Wedding in Calif. for freed hikers

SAN FRANCISCO - Two Americans detained and accused of spying after hiking near the Iraq-Iran border three years ago were to be married Saturday afternoon in the San Francisco Bay area.

A private wedding ceremony for Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd was set for 4 p.m. local time at an undisclosed location, San Francisco lawyer and family friend Ben Rosenfeld said. Bauer, Shourd, and Joshua Fattal, all graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, s were arrested on July 31, 2009, and held in Iran.

Bauer and Fattal, of Elkins Park, were sentenced to eight years after being convicted on spy-related charges but were released after more than two years. Shourd was released after 14 months on bail.

Bauer proposed to Shourd while they were in prison, fashioning an impromptu ring out of threads from his shirt. All three say they were innocent of spying and had simply strayed across the border while in the mountainous region. Fattal was Bauer's best man, Rosenfeld said. No additional details about the wedding were released.

- AP

Tiny dogs make for a big parade

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Hundreds of tiny tacos, ballerinas, and other costumed dogs fell short of a world record Saturday morning in Kansas City, but organizers said they were encouraged by the turnout for the inaugural Cinco de Mayo Chihuahua parade.

Mark Valentine, president of the group that organized the parade, said 500 dogs showed up in costume - about 200 fewer than needed to break the Guinness Book world record. The event, organized by United Entertainment to benefit a local animal shelter, was open to any breed. Valentine said he was told Chihuahuas were among the most common breeds in animal shelters.

Valentine estimated 80 percent of the costumed canines were Chihuahuas, more than the 50 percent he anticipated. "We are going to keep doing this until we run out of dogs in Kansas City and have to start shipping them in," Valentine said. "For a first try, we did OK." - AP

National yule tree dies prematurely

WASHINGTON - Federal officials said the National Christmas Tree planted near the White House a year ago had died and was being removed Saturday.

The National Park Service said the Colorado blue spruce died of "transplant shock." It came from a tree farm in New Jersey and was planted on the Ellipse just south of the White House in March 2011. The tree replaced one that had stood on the Ellipse since 1978 that was destroyed by high winds a month earlier.

The National Park Service said it had already identified a Colorado blue spruce to replace the tree and would plant the new National Christmas Tree in October, just in time to be decorated for the holidays.

- AP