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Nation in brief: Flight diverted over prayer ritual

PHILADELPHIA – Flying to Kentucky on Thursday to visit his grandmother, a teenager began the morning prayer ritual expected of Orthodox Jewish men by strapping small leather boxes to his forehead and arm.

But to an attendant on US Airways Express Flight 3079, the sight of a young man attaching what looked like black cubes and wires to his body was so alarming that she alerted the pilot.

The boxes, called tefillin, held only prayers, but the Louisville-bound plane was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport.

Federal and city law enforcement officials briefly questioned 17-year-old Caleb Liebowitz and his 16-year-old sister, high school students from White Plains, N.Y., before allowing them to resume their flight.

Feds advocate recorders on trains

WASHINGTON – Federal investigators said Thursday that railway companies should install and monitor audio and video recorders in locomotive cabs to help discourage the kind of distractions blamed in a head-on collision that killed 25 people in suburban Los Angeles in September 2008.

Safety experts said the engineer of a commuter train was sending and receiving text messages on his cell phone, and he ran a red signal light before slamming into a Union Pacific freight train.

The texting engineer, Robert Sanchez, died in the crash.

Minorities win FDNY hiring ruling

NEW YORK – A Brooklyn federal judge ruled Thursday that blacks and Hispanics discriminated against in past New York City Fire Department hiring exams are entitled to preferential treatment for new jobs.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who previously ruled the city’s firefighter tests have discriminated for decades, said three of every five new FDNY jobs will have to go to minorities discriminated against in past tests until 293 of them have been hired.

He also signaled he wanted to move quickly, ordering a hearing to iron out details next month