2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Calif. mudslide leaves 12 missing NEWS IN BRIEF
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LA CONCHITA, Calif. (AP) - A
huge mudslide crashed down on homes
in a coastal hamlet with terrifying force
yesterday, killing at least one person
and leaving up to 12 missing as a Pacific
storm hammered Southern California
for a fourth straight day.
Ventura County Fire Department
spokesman Bob Roper said at least
six and as many as a dozen residents
were missing in the mudslide that
pummeled a four-block area of homes
in tiny La Conchita, about 70 miles
northwest of Los Angeles. Fifteen
people were injured, some of whom
were strapped into gurneys and car-
ried to safety.
The mudslide brought the number of
dead from the latest wave of California
storms to 10. The storms have sent rain-
fall totals to astonishing levels, turning
normally mild Southern California into
a giant flood zone.
The hillside in La Conchita cascaded
down like a brown river as authorities
were evacuating about 200 residents
from the area. Trees and vegetation
were carried away, leaving huge gashes
of raw earth on the bluff.
Some residents made their way from
the area clutching pets, luggage or cloth-
ing as the huge mass of mud bore down.
Some huddled together or cried as they
talked on cell phones. Fifteen to 20
houses were hit by the slide.
La Conchita is a slip of a town
pressed between a highway and a tow-
ering coastal bluff. Several houses were
damaged by a mudslide here during
powerful storms in the 1990s.
The destruction at La Conchita was
the worst disaster of the storms to date,
but mudslides and flooding were report-
ed throughout the region, blocking road
and rail travel and forcing a shutdown of
interstate petroleum supply lines.
The death toll also includes a 2-
year-old girl who slipped from her
mother's grasp as rescuers tried to
hoist them from a car submerged on
a road outside Los Angeles. Ava-
lanches killed two people in Utah
and one in Nevada - a 13-year-old
snowboarder who was swept off a ski
lift to his death.
From the start of the latest dose of vio-
lent weather on Friday through midday
Yesterday, several mountainous areas in
Southern California had recorded more
than 20 inches of rain, including 26
inches in Nordhoff Ridge in the Ventura
The rain came on the heels of
stormy weather that blasted the state
earlier last week.
The average amount of winter rainfall
in downtown Los Angeles is 15 inches,
but about 21 inches had fallen as of Yes-
terday, including a Jan. 9 record of 2.6
inches, said National Weather Service
meteorologist Bruce Rockwell.
"I've never seen such a sustained
event like this," Rockwell said.
To the north in the Sierra Nevada,
the storm produced heavy snow
"I've never seen
such a sustained
event like this"
- Bruce Rockwell
during the weekend that stalled an
Amtrak train, shut down the airport
at Reno, Nev., for the second time in
a week, and halted highway travel
across the mountain range.
Since Dec. 28, up to 19 feet of
snow has fallen at elevations above
7,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, with
6 1/2 feet at lower elevations in the
Reno area. Meteorologists said it was
the most snow the Reno-Lake Tahoe
area has seen since 1916.
Bin Laden may be hidig in .Afghanistan
Osama bin Laden may be hiding in Afghanistan, while followers of the former rul-
ing Taliban who once harbored the al-Qaida leader appear to be fragmenting, a U.S.
commander said yesterday.
Col. Gary Cheek, who controls U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, told The Associ-
ated Press that bin Laden and other key militant leaders could be in his area of respon-
sibility, a swath of the country flanking the rugged Pakistani border.
Cheek said the number of foreign fighters facing his forces was not "significant" and
that most operated near the rugged Pakistani frontier, the zone most widely touted as a
hiding place for bin Laden and his right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Forces loyal to Taliban commanders such as Jalaluddin Haqqani and renegade war-
lord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has joined the ousted militia in vowing to drive out
foreign troops, pose a larger military threat than the foreign fighters Cheeck said.
Al-Qaida bombing kills police deputy
Gunmen yesterday assassinated Baghdad's deputy police chief and his son, police
said, and al-Qaida in Iraq later claimed responsibility. Elsewhere in the capital, a
huge roadside bomb destroyed a U.S. armored vehicle and killed two American sol-
diers, the military said.
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is one of the more heavily armored U.S. military
vehicles, suggesting that the roadside bomb was more powerful than those typically
used in recent months. The Defense Department said last week that insurgents were
increasing the size and power of the bombs they plant as they escalate their attacks
before the Jan. 30 election.
Four American soldiers also were wounded in the blast. It came four days after
another powerful roadside bomb hit a Bradley, killing all seven U.S. soldiers inside
and destroying the vehicle.
Bush says Abbas
welcome in U.S.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President
Bush offered yesterday to meet at the
White House with newly elected Pales-
tinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, putting
out a welcome mat that was never there
for Yasser Arafat.
Bush also congratulated Abbas in a
telephone call and said, according to a
spokesman, that he envisioned "a day
when he and president-elect Abbas and
Israel's leaders could stand together and
say, 'We have peace.' "
Still, Bush gave no sign that he was
relenting in the demands he had made
of Abbas's late predecessor - that the
Palestinian leader fight terror against
Israel and put together a strong security
system to support that stance.
Bush extended an invitation for Abbas
to visit the White House when Abbas
"felt it was a good time to come," said
press secretary Scott McClellan. They
did not discuss specific dates.
Proposals by Europeans and others
that Bush jump in quickly to press for an
Israeli rollback on the West Bank appar-
ently did not impress the administration,
despite the emergence of a Palestinian
leader who has called for an end to the
violent uprising against Israel.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's
offer during a visit to Ramallah to host
a one-day Mideast conference did draw
support from the administration as a
way to promote Palestinian democracy.
The president does not plan to attend but
is likely to send a top official to London
for the parley, a U.S. official said.
Bush is hopeful the conference will
help inspire democratic change within the
Palestinian movement, said the official,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
An Abbas meeting with Bush at the
White House would not be their first.
When Abbas was prime minister
of the Palestinian Authority, before a
falling out with Arafat, he visited the
White House for a working lunch and
news conference in July 2003. He also
attended a summit with Bush and Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Aqaba,
Jordan, that June.
Still in place after Sunday's election
is the U.S.-backed "roadmap" for peace-
making, which former U.S. mediator
Dennis Ross said could be a vehicle for
progress if more of its principles were
These include Palestinian arrests of
violent militants and the elimination of
illegal Israeli outposts on the West Bank,
Ross said at the Washington Institute for
Near East Policy.
Bush, at the White House, said, "I
think it's going to be very important
for Israel to fulfill its obligation on the
withdrawal from the territories that they
have pledged to withdraw from."
FORT HOOD, Texas
Guard testifies in Abu Ghraib prison case
A military guard testified yesterday that he saw Spc. Charles Graner Jr. punch an Iraqi
detainee in the face a moment after a notorious photo was taken at Abu Ghraib prison.
Another witness said Graner was "laughing and having a good time" while mak-
ing naked prisoners pose.
Spc. Matthew Wisdom, the first witness in Graner's prisoner abuse court-mar-
tial, said Graner was among a number of guards who roughed up detainees on Nov.
7, 2003. Graner is the first soldier to be tried in the case, and prosecutors say he was
the ringleader of the abuse.
Testimony got under way yesterday after opening statements.
Wisdom described a prominent photo from Abu Ghraib that showed the muscu-
lar Graner holding a detainee as if he were about to strike him in the face.
CBS fires four over National Guard story
CBS issued a damning independent review yesterday of mistakes related to last
fall's "60 Minutes Wednesday" report on President Bush's National Guard service
and fired three news executives and a producer for their "myopic zeal" in rushing
it on the air.
The review said CBS compounded the damage with a circle-the-wagons mental-
ity once the report came under fire. The independent investigators added, however,
that they found no evidence of a political bias against Bush.
CBS News President Andrew Heyward and Dan Rather, who announced in
November he was stepping down as the anchor of "CBS Evening News," escaped
without any disciplinary action. But Rather, who narrated the Sept. 8 story and
subsequent follow-ups, was criticized by CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
MON. CLOSE CHANGE
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Newly elected Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas waves as be arves
at Yasser Arafat's former headquarters Sunday.
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