By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stung by a court ruling ordering it to display a controversial ad from an anti-Muslim group on its buses, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority may adopt a new policy that it said would let it ban the ad after all. According to a letter submitted on Friday to U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan, the authority's board plans on April 29 to vote on a new policy allowing it to exclude "all advertisements of a political nature" from MTA property. In Friday's letter, MTA lawyer Peter Sistrom said it was "beyond dispute" that the state-run authority could convert its property into a "limited public forum" that banned political ads, and moot the American Freedom Defense Initiative's case. "The notion that the MTA can moot a constitutional violation by changing its policy after the fact and wishing away the violation is absurd," said David Yerushalmi, a lawyer for the American Freedom Defense Initiative, in an email.
(Reuters) - The number of confirmed and presumed HIV cases stemming from abuse of intravenous prescription drugs has increased to 142 in a rural part of southeastern Indiana and more cases are being identified every day, a state health official said on Friday. The HIV outbreak, the biggest in state history, is centered on Scott County near the Kentucky border and now includes at least five cases in neighboring Jackson County, officials said. "We likely haven't reached the peak of this outbreak, but we hope to soon through the continued comprehensive response made possible by the joint efforts of so many people and organizations," state Health Commissioner Jerome Adams said in a statement. Typically, Scott County has fewer than five new HIV cases in a year.
(Reuters) - A New York Police Department bomb squad was assisting the National Park Service on Friday in a security sweep of the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island, authorities said. The location was evacuated as a precaution due to safety concerns, local media said. (Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
By Alastair Macdonald and Kole Casule BRUSSELS/SKOPJE (Reuters) - British and German warships made ready to sail for waters off Libya as Europe ramped up rescue operations in the Mediterranean after up to 900 desperate migrants drowned last weekend on a boat heading for Italy. Yet hours after European Union leaders agreed in Brussels on Thursday to treble funding for EU maritime missions and pledged more ships and aircraft, 14 clandestine migrants were killed when a train ploughed into dozens of Somalis and Afghans making their way in darkness along a rail track in a Macedonian gorge. After the sinking of a packed fishing vessel last weekend nearly doubled the death toll at sea this year to almost 2,000, EU leaders responded to a public outcry by reversing sharp cuts in search and rescue operations -- though voters' wariness of immigration means few are willing to take in many more refugees. Britain's helicopter-carrying flagship Bulwark, currently near Istanbul, will head for the area between Libya and Italy on Sunday, the government said.
By Margarita Antidze and Hasmik Mkrtchyan YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenia marked the centenary on Friday of a mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks with a simple flower-laying ceremony attended by foreign leaders as Germany became the latest country to respond to its calls for recognition that it was genocide. Turkey denies the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in what is now Turkey in 1915, at the height of World War One, constitutes genocide and relations with Armenia are still blighted by the dispute. Parliament in Germany, Turkey's biggest trade partner in the European Union, risked a diplomatic rupture with Ankara and upsetting its own many ethnic Turkish residents by joining the many Western scholars and two dozen countries to use the word. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he "shared the pain" of Armenians, but as recently as Thursday he again refuted the description of the killings as genocide and has shown no sign of changing his mind.