SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A body believed to be a missing 8-year-old girl was found Monday inside a dumpster at a complex in Northern California where she was last seen riding her scooter and a 15-year-old boy has been detained in the case, police said.
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said the body found by a detective Monday at a Santa Cruz artist community and housing center likely belongs to Madyson Middleton.
“We haven’t positively identified her yet but believe she is probably Madyson Middleton,” Vogel said.
He said a 15-year-old boy who lives in the complex was arrested at around the same time the body was found and is being questioned.
Madyson Middleton vanished Sunday afternoon at Tannery Arts Center, where she lives with her mother.
She was last seen riding her new, white scooter in the courtyard but at about 5 p.m. her mother realized she was gone.
Madyson’s parents met with investigators Sunday night and again Monday at police headquarters before speaking with reporters outside.
“I can’t explain how difficult this is,” the girl’s mother, Laura Jordan, said earlier Monday.
Jordan said she’s looked at surveillance video from their housing complex that watched Madyson’s last minutes before she disappeared. Police have said she was last seen on video surveillance at 4:12 p.m.
Jordan walked the edges of the courtyard, and police twice conducted a door-to-door search of the entire complex, as well as a homeless resource center and shelter across the street.
Beyond the 8-acre property, searchers from throughout the state looked in boats, helicopters, on foot and bike, with dogs and cameras.
Authorities didn’t send volunteers onto adjacent hiking and biking trails for fear of disturbing potential evidence, but hundreds of volunteers showed up and looked for her in neighborhoods and streets.
Authorities used dogs to search nearby woods and parks and the San Lorenzo River levee. Helicopters searched the forest and the coastline, and the U.S. Coast Guard scoured the ocean 2 miles from where she was last seen.
The 4-foot-tall, 50-pound child has long brown hair, which was pulled to the side in a braid, and dark eyes. She was wearing a purple dress, black leggings, black flip-flops and a black helmet.
She lived with her mother at the Tannery Arts Center, a public-private nonprofit project that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families, a café, and dance and art studios on eight acres.
The property, a former leather tannery, is managed by The John Stewart Company. John Stewart, the company’s chairman, said they turned the surveillance footage over to authorities Sunday night.
Site manager Warren Reed said the property is located in a very busy area, with a number of businesses and a major construction project nearby.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal prisoners who identify as humanist can now celebrate Darwin Day and get accommodations typically afforded to those inmates who believe in a deity.
The federal Bureau of Prisons agreed in the settlement of a lawsuit to add a section on humanism to its manual on inmate beliefs and practices. Officials in the prison system will also consider requests from humanist inmates for access to study materials, observance of holy days, and time and space for religious activities.
Inmate Jason Michael Holden and the American Humanist Association filed the lawsuit last year, saying Holden and other humanist prisoners were prohibited from forming a study group at a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. The settlement was reached earlier this month, and the association announced the settlement in a news release issued on Monday.
Humanism is similar to atheism. But rather than simply reject belief in a god, humanists advocate rational thinking.
“There’s not much to talk about in respect to just atheism,” Holden’s attorney, Monica Miller, said by phone from Washington, D.C. “It’s really about what you do believe, and what those worldviews are and what those philosophies are.”
The settlement comes a little more than a year after the U.S. Army added humanist to its list of religious preferences.
It is unknown how many inmates identify as humanist. But giving them the ability to choose that preference, and to have it entered in the federal prison database, will allow the number to be calculated.
Holden has been imprisoned since an armed robbery in Washington state more than a decade ago. He explained in a May 2014 interview with Uptown Radio that not all atheists — such as those who are white supremacists — are humanists.
“As humanists, we believe in the ability of mankind to transcend their differences and find some common ground, you know, make the world a better place,” he said.
Sheridan prison officials allowed Holden to form the study group after the lawsuit was filed. Under the settlement, Holden can maintain the group as long as there are at least two like-minded prisoners, and the option will be afforded to humanist prisoners elsewhere.
Darwin Day is celebrated Feb. 12, the birthdate of Charles Darwin. Those who observe the day use it to highlight science. Miller said the inmates could perhaps watch a video to mark the occasion and have some type of snack.
CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The family of the late Junior Seau will not disrupt the Hall of Fame ceremonies on Aug. 8 despite its disagreement with a policy preventing live remarks during a posthumous induction.
Steve Strauss, legal counsel to the Seaus and partner at Cooley LLP, says in an email Monday night that the family “does not want this issue to become a distraction to Junior’s accomplishments and legacy or those of the other inductees.”
Seau, who took his own life in 2012, will be saluted with a video presentation in which his daughter, Sydney, will speak. But Hall policy does not allow for live speeches during a posthumous induction.
Sydney Seau admitted last week she was upset with not being allowed to give a speech, but Strauss says, “The Seau family looks forward to celebrating Junior’s extraordinary accomplishments at the Hall of Fame.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP—NFL
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The shipwreck-hunting company that found Blackbeard’s sunken ship off the North Carolina coast nearly 300 years ago has sued the state for more than $8 million, saying officials violated a contract involving photos and videos of the wreck and recovery.
Florida-based Intersal Inc. also says in the lawsuit filed Monday that the amount being sought could increase as the company discovers further violations of the contract involving the ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.
The lawsuit also seeks a temporary order preventing the state from violating the contract and from recovering more objects from the ship. North Carolina has created a tourist industry based on Blackbeard and the ship since its discovery in 1996.
A spokeswoman for the state says North Carolina denies violating the contract.
OZD, Hungary (AP) — The workers wake up in the middle of the night and walk miles to get to their jobs by 6 a.m. Taking up hoes and rakes, they toil for hours with little chance of rest. Soon surveillance cameras shaped like eyeglasses will track their every move.
The workers are mostly Gypsy men and women, and their boss is a new far-right mayor who is cracking down on a group his Jobbik party often casts as an enemy. David Janiczak’s leaderhip in Ozd gives clues into what Hungary might feel like if the surging Jobbik managed to unseat Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative Fidesz party — which is slumping in popularity.
Jobbik now runs about a dozen Hungarian towns and holds 12 percent of the seats in the national parliament. It is also the most popular party with young voters. If the trend continues, the party could pose a serious challenge to Fidesz in 2018 parliamentary elections.
Since Janiczak won power in Ozd — whose population of 34,000 is about one-third Gypsy — members of the minority who work on city-run farmland and other public projects have seen their work conditions get much harsher. The mayor has imposed longer hours, fewer breaks and soon the introduction of surveillance cameras to ensure that they don’t slack off.
Janiczak, 28, suggested that the tough work conditions were at least in part intended to drive Roma away. “Every person in Ozd has two options — they either live in order and integrity and build the city, or they destroy it,” Janiczak told The Associated Press. “The majority of these destructive people are Gypsies, without whom … it would be easier for the city to develop.”
With fewer Roma, Janiczak said, the city would spend less on social benefits and people would feel safer. Jobbik often uses the term “Gypsy crimes” to refer to petty thefts and other law-breaking rarely investigated by police. If efforts to integrate the “destroyers” are unsuccessful, he added, “authorities will use the full force of the law.”
Jobbik is using Ozd as a “laboratory of government,” experimenting with policies and ideas at the municipal level as its support grows across the country, said Peter Kreko, director of the Political Capital Institute, which has been closely following Jobbik for years.
While Jobbik’s electoral campaigns last year presented candidates with their families or pets — and downplayed the party’s radical views — Kreko said that Ozd showed that beneath the surface Jobbik has not really changed.
“The intentions and plans of Jobbik and its treatment of the public works employees clearly refute its efforts to soften its image,” Kreko said. “What is functioning is a very ideological, discriminative racism.”
During the communist era, Ozd, 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of the Hungarian capital of Budapest, had a steel mill which employed some 14,000 people. After the mill and a coal mine closed in the 1990s, the unemployment rate jumped to over 20 percent and unskilled Roma were among the most affected.
Roma laborers make up the bulk of 1,300 Ozd residents taking part in a public employment program that was introduced across Hungary in late 2013 by the Orban government. After Janiczak took office last year he enforced the rules in a stricter way and implemented new ones, such as the use of surveillance cameras. Net pay for unskilled workers is around 51,000 forints ($180, 165 euros) per month, and many are glad to take it as the government has also greatly cut unemployment benefits, which are now called “work search allowances.”
On a recent spring day, a crew of about a dozen laborers was preparing some farmland for planting on the outskirts of town. Rakes and hoes in hand, their complaints ranged from getting only one 5-minute break an hour to a lack of drinking water and toilet facilities. Their work day now starts as much as two hours earlier than before Janiczak took over, meaning many need to walk to work because there are few public transportation options so early in the day.
Indignation was strongest over a clause in the new work contract allowing officials to take video and photos of their work performance.
“This is only about intimidation,” said Bela Biro, a Roma former steel mill worker who works on the city-run farming project. “We don’t dare sit down for five minutes. They said we can’t, even if blood is running from our nose.”
Janiczak said he is only carrying out existing laws. “We want nothing else but to enforce order, enforce employment regulations and educate these people to work,” he said. “I think their issue is not with walking, but with … having to do actual work instead of just showing up.”
As for the surveillance, Janiczak said the city had spent 340,000 forints ($1,260; 1,100 euros) on eight video cameras, including two which look like eyeglasses, not just to oversee workers but also to protect supervisors from threats and attacks.
“This is going to clear up many disputes,” said the mayor. “In the developed, civilized world every workplace has cameras. Why should the public workers be exempt from this?” Those in the public employment program, he said, should “get used to being observed.”
Janiczak said the surveillance plan had been cleared by an official investigation, and that recordings would be made on “exceptional occasions.”
Human rights activists said the measures amounted to harassment.
“To burden the already defenseless public works employees with the issue of surveillance is unacceptable and embitters their lives,” said Mate Szabo, a director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. “It would be more justified to keep the job inspectors under surveillance instead and monitor their treatment of the workers.”
Kriszta Bodis, a rights advocate who has been working with the Roma in Ozd for many years, said the mood in the community had deteriorated since Janiczak’s victory.
“I think the humiliation is what is much stronger now than before,” Bodis said.
The new mayor said he his job-creation plans would potentially draw back many of the 15,000 Ozd residents who left over the past two decades. As part of that plan, Janiczak has nominated Ozd as the location for one of several new prisons being built by the government by 2019, which could add 250 jobs. A prison “also deters criminals,” the mayor said.
Many of the local Roma live in dire poverty in slums where they lack running water and where the city does not come to remove their garbage. They share a communal water pump and burn garbage nearby.
Bodis, who runs the Your Place foundation which mentors disadvantaged Roma students, argued for a more compassionate approach.
“Discipline and order are important,” Bodis said. “But it is more important to provide opportunities.”
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The weapons of Afghanistan’s long decades of war can be seen almost everywhere, from the burned-out hulks of Soviet tanks to the Kalashnikov assault rifles slung over policemen’s shoulders and helicopter gunships roaring overhead.
It should be no surprise then that young children play “police and Taliban,” chasing each other around with toy guns and weaponry designed to mimic the real thing. And like the real war, there have been casualties.
At least 184 people, nearly all children, suffered eye injuries over the recent Eid al-Fitr holiday from toy weapons that fire BB pellets and rubber shot, health officials said. In response, authorities have banned toy guns.
“The Afghan Interior Ministry orders all police forces to confiscate toy guns, which can lead to physical and psychological damage to people,” the order read.
It didn’t elaborate on what psychological damage the toy guns can cause. The noise of gunfire is almost unmistakable to most Afghans, and unlike in the U.S., there have been no prominent cases of police officers here killing children brandishing toy Kalashnikovs or plastic pistols.
Afghans have grown familiar with firearms over long decades of war, from the 1979 Soviet invasion and the resulting insurgency to the civil war and the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s. The U.S.-led invasion in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terror attacks introduced the population to a new host of armaments, from the M4 rifles carried by American soldiers to the heavy-duty armored vehicles known as MRAPs chugging down city streets.
The toy guns come mostly from China and neighboring Pakistan, and many were given to young boys as gifts during the recent Eid, or festival, that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Authorities had tried to warn parents about the dangers the guns pose before the holiday.
“An awareness video was prepared as an initiative to inform people how much these toy guns can be dangerous,” said Dr. Abdul Rahim Majeed, the program manager for the public Noor Eye Hospital. “Unfortunately, the families did not take it seriously and didn’t pay attention to this important message and it caused many people to get injured and come to hospitals for treatments.”
Majeed said many of those injured by toy guns came to Noor, which treated 116 cases during this most recent holiday — double the number from last year. He said the national figure of those injured likely was higher, as some may have not sought treatment or gone to private clinics.
Since the ban went into effect, police have been told to search shops and seize toy guns from children, but the Interior Ministry could not offer any statistic for the number confiscated.
Parents like Shakib Nasery, a 38-year-old father of two, welcomed the effort to destroy the toy guns. Any reduction of violence in the insurgency-wracked country — even if just children’s play — would be good, he said.
“It is not good for a society to have kids with such mentality of using guns or playing gun battles,” Nasery said. “Unfortunately, this is the negative impact of an ongoing war in our country.”
Follow Rahim Faiez on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRahimFaiez