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The news at a glance ... United States

United States

ClevelandUFOs draw crowds: A nightly display of mysterious lights in the sky has drawn thousands of Clevelanders to the Lake Erie waterfront to shoot videos and search for explanations. For almost two weeks, the lights have appeared in the sky each evening at about 7:30, zipping back and forth before disappearing. “At first, I figured it was just a star,” said medical technician Eugene Erlikh, 20, who first noticed the lights from his apartment window. “But the way it would move, I’ve never seen anything like it.” Officials at a nearby NASA research facility said the lights are unrelated to any work they’re doing, and air-traffic controllers said they could shed no light on the matter. Ohio is a hotbed of UFO sightings, with more than 20 reports of mysterious lights or objects in the past two years.

Hilton Head Island, S.C.Plane kills jogger: A man jogging on a South Carolina beach this week was struck and killed by a small airplane making an emergency landing. The two people aboard the plane walked away unscathed. Robert Jones, 38, was in Hilton Head on business when he went for a run. Wearing an iPod, he never heard the plane, which was gliding in for a landing after encountering engine trouble. The craft hit Jones from behind, killing him instantly. Jones, who lived in an Atlanta suburb with his wife and two children, was about to return home to celebrate his daughter’s third birthday. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Ithaca, N.Y.Alarm over suicides: Reeling from the sixth student suicide in as many months, Cornell University has launched a massive mental-health effort, going door-to-door to assess whether students need help and posting guards where the most recent suicides took place. A deep gorge runs the length of the Cornell campus, and several of the suicides occurred when students jumped from bridges spanning the ravine. Cornell has a reputation as a “suicide school,” although the frequency of suicides there is in line with national averages. Nevertheless, the school has changed its privacy rules to allow administrators to contact parents about students’ mental-health problems and lagging grades without their consent.

Burke, Va.Tea Party tempest: Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has formed a Tea Party–affiliated group—a move that could create potential conflicts for her husband. Virginia Thomas says the nonprofit Liberty Central will advocate conservative “core principles” and get involved in the November congressional elections. “I did not give up my First Amendment rights when my husband became a justice of the Supreme Court,” Thomas said. Spouses of Supreme Court justices are allowed to pursue their own political interests, and justices have discretion about whether they need to recuse themselves from cases. But experts say Thomas would be expected to sit out any cases in which Liberty Central is a party or takes a position before the court.

Lawrence, Mass.Storm wreaks havoc: A powerful storm packing heavy rains and strong winds struck the Northeast over the weekend, causing widespread flood damage, downing trees and power lines, and leaving at least 11 people dead. Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts, where more than 10 inches of rain fell and several rivers overflowed their banks. Parts of the former mill town of Lawrence were submerged under 5 feet of water. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” said Fred Laskey, head of the state’s water agency. In New Jersey, officials shut down parts of a major commuter rail line, and 300,000 residents were still without power two days after the storm passed.

Washington, D.C.Holder in the cross hairs: Republican senators this week said they planned to grill Attorney General Eric Holder about his failure to inform the Senate about a legal brief he once wrote in a sensitive national-security case. The conservative National Review reported that in 2004, Holder wrote a friend-of-the-court Supreme Court brief questioning the Bush administration’s claim that it could detain American terrorism suspects without charge. Holder did not disclose the brief during his Senate confirmation hearings, as required. The Justice Department says it was an inadvertent oversight, but Republican senators say they want to know more. The opinions expressed in the brief “go to the heart of his responsibilities in matters of national security,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Holder is already under fire from some quarters for hiring lawyers at the Justice Department who earlier represented detainees at Guantánamo.

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