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National hate crime statistics are skewed because there is a wide disparity of criteria that state and local authorities use in identifying such offenses, according to a report issued Wednesday. The analysis, “Five Facts: Hate Crimes, 2010-2015,” by Seattle-based data intelligence firm LiveStories found that nearly 40,000 hate crimes have been reported across the country since the start of the decade but that the geographic dispersion of those reported crimes varies widely. Most of them were in Northern states such as Michigan, Washington, and New York, while the region with the fewest incidents were in the Deep South. LifeStories CEO Adnan Mahmud said that the likely reason for lower reported incidents in the South may be due to differing ways law enforcement agencies define or classify hate crimes. “You could assume that the high level of hate crimes should be equal across the country,” he said to Fox News. “But there’s a massive difference. The …

COTTON PLANT, Ark. –  Authorities in a small Arkansas town say local police and firefighters are being targeted by suspicious fires and vandalism. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the incidents in Cotton Plant began in February, when a fire destroyed a firefighter’s rental home. The latest fire occurred Sunday and damaged the home of Fire Chief Jason Johnston’s mother. Mayor Willard Ryland says someone used gasoline to start a fire this month inside the Cotton Plant Police Department. He says the fire destroyed a computer and a box of police investigation reports. Other firefighters say their personal vehicles and an emergency van have also been vandalized. Local police have asked Arkansas State Police to take over the investigation. Cotton Plant, a town of about 650 residents, is roughly 70 miles northeast of Little Rock. ___ Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

May 24 (UPI) — Dylann Roof, who shot dead nine churchgoers at a historic black church in Charleston, has appealed his conviction and death sentence, his lawyers said. Roof’s attorneys on Tuesday sent a formal notice, which did not contain arguments against his conviction or death sentence, to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia. The lawyers, who will now be replaced by federal public defenders in Maryland and California during the appeals process, attempted to defend Roof during trial but Roof later decided to defend himself. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel previously rejected Roof’s requests for a new trial or an acquittal. Appeals for capital cases can last for years and can often indefinitely postone executions, The Post and Courier reported. In April, Roof was transferred to death row in Indiana. Roof, a self-avowed white supremacist, in December was convicted on numerous counts of murder, obstruction of justice and dozens of other charges …

NEW YORK Faced with this summer’s partial shutdown of a key New York transit hub due to track repairs, some employers in the largest U.S. city are scrambling to come up with “Plan B” offerings to allow their suburb-dwelling staff to avoid the largely shuttered hub. Inquiries have spiked for temporary office spaces that do not require travel through Pennsylvania Station, the busiest train station in the U.S., where weeks-long outages in July and August are expected to trigger a travel nightmare for employees living in New Jersey and Long Island suburbs, according to businesses and real estate specialists. In the nation’s leading center of banking, finance, and communication, major employers are offering to let workers clock in from home or report to branch offices. It is an effort to spare the station’s 600,000 daily commuters from what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo predicted could be a “summer of agony,” based on recent delays and …

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –  A moment of reflection is scheduled for the Bowie State University student who was slain over the weekend. It will be held 1 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Maryland, College Park’s chapel garden. The university announced the observance in honor of Richard Collins III, who was fatally stabbed on the campus. Collins was scheduled to graduate from Bowie State University on Tuesday. His family accepted his degree at the commencement ceremony held on the College Park campus. Police say Collins was attacked by Sean Urbanski early Saturday while visiting the University of Maryland. The black student’s slaying is being investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime. Urbanski, who is white, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is being held without bond.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. –  Tommy Arthur has had his execution postponed seven times since 2001, so many delays that victims’ rights advocates derisively call him the “Houdini” of death row. He says he is innocent and is fighting for an eighth reprieve, but he is losing optimism: “They are going to kill me this time.” Arthur, now 75, is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. CDT Thursday for the 1982 murder-for-hire slaying of Troy Wicker. Wicker’s wife, Judy, initially told police she came home and was raped by a black man who shot and killed her husband. After her conviction, she changed her story and testified that she had discussed killing her husband with Arthur, who wore a wig and painted his face in an attempt to look like a black man. But he is unequivocal: “I did not commit that crime,” he said during a recent telephone interview from prison. “I won’t …

BISMARCK, N.D. –  The Dakota Access pipeline and a feeder line leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in North Dakota in separate incidents in March as crews prepared the disputed $3.8 billion pipeline for operation. Two barrels, or 84 gallons, spilled due to a leaky flange at a pipeline terminal in Watford City on March 3, according to the state’s Health Department. A flange is the section connecting two sections of pipeline. Oil flow was immediately cut off and the spill was contained on site. Contaminated snow and soil were removed. No people, wildlife or waterways were affected, according to the department’s environmental health database. The leak was on a line operated by a connecting shipper on the Dakota Access pipeline, said Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for Texas-based Dakota Access developer Energy Transfer Partners. “They are responsible for the operations, maintenance, etc.,” she said. A leak of half a barrel, or 20 gallons, occurred March …

May 23 (UPI) — Target said Tuesday it will pay $18.5 million to 47 states and the District of Columbia as part of a settlement over a 2013 data breach that compromised the data of 110 million customers. The Minneapolis-based retailer also will tighten its digital security, maintaining software and encryption programs to safeguard the personal information of customers, according to the settlement with state attorneys general. Target will be required to separate its cardholder data from the rest of its computer network and employ an executive to manage a “comprehensive information security program.” Target said it was “pleased to bring this issue to a resolution for everyone involved.” Alabama, Wisconsin and Wyoming were not part of the settlement. On Dec. 19, 2013, during the biggest shopping season of the year, Target confirmed hackers breached security at U.S. stores and obtained names, credit card numbers and other information of 110 million customers. After an internal …

Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey was shut down and passengers evacuated from a United Airlines flight on Tuesday evening after flames were reported coming from an engine, the Federal Aviation Administration said. United Airlines Flight 1579, a Boeing 757, was on a taxiway bound for San Francisco at about 9 p.m. eastern time when the flames were spotted coming from the right-side engine, the FAA said in a written statement. The airport, one of three serving the New York City area, said in a series of tweets that there were no injuries reported but that the facility would be closed for safety reasons and advised passengers to expect delays. Representatives for United Airlines could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters. It was not immediately clear how many passengers or crew members were aboard the aircraft when it was evacuated. The FAA said it would investigate the incident. Flight tracking website Flightaware.com …

May 23 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a legal complaint against Fiat Chrysler, alleging that the automaker violated federal emissions laws with “cheat devices” — similar to those discovered last year at Volkswagen. The Justice Department’s complaint says Fiat Chrysler had the devices installed on about 104,000 3.0-liter EcoDiesel vehicles — including 2014-2016 model year Dodge 1500 Ram trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees. The complaint, by the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, says the devices, which tell the vehicle to operate at legal levels only during emissions testing, violate the federal Clean Air Act. “The undisclosed software functions cause the vehicles’ emission control systems to perform differently, and less effectively, during certain normal driving conditions than on federal emission tests, resulting in increased emissions of harmful air pollutants,” the Justice Department said in a statement Tuesday. Volkswagen AG was hit hard last year by similar claims that it …

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