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Big storm brings new worries to S. California
Written by ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press   
Friday, 28 February 2014 07:25

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Homes were evacuated as a swift storm with expected heavy rain moved toward drought plagued Southern California, bringing worries of mudslides where recent wildfires left mountainsides exposed.

The storm's full force was expected to be felt Friday morning, with possible thunderstorms and rains up to an inch per hour, the National Weather Service said.

A 10-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway was closed overnight in Ventura County because of a high likelihood of rock slides in an area made bare by last year's Springs Fire in Camarillo, the California Highway Patrol said.

On Thursday, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for about 1,000 homes in Glendora and Azusa, eastern foothill suburbs of Los Angeles that sit beneath nearly 2,000 acres of steep mountain slopes stripped by another fire in January.

"We have an hour to get evacuated," said Dana Waldusky as she hurried to evacuate the family home next to the burn area in Glendora. "We're just boarding up all our doors."

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China busts Web-based baby trafficking rings
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 28 February 2014 07:13

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese police have rescued 382 abducted babies and arrested 1,094 suspects in a national operation that busted four major Internet-based baby trafficking rings, the Public Security Ministry said Friday.

The operation came after police in Beijing and the eastern province of Jiangsu last year found four websites selling babies under the cover of adoption, the ministry said, adding that Internet technologies have assisted baby traffickers by providing more secretive covers for their businesses.

Child abduction is a major problem in China despite punishments as harsh as the death sentence for traffickers, and national-level busts of trafficking rings have been frequent in recent years.

Strict laws that limit many families to one child, a traditional preference for boys, poverty and illicit profits drive a thriving market in babies and children.

To address the problem, China is considering tougher penalties for parents who sell their children, as well as for the buyers.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Winter-weary Americans plead: Get me out of here
Written by DON BABWIN, Associated Press   
Friday, 28 February 2014 07:00

CHICAGO (AP) — Shannon Frauenholtz has had it with winter. Barely able to stomach the television news with its images of snowbound cars, she heads to the tanning salon, closes her eyes and imagines she's back in Mexico, where she's already vacationed once this winter.

She's toyed with the idea of joining her mother in Hawaii or just driving to an indoor water park, figuring that while the palm trees might be plastic and the "beach" smells of chlorine, at least it's warm.

"I don't need a vacation. I don't need the relaxation," she said. "I just need the heat."

All over the Midwest and the East Coast, travel agents are being inundated with a simple request: Get me out of here. And travelers fortunate enough to have escaped are begging hotels to let them stay a little longer.

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Court: School can ban U.S. flag shirts for safety
Written by PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press   
Friday, 28 February 2014 07:04

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Officials at a Northern California high school acted appropriately when they ordered students wearing American flag T-shirts to turn the garments inside out during the Mexican heritage celebration Cinco de Mayo, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the officials' concerns of racial violence outweighed students' freedom of expression rights. Administrators feared the American-flag shirts would enflame the passions of Latino students celebrating the Mexican holiday. Live Oak High School, in the San Jose suburb of Morgan Hill, had a history of problems between white and Latino students on that day.

The unanimous three-judge panel said past problems gave school officials sufficient and justifiable reasons for their actions. The court said schools have wide latitude in curbing certain civil rights to ensure campus safety.

"Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence," Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel. The past events "made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real," she wrote.

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Ukraine says Russian forces block airport
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 28 February 2014 06:54

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian military were blocking a Ukrainian military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea near the Russian naval base while unidentified armed men were patrolling another airport serving the regional capital, Ukraine's new Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Friday.

No violence was reported, and flights continued to operate at the airport serving Simferopol, the regional capital. It was not immediately clear whether the airport in Sevastopol, owned by the Ukrainian defense ministry, was open but there are no scheduled services to the facility.

The Russian foreign ministry refused to comment while a spokesman for the Russian defense ministry also had no comment.

Avakov wrote in a Facebook post that the Belbek international airport in Sevastopol was blocked by military units of the Russian navy.

"I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation," Avakov said.

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