Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6243 on: Feb 25th, 2012, 08:21am »
Shuttered California state parks may be vulnerable to vandalism
Damage to the visitors center and other structures at Mitchell Caverns in the Mojave Desert has officials working to improve plans to protect as many as 70 other California parks scheduled to close in July because of budget cuts.
By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times February 25, 2012
Reporting from Providence Mountains State Recreation Area, Calif. -- California parks officials closed a gem of the state park system last spring, sadly shuttering Mitchell Caverns, a natural wonder that for eight decades had drawn visitors to this remote spot in the Mojave Desert.
Workers hauled away the precious Native American artifacts and historical documents and locked the gates, assuming the area would sit undisturbed until the state could afford to reopen it.
But several times in the last four months, vandals traveled 16 desolate miles north from Interstate 40 to plunder and damage the park's isolated structures. Their actions left advocates for the caverns angry at the state and have officials working to improve plans to protect as many as 70 other California parks scheduled to close in July because of budget cuts.
The worst damage was to the 78-year-old rock-and-mortar visitors center at Mitchell Caverns, the main attraction of the 5,900-acre Providence Mountains State Recreation Area.
Intruders cut fences, kicked doors off of hinges and shattered windows and display cases. They stole metal signs and survival gear, including hand-held radios, flashlights and binoculars. They also stole diesel-powered generators and ripped out thousands of feet of electrical wire used to illuminate the only natural limestone caverns in the state park system, San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators said.
"What happened at the visitors center is devastating and heartbreaking," said Kathy Weatherman, superintendent of the California Parks and Recreation Department's Tehachapi District. She said the caverns themselves were not damaged. The state is taking steps to try to prevent more destruction, including searching for a full-time caretaker, Weatherman said.
The attacks have heightened concerns about possible vandalism at other state parks scheduled for closure. Those 70 parks are among the least used in the state. They represent one-quarter of the 278 that exist across California but tally just 8% of total visits. Many are in remote areas where they are particularly vulnerable.
Officials are seeking anyone with the clout and funds to keep them from being left unguarded after they are closed. "Now, amid budget constraints, we're looking for ways to get caretakers, guardians, local law enforcement and volunteers to protect these precious places," said Roy Stearns, a spokesman for the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
As with so many cuts in California government spending these days, the hope is that once the budget improves, the state will restore services and amenities that have long made the state a rich place to live. But there are no guarantees, especially because just 13 of the state parks and beaches are financially self-sustaining. Fans of many of the parks scheduled for closure are scrambling to try to find some combination of private funds and volunteerism to keep the gates open, fearing that if they ever close it could be for good.
The Mitchell Caverns visitors center, 220 miles east of Los Angeles, had been the home of the caverns' original owners, Los Angeles businessman Jack Mitchell and his wife, Ida. The couple moved to the desert to open the caverns as a tourist attraction in the 1930s and sold them to the state in 1954. A memorial plaque says the Mitchells wanted the state to preserve the area and the caverns "for future generations to appreciate."
Sue Ellen Patrick, 71, granddaughter of Jack and Ida Mitchell, said of the destruction: "My family feels betrayed because the state didn't do what it promised us, which is protect the caves and the heritage."
State Parks and Recreation Department officials decided to mothball the area last May because of two unrelated events. The park's two rangers retired and the state found serious problems with the water system, said Linda Slater, resource interpreter at the nearby Mojave National Preserve. The state couldn't afford the repairs needed to keep the park open.
After valuables were removed, the property was left unguarded, parks officials said.
"The state locked up the place and then walked away, leaving it wide open to troublemakers," said Dennis Casebier, executive director of the nonprofit Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Assn.
Said cattle rancher Rob Blair, 54, who lives within view of Mitchell Caverns: "It's disgusting what's going on out there. These intruders were pretty bold to cut the locks off a state park gate, then tear everything up and steal big-ticket items."
Park officials estimate the damage at $100,000.
Responding to a trespassing call on Feb. 5, sheriff's deputies arrested Christopher Alvarado, 48, of Azusa and Trisha Sutton, 36, of Covina. Deputies said they found stolen items at the couple's campsite near Mitchell Caverns. Alvarado and Sutton were booked on suspicion of burglary, receiving stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and possession of burglary tools, Sheriff's Lt. Ross Tarangle said.
The investigation continues, with police trying to determine whether other people were involved.
Although police reports indicate that a person interviewed at the site said vandals found a key to the cavern gates and destroyed natural features inside, Tarangle said those reports have yet to be confirmed, and parks officials insist they have no evidence the caverns were damaged.
From a distance, the entrance to the caverns resembles two large eyes on a massive rock. Their earliest inhabitants included a Pleistocene ground sloth that stumbled into the darkness 15,000 years ago and left claw marks on a wall. Later, the caverns were blackened with smoke from the fires of Chemehuevi Indians who used them for shelter, storage and ceremonial purposes for at least 500 years.
This week, Kevin Forrester, sector superintendent for the parks department, recalled memories of better times as he walked along a path to the visitors center.
"Look at it now," Forrester said with a sigh. "We've had to board up the windows and weld the doors shut.
"It's going to take a lot of money to bring this place back to life."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6244 on: Feb 25th, 2012, 08:29am »
Wisconsin Man Arrested For Making Own Cheeseburger, Fries At Denny's First Posted: 02/23/2012 4:12 pm Updated: 02/23/2012 6:42 pm By Andy Campbell
In what could be the most colorfully-written police report of all time, a Wisconsin officer detailed a man who allegedly tried to dupe Denny's employees into thinking he was their new general manager -- and then cooked his own cheeseburger and fries.
James Summers, 52, waltzed into a Madison Denny's on Tuesday wearing a coat and tie and claiming to be a 30-year corporate veteran of the restaurant chain, according to a Madison Police Department press release.
Summers' alleged plot was more devious than just defrauding managers -- he wanted a free cheeseburger, and he wanted to make it himself.
The epic play-by-play incident report was written by journalist-gone-civilian-officer Joel DeSpain, who gave an interview to The Huffington Post.
"[Summers] never announced he was one of the pros from Dover, but the briefcase toting gentleman wearing a maroon tie and long black trench coat was quite clear: he had been sent by corporate," DeSpain wrote in the report. "Surprised, and a bit shocked, the 38-year-old [manager] thought, surely, this must be a mistake. ... Perhaps, she indicated to him, you have arrived at the wrong restaurant."
But nay, DeSpain relayed, Summers said he was not at the wrong restaurant. The report gets even better:
This conversation developed into a tete-a-tete or a "nose to nose," to quote the manager, as the man asserted his new role as she told him she thought not. This went on until he said it was final, he was going to commence his duties. It was at this point, the manager began making calls up-the-chain. ... While on the phone, she waved off kitchen staff as they rapped on her door, trying to get her attention. She was not to be interrupted while talking with corporate. What cook staff wanted her to know was that the new "GM" was in the process of cooking himself up a cheeseburger and fries, and that he had gotten himself a soda. After a bit of confusion, Madison cops stepped in and allegedly found an unregistered stun gun on Summers' belt, as well as what appeared to be a few crack pipes, NBC News reported.
As cops walked the man out, DeSpain wrote that Summers yelled out to Denny's customers, "This is why you don't dine and dash, kiddies."
Summers was arrested and charged with fraud, possession of an electric weapon, disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia.
DeSpain, a public information officer for the department -- and former CBS affiliate employee -- writes up many of the most important police reports each day. Sometimes, he said, he can't help but stray from the often tame and boring narrative style of police reports.
"This one kind of wrote itself," he told The Huffington Post. "Most days I'm knee-deep in stuff that's not so humorous. But occasionally we'll get one like this.
"What's funny is that this guy could have gone into any restaurant in town, but he wanted a Denny's cheeseburger. ... He was no stranger to the kitchen," DeSpain added.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6245 on: Feb 25th, 2012, 08:44am »
Romney, Obama super-PAC backers spent big on lobbying By Alexander Bolton 02/25/12 07:24 AM ET
Donors who have funded the super-PACs supporting Mitt Romney and President Obama spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2011 on lobbying activity to influence federal action.
The lobbying activity shows that for some of the biggest donors of this election cycle business interests could be as much at stake as ideological preference.
The overlap between huge campaign donations and lobbying interests could prompt lawmakers and courts to reassess whether super-PACs have a corrupting influence on government — or create that appearance.
Paul Singer, the founder of Elliott Management Corporation, gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC backing Romney in October of last year.
In 2011, Elliott Management Corp. also spent $350,000 lobbying Congress on the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act, according to lobbying records filed with the Senate.
John Rogers, CEO of Ariel Capital, gave $50,000 to Priorities USA, a super-PAC allied with Obama. Ariel Capital spent $80,000 last year lobbying Congress, the Department of Labor and the Office of Personnel Management on regulatory and legislative reform related to retirement security.
The Service Employees International Union, which has its own lobbyists and paid $15,000 in the first half of 2011 to M & R Strategic Services to lobby on behalf of food service workers, gave $1 million to the pro-Obama PAC.
The emergence of super-PACs, which are expected to play as larger or a larger role than regular campaign committees in this election, could alter future strategies for persuading policymakers.
The donations to super-PACs are reported on a quarterly or monthly basis and tracked by the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan organization devoted to greater government transparency.
Given the influence these groups will have on the election or defeat of federal candidates, they could bolster the arguments that lobbyists make in congressional and executive branch offices.
“It’s really important to connect the dots. While it is generally fair to describe most of these super-PAC donors as ideologically driven, the other reality is that as businessmen they have lots of interests before the federal government as the lobbying expenditures reveal,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group that tracks developments in campaign finance law.
The donors whose companies spent the most on lobbying activity last year have given to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney PAC.
Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies Corp., gave $1 million to Restore Our Future. His firm spent $740,000 in 2011 lobbying Congress on tax issues affecting hedge fund. It hired Capitol Legislative Strategies and DLA Piper.
One policy change Congress is considering would raise the tax rate on the profits hedge funds earn from managing clients money. It is now taxed at the 15-percent capital gains rate but some lawmakers want to tax it at the same rate as regular income.
J.W. Marriot Jr., the chairman and CEO of Marriott International, Inc., gave $750,000 to Restore Our Future. His company spent $820,000 on lobbying activity. It pressed lawmakers on tax policy for hotel bookings made over the Internet.
Donors to super-PACs backing Romney’s rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, also lobbied Congress but spend much less.
Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, has spent millions of dollars to keep Gingrich in the GOP presidential primary. His company hired Husch Blackwell LLP and Patton Boggs LLP for $90,000 to lobby on gaming issues last year.
William Duhamel, a managing member of Farallon Capital Management gave $10,000 to a super-PAC supporting Santorum. Farallon spent $60,000 on lobbying fees in the second half of 2011 lobbying the transportation department.
Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen, a good-government advocacy group, said companies have long powered their lobbying strategy with campaign contributions. He said the difference this election cycle is that companies can influence elections more directly because of the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
In past elections, wealthy donors such as George Soros could give millions of dollars to third-party groups to influence elections but there was greater restriction on advocating for a specific candidate by those groups.
Outside groups generally supported candidates by campaigning on issues. In this election cycle, super-PACs have put less focus on the issues and more on getting favored candidates elected.
They have allowed registered lobbyists to help Obama despite the prohibition he placed on them giving to his reelection fund.
Two prominent lobbyists, Steve Elmendorf, president of Elmendorf Ryan, and David Castagnetti, a partner at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, gave $5,000 each to Priorities USA, the pro-Obama PAC.
“Citizens United has elevated lobbying entities to kingmaker status,” said Holman, who said super-PACs have become secondary candidate campaign committees.
“What a beautiful way for very wealthy special interests to throw money at the feet of lawmakers and expect special favors in return,” he said. “They’re not giving to improve democracy. They want something in return and the White House is the big trophy.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6246 on: Feb 25th, 2012, 09:01am »
BOX OFFICE: Friday’s ‘Act Of Valor’ Braving #1, ‘Good Deeds’ Middling #2, ‘Wanderlust’ And ‘Gone’ Bombing #8 And #9 By NIKKI FINKE Friday February 24, 2012 @ 10:23pm PST Tags: Act of Valor, Hollywood box office, Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, Wanderlust
FRIDAY 10 PM: It’s another up weekend for the 8th straight week post New Year’s, +4% over last year. My sources say Relativity’s R-rated Act Of Valor is No. 1 based on the Bandito Brothers’ U.S. Navy fighting force tale (and using actual SEALs). Relativity acquired the rights to the project last June for $13 million and a $30 million in prints and advertising commitment - the biggest money paid for a finished film with an unknown cast at that time. Audiences gave it an ‘A’ CinemaScore, which Lionsgate’s romantic drama Good Deeds also received.
The result is middling for Tyler Perry not crossdressing as Madea. Universal’s alleged comedy Wanderlust is bombing worse than expected while audiences gave it a ‘B-’ CinemaScore. The combination of Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd proved toxic to moviegoers. (FYI: this greenlight was the studio’s payback to director David Wain and producer Judd Apatow.) Also tanking is Summit’s thriller Gone starring Amanda Seyfried which earned only a ‘C+’ CinemaScore. I’m certain the Top 10 order will change by morning: remember that kids on the East Coast are out of school this weekend so family holdover Warner Bros’ Journey 2 may be stronger.
Here’s the Top Ten (order determined by Friday grosses):
1. Act Of Valor (Relativity) NEW [3,039 Theaters] Friday $9.4, Est Weekend $27M
2. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds (Lionsgate) NEW [2,132 Theaters] Friday $6.3M, Est Weekend: $17.5M
3. The Vow (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 3 [3,038 Theaters] Friday $3.2M, Est Weekend $9.7M, Est Cume $101.9M
4. Safe House (Universal) Week 3 [3,052 Theaters] Friday $3.1M, Est Weekend $10.3M, Est Cume $96.6M
5. Journey 2 3D (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,350 Theaters] Friday $3.0M, Est Weekend $12.5M, Est Cume $77.2M
6. This Means War (Fox) Week 2 [3,189 Theaters] Friday $2.8M, Est Weekend $9M, Est Cume $33.2M
7. Ghost Rider 2 3D (Sony) Week 2 [3,174 Theaters] Friday $2.3M (-66%), Est Weekend $8M, Est Cume $36.3M
8. Wanderlust (Universal) NEW [2,002 Theaters] Friday $2.5M, Est Weekend $7M
9. Gone (Summit) NEW [2,186 Theaters] Friday $1.7M, Est Weekend $4.6M
10. Secret World Of Arrietty (Disney) Week 2 [1,522 Theaters] Friday $1.1M, Est Weekend $5M, Est Cume $14.2M
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6248 on: Feb 26th, 2012, 07:59am »
In Syria, aid agencies unable to evacuate wounded from Homs
Two wounded Western journalists remain stranded in the Baba Amr district of Homs. Violence continues as the country prepares for a nationwide referendum on a new constitution.
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times February 26, 2012 Reporting from Beirut
Aid agencies were unable to evacuate any people Saturday from a battle-scarred neighborhood in the central Syrian city of Homs, one day after the United States and other nations demanded that President Bashar Assad allow humanitarian aid into strife-ridden Syria.
Among the injured still stranded in Homs' Baba Amr district were a pair of Western journalists, Edith Bouvier of the French daily Le Figaro and Paul Conroy of the Sunday Times of London. Both suffered leg injuries in a shelling attack Wednesday that killed two other Western journalists.
Meanwhile, an opposition group reported at least 75 people were killed across Syria on Saturday, including 31 in Homs, a focal point of the almost yearlong rebellion against Assad. The figures from the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition network, could not be independently verified because journalists' access to Syria is limited.
The continuing violence comes as Syria prepares for a nationwide referendum Sunday on a new constitution that is the centerpiece of what the government calls its political reform plan after four decades of Assad family rule.
Syrian authorities have provided few details on how the voting is to proceed in a nation where clashes are a daily occurrence and armed rebels have seized control of many towns and neighborhoods. The two major cities, Damascus and Aleppo, remain relatively free of conflict.
Despite the escalating violence, many Syrians in the two cities and elsewhere still support Assad, fearing that his ouster could lead to Iraq-style chaos and sectarian bloodletting.
Opposition groups seeking Assad's exit have called for a boycott of the referendum. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney ridiculed the initiative as "laughable." But Russia and Iran, two Syrian allies, have lauded the constitutional overhaul.
A joint effort by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent resulted in a temporary cease-fire Friday and the evacuation of 27 civilians, including seven described as seriously injured, from the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs. That raised hope that the injured journalists stranded there might be among the next to leave.
But aid groups were unable to work out an arrangement after extensive discussions with both government and opposition representatives, said Saleh Dabbakeh, a spokesman in Damascus for the Red Cross.
"We kept negotiating all day long, but unfortunately the negotiations did not lead to anything," Dabbakeh said by telephone from the Syrian capital.
He declined to provide more details on what sticking points were blocking ambulances' access. But it seemed clear that extensive behind-the-scenes efforts to arrange the evacuation of the Western journalists had bogged down amid an atmosphere of hostility and distrust.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency said "armed groups" in Homs had declined to "hand over" the Western press contingent and the remains of Marie Colvin, 56, a U.S. citizen who wrote for the Sunday Times of London, and Remi Ochlik, 28, a French photographer. Some news services reported that the bodies of the two journalists were to be buried in Homs.
The opposition says Baba Amr and other pro-rebel districts have been under government shelling for three weeks, leaving hundreds of civilians dead. The government blames "terrorists" for the bombardment.
Probably complicating matters is the fact that the Western journalists represent nations — the U.S., Britain and France — whose leaders have called for Assad to step down.
The three countries are prominent members of the so-called Friends of Syria group that met Friday in Tunis, the Tunisian capital, and, among other things, called on the Syrian government to immediately permit humanitarian agencies to deliver vital relief in Syria.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6249 on: Feb 26th, 2012, 08:03am »
Britain leads dash to explore for oil in war-torn Somalia
Government offers humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in country's future energy industry
Mark Townsend and Tariq Abdinasir guardian.co.uk Saturday 25 February 2012 16.04 EST
Britain is involved in a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia, with the government offering humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in the beleaguered country's future energy industry.
Riven by two decades of conflict that have seen the emergence of a dangerous Islamic insurgency, Somalia is routinely described as the world's most comprehensively "failed" state, as well as one of its poorest. Its coastline has become a haven for pirates preying on international shipping in the Indian Ocean.
David Cameron last week hosted an international conference on Somalia, pledging more aid, financial help and measures to tackle terrorism. The summit followed a surprise visit by the foreign secretary, William Hague, to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where he talked about "the beginnings of an opportunity'' to rebuild the country.
The Observer can reveal that, away from the public focus of last week's summit, talks are going on between British officials and Somali counterparts over exploiting oil reserves that have been explored in the arid north-eastern region of the country. Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, minister for international cooperation in Puntland, north-east Somalia – where the first oil is expected to be extracted next month – said: "We have spoken to a number of UK officials, some have offered to help us with the future management of oil revenues. They will help us build our capacity to maximise future earnings from the oil industry."
British involvement in the future Somali oil industry would be a boon for the UK economy and comes at a time when the world is increasingly concerned about the actions of Iran, the second-biggest oil producer in Opec.
Hashi, in charge of brokering deals for the region's oil reserves, also said Somalia was looking to BP as the partner they wanted to "help us explore and build our oil capacity". He added: "We need those with the necessary technical knowhow, we plan to talk to BP at the right time."
Somali prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said his government had little choice but to entice western companies to Somalia by offering a slice of the country's natural resources, which include oil, gas and large reserves of uranium. "The only way we can pay [western companies] is to pay them in kind, we can pay with natural resources at the fair market value."
Britain is not the only country looking to develop Somalia's vast natural resources. Last month oil exploration began in Puntland by the Canadian company Africa Oil, the first drilling in Somalia for 21 years. Hashi, who sealed the Africa Oil deal, said the first oil was expected to be extracted within the next "20 to 30 days".
The company estimates there could be up to 4bn barrels (about $500bn worth at today's prices) in its two drilling plots. Other surveys indicate that Puntland province alone has the potential to yield 10bn barrels, placing it among the top 20 countries holding oil. Chinese and US firms are among those understood to have also voiced interest about the potential for oil now that, for the first time in 20 years, the country is safe enough to drill.
Yet it is the extent of oil deposits beneath the Indian Ocean that is most exciting Somali officials. One said the potential was comparable to that of Kuwait, which has more than 100bn barrels of proven oil reserves. If true, the deposits would eclipse Nigeria's reserves – 37.2bn barrels – and make Somalia the seventh largest oil-rich nation.
The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation has tried to acquire an interest in Somalia's reserves. Senior officials from the Somali transitional government are adamant that the imminent extraction of oil in Puntland next month would kickstart a scramble from the multinationals.
On Thursday, the last day of the London conference, BP and Shell unveiled an initiative to support job-creation projects in the coastal regions of Somalia. A subsidiary of Shell was thought to have acquired exploration concessions in Puntland before the descent into lawlessness in 1991.
A BP spokesman said there were "no plans" to work in Somalia and no official had recently visited the country.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6250 on: Feb 26th, 2012, 08:19am »
Seven Americans wounded in attack on NATO base in Afghanistan
KUNDUZ, Afghanistan Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:12am EST
KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Seven U.S. military trainers were wounded on Sunday when protesters in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan threw a grenade at their base, provincial police chief Samihullah Qatra told reporters.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed there had been an explosion outside one of its bases in northern Afghanistan, but declined to comment on casualties.
(Reporting by Fraidoon Elhaam in Kunduz, Amie Ferris-Rotman in Kabul; Editing by Michael Georgy)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6251 on: Feb 26th, 2012, 08:23am »
'Everybody Loves Raymond's' Doris Roberts Joins ABC's 'Counter Culture' 8:00 AM PST 2/25/2012 by Lacey Rose, Lesley Goldberg
The Emmy-winning actress is poised to make her series return as Aunt Lee in the Sony TV comedy about three aging sisters who run a diner together.
The Emmy-winning Everybody Loves Raymond actress has signed on to play Aunt Lee in ABC’s multicamera comedy, which centers on three aging sisters who run their West Texas family diner together with sibling dynamics always getting in the way.
MADtv’s Stephnie Weir is on board to pen the Sony Pictures TV pilot, which multi-tasking Claudia Lonow will executive produce. Ted Wass (Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement) has signed on to direct.
Roberts, who has guested on The Middle, Grey’s Anatomy and Hot in Cleveland in recent years, is repped by WME and Del Shaw.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6253 on: Feb 27th, 2012, 08:38am »
Afghanistan rioters injure 7 U.S. soldiers
Crowds in Kunduz province angry over Koran burnings throw grenades. At Jalalabad airport, a car bomb kills up to nine Afghan civilians and security personnel.
By Aimal Yaqubi, Los Angeles Times 11:16 PM PST, February 26, 2012 Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan
Afghans rioting over the burning of Korans at a U.S. military installation hurled grenades at an American base in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, injuring at least seven American soldiers, Afghan officials said. Early Monday, a car bomb exploded outside the main airport in eastern Afghanistan, killing up to nine people, according to provincial police.
No Americans were killed or injured in the blast on the outskirts of Jalalabad, whose airport also is home to a Western military base, an official with the international coalition said. The dead were Afghan civilians and security personnel, said police spokesman Hazrat Mohammad Zamari.
The grenade attack Sunday in Kunduz province, in the country's north, came on the sixth day of protests over Korans being sent, apparently by accident, to the trash incinerator at a base north of the Afghan capital. The violence has left nearly 40 people dead, including four American service members, but the scope of the protests appeared to be narrowing after President Hamid Karzai went on national television and appealed for calm.
Officials in Kunduz province blamed "agitators" sheltering among the crowd of protesters for the grenade attack in the Imam Sahib district. In the past, insurgents have used large-scale demonstrations to slip gunmen into crowds.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Interior Ministry acknowledged Sunday that one of its workers was the key suspect in the deaths of two American military officers who were gunned down at their desks in a tightly guarded command-and-control center a day earlier.
That attack on Saturday prompted the commander of the NATO force in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. John R. Allen, to take the unprecedented step of immediately pulling Western military advisors out of Afghan government ministries. The incident called into question Western willingness to continue training and advising Afghan troops and government bodies amid an unrelenting spate of turncoat shootings.
The suspect remained at large, the ministry said in a statement, adding that "serious efforts by Afghan security forces are underway to capture him."
For the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force, the attack was particularly worrisome because it involved an individual with access to highly sensitive information. Afghan officials said the suspect was a 25-year-old intelligence officer who had obtained the code needed to enter the restricted area where the two U.S. officers were working. Officials said the two were shot in the back of the head.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said Sunday in a television interview that the outbreak of violence and the resulting American deaths should not lead to any precipitous decisions about the pace of the drawdown of Western troops.
"This is not the time to decide that we're done here," the ambassador told CNN.
"We have got to redouble our efforts. We've got to create a situation in which Al Qaeda is not coming back."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6254 on: Feb 27th, 2012, 08:41am »
Students shot at high school outside Cleveland, suspect in custody; number of hurt unknown
By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, February 27, 6:27 AM
CHARDON, Ohio — Gunfire at a high school outside Cleveland injured a number of students Monday morning, officials said, and at least one suspect has been taken into custody.
Civil deputy Erin Knife with the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office said the shooting was reported around 7:30 a.m. at Chardon High School. Knife said she doesn’t have the number of victims yet.
Television news footage showed anxious parents escorting children away from a school building and multiple ambulances could be seen outside.
Superintendent Joseph Bergant II told television station WKYC that the alleged culprit is in custody. He said he doesn’t know the extent of the students’ injuries. Numbers of the injured weren’t immediately known.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland’s MetroHealth System said Monday a medical helicopter was dispatched to the high school.
Schools in the area were locked down.
Chardon is a city of about 5,100 in northeast Ohio about 30 miles east of Cleveland.