suspects the cart was fitted with a car engine instead of the original electric motor.

From wire reports