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Drought-rattled California welcomes weekend storm
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, 09 February 2014 08:14

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Californians accustomed to complaining about the slightest change in the weather welcomed a robust weekend storm that soaked the northern half of the drought-stricken state Saturday even as rain and snow brought the threat of avalanches, flooding and rock slides.

In Willits, one of 17 rural communities that California's Department of Public Health recently described as dangerously low on water, City Councilman Bruce Burton said he was cheered seeing the water levels in a local reservoir and his backyard pond creeping up and small streams flowing again. The city in the heart of redwood country usually sees about 50 inches of rain a year and was expected to get about 4 inches by Sunday.

"It's guarded optimism. We are a long ways from where we need to be, but we have to start with some sort of a raindrop," Burton said.

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Border collie wins Westminster show agility trial
Written by JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press   
Sunday, 09 February 2014 08:09

NEW YORK (AP) — A border collie named Kelso rocketed to a win in the Westminster Kennel Club's new agility competition Saturday night, while a husky mix called Roo! ran away with the recognition afforded to mixed-breed dogs at the nation's premier show for the first time since the 1800s.

Shooting through tunnels, scrambling over ramps, weaving through poles as a tail-wagging blur and taking a tight turn with a celebratory bark, 7-year-old Kelso bested about 225 other dogs — including another shown by his college-student owner — to take the overall championship. And Roo! made it to the final five to garner a prize for the top mixed-breed, or "all-American" dog.

The competition put a fast-growing canine activity on U.S. dogdom's biggest stage, with the finals nationally televised on Fox Sports 1. While Kelso has won other agility titles, the Westminster trial was something special to his owner, Delaney Ratner.

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Two whooping cranes shot in Louisiana
Written by JANET McCONNAUGHEY, Associated Press   
Saturday, 08 February 2014 06:38

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Someone shot a pair of endangered whooping cranes that had been building practice nests in southwest Louisiana, killing the female and seriously injuring the male, state wildlife officials said Friday.

They were the only birds that had formed a mating bond last year, though they were too young to produce eggs, said Robert Love of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

"They were some of our older birds and our best chance for having a more successful nest this year," said Love, the coastal and nongame resources division administrator.

"It's just sickening," he said.

Whooping cranes are among the world's largest and rarest birds, with only about 600 alive today — all descended from 15 that lived in coastal Texas in the 1940s. They are protected under state and federal laws.

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Gunman kills nun, parishioner in Russian cathedral
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, 09 February 2014 08:08

MOSCOW (AP) — A man employed as a private security guard opened fire Sunday in a cathedral on Russia's Sakhalin Island in the Pacific, killing a nun and a parishioner and wounding six others, investigators said.

Law enforcement officers detained the 24-year-old man at the scene and were trying to determine why he had attacked the Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement. The man worked for a private security firm in the city and was armed with a rifle. His name was not released.

Concerns about security in Russia are especially high because of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but there was no apparent connection to the games. Sakhalin Island is about 7,500 kilometers (more than 4,500 miles) from Sochi.

The six parishioners who were wounded were hit in the legs and their lives were not in danger, state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the regional archbishop.

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NATO trial prosecutor stands behind terror charges
Written by MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press   
Saturday, 08 February 2014 06:36

CHICAGO (AP) — During an atmosphere two years ago when Chicago officials were warning demonstrations could turn violent at an upcoming NATO summit, the chief prosecutor chose to invoke an almost never-used Illinois law to charge several self-described anarchists with terrorism.

After jurors acquitted three activists Friday of all terrorism charges — convicting them instead of lesser arson and mob action counts — journalists asked Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez if, in hindsight, she regretted filing the more-serious charges.

"Absolutely not!" she said, her voice rising in a courtroom hallway. "I would bring these charges (again) tomorrow morning — with no apologies and no second-guessing."

Prosecutors had accused Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly of plotting, in the weeks leading up to the summit, Molotov cocktail attacks on President Barack Obama's campaign office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and police stations. Two undercover officers infiltrated their inner circle, and the young activists were arrested just days before the summit began.

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