Q&A on the News

—Fred Smith, Tucker

A: Kenneth Taylor, chief of the North Carolina Geological Survey, told Q&A on the News there was ancient volcanic activity in the Cabarrus County area; but the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported Tuesday that Charlotte Motor Speedway was built on a landfill and that the soil around a drainage pipe on the infield “gave way during heavy rains last week.” Scott Cooper, vice president of communications at the speedway in Concord, N.C., told the newspaper, “The pipe is more than 30 years old.” The paper reported that crews were working to fill the hole in time for the track to host the Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Oct. 15 and the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Oct. 16.

Q: In Monday's AJC article, “Hate Crime Trial Grips Town,” it is reported that the two young men, accused of killing an illegal Mexican immigrant in a bar fight, are charged with a federal crime under the Fair Housing Act. How does “fair housing” come into play in this case?

—Bob Sullivan, Canton

A: According to the Associated Press, Brandon Piekarsky, now 18, and Derrick Donchak, now 20, are charged with a federal hate crime in the July 2008 attack on 25-year-old Luis Ramirez. He died after a fight with a group of teens in Shenandoah, Pa. The AP reported that Piekarsky and Donchak attacked Ramirez “because they held ‘racial animosity’ toward the town’s burgeoning Hispanic population.” That allowed prosecutors to charge the defendants under the federal Fair Housing Act, which Justice Department prosecutor Myesha Braden said guarantees minorities "the right to live wherever they want and remain free from racial discrimination,” according to the AP.

Lori Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or e-mail q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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