Lawyers for ground zero workers suing over their exposure to dust from the destroyed World Trade Center have offered to lower their legal fees in an attempt to salvage a major settlement in the case. The law firm Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern was initially poised to take home a third or more of $657 million negotiated on behalf of the workers, but the future of that payout was put in doubt when U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected the deal in March. Hellerstein said the settlement contained too much money for the legal team and too little for people who are ill. The lawyers told the judge in a letter that they are willing to cap their fees at 20 percent, or about $115 million, if the dollar amounts from the original settlement remain unchanged. The rest of the money would be divided among up to 10,000 workers.
Tropical storm kills 12 amid heavy rainfall
The first tropical storm of the 2010 season hit the Pacific coastline of Guatemala and Mexico on Saturday, killing 12 people in Guatemala under landslides and rockfall triggered by torrential rains. Agatha formed as a tropical storm early Saturday in the East Pacific, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. It said Agatha had weakened into a tropical depression by late Saturday.
Small plane crashes, killing 2 on board
A small plane crashed near a tiny private airstrip in northeastern Oklahoma, killing two people on board. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. George Brown said the crash occurred just before 10 a.m. Saturday near Airman Acres Airport. A man and a woman died in the crash but were not immediately identified. Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Fort Worth, Texas, said the plane was an RV-4. The fixed wing, single-engine plane is constructed from a kit, according to the manufacturer's website.
Aid flotilla faces high-seas standoff
A flotilla packed with hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, food and other humanitarian supplies was headed for a high-seas standoff today as it attempts to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel has vowed to intercept the boats, tow them to the Israeli port of Ashdod and deport or arrest those aboard. The ships anchored near Cyprus as they awaited additional passengers, including 19 European legislators and a Holocaust survivor, reports said.
Gay couple pardoned, freed from prison
Nine days after being sentenced to 14 years with hard labor for being a gay couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were pardoned on Saturday by Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika. Mutharika said he was releasing the men on humanitarian grounds. Malawi, a conservative, predominantly Christian country, had faced international condemnation.