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Criminals in Suits: Echoes of Katrina? Snohomish Emergency Management Director's lack of experience criticized

© (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington speaks during a news conference about a deadly mudslide that happened two days earlier as county Executive John Lovick listens, Monday, March 24, in Arlington, Wash. Two additional bodies were recovered Tuesday, while eight more were located in the debris field from Saturday's slide 55 miles northeast of Seattle. That brings the likely death toll to 24, though authorities are keeping the official toll at 16 until the eight other bodies are recovered.
In the aftermath of the Steelhead Landslide in Snohomish County, which has claimed a still-unknown number of lives, eyes are turning towards the actions of Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management Director John E. Pennington.

The monster mudslide, which obliterated a community of almost 50 homes and vacation cabins, apparently took county officials by surprise - despite the fact that slides have occurred on the site for at least 60 years, most recently in 2006.

The Seattle Times on Monday reported that Pennington, appointed to his post in 2006 by controversial ex-SnohomishCounty Executive Aaron Reardon, said, "It was considered very safe. This was a completely unforeseen slide. This came out of nowhere."

However, the Times reported that geologists had warned of a major slide since at least 1999; further, global warming experts pointing to more rainfall in winter months are already suggesting the Steelhead mudslide could be the "new normal."

Wedding Rings

Paris campaign calls for 'love locks' to be banned

© Alamy
Better to have loved and locked? Padlocks left by couples on the Pont de l'Archevêché in Paris.
For some they are a symbol of everlasting love. For others they are a rusting eyesore. But now the "love locks" - padlocks engraved with the names of lovers - that line the rails of Paris's bridges may have met their match, as a campaign takes off to have them banned.

The No Love Locks campaign, which includes a petition that currently has over 1,700 signatures, was launched in February by two Americans living in Paris who were shocked at the extent of the trend across the city. The idea is that by attaching the locks to a public place and throwing away the key, the love it represents will become unbreakable. However, with an estimated 700,000 padlocks now attached to locations across the French capital, the weight could be putting the structural integrity of the city's architecture at risk.


Neo-Nazi violence continues: Right Sector HQ surrounded after Kiev shootout injures 3

© AFP Photo / Genya Savilov
Ukraine's acting interior minister urged the far-right group Right Sector to vacate its HQ in Kiev after a downtown shootout instigated by one of its members injured three, including deputy mayor Bogdan Dubas.

Kiev's 'Dnepr' hotel, which serves as headquarters for the Right Sector movement, has been surrounded by police after members of the group retreated there following a shootout in the center of Ukraine's capital, not far from the landmark Maidan (Independence Square).

Alarm Clock

German shopkeeper refuses to put clocks forward

Daylight Savings
© Alex Evans
Renate Stahn at 1pm German time, midday her time.
A Berlin pet shop owner is living an hour behind the rest of the country after refusing to put her clocks forward for summer time. She has encouraged her neighbours to join the protest and tellsThe Local why.

Renate Stahn, who grew up in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin where her shop is located, told The Local she had had enough of the negative effects the time change had on her health.

"I have high blood pressure and I can't sleep - when you sleep badly you're less able to work," the 66-year-old said.

"Mothers have difficulties with their kids, old people have difficulties with the time change, young people too."

"Some people even have to take days off sick, or are not working at 100 percent efficiency," she added. "I will no longer take part in this circus."

Stahn first tried running her shop an hour behind summer time last year and found it so beneficial that this year she has expanded her sign (which notifies customers of her adjusted hours and urges them to join her time boycott) to four times the size.

She has installed it in an illuminated box above her door.


Spanish crowds swamp church after 'Holy Grail' claim

Holy Grail?
© Cesar Manso/AFP
Made of agate, gold and onyx and encrusted with precious stones, the object in Leon is formed by two goblets joined together.
Curators were forced to remove a precious cup from display in a church in Spain when crowds swarmed there after historians claimed it was the Holy Grail, staff said.

Visitors flocked to the San Isidro basilica in the north-western city of Leon after two historians published a book saying the ancient goblet was the mythical chalice from which Christ sipped at the Last Supper.

The director of the basilica's museum, Raquel Jaen, said the cup was taken off display on Friday while curators look for an exhibition space large enough to accommodate the crowds.

"It was in a very small room where it was not possible to admire it to the full," she told AFP.

Made of agate, gold and onyx and encrusted with precious stones, the object in Leon is formed by two goblets joined together, with one turned up, the other down.


1,400 Armed police in tanks and helicopters storm Rio slum ahead of World Cup


Residents walk through the slum as dozens of police officers, in camouflaged uniform hold machine guns from behind heavy-duty navy trucks

* 1,400 armed police and marines have stormed one of Brazil's biggest slums in bulletproof trucks

* Helicopters circle as scores of military point guns at residents as they walk through the streets in which they live

* Operation to rid Complexo da Mare, home to more than 130,000 residents, of violence and drug gangs started today

* Since 2011, government has cracked down on slums within the city ahead of World Cup which begins in June

* Brazilian police have attracted widespread criticism following use of violence and 'covered-up' murders


Helicopters circle the Mare slum complex in Rio de Janeiro. The slum - 'favela' in Portuguese - is home to some 130,000 residents


Minnesota man fatally shoots son over cable bill, then attempts suicide to settle dispute in 'afterlife'

An 84-year-old man allegedly shot and killed his son Monday because he refused to pay to install cable television in their home, reports CBS Minnesota.

Pang Se Vang faces second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of his 36-year-old son, Chue Vang.

According to criminal charges filed Thursday, the suspect's wife, two sons and infant grandchild were also at the home in suburban St. Paul when the shooting occurred. Police spoke with the victim's eldest brother, who said he was sleeping upstairs when his mother woke him to tell him what happened, reports CBS Minnesota. He reportedly went downstairs and found his brother, Chue, who was bleeding and appeared to be dead.

The brother told police that his father then came out of a bedroom holding a shotgun. After a struggle during which the gun discharged into the ceiling, the victim's brother was able to wrestle the gun away from the suspect, according to the charges. His father retreated back into the bedroom and closed the door. The son called 911 and left the home, taking the rifle with him.

Cow Skull

New York juror doubts that God ordered slaying, but Satan 'would have been a different story'

© Daily News
A jury in New York rejected the insanity defense of a schizophrenic man who claimed God told him to kill a psychologist during a botched robbery.

Jurors found David Tarloff guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the brutal 2008 slaying of Kathryn Faughey and also convicted him of assault and attempted robbery in maiming of Dr. Kent Shinbach, a psychiatrist who shared an office with her.

The 47-year-old Tarloff had been tried twice previously for the attacks, reported the New York Times, but the first trial stalled in 2010 after the defendant became unstable during jury selection, and a mistrial was declared last year after another jury deadlocked.

Jurors were tasked with deciding whether Tarloff was under a psychotic delusion when he killed Faughey with a meat cleaver and rubber mallet and therefore was unable to distinguish between right and wrong.


4,000 protest in Barcelona against EU austerity measures

© AFP/Quique Garcia
Anti-riot police corner off demonstrators during clashes at the end of a march dubbed "Disobedience 2014" in Barcelona on March 29, 2014.
Around 4,000 people have staged an act of "mass civil disobedience" in the Catalonian city of Barcelona. Protesters hurled projectiles at police and set fire to bins, while officers beat some activists with batons in an effort to control the crowd.

Thousands gathered in the center of Barcelona in an event the organizers dubbed "Disobedience 2014" in protest of government austerity measures. The protesters marched under a large banner saying: "Disobedience 2014. They can't control us if we disobey. Let's stop [Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon's] laws!"

Heart - Black

Legalized pedophilia! Iraq drafts law allowing men to marry 9 year old girls

painting of girl
© ssoosay
It's nearly incomprehensible for people living in a modern, civilized society to fathom there are still countries where it's perfectly acceptable for a 40-year-old man to marry a 10-year-old girl. Yet, it's happening in India, Ethiopia, Nepal and dozens of developing countries.

Iraq has recently put forth a controversial draft law that would allow men to marry girls as young as 9 years old and force their wives to have sex without consent. Women would also not be able to leave the house without their husband's permission.

Approved by the Justice Ministry Cabinet in February, the Jaafari Personal Status Law, named after Jaafar al-Sadiq, a Shiite imam, has yet to be approved by Iraq's parliament. Analysts say it's unlikely to make it through before the April 30 parliamentary elections.

Iraq's current law sets the legal age for marriage at 18 and forbids divorce. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Shiite leaders attempted to annul the existing 1959 personal status law citing decades of oppression suffered under the Baathist Sunni minority.

No minimum martial age is stated in the draft law however it mentions a clause allowing girls to divorce at the age of 9, which is a roundabout way of implying they could conceivably marry even younger.