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Thursday, February 24, 2011

College Student from Saudi Arabia Plotting Terrorist Attack, In e-mails Sent to Himself, charged Thursday with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction

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Saudi man charged with plotting terrorist attack

Associated Press 
February 24, 2011
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A college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas bought explosive chemicals online as part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said Thursday.
"After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad," or holy war, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari wrote in his private journal, according to court documents.
The 20-year-old Aldawsari wrote that he was planning an attack in the United States for years, even before coming to the U.S. on a scholarship. He said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden's speeches and that he bemoaned the plight of Muslims.
One of the chemical companies, Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N.C., reported $435 in suspicious order by Aldawsari to the FBI on Feb. 1.
Separately, Con-way Freight, the shipping company, notified Lubbock police and the FBI the same day with similar suspicions because it appeared the order wasn't intended for commercial use. Within weeks, federal agents had traced his other online purchases, discovered extremist posts he made on the Internet and secretly searched his off-campus apartment, computer and e-mail accounts and read his diary, according to court records.
TNP, the chemical explosive that Aldawsari was suspected of trying to make, has approximately the same destructive power as TNT. FBI bomb experts said the amounts in the Aldawsari case would have yielded almost 15 pounds of explosive. That's about the same amount used per bomb in the London subway attacks that killed scores of people in July 2005.
Aldawsari, who was legally in the U.S. on a student visa, was expected to appear in federal court on Friday. He was charged Thursday with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Aldawsari entered the U.S. in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University. He transferred this year to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, was paying his tuition and living expenses in the U.S.
"He was quiet. I thought he was a good guy," said Ahmid Obaidan, a senior at Tennessee State University who also is from Saudi Arabia and met Aldawsari in Nashville, Tenn., when Aldawsari was studying at an English language center at Vanderbilt University.
It was not immediately clear whether Aldawsari had hired a lawyer. Telephone numbers that Aldawsari had provided to others were not working Thursday. No one answered the buzzer or a knock on the door at the address listed as Aldawsari's apartment, just one block from the Texas Tech campus in a recently gentrified area of mixed-use retail and apartment complexes where many students live.
The terrorism case outlined in court documents was significant because it suggests that radicalized foreigners can live quietly in the U.S. without raising suspicions from neighbors, classmates, teachers or others. But it also showed how quickly U.S. law enforcement can move when tipped that a terrorist plot may be unfolding.
The White House said President Barack Obama was notified about the plot before Aldawsari's arrest Wednesday. "This arrest once again underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement.
Bush spokesman David Sherzer referred questions about the case to law enforcement officials.
In e-mails Aldawsari apparently sent to himself, he listed 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California; the documents did not state their exact locations. He also wrote an e-mail that mentioned "Tyrant's House" with the address of Bush's home.
The FBI's affidavit said Aldawsari considered using infant dolls to hide explosives and was possibly targeting a nightclub with a backpack filled with explosives.
Aldawsari was using several e-mail accounts. One e-mail message traced to him described instructions to convert a cell phone into a remote detonator. A second listed the names and home addresses of three American citizens who had previously served in the U.S. military and had been stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. A different e-mail contained an Internet link for real-time traffic cameras in New York City.
Aldawsari also described a plan in his journal that involved leaving car bombs in different places during rush hour in New York City and remotely detonating them.
"Obviously, we're concerned any time New York City is referenced in this way," New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. "We've known we're at the top of the terrorists' target list, and this confirms it. This particular case has not led to any adjustment. We're always on high alert here."
The FBI said the North Carolina company reported the attempts to purchase 1.3 gallons of phenol, a chemical that can be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as TNP, or picric acid. Aldawsari falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for "off-campus, personal research," according to court records. But frustrated by questions, Aldawsari canceled his order and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol.
Prosecutors said that in December, he did buy 30 liters of concentrated nitric acid for about $450 from QualiChem Technologies in Georgia, and three gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid that are combined to make TNP. The FBI later found the chemicals in Aldawsari's apartment as well as beakers, flasks, wiring, a Hazmat suit and clocks.
Prosecutors said Aldawsari, who hoped to create an Islamic group under the al-Qaida banner, had a blog to publish extremist messages expressing his dismay over conditions for Muslims.
"You who created mankind ... grant me martyrdom for your sake and make jihad easy for me only in your path," he wrote, according to court records.
Vanderbilt University spokeswoman Beth Fortune said Aldawsari participated in a program at the school's English language center from the fall of 2008 to the summer of 2009 but was not a registered Vanderbilt student.

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'Two and a Half Men' Suspended Rest of Season, Charlie Sheen VIDEO Interview

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CBS, Warner pull plug on season of Sheen’s sitcom


By LYNN ELBER | AP Television Writer 
February 24, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- In the wake of an incendiary radio interview with "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen, CBS and Warner Bros. Television said they are ending production on TV's top-rated sitcom for the season.
The decision was based on the "totality of Charlie Sheen's statements, conduct and condition," the companies said in a joint statement Thursday. The show's future was not addressed.
Production had been suspended in January to allow Sheen to seek rehabilitation. Earlier Thursday, Warner and Sheen's publicist, Stan Rosenfield, said the series would resume taping next week with Sheen.
That was before the 45-year-old actor's rambling, often vitriolic radio interview with host Alex Jones in which Sheen blasted "Two and a Half Men" producer Chuck Lorre and other targets including Alcoholics Anonymous.
The abrupt decision to pull the plug on additional episodes of the lucrative sitcom came after Sheen's increasingly erratic behavior, including an earlier interview in which he claimed he had sought to return to work but was barred by producers.
In his interview with Jones, Sheen repeatedly evoked violent images and ideas. He also derided Lorre in an attack that suggested anti-Semitism.
"There's something this side of deplorable that a certain Chaim Levine - yeah, that's Chuck's real name - mistook this rock star for his own selfish exit strategy, bro. Check it, Alex: I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that his unevolved mind cannot process," Sheen said.
"Last I checked, Chaim, I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold. And the gratitude I get is this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write," he said.
Lorre, who was born Charles Levine, is a veteran producer whose hits include "The Big Bang Theory," "Dharma & Greg" and "Cybill."
Speaking of himself, Sheen said he has "magic and poetry in my fingertips, most of the time."
Warner had already planned to cut this season's 24 planned episodes to 20 because of the hiatus. Now, CBS is left with a total of 16 episodes of its cornerstone Monday comedy, all of which have aired.
The network and studio had tolerated Sheen's recent misadventures, part of a long-checkered life. He went into rehab in January, reportedly at home, after three hospitalizations in three months. The most recent was a brief hospital stay that followed a 911 call in which he was described as very intoxicated.
In the interview with Jones, Sheen had harsh words for Alcoholics Anonymous. He referred to it as a "bootleg cult" with a 5 percent success rate, compared to his own "100 percent" success rate.
One of the group's mottos, he said, is, "'Don't be special. Be one of us.' News flash: I am special and I will never be one of you."
When Jones told Sheen he sounded like Jefferson, Sheen dismissed the U.S. founding father with a rude insult.
"It may be lonely up here but I sure like the view, Alex," he said.
Sheen referred to himself as a new sheriff in town who has an "army of assassins."
"If you love with violence and you hate with violence, there's nothing that can be questioned," said Sheen, who played a soldier in the war film "Platoon."

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UPDATE: Massive Damage, 113 Deaths Reported, 228 missing in the rubble, Earthquake hits South New Zealand 6.3 Quake, LIVE STREAMING VIDEO

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UPDATED: February 24, 2010

At least 113 people have been killed after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand.


As we wrap up news.com.au's live quake coverage, the death toll stands at 113, with 228 people still missing. Rescue efforts are focused on the CTV and Pyne Gould buildings, and crews have begun removing rubble from the Christchurch Cathedral site. They have found no signs of life. The last person was rescued alive two days ago, but families are still holding out hope for a miracle. Infrastructure is damaged - phone networks are starting to return but the water system is still out, with residents advised to boil water before consumption and conserve their supplies. With these issues affecting the city, plus looters and multiple aftershocks each day, many residents are leaving town.
News.com.au will continue to cover Christchurch's search efforts via Breaking News as the city faces a painful recovery from one of the most devastating earthquakes the region has seen

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world/quake-aftershock-hits-christchurch/story-e6frfkyi-1226009960218#ixzz1Evsc3ekD_______________________________________________________________________________
Luxury homes teeter on the edge after huge landslides in Redcliffs, near Christchurch, in this photo by Torsten Blackwood from AFP.
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The Timeball Station is seen to be badly damaged, a day after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the township of Lyttelton near Christchurch, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Sarah Ivey) AUSTRALIA OUT, NEW ZEALAND OUT___________________________________________________________________________

NZ earthquake toll at 75 dead, 300 missing

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
 Associated Press

The sister and brother sat huddled Wednesday on sodden grass, staring at the smoldering remains of an office tower that collapsed with their mother inside.
They hadn't heard from Donna Manning since a powerful earthquake tore through one of New Zealand's largest cities a day earlier, killing at least 75 people and leaving some 300 missing in the rubble. Still, there was hope.
"My mum is superwoman, she'd do anything," Manning's 18-year-old daughter Lizzy said, tears streaming down her face.
Just then, a police officer approached and knelt before Lizzy and her 15-year-old brother Kent in the rain. "I have some horrible news..." the officer began.
The teens' faces crumpled, and their father wrapped them in an embrace as the officer gently broke the news that their mother was presumed dead along with everyone else trapped inside the building.
It was a dark moment that was repeated many times over Wednesday as rescuers searched for any signs of life in the twisted rubble of Christchurch. Prime Minister John Key declared the quake a national disaster and analysts estimated its cost at up to $12 billion.
Hundreds of troops, police and emergency workers raced against time and aftershocks that threatened to collapse more buildings. They picked gingerly through the ruins, poking heat-seeking cameras into gaps between tumbles of bricks and sending sniffer dogs over concrete slabs.
Teams rushed in from Australia, the United States, Britain, Japan and elsewhere in Asia, along with a military field hospital and workers to help repair power, water and phone lines that were damaged in all corners of the city of some 350,000 people.
The news was grim at the Canterbury Television building, a seven-story concrete-and-glass structure that housed the regional TV network where Manning had worked as a morning anchorwoman. An English language school used by young visitors from Japan and South Korea was also located there.
The heavy concrete floors lay piled atop one another Wednesday, its central stairwell tower still standing, but leaning precariously.
"We don't believe this site is now survivable," police operations commander Inspector Dave Lawry told reporters. He said rescuers were shifting to sites that were less dangerous and where there was more hope for survivors.
Canterbury TV chairman Nick Smith said 15 of his employees were still missing inside the collapsed building. Also among the missing were 10 Japanese language students from a group of at least 23 students and teachers who were believed in the building, said Teppei Asano, a Japanese official monitoring the situation.
Not far away, cheers erupted Wednesday as rescuers pulled a woman from another crumpled office tower. Ann Bodkin was reunited with her husband after a painstaking rescue from the twisted metal and concrete remains of the Pyne Gould Guinness building. Giant sunbeams burst through the city's gray, drizzly weather as she emerged.
"They got Ann out of the building, and God turned on the lights," Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said.
Police superintendent Russell Gibson said early Thursday that the last survivor had been pulled out at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and no one had been found trapped in the rubble since.
Gibson said the operation had become one of body recovery, though he rejected suggestions that rescuers were abandoning hope of finding anyone alive.
"Yes, we are still looking for survivors," he said on National Radio. "There are pockets within a number of these buildings and, provided people haven't been crushed, there is no reason to suggest we will not continue to get survivors out of there."
He said the search continued in the Canterbury Television building, but "the signs don't look good. There has been a fire in there ... We will continue to pull that building apart, piece by piece, until we are satisfied" there are no more survivors.
Many sections of the city lay in ruins, and police announced a nighttime curfew in a cordoned-off area of downtown to keep people away from dangerous buildings and to prevent crime.
Six people had been arrested since the quake for burglary and theft, said police Superintendent Dave Cliff, announcing that anyone on the streets after 6:30 p.m. without a valid reason could be arrested.
One of the city's tallest buildings, the 27-floor Hotel Grand Chancellor, was showing signs of buckling and was in imminent danger of collapse, Fire Service commander Mike Hall said. Authorities emptied the building and evacuated a two-block radius.
Parker said 120 people were rescued overnight Tuesday, while more bodies were also recovered. About 300 people were still unaccounted for, but this did not mean they were all still trapped, he said.
Key, the prime minister, said early Wednesday that the death toll stood at 75 and was expected to rise. The figure had not been updated by nightfall.
The true toll in life and treasure was still unknown, but the earthquake already was shaping as one of the country's worst disasters.
JP Morgan analyst Michael Huttner conservatively estimated the insurance losses at $12 billion. That would be the most from a natural disaster since Hurricane Ike hit Texas and Louisiana in 2008, costing insurers $19 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Key said the New Zealand economy could withstand the impact of the quake, the second to strike Christchurch since September.
"Christchurch's economic activity will be much less for a while," he told TV One. "The government will be doing everything it can to economically get Christchurch back on its feet."
Rescuers who rushed into buildings immediately after the quake found horrific scenes.
A construction manager described using sledgehammers and chain saws to cut into the Pyne Gould Guinness building from the roof, hacking downward through layers of sandwiched offices and finding bodies crushed and pulverized under concrete slabs.
One trapped man died after talking awhile with rescuers, Fred Haering said.
Another had a leg pinned under concrete, and a doctor administered medicine to deaden the pain. A firefighter asked Haering for a hacksaw. Haering handed it over and averted his eyes as the man's leg was sawed off, saving him from certain death.
"It's a necessity," Haering said Wednesday. "How are you gonna get out?"
The quake struck just before 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday, when the city was bustling with commerce and tourism. It was less powerful than the 7.1 temblor that struck before dawn on Sept. 4 that damaged buildings but killed no one. Experts said Tuesday's quake was deadlier because it was closer to the city and because more people were about.
Christchurch's airport reopened Wednesday, and military planes were brought in to fly tourists to other cities.
Officials told people to avoid showering or even flushing toilets, saying the damaged sewer system was at risk of failing. School classes in the city were suspended, and residents advised to stay home.
Christchurch's main hospital was inundated with people suffering head and chest injuries, said spokeswoman Amy Milne. But officials said the health system was coping, with some patients moved to other cities.
Tanker trucks were stationed at 14 spots throughout the city where residents could come to fill buckets and bottles, civil defense officials said, and people asked to catch and save rainwater.

 
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Feb 22, 4:16 AM EST

New Zealand earthquake causes ice to break off glacier

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) -- The earthquake that struck Christchurch has caused some 30 million tons of ice to break off from New Zealand's biggest glacier.
Tour guides at the Tasman Glacier in the Southern Alps say the quake caused the ice to "calve" from the glacier, forming icebergs in the terminal lake.
Tourists of Glacier Explorer boats say the icefall caused waves of up to 3.5 meters in height which swept up and down the lake for 30 minutes.
The glacier is about 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Christchurch on the west coast.
The powerful earthquake struck Christchurch on Tuesday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing at least 65 people.

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New Zealand

Christchurch earthquake: 150 feared dead on New Zealand's 'darkest day'

More than 150 are feared dead after a major earthquake hit Christchurch, one of New Zealand's biggest cities, in what the prime minister described "New Zealand's darkest day".

At least 65 were killed, according to John Key, the prime minister.
Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch, added that more than 100 are believed to be trapped in buildings.
The Queen, who is also New Zealand's head of state, expressed her sadness at the 6.3 magnitude quake, saying she was "utterly shocked" by the news.
"Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event," she said.
"My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts."
A state of emergency was declared following the quake, which struck at 12.51pm on Tuesday local time (2351GMT Monday), when office blocks and shopping centres in the city centre were bustling with people.
Rescue workers scrambled to free scores of people trapped in buildings, some crews arriving by helicopter because streets were blocked by rubble and jammed traffic.
Officials fear the death toll could double amid reports that more than 200 were trapped in collapsed buildings and wreckage of homes. Bodies were seen lying in the streets, untended until emergency services were able to reach them.
A special "person finder" established by Google, the search engine giant, said it was currently tracking more than 3,600 "records".
Twelve Japanese students, from a foreign language school and originally from Toyama city, have been reported missing in the rubble of a Christchurch building.
Bystanders dug with bare hands to rescue survivors trapped under piles of rubble. Some reports said the city had ran out of ambulances, with rescuers forced to use private vehicles.
As night fell, welfare centres become full with locals who could not return to their homes. All Christchurch schools were closed until further notice.
Late on Tuesday the military was sent in to help with rescue efforts as rain started falling and temperatures fell.
Mr Key, the prime minister who has flown to the city, described what he saw as "utter devastation".
"We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he told reporters.
"The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise.
"So it's an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people that we care so much about."
No area throughout the country's second largest city was considered safe as strong aftershocks sent dislodged masonry raining down on to the streets below. Power and water has been cut to most of the city.
All Christchurch schools and early childhood services are closed until further notice.
Police warned there would be "multiple fatalities" throughout the region and the fire service said numerous people were trapped and that two buses had been crushed. There were reports of bodied pulled from a youth hostel and bookshop in the city.
The Australian government quickly scrambled rescue and medical teams to area, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain stood "ready to provide any assistance that we can".
“I was shocked and saddened to hear of the devastating earthquake that struck Christchurch earlier today killing so many people," he said.
"The ties that bind the UK with New Zealand are very close and my thoughts are with the friends and families of all those who have lost their lives and been affected by the earthquake.
“Many people in the UK with links to New Zealand will be watching anxiously as the situation develops."
He added: "Our High Commissioner in New Zealand is on her way to Christchurch and we stand ready to provide any assistance that we can to the authorities and to any British Nationals who have been caught up in the earthquake.”
Hundreds of doctors from around the world gathered in Christchurch for a conference are helping in makeshift hospitals established throughout the city.
The power of the quake, which was far more violent one that struck the city in September, caused the cathedral's spire in the centre of Christchurch to crumble and knocked out phone lines.
Several large building were reduced to piles of twisted debris, pipes burst across the city and large holes had appeared in roads.
The city's hospital and airport were evacuated and dozens of shocked and injured residents gathered in open spaces as alarms and sirens sounded across the city.
There were scenes of confusion and chaos as police tried to get people out of the city centre as the earth continued to shake during several strong aftershocks.
Streets were gridlocked, glass carpeted the pavements and power was out to 80 per cent of Christchurch.
Footage from the scene showed cars crushed underneath large piles of rubble and several seriously injured people being carried on makeshift stretchers from collapsed buildings.
Distressed people could be seen trapped inside damaged buildings and screaming could be heard as firefighters picked their way though the debris.
The earthquake caused a 30 million-tonne chunk of ice to break off from the Tasman Glacier, more than 150 miles away on the West Coast.
Bill English, the Deputy Prime Minister, said 35 military personal were on the ground providing first aid and support to the city's major most affected areas. Another 250 would arrive in first thing on Wednesday.
The chaotic scenes were far different from last September's "miracle", when no one was killed in a 7.1 magnitude quake.
Tuesday's much shallower quake, just two miles below the surface, caused several office blocks to collapse as well as destroying the 110-year-old Anglican cathedral. It has been described as the worst earthquake to hit the country in 80 years.
Bob Parker, the city's mayor, said the death toll could double. He urged residents to stay at home, conserve water and stay calm.
"We are in the middle of a major disaster on global terms," he said.
"There are people fighting for their lives at the moment but there are also people fighting for them.
"We're in the middle of an extremely serious situation."
He added: "We're preparing ourselves for what I think will be a really sad, bleak day for our city but be reassured everybody is doing what they can."
"Everybody needs to understand that this is going to be a day of very black news.
"This is about as bad as it gets. I think we need to prepare ourselves for a death toll that will be significant."
Gary Moore said he and 19 other colleagues were trapped in their twelfth floor office after the stairwell collapsed in the quake. He did not know if people on other floors were trapped.
"We watched the cathedral collapse out our window while we were holding onto the walls," Mr Moore said. "Every aftershock sends us rushing under the desks. It's very unnerving but we can clearly see there are other priorities out the window. There has been a lot of damage and I guess people are attending to that before they come and get us."
The Pyne Gould Guinness Building, a multi-storey building containing more than 200 workers, has collapsed and an unknown number of people are trapped inside.
Television pictures showed rescuers, many of them office workers, dragging severely injured people from the rubble. Many had blood streaming down their faces.
Bob Bufton, who was in a having lunch in a Thai restaurant when the quake struck, said it was "horrendous".
"The young ladies in the restaurant were screaming, it was tremendous, the last quake was nothing compared to this.
"I looked down the street and there was just dust."
Peter Beck, Dean of the Anglican Cathedral, said he had no idea of how many people were inside when the building fell.
Christchurch resident Jaydn Katene told the New Zealand Herald:"We've had friends in town call us and say there are just bodies lying around.
"Lots of dead bodies outside shops just lying there, just covered in bricks.
"When it hit we were knocked to our feet. Everything in the house fell down, nothing was left still standing.
"The roads are completely torn up, sewage coming up and flooding.
"The elderly are all crying," said Mr Katene.
"We've seen cars halfway sunken into the road.
"We've heard there's a bus which is sunken halfway into the road, just around the corner.
"Buildings are half-collapsed everywhere.
"It smells horrible. The roads are packed with cars.
"There aren't enough police or ambulances. Houses are all collapsing.
"It's pretty shocking, a total war zone."
The quake was felt as far away as Wellington, on the North Island.
New Zealand sits on the Pacific "ring of fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through the South Pacific.

 

New Zealand PM says quake kills at least 65

By Gyles Beckford

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A strong earthquake killed at least 65 people in New Zealand's second-biggest city of Christchurch with more casualties expected as desperate rescuers picked through rubble to find people trapped in toppled buildings.
It was the second quake to hit the city in five months.
"We may well be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day...The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told local TV.
The 6.3 magnitude quake struck at lunchtime, when the streets and shops were thronged with people and the offices were still occupied.
Christchurch's mayor described the city of almost 400,000 people as a war zone.
"There will be deaths, there will be a lot of injuries, there will be a lot of heart break in this city," Mayor Bob Parker told Australian TV by phone.
Helicopters dumped giant buckets of water to try to douse a fire in one tall office building. A crane helped rescue workers trapped in another office block.
"I was in the square right outside the cathedral -- the whole front has fallen down and there were people running from there. There were people inside as well," said John Gurr, a camera technician who was in the city center when the quake hit.
Authorities ordered major hospitals up and down the country to make room for quake victims. There were reports of a shortage of ambulances.
"A lady grabbed hold of me to stop falling over...We just got blown apart. Colombo Street, the main street, is just a mess...There's lots of water everywhere, pouring out of the ground," Gurr said.
Emergency crews picked through the rubble, including a multi-storey office building whose floors appeared to have pancaked on top of each other.
SILT, SAND AND GRAVEL
Christchurch is built on silt, sand and gravel, with a water table beneath. In an earthquake, the water rises, mixing with the sand and turning the ground into a swamp and swallowing up sections of road and entire cars.
TV footage showed sections of road that had collapsed into a milky, sand-colored lake right beneath the surface. One witness described the footpaths as like "walking on sand."
Unlike last year's even stronger tremor, which struck early in the morning when streets were virtually empty, people were walking or driving along streets when the shallow tremor struck, sending awnings and the entire faces of buildings crashing down.
Police said debris had rained down on two buses, crushing them, but there was no word whether anyone had been killed or injured.
The quake hit at 12:51 pm (6:51 p.m. ET Monday) at a depth of only 4 km (2.5 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
"It's huge, it's just huge," a priest told a TV reporter outside the remains of the city's stone cathedral, part of which had been reduced to a pile of large sandstone blocks.
"I just don't know whether there are people under this rubble," he said, before he appeared to add in a quiet voice: "I think so."
TALK OF POST-QUAKE RATE CUT
The quake helped knock the New Zealand dollar down to $0.75, about 1.8 percent off late U.S. levels, on fears the damage could dent confidence in the already fragile economy.
Westpac Bank also raised the possibility that the central bank could cut interest rates over the next few weeks to shore up confidence after the quake, while other banks pushed out their expectations for the next rate hike. ANZ now expects the central bank to be on hold until the first quarter of 2012.
Shares in Australian banks and insurers, which typically have large operations in New Zealand, fell after the quake. But credit rating agency Fitch said the tremor would not itself trigger a downgrade of New Zealand sovereign rating.
The tremor was centered about 10 km (six miles) southwest of Christchurch, which had suffered widespread damage during last September's 7.1 magnitude quake but no deaths.
James Goff, of the University of New South Wales' Natural Hazards Research Laboratory in Australia, said some buildings that survived last year's quake had been weakened and unable to withstand the second one, especially such a shallow tremor.
"A lot of the infrastructure has still not fully recovered from the last earthquake so that would have still been feeling weak and susceptible to another big earthquake," he said.
The region has been struck by thousands of aftershocks since the original quake.
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6.3 quake hits southern New Zealand; 'massive' damage, 'many' deaths

 Feb 21, 2011
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By Michael Winter, USA TODAY


Updated at 9:17 p.m. ET: Four more aftershocks have shaken the city, ranging in magnitude from 3.4 to 5.5, the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences reports.
Four quakes registering magnitudes 2.5 to 3.7 jiggled the region Tuesday morning before the 6.3 shaker, the first at 3:25 a.m. and the last at 9:15 a.m., the agency says.

Updated at 9 p.m. ET: All flights have been grounded in New Zealand while officials assess the national air traffic control system, which is located in Christchurch, the New Zealand Press Association reports. Planes are landing, however.
New Zealand Telecom says some of its phone networks have been badly damaged.
Updated at 8:56 p.m. ET: TVNZ has a live video stream.


Updated at 8:39 p.m. ET: Police report that two city buses were crushed by falling debris and that "multiple" building have collapsed, with people trapped, Radio New Zealand reports. The city's main hospital is being evacuated.
Though weaker than the powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake Sept. 4, today's was relatively shallow, just 3.1 miles deep, and it struck just offshore from the city on the east coast of the South Island.

Updated at 8:24 p.m. ET: Christchurch fire officials are reporting "many fatalities," The Press now says.
Updated at 8:07 p.m. ET: The Press reports "massive damage" and injuries in Christchurch, with people reportedly trapped in downtown buildings and houses.
Witnesses said there are certain to be deaths.
The city's historic Anglican cathedral, its namesake, has been badly damaged, with witnesses calling it "destroyed." The paper has a photo that shows the cathedral standing, surrounded by rubble, its spire toppled.
Though weaker than the powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake Sept. 4, today's was relatively shallow, just 3.1 miles deep, and it struck just offshore from the city on the east coast of the South Island.
Updated at 8:01 p.m. ET: The Star newspaper in Christchurch has photos of some of the damage caused by the quake that struck just over an hour ago.
Original post: An earthquake with a premilinary magnitude of 6.3 has hit New Zealand's southern island city of Christchurch, which was damaged extensively last year by a 7.4 temblor, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.
The quake hit at 12:51 p.m. Tuesday local time (6:51 p.m. ET Monday), followed 10 minutes later by an aftershock registering 5.6.

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IRS Starts New Eased Guidelines on Delinquent Taxpayers

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IRS eases up on delinquent taxpayers

BY JIM GALLAGHER   
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 24, 2011 
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America's chief tax man was in nice-guy mode today, promising to loosen the screws on delinguent taxpayers.
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said the IRS will let taxpayers run up bigger tax bills before filing tax liens against their property.  More taxpayers will also be eligible for a the IRS "offers in compromise" program, in which the IRS sometimes settles for less than the taxpayer owes.
"I always encourage employees of the IRS to try to walk in the taxpayers' shoes," Schulman told reporters in a teleconference today.  He said the changes will help taxpayers get a "fresh start."
Under the new guidelines, the IRS will usually not file tax liens until delinquent debt tops $10,000, up from $5,000 presently.
The tax collectors will also generally withdraw liens when taxpayers agree to a direct-debit intallment agreement with debts of $25,000 or less.  
A tax lien is a government claim against the taxpayer's property.  It can effect credit reports, hurting a taxpayer's ability to obtain loans and find jobs.
Taxpayers with incomes up to $100,000 will be allowed to submit offers in compromise.  The program will admit people who owe up to $50,000, up from the current $25,000 limit.
The IRS sometimes agrees to settle for lesser payments "once we determine that you can't pay now and there is no prospect of you paying it in the future," Shulman said.
Small businesses owing $25,000 or less can enter into installment payment agreements, up from the previous $10,000 limit.
Shulman said the changes will probably make no difference in the amount of taxes the government collects but might increase collections.

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Boeing Wins Air Force 767 Tanker Contract $ 35 Billion

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Boeing wins $35 billion Air Force tanker contract

ASSOCIATED PRESS and Staff Reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 24, 2011
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WASHINGTON • The Air Force has awarded a $35 billion contract to build the next generation of air refueling tankers to Boeing Co.
"Boeing was a clear winner," said Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn said in response to reporter's questions following the announcement.
The announcement was made at the Pentagon late Thursday afternoon after the financial markets closed. It was certain to be welcome news in Washington state and Kansas, where much of the work on the tanker will be done.
Oversight of tanker construction will come from   Boeing's Defense, Space and Security division, headquartered in St. Louis County.
"This contract award would not have been possible without the hundreds of Boeing employees across the entire company, and the thousands of our industry teammates, who remained laser-focused on our commitment to offer a solution that is first in capability and best in value," said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security in a prepared statement.
The decision dealt a blow to the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., which also had bid for the contract. It was a major disappointment for Alabama, which had been counting on the work at a long-shuttered military base in Mobile.
Lynn would not rule out an official challenge to the winning bid by EADS. Boeing appealed a 2008 Pentagon decision to award the tanker contract.
That appeal led to the reversal in Boeing's favor announced Thursday.
Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force Chief of Staff, said he hopes the announcement marks the end of a procurement process that has dragged on for nearly a decade.
"We'll get a capability is long overdue and we'll stop talking about it," said Schwartz.
The Force has tried for nearly a decade to replace its aging fleet of Eisenhower-era tankers, the equivalent of a flying gas station.
"The Air Force is in desperate need of a new air refueling tanker. The first of these planes was bought the same year that color television was introduced in the United States. Asking airmen to fly a plane that may be older than their parents is simply unacceptable," said U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, whose district includes the Boeing defense division.
The Boeing assembly team will be comprised of 800 suppliers in 40 states.


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Missouri Appeals Court Considers Overturned Helmig Conviction UPDATED: Dale Helmig ordered released - mid-Missouri man had been imprisoned for nearly 15 years


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Missouri appeals court considers overturned Helmig conviction

Thursday, February 24, 2011
KANSAS CITY — A former house painter whose murder conviction in the 1993 central Missouri killing of his mother was overturned will be back in court as the state attorney general appeals the case.
A hearing is scheduled for Thursday to consider Attorney General Chris Koster's appeal of a judge's decision to overturn the life sentence of 54-year-old Dale Helmig. He was sentenced in 1996 for his mother Norma's death three years earlier. Her body was found tied to a concrete block in a flood-swollen river in Osage County.
A judge in the northwest Missouri county ruled in November that prosecutors and law enforcement officers withheld evidence and presented false testimony at Helmig's trial. He also said Helmig's attorney was likely under the influence of drugs in court.

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http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/article_dd1f16fb-23bc-5c83-90f4-46bc9dd1107b.html

A judge has ordered Dale Helmig, whose conviction for murder has been thrown out, be released on bail while the state appeals court considers his case.

An attorney for Helmig said his family is gathering the funds today to pay 10 percent of Helmig's $50,000 bond. The attorney said Helmig may walk out from prison as early as late this afternoon.

Helmig, 54, has been serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted of first-degree murder in March 1996. The body of his mother, Norma Helmig, 55, was found Aug. 1, 1993, tied to a concrete block in the Osage River. Authorities never determined how she died.

Last month, DeKalb County Senior Judge Warren McElwain declared the imprisoned Helmig innocent of murdering his mother in Osage County in 1993.

Then, with less than a hour to spare on the Nov. 22 deadline, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed paperwork with an appellate court challenging McElwain's decision, a move that kept Helmig behind bars at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Mo.

Koster, who had not taken a position on Helmig's guilt, had said it was appropriate for an appellate court to review whether McElwain acted within his jurisdiction.
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Adam Wainwright Out Entire 2011 Season Will Require Tommy John Surgery

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Wainwright set for Tommy John surgery

 BY DERRICK GOOLD  
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Thursday, February 24, 2011
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JUPITER, Fla. • St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will require Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow and he will miss the entire 2011 season, the club confirmed this morning.
General manager John Mozeliak made the announcement at about 10 a.m. St. Louis time after a discussion with the pitcher and the team physician. All parties had been waiting on the results of a second opinion requested Wednesday evening from Dr. Lewis Yocum in the Los Angeles area.
"We have confirmed that Adam Wainwright will require Tommy John surgery. So obviously, he'll be out for the year," Mozeliak said. "Not a real surprise to us, but certainly a disappointment and a finality to this process. As we look to the future now we certainly believe that we have a strong starting rotation on this club. And now we're going to have to try and fill it in terms of a fifth spot."
The surgery date has not been set, but Wainwright will have the procedure done in St. Louis by Cardinals physician George Paletta.
Mozeliak said that the recovery is usually 12 to 15 months.
Mozeliak and manager Tony La Russa both repeated Wednesday's opinion that their first step will be to fill the spot from within. Kyle McClellan shifted into the starters' workout group on Wednesday, and other candidates have been identified, from Raul Valdes to Lance Lynn. La Russa said he has six or seven candidates in mind for the opening, and it's possible that a committee could form to fill that spot through the season until one seizes the job.
McClellan and Ian Snell are two of the pitchers with starting intent or starting experience who will throw to hitters today at camp.
While acknowledging the team will be open-minded about the options outside the organization, Mozeliak downplayed his interest in the free agent market at this point.
Wainwright has twice previously had difficulty with his right elbow. In 2004, he was diagnosed with a sprain in the ligament, and back in high school he also had a similar problem. The Cardinals had him skip his last start of 2010 because of irritation in his forearm -- a condition that he later acknowledged was related to a partially torn ligament in his elbow. A followup exam in November assured the righthander that the structure of his elbow was sound, and several weeks ago he insisted that he wasn't pitching with the fear the ligament was going to "pop" at any time.
Mozeliak said even in hindsight it's unlikely that the team would have handled Wainwright's prep or his physicals different.


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Missouri Lawmakers Seek to Outlaw More Synthetic Drugs UPDATED: Risky Business Snorting Bath Salts to Get Cocaine-Like High, "Ivory Wave," "Bliss," "Vanilla Sky"



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UPDATED: Feb 24m 2011

Missouri lawmakers propose outlawing more synthetic drugs


JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers are poised to make another run at outlawing some synthetic drugs.
Missouri was among more than a dozen states last year that banned a synthetic form of marijuana known as K2, which is a combination of dried herbs sprayed with chemicals. Before the law even took effect, alternatives were hitting the market that had made slight changes to the synthetic formula; these alternatives got around the new law.
Republican Rep. Ward Franz of West Plains is sponsoring legislation this year that would add more synthetic cannabinoids to the outlawed list. The bill also would outlaw a synthetic form of cocaine that is being sold as a bath salt in some Missouri stores.

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More people snorting bath salts to get cocaine-like high

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 Wednesday, January 19, 2011
BY BLYTHE BERNHARD  www.STLtoday.com


In their search for new and legal ways to get high, people are increasingly ingesting an addictive substance sold in stores as bath salts, say police and health officials. So far this month, the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center has received 12 calls about teenagers and young adults abusing the chemicals, compared with eight calls for all of 2010. The powders sold as "Ivory Snow," "Bliss," "Vanilla Sky" and other brand names are not common bath salts and contain the ingredients MDPV or mephedrone, stimulants that can cause rapid heart rates, seizures and hallucinations.
Truck stops, tattoo parlors and tobacco shops sell the substances in 50-milligram packets for $25 to $50 each, according to an alert issued last month by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The powders described as "fake cocaine" have appeared in the last year in stores that previously sold the now-illegal synthetic marijuana products known as K2 and Spice, law enforcement officials said.
With the new drugs, "the highs are so high and the lows are so low" that they contributed to the October suicide of a 29-year-old St. Joseph man, Connors said.
Since the man's death, Connors' department has been working with Missouri legislators to seek a ban with more generic wording for artificial stimulants.
The packets are often labeled "not for consumption," a loophole that allows manufacturers to evade scrutiny from food and drug officials.
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2010 Census Data Biggest Gains Southwest Missouri and Outer Suburbs St. Louis, Down 1.6 pct Gasconade County

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Census shows greatest growth in southwest Missouri
  February 24, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's population grew by the greatest amounts in southwest Missouri and the outer suburbs of St. Louis during the past decade while continuing to decline in the city's urban core, according to new U.S. Census Bureau figures.
The 2010 census data were obtained Thursday by The Associated Press in advance of their formal release by the Census Bureau.
Missouri's 20 largest cities

City 2010 pop.  % chg
1. Kansas City 459,787 4.1
2. St. Louis 319,294 -8.3
3. Springfield 159,498 5.2
4. Independence  116,830 3.1
5. Columbia 108,500 28.4
6. Lee's Summit 91,364 29.2
7. O'Fallon 79,329 71.8
8. St. Joseph 76,780 3.8
9. St. Charles 65,794 9.1
10. Blue Springs 52,575 9.3
11. St. Peters 52,575 2.3
12. Florissant 52,158 3.3
13. Joplin 50,150 10.2
14. Chesterfield 47,484 1.5
15. Jefferson City 43,079 8.7
16. Cape Girardeau  37,941 7.3
17. Wildwood 35,517 8.0
18. University City 35,371 -5.5
19. Ballwin 30,404 -2.8
20. Raytown 29,526 -2.8

The new census data will be used to redraw Missouri's congressional and state legislative districts. Missouri is losing one of its nine seats in Congress because its population — which now stands just shy of 6 million residents — grew at a slower pace than the rest of the nation during the past decade.
The data show that southwest Missouri's 7th Congressional District grew by about 100,000 people since the 2000 census, paced by a roughly 43 percent growth rate in Christian County — which amounts to an additional 23,000 people — and a 14 percent growth rate in Greene County that equated to a population growth of nearly 35,000. Greene County is the home of Springfield, and Christian County is located just to the south of Greene County.
The population grew by about 85,000 in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes part of the outer St. Louis suburbs. The district covers part of St. Charles County, which grew by about 76,600 people, or 27 percent. Nearby Lincoln County grew by more than 13,600 people, a growth rate of 35 percent.
The 1st Congressional District in St. Louis declined by almost 35,000 people, according to the new census figures.
St. Louis sees further declines
The city of St. Louis lost nearly 29,000 people during the past decade, a decline of about 8 percent of its population.
The census figures show St. Louis had a population of a little more than 319,000 in 2010.
The census figures show that the population of St. Louis County also declined by 2 percent during the past decade, dropping below 1 million people.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay called the numbers disappointing. A census estimate as recent as 2009 indicated the city's population was actually rising.
Slay said the decline in both the city and the county was a wake-up call showing the need for better collaboration.
Meanwhile, Kansas City added to its distinction as the largest city in Missouri during the past decade.
Census figures show Kansas City had a population of almost 460,000 people in 2010. That's an increase of more than 18,000 people, or about 4 percent. 
Minority population grows at faster pace
Missouri's racial minority population grew at a fast pace during the past decade largely because of an increase in Hispanic residents.
Census figures show that Missouri's Hispanic population increased by 79 percent since 2000, compared with a growth rate of a little more than 4 percent for white residents.
Even with that increase, Hispanics comprise just 3.5 percent of Missouri's population, compared with 83 percent for whites.
Blacks remain Missouri's largest racial minority, at 11.6 percent of the total population.
The number of Asian Missourians grew by 59 percent during the past decade, but they still comprise just 1.6 of the total population.

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