AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on March 23, 2014 at 5:02 AM

Planes, ship scramble to find pallet, other debris spotted in Indian Ocean in hunt for jet

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Planes and a ship scrambled Sunday to find a pallet and other debris in a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean to determine whether the objects were from the Malaysia Airlines jet that has been missing for more than two weeks.

The pallet was spotted by a search plane Saturday, but has not been closely examined. Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used in cargo containers carried on planes.

It was the latest in a series of clues experts and searchers are trying to run down to solve the mystery of what happened to Flight 370 when it disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

Mike Barton, chief of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's rescue coordination center, told reporters in Canberra, Australia, that the wooden pallet was spotted by a search aircraft on Saturday, and that it was surrounded by several other objects, including what appeared to be strapping belts of different colors.

A New Zealand P3 Orion military plane was then sent to find it but failed, he said.

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A look at the planes, ships involved in the multinational search for Malaysia's missing jet

PERTH, Australia (AP) — An intense search is underway in the southern Indian Ocean for signs of possible debris from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8. Here's a list of the countries taking part and what they have sent to help the search overseen by Australia from a military base near the southwestern city of Perth.

AUSTRALIA

Two military P3 Orion planes; four non-military jets; the navy supply ship HMAS Success.

CHINA

Two Ilyushin IL-76 planes; warships Kunlunshan, Haikou and Qiandaohu; icebreaker Snow dragon.

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Washington mudslide searchers seek survivors after voices plead for help; at least 3 dead

SEATTLE (AP) — After hearing voices pleading for help, rescuers were "combing through the debris" in an overnight search for survivors from a massive mudslide in Washington state that killed at least three people and forced evacuations because of fears of severe flooding.

The slide of mud, trees and rocks happened about 11 a.m. Saturday morning. Several people - including an infant - were critically injured and at least six houses were destroyed.

Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said at a news briefing late Saturday that searchers weren't giving up on finding more people alive.

"We have people who are yelling for our help, and we are going to take extreme risks," Hots said.

It wasn't clear how many people might still be trapped - or if more bodies might be discovered.

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Crews work to contain oil spill in Texas' Galveston Bay, environmental impact remains unknown

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Crews armed with infrared cameras planned to work through the night after a barge carrying nearly a million gallons of especially thick, sticky oil collided with a ship in Galveston Bay, leaking an unknown amount of the fuel into the popular bird habitat as the peak of the migratory shorebird season was approaching.

Booms were brought in to try to contain the spill, which the Coast Guard said was reported at around 12:30 p.m. Saturday by the captain of the 585-foot ship, Summer Wind. Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Kristopher Kidd said the spill hadn't been contained as of 10 p.m., and that the collision was still being investigated.

The ship collided with a barge carrying 924,000 gallons of marine fuel oil, also known as special bunker, that was being towed by the vessel Miss Susan, the Coast Guard said. It didn't give an estimate of how much fuel had spilled into the bay, but there was a visible sheen of oil at the scene.

Officials believe only one of the barge's tanks was breached, but that tank had a capacity of 168,000 gallons.

"A large amount of that has been discharged," Kidd said. He said a plan was being developed to remove the remaining oil from the barge, but the removal had not begun.

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Japan's biggest, rapidly aging slum is not on official map or in film festival

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Japan's biggest slum is visible just blocks from bustling restaurants and shops in Osaka, the country's second-largest city. But it cannot be found on official maps.

Nor did it appear in the recent Osaka Asian Film Festival, after the director of a new movie that is set in the area pulled it, accusing city organizers of censorship.

Osaka officials asked Shingo Ota to remove scenes and lingo that identify the slum, on the grounds that it was insensitive to residents.

"To me, what they were asking was a cover-up attempt to make this place non-existent," he said in a recent interview.

This place is Kamagasaki, home to day laborers, the jobless and homeless, where one in three are on welfare. About 25,000 people live in this compact area, mostly single men who stay in free shelters or dozens of cheap dorms that charge as little as 800 yen ($8) a night.

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Hundreds of same-sex couples marry before federal appeals court halts gay marriage in Michigan

MASON, Mich. (AP) — MASON, Mich. (AP) — An appeals court reinstituted Michigan's constitutional ban on gay marriage, but not before several hundred same-sex couples rushed to the state's county clerk's offices to get hitched.

The order on Saturday by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati to at least temporarily restore the ban that Michigan voters approved in 2004 came after Glenna DeJong, 53, and Marsha Caspar, 51, of Lansing, were the first on Saturday to arrive at the Ingham County Courthouse in the central Michigan city of Mason. DeJong and Caspar, who have been together for 27 years, received their license and were married by Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum.

"I figured in my lifetime it would happen," Caspar said. "But now, when it happens now, it's just overwhelming. I still can't believe it. I don't think it's hit me yet."

Similar nuptials followed one after another, at times en masse, in at least four of Michigan's 83 counties. Those four — Oakland, Muskegon, Ingham and Washtenaw counties — issued more than 300 marriage licenses to same-sex couples Saturday.

DeJong said the threat of a stay was all the encouragement they needed.

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Paris mayor's race offers chance to reimagine city, with plans farfetched and feasible

PARIS (AP) — The Paris mayor's race will give the city a new leader for the first time in 13 years and is offering a chance to reimagine one of the world's top tourist destinations.

No one — neither Parisians nor visitors — wants a complete transformation. It's not by accident that Paris barely looks different from the 19th century, when Emperor Napoleon III came up with a grand plan for grand boulevards and low, white stone buildings.

But the two leading candidates in elections starting Sunday — Socialist Anne Hidalgo and conservative longshot Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, known as NKM among the initial-loving French — see room for improvement. Here are their visions:

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THE METRO

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Michelle Obama hosts education roundtable in Beijing, walks the Great Wall with her daughters

BEIJING (AP) — U.S. first lady Michelle Obama told Chinese professors, students and parents on Sunday that she wouldn't have risen to where she was if her parents hadn't pushed for her to get a good education.

Mrs. Obama made her comments before hosting a discussion about education on the third day of a weeklong visit to the country aimed at promoting educational exchanges between the U.S. and China. She also walked a section of the Great Wall with her two daughters.

"Education is an important focus for me. It's personal, because I wouldn't be where I am today without my parents investing and pushing me to get a good education," the first lady said. "My parents were not educated themselves, but one of the things they understood was that my brother and I needed that foundation."

She said she and her husband wanted as many young people as possible in the United States and the world to have access to education.

She then hosted a roundtable with a handful of Chinese professors, students and parents at an event at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that was attended by new U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus and closed to the media.

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Northern California town reeling after 1 killed, 1 hurt by train while walking to school dance

MARYSVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California town was reeling Saturday after learning that a teenage boy was killed and a teenage girl was seriously injured after they were hit by a freight train while walking to a Sadie Hawkins Day dance.

The accident Friday evening occurred near Marysville's only high school and a little league park where a game was being played.

Investigators told KCRA-TV the teens were walking southbound on the tracks — the same direction as the train.

Relatives told the station the 16-year-old girl, Mickayla Friend, and her boyfriend had planned to take a short walk to the Dollar Tree store to buy some food before heading to the dance at their school.

"It's her first boyfriend, and her first love," Alithya Friend said. "And she just got it taken away from her in an instant."

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Dodgers beat Diamondbacks 7-5, win both games Down Under to open MLB season

SYDNEY (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers felt right at home in their season-opening series Down Under.

Yasiel Puig had three hits and two RBIs to back a scoreless outing by Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-5 at Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Dee Gordon and Juan Uribe also had three hits for the Dodgers, who finished with 13 in beating Arizona starter Trevor Cahill for the first time.

Sunday's victory came after a 3-1 Dodgers win behind ace Clayton Kershaw in the opener Saturday.

Cahill (0-1) came in 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 career starts against the Dodgers, but left in the fifth trailing 3-0. He gave up eight hits with just one strikeout and was charged with five runs and four walks in four innings.

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