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Kiwi quake

News | and other news briefs

Issue: "The rise of localism," March 12, 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand, a city known for its quiet Avon River flowing through its center along English gardens, was devastated Feb. 22 by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Damage killed at least 75 people and trapped hundreds more. Ambulances had difficulty reaching the injured due to road damage, so emergency teams set up triage units in parks on the ground.

Scientists said the quake was the aftershock of a 7.1 magnitude temblor that shook the city last September (damaging buildings but killing no one). The latest quake was shallower, causing more damage. It flattened buildings, including the city's historic 130-year-old Anglican cathedral, whose stone steeple crashed to the ground. Prime Minister John Key, accepting rescue teams from around the world, including the United States, said the disaster could be his country's "darkest day." New Zealand often experiences minor quakes because it lies near a fault line in the south Pacific, but rarely do they cause such damage. "It was by far and away the roughest ride we've ever had and we're pretty good at bloody living through earthquakes," Grant Cameron, a resident, told TV New Zealand.

Emanuel takes Chicago

Rahm Emanuel's gamble to trade the White House for the Windy City produced a huge win for the former Obama chief of staff on Feb. 22. At least 55 percent of Chicago voters picked Emanuel as the city's next mayor. The Obama aide and former congressman left Washington in October to run for office in his hometown, weathering an 11th-hour attempt by opponents to boot him from the ticket. It was the city's first election in 64 years without a sitting mayor on the ballot, and Emanuel will replace Mayor Richard Daley, who has been mayor for 22 years.

Museveni rules on

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni won a fourth term in office during presidential elections in February, extending his 25-year rule. The president won 68 percent of the votes, according to the country's electoral commission. Opposition candidate Kizza Besigye rejected the results, and the European Union's election observers reported scattered irregularities and corruption in the process. But Ugandans remained calm, with no immediate reports of protests.

Pro-life cuts

At 4:40 a.m. Feb. 19, House Republicans passed a spending bill that covers the remaining months of this fiscal year and includes a raft of pro-life amendments. The bill restores the Mexico City Policy, prohibiting federal funding for abortions overseas, a measure President Obama reversed when he first took office. The bill cut all funds to Planned Parenthood, a longtime pro-life target, and bans the District of Columbia from funding abortions. The bill also halted contributions to the UN Population Fund, which reports indicate has funded abortions, including coercive ones in China. The House also blocked funds for the implementation of healthcare reform. Now the bill goes to the Democrat-controlled Senate, and then it may face a veto from President Obama.

Brothel bust

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote in his memoirs about growing up in a Nevada town with more brothels than churches: He learned how to swim in a pool at a bordello. Now Reid has decided to challenge the world's oldest profession. In a Feb. 22 address to state legislators in Carson City, Reid said that prostitution hurts Nevada's struggling economy because companies are reluctant to locate there. It's estimated that the state's 24 licensed brothels employ 1,000 prostitutes. "Parents don't want their children to look out of a school bus and see a brothel," Reid said. "So let's have an adult conversation about an adult subject." State lawmakers responded to Reid's call with awkward silence. But that wasn't the case with at least one brothel owner, Dennis Hof, who promised, "We're not rolling over. Reid will have to pry the keys to the cathouse out of my cold dead hands."

Question of resources

On Feb. 22 Somali pirates killed four American hostages, including a couple who had sailed the world giving away Bibles. According to U.S. Central Command, 19 pirates hijacked their yacht, the Quest, as it sailed in the Gulf of Aden. The pirates shot all four hostages-Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle-shortly before a U.S. Special Forces team boarded the Quest to reclaim the prisoners. The Adams' website reported that they traveled 60,000 miles bringing Bibles to remote areas like New Zealand, French Polynesia, and the Fiji Islands. The couples were traveling with yachting group Blue Water Rallies for added security in sailing through the dangerous Gulf of Aden. With U.S. naval fleets on alert in the region, critics charged the Navy with failing to respond promptly to protect U.S. citizens. But a Navy reservist who has completed several deployments on a boat patrolling for pirates in the Gulf of Aden told WORLD the Navy primarily protects U.S. assets going through pirate-infested waters but doesn't have the resources to protect U.S. citizens on private business.

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