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April 18, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-04-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 5A

Militants fire rockets at
Israeli town, no injuries

A Prince George's County, Md. firefighter dressed in a protective suit walks out of a government mail screening facility in
Hyattsville, Md., Wednesday.
Mississippi man aCCUSed in
ricin letters to politicians

Resort area targeted
by group from
Sinai Peninsula
tants in Egypt's Sinai Penin-
sula fired at least two rockets at
Israel's southern resort town of
Eilat early Wednesday, officials
said, highlighting what Israel
says is a dire security situation
across its border.
Nobody was hurt in the
attack, police said, although
one rocket exploded near the
courtyard of a house. A shad-
owy hard-line Muslim group,
likely based in the Gaza Strip,
claimed responsibility for the
Police spokesman Micky
Rosenfeld said the remains of
two Grad-style rockets were
found, and bomb experts were
looking for more.
Israeli Prime Minister Ben-
jamin Netanyahu, who was
traveling to London Wednes-
day for the funeral of Britain's
late Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher, said he spoke with his
defense minister and discussed
how to respond.
The British Foreign Office
official in charge of Middle
East policy, Alistair Burt, con-
demned the attack.
"I am deeply concerned by
reports of rocket fire into Eilat
in Israel this morning," Burt
said. "People have a right to live
free from terror. Those respon-
sible should be brought to jus-
Egypt was the first Arab
country to sign a peace treaty
with Israel but relations are
cool. Sinai was until recently a
popular destination for Israeli
In Cairo, a presidential
spokesman said Egypt was

Letters sent to
president, senator
contained deadly
chemical agent
CORINTH, Miss. (AP) - A
Mississippi man accused of mail-
ing letters with suspectedricin
to national leaders believed he
had uncovered a conspiracy to
sell human body parts on the
black market and sometimes per-
formed as an Elvis Presley imper-
Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was
arrested Wednesday at his home
in Corinth, near the Tennessee
state line about 50 miles north of
Presley's birthplace in Tupelo.
Authorities were waiting for
definitive tests on intercepted
letters that were addressed to
President Barack Obama and
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. Pre-
liminary field tests can often
show false positives for ricin.
Ricin is derived from the castor
plant that makes castor oil. There
is no antidote and it's deadliest
when inhaled.
An FBI intelligence bulletin
obtained by The Associated Press
said the two letters were post-
marked Memphis, Tenn.
Both letters said: "To see a
wrong and not expose it, is to

become a silent partner to its
continuance." Both were signed,
"I am KC and I approve this mes-
The letters had Washington on
edge in the days after the Boston
Marathon bombing. As authori-
ties scurried to investigate three
questionable packages discov-
ered in Senate office buildings
Wednesday, reports of suspicious
items also came in from at least
three senators' offices in their
home states. The items were
found to be harmless.
In Corinth, a city of about
a subdivision where Curtis lived.
At least five police cars were on
the scene, but there didn't appear
to be any hazardous-material
crews and no neighbors were
evacuated. The one-story, single-
family home is similar to the oth-
ers in the neighborhood, with red
brick with white trim.
Ricky Curtis, who said he was
Kevin Curtis' cousin, said the
family was shocked by the news
of the arrest. He described his
cousin as a "super entertainer"
who impersonated Elvis and
numerous other singers.
"We're all in shock. I don't
think anybody had a clue that
this kind of stuff was weighing
on his mind," Ricky Curtis said in
a telephone interview.
Ricky Curtis said his cousin

had written about problems he
had with a cleaning business
and that he felt the government
had not treated him well, but he
said nobody in the family would
have expected this. He said the
writings were titled, "Missing
A MySpace page for a clean-
ing company called The Cleaning
Crew confirms thatthey "do win-
dows" and has profile photo of
"Kevin Curtis, Master of Impres-
sions." A YouTube channel under
the name of Kevin Curtis has
dozens of videos of him perform-
ing as different famous musi-
cians, including Elvis Presley,
Buddy Holly and Kid Rock.
"As far as him being anti-
government, I'm not going to say
that, but he had some issues with
some stuff that happened with
his cleaning business," the cousin
Multiple online posts on vari-
ous websites under the name
Kevin Curtis refer to the conspir-
acy he claimed to uncover when
working at a local hospital from
1998 to2000.
The author wrote the con-
spiracy that began when he
"discovered a refrigerator full
of dismembered body parts &
organs wrapped in plastic in the
morgue of the largest non-metro-
politan healthcare organization
in the United States of America."

investigating the attack.
"It is one of Egypt's basic
principles not to endanger the
safety and security of any coun-
try, either those sharing borders
with it or others," said Omar
Amer, spokesman for Egyptian
President Mohammed Morsi.
"Egypt is a state that calls for
peace and preserves it."
Israeli officials have grown
increasingly jittery about the
situation in Egypt since the
ouster of President Hosni
Mubarak in 2011. Islamic mili-
tant groups, some believed to be
affiliated with the al-Qaida ter-
ror network, have taken advan-
tage of a power vacuum in the
lawless Sinai and have carried
out a string of rocket attacks
and other operations along the
The deadliest was in August
2011, when militants from Sinai
rushed into Israel, ambush-
ing Israeli buses and cars with
gunfire and a bomb, killing
eight Israelis. During the melee,
Israeli forces killed six Egyp-
tian policemen. Israel later
apologized for their deaths.
Israel believes militants
from the Gaza Strip, which also
borders Sinai, are also operat-
ing in the area. Israel's military
chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, has
said security in southern Israel
from threats in Sinai is a high
priority. The regime change in
Egypt, now governed by the
Muslim Brotherhood, has not
damaged cooperation between
the countries' security forces,
he added.
"Coordination even improved
in certain aspects," he said
Tuesday. Senior Defense Minis-
try official Amos Gilad repeated
that on Wednesday, after the
rocket attack.
Israel has increased surveil-
lance along the Egyptian bor-
der over the past two years, and

is building a barrier along the
230-kilometer (150-mile) fron-
tier to keep out militants and
African migrants.
Reflecting the concerns,
the military moved a battery
of its new "Iron Dome" rocket
defense system into Eilat earlier
this month.
Although air-raid sirens went
off during Wednesday's attack,
the military said the system,
which is meant to fire when
rockets are headed toward pop-
ulated areas, was not activated.
It cited "operational circum-
stances" but did not elaborate.
Danny Lahav of Eilat's Cham-
ber of Commerce told Israel's
Channel 2 TV that he heard the
sound of a "faint explosion" in
the morning, followed by two
louder explosions. Residents in
the popular tourist destination
remained calm, he said, adding
that he hopes the attack won't
dissuade visitors.
Israeli media said there were
reports rockets had also hit the
tourist city of Aqaba in neigh-
boring Jordan, next to Eilat,
but Jordanian Interior Minister
Hussein Majali told The Associ-
ated Press that "no rockets" fell
in Jordan.
A senior Egyptian military
intelligence official in Sinai said
the army was investigating the
incident. He said investigators
were looking into the possibility
of strikes launched from south-
ern Sinai, around the popular
tourist area of Taba along the
Red Sea and nearby mountain-
ous areas.
The group that claimed
responsibility for firing the
rockets said it was a response
to the death of a Palestinian
prisoner from cancer in an
Israeli jail last month. It also
claimed responsibility for
rocket fire out of Gaza a few
weeks ago.

Texas fertalizer blast injures
dozens, levels buildings


sive ex
day in
and kil
of othe
and co
as Wax
ing big
nel and
and fri
A m
cil, Al
area are
that of
the pla
lar to t
that to
rah Fed
will be
know t
of life
that a
100 we

eath toll still West Mayor Tommy Muska
told reporters that his city of
ndetermined, about 2,800 residents needs
"your prayers."
'rounding area "We'vegot alotof people who
are hurt, and there's a lot of peo-
destroyed ple, I'm sure, who aren't gonna
be here tomorrow," Muska
ST, Texas (AP) - A mas- said. "We're gonna search for
xplosion at a fertilizer everybody. We're gonna make
near Waco on Wednes- sure everybody's accounted for.
lured dozens of people That's the most important thing
led an unknown number right now."
rs, leaving the factory a Muska, who is also a volun-
ring ruin and leveling teer firefighter, said the town's
gs for blocks in every department went to the plant to
on. fight a fire about 6:30 p.m., and
explosion at West Fer- the blast that followed knocked
in West, a community off his fire helmet and blew out
20 miles north of Waco, the doors and windows of his
zed shortly before 8 p.m. nearby home.
uld be heard as far away Five or six volunteer fire-
Kahachie, 45 miles to the fighters were at the plant fire
It sent flames shoot- when the explosion happened,
h into the night sky and Muska said, and not all have
burning embers, shrap- been accounted for.
1 debris down on shocked Wilson said the main fire was
ghtened residents. under control as of 11 p.m., but
ember of the city coun- residents were urged to remain
Vanek, said a four-block indoors because of the threat
'ound the explosion was of new explosions or leaks of
y decimated." Other wit- ammonia from the plant's ruins.
compared the scene to Dozens of emergency vehi-
the 1995 Oklahoma City cles amassed at the scene in the
ng, and authorities said hours after the blast, as fires
.nt made materials simi- continued to smolder in the
hat used to fuel the bomb ruins of the plant and in several
re apart that city's Mur- surrounding buildings. Aerial
deral Building. footage showed injured people
ough authorities said it being treated on the flood-lit
some time before they football field that had been
he full extent of the loss turned into a staging area.
Texas Department of Vanek said first-responders
Safety spokesman D.L. treated victims at about half a
said just after midnight dozen sites, and he saw several
n unknown number of injured residents from the nurs-
had died and more than ing home being treated at the
re injured. community center. Wilson said

later that all of the injured had
been removed from the scene
and taken to hospitals in Waco.
Glenn A. Robinson, the chief
executive of Hillcrest Baptist
Medical Center in Waco, told
CNN his hospital had received
66 injured people for treatment,
including 38 who were seri-
ously hurt. He said the injuries
included blast injuries, ortho-
pedic injuries, large wounds
and alot of lacerations and cuts.
The hospital has set up ahotline
for families of the victims to get
information, he said.
Robinson and spokespeople
at other area hospitals did not
immediately return messages
from The Associated Press.
Among the damaged build-
ings were 50 to 75 houses, an
apartment complex with about
50 units that Wilson said was
reduced to "a skeleton," a mid-
dle school and the West Rest
Haven Nursing Home, from
which first-responders evacuat-
ed 133 patients, some in wheel-
"We did get there and got
that taken care of," Muska said
of the nursing home evacuation.
Erick Perez, 21, of West, was
playing basketball at a nearby
school when the fire started. He
and his friends thought nothing
of it at first, but about a half-
hour later, the smoke changed
color. The blast threw him,
his nephew and others to the
ground and showered the area
with hot embers, shrapnel and
"The explosion was like
nothing I've ever seen before,"
Perez said. "This town is hurt
really bad."


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