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Jan. 31, 2010 at 8:46 AM   |   Comments

10 charged with child smuggling in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Ten volunteers with an Idaho-based children's charity were arrested Saturday in Haiti on child trafficking charges, authorities said.

The group was allegedly trying to take children over the border to the Dominican Republic without permission of the Haitian government, CNN reported.

Haiti has cracked down on removing children from the country out of fear traffickers might take advantage of the confusion following the Jan. 12 earthquake. Many non-profit groups have also warned other countries should be slow to accept Haitian children out of fear they could lose their parents or other relatives.

All those arrested were with the New Life Children's Refuge in Idaho.

The Rev. Clint Henry of the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, said the adults were trying to move children from a damaged orphanage in Haiti to another in the Dominican Republic.

"Our team was falsely arrested today, and we are doing everything we can from this end to clear up the misunderstanding that has occurred in Port-au-Prince," a statement on the church's Web site said.


Evacuation of injured Haitians suspended

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Flights carrying injured Haitians to the United States have been suspended amid reports that some states are refusing to accept them, authorities said.

Aid agencies were working to establish hospitals in Haiti in response to reports of a dispute among states over footing the bill for uninsured Haitians hurt in this month's earthquake, CNN reported Sunday.

The flights were suspended Wednesday because some states were "unwilling to allow entry for Haitian nationals for critical care," Navy Capt. Kevin Aandahl said Saturday. Hours later, Aandahl appeared to back off his statement saying, "All I do is move patients," CNN said.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the issue was one of space.

"There has been no policy decision by anyone to suspend evacuee flights -- this situation arose as we started to run out of room," Vietor said Saturday, adding agencies "are working on solutions such as standing up hospitals for the critically ill in Haiti."

Florida last week formally asked the federal government to help it and other states pay some of the healthcare costs of treating injured Haitian patients in the United States.


U.S. boosts defense in Persian Gulf

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. military is deploying new defense strategies in the Persian Gulf with the goal of deterring a possible Iranian attack, White House officials said.

Aegis cruisers capable of shooting down Iranian medium-range missiles now patrol continually off the coast of Iran, administration officials said. In addition, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to accept missile defense systems from the United States capable of deterring a possible strike from Iran, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The new strategy aims to increase pressure on Iran, reassure Arab countries they do not have to arm themselves with atomic weapons and convince Israel not to attack Iran, a senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Times.

The Obama administration has failed to win broad international consensus for sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, The Times noted. Western intelligence sources allege Iran controls a developing nuclear arms program while Iran has said the program is for energy needs only.

President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus all recently mentioned a shift in gulf strategy in what appears to be a coordinated effort to increase pressure on Iran, The Times said.


Quake kills at least one in China

SUINING CITY, China, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A 5.0 magnitude earthquake rocked China's Sichuan Province Sunday, killing one person and collapsing numerous buildings, officials said.

The early morning quake damaged more than 100 homes in Moxi town in Suining City, which has about 3.8 million residents and is about 140 miles from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency reported.

Seismologists said there was a possibility the quake was a late aftershock from the 8.0 magnitude quake in Sichuan that left nearly 87,000 people missing or dead on May 12, 2008.

The epicenter of Sunday's tremor was between Suining and Tongnan County at a depth of 6.2 miles at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 105.7 degrees east longitude, the Sichuan Provincial Earthquake Administration said.

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