KANSAS CITY-PLAZA FIRE
UPDATE: Official: Cadaver dogs search in Kansas City blast
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cadaver dogs are searching the smoldering remains of a Kansas City restaurant that burned to the ground following a gas explosion and massive blaze, a fire official says.
Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said late Tuesday that the search for possible victims could take hours and that he expected his crews to be at the scene through the night.
While officials have said they have no reports of fatalities, Berardi noted, "I would always fear there are fatalities in a scene like this."
The gas explosion occurred just after 6 p.m. and the resulting fire completely destroyed JJ's restaurant. Officials say more than a dozen people were injured, with at least two reported in critical condition.
The cause of the blast remains under investigation; however, a city official earlier said it was believed to have been caused accidentally by a utility contractor.
NEW: Fire breaks out at big Ohio greenhouse operation
OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) — A fire has erupted at one of the Midwest's biggest greenhouse operations, spewing heavy black smoke.
No injuries have been cited in the fire, which was reported Tuesday evening at Ohio's Green Circle Growers.
Firefighters from several towns have been tackling the intense flames while dealing with powerful wind gusts and very cold weather at the greenhouses along a highway in Oberlin, 30 miles southwest of Cleveland.
The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.
Green Circle Growers says on its website it provides plants to stores including Home Depot and Wal-Mart while focusing on green initiatives to eliminate waste. It says the heat for its greenhouses comes from a wood boiler fueled by refuse from tree removal companies. Its products include pansies, hydrangeas, orchids and bonsai trees.
US ready to strike back against China cyberattacks
WASHINGTON (AP) — Public evidence is mounting that the Chinese military is responsible for stealing massive amounts of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets, and that's prompting the Obama administration to plan trade actions against countries caught at cyberespionage.
According to officials familiar with the plans, the White House is eyeing fines, penalties and other trade restrictions. The officials say the new strategy will be released tomorrow.
The White House plans come after a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm released a torrent of details that tied a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai to years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies. After analyzing breaches that compromised more than 140 companies, Mandiant has concluded that they can be linked to the People's Liberation Army's Unit 61398.
Military experts believe the unit is part of the People's Liberation Army's cyber-command, which is under the direct authority of the General Staff Department, China's version of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Apple says Macs at its offices hacked; hackers get into Jeep's Twitter account
NEW YORK (AP) — Two major U.S. corporations are reporting they've been the target of hackers.
Apple says a small number of Mac computers at its offices were infected by malicious software, in an attack similar to the one Facebook acknowledged last week. In both cases, computers were infected through software downloaded from a site for software developers. The attacks took advantage of flaws in the Java plug-in for Web browsers.
The Java vulnerability is well known, and in January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended disabling Java in Web browsers to avoid hacking attacks.
Meanwhile Chrysler says someone hacked into the Jeep brand's twitter account yesterday, making false Tweets for about an hour. Hackers posted that the Jeep brand had been sold to Cadillac because employees had been caught using pills. They also posted that there would be no more Jeep production.
The move was similar to an incident involving Burger King on Monday, although it's unclear if the two incidents are linked.
UPDATE: Pistorius: Lover caught in tragedy or killer?
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A South African judge says defense lawyers will need to offer "exceptional" reasons to convince him to grant bail for Oscar Pistorius, when a hearing resumes Wednesday.
In a statement to the court, Pistorius acknowledged firing the shots that killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, before dawn on Valentine's Day. But the double amputee Olympian says he grabbed his pistol, fearing someone had broken into his Pretoria home.
Pistorius wept uncontrollably as he listened to his attorney read his statement to the court on the first day of the two-day bail hearing. Pistorius said he awoke before dawn and was on his balcony when he heard a noise and became alarmed because the bathroom window, which had no security bars, was open and workers had left ladders nearby.
Pistorius says he had been a victim of crime before, and the noise filled him "with horror and fear."
Prosecutors say Pistorius' claim is not credible and that he intended to kill Steenkamp. They say the couple had argued and the 29-year-old model was trapped in the bathroom with no escape when Pistorius shot her.
Allen says he'll focus on wife's health, won't take NATO post
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is looking for a new candidate to lead American and allied forces in Europe after his first choice bowed out today.
Marine Gen. John Allen says he's retiring for what he calls personal reasons. In a statement, he says he wants to focus on helping his wife deal with health issues.
Allen recently completed 19 months as top commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. His career also included a tour of duty in Iraq that was credited with helping turn the tide of that war.
Last fall, the Pentagon announced that Allen was being investigated for potentially inappropriate email exchanges with a civilian woman in Florida. But officials announced last month that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Shortly before that issue surfaced, the White House had nominated Allen for the NATO job. The nomination was put on hold during the investigation, but after he was cleared last month, the White House said it was ready to proceed with the nomination. That's when Allen asked for time to reconsider.
In a statement, Allen says his "primary concern" is for the health of his wife, Kathy. He says she has stood beside him for more than 35 years, allowing him to serve his country.
President Barack Obama is calling Allen one of the nation's finest military leaders and a true patriot.
Federal appeals court halts Ga. execution
JACKSON, Ga. (AP) — A federal appeals court has halted the execution of a Georgia man who killed a fellow inmate in 1990.
Defense attorney Brian Kammer said that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of execution to Warren Lee Hill, who had been set to die Tuesday.
Kammer said in an email that he was greatly relieved by the ruling.
Hill was convicted in the Aug. 17, 1990 beating death of Joseph Handspike. Hill was serving a life sentence at the time for the slaying of his 18-year-old girlfriend, who was shot 11 times.
Hill's lawyer had argued his client is mentally disabled and shouldn't be executed. The state argued the defense failed to meet its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill is mentally disabled.
MISSING CHILD FOUND-TEXAS
Prison terms handed down in Texas kidnapping case
SAN AUGUSTINE, Texas (AP) — An East Texas jury has sentenced two women to prison after convicting them of kidnapping a Houston boy when he was 8 months old and hiding him for eight years before he was found.
Jurors in San Augustine on Tuesday sentenced Gloria Walker to 30 years for injury to a child and eight years for kidnapping, to be served concurrently.
Her daughter, Krystle Tanner, was sentenced to eight years for kidnapping and eight years for reckless injury to a child, also to be served concurrently.
Miguel Morin is now 8 and disappeared in 2004.
Both Tanner and Walker had told jurors they did nothing wrong as the boy had been given to them. Prosecutors said both women neglected Miguel during the time they kept him.
Drug overdose deaths up for 11th consecutive year
CHICAGO (AP) — Federal data show drug overdose deaths have risen for the 11th straight year.
But the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also shows most of those deaths were accidental, involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines.
Opioids -- which include OxyContin and Vicodin -- were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths.
Anti-anxiety drugs including Valium were also among common causes of medication-related deaths.
Among the medication-related deaths, 17 percent were suicides.
The information is for the year 2010. The CDC reports there were more than 38,000 drug overdose deaths nationwide that year. Medicines, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly 60 percent of those deaths, overshadowing those from illicit narcotics.
The report appears in Tuesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
NEW: Bottle fraud in Mich. may face harsher penalties
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attention smugglers of empty soda cans: Stay out of Michigan, or you could face jail time.
Lawmakers are taking aim at people who use out-of-state cans and bottles to cash in on Michigan's recycling refund, which pays 10 cents per container.
Legislation debated Tuesday would make an attempt to return between 100 and 10,000 non-returnable containers punishable by up to 93 days in jail or $1,000 in fines, or both. Current law sets penalties only for those who actually return fraudulent containers.
Angela Madden of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association estimates that the state loses up to $13 million a year from out-of-state cans.
She says many businesses don't have the machines that read the mark or code that indicates a container is from Michigan.Tags: