Buncombe County school officials say a 9-year-old boy can use his "My Little Pony" backpack when he returns to class.

The boy's family said he was prevented from carrying the backpack to Candler Elementary School because administrators said it "triggered" bullying.

Noreen Bruce had pulled her son out of the school last week.

"We are pleased the school system is working closely with us," Bruce said after Thursday's meeting.

"We had a real heart-to-heart talk," she said after the meeting with superintendent Tony Baldwin and director of student services David Thompson

Bruce said she will work with Thompson to help organize a parent advisory council on bullying.

Buncombe County Schools administrators released a statement Thursday saying they would work with Bruce to make a safe transition plan for her son to bring his book bag to school.

The statement says school officials regret that the issue of being told to leave the book bag at home was perceived as blaming the boy.

"Every situation with young children is a teachable moment and we will use this example in our efforts to address a wider issue of bullying. We ask for everyone's patience and understanding as we continue to work collaboratively with the family toward a resolution," the statement said.

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MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin signed bills at the Kremlin Friday officially completing the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as a "remarkable event" before he signed the bills into law. Ukraine and the West have rejected the earlier vote by Russian parliament held two weeks after Russian troops had taken over Crimea.

The U.S. and the European Union have responded by slapping sanctions on Russia. President Obama ordered a second round of sanctions Thursday targeting members of Putin's inner circle and a major bank supporting them.

International agencies downgraded Russia's outlook, and Russian stock plummeted Friday.

Putin said in televised remarks at Friday's session of the presidential Security Council that he sees no immediate need for further Russian retaliation and said sardonically that he would open an account in the targeted bank.

Putin's statement appeared to signal to the West that Russia wants to maintain cooperation in other areas despite the tensions over Ukraine. He said that Russia will keep funding a program to service Afghan helicopters and train their crews that has been conducted jointly with NATO.

Meanwhile in Brussels, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and EU leaders signed an association agreement that was part of the pact that former President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of last November in favor of a $15 billion bailout from Russia.

That decision sparked the protests that ultimately led to his downfall and flight last month, setting off one of Europe's worst political crises since the Cold War.

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Military planes from Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand are searching for two objects spotted by satellite in the southern Indian Ocean that could be related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday.

Abott told Parliament in Canberra that an Orion and three additional aircraft, including a U.S. P-8 are involved in the search. Abbott cautioned, however, that the task of locating these objects will be difficult and "it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370."

An Australian search and rescue official said the planes have been sent to check on two objects that could be debris from the Boeing 777 jetliner that were spotted on satellite imagery in the Indian Ocean about 1,550 miles southwest of Perth.

But John Young of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority cautioned Thursday against expectations that this may help solve the mystery of the plane that went missing with 239 people on board nearly two weeks ago.

Young told reporters, "We have been in this business of doing search and rescue and using sat images before and they do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sited close-up."

Military planes from Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand were covering a search region over the southern Indian Ocean that was narrowed down on Wednesday from 232,000 square miles to 117,000 square miles.

The latest revelation came as FBI and Malaysian investigators were working to retrieve files that were recently deleted from a home flight simulator belonging to a pilot on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in a hunt for clues ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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A California toddler survived a three-story fall, saved by a couple who were moving into a new home and threw a mattress under the boy before he plunged to the ground, fire officials and local media said.

The couple called emergency responders after spotting the 3-year-old as he was about to make his fall in a Los Angeles suburb on Sunday. They had already plucked him from danger by the time rescuers arrived, the Burbank Fire Department said in a statement.

Konrad and Jennifer Lighter told local television station ABC7 they saw the child clamber out an apartment building's third-floor window and dangle over an alley from a cable. They quickly set down the box spring mattress they had been carrying and positioned it as best they could.

"It didn't seem real until he was kind of hanging from that cord, because you know there's no way he's going to get back in the window, it's kind of now up to Konrad to catch him," Jennifer Lighter told the station.

"I kind of grabbed him and lowered him real fast to the box spring," Konrad Lighter told ABC7. "I was getting ready because I knew he couldn't get back to the window and he fell and I caught him."

Representatives from the Burbank police and fire departments did not immediately return calls on Wednesday. The Burbank Fire Department did not name the couple, but posted an online photo of the pair identified in media reports as Konrad and Jennifer Lighter.

Reuters

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March. 19 (UPI) -- A wealthy businessman in China purchased a Tibetan mastiff puppy at a luxury pets fair for a whopping $1.9 million.

“They have lion’s blood and are top-of-the-range mastiff studs,” said Zhang Gengyun, the dog's breeder. “Pure Tibetan mastiffs are very rare, just like our nationally treasured pandas, so the prices are so high."


Tibetan mastiffs are known for their round manes giving them a lion-like look, and are descendants of hunting dogs used by nomadic tribes in Asia.

The dogs are large and can be ferocious and fiercely loyal, the New York Post reported.

The pup the businessman, whose name wasn't reported, purchased was 31 inches tall and about 200 pounds.

The dog is a popular breed for the newly wealthy in China, a status symbol move that has driven their prices up. One sold for $1.5 million in 2011 and there are reports another fetched $4.3 million last year.

An industry insider it's often the case that breeders drive the prices up on these transactions to boost the dogs worth, but that actually money never exchanges hands.

UPI

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A Tennessee lawyer will be reunited with his high school football state championship ring that was stolen from him more than a decade ago.

Grover Collins, a Nashville attorney, got a surprise phone call from a sheriff's deputy in Madera County, Calif., who said he had tracked down the 24-karat ring some 2,145 miles from where it was stolen years ago in Tennessee, Fox affiliate WZTV reported.

Madera County sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart told the Modesto Bee that the ring was discovered during a recent probation search in Madera.

There were also distinct features on the ring, including initials "GCC" and a BGA insignia.

WZTV reported that the determined deputy traced the ring back to its owner after scouring the Internet and coming upon Collins' LinkedIn account.

It remains unclear how the championship ring made it all the way to California from Franklin, Tenn. It was reportedly stolen from Collins' gym bag in Franklin in 2001 or 2002.

Fox News

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On the advice of a doctor, a premature baby boy’s life was saved after his parents incubated him inside a polystyrene icebox for five months, Cover Asia Press reported.

In October 2013, Mithilesh Chauhan was born two months premature at Alliance Hospital in Mumbai, India. At birth, he weighed just 3 pounds 3 ounces and was in need of constant monitoring as he was prone to infections.

However, Mithilesh’s parents, Aruna and Ramseh Chauhan, could not afford to keep their son in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). They initially paid for their son’s hospital stay by borrowing money from relatives, but they soon ran out of people to ask for help. The new parents then tried reaching out to other government-run hospitals, but all the ICU waiting lists were too long.

Knowing the baby would have to be discharged soon, doctors at Alliance Hospital suggested a cheap – and unconventional – alternative.

"One doctor told us that if we couldn't afford to keep our baby in hospital we should try a Thermocol icebox with holes for ventilation and a 60-watt bulb to provide the right amount of warmth," Aruna Chauhan, 34, told Cover Asia Press. "He advised it was better than nothing and might save our baby. My husband bought the box from a nearby fish market and cut holes in it."

After 20 days in the ICU, Mithilesh was released from the hospital – leaving the icebox as the Chauhan’s only option. Aruna and Ramseh said they would take him out every two hours to take his temperature.

"It was awful," Aruna told Cover Asia Press. "We had no idea if it was the right thing to do, but we had to try something. We were terrified if ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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China says it has found no evidence that any of its citizens on board Malaysia Airlines' missing Flight 370 were involved in hijacking or terrorism.

Background checks on all passengers from the Chinese mainland on the plane have found nothing to support such suspicions, Huang Huikang, the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, said Tuesday, according to the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Authorities have said they are investigating all 239 people who were on board the Boeing 777-200, which disappeared over Southeast Asia more than 10 days ago en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

According to the airline, 153 of the 227 passengers on board the plane came from mainland China or Hong Kong.

Malaysia says the evidence gathered so far suggests the plane was deliberately flown off course, turning west and traveling back over the Malay Peninsula and out into the Indian Ocean.

But they so far don't know who was at the controls or why whoever it was took the plane far away from its original destination.

They're also not sure where it ended up, saying its last known location detected by a satellite is somewhere along two wide arcs, one stretching north over Asia and the other south into the Indian Ocean. The plane's last electronic connection with the satellite was about six hours after it last showed up on Malaysian military radar.

The total area now being searched stands at 2.24 million square nautical miles, Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian defense and transport minister, said at a news conference Tuesday.

"This is an enormous search area," Hishammuddin said. "And it is something that Malaysia cannot possibly search on its own. I am therefore very pleased that so many countries have come forward to offer assistance and support to the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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A man who argued with two other movie goers about the ending of a film was struck outside the cinema by a truck driven by his adversaries and killed, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said on Monday.

The men's discussion of the film grew more heated as the three left the theater and went to the parking lot after the late Sunday evening film. Two of the men then got into a pickup truck.

"The driver of the truck put the vehicle in reverse striking the victim and knocking him to the ground," it said. The truck then sped away.

The victim later died at a hospital, the sheriff for the Houston-area county said without identifying the man.

The office would not name the film but witnesses told KHOU-TV that it was "300: Rise of an Empire," a Greek-era action film steeped in battle scenes.

Reuters

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DREFACH FELINDRE, Wales, March 17 (UPI) -- A Welsh woman said her concerned dog saved her life when she "bashed" on her back as she was choked on some candy.

Rachel Hayes, 40, of Drefach Felindre, said she was eating candy at home when a strawberry pastille became lodged in her throat, the Mirror reported Monday.

"It got stuck in the back of my throat and I couldn't get it back up. I couldn't phone anyone because I couldn't talk," Hayes said.

She said her springer spaniel, Mollypops, was obviously worried about her.

"I was having difficulty breathing but Mollypops' sixth sense kicked in and she knew I was in trouble," Hayes said. "She was insistently trying to help me and I kept pushing her away."

"But she kept coming around me because she could see I was trying to get something from my throat. But I kept pushing her away because I couldn't really breathe," she said. "Then Mollypops came up behind me put her paws on me and bashed on my back with such force the sweet came out."

Hayes said she is grateful to the canine for the rescue.

"I just burst out crying and said, 'I love you.' She came over for a cuddle and I cuddled her. I told her she was a hero," she said. "I gave Mollypops lots of cuddles and, as a thank you, I bought her a squeaky chicken and some doggy sweets."


UPI

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