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US: 'West Memphis Three' -- Convicted Of Killing Boy Scouts -- Free After Serving 17 Years In Prison

West Memphis Three

West Memphis Three Freed

After serving 17 years behind bars for the brutal murder of three children in eastern Arkansas, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin -- dubbed the "West Memphis Three" -- have been released from prison.

"They will be free men ... on suspended sentence," prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington told reporters during a Friday press conference.

"Only time will tell as to whether this was the right decision."

All three men had been imprisoned since 1994, when they were convicted of killing three 8-year-old boys: Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers.

Prosecutors alleged the trio killed the children in Robin Hood Hills on the morning of May 6, 1993, as part of a satanic ritual. According to police, the boys' bodies were mutilated and left in a ditch. Each had been hogtied with his own shoelaces.

At the time of their arrests, Baldwin was 16. Misskelley was 17, and Echols was 18.

Key

US: 'West Memphis Three' finally freed after 18 years

 Damien Echols, left, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., center, and Jason Baldwin at a news conference in Jonesboro, Ark
© Unknown

Damien Echols, left, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., center, and Jason Baldwin at a news conference in Jonesboro, Ark

Three Arkansas men, who served 18 years in prison for the brutal murder of three boys, are going home.

"I'm just tired," Jesse Misskelley Jr. told reporters. "This has been going on for 18 years. It's been an absolute living hell."

The release of the "West Memphis Three" came after a complex and confusing plea deal, in which the men--Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Misskelley--pleaded guilty and were sentenced to the 18 years they've already served. They're allowed to maintain their innocence, while officially acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them.

The deal suggests prosecutors doubted their ability to win a retrial. "No jury would convict them at a new trial," one of the men's defense lawyers said.

Arrow Down

US: Percentage of Americans who are either working or looking for work is at the lowest level in more than a quarter century

Here's another sign of the difficult times we live in: The percentage of Americans who are either working or looking for work is at the lowest level in more than a quarter century.

The labor force participation rate for Americans 16 and over hit 63.9 percent in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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© US Bureau Of Labor Statistics
That's the lowest level since 1984, back when Ronald Reagan was president and the United States' economy was in strong shape following back-to-back recessions in 1980-1982.

Family

US: Texas' jobless rate highest in 24 years

unemployment

Texas' unemployment rate last month climbed to its highest level in nearly a quarter of a century.

Despite the state adding 29,300 jobs in July, the jobless rate rose to 8.4 percent from 8.2 percent in June, the Texas Workforce Commission reported today. The rate was 8.1 percent in July 2010.

The last time the rate was this high was in July 1987, 24 years ago.

"While nine of the 11 major industries registered unemployment gains over the month, Texas continues to feel the effects of a stagnant national economy," Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken said in a statement.

Bizarro Earth

UK: Suicide pact of cliff car plunge couple: Note found after double tragedy at beauty spot

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© JN Visuals
'Volatile relationship': Paul Charles, a former policeman, died after driving over a cliff in an apparent suicide pact with his estranged wife.
A former policeman drove his car off a 350ft cliff at high speed in a suicide pact with his estranged wife, it emerged yesterday.

Father-of-four Paul Charles and wife Jacqueline were killed instantly when their car crashed through a barbed wire fence and plummeted on to jagged rocks at an Isle of Wight beauty spot.

He is understood to have become depressed after the breakdown of his five-year relationship and legal issues surrounding some of his children, aged 11 to 24, from one of his two previous marriages.

People

US: Thousands Camp Out for Job Fair as Jobless Rate Rises

Thousands of unemployed waited overnight, camping out in their business suits and office heels and braving the tormenting heat in Atlanta to stand in line for a job fair Thursday. Authorities treated 20 people for heat exhaustion as they struggled to keep the line moving and get people moved inside.


The incredible turnout at the job fair comes on the heels of the state labor commissioner's announcement that Georgia's jobless rate rose.

The state unemployment rate increased to 10.1 percent in July from the 9.9 percent in June. The unemployment rate for African-Americans stands at 15.9 percent, far above the national rate of 9.1 percent.

Nuke

Japan: Thyroid Radiation Exposure Found in Children Near Tepco Plant

Medical tests on children living in three towns near the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant found 45 percent of those surveyed suffered low-level thyroid radiation exposure, Japan's government said in a statement.

While the statement didn't comment on the source of the contamination, the announcement follows reports of radioactive material found in food after radiation leaks from the meltdown of three reactors at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant.

The tests covered 1,080 children aged up to 15 in three towns, Iwaki, Kawamata and Iitate, between 38 to 47 kilometers from the reactors. The tests between March 24 and 30 showed none of the children's thyroid glands exceeded the safety threshold of 0.2 microsievert per hour set by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, according to the Aug. 17 statement.

People

German 'unfairly' sacked for marrying Chinese woman

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© BBC
An engineer in northern Germany who was sacked because he married a Chinese woman was unjustifiably dismissed, a court has ruled.

The man was declared a security risk by his employer after his marriage because of his new family ties.

The company acted as a supplier for the German armed forces and feared possible industrial espionage.

But the court said the engineer's employer had violated his right to marry whomever he chose.

The employment tribunal in Kiel in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein was told that the 47-year-old engineer had been employed at the firm on a temporary basis since May 2006.

Nuke

Fukushima Radiation Alarms Doctors

japan, radiation
© EPA
Residents of Ohkuma-cho attend a memorial service for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami on 24 July 2011 in Ohkuma-cho, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, 20 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Scientists and doctors are calling for a new national policy in Japan that mandates the testing of food, soil, water, and the air for radioactivity still being emitted from Fukushima's heavily damaged Daiichi nuclear power plant.

"How much radioactive materials have been released from the plant?" asked Dr Tatsuhiko Kodama, a professor at the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology and Director of the University of Tokyo's Radioisotope Centre, in a July 27 speech to the Committee of Health, Labour and Welfare at Japan's House of Representatives.

"The government and TEPCO have not reported the total amount of the released radioactivity yet," said Kodama, who believes things are far worse than even the recent detection of extremely high radiation levels at the plant.

There is widespread concern in Japan about a general lack of government monitoring for radiation, which has caused people to begin their own independent monitoring, which are also finding disturbingly high levels of radiation.

People

UK: Workers baked alive in bread factory horror

david mayes

David Mayes

Two bakery workers died in agony after bosses sent them into a giant oven to carry out repairs on the cheap, a court heard yesterday.

The machine should have been allowed to cool for 12 hours, but was only left for two.

David Mayes and Ian Erickson were unaware of the full danger as they crawled into the oven because fans had cooled its outer reaches to 40c. Its core, however, was still at 100c.

The repair was a delicate procedure in which they had to collect broken parts from along the length of a conveyor belt which carries bread trays slowly through the 75ft-long oven.