New York panel OKs mosque at ground zero

NEW YORK — A city panel Tuesday cleared the way for the construction near ground zero of a mosque that has caused a political uproar over religious freedom and Sept. 11 even as opponents vowed to press their case in court.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to deny landmark status to a building two blocks from the World Trade Center site that developers want to tear down and convert into an Islamic community center and mosque. The panel said the 152-year-old lower Manhattan building isn't distinctive enough to be considered a landmark.

The vote was a setback for opponents of the mosque, who say it disrespects the memory of those killed at the hands of Islamic terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Jeers and shouts of "Shame on you" could be heard after the panel's vote.

Inquiry into 11 deaths involves Missouri man

ALBUQUERQUE — Federal agents and police in two states on Tuesday were searching a Missouri man's business and home in connection with the investigation into the deaths of 11 women found buried in the Albuquerque desert.

Police searched a business and a home owned by or connected to a Joplin, Mo., man, and an officer was stationed outside another business that had a sign saying it was closed, according to the Joplin Globe and KODE/KSN TV.

Rob Erwin, 57, owns a health food store and photography studio in the southwest Missouri town. His mother, Beulah Erwin, said her son used to regularly travel to Albuquerque for the city's famed hot-air balloon festival but had not done so for at least six years.