In brief: Cockpit locked over prayer ritual

LOS ANGELES – Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities after three passengers conducted an elaborate orthodox Jewish prayer ritual during their Los Angeles-bound flight.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said the crew of Flight 241 from Mexico City became alarmed Sunday after the men began the ritual, which involves tying leather straps and small wooden boxes to the body.

Airport police say three men – all Mexican nationals – were escorted off the plane at Los Angeles International Airport, questioned by the FBI and released. They were not arrested.

Rivers receding in New Jersey

PATERSON, N.J. – Rain-swollen waterways in northern New Jersey slowly receded Sunday after cresting overnight, causing fewer evacuations than expected but still flooding roadways around in the region.

Despite clear skies in the forecast, officials said flooding will remain a concern for at least the next few days, and it’s not clear when all residents will be able to return to their homes.

The Passaic River crested at 9 p.m. Saturday – earlier than expected – and has been receding since.

‘One-child’ pay for quake urged

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A Chinese official said today that New Zealand should consider special compensation to parents of Chinese students killed in an earthquake last month because their loss was magnified under the country’s one-child policy.

Seven students from China have been identified among the 166 confirmed deaths in the quake that devastated Christchurch city on Feb. 22, and as many as 20 others are still missing.

Chinese Embassy official Cheng Lei said today that Chinese quake victims had lost not just their only child, but also a future breadwinner.

New Zealand tertiary education minister Steven Joyce said insurance and other payments were being made to survivors and relatives of victims of the quake, but that it would be difficult under New Zealand law to provide special compensation to one group of victims.


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