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A lively crowd of 7,000 people -- including jugglers, singers and performers on stilts -- paraded through Montpellier's winding streets Friday to show support for Jose Bove, the militant farmer who became a French folk hero after he ransacked a McDonald's.

Rowdy brigades of people wearing costumes, wigs and makeup converged on the courthouse in the southern French city where Bove appeared Thursday and Friday to appeal the three-month jail sentence he received for vandalizing the fast-food restaurant in 1999.

On Friday, a prosecutor recommended a stiffer sentence for Bove, suggesting that the court add a three-month suspended sentence to his punishment.

Outlawed sect member kills self on Beijing street

BEIJING (AP) -- A member of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement committed suicide by setting himself on fire Friday, and a note found near his charred body said followers must sacrifice themselves for the sect, state media reported.

Tan Yihui, a 25-year-old shoe shiner who had traveled 870 miles from his home in southern China, doused himself with gasoline on a street in Beijing and ignited it, the Xinhua news agency said. Tan was dead when police arrived minutes later and put out the flames, it said.

The suicide came just ahead of a pivotal moment for Beijing -- a visit Tuesday by Olympic inspectors to assess the Chinese capital's bid for the 2008 Summer Games.

Father loses bid to stop release of toddler's killers

LONDON (AP) -- A court on Friday rejected a bid by the father of murdered toddler James Bulger to stop the release of his son's killers.

Lawyers for Ralph Bulger argued that the eight-year minimum sentence given to Robert Thompson and Jon Venables -- who were 10 when they killed 2-year-old James in 1993 -- was so low it threatened to "undermine confidence in the criminal justice system." The case drew international attention, in part because of security camera videos that showed the two children leading the toddler away.

Bulger's team also argued that a judge at an earlier court hearing should have been informed of newspaper reports claiming that one of the killers had been involved in violent incidents while in custody. "I am absolutely devastated by today's ruling," Bulger said. "I have spent two years trying to get this back to court and it now seems it is all over."

Thompson and Venables lured James Bulger from a busy shopping center in Bootle, near Liverpool, on Feb. 12, 1993. They dragged the child to a railway line two miles away, beat and stoned him to death.

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