Fuel protest in Britain
JARROW, England -- In Britain, retail prices recently nudged past 1 pound per liter -- about $6.90 a gallon -- driven by the soaring price of oil on world markets. The few protesters who showed up at British refineries Wednesday are seeking relief from Britain's high fuel taxes, which account for nearly half the cost of gasoline. Andrew Spence, above, a leader of the refinery blockades five years ago, said in an interview outside the Shell refinery Wednesday that the organizers would make no attempt to stop fuel from leaving refineries. He was clearly disappointed by the turnout. "I guess our backbones are gone regarding protests because of the powers that police now have to retaliate," he said. In Jarrow, Welsh and about a dozen other people said in interviews they envied the much lower gasoline prices that Americans pay and wondered how some could drive gas-guzzlers such as Humvees, especially now that fears about global warming are growing.
Texas woman executed for murdering family
HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Frances Newton was executed Wednesday for the fatal shootings of her husband and two children 18 years ago, becoming the third woman, and first black woman, to be put to death in the state since executions resumed in 1982. Strapped to the death chamber gurney and with her parents among the people watching, she declined to make a final statement, quietly saying "no" and shaking her head when the warden asked if she would like to speak. Newton, 40, briefly turned her head to look at her family as the drugs began flowing. She appeared to try to mouth something to her relatives, but the drugs took effect. She coughed once and gasped as her eyes closed. She was pronounced dead eight minutes later.
Union leaves AFL-CIO
WASHINGTON -- A union representing almost half a million apparel and hospitality workers has decided to bolt the AFL-CIO and join a half-dozen other unions seeking to focus labor more on recruiting. "It is time for the labor movement to make some changes," said UNITE HERE's general president, Bruce Raynor, on Wednesday. "After two years of internal debate, we have concluded it is the best course for the labor movement for us to join hands with six sister organizations and strike off in a direction of focusing more on organizing," Raynor said. UNITE HERE's general executive board voted unanimously Tuesday to end its affiliation with the giant labor federation. The AFL-CIO includes more than 50 unions representing about 9 million workers. UNITE HERE joins the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Carpenters in forming a dissident federation that calls itself the Change To Win Coalition. UNITE HERE leaders said the biggest change for the breakaway unions would be devoting most resources to organizing.
House bill would createnational Web site
WASHINGTON -- Child sex offenders would be subject to stringent monitoring requirements and new mandatory penalties under a House-passed bill that was expanded to include protections for gays under federal hate crime law. The House voted 371-52 on Wednesday in favor of the Children's Safety Act. It would create a national Web site for child sex offenders and require that sex felons face up to 20 years in prison for failing to comply with registration requirements. Unexpectedly, the House voted 223-199 in favor of an amendment by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., that expands current hate crime law to include some crimes involving sexual orientation, gender and disability. Under current law, the government assists local and state authorities prosecuting limited types of crimes based on the victim's race, religion or ethnic background.
Egyptian official resigns
CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt's culture minister resigned Wednesday over a fire last week that killed 42 people at a state-run theater in a Nile River farming town south of Cairo. Farouk Hosni's resignation came after the detention Sunday of eight local Culture Ministry officials for questioning in the Sept. 5 fire, which began when an actor knocked over a candle on stage, setting alight paper decorations that covered the theater's walls.