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Protesters rally against Air Force officer's transfer after sex assault conviction overturned

Protesters rallied outside a Tucson military base Thursday to denounce the Air Force’s decision to transfer a lieutenant colonel to Arizona after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by a commander, adding to the growing criticism of the military justice system. The 45-minute demonstration by about 50 people was led by outraged family members of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson’s accuser. They questioned why the military would transfer Wilkerson to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on the southern edge of Tucson, where roughly half the woman’s family lives. The protest came amid a congressional uproar over the Wilkerson case, and follows heavy criticism of the military’s handling of another case involving sex-crime allegations in California. Continue Reading →

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California man suspected in kidnapping back in US after being detained in Mexico

A phone tip and a Superman tattoo led to the Mexico arrest and return to the U.S. of a fugitive charged with abducting and sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Los Angeles girl. Tobias Summers, 30, a fugitive for nearly a month, was arrested in a Mexican village where he had checked into a drug and alcohol treatment center, authorities said. Summers appeared in court in Los Angeles County court on Thursday, but his arraignment was postponed until May 2. He had been charged in his absence with kidnapping, burglary and nearly three dozen counts of sexual assault.

The FBI had received a phone tip Tuesday night that Summers was at the treatment center and alerted Mexican authorities, who identified him Wednesday by the Superman logo tattooed on his chest, FBI Special Agent in Charge Tim Delaney told a news conference. The girl’s family released a statement thanking and praising police and FBI agents. Continue Reading →

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Senate passes bill to end FAA furloughs

With flight delays mounting, the Senate approved hurry-up legislation Thursday night to end air traffic controller furloughs blamed for inconveniencing large numbers of travelers. A House vote on the measure was expected as early as Friday, with lawmakers eager to embark on a weeklong vacation. Under the legislation, the Federal Aviation Administration would gain authority to transfer up to $253 million from accounts that are flush into other programs, to “prevent reduced operations and staffing” through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. In addition to restoring full staffing by controllers, Senate officials said the available funds should be ample enough to prevent the closure of small airport towers around the country. Continue Reading →

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US bars Castro's daugther from visiting Philadelphia

The daughter of Cuba President Raul Castro cannot visit Philadelphia to receive an award for her gay rights activism because the State Department has denied her permission to travel there, officials said Thursday. Mariela Castro had been expected to attend a conference next week on civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities sponsored by the Equality Forum, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group’s executive director. “We find it shocking that our State Department would deny freedom of speech, particularly at an international civil rights summit, to anyone, let alone the Cuban president’s daughter,” Lazin said. State Department spokesman Noel Clay said he could not comment on the case because visa records are confidential. Mariela Castro, the niece of retired leader Fidel Castro, is director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education. Continue Reading →

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Protesters gather outside Bush library ceremony

About 50 protesters have gathered amid a heavy police presence as thousands make their way to the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The protests were restricted Thursday morning to a zone cordoned off by barricades and separated from the center by a highway. About 30 protesters are wearing black while holding signs exclaiming, “Crimes against humanity” and “Does America have a conscience?” Other signs list the names of soldiers and others who died in wars launched by the Bush administration. Coleen Rowley of Apple Valley, Minn., is wearing an orange jumpsuit and yelling “Close Guantanamo,” a reference to the U.S. detention facility for suspected insurgents. Continue Reading →

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TSA agent, passengers revive woman at Newark airport

A Transportation Security Administration agent is being credited with helping save the life of a passenger at Newark Liberty International Airport. The TSA says security inspector Robert Kennish of Metuchen, N.J., performed CPR on an elderly woman after she collapsed Tuesday night on a passenger ramp and stopped breathing. Flight attendants from the Virgin America aircraft and two passengers — an ophthalmologist and a nurse — also came to the woman’s aid. The TSA says the doctor administered an automatic defibrillator an attendant retrieved from the jet, and Kennish resumed CPR. The woman was also given oxygen and was breathing when paramedics arrived. Continue Reading →

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