EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 21, 2012

In Brief


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — NATION

Dad, 4-year-old killed in Calif. shooting; 3 hurt

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Police searched for a gunman who wore a painter’s mask as he set fire to a home before going on a shooting spree early yesterday, killing a father and his 4-year-old son and injuring a woman and two other young children near Los Angeles.

The 30-year-old father was shielding two of his children when he was shot, Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said.

Also, the 28-year-old woman — said to be the children’s mother — carried the wounded 4-year-old to a neighbor’s yard after the attack.

“This extraordinary rescue attempt by the mother occurred in spite of the fact that she had gunshot wounds to both legs,” a police department statement said.

A SWAT team has set up a perimeter and was using dogs to search for the attacker, who may have lived in a rear house on the property, Fronterotta said.

Police have no motive. But a neighbor, Judy Castellanos, told the Los Angeles Times that the suspect lived in one of three units on the property and described him as “really weird” and “dangerous.” She said he had not paid his rent for years and that a new property owner had been trying to evict him.

Earlier puberty seen in boys, just like in girls

CHICAGO — When it comes to the birds and the bees, some parents may want to have that talk with their boys a little sooner than they expected.

Researchers have found signs of puberty in American boys up to two years earlier than previously reported — age 9 on average for blacks, 10 for whites and Hispanics. Other studies have suggested that girls, too, are entering puberty younger.

Why is this happening? Theories range from higher levels of obesity and inactivity to chemicals in food and water, all of which might interfere with normal hormone production. But those are just theories, and they remain unproven.

Doctors say earlier puberty is not necessarily cause for concern. And some experts question whether the trend is even real.

Dr. William Adelman, an adolescent medicine specialist in the Baltimore area, says the new research is the first to find early, strong physical evidence that boys are maturing earlier. But he added that the study still isn’t proof and said it raises a lot of questions.

Earlier research based on 20-year-old national data also suggested a trend toward early puberty in boys, but it was based on less rigorous information. The new study involved testes measurements in more than 4,000 boys. Enlargement of testes is generally the earliest sign of puberty in boys.

The study was published online yesterday in Pediatrics to coincide with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ national conference in New Orleans.

WORLD

London protesters bash Britain’s austerity drive

LONDON — Tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on the British capital yesterday in a noisy but peaceful protest at a government austerity drive aimed at slashing the nation’s debt.

Unions, anti-war campaigners, left-wing leaders, community groups and other activists poured down London’s streets in a demonstration against reductions to public sector spending which officials are pushing through in order to rein in the Britain’s debt, which stands at more than 1 trillion pounds ($1.7 trillion).

Although the austerity program has had some modest successes — the country’s deficit has dropped slightly — the U.K. economy has shrunk for three consecutive quarters amid cuts at home and economic turmoil on the continent.

Brendan Barber, whose Trades Union Congress helped organize the march, said that the message of yesterday’s protest was that “austerity is simply failing.”

“The government is making life desperately hard for millions of people because of pay cuts for workers, while the rich are given tax cuts,” he said.

Britain borrowed 13 billion pounds in September alone, and with other European countries — including next door neighbor Ireland — struggling to make good on their debt, and there is a general consensus that the U.K. budget needs to be rebalanced.

Far right protesters storm French mosque

PARIS — Dozens of far right extremists stormed atop an unfinished mosque in western France yesterday to show their hostility toward it and denounce immigration that has brought millions of Muslims into the country, a regional official said.

About 70 protesters traveled from around France for yesterday morning’s demonstration in the city of Poitiers, which has symbolic meaning as the place where a French medieval ruler once drove away Arab invaders, regional prefect Yves Dassonville said by phone. After police arrived, the protesters dispersed without resistance — and three were detained to face accusations of “incitement of racial hatred” and damage to property, he said.

French TV broadcast images of dozens of rowdy, waving and chanting protesters on the mosque roof next to its minaret. They unfurled a banner that read “Generation Identitaire” and demanded a referendum on immigration and mosques. The banner also bore the number 732, which Dassonville said was a reference to the year when the army of medieval French leader Charles Martel stopped an Arab invasion in Poitiers.

Muslim leaders said the protesters had disrupted a prayer inside, and expressed incomprehension over the stunt.

France is home to Western Europe’s largest population of Muslims, estimated to be at least 5 million even though the government does not provide official figures. Many have family roots in former French colonies in northern Africa. French governments for years have struggled to integrate Muslims, who often pray in cellars, apartments and, at times, in the street because of a shortage of mosques in the country.

—Associated Press