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Philippines Department Store Fire Kills 17 Sleeping Shop Staff

Shop staff sleeping in a Philippines department store were killed when a fire swept through the building before dawn on Wednesday.

© The Associated Press/Erwin Mascarinas
Volunteers carry a bag containing the body of a victim of the fire that broke out in a clothing store in Butuan City, killing 17 employees
Out of 21 female employees trapped in the fire, 17 were killed, with one still missing and three surviving by jumping from a second-storey window, the provincial fire department said.

"Twenty-one people were asleep on the second floor when the fire struck the ground floor. They could not find the emergency exit because of the huge volume of black smoke," Chief Inspector Mario Palarca said by telephone.


Police Arrest 23 Union Protesters at Florida Casino

© Kristofer Rios / Miami Herald
Pro-union protesters demonstrate in front of Mardi Gras casino in Hallandale Beach Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
Police arrested 23 protesters for trespassing when they blocked the entrance to Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach.

The Miami Herald reports the arrests came around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as the protesters gathered to complain about what they consider union-busting tactics by the casino. They were also demanding that the casino reinstate workers who were fired after trying to unionize.

Hallandale Beach Police say about 100 protesters blocked the west entrance to keep patrons from entering the casino. Police and casino officials warned them they were trespassing. The protesters who refused to leave were arrested.

Eye 1

'Remorseful Robber' Stabs Girlfriend 34 Times While Daughter's Friend Watched Through Video Chat

© Julia Malakie/Lowell Sun
Christopher Piantedosi at his arraignment Monday in Woburn District Court in the murder of his girlfriend.
US - New Hampshire's so-called "Remorseful Robber" is accused of stabbing his girlfriend 34 times in a brutal murder that was witnessed by his daughter's friend who was in the middle of a video chat on an iPad at the time of the killing, a prosecutor said.

Details of the gruesome murder were revealed Monday morning when Christopher Piantedosi, 39, of Methuen, Mass., was ordered held without bail at his arraignment on a murder charge in Woburn District Court.

Piantedosi, who last year admitted to stealing a New Hampshire woman's wallet and other items and later returning them with a note of apology, said nothing and stared at the floor as Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney Nicole Allain described how he repeatedly stabbed his longtime girlfriend, Kristen Pulisciano, 38, in front of their 15-year-old daughter last Thursday night at her Burlington, Mass., home.

The murder followed his arrest by Plaistow, N.H., police last summer after he stole from a woman's purse at a Plaistow Market Basket on July 18.

Piantedosi later mailed the wallet back to her and then showed up at her house to return her $90, plus an extra $10, wrapped up in an apology letter along with her stolen GPS and a new charger. Piantedosi signed the letter "Stupid" and was later dubbed the "remorseful robber" by police.


Gun Parts Found in Stuffed Animals at Rhode Island Airport

© The Associated Press/Transportation Security Administration
Pistol parts hidden in a stuffed animal found by TSA officials at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., Monday May 7, 2012.
US - Police at Rhode Island's T.F. Green Airport said Tuesday that a domestic dispute was behind an incident in which gun components and ammunition were found hidden inside a child's stuffed animals, including a Mickey Mouse.

Authorities later allowed the 4-year-old boy and his father to continue their travel to Detroit after concluding the man didn't pose a risk, authorities said. He told police that he didn't know the parts were inside the stuffed toys.

"It appears to be the result of a domestic dispute," Rhode Island Airport Police Chief Leo Messier said in a statement. "It was jointly investigated by the RI Airport Police, FBI and the RI State Police and it was determined that there was no threat at any time to air safety."

Officials with airport police and the Transportation Security Administration declined to comment further, saying the incident remained under investigation.

Bizarro Earth

Politician's disappearance fuels Bangladesh crisis

Bangladesh crisis
© Pavel Rahman / AP
In this April 29, 2012 file photo, Bangladeshi opposition activists throw stones at vehicles during a nationwide general strike against the abduction of opposition politician Elias Ali in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The abduction of Ali and his driver as they returned home from meeting supporters at a hotel on April 17, 2012, has sparked one of Bangladesh's biggest crisis in years. The clashes have reignited hostilities between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her archrival Khaleda Zia, who have alternated in power since a pro-democracy movement ousted the last military regime in 1990.

President of the Left group in the European Parliament

Dhaka, Bangladesh - The night watchman was dozing in a wooden chair just after midnight on a deserted Bangladeshi street when he was startled by a scream. A group of men were pulling two people from a car and forcing them into a black microbus; "The two guys were shouting, 'Save us,'" before the car pulled away, Lutfar Rahman said.

The abductions of an opposition politician and his driver last month have sparked Bangladesh's biggest crisis in years, raised hostilities between the most prominent leaders of its fragile democracy and highlighted a series of seemingly political disappearances.


North Carolina Voters Ban Gay Marriage, Civil Unions

© The Associated Press
Lynda Miller casts her vote Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at Belville Elementary School in Brunswick County, N.C.
North Carolinians voted to change the state constitution Tuesday to say that the only valid "domestic legal partnership" in the state is marriage between a man and a woman, according to the AP's projection. The amendment passed 61 to 39 percent with most counties reporting, making North Carolina the 29th state with a gay marriage ban in its constitution.

The state already outlawed gay marriage, but the constitutional amendment makes it more difficult for politicians to ever change the law. The amendment also means that a handful of North Carolina municipalities that extended benefits to the domestic partners of their employees will no longer be able to do so, since marriage is now the only valid legal partnership in the state. Former President Bill Clinton urged the state's voters not to support the amendment in robocalls, while President Barack Obama's office said he was also against the change.

Eye 2

Florida Nabs White Supremacists Planning "Race War"

© Osceola County Corrections Department
Accused members of American Front white supremacist group, arrested in Osceola County, Florida. From top left, clockwise: Dustin Perry, Diane Stevens, Christopher Brooks, Richard Stockdale, Jennifer McGowan, Paul Jackson, Mark McGowan, Kent McLellan, Marcus Faella, Patricia Faella.
US, Florida - Ten alleged members of a white supremacist group training near Orlando and Disney World for a "race war" have been rounded up in a series of arrests in central Florida, authorities said on Tuesday.

The arrests were based on evidence from a confidential informant who infiltrated the neo-Nazi organization known as the American Front 17 months ago, according to an arrest affidavit.

"The American Front (AF) is a military-styled, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, skinhead organization and is known as a domestic terrorist organization," the affidavit said.

It said the group's alleged local ringleader, Marcus Faella, 39, had been "planning and preparing the AF for what he believes to be an inevitable race war" and had stated "his intent ... to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities."

Faella operated a heavily fortified paramilitary training center for the AF on his isolated property in St. Cloud, Florida, 11 miles from the Walt Disney World theme parks, according to the affidavit.

It said he recently had been plotting a disturbance at Orlando City Hall and a confrontation against a rival skinhead group in coastal Melbourne in a bid to garner media attention, but had also been experimenting with the potential manufacture of the biological toxin ricin.


Bomb Threat Halts 2 Southwest Airlines Flights

Southwest Airlines
US - Two Southwest Airlines flights with ties to Phoenix and Orange County's John Wayne Airport were grounded Tuesday night following a threatening phone call, authorities said.

Both planes were cleared later in the evening.

The threat was made while Flight 1184 was en route to Phoenix from Orange County, Southwest spokeswoman Ashley Dillon said. The plane was taken to an isolation pad after it landed in Phoenix.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task force worked with the Phoenix Police Department to screen the plane at Sky Harbor, FBI spokesman Manuel Johnson said.


Wife, Mother of Kidnap-Slaying Suspect Arrested

Adam Mayes
© The Associated Press/Hardeman County (Miss.)
Adam Mayes
US - The wife and mother of a Mississippi man suspected of killing a Tennessee woman and her teenage daughter before fleeing with her two younger girls were charged Tuesday in connection with the abduction, authorities said.

Teresa Mayes, 30, was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and Mary Mayes, 65, was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Meanwhile, the manhunt continued for Adam Mayes 35, and the two young girls - Alexandra Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8. Adam Mayes is considered armed and dangerous.

The FBI said Tuesday authorities are hopeful the two young girls are still alive, but did not elaborate.

An attorney for Teresa Mayes, whose bond was set at $500,000, declined to comment Tuesday afternoon. Calls to the attorney assigned to Mary Mayes were not immediately returned Tuesday. Her bond was set at $300,000.

An affidavit filed in court does not hint at a possible motive for their involvement.

Teresa Mayes told investigators she drove Jo Ann Bain and her daughters from Hardeman County, where they lived, to Union County, Miss., where Adam and Teresa Mayes lived with his parents, according to the affidavit.

The bodies of Jo Ann Bain, 31, and Adrienne Bain, 14, were found last week behind the mobile home in northern Mississippi where the Mayes family lived. The affidavit provides the first clue that the victims may have been killed soon after they were abducted. It said Adam Mayes' wife and mother saw him digging a hole in the yard on April 27 or soon after.

Light Saber

Vermont poised to be first state to outlaw fracking

A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 9, 2012.
© Reuters/Les Stone
A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 9, 2012.
Vermont will be the first state to outlaw a controversial oil and gas drilling method known as fracking when Governor Peter Shumlin signs a bill banning the practice, a largely symbolic move given the state's apparent lack of energy reserves.

Hydraulic fracturing has helped companies tap potentially decades of gas supply and huge amounts of oil from previously inaccessible shale formations dotted across the United States in recent years.

Environmentalists say the practice, which involves injecting millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into underground wells, may contaminate groundwater and trigger earthquakes.