Nation briefs 5/22/05

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Mary Kay Letourneau marries former student

SEATTLE -- Mary Kay Letourneau, whose notorious seduction of 12-year-old boy led to more than seven years in prison, has married the former student she was convicted of raping. Letourneau, 43, and Vili Fualaau, 22, exchanged vows they had written themselves during a tightly guarded ceremony Friday night, said Janet Annino, co-executive producer of the TV show "Entertainment Tonight." The couple have been in the spotlight since Letourneau was imprisoned in 1997. But when she was released last August, the couple -- who have two daughters together -- reunited.

Bush gets mixed reaction at college speech

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- President Bush's appearance at Calvin College on Saturday was as much about politics as it was about his speech urging the graduates of this Christian college to commit themselves to community service. "This isn't a Democratic idea. This isn't a Republican idea. This is an American idea," Bush told the students, hoping to send a bipartisan message despite protests about his appearance. "As your generation takes its place in the world, all of you must make this decision: Will you be a spectator or a citizen?" Bush asked about 900 seniors graduating from this liberal arts college. The students cheered him warmly before he spoke, but Bush's visit was not welcomed by all. Several dozen people protesting outside the event and a few graduates at the ceremony wore stickers that said: "God is not a Republican or Democrat." A third of the college's faculty members signed a letter protesting his visit.

Seven children, two adults killed in home fire

CLEVELAND -- A fire broke out at a crowded house during a children's sleepover early Saturday, killing seven children and two adults, the fire department said. The fire was so hot it scorched the frame of the home jet black and forced back neighbors who rushed in to help. Eleven people were in the house when the blaze started about 3 a.m., and two children were there for a sleepover, assistant fire chief Brent Collins said. The victims included a woman and four of her children; two people at the house survived. The cause was unclear Saturday evening, but fire chief Paul Stubbs said the initial investigation indicated the fire at the 99-year-old home was an accident. A coroner's official said some bodies were so badly burned that DNA testing will be needed to positively identify them. Fire investigators identified the victims by interviewing family members, said David Fitz, a spokesman for Mayor Jane Campbell.

Four dead after plane crashes on Coney Island

NEW YORK -- A small plane on a sightseeing tour over Coney Island went into a tailspin and slammed into the famous beach Saturday, killing all four people aboard but injuring none of the stunned sunbathers who witnessed the crash. The victims died at the scene of the afternoon crash of the Cessna 172S, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Holly Baker said. No one on the ground was hurt. Eyewitnesses said the plane was circling above the Brooklyn beach when its engine suddenly stalled, and the aircraft quickly plunged into the beach. The pilot tried desperately to right the 4-year-old plane after it went into a tailspin, said Herbert Lecler, 51, who was fishing on the beach. Police identified the passengers as Courtney Block, 38, and his daughter, Danielle Block, 18, both of Benwood, W.Va., and family friend Joel-Beth Marie Gross, 18, of McMechen, W.Va. The pilot was Endrew Allen, 32, of Queens, police said. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the passengers were on a sightseeing tour for aspiring pilots.

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