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Igloo

US: D.C Considers Ticketing for Uncleared Sidewalks

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© Examiner File Photo
District property owners could soon be ticketed for not shoveling snow off the sidewalks around their land.

The D.C. Council is considering a bill that would empower the city to write tickets of at least $25 for residential property owners and at least $250 for businesses if they don't clear their sidewalks. They'd have eight hours from the time the snow stops to get the job done.

"Pedestrian safety should be a priority no matter what season it is," said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who introduced the bill. "Every year, though, the District wakes up during winter and rediscovers that the current scheme for enforcing sidewalk clearing is impractical and does not work."

The city currently requires property owners to shovel within the eight-hour time frame. But if a property owner doesn't act, the city can clear the sidewalk and then sue the property owner for the cost. That's too costly and time consuming to be effective, officials said.

Syringe

Mexico: Drug-Related Killings Hit Record High

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© unk
Thousands of bodies have been uncovered in Mexico's ongoing drug wars
More than 34,000 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico since 2006 - nearly half of those in the last year alone, government officials have said.

Police in Mexico have found 18 bodies in a mass grave near Acapulco following a surge in drug violence.

The deaths have occurred in the four years since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organised crime and cartels.

A total of 34,612 have died, with the number of deaths jumping sharply from 9,616 in 2009 to 15,273 in 2010.

Beaker

US: New Jersey Town To Vote On Middle School Drug Tests

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© (Photo/CBS 2)
Belvidere Elementary School
A proposal to conduct random drug tests of young students in one New Jersey town is raising some eyebrows.

Students at Belvidere Elementary School could be adding drug testing to their list of lessons when they move into middle school.

The Board of Education will vote Wednesday on a plan to randomly test sixth, seventh and eighth graders to see if they are under the influence of drugs. School administrators said they were confident the proposal would pass.

Elementary School Principal Sandra Szabocsik said school officials want to use the testing "as a deterrent."

"We're hoping that the students if they're at say a party or someone's house or just hanging out somewhere, that they'll say 'I don't want to get involved in drinking or using any drug because tomorrow could be a drug testing day,'" she told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.

The program is voluntary and both parents and students must consent. School officials said it was important to note that if a student tested positive, they would not be suspended or have the results sent to the police.

Bomb

'Our Savings Have Vanished - We've Lost Everything'

Dhaka crowd
© Reuters
Chanting investors accuse brokers of dishonesty at Dhaka's stock exchange
Angry investors take to streets as Dhaka's stock exchange crashes.

Police in Bangladesh used tear gas and water canons to disperse angry protests by crowds of small investors after a dramatic free-fall plunge on the country's stock market caused the authorities to suspend trading.

Hundreds of outraged investors took to the streets outside the stock exchange in the Motijheel neighbourhood of the nation's capital after the worst plunge in the country's history saw the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) fall by 660 points, or 9.25 per cent, in less than an hour.

Chanting slogans that accused brokers and traders of manipulating stock prices and of the government of failing to properly regulate the situation, the small-scale investors smashed up cars, burned tyres and ran loose until police stepped in to break them up. There were other protests in smaller cities and towns. Four journalists were reportedly beaten by police.

Last night, with trading due to restart later today in both Dhaka and the country's second city, Chittagong, Bangladesh's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, met with senior financial officials including the governor of the central bank, and ordered them to take steps to try and ease the crisis. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), after an emergency meeting with the central bank, said trading - which was halted yesterday after just an hour - could resume.

But the crisis that began on Sunday, when the DSE's bench mark Dhaka Stock Exchange general index (DGEN) fell by almost 8 per cent, has long been smouldering. Last month there were similar demonstrations to those yesterday when the market fell by around 7 per cent, triggering panic among investors. Since early December, the index - which had climbed by more than 80 per cent in 2010 - has fallen by 27 per cent.

Binoculars

BP Agent's Home Had Secret Room: Feds

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The agent is accused of harboring his undocumented father

Investigators who searched the Imperial Beach home of a U.S. Border Patrol agent said they found an undocumented man in a hidden room along with evidence of drug dealing.

According to the FBI, Marcos Gerardo Manzano Jr., 26, was arrested Monday at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station and stands accused of harboring illegal immigrants, including his father.

Around 6 a.m.Tuesday, a SWAT team raided Manzano's house in the 3600 block of Shooting Star Drive in San Ysidro and arrested suspected undocumented immigrant Jose Alfredo Garrido-Morena, also 26.

"It looked like a movie. It was a big scene," said neighbor Daniel Lazo. "Seems impossible. They were everywhere."

"They went inside every house," Lazo said. "We couldn't get out. It was crazy."

Ambulance

Bodies Doubled Up At Cook County Morgue

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© CBS
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Chicago - WBBM Newsradio 780 has learned that the cooler at the Cook County morgue is so crowded right now, bodies are doubled-up on some of the trays.

Why are there so many bodies?

"We had this huge upswing in deaths right at the end of the year, and with the holidays being on Saturdays, it really created a backlog because the funeral directors weren't coming in," Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones tells WBBM Newsradio 780′s Steve Miller.

Jones adds that more bodies could not go out because coffins were on back order.

But Jones says the coffins are now in, and a mass county burial is scheduled for next week.

"The cooler really isn't in bad shape right now," Jones said. "We do have a fair number of bodies, but it has had more bodies in it at other times."

Bad Guys

Exclusive Interview: Julian Assange on Murdoch, Manning and the threat from China

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© Getty Images
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
The WikiLeaks founder talks to John Pilger.

In this week's New Statesman, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange talks to John Pilger about Bradley Manning, his "insurance" files on Rupert Murdoch and Newscorp - and which country is the real enemy of WikiLeaks.

The "technological enemy" of WikiLeaks is not the US - but China, according to Assange.

"China is the worst offender," when it comes to censorship, says the controversial whistleblower. "China has aggressive and sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China. We've been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site."

On Bradley Manning - the US soldier accused of leaking the diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks - Assange says: "I'd never heard his name before it was published in the press." He argues that the US is trying to use Manning - currently stuck in solitary confinement in the US - to build a case against the WikiLeaks founder:

Bizarro Earth

Haiti Earthquake One Year On: The Squalid Tent Cities Where Rape Gangs and Disease Run Rife


  • Haiti remembers its dead with two day memorial
  • 1.2m still trapped in squalid tent cities
  • Charities struggle with cholera epidemic
  • Bill Clinton jets in to join commemorations


From the air they form a neat patchwork of grey and blue, nestling between rundown factories and crumbling slums.

But on the ground these sprawling tent cities are a fetid mass of humanity where cholera and crime run rife.

A year since a cataclysmic earthquake levelled much of Haiti, little has changed for the 1.2million residents still scraping an existence in these squalid refugee camps.

Survivors have been further blighted by an outbreak of the deadly water-borne disease cholera. The illness has struck 155,000 since October, killing 3,651.

Haiti
© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Ground zero: One year after a massive earthquake destroyed Haiti more than a million people are still living in tent camps such as this one

Haiti
© GeoEye
Disfigured: A satellite image shows the clusters of blue and white across the city which are the temporary refugee camps

Newspaper

US: Sacramento Atheist Files Another Challenge to 'In God We Trust'

Michael Newdow
© Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press
Michael Newdow now has multiple First Amendment arguments pending before the Supreme Court. Separately, he is also challenging the phrase "So help me God" in the presidential oath. Newdow said Wednesday a third petition, challenging the Pledge of Allegiance, will soon arrive at the court.
Sacramento area attorney and dedicated atheist Michael Newdow is making another run at "In God We Trust," with a new Supreme Court petition challenging the national motto.

In an uphill battle, Newdow is asking the nine justices to review an appellate court's rejection of his claim that the invocation of God on official currency violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

"Devout atheists are forced to choose between not using what is often the only available legal tender and committing what they consider blasphemy," Newdow argued in his petition placed on the court's docket Tuesday.

With his latest legal petition, Newdow now has multiple First Amendment arguments pending before the Supreme Court. Separately, he is also challenging the phrase "So help me God" in the presidential oath. Newdow said Wednesday a third petition, challenging the Pledge of Allegiance, will soon arrive at the court.

Formal responses in the cases aren't due until at least mid-February, and it could take several months before Supreme Court justices consider the petitions in a closed-door conference. Nonetheless, Newdow concedes the odds are stacked against him.

Black Cat

Gabrielle Giffords Shooting: Jared Loughner May Have Been Influenced by Occult

Loughner altar
© Splash
A macabre 'altar' in the backyard of Tucson shooter Jared Loughner
FBI investigators delving into the warped mind of Tucson massacre suspect Jared Loughner are exploring whether he was influenced by the occult and a Right-wing conspiracy theorist.

In messages left on the internet before the shooting Loughner, 22, revealed himself to be a social outcast with paranoid, nihilistic beliefs and a fixation with grammar.

At a public meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords three years ago he asked: "What is government if it doesn't exist?"

It left the politician baffled.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a US civil rights group, Loughner's language and beliefs appeared to resemble those of David Wynn Miller, a Milwaukee-based activist who believes that the US government uses grammar to control people's minds.

Miller, 62, a retired welder, has described himself as a plenipotentiary judge, ambassador, banker, genius and King of Hawaii, and invented his own form of grammar called "truth language", that is said to set people free of the government.

He said he was appalled by the shootings, but agreed with Loughner's pre-shooting internet statement that "the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar". Miller told the Milwaukee Journal that Loughner could have visited his website but he didn't know him and he was "obviously disturbed".