China tightens school security after third classroom attack

Armed police will patrol schools in China’s capital after a farmer attacked kindergarten students with a hammer, then burned himself to death Friday in the third classroom assault in as many days.

The government ordered schools across the country to tighten security, and anxious parents of students targeted in an earlier attack marched in protest Friday night, demanding a better government response to the crisis.

In the latest assault, Wang Yonglai used a motorcycle to break down the gate of the Shangzhuang Primary School in the city of Weifang and struck a teacher who tried to block him before hitting students with a hammer, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Wang then grabbed two children, poured gasoline over his body, and set himself on fire. Teachers pulled the children to safety, but Wang died. None of the five injured students had life-threatening wounds, Xinhua said.

Wang’s motive was unclear. Xinhua described him only as a farmer.


Italian premier Berlusconi defends regime’s prospects

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi insisted Friday that his government would serve out the remaining three years of its term, despite mounting infighting and trouble within his coalition.

In a defiant and defensive statement on his party’s website, Berlusconi said his government was hard at work modernizing the country, fighting cancer, bailing out Greece, nabbing mobsters and reforming the justice system.

“I believe that there should be no doubts about the stability of our government for the next three years,” he wrote. “We will proceed on the path of reforms without any delays caused by counterproductive in-house discussions.”

His statement came after a Cabinet minister faced calls to resign after he became implicated in a judicial probe and another party member quit a high-profile job in parliament, accusing Berlusconi of seeking to silence dissent.

This came a week after Berlusconi publicly feuded with his one-time political ally, Gianfranco Fini, who co-founded the People of Freedom party with Berlusconi.


Jury convicts on 2 charges in Palin e-mail hacking

The son of a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker was convicted Friday on two charges in the hacking of Sarah Palin’s e-mail account while she campaigned on the Republican presidential ticket in 2008.

The federal court jury reached its verdict against David Kernell, 22, after four days of deliberation. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice and unauthorized access to a computer, but was acquitted on a charge of wire fraud.

The jury deadlocked on a charge of identify theft. Prosecutors reserve the right to have a new trial on that charge. The charge of obstructing an investigation carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and unauthorized access to a computer is a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year sentence.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips did not immediately set a sentencing date.

Kernell’s defense attorney maintained the hack amounted to college prank, not a crime. Kernell was a student at the University of Tennessee at the time. Prosecutors argued it was a more serious effort to damage Palin’s political campaign.

Knoxville Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle, the chief prosecutor in the case, said they had not decided whether to try Kernell again on the identity theft charge.


Boy faces hate-crime counts in shooting of classmate

A grand jury has indicted a 16-year-old boy on hate crime charges in the shooting of a black high school classmate inside an upstate New York police station near baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Anthony Pacherille now faces charges of attempted murder and attempted assault as hate crimes. He remains hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and is slated for arraignment May 7.

Authorities said Pacherille chased Wesley Lippitt, 16, from a Cooperstown park on April 2, shot him in the arm with his father’s .22-caliber rifle in the police station foyer, then shot himself. Pacherille is white.

Pacherille’s lawyer, James Hartmann, said he’s awaiting evidence from the prosecution, but he doesn’t believe the hate crime charges are valid.


Pentagon paves way for world’s largest wind farm

The Pentagon has withdrawn its objection to what promises to be the world’s largest wind farm, allowing construction to move ahead on the Shepherds Flat project in Oregon.

Senior Defense Department officials called Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley on Friday to say they will update the radar system near Fossil so that its operation would not be affected by the 338 turbines that will be installed as part of the project.

Both senators had lobbied fiercely for the $2 billion project, which could generate 16,000 jobs nationwide, after the Pentagon held up a permit that needs to be granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Construction had been slated to begin today.


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