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Mardi Gras parade turnouts good

The last big weekend of the annual Carnival season drew healthy crowds to two Mardi Gras parades on Saturday, but a threat of evening showers pushed one of the city’s biggest and glitziest processions back a day.

Some had stayed out overnight in tents or on sofas to claim prime turf to watch the parades staged by private clubs, called krewes.

Alfred Washington, 50, a New Orleans native and a bassist in a local band, said the parades were good for the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

“We have hurricanes down here all the time. Mardi Gras is going to go on. It’s part of our culture. It is us,” Washington said as the Krewe of Iris headed down St. Charles Avenue, with the Krewe of Tucks behind them.

Orlando, Fla.

Seventeen arrested at neo-Nazi march

Fistfights broke out and police made 17 arrests Saturday at a neo-Nazi rally and march through a predominantly black neighborhood.

In khaki uniforms, tall black boots and red arm patches bearing swastikas, about 30 members of the National Socialist Movement were barricaded on one side by SWAT team members at the rally. On the other side of the SWAT officers, a group of about 100 black-clad counter-demonstrators, many covering their faces with black masks, held anti-Nazi signs.

Several counter-demonstrators were arrested before the march officially began when pockets of violence erupted, police said. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was hurt.

The march went on as planned through the Orlando neighborhood of Parramore, with about 500 spectators and counter-demonstrators following the group.

No members of the neo-Nazi group were arrested, police said.

Fourteen of those arrested are members of out-of-town groups such as the Skinheads Against Racial Prejudices and the Southeastern Anarchist Network, said Orlando police spokeswoman Barb Jones.

Laurens, S.C.

Ex-teacher accused of sex with boy, 11

A former fifth-grade teacher accused of having sex with her 11-year-old student was ordered held on $100,000 bond Saturday.

Prosecutors had wanted Wendie A. Schweikert, 36, jailed without bond, saying she was a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Schweikert was arrested Friday on two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor after the boy’s mother accused the teacher of having sex with him at school at least twice, said Laurens Police Chief Robin Morse.

The former teacher admitted in a statement to having sex with the boy, Morse said.


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