Redesign Strengthens

Planned Freedom Tower

NEW YORK -- The proposed Freedom Tower at the former World Trade Center site, redesigned to address security concerns, will lose the distinctive asymmetrical shape envisioned in earlier plans but will be the world's strongest and safest high-rise building, officials said.

The redesigned tower will be straighter and squarer, will rise from a base clad in shimmering metal chosen for beauty and blast-resistance, and will be topped with an illuminated spire.

The details are part of a redesign described Wednesday for the 1,776-foot skyscraper in Lower Manhattan that has been delayed by bureaucratic squabbling. The new design is meant to make the tower more resistant to truck bombs.

N.J. City Is Sued for Using

Patriot Act Against Homeless

NEWARK -- The Justice Department criticized a New Jersey city for invoking the USA Patriot Act to justify kicking homeless people out of its train station.

In an answer to a lawsuit brought by a homeless man ejected from the train station in Summit, N.J., the city cited a section of the Patriot Act regarding "attacks and other violence against mass transportation systems."

But Kevin Madden, a Justice Department spokesman, said Summit has no business invoking the law in that way.

"The Patriot Act is a law enforcement tool to identify and track terrorists and stop them from further attacks on America," he said Wednesday. "To apply it to this case is, shall we say, an overreaching application of the law."

The city is among several defendants being sued in federal court by Richard Kreimer, 55. He is seeking at least $5 million in damages.

* FRESNO, Calif. -- A jury decided that Marcus Wesson, 58, the domineering patriarch of a large clan he bred through incest, should get the death penalty for murdering nine of his children. Wesson was convicted earlier this month, more than a year after the bodies were found in a bloody pile at his home at the end of a police standoff.

* HOUSTON -- A chemistry teacher who was at least three months behind on her car payments gave passing grades to two failing students who stole and burned her car so she could collect insurance money, a fire investigator said. Aldine Senior High School teacher Tramesha Lashon Fox, 32, was charged with insurance fraud and arson, and the two students were charged with arson.

* ATLANTA -- A black female state Supreme Court justice who overcame Republican efforts to block her reelection took the oath of the chief justice's office, with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a longtime friend, saying he never thought he would witness such an event. Leah Sears is the first black woman to head the highest appeals court in any state, according to the National Center for State Courts. She will take office Friday.

-- From News Services