NEWS INBRIEF,, .1
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Ash fell on
the beach like snow and drivers turned
on their headlights in the smoky day-
time streets yesterday as wildfires that
have reduced entire neighborhoods to
moonscapes skipped through the hills
of Southern California and threatened
30,000 more homes.
California's deadliest outbreak of
fires in more than a decade has
destroyed at least 1,100 homes, killed
at least 13 people and consumed more
than 400,000 acres stretching from the
Mexican border to the suburbs north-
east of Los Angeles.
"This will be the most expensive fire
in California history, both in loss of
property and the cost of fighting it," Dal-
las Jones, director of the state Office of
Emergency Services, said yesterday.
Several people suffered burns and
smoke inhalation, including eight hos-
pitalized at the University of Califor-
nia, San Diego, Medical Center. Two
had burns over more than 55 percent
of their bodies, spokeswoman Eileen
Managers of California's power grid
estimated that 70,000 to 85,000 South-
ern California customers were without
electricity because fires had damaged
The dry, hot Santa Ana winds that
have fanned the flames began to ease
yesterday, raising hopes that over-
whelmed firefighters could make
progress with the help of reinforce-
ments on their way from other Western
states. But the danger was still great.
President Bush designated the fire-
stricken region a major disaster area,
opening the door to grants, loans and
other aid to residents and businesses in
Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San
Diego and Ventura counties. "This is a
devastating fire and it's a dangerous fire.
And we're prepared to help in any way
we can," Bush said at the White House.
Gov. Gray Davis moved to activate the
National Guard and summon help from
neighboring states. He predicted the cost
of the fires would be in the billions.
He toured the fire area in San
Bernardino and saw "homes reduced
to rubble, charred belongings still
sending off smoke."
He was later followed by Gov.-elect
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had a
fire briefing in Ventura County and
praised work by firefighters.
He thanked Bush for swiftly declar-
ing an emergency and said he would
go to Washington Today to meet with
federal officials "to make sure that the
federal money will come through."
Continued from Page 1.
bold, stunning attacks, beginning with
a rocket barrage on a U.S. headquarters
hotel Sunday that killed a U.S. colonel,
wounded 15 other people and sent
Americans scurrying to safety, includ-
ing the visiting deputy defense secre-
tary, Paul Wolfowitz.
Later Sunday, three U.S. soldiers
were killed in two attacks in the Bagh-
Then, at 8:30 a.m. yesterday, on a
warm, clear morning beginning the
Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the
first of four thunderous explosions
rocked the city.
A police car, somehow comman-
deered for a suicide mission and driven
by a man in police uniform, blew up
after entering the courtyard of the al-
Baya'a police station in southern
Baghdad, said police Brig. Gen.
Ahmed Ibrahim, the deputy interior
Officers said the blast killed 15
Iraqis and one U.S. soldier, and the
U.S. military said six other Americans
were wounded. American troops have
been working with Iraqi police and
guarding the stations.
Just five minutes later, a second
blast struck the local headquarters of
the International Committee of the Red
Cross, a small, three-story building on
a quiet street in central Baghdad. This
bomber, too, used a subterfuge - an
Iraqi ambulance that apparently was
able to approach the ICRC offices
"I saw this ambulance driving up
toward the Red Cross, and then sud-
denly it blew up," said cigarette vendor
Ghani Khadim. The vehicle stopped 60
feet from the front of the Red Cross
building, at a protective line of earth-
filled barrels, and disintegrated as it
blew a 15-foot-wide crater in the road.
The blast knocked down a 40-foot
section of the ICRC's sandbag-backed
front wall, demolished a dozen cars
FBI: Percentage of women arrests rises
When an arrest is made, it is becoming more common for the handcuffs to be
on a woman, according to an FBI report yesterday that also found the number of
crimes reported to police was virtually unchanged last year.
Arrests of men and women in 2002 are part of the FBI's annual look at seri-
ous crime. It showed a slight increase - less than one-tenth of 1 percent - to
about 11.9 million murders, rapes, thefts, robberies, burglaries, aggravated
assaults and vehicle thefts.
Men still accounted for the vast majority of adults arrested for these and other
crimes - about 77 percent of the total. But women are gaining ground, with the
1.9 million arrested in 2002 representing 23 percent. That was a 14 percent
increase from 1993.
An even larger jump occurred between 1986 and 1995, when arrests of women
rose by almost 38 percent. During those years, women were being placed in cus-
tody more frequently for almost all crimes, including violent offenses such as
murder, robbery and aggravated assaults.
Between 1993 and 2002, women's arrests for murder, robbery, burglary, theft and
arson have begun to fall. Increases for women are most notable for such crimes as
embezzlement (80 percent higher), forgery and counterfeiting (19 percent), drug
abuse (50 percent), vagrancy (42 percent) and liquor law violations (49 percent).
China deports imprisoned American spy
Citing his "repentant behavior," China deported a Chinese-born American citi-
zen convicted of obtaining state secrets and put him on a plane to the United
States yesterday, less than two years before his prison sentence expires.
Fong Fuming, 68, a naturalized American and a business consultant from West
Orange, N.J., had been on a list of 13 prisoners that the U.S. government identified
to China as priority cases. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell brought up his
case with Chinese leaders.
In the past, Beijing has freed Americans or U.S. residents to coincide with visits
from top-level Washington politicians. One source, speaking on condition of
anonymity, told The Associated Press that a U.S. official who deals with human
rights arrived in Beijing yesterday.
The ailing Fong "has had his sentence reduced and was deported from China,"
the official Xinhua News Agency reported last night. It referred to Fong's "repen-
tant behavior in jail" but didn't give details. Fong, an electrical engineer and one-
time power official in China, long denied charges he illegally obtained documents
containing state secrets and bribed government officials.
Sharon claims Israel
will not kill Arafat
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said for
the first time yesterday that Israel has no
plans to kill Yasser Arafat, even as he
accused the Palestinian leader of contin-
uing to orchestrate attacks on civilians.
Sharon delivered his assessment as
Israel confirmed plans to begin provid-
ing services to eight settlement outposts
in the West Bank. The announcement
dealt another blow to the faltering U.S.-
backed peace plan.
That plan, known as the "road map,"
calls for a construction freeze in Israeli
settlements and removal of outposts
erected since 2001. Palestinians have
complained that Israel is undermining
the peace plan - but have also balked
at the requirement that they dismantle
In another development, Palestinian
Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said
that he is making progress in talks
with Islamic militants about halting
fighting with Israel.
States sue over Clean
Air Act rule changes
A lawsuit filed yesterday by 13 states
and more than 20 cities, which seeks to
block changes to the Clean Air Act, con-
tends new rules from the Bush adminis-
tration would weaken protections for the
environment and public health.
The Environmental Protection Agency
regulation makes it easier to upgrade util-
ities, refineries and other industrial facili-.
ties without installing additional
pollution controls. The rule, proposed in
December and signed by EPA's adminis-
trator in August, was made final yester-
day. It will take effect in two months, and
states have up to three years to comply.
The agency said in a statement it
does not believe the rule will result in
significant changes in emissions.
More adults don sexy
Step into Frank's bar and you'll get a
glimpse of what Halloween is becoming.
The popular tavern in Chicago's Lin-
coln Park neighborhood has been
decked out for weeks in black and
orange, and patrons can order drinks
with such names as "Sex on a Tomb-
stone." On the night itself, manager
Robby Ehlert expects to see a number
of costumes that won't be G-rated.
"A lot of the costumes are, uh, not
costumes kids would wear," he said with
a chuckle. "You'll see sexy cops, sexy
pirates - anything sexy basically."
Increasingly, Halloween is a holiday
for adults, sometimes celebrated with
kids but often without them.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
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