Posted: Mar 10, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Mar 10, 2012 8:00 PM
Japan marks 1 year since quake and tsunami disaster killed 19,000, unleashed nuclear crisis
TOKYO (AP) Japan on Sunday was remembering the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the nation one year ago, killing just over 19,000 people and unleashing the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter century.
Along the tsunami-battered northeastern coast, in Tokyo and elsewhere, memorial ceremonies were planned to mark 2:46 p.m. the precise moment the magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit on March 11, 2011.
The quake was the strongest recorded in Japan's history, and set off a tsunami that towered more than 65 feet (20 meters) in some spots along the northeastern coast, destroying thousands of homes and wreaking widespread destruction.
Today, some 325,000 people rendered homeless remain in temporary housing. While much of the debris has been gathered into massive piles, very little rebuilding has begun.
"I wish I could go back to my old house and get back our normal life again," said Hyakuaiko Konno, a 64-year-old woman from the Ishinomaki coast who has been living in temporary housing for the past seven months.
Santorum captures Kansas caucuses, Romney wins Wyoming in GOP presidential race
WASHINGTON (AP) Rick Santorum won the Kansas caucuses in a rout on Saturday and Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney countered in Wyoming, a weekend prelude to suddenly pivotal Southern primary showdowns in the week ahead.
"Things have an amazing way of working out," Santorum told supporters in Missouri, where he traced his campaign through a series of highs and lows. He called his showing in Kansas a "comfortable win" that would give him the vast majority of the 40 delegates at stake.
Final returns in Kansas showed Santorum with 51 percent support, far outpacing Romney, who had 21 percent. Newt Gingrich had 14 percent and Ron Paul trailed with 13 percent.
Santorum picked up 33 of the state's 40 delegates at stake, cutting slightly into Romney's overwhelming's advantage.
In Wyoming, Romney won seven of the 12 delegates at stake, Santorum three, Paul one. Uncommitted also won one.
Syrian forces launch assault on rebel area as international efforts to end crisis stagger
BEIRUT (AP) Syria launched a long-anticipated assault to crush the opposition in the rebellious north on Saturday, bombarding its main city with tank shells from all sides and clashing with rebel fighters struggling to hold back an invasion.
President Bashar Assad rejected any immediate negotiations with the opposition, striking a further blow to already staggering international efforts for talks to end to the conflict. Assad told U.N. envoy Kofi Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as "terrorist groups" threaten the country.
The opposition's political leadership has also rejected dialogue, saying talk is impossible after a yearlong crackdown that the U.N. estimates has killed more than 7,500 people. That makes it likely that the conflict will continue to edge toward civil war.
Syrian forces have been building up for days around Idlib, the capital of a hilly, agricultural province along the Syria-Turkey border that has been a hotbed of protests against Assad's regime.
Saturday morning, troops blasted Idlib for hours with dozens of tank shells as the forces moved to encircle the town, an Associated Press team in Idlib reported.
Israeli airstrikes kill 15 militants, rockets fly in worst Gaza violence in a year
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) Israel pounded Gaza for the second day in a row Saturday, trading airstrikes and rocket fire with Palestinian militants and killing 15 of them as the deadliest Gaza violence in over a year showed no signs of abating.
Despite Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire, Palestinians fired more than 100 rockets, some striking major cities in southern Israel and seriously wounding an Israeli civilian. The military responded with more than a dozen airstrikes and the targeted killings of Palestinian militants from various Gaza organizations.
Israel's lauded Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted more than 25 projectiles. Still, residents were told to stay close to home and the cities of Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon called off school for Sunday.
Tit-for-tat exchanges between Israel and Palestinians have been routine since the 2009 war, but a flare-up of this intensity is rare. The Arab League called the Israeli attacks a "massacre." The United Nations and the State Department condemned the violence and called on both sides to exercise restraint.
"This round in Gaza is far from being over," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a visit to southern Israel. "We will not allow anyone to harm the citizens of the country and we will act against anyone who attempts to launch rockets. They will pay a heavy price, and no one will have immunity."
Suspect arrested day after judge, sheriff's deputy injured in Wash. courthouse attack
SEATTLE (AP) Police in Washington state on Saturday arrested a 34-year-old man accused of stabbing a judge and shooting a sheriff's deputy in a courthouse struggle, one day after he fled the small town of Montesano.
Law enforcement officers in neighboring Thurston County took Steven Daniel Kravetz into custody Saturday afternoon at his mother's home in the state capital of Olympia, Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Rick Scott said.
The gun taken from the deputy during Friday's courthouse attack and other evidence were recovered, he said.
Scott identified Kravetz earlier in the day as the lone assailant in Friday's attack that wounded Judge David Edwards and Deputy Polly Davin. Dozens of law enforcement officers had joined the manhunt for him.
Kravetz's mother called police to turn her son in after authorities released a flier with her photo and her son's photo Saturday, according to the Seattle Times.
Pentagon planning to resume military training, equipment in Yemen, key terror-fighting partner
WASHINGTON (AP) The Pentagon plans to resume programs that would pay for military training and equipment in Yemen, nearly a year after halting aid to the key counterterrorism partner because of escalating internal chaos.
While no agreements have been cemented, U.S. defense officials said as much as $75 million in military assistance could begin to flow this year. The officials said the Pentagon and State Department are putting together a letter to send to Congress to request restarted the aid.
The plan is in line with the Obama administration's intention to provide significant security and civilian aid to Yemen in 2012-13 as long as the Middle Eastern country makes progress toward a new government and the money is kept from insurgents.
One senior military official said discussions have begun over how best the United States can help Yemen, which is putting a new U.S.-backed government in place. The official said it may be difficult to relaunch the counterterrorism training that was suspended about a year ago because Yemeni forces are engaged in battle with the al-Qaida-linked insurgency based in the country.
Instead, the training program could shift to focus less on fighting tactics and more on how to plan combat operations and strategize against the enemy.
Veteran cops, mayors say by spying on Muslims, NYPD risks access to info needed to stop terror
CHICAGO (AP) The tip was a surprise when it arrived on the desk of Ted Wasky. Had it not come, the former FBI agent fears five Muslim men in northwest Ohio might have pulled off a plot to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The source of the tip? A fellow group of Muslims living in Toledo.
"They were talking about Jihad and wanting to defend their ... brothers in the Middle East against American aggression," Wasky said. "The community understood the freedoms they enjoyed in the U.S., were concerned, and they reported it to the joint task force."
The tipsters trusted the police enough to help the FBI infiltrate the group with an informant, and Wasky said that relationship was the "best thing that ever happened" to the local joint terrorism task force when he was the special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland office.
That's what police investigators, prosecutors and mayors in cities nationwide say the New York Police Department is putting at risk by conducting clandestine surveillance of Muslims in the city and across the Northeast. All cite their experience in serving communities that are home to large Muslim communities and other minority populations that have become isolated by events.
World's 1st nuclear-powered carrier USS Enterprise makes final voyage fuzzy dice and all
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) When the makers of "Top Gun" were filming on board the USS Enterprise, they donated a set of black fuzzy dice to liven up the ship's otherwise drab interior.
A quarter-century later, the dice will still be dangling inside the tower of "the Big E" as the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sets sail on its final voyage Sunday.
The trinket is a reminder of the ship's storied 50-year history that includes action in several wars, a prominent role in the Cuban missile crisis and serving as a spotter ship for John Glenn's historic orbit of the earth.
"To serve on this ship, certainly in this capacity, you certainly have to be a student of the ship's history," said Rear Adm. Walter Carter, commander of the Enterprise strike group. "Fifty years of service, in our nation's history, we've never had a warship in service that long."
The Enterprise is the longest aircraft carrier in the U.S. fleet. It is also the oldest, a distinction that brings pride as well as plenty of headaches for the ship's more than 4,000 crew members. The ship is effectively a small city that frequently needs repairs because of its age. It was originally designed to last 25 years, but a major overhaul in 1979 and other improvements have extended its life.
'How'd he fit?': California woman delivers newborn son weighing nearly 14 pounds
SAN DIEGO (AP) A Southern California woman says doctors predicted she would give birth to a big baby boy, but nobody was prepared for just how big.
Jayden Sigler weighed in at 13 pounds, 14 ounces, when the healthy boy was delivered Thursday by cesarean section, the North County Times reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/Amd2Wvhttp://bit.ly/Amd2Wv ).
His mother, Cynthia Sigler of Vista, said that her immediate reaction was: "How'd he fit?"
Doctors initially estimated that Jayden would weigh about 9 pounds, but that number jumped to 11 by early March, the mother told the newspaper.
Dr. Jerald White, who delivered the baby at Tri-City Medical Center, said Jayden was the biggest of the 20,000 newborns he has helped usher into the world since he started in 1961.
Canadian racer Nik Zoricic dies after crashing in World Cup skicross event
GENEVA (AP) Canada and the action-sports world endured their second tragedy in two months Saturday with the death of skicross racer Nik Zoricic, who suffered head injuries after crashing into the nets on the side of the course near the final jump of a race in Switzerland.
Ski authorities called it a "freak accident," much the same way they labeled the fatal accident of Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who crashed during halfpipe training two months to the day before Zoricic's accident.
Both Burke and Zoricic were 29.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge called Zoricic's death "a very sad day for the whole Olympic Movement."
"He was a young, gifted athlete who tragically died doing the sport he loved," Rogge said in a statement.