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Scout Recruits of the Week (7/4/15)
A look at Scout's five regional recruits of the past week from around the country...
Fireworks shoot into Colorado crowd; 9 suffer minor burns

AVON, Colo. (AP) — Officials say nine people suffered minor burns during an accident at a fireworks show in Colorado.

Virginia Egger, the town manager in Avon, says a malfunction caused a fireworks shell to explode in its tube rather than firing into the sky Friday night. She says the misfired shell caused a rack of shells to tip, causing two or three shells to go off toward the crowd.

The accident occurred about 17 minutes into the 23-minute fireworks show over Nottingham Lake, bringing the event to a halt. The annual event attracts about 20,000 people.

Jane Imber tells NBC News that there wasn’t a lot of room in between groups of people, so people couldn’t get up and run.

The cause of the malfunction is under investigation.

Benedict XVI is honored for keen devotion to church music

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who retired in 2013, has been honored for cultivating sensitivity to sacred music in the traditions of the Catholic Church.

Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz on Saturday presented the honors bestowed by the Pontifical John Paul II University of Krakow and the Krakow Academy of Music.

Benedict, 88, is dedicating his retirement years at the Vatican to prayer, meditation and music. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who served as the Vatican’s guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy, he used to relax at home by playing his piano, with Mozart pieces a frequent choice.

He received the honors at the Vatican summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, a hill town near Rome.

Forgiveness of Charleston church shooter prompts discussion

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Some family members of those killed in the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting have said they forgive the man who’s been charged.

But others in the African-American community say offering forgiveness so quickly may not be the best idea.

Experts say the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal families offering forgiveness may have spared Charleston racial unrest, unlike in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore after the deaths of black men in encounters with police.

But others say forgiving racially motivated crimes allows the white majority in the United States to avoid talking about racism.

Raymond Winbush directs the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He says no one talks about forgiving the Islamic State group or Osama bin Laden for their crimes, so why should African-Americans be forgiving?

McCain: US must reassess Afghanistan troop withdrawal

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The ongoing Taliban offensive in Afghanistan demands a reassessment of the Obama administration’s current plan to drawdown U.S. forces, U.S. Sen. John McCain said Saturday during a visit to the country’s capital.

The Republican told reporters that Afghan national forces are fighting bravely, but suffering heavy losses in the field.

American and international troops have already stopped playing a combat role, remaining as trainers for local forces. The international numbers will be reduced further at the end of 2016. But McCain said reductions should be based on conditions on the ground.

“With the rise of ISIS and the distinct fighting season that is marked this year, the threat environment continues to evolve in ways that clearly, in my view, demands a reassessment of the administration’s current calendar-driven drawdown of U.S. forces with a plan that must be based on conditions on the ground,” McCain said.

Both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and McCain deem terrorism and extremism as a threat to the stability of Afghanistan, the region and the world, and stressed the importance of continuing efforts to fight it, a statement from the presidential palace said.

Meanwhile, Afghan lawmakers rejected Ghani’s nominee for defense minister, a position that has remained empty for more than nine months amid some of the toughest fighting since the Taliban insurgency began 14 years ago. Masoom Stanekzai received just 84 out of the 107 votes needed for parliamentary approval.

Stanekzai is better known as a peacemaker, having led the High Peace Council negotiating body charged with ending the conflict with the Taliban. He has been serving as the country’s top defense official in an acting capacity.

Brave dog Leo honored with monument in Serbian town

PANCEVO, Serbia (AP) — Normally, Leo would run away at the sight of a bigger dog. The small dachshund liked most to cuddle with his owners or ride in the back seat of the family car. But, one day Leo showed that true bravery knows no limits.

When a raging bull-mastiff cross-breed last year attacked a 10-year-old girl, Leo fearlessly jumped to her rescue, barking and biting at the dog way above his size and strength. Leo paid with his life, but the citizens of this northern Serbian town have not forgotten.

Two weeks ago, a life-size bronze statue of Leo was put up next to a children’s playground in Pancevo’s city park, honoring the dog and teaching kids about animal friendship and sacrifice. An alert-looking Leo, his head raised above his stretched paws, now rests proudly on a white base surrounded by flowers.

Nikolina Vucetic, the girl Leo defended, often comes by.

“I am so glad Leo has a monument, he turned out to be a real hero,” Vucetic told The Associated Press. “He helped me.”

The initiative to honor Leo was pushed through by an animal rights group after it gained widespread citizens’ support through social networks and local media. The “Pets” group says Leo’s is the first dog monument in Serbia, which has huge problems with stray dogs and notoriously low standards in animal welfare and protection.

“The idea was to raise awareness about how important animals are to us and how they are always there for us when we need them,” activist Ivan Kurajov explained.

Vucetic, now a skinny 12-year-old, recalled returning home from a friend’s house when the neighbor’s guard dog came down the street, jumped at her from behind and grabbed her arm. The dog nailed the girl to the ground, pulling her left and right with his jaws.

“I screamed and Leo rushed out barked and ran around, biting him on the leg,” Vucetic said, showing the scars from the attack. “When the dog let go of me, he looked around and then stormed at Leo.”

Leo didn’t stand a chance. Despite efforts by veterinarians, his injuries were too severe and Leo died two days later.

Owner Biljana Ilic said Leo was a “funny, happy dog,” who liked most to jump straight into the lap of whoever came into the house, happily licking the guest.

“That dog was just too big and Leo was so small,” the 23-year-old added, her eyes filling with tears. The family has a new dachshund named Djole, a gift from local breeders touched by Leo’s heroism.

In the Pancevo park, children have been flocking around Leo’s monument, patting the dog’s head and his big ears. Some have taken pictures next to Leo, laid flowers or left dog treats by the statue.

The inscription on the monument reads: “To all the small heroes with big hearts.”

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