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Russia meteor damage estimated at $33M

40 people still in hospital after exploding meteor injures 1,200.


A small army of workers set to work Saturday to replace the estimated 200,000 square metres of windows shattered by the shock wave from a meteor that exploded over Russia's Chelyabinsk region.

The astonishing Friday morning event blew out windows in more than 4,000 buildings in the region, mostly in the capital city of the same name and injured some 1,200 people, largely with cuts from the flying glass.

Forty of the injured remained hospitalized on Saturday, two of them in serious condition, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the regional health ministry.

Regional governor Mikhail Yurevich on Saturday said damage from the high-altitude explosion - estimated to have been as powerful as 20 Hiroshima bombs - is estimated at $33.2 million Cdn. He promised to have all the broken windows replaced within a week.

But that is a long wait in a frigid region. The midday temperature in Chelyabinsk was minus - 12 C, and for many the immediate task was to put up plastic sheeting and boards on shattered residential windows.

More than 24,000 people, including volunteers, have mobilized in the region to cover windows, gather warm clothes and food and make other relief efforts, the regional governor's office said. Crews from glass companies in adjacent regions were being flown in.
Info

Forest Whitaker reportedly frisked in Manhattan deli, accused of shoplifting

© Lenny Abbot, PacificCoastNews.co
Forest Whitaker on the set of his upcoming movie Black Nativity
Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker was accused of shoplifting and then publicly frisked inside a Manhattan deli yesterday morning.

The movie star, in town filming Black Nativity with Jennifer Hudson, was about to leave the Milano Market on Broadway when one of the workers there claimed to have seen him snag an item from a store shelf, his spokesperson said.

The worker stopped Whitaker and allegedly gave him a humiliating pat down in full view of everyone in the Morningside Heights store.

No stolen items were found and Whitaker left. His driver, Reggie Crupe, said he was parked outside waiting when the actor came out of the store.

"An employee from the store came outside to speak with him and to apologize," Crupe said in a statement. "He told Mr. Whitaker that the cameras in the store were at a bad angle and that he could not see if Forest had stolen anything."
Camera

Photos of ailing Chavez stir emotions in Venezuela

© Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters/Reuters
A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez holds a copy of a photograph of Chavez released by the Ministry of Information, during a gathering at Plaza Bolivar in Caracas February 15, 2013.
Caracas - President Hugo Chavez's supporters joyfully brandished first photographs of him since cancer surgery two months ago while opposition activists said the images were worrying evidence of Venezuela's political vacuum.

In a first proof of life since his six-hour operation in Cuba on December 11, authorities published four photos on Friday showing Chavez lying in a hospital bed smiling next to his daughters.

Underlining the gravity of his situation, however, an accompanying statement said the 58-year-old socialist leader was breathing through a tracheal tube and struggling to speak.

Within hours, the photos were on sale in Caracas streets, where some of Chavez's passionate supporters clutched them to their hearts as if they were a religious icon.

"It doesn't matter that he can't talk. We understood his message," said Aniluz Serrano, 57, selling prints in colonial Bolivar Square, named for Venezuela's independence hero and Chavez's idol, Simon Bolivar.

"When I saw this photo, I thought how beautiful, here he is calling on the people to keep fighting. When I see this smile, I can see Christ, I can see Simon Bolivar."
Pistol

Florida fugitive who stabbed detective with eyeglasses during escape shot dead in Texas

Alberto Morales
© CBS
Alberto Morales
A Florida prisoner who escaped after stabbing a detective with his eyeglasses was shot and killed by Texas law enforcement officers early Saturday after police responded to a report of a home burglary, authorities said.

Alberto Morales was shot shortly after midnight when officers, with assistance from a police helicopter, spotted him in a wooded area near a lake in North Texas, Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling said. Two hours earlier, officers responded to a report that jewelry and men's clothing had been stolen during a break-in at a home near where Morales was found.

Eberling said at a Saturday news conference that officers instructed Morales to lay on the ground and show his hands, but he rushed toward them, at which point they opened fire. He said the fugitive was still wearing part of his prison-issued jumpsuit as well as jogging pants, but Eberling said he couldn't comment on whether the stolen clothing and jewelry was found with Morales.

The residents arrived home around 10:30 p.m. Friday to discover the burglary at their home and called law enforcement officials, Eberling said.
Che Guevara

100,000 march against austerity in Ireland

© eirigi
On Saturday, February 9, up to 100,000 people took to the streets of the Twenty Six Counties [the Republic of Ireland - SOTT ed. note] in a display of mass opposition to austerity, with demonstrations taking place in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. The 'day of action', which was organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions [ICTU], attracted support from a wide range of anti-austerity groups and political parties.

In Dublin, Limerick and Sligo dozens of éirígí activists joined their local protests. The Dublin march also included a contingent from the Campaign Against the Household and Water Tax, made up of local branches from across the city and surrounding counties. CAHWT groups displayed a variety of banners calling on ICTU to formally come on board with the CAHWT and join the fight against the home tax.
Question

Update: 'Zombie Apocalypse' hoax broadcast on U.S. Emergency Alert System blamed on 'lax passwords'

A hacker infiltration of the U.S. emergency broadcast system on TV stations in at least four states came down to the fact that the stations had failed to change factory default passwords, broadcasters said on Wednesday.

The Monday attacks, which broadcast bogus warnings that the United States was under attack by zombies, prompted the government to order television stations to change passwords on the equipment that connects them to the nation's Emergency Alert System, or EAS.

The FCC would not comment, but in an urgent advisory sent to television stations on Tuesday the agency said: "All EAS participants are required to take immediate action."

It instructed them to change passwords on equipment from all manufacturers, making sure that gear was secured behind firewalls and to also inspect systems to ensure that hackers had not queued "unauthorized alerts" for future transmission.

Comment: They're pointing the finger downstream at the individual TV stations... but the EAS is controlled from the top by DHS, so it's far from clear how passwords used to access the end-user platform would enable some one or group to craft fake messages that bypass the TV stations' systems...

See also: 'Zombie Apocalypse' hoax message on U.S. Emergency Alert System broadcast on 10 channels across 5 states

Syringe

France moves toward legalizing "assisted death"

© AFP

Changes were necessary, said President François Hollande
France's medical ethics council moved a step closer to legalising euthanasia today by ruling that assisted suicide should exceptionally be allowed when ailing patients make "persistent, lucid and repeated requests" to end their life.


Using the term "assisted death" rather than euthanasia, the council invoked a "duty to humanity" to allow a patient "suffering from an ailment for which the treatment has become ineffective" to die.

A medical team, not a sole doctor, would take the decision.

The council's conclusions came after President François Hollande asked it to examine the precise circumstances under which such steps could be authorised, with a view to tabling draft legislation by June.

Changes were necessary, he said, as, "the existing legislation does not meet the legitimate concerns expressed by people who are gravely and incurably ill".

A 2005 law already authorises doctors to administer painkilling drugs at levels they know will, as a secondary effect, shorten a patient's life.

"However, the law can offer no solution to certain cases of prolonged agony or to psychological and/or physical pain that, despite the means employed, remain uncontrollable," said the council.
Horse

Runners and riders in Europe's horsemeat scandal

© AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
A checks on meat products in a bid to put a lid on a spreading scandal over horsemeat, while British authorities announced traces of horse had been found in school meals, restaurant dishes and hospital food, as well as supermarket products.

A rundown on a scandal that continues to spread:

WHERE DID EUROPE'S HORSEMEAT SCANDAL BEGIN?

In mid-January, Ireland's food safety watchdog announced that it had discovered traces of horse DNA in burger products sold by major British and Irish supermarkets.

The mislabeled products came from Irish processor Silvercrest Foods, which withdrew 10 million burgers from store shelves.

Irish officials first blamed an imported powdered beef-protein additive used to pad out cheap burgers, then frozen blocks of slaughterhouse leftovers imported from Poland - an indication of the complexity of the food-supply chain that was about to be revealed to an alarmed European public.
Heart - Black

FBI: Man slapped crying toddler on Delta flight

After demanding that the mother of a crying toddler "shut that nigger baby up," a male passenger allegedly slapped the 19-month-old across the face as a flight prepared to land in Atlanta last Friday evening, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The shocking February 8 incident aboard Delta Airlines Flight 721 resulted in Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, being charged with simple assault, according to a U.S. District Court affidavit. Hundley, seen at right, is president of an aircraft parts manufacturer headquartered in Hayden, Idaho.

In an interview, Hundley denied striking the toddler or using a racial slur, though he did acknowledge that he "asked the mother to quiet the child." Hundley, who said he was traveling to Atlanta to visit a hospitalized relative, described himself as "distraught" on the flight, during which he said he consumed a single alcoholic drink.
Cult

Pope says he will be 'hidden to the world' in retirement

© Tony Gentile/Reuters
Priests listened to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Thursday. “I will always be close to all of you,” Benedict told them.
Saying he would soon be "hidden to the world," Pope Benedict XVI took his leave of parish priests and clergy members of the Diocese of Rome on Thursday as he offered personal, and incisive, recollections of the Second Vatican Council, the gathering of bishops 50 years ago that set the Roman Catholic Church's course for the future.

Benedict, who announced his resignation on Monday in a move that stunned the Roman Catholic world, also indicated that he would not hold a public role once his resignation became official on Feb. 28. Benedict is the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years.

"Though I am now retiring to a life of prayer, I will always be close to all of you, and I am sure all of you will be close to me, even though I remain hidden to the world," Benedict, 85, and increasingly frail, told the assembly of hundreds of priests, who had greeted him with a long standing ovation and some tears.
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