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Stranded in the volcano aftermath

As chaos ensued in airports around the world this week due to countless delays and cancellations caused by the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, I enjoyed my last few days in Accra, Ghana, before attempting to return to London. When I reached the airport Tuesday night, I was told that I could either take my spot on my connecting flight to Amsterdam and then find my own way home from there (with the airline not liable for any costs incurred by my transport beyond Amsterdam) or I could wait in Accra until the next available flight that they could guarantee me a seat on back to London on May 3.


Search resumes for 11 missing in oil-rig blast

A Coast Guard helicopter and rescue plane resumed the search Thursday morning for 11 workers missing after a massive explosion aboard an oil platform off the Louisiana coast.

The rig continued to burn as supply vessels shot water into it to try to control the flames enough to keep it from sinking.


The Capitol protests

To work in Washington is to become acquainted with protest culture. Protests range from small groups with loudspeakers and gusto to swarming crowds the media are more inclined to cover. Small protests happen very often — if not daily.


Teenage bullying can be red flag for depression

The word “bully” might conjure images of a 9-year-old punk shaking down a 7-year-old for lunch money. But teenagers experience bullying, too, and research shows it can be a red flag for depression and suicidal behavior — whether the teen is the bully or the victim.


School lunches a national security threat, vets say

A group of retired military officers is giving school lunches a new label: national security threat. They say school lunches have helped make young people so fat that fewer of them can meet the military’s physical fitness standards, and recruitment is in jeopardy.

A report released Tuesday said more than 9 million young adults, or 27 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24, are too overweight to join the military. Now, the officers are advocating for passage of a wide-ranging nutrition bill that aims to make the nation’s school lunches healthier.


Divorce dilemma: Texas says gays can’t get divorce

A judge in Austin granted the divorce, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is appealing the decision, as well as a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas, saying protecting the “traditional definition of marriage” means doing the same for divorce.
A state appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in the Dallas case Wednesday.



Court upholds blasphemy law

Indonesia’s constitutional court upheld a controversial blasphemy law Monday that critics say limits religious freedom in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, ruling that the law is vital to religious harmony.


Ashesi offers college alternative

Amidst a sea of traditional Ghanaian universities, polytechnics and colleges, Ashesi University College stands alone as a shining beacon of liberal-arts education in West Africa.


Protestors defend judge

Spain’s central criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional, began hearings in the case against justice Baltasar Garzón Real yesterday. Right-wing groups, led by Manos Limpias (“clean hands”), had filed suits against the judge after he tried to open inquiries against crimes committed by Francisco Franco and members of the Falange party during and after the Spanish Civil War. The crimes included executions, mass graves, forced labor and sudden disappearances.


Backers defend crackdown on illegal immigrants

Supporters of the nation’s toughest crackdown on illegal immigration, on the verge of approval in the Arizona Legislature, said the state law is necessary to help stamp out crime and keep citizens and law enforcement officers safe.

The measure would make it a crime to be in the country illegally and require local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are here illegally.


Aid arrives after cyclone kills 121

Aid workers distributed rice, dried fruit, water and tarpaulins Thursday to victims of a ferocious cyclone that killed at least 121 people in India and demolished ten of thousands of mud huts.



Settlers-vs.-Indians board game rankles tribes

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — “King Philip’s War” is a board game based on a bloody and violent clash of the same name between colonists and Indian tribes in 17th-century New England.

The game’s designer says he hopes to educate children and others about a war that cost thousands of lives but receives scant attention in history books. But some Native Americans want the game blocked from release, saying it trivializes the conflict and insensitively perpetuates a stereotype of Indian tribes as warlike savages.


400 dead in China quake

A series of strong earthquakes struck western China on Wednesday, killing at least 400 people and injuring more than 10,000 as houses made of mud and wood collapsed, officials said. Many more people were trapped, and the toll was expected to rise.


Boy Scout sex trial progresses

A $1.4 million verdict delivered Tuesday by a jury was based partly on so-called “perversion files” secretly kept by the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts plan to appeal, arguing the files are outdated and do not reflect current prevention efforts or even past policy.


Father wages court battle against funeral protests

“Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” “You’re Going to Hell.” “Semper Fi Fags.”

Hundreds of grieving families have been targets of Westboro Baptist Church, which believes military deaths are the work of a wrathful God punishing the country for tolerating homosexuality.

Most try to ignore the taunts. But Albert Snyder couldn’t let it go, becoming the first to sue Westboro to halt the demonstrations.


Striking a blow

For as long as anyone I’ve talked to can remember, French people have loved to go on strike. About, well, everything.

Train conductors, are you unhappy about your wages? Strike, and shut down parts of the city’s transportation system. This has happened three times since I’ve been here, including a strike Tuesday affecting one of the main commuter train lines.


Wrong video of health protest spurs N-word feud

WASHINGTON DC - Three Democratic congressmen — all black — said they heard racial slurs as they walked through thousands of angry protesters outside the U.S. Capitol. A white lawmaker said he heard the epithets too. Conservative activists said the lawmakers are lying.



4 civilians dead after NATO attack

International troops opened fire on a bus carrying Afghan civilians early Monday, killing four people and setting off anti-American protests in a city that is a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.


No body? No problem convicting, 90 percent of time

Murders without bodies were long considered one of the most complex challenges in the legal profession, but advances in technology have made the once-unthinkable prospect more common.

The absence of the key piece of evidence — the corpse — poses unique problems for both prosecutors and defense attorneys, said Thomas “Tad” DiBiase, a lawyer who runs a Web site chronicling “no body” murders.


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