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Plastic Pellet Incident at Virginia School Ends in Expulsion, Assault Charges

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© unknown
Spotsylvania High School student Andrew Mikel II, 14, blew these pellets at students.
Andrew Mikel II admits it was a stupid thing to do. In December, bored and craving attention, the 14-year-old used a plastic tube to blow small plastic pellets at fellow students in Spotsylvania High School. In one lunch period, he scored three hits.

"They flinched. They looked annoyed," Mikel said.

The school district saw it as more than a childish prank. School officials expelled him for possession and use of a weapon, and they called a deputy sheriff to the scene, said Mikel and his father, Andrew Mikel Sr.

The younger Mikel, a freshman, said he was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault. The case was first reported by the Web site WorldNetDaily.

Spotsylvania school officials declined to comment on the incident, citing student confidentiality rules. But documents that the school produced when Mikel's father filed a Freedom of Information Act request show internal division over the matter.

The federal Gun-Free Schools Act mandates that schools expel students who take weapons, including hand guns, explosive devices and projectile weapons, to school. E-mail traffic among school officials showed they ruled that Mikel's plastic tube, which was fashioned from a pen casing, met the definition of a projectile weapon because it was "used to intimidate, threaten or harm others."

School officials in some e-mails referred to the plastic casing as a "metal tube." The plastic pellets were called "B-Bs."

"We have an obligation to protect the students in our building from others who pose a threat to the over-all safe learning environment," Russell Davis, principal of Spotsylvania High, wrote to other school officials in one e-mail.

Heart - Black

US: Mom Admits Strangling Daughter at New York College

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© myfoxny.com
Charged: Stacy Pagli, 38, (left) pleaded guilty today of strangling her 18-year-old daughter Marissa because she 'pushed my last button'
A woman who said she strangled her 18-year-old daughter because she "pushed my last button" pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree manslaughter.

Her husband, who discovered the body, wept during the court session.

Stacy Pagli, 38, had been charged with murder in the Feb. 22 killing of her daughter Marissa at Manhattanville College in Purchase.

But her lawyer, Allan Focarile, claimed Pagli was under "extreme emotional duress" at the time of the killing. Her mental state was the focus of pretrial hearings, and psychiatrists for both sides eventually agreed.

In exchange for her guilty plea, Pagli is to be sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sentencing was set for April 5.

Marissa Pagli, a Manhattanville freshman, was found dead in the family's on-campus apartment. Her father, John Pagli, was a maintenance supervisor at the college.

He found his daughter's body - and his wife lying nearby. The Westchester district attorney's office said that after the killing, Stacy Pagli tried to commit suicide by cutting her left wrist and hanging herself on a doorknob.

While in jail, she tried killing herself by tying socks around her neck, prosecutors said.

Arrow Down

US: Police: Man who commited suicide with shotgun in car buried under snow for nearly a week

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© Nicastro for News
Snow covered car where man was found inside in Flushing after an apparent suicide.
The body of a Long Island man who shot himself to death was found entombed in a snow-covered car on a residential block in Queens Tuesday, police said.

Kevin Roman, 36, of Bay Shore, L.I., was discovered slumped over the wheel of a sedan at about 12:30 a.m., police said.

He died from a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head and may have been dead since last Wednesday, according to authorities.

Police did not say who discovered Roman's body. But his anguished relatives raced to the block at 3 a.m. Tuesday, demanding to see him.

"That's my son," shouted one man, who said he was the father. "I want to see him. I want to see him! That's his brother. Let us see him!"

Investigators said Roman battled drug and alcohol addictions and previously threatened to take his life.

Heart - Black

US: Superbowl a Magnet for Under-age Sex Trade

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© Brian Snyder / Reuters
Flight attendants deliver educational materials about spotting sex-trafficking to a gate at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas, on Monday ahead of NFL football's Super Bowl XLV to be played Sunday.
Pimps will traffic thousands of under-age prostitutes to Texas for Sunday's Super Bowl, hoping to do business with men arriving for the big game with money to burn, child rights advocates said.

As the country's largest sporting event, the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will make the Dallas-Fort Worth area a magnet for business of all kinds.

That includes the multimillion dollar, under-age sex industry, said activists and law enforcement officials working to combat what they say is an annual spike in trafficking of under-age girls ahead of the Super Bowl.

"The Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a trafficking prevention meeting in January.

Girls who enter the grim trade face a life of harsh treatment and danger, according to a Dallas police report in 2010. Few who emerge are willing to speak about it. Tina Frundt, 36, is an exception.

Now married and living in Washington D.C., Frundt was lured into sex work at 14 after she fell for a 24-year-old who invited her to leave home in 1989 and join his "family" in Cleveland, Ohio.

That family consisted of the man and three girls living in a motel. When Frundt declined on the first night to have sex with her boyfriend's friends they raped her.

"I was angry with myself for not listening to him, so the next night when he sent me out on the street and told me ... (to earn $500) I listened," she said in a telephone interview.

Frundt paced the streets for hours and finally got into a client's car.

When she came home in the morning with just $50, her pimp beat her in front of the other girls to teach them all a lesson and sent her back onto the street the next night with the warning not to return until she had reached the quota.

The scenario was repeated night after night as Frundt's pimp moved his stable across the Midwest. Any sign of rebellion led to further beatings. Escape seemed out of the question.

"I was a teen-ager in a strange town with no money and no place to go," she said. She finally escaped by getting arrested.

Heart - Black

Hundreds have died of dehydration in UK care homes

Neglect levels in Britain's care homes were described as "scandalous" today after it emerged that more than 650 elderly residents have died of dehydration in the past five years.

Figures also revealed that 157 vulnerable pensioners died of malnutrition in the same period, while nearly 2,000 passed away from superbugs Clostridium difficile and MRSA.

It is feared the totals may be higher because care home residents who die in hospital are not included in the statistics.

Handcuffs

Egyptians form makeshift militias to stop looters

Egyptian soldiers Cairo
© Ahmed Khaled/EPA
Egyptian soldiers with armoured vehicles patrol near the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but they are mostly absent away from the main roads.
As police disappear from residential streets, communities take law into their own hands against armed gangs

The security of most neighbourhoods in Egypt lay in the hands of its citizens last night, as residents responded to the disappearance of the police force by setting up makeshift barricades and beginning local patrols to protect themselves from violence.

In extraordinary scenes repeated across the country, communities formed spontaneous militias armed with sticks, knives and guns, and worked through the night to man roadblocks and maintain order on the streets, from which the government security forces are now almost entirely absent. The army remains in place on major highways, squares and public buildings - but away from main roads local residents were left to defend their families and property from looters.

As reports filtered in of gangs attempting to rob and terrorise neighbourhoods in different quarters of the capital, some pointed the finger at escaped prisoners and opportunistic criminals, though many more claimed that groups of policemen, now wearing civilian clothing, were behind the attacks. There were claims that some of those captured by vigilantes were found with police IDs.

Cowboy Hat

91,000 Gulf oil spill claims, just 1 final payment

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BP's compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims has issued a final settlement payment to just one of the thousands of people and businesses waiting for checks, records show, and that $10 million payout went to a company after the oil giant intervened on its behalf.

BP won't identify the business, citing confidentiality, but acknowledges it lobbied for the settlement. The amount far exceeds smaller stopgap payments that some individuals and businesses have received while they wait for their own final settlements.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility was set up in August to independently administer BP's $20 billion compensation fund in the aftermath of its April 20 oil well blowout off Louisiana.

As of this weekend, roughly 91,000 people and businesses had filed for final settlements, but the fund's administrator, Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, has said those checks won't start rolling out until February at the earliest. Thousands of people have received some money to tide them over until a final settlement amount is offered, but only one business listed as paid on the facility's website has so far received a check.

Chalkboard

Facebook, Twitter, and the Arab Revolutions

The dictator of Tunisia was overthrown in less than one month after being in power for 23 years. There is no question about how opponents of his regime were able to topple it. Two words describe it: Facebook, Twitter. These two social networking sites enabled protesters to take to the streets, organize the opposition, recruit new protesters, and overcome the police force and the military.

There is no question that if the government had chosen to use machine guns to cut down the protesters, it probably would have succeeded in suppressing the revolt. If it had combined machine guns with switching off the Internet, it would have been able to cut the protest down, both literally and digitally. But to do that, the regime would have had to act extremely fast, and it would have risked coming under international condemnation. It would also have created a permanent opposition, ready to revolt again.

The opposition forces are now connected, yet not organized. This has never happened before in recorded history. The masses can communicate with like-minded people for the price of a computer and an Internet connection.

In the good old days of the Soviet Union in the 1960s, the leaders would have applied that degree of force without a moment's hesitation. But this is not the era of the Soviet Union. We are living in a digital age, and almost nothing can be concealed from the public for very long. If a tyrant is weak, this will become common knowledge. There are few Goliaths and a lot of Davids online.

Network

200GB to 25GB: Canada gets first, bitter dose of metered Internet

Metered Internet usage (also called "Usage-Based Billing") is coming to Canada, and it's going to cost Internet users. While an advance guard of Canadians are expressing creative outrage at the prospect of having to pay inflated prices for Internet use charged by the gigabyte, the consequences probably haven't set in for most consumers. Now, however, independent Canadian ISPs are publishing their revised data plans, and they aren't pretty.

"Like our customers, and Canadian internet users everywhere, we are not happy with this new development," wrote the Ontario-based indie ISP TekSavvy in a recent e-mail message to its subscribers.

Igloo

Winter Storm: Roof collapses at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Catoosa

Atoosa, Oklahoma - Cherokee officials confirm that a portion of the roof at Hard Rock Casino Tulsa has been damaged by the winter storm.


There were no injuries to guests or staff.

Casino officials closed the damaged portion of the facility.

CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses David Stewart has released the following statement:

"The safety of our guests is a top priority for us, and we're so glad that no one was hurt."

Monte Haddox was in the casino at the time of the collapse.

He says he noticed water on the floor and started to take a picture when he noticed the ceiling had come down.

Haddox says he was told he was in an "unsafe area" and was quickly ushered out of the room, but not before he was able to snap this picture.

He says he was told by a casino employee that the weight of the snow caused the ceiling to give out.