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Congo-Brazzaville Arms Depot Explosions Leave Hundreds Dead

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© N/A
At least 200 people have been killed and many more injured in a series of explosions in the capital of Congo-Brazzaville, according to a senior presidency official.

"According to sources at the central hospital we're talking of around 200 dead and many injured," said Betu Bangana, the head of protocol in the president's office in Brazzaville.

The blasts took place on Sunday after a fire started in an arms depot at a military base.

Panic spread from Brazzaville across the Congo river to Kinshasa, where windows were shattered by the force of the blasts. The river separates the former French colony of Congo-Brazzaville from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Stormtrooper

Police break up anti-Putin protest in Moscow


Riot police on Monday quickly and forcefully broke up an opposition attempt to occupy a downtown square in a bid to challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's victory in Russia's presidential election, arresting dozens of participants, including some prominent opposition leaders.

The harsh police action could fuel the opposition anger and trigger bigger protests against Putin's rule, but it also underlined the massive challenges faced by the opposition.

Putin seems to command the unswerving loyalty of police and the military, whose wages have recently been doubled. The urban middle-class forming the core of the protests could be more reluctant to attend future protests after seeing the tough police response.

The police action followed a rally in downtown Moscow that drew about 20,000 protesters angry over a campaign slanted in Putin's favor and reports of widespread violations in Sunday's ballot.

The big rally went on peacefully, but hundreds of police in full riot gear violently dispersed several hundred protesters who had vowed to stay on the iconic Pushkin Square in downtown Moscow until Putin steps down. Police moved quickly to stamp out the protests, apparently fearing they could act as a catalyst for bigger demonstrations.

Comment: The 'fraud claims' come from one source: "the GOLOS Association, a US Government-funded NGO "established in 2000 to facilitate Western influence over the electoral proceedings in Russia."

The NED, National Endowment for Democracy (really a CIA front), lists GOLOS as one its grantees here.

Leaked GOLOS emails in December 2011 exposed US interference in Russian elections:


See here also: Emails expose watchdog's dollar deals


Fish

Man's Home 'Invaded' by Government Search of Fish Tanks

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© CBC News
Mike Baynes said he felt the inspection team invaded his privacy, when they came looking for a marijuana grow-op.
Canada, British Columbia - A B.C. man who raises tropical fish said his home and privacy were invaded when local enforcement agencies knocked on his door while looking for a marijuana grow operation, and then forced him to pay for an electrical inspection and upgrade his fish-tank operation.

"I felt violated," said Mike Baynes, 67, from Surrey, B.C. "When they came in here and saw no grow-op, I think they should have said 'I'm sorry Mike,' and then turned around and walked out."

Baynes is one of 128 Surrey residents who don't have grow operations, but were nevertheless subjected to searches and electrical repair orders in recent months because they use a lot of hydro.

"I think that is an invasion of privacy," he said. "I don't think that the City of Surrey has anything to do with my hydro consumption."

Seven B.C. municipalities, including Surrey, are registered with BC Hydro to get monthly lists of all customers who use more than three times the daily average amount of power.

Teams of electrical and fire inspectors then go out to the homes they suspect could be marijuana grow operations to conduct searches, with the RCMP standing by outside.

Info

Whites Outlive Blacks in the US, Study Suggests

Women
© Kelly Young, Shutterstock
In the US, whites live longer than African Americas, but not all states are equal. Where does yours rank?

In the United States, white males live about seven years longer on average than black men, and white women live more than five years longer than their black counterparts, new research suggests. The results indicate that the United States still needs to improve the health of African-Americans, the researchers add.

The researchers collected data on mortality from disease-related deaths, accidents and intentional deaths like murder and suicide. They studied death certificate data from 1997 through 2004, covering more than 17 million people from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The researchers noted race/ethnicity, sex, the age at death and the state where each subject was born, lived and died.

National life expectancy, also referred to as average life span, was almost 75 years for white men and about 67.5 years for black men. Women fared a little better with white women having an average life span of nearly 80 years and black women about 74.5 years. This narrower gap for females held true in every state.

They analyzed the U.S. state-by-state and discovered that New Mexico had the smallest disparities between blacks and whites (a gap of 3.76 years for men and 2.45 years for women), while the District of Columbia had the largest (13.77 years for men and 8.55 years for women).

Light Saber

'We won!' Teary-eyed Putin wins presidential election by landslide


Vladimir Putin, set to win a third presidential term, declared his victory and thanked his voters for their support. Polling at almost 64 percent with almost all of the votes counted, victory seems assured.

"We have won in an open and fair struggle," Putin said, addressing 110,000 people gathered on Manezhnaya Square outside the Kremlin walls.

He stressed that this victory signals a defeat for those who want to destroy Russia.

Handcuffs

Hundreds Demonstrate for Women's Rights at State Capitol, 31 Arrested

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© YouTube
US, Virginia - Thirty-one women's rights demonstrators were arrested Saturday in a state Capitol protest that drew hundreds of people and a police response including officers in riot gear.

The rally was the latest held in opposition to contentious General Assembly bills that have drawn attention far beyond the state, including a measure that would require women to undergo a transabdominal ultrasound before having an abortion.

Some protesters, wearing red armbands and holding signs that included "Gov. McDonnell get out of my vagina," urged the governor to reject the legislation, which is headed to his desk.

Capt. Raymond J. Goodloe of the Division of Capitol Police said 17 women and 14 men were arrested, though representatives of groups involved with the event said they believed more were taken into custody. Goodloe did not have a breakdown on charges, but said those arrested were likely accused of either trespassing or unlawful assembly, both misdemeanors.

The arrests took place after some protesters, who had marched along nearby streets before entering Capitol Square, refused to leave the south steps of the Capitol. They were, in some cases, carried away by police and taken to a bus parked nearby while other officers held protesters at bay with shields.

Stormtrooper

Riot Gear Police Arrest 31 Silent Protesters in Virginia

US - Capitol hill police in Richmond, Virginia arrested 31 protesters Saturday afternoon during their silent demonstration against the state's controversial ultrasound bill passing the General Assembly.

Police were outfitted in riot gear to monitor the nearly 500 protesters and took those who would not leave the capital steps into custody.

WATCH: Video from Youtube, which was published on March 3, 2012.


Info

Poland Train Crash Leaves Dozens Dead or Injured


Two trains running on the same track have collided head-on in southern Poland, killing 16 people and injuring 58 in the country's worst train disaster in more than 20 years.

The collision just north of Krakow late on Saturday came after one of the trains ended up on the wrong track. Neighbours in the town of Szczekociny were alerted by what they said sounded like a bomb and rushed to the scene as survivors emerged.

Rescuers worked through the night to recover bodies and help the wounded. Maintenance work was being done on the tracks before the accident, but officials said it was too early to determine the cause of the disaster.

A woman living in a house about 200m from the site of the accident said she was standing at her window when the two trains collided, creating a "terrible, terrible noise like a bomb going off".

"So I ran out of the house, and on one side I saw train lights and one the other side I saw train lights, and in the middle sparks," Anna Sap said. "People from the train starting crying, 'Help, help!' So we and the neighbors ran to them. Some of them smashed windows to let them out."

People

Same-Sex Custody Battle Could Change Florida Law

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© unknown
Janet Jenkins, shown on the left, holds a missing person's flier showing her daughter and Lisa Miller is shown in a file photo on the right.
US, Tallahassee - Custody battle in Florida between two lesbians could fuel the growing national debate over the definition of motherhood.

It also might force state lawmakers to reconsider a 19-year-old law regarding the rights of sperm and egg donors.

The women, now in their 30s and known in court papers only by their initials, were both law enforcement officers in Florida. One partner donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other. That woman gave birth in 2004, nine years into their relationship.

But the Brevard County couple separated two years later, and the birth mother eventually left Florida with the child without telling her former lover. The woman who donated the egg and calls herself the biological mother finally tracked them down in Australia with the help of a private detective.

Their fight over the now 8-year-old girl is before the state Supreme Court, which has not announced whether it will consider the case. A trial judge ruled for the birth mother and said the biological mother has no parental rights under state law, adding he hoped his decision would be overturned.

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach obliged, siding with the biological mother and saying both women have parental rights.

At issue is the 1993 state law meant to regulate sperm and egg donation. Scholars debate whether the constitutional right to procreate includes outside-the-body technologies used to conceive.

Heart

Saint's Ancient Heart Stolen from Dublin Cathedral

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© The Associated Press/Shawn Pogatchnik
The iron cage that housed the heart of St. Laurence O'Toole sits broken and empty Sunday, March 4, 2012, inside Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. A modern portrait of Jesus Christ is in the background.
Somewhere in Ireland, a burglar has the heart of a saint.

Officials at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin said Sunday they're distraught and perplexed over the theft of the church's most precious relic: the preserved heart of St. Laurence O'Toole, patron saint of Dublin.

O'Toole's heart had been displayed in the cathedral since the 13th century. It was stored in a heart-shaped wooden box and secured in a small, square iron cage on the wall of a chapel dedicated to his memory. On Saturday someone cut through two bars, pried the cage loose, and made off with the relic.

"I am devastated that one of the treasured artifacts of the cathedral is stolen," said the Most Rev. Dermot Dunne, the cathedral's dean. "It has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links our present foundation with its founding father."

Ireland's national police force, the Garda Siochana, said detectives were studying hours of closed-circuit TV footage to try to identify the approximately 40 people who walked out the cathedral's front doors Saturday morning.