Hundreds march to demand stricter U.S. gun legislation

Hundreds of men, women and children, including fashion designer Donna Karan, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday demanding stricter gun laws and offering a litany of violent stories to show why such laws are needed.

The third annual march from Brooklyn to Manhattan was organized by the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“Progress is being made, one day at a time,” said Abbey Clements, a teacher from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in December 2012.

BOGOTA, Colombia

President halting spraying of herbicide on coca plants

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday he is halting use of a herbicide that is a key part of U.S.-financed efforts to wipe out cocaine crops.

Santos said he was taking the move following a Health Ministry recommendation based on a World Health Organization decision to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen.

Speaking at an event in the capital, Bogota, Santos said that defense and health officials should agree on a transition period, during which “spraying of glyphosate has to be replaced with other mechanisms, for example, intensifying manual eradication” of coca plants.

The U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker, said a decision on whether to use the chemical is a decision for Colombia and the U.S. government respects it.

More than 4 million acres of land in Colombia have been sprayed with the popular weed killer over the past two decades to kill coca plants, whose leaves produce cocaine. The spraying program is partly carried out by U.S. contractors.


Couple make no bones about skeletons in river

A Phoenix couple have claimed responsibility for putting two fake skeletons sitting in lawn chairs in the Colorado River in far west Arizona, authorities said Friday.

The husband and wife approached the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office earlier this week and revealed how the skeletons ended up at the bottom of the river in Parker.

“They were nervous at first,” Lt. Curt Bagby said. “They thought they might be in trouble. But when they finally came in, they brought a photo as proof that they were the ones who put them there.”

The pair, who may identify themselves publicly next week, came forward after seeing all the media attention surrounding the skeletons.

The Sheriff’s Office has no plans to file any charges.

“We try not to encourage people to do this kind of thing, but it was relatively harmless,” he said.


Mubarak, two sons receive three years for corruption

A Cairo court sentenced Egypt’s deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to three years in prison on corruption charges on Saturday – a punishment that authorities may deem as having already been served but one which, if it withstands appeal, would officially establish Mubark as a convicted criminal years after the 2011 popular uprising that toppled him.

The case – dubbed the “presidential palaces” affair by the Egyptian media – was a retrial charging that Mubarak and sons embezzled millions of dollars’ worth of state funds over the course of a decade, diverting money meant to pay for renovating and maintaining presidential palaces to instead upgrade their private residences.

Mubarak had originally been sentenced to three years over the matter, and his sons to four, but they later appealed, sparking the retrial.

– From news service reports