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NATION IN BRIEF: John Lennon's 70th celebrated in Central Park

John Lennon’s 70th celebrated in Central Park

NEW YORK — A crush of fans circled a flower-graced mosaic in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields and sang lyrics from ‘‘Imagine’’ on Saturday to honor Beatles legend John Lennon on his 70th birthday.

On the day when the Liverpool Lad would have become a septuagenarian, thousands of fans from around the world gathered to remember the floppy-haired British superstar who just wanted to give peace a chance.

‘‘His music speaks to people of any nation, any age, and that’s why I think so many young people now who never would have known him still find him so appealing,’’ said Karen Kriendler Nelson, 69, who lives nearby and often visits the mosaic that spells out Lennon’s song ‘‘Imagine.’’

Fans began arriving on Friday, spilling onto the sidewalk of Central Park West, where Lennon and wife Yoko Ono lived in the famed Dakota building for nine years. He was shot to death by a deranged gunman as he came home on the evening of Dec. 8, 1980.

Cops: Man stabs random child 5 times at eatery

WESTBURY, N.Y. — Police said a man carrying a hunting knife crept up behind an 8-year-old boy playing a video game in a New York restaurant and plunged a 4-inch blade into his back five times.

The boy suffered a punctured lung in the assault just before 8:30 p.m. Friday in a Westbury shopping mall on Long Island. He is expected to recover.

The attack happened at Dave and Buster’s, a family friendly chain restaurant that includes an arcade.

Space double: Astronaut twins to join up in orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The stars may have finally aligned for the world’s only space sibling team.

Astronaut Scott Kelly is circling the planet, fresh into a 5 1⁄2-month space station mission. His identical twin, Mark, will join him next year, if NASA’s shuttle schedule holds up.

Together, they will become the first blood relatives to meet up in space.

‘‘It’s something we hoped would happen,’’ Mark said. ‘‘It wasn’t done by design. But we’re fortunate. I think it will be fun for us.’’

Lawsuit alleges kids were abused at Fla. lockup

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A federal class-action lawsuit claims a teenage inmate was sexually abused at a youth offender facility where other juveniles were forced to go hungry, endure hot and moldy conditions, and sleep on the floor.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It alleges that a 15-year-old boy who had been held there for 10 months was sexually abused in a laundry room and at a dental office by an employee at Thompson Academy in Pembroke Pines.

According to the lawsuit, the teen reported the sexual abuse to the facility’s administrator and other staff, but nothing was done to remove the employee or prevent him from having contact with the children at Thompson Academy.

The attorneys who filed the lawsuit said the teen tried to kill himself three times by drinking bleach and attempting to hang himself.

Man who killed 3 at New Mexico ranch freed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man who was 14 when he killed his father, stepmother and stepsister at newsman Sam Donaldson’s southern New Mexico ranch has been freed from detention.

Cody Posey recently was released from a state juvenile detention facility and was freed from court jurisdiction on Friday, the day before his 21st birthday, according to a report from KOB-TV in Albuquerque.

Posey was convicted in 2006 of first-degree murder in the death of his 13-year-old stepsister Marilea Schmid, second-degree murder in the death of his stepmother Tryrone Posey, and voluntary manslaughter in the death of his father Delbert Posey, who was the ranch foreman.

NYC officials visit site of anti-gay torture

NEW YORK — New York City leaders are expressing outrage over a horrific anti-gay gang attack on three men in the Bronx.

Five City Council members visited the block Saturday where a street gang is accused of staging a string of torture assaults inside a vacant apartment.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is gay, passed out leaflets imploring residents to turn in two suspects still at large.