Local Leads: 6/5/09

News you need to know

The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

With companies in no mood to hire, the unemployment rate jumped to 9.4 percent in May, the highest in more than 25 years. But the pace of layoffs eased, with employers cutting 345,000 jobs, the fewest since September.  (ap/Herald Mail
Muslim women and others who wear face coverings for religious purposes can be required to remove the garb to enter courthouses, Maryland's attorney general has determined in a legal opinion, raising concerns among civil liberties advocates about how the practice will be carried out.  The opinion addresses a sensitive issue that has sparked debate and outcry in recent years, including protests over the French government's ban several years ago on the Muslim hijab, or head scarf, or any religious apparel in public schools, and questions raised in the United States   about the right of Muslim women to wear head coverings in driver's license photos and in courtrooms. Responding to questions from the Prince George's County   sheriff, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's office said it weighed the First Amendment right to freedom of religion against the state's interest in securing courthouses. It found that for security or identification, law enforcement could require individuals to temporarily remove masks, veils and other face coverings at security checkpoints if the policy is applied consistently. (Baltimore Sun)

Once again, northern Virginia promises to play a decisive role in a statewide Virginia election. Tuesday’s Democratic primary will be decided by the level of turnout of voters in Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and Eastern Fairfax County. The area, which has carried virtually the entire margin of victory in the string of recent statewide Democratic upset victories this decade, is considered a relative stronghold of support for Former State Del. Brian Moran of Alexandria. It is generally held that a higher-than-usual turnout in this region will be to his favor, while a lukewarm turnout could mean curtains for him. (Falls Church News-Press)

Officials are investigating a possible link between a suspicious fire early Wednesday at a house in Odenton and the homicide of a 14-year-old boy in Crofton last weekend that may be tied to youth gangs. Anne Arundel County police are working with fire investigators, who called the small 3 a.m. blaze at the exterior of a house in the 2600 block of Lotuswood Court malicious. At a meeting on youth violence Wednesday night in Crofton called by county officials, a woman said she thought her family was targeted because of talk that her teenage son was involved in the death of Christopher David Jones, an accusation she said was false. (Baltimore Sun)

An auction is being held Friday to determine the fate of Filene’s Basement stores. Last month, Crown Acquisitions agreed to snap up 17 of the discount retailer’s remaining 25 retail locations for $22 million — an agreement that is subject to an auction in a federal court in which additional bids for those 17 stores, the eight remaining locations and other Filene’s assets will be solicited. (Washington Business Journal)

The slogan at Rockville's Town Square, the town's revitalized town center, is "It's hip to be square!" But some businesses have cleared out of the mix of retail, restaurant and residential buildings. One merchant, who didn't want to be recorded, rattled off a number that have left or are leaving. "Bedheaders, Love Your Eyes, Mo's Southwestern Grill, Stonefish Grill," and more. On Gibbs Street, the tanning salon was shuttered. A handwritten sign urged would-be customers to call a corporate number to find other locations. (wtop.com)

Perhaps it is better to tell the end of this story first. Three-year-old Tyen Tackett is OK. His throat is sore after having an inch-and-a half-long bolt removed from his airway, but he’s out of the hospital and back at home, with Mom and Dad and his toy trains. Last Thursday afternoon, Tyen was not OK.  His mother, Vickie Tackett, had just put him down for a nap at their Warrenton home. His dad Galen was on a plane headed to California and sister Amber was at Fauquier High School, where she is a freshman. (Fauquier Times)

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