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All 52 passengers rescued from icebound Antarctic ship
Written by ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press   
Thursday, 02 January 2014 09:36
Antarctica_Pool_rotator
In this photo provided China's official Xinhnua News Agency, passengers from the trapped Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy, seen at right, prepare to board the Chinese helicopter Xueying 12 in the Antarctic Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Jiansong)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday.

The Chinese helicopter carried the scientists and tourists from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy in groups of 12 to an Australian icebreaker, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue. The Aurora Australis will now take the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania, a journey expected to last two weeks.

"I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home," expedition leader Chris Turney told The Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic.

All 22 crew members stayed with the icebound vessel, which is not in danger of sinking and has weeks' worth of supplies on board. They will wait until the ice that surrounds the ship breaks up.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:09
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Arson attack on Chinese Consulate in San Francisco
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:25

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese Consulate in San Francisco said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises.

The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire.

The consulate's notice, which was in Chinese, did not identify the individual or say how the consulate knew what had caused the fire.

The notice said the fire caused serious damage and that San Francisco's police and fire departments arrived at the scene.

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James Avery of 'Fresh Prince' fame dead at 68
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:08

NEW YORK (AP) — James Avery, the bulky character actor who laid down the law at home and on the job as the Honorable Philip Banks in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," has died.

Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday in Glendale, Calif., following complications from open heart surgery. He was 68, Snyder said.

Avery, who stood more than 6 feet tall, played the family patriarch and a wealthy attorney and judge on the popular TV comedy that launched the acting career of Will Smith as Banks' troublemaking nephew.

The sitcom, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, was set in the Banks' mansion, where Smith's character was sent from Philadelphia when things got tough in his own neighborhood. Fans came to know the imposing Banks as "Uncle Phil."

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14 taken to hospitals after Minneapolis fire
Written by JEFF BAENEN, Associated Press   
Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:09

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A billowing fire engulfed a three-story building with several apartments near downtown Minneapolis early Wednesday, sending more than a dozen people to hospitals with injuries — some critical — ranging from burns to trauma associated with falls.

An explosion was reported about 8:15 a.m., and within minutes a fire raged through the building, said Robert Ball, a spokesman for Hennepin County Emergency Medical Services. Paramedics, amid sub-zero temperatures, responded to find victims on the ground, some with injuries that suggested they may have fallen multiple stories.

"It's not clear whether people were pushed out of the building from the explosion, or whether they fell or jumped out of windows to escape," Ball said.

No fatalities have been reported, but authorities weren't sure whether any residents were still inside the building. Its roof had partially collapsed, making it too dangerous for firefighters to enter and sweep the premises, said Assistant Minneapolis Fire Chief Cherie Penn.

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Legal weed sales bring long lines to Colorado
Written by KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press   
Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:08

DENVER (AP) — Long lines and blustery winter weather greeted Colorado marijuana shoppers testing the nation's first legal recreational pot shops Wednesday.

It was hard to tell from talking to the shoppers, however, that they had waited hours in snow and frigid wind.

"It's a huge deal for me," said Andre Barr, a 34-year-old deliveryman who drove from Niles, Mich., to be part of the legal weed experiment. "This wait is nothing."

The world was watching as Colorado unveiled the modern world's first fully legal marijuana industry — no doctor's note required (as in 18 states and Washington, D.C.) and no unregulated production of the drug (as in the Netherlands). Uruguay has fully legalized pot but hasn't yet set up its system.

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