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Hardhat

Berlin bank robbers dug 30-metre tunnel into safe

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© Photograph: Tobias Koch/AP
Police say the 'very professional' tunnel dug by the robbers must have taken weeks or even months to complete.
Thieves set fire to the passage which led from an underground garage into the safe as they escaped with their haul.

Robbers dug a 30-metre (100-foot) tunnel into the safe deposit room of a Berlin bank and escaped with their haul, setting a fire as they left to cover their tracks, according to German police.

Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said the tunnel led from an underground garage into the bank's safe deposit room.

Neuendorf told The Associated Press Monday that the tunnel was "very professional" and must have taken weeks or even months to complete. It was elaborately constructed and even had ceiling supports.

Handcuffs

Former Credit Suisse trader can be extradited to US, court rules

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© Photograph: Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images
Former Credit Suisse trader Kareem Serageldin is accused of artificially inflating the prices of mortgage-backed bonds.
The extradition of a former Credit Suisse trader to the United States to face fraud charges has been approved by Westminster magistrates court.

The case of Kareem Serageldin will be sent to the home secretary, Theresa May, who under British law has the final decision over his fate. She is expected to authorise the extradition.

Airplane

Chicago-area Transportation Authority: United running 'sham' business

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© Photo: Nam Y. Huh
A transportation agency has filed a lawsuit alleging that United Airlines is falsely claiming to buy jet fuel out of an office in rural Illinois to avoid paying tens of millions of taxes in Chicago, where it says the purchases are actually being made.

The Regional Transportation Authority confirmed it filed the lawsuit Monday, as expected.

Dollars

More money for groceries: Food prices will be affected by drought, farm bill

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Metro-east consumers will see higher food prices in 2013, while likely facing a harder time finding organic and locally grown food -- all thanks to the drought gripping the Midwest and the nine-month extension to the federal farm bill passed Jan. 1 as part of the "fiscal cliff" deal between the White House and the U.S. Congress.

As a result of the extension, farmers and agri-businesses lost out on the five-year window of certainty regarding crop insurance and subsidies they were seeking. Instead, they will face the threat of more partisan haggling in Congress leading up to the extension's Sept. 1 deadline.

Steve Koeller, who grows corn and soybeans near Godfrey, said he doesn't know what to expect as the extension deadline approaches.

"It's gotten to the point now where it doesn't seem like anyone wants to give an inch," said Koeller, the president of the Madison County Farm Bureau. "It's just so political and media-driven."

The federally subsidized crop insurance program remains intact for now, but anxieties about its future are building.

Last year, metro-east farmers, like farmers across the Midwest and Southwest, suffered through the worst drought in 50 years. About 80 percent of all agricultural land in the United States experienced drought in 2012, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report issued last month.

Handcuffs

Atlanta police officer shot in face, suspect held

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Frank Emmitt Nance, 20, is charged with shooting a police officer during a foot chase in southwest Atlanta.
A 20-year-old with a long history of arrests was charged with shooting a recent Atlanta police recruit in the face during a foot chase Friday night.

Frank Emmitt Nance was booked into the Fulton County Jail overnight and charged with nine criminal counts, including aggravated assault against a police officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of cocaine.

Nance, of Atlanta, is charged with shooting Officer Reggie Robinson in the face around 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard and Lee Street.

Eye 1

Cops find suspects partying and playing video games after murders

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Adam M. Landerman (clockwise, from top left), Alisa R. Massaro, Joshua F. Miner and Bethany L. McKee
Exactly what enticed Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins into the home on Hickory Street where they would be gruesomely killed, authorities still aren't saying.

What is certain, according to police, is that the two close friends were lured there and they didn't make it out alive. Police say they were strangled and their alleged killers tried to dismember them before going back to partying and playing video games.

"This is one of the most brutal, heinous and upsetting things I've ever seen in my 27 years of law enforcement," Joliet Police Chief Mike Trafton said Friday in describing what police found at 1121 N. Hickory St. "Not only the crime scene, but the disregard for common decency toward human beings."

Four young adults have been charged with the murders - among them the 19-year-old son of a Joliet police sergeant.

Bad Guys

Imani Green murder: How violence plagues Jamaica

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Imani Green, pictured aged four.
Poverty, gang violence, guns and the mistrust of police remain serious problems on the Caribbean island.

Owen Ellington, the commissioner of the Jamaica constabulary, has worked to increase public confidence in his officers and promised to crack down on crime and corruption, but still the island is plagued by violence.

While major crime is decreasing, and the murder rate fell almost 5% to 1,087 deaths last year - well down from its 2009 peak of 1,683 - poverty, gang violence and the ubiquity of guns remain serious problems, as does mistrust of the police.

While the number of people killed by police officers also fell last year, the first 12 days of 2013 have seen 18 Jamaicans die at the hands of officers.

Yoda

The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz

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© Photograph: Michael Francis Mcelroy/AP
The internet activist Aaron Swartz, seen here in January 2009, has died at the age of 26.
Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer and internet freedom activist, committed suicide on Friday in New York at the age of 26. As the incredibly moving remembrances from his friends such as Cory Doctorow and Larry Lessig attest, he was unquestionably brilliant but also - like most everyone - a complex human being plagued by demons and flaws. For many reasons, I don't believe in whitewashing someone's life or beatifying them upon death. But, to me, much of Swartz's tragically short life was filled with acts that are genuinely and, in the most literal and noble sense, heroic. I think that's really worth thinking about today.

At the age of 14, Swartz played a key role in developing the RSS software that is still widely used to enable people to manage what they read on the internet. As a teenager, he also played a vital role in the creation of Reddit, the wildly popular social networking news site. When Conde Nast purchased Reddit, Swartz received a substantial sum of money at a very young age. He became something of a legend in the internet and programming world before he was 18. His path to internet mogul status and the great riches it entails was clear, easy and virtually guaranteed: a path which so many other young internet entrepreneurs have found irresistible, monomaniacally devoting themselves to making more and more money long after they have more than they could ever hope to spend.

But rather obviously, Swartz had little interest in devoting his life to his own material enrichment, despite how easy it would have been for him. As Lessig wrote: "Aaron had literally done nothing in his life 'to make money' . . . Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good."

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Light Saber

White House rejects Death Star petition

Death Star
© Wookieepedia
The White House has pledged its allegiance to the Force.

The U.S. government has issued an official response to a petition requesting construction of a Death Star, like the planet-destroying space battle station featured in the film Star Wars.

The petition requested the government begin construction on a Death Star by 2016 to create jobs, explore space and bolster national defence. A serious argument for a science-fiction proposal but that hasn't stopped the White House from having a laugh.

The response posted on We the People, a website designed to foster engagement with the government through petitions, shoots down all hope for a Star Wars reality from the very beginning.

"This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For," reads the title, cheekily echoing a moment from the first film: "These aren't the droids we're looking for."

Bizarro Earth

Explosion levels house in Texas

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© KXAS/NBC 5
The leveled structure in Lewisville, Texas
Lewisville, Texas - An explosion Friday in a North Texas neighborhood leveled a home that is part of a nonprofit group's affordable housing program, injuring three men and scattering debris.

Authorities were still trying to determine what caused the blast inside the home in Lewisville, about 20 miles northwest of Dallas. Two firefighters who were standing on the street near the home and another man who was inside were injured.

Lewisville Assistant Fire Chief Brian Freed said crews will search the debris, but officials believe they've accounted for everyone who might have been in the duplex. The injured man is believed to live alone, based on what neighbors told firefighters, Freed said.

Firefighters had waited to search the debris until a natural gas line near the home was shut down.

The injured men were taken to Medical Center of Lewisville. Freed said the man who lived in the home was in intensive care after surgery. One of the firefighters was hospitalized with chest pains but was expected to recover. The other firefighter had been treated and released. None of the men were immediately identified.

The home is owned by Christian Community Action, which rents it out to families who are struggling financially, said Ron Batts, president and CEO of the nonprofit group.

Freed said firefighters had first gone to the home around 10 a.m. Friday after a gas leak was reported. Natural gas provider Atmos Energy worked on the leak for about 2 1/2 hours when the home, which was next to the line being worked on, exploded.