Nation/World

In brief: Subway upskirt photos not illegal, court rules

Boston – A man who took cellphone photos up the skirts of women riding the Boston subway did not violate state law because the women were not nude or partially nude, Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Wednesday.

The Supreme Judicial Court overruled a lower court that had upheld charges against Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 by transit police who set up a sting after getting reports that he was using his cellphone to take photos and video up female riders’ skirts and dresses.

The ruling immediately prompted top Beacon Hill lawmakers to pledge to update state law.

Existing so-called Peeping Tom laws protect people from being photographed in dressing rooms and bathrooms when nude or partially nude, but the way the law is written, it does not protect clothed people in public areas, the court said.

Senate blocks nominee for civil rights post

Washington – In a surprising defeat for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled Senate on Wednesday blocked his pick to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division, the first time in his presidency that one of his nominees failed to muster even a simple majority.

Until shortly before the roll call, Democrats appeared to believe they were close to having the votes needed to narrowly approve civil rights attorney Debo Adegbile, as they summoned Vice President Joe Biden to the Senate floor in case he was needed to cast a tie-breaking vote.

But in an embarrassing miscalculation by Democratic leaders, seven from their own party voted no.

Opposition focused on Adegbile’s role at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he served as one of the appellate lawyers in the high-profile murder case against Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is serving a life term for killing a Philadelphia police officer 32 years ago.

Officials: No health risks for WIPP employees

Albuquerque, N.M. – Thirteen employees who were exposed to radiation during a leak at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste dump aren’t likely to experience any health effects, federal officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Energy confirmed last week that 13 workers had been exposed when radiation leaked from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Testing on follow-up samples taken from the employees came back negative for plutonium and americium, the two radioactive isotopes that were detected in preliminary tests.

The latest samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be verified.

WIPP is the nation’s first underground nuclear repository and the only facility in the country that can store plutonium-contaminated clothing and tools from federal nuclear sites.



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