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US: A much smaller May Day march

© Wally Skalij, Los Angeles TimesA crowd of immigrants-rights protestors march down Broadway toward 1st Street. Unlike in previous years, most of the attendees came with unions or communist or socialist groups.
Hundreds of thousands rallied in downtown L.A. for immigration reform in 2006, and last year's event drew 60,000. One student said attendance is dropping because 'people are starting to lose hope.'

Few people felt the low turnout at this year's May Day march as acutely as Salvador Ramirez.

Ramirez, an illegal immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico, pushed a cart among the few thousand immigrant-rights and labor activists Sunday on Broadway, selling American flags.

"It's really bad," said Ramirez, 48, who said he lost his job as an electrician due to his lack of documents and became a street vendor a year and a half ago. About halfway through Sunday's march, Ramirez had only sold about 10 to 15 flags, which he buys for $7.50 a dozen.

"I'm selling them almost at cost," he said. "It's not like the year before. Last year was great."

Only a few thousand people showed up for the nine-block march that started early and ended quickly. Los Angeles police declined to issue a crowd estimate, but marchers didn't even fill the intersection of Broadway and 1st Street, where the demonstration ended.

It marked a steep drop-off for a movement that prided itself for bringing hundreds of thousands onto the streets of downtown in 2006, and a million nationwide, to rally for legislation that would legalize the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. Last year, galvanized by Arizona's controversial anti-illegal-immigration law, about 60,000 marchers participated in Los Angeles.


US: Reactions to Bin-Laden Death: Euphoria, Concern

© unknownStudents at Pennsylvania State University took to the streets to celebrate the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death.
The 61-year-old mother of a bond trader killed during the attacks at the World Trade Center said she feared she would go to her grave before Osama bin Laden did.

"Justice really has been served," said Judith Reiss of Yardley. "There's a special place waiting in hell for this man."

Reiss said she and her husband, Gary, whose 23-year-old son, Joshua, died on 9/11, feared that the mission to kill bin Laden had fallen off the front burner.

"We're joyous," said Gary Reiss.

They were not alone, as rejoicing resonated from the ballpark to college campuses to watering holes.

"You know I'm not a hater, but I'm glad this bastard's dead," said Patrick White whose cousin, Louis Nacke II of New Hope was on board Flight 93 when it crashed in a field in Shanksville during the 9-11 attacks.


Royal revenge: 'We had to draw the line somewhere'

queen elizabeth,tony blair
© AFP/GETTY IMAGESTony Blair greeting the Queen outside No 10 in 2002

The Queen doesn't like him, so he wasn't invited. But the snub to Tony Blair makes a nonsense of claims that Friday's wedding has modernised a fundamentally Conservative institution

Of course it was a snub. The Royal Family wouldn't be so vulgar as to do it in the open, so there was a cover story, but it was a snub.

The cover story, which had the technical advantage of being true, was that protocol allowed Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to be left off the guest list. But it was a flying buttress of piffle.

If you care to follow me, I can explain the intricacies of precedent that sustain this nonsense. You do not need to immerse yourself in the angels and pinheads, because they are beside the point, but if you stay with it there is a kind of Catch-22 charm to the idiocy of it all.

Bizarro Earth

Taiwan Doomsday Prophet's Blog Sparks Panic

© Agence France-PresseWorkers had been hired to fit out "survival" containers with doors, windows and air conditioning
Police in Taiwan are investigating a self-proclaimed prophet whose doomsday warnings on a blog have caused panic.

The man, identifying himself as Teacher Wang, said Taiwan would be struck by a magnitude-14 earthquake and 170m (560ft) high tsunami on 11 May.

More than 100 cargo containers have been bought and set up in a mountainous area of central Taiwan.

Police said they were investigating if the blogger had conspired with a container business to defraud people.

"Teacher Wang" suggested people live in such containers to survive the disaster, which he said would kill millions of people and split the island in half.

Cloud Lightning

Storm cellar saves Alabama couple, as neighbors perish

© Reuters/Tami ChappellBrenda Roberts reacts after her wedding ring was found in the rubble of her home destroyed by a tornado in Phil Campbell, Alabama, April 30, 2011.

Travis Roberts invited his neighbors into the storm cellar he built for $600, but they figured they would ride out the twister bearing down on them.

Five were killed and two critically injured when it struck, splintering their homes, but Travis and his wife Brenda survived below ground in their storm-rocked concrete shelter.

"We did not respect the warning enough," said Roberts of the tiny Alabama town of 1,100 people, which was largely flattened in the deadly tornado outbreak that killed at least 350 people across seven states.

Heart - Black

US: Pennsylvania Girl, 10, Charged with Murder in Death of Baby

A 10-year-old central Pennsylvania girl who allegedly caused a baby's death by violently shaking him and throwing him into a crib was charged with third-degree murder.

The charges filed against the fifth-grader on Friday in Franklin County came after a coroner's inquest into the death of 11-month-old Heath Ryder. The girl was released into the custody of her parents and ordered not to have unsupervised contact with children under 5.

"This is not a kid that has a mental health disorder. She does not have a personality disorder," the girl's attorney, Jason Kutulakis, told The Public Opinion of Chambersburg. "She is not a bad person. She has no history of behavioral problems or school problems."

Also charged Friday was 56-year-old Dottie Bowers, who was babysitting both children at her home near Shippensburg, Pa., when the shaking allegedly occurred on July 29.

Bowers was charged with involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly failing to seek medical care for the infant. Ryder died of traumatic brain injury at a hospital on Aug. 2.


France: Investigators find black box from Air France crash

© The Associated Press / BEA, Johann PeschelThis photo provided Sunday May 1, 2011 by France's air accident investigation agency, the BEA, shows the flight data recorder from the 2009 Air France flight that went down in the mid-Atlantic. In a statement, the BEA said the black box was 'localized and identified' on Sunday morning. The statement included photos of the recorder, a red cylinder partially buried in sand on the sea floor. Investigators hope that the black box will help determine what caused the June 1, 2009 crash of Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to the French capital, Paris. All 228 people on board were killed when the aircraft plunged into a remote area of the Atlantic during a thunderstorm.
Investigators have located and recovered the missing memory unit of the flight data recorder of a 2009 Air France flight - a remarkable deep-sea discovery they hope will explain why the aircraft went down in a remote area of the mid-Atlantic, killing all 228 people on board.

France's air accident investigation agency BEA said a search by a submarine probing 3,900 meters (12,800 feet) below the ocean's surface located and recovered the unit Sunday morning. The unit is now aboard the Ile de Sein, a ship that's helping conduct the probe, the statement said.

The statement also included photos of the recorder - a red cylinder partially buried in sand on the sea floor. Judging from the photos, the unit appeared to be in good condition.

Still, BEA officials have warned that the recordings may yet prove unusable, considering the pressure they were subjected to for nearly two years.

"We can't say in advance that we're going to be able to read it until it's been opened," a BEA spokeswoman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. She did not give her name in accordance with her agency's policy.

Last month, the agency said the undersea search had identified the "chassis" that had held the recorder, but the memory unit was still missing. Detached from the chassis, the memory unit was found nearby, the spokeswoman said.

Bizarro Earth

US, Alabama: In a small town, tornado took all there was

Reporting from Hackleburg, Alabama - The tornado that destroyed Hackleburg attacked the little town's first line of defense.

alabama, tornado
© Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News
It leveled the town's tiny police station and crushed the police cruiser of Officer Jeremy Marbutt, who emerged unscathed after taking cover in the old town jail, built of steel and concrete.

It destroyed the fire station and blew away the roof of the town hall, where 69-year-old Mayor Douglas Gunnin survived to continue serving the town's 1,500 constituents.

Heart - Black

US, Memphis: Two boys removed from home after admitting to raping toddler

© Dream Catchers for Abused ChildrenA 2-year old girl was raped by boys 7 and 9 and have been removed form their homes

They are freshed-faced little boys who should be busy playing their video games and little league. To look at them you would never begin to imagine what they are capable of. Two young boys, age seven and nine, admitted that they raped a two-year old little girl.

After a trial last month in which the boys both pled guilty to the sexual assault, the controversy begin of what to do with the boys. Psychologist Dr. Charlotte Freeman has worked with children for more than 15 years and said it's not uncommon for young children to be curious about their body or the body of others. "As children grow they may encounter and engage in sexual play but as they get older, when we look at children who have an age gap of more than five years then we start to consider other issues in terms of what they have been exposed to. Children will have sexual play but as they grow older and the dynamics is different in terms of their age we start to consider another avenue," said Freeman.

But when it comes to the act of rape where penetration is involved, that is cause for serious alarm. That is not normal behavior for children of this age. "That's when you should really be concerned when you see children who are inserting objects into other kids, when you see when there is constant touching of other kids. That's when you should really be concerned," said Freeman.

Heart - Black

US, Colorado: Mother accused of trying to drown toddler in toilet

samantha salaz
Samantha Salaz, age 19, accused of trying to drown her toddler in toilet. Photo via Colorado Springs Police Department.

Two women have been taken into custody and held at the El Paso County Jail in Colorado Springs, Colorado, accused of trying to drown a 20 month old toddler girl. One of the women is reportedly the toddler's mother, Samantha Salaz, 19 and the other is a caregiver, Mary Horsley, 50. It is not yet known Horsley's relationship to the victim or her mother. One of the women apparently called police to report that the toddler may have drowned in the toilet. When police arrived, they found the unconscious tot who was brought to a local hospital and admitted into the pediatric ICU.

According to police, the toddler's body showed numerous signs of abuse as reported by the Denver Post. It was later determined that the baby had been severely abused and the near drowning incident was likely a botched attempt at murder. Police arrested the two women on felony child abuse charges and attempted murder. Both women are held on $500,000 bonds and have a preliminary court date today at 1:30pm in Colorado Springs.