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Fri, 24 Jan 2020
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Cloud Lightning

US: Around Tornado Deaths, a Nagging Tale of Shelter Denied

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© Rob Culpepper for The New York Times
The site of the house where Annette Singleton, her son and two other boys took shelter on April 27. Her son says they were turned away from a church.
It was discussed openly and in whispers, over the phone and in the church pews. When it was brought up at school, the curious were quickly shushed. Eventually, the whole thing got pushed aside by other concerns, a bit of nastiness better forgotten, or judged never to have occurred at all.

But Madison Phillips says it is true. He says that he and his mother, Annette Singleton, both black, were turned away from a church shelter by a white woman on the afternoon of April 27, the day of the tornadoes. And within hours, Ms. Singleton and two of Madison's young friends, who had been huddling with him in his house within yards of that church, were dead.

Light Sabers

Russia: Woman passes unnoticed through Domodedovo Airport security

Moscow transportation authorities are investigating an incident at Russia's busiest Domodedovo Airport, in which a woman managed to pass unnoticed through security and document controls and board a plane.

The incident took place last Friday, the Moscow transport prosecutor's office said in a statement on Monday. The woman was reported to have boarded the plane bound to the Tajik capital of Dushanbe without undergoing any security procedures.

Arrow Up

UNHCR Report Says Refugee Numbers at 15-Year High

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© Anjum Naveed/AP
Report from the UN high commission for refugees says that Afghanistan is still the leading country of origin for refugees.
The number of forcibly displaced people around the world has reached a 15-year high, according to the UN high commission for refugees (UNHCR), with the vast majority languishing in poor countries ill-equipped to cater to their needs.

The UNHCR's 2010 trends report estimated that there were 43.7 million refugees and people displaced within their country by events such as war and natural disasters at the end of last year. More than half of the total are children. The figure does not take into account the new wave of migration set in train by the upheaval of the Arab spring.

The figure breaks down into a global total of 15.4 million refugees, 27.5 million internally displaced people and a further 840,000 people waiting to be given refugee status.

The 48-page report also reveals that there has been a fall in the number of returning refugees to 197,600, the lowest in two decades. This has resulted in the number of long-term refugees in "protracted situations" making up almost half of the total of all refugees, the highest number for a decade.

Family

Tens of Thousands Protest Against Cuts in Madrid

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© AFP/Jose Jordan
Protesters demonstrate in Valencia. More than 100,000 protesters took to the streets in Spain on Sunday blaming bankers and politicians for causing a financial crisis that forced the country to adopt painful spending cuts.
Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Madrid Sunday blaming bankers and politicians for causing a financial crisis that forced the country to adopt painful spending cuts.

Demonstrators of all ages linked to a protest movement called the "indignants" assembled early Sunday in several neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Madrid.

They then formed six columns and converged on the city centre, gathering near Spain's parliament where they met various forms of police resistance, including 12 vans blocking several major roads.

Protests over the economic crisis and soaring unemployment began in Madrid on May 15 and fanned out nationwide as word spread by Twitter and Facebook among demonstrators.

Sherlock

Vermont, US: The Mysterious Disappearance of Bill and Lorraine Currier

Curriers
© Essex police/Associated Press
Essex police are looking for Bill and Lorraine Currier, who were last seen June 8, 2011 by their respective co-workers in Burlington, Vermont
It's been nearly a week since Bill and Lorraine Currier mysteriously vanished from their small town in Vermont.

"The fact that they've completely disappeared, none of it seems to make any sense," Essex police Lt. Robin Hollwedell told ABCNews.com. "When two good people disappear from town with seemingly no explanation, that's a concern for us."

The couple was last seen by coworkers on Wednesday, June 8, around 5 p.m. They were reported missing by Bill Currier's sister, Diana Smith, the following day.

Smith told ABCNews.com today, "We're praying for their safe return."

Bad Guys

China: Hong Kong "gay cure" doctor defends his role

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© Agency France Presse/Mike Clarke
Supporters of gay rights advocacy group Rainbow Action in a protest on Friday accuse the Hong Kong social welfare department of being homophobic by offering so-called "gay conversion" therapy.
A Hong Kong psychiatrist who claims homosexuals can be "cured" defended his role Sunday, after he was hired to train government counsellors in a move that outraged gay rights activists.

Critics said it could be the world's first government-sponsored session on gay conversion therapy.

But psychiatrist Hong Kwai-wah said his three-and-a-half hour training session for more than 60 social welfare staff on Friday did not emphasise gay conversion.

"The main point is not about gay conversion therapy," the 56-year-old doctor told AFP in a telephone interview, saying he was "surprised and disappointed" over the attacks by activists.

"The main point is how to pay attention and give guidance to same-sex attracted youths and their parents, to understand their struggle and their needs," said Hong, who specialises in "treating unwanted homosexuality".

Bizarro Earth

US: Minnesota Shutdown Threatens Weddings, Much More

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© Associated Press/Jim Mone
In this June 8, 2011 photo, Crystal Morales and Derek Cloutier are shown outside Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel in Minneapolis where they plan to wed in July. However, their wedding location might be in jeopardy if there is a government shutdown in Minnesota.
Fort Snelling State Park - After enduring a 15-month deployment together in Iraq and more than a year living in separate states, Crystal Morales and Derek Cloutier can't wait to get married next month in their dream location, a historical military chapel on the bluffs above the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

One big problem: Fort Snelling State Park and its chapel may close July 1 if the Minnesota government shuts down. Morales calls the spot "my whole image of what I always wanted, like a castle."

"I can't even imagine really getting married anywhere else because of how perfect it is," she said on a breezy June day outside the chapel.

Their July 16 wedding is just one of many plans that could be snarled by a second potential government shutdown in six years in Minnesota, brought on by another political impasse over taxes and spending.

Minnesota's looming shutdown is the latest and most frantic example of a state dealing with the recession's lingering effects, a fiscal crisis and polarized politics. Across the border in Wisconsin, where one party controlled power, the combination led to swift, sweeping change and then backlash from those opposed to reforms affecting public workers and schools. In Minnesota, a divided state government has led to stubborn brinksmanship with no progress for months on how to fix a $5 billion deficit.

Heart - Black

US: 'Bizarre' Former Marine Gets Life in Prison for Killing Girlfriend's 2-YEAR-OLD Daughter With 'Ultimate Wrestling Moves'

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© Police Photo
Sentenced: Benjamin James George, 30, got life in prison for the violent death of a toddler
  • Benjamin James George, 30, of Medford, Oregon sentenced
  • Admitted choking and body slamming toddler in 2010
  • Defence argued mental impairment; judge not swayed
A 230-pound former Marine has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in a brutal wrestling match, in which he threw the child across a bed and into a wall.

Benjamin James George, 30, of Medford, Oregon was sentenced Thursday after he was convicted of murder by abuse in the death of Kacy Sue Lunsford, the Mail Tribune reported.

The girl died at a Portland hospital in June 2010, five days after the assault.

Prosecutor David Hoppe said previous episodes of abuse culminated in one night of 'ultimate wrestling moves' that left the 30-pound child with collapsed lungs, a lacerated liver, internal bleeding and massive head wounds.

Kacy's family cried quietly during the hearing, but they made no statement in court, and left the building immediately.

Mr Hoppe said: 'Hopefully the verdicts will bring a small measure of solace to Kacy's family'.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia also sentenced George to 7 1/2 years for assault, to run concurrently with the life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

George showed no reaction and expressed no remorse during his sentencing.

Murder by abuse applies when a person, recklessly or with extreme indifference to the value of human life, causes the death of a child younger than 14 through a pattern of abuse, torture or neglect.

Dollar

Food Price Explosion 'Will Devastate the World's Poor'

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© Reuters / David Gray
Boats stranded by drought in central China last month; experts say this year's global harvest is in a 'critical' condition.
After a 40% rise in global prices over the past year, droughts and floods threaten to seriously damage this year's harvest

Food prices will soar by as much as 30% over the next 10 years, the United Nations and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have predicted.

Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the OECD, said that any further increase in global food prices, which have risen by 40% over the past year, will have a "devastating" impact on the world's poor and is likely to lead to political unrest, famine and starvation. "People are going to be forced either to eat less or find other sources of income."

The joint UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and OECD report predicted that the cost of cereals is likely to increase by 20% and the price of meat, particularly chicken, may soar by up to 30%.

World food prices are already at a near-record high as droughts and floods threaten to seriously damage this year's harvest. The report said the global harvest is in a "critical" condition and warned that prices will continue to rise until depleted stocks are rebuilt.

Global food prices hit a record high in February, prompting demonstrations across the world. The last extreme food price rise in 2008 led to riots in 20 countries across three continents.

Phoenix

Fire Hits Riot-Wracked Venezuelan Prison

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© The Associated Press
Streams of tear gas fired by national guardsmen fall over El Rodeo I, bottom, and El Rodeo II prison in Guatire, Venezuela, Sunday June 19, 2011. Thousands of National Guard troops stormed the Venezuelan prison Friday seeking to disarm inmates days after a bloody riot, setting off gunfights with resisting inmates that left at least one inmate and two soldiers dead, and more than 18 wounded. On June 12, 2011, there was a clash between inmates in El Rodeo I that killed 21 prisoners and a visitor.
Fire ripped through a prison where thousands of Venezuelan troops struggled to put down a revolt by inmates on Sunday as dozens of horrified relatives tried to watch the fighting.

Officials gave few descriptions about the progress of the three-day battle at the Rodeo I prison and did not say if more people had been killed or injured beyond the three dead and 18 wounded reported on the first day of the clash. Gunfire continued to rattle from the compound.

Deputy Justice Minister Nestor Reverol told state television the pre-dawn fire was caused by a short circuit, and that inmates had been evacuated before flames engulfed a building. Some relatives outside said that prisoners with cell phones had told them troops started the blaze.

Evelyn Rodriguez, 27, climbed a nearby hill for a view and gasped when she peered through binoculars to see the prison blacked by the fire.

"My husband and my brother were inside that building," Rodriguez said, trying to hold back tears. "I have no idea what has happened to them."