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Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:09 PM   |   Comments

Heavy smog halts most travel in China

BEIJING, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Heavy smog blanketing eastern and northern China Wednesday obscured roadways, grounded airplanes and raised health concerns, officials say.

The blinding pollution arrived as the country's population prepared to travel to their hometowns for a New Year's celebration, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Sections of more than 20 freeways were closed in four central and eastern provinces, the Transport Ministry said. The roads were reopened by noon.

Visibility at Beijing Capital International Airport dropped to less than 650 feet, causing the cancellation of 49 flights on Tuesday. Most flights had resumed Wednesday as the fog lightened.

The fog did not affect the country's rail system. Another 526 trains were added to cope with travelers stymied for other means of transportation.


Huge storm system in U.S. East, 2 dead

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- At least two people were killed as winds and tornadoes associated with a 1,000-mile-long storm tore through the U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic, officials said.

One person was killed and an estimated 100 cars were overturned on Interstate 75 when a tornado swept through Adairsville, Ga., Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for Bartow and Gordon counties and an estimated 24,000 customers were without electrical service in west and north Georgia, CNN reported.

The twister touched down shortly before noon EST about midway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn., leveling at least one home, WSB-TV, Atlanta, reported. The weather service said at least two other tornadoes were reported in the area in Lindale and Calhoun, CNN reported.

Seven poultry facilities near Calhoun were reported destroyed.

At least one person was killed when the storm damaged numerous buildings in Bartow County. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported all lanes of I-75 were blocked until after 1 p.m. at milepost 306.

Winds in excess of 60 mph ripped through Kentucky and Tennessee early Wednesday, Accuweather.com reported.


1 dead, 2 wounded in Phoenix shooting

PHOENIX, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Authorities hunted Wednesday night for a gunman who opened fire in a Phoenix office building, killing one person and wounding two others.

The man police were looking for was identified as William Arthur Harmon III, 70, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported. Police said they believed Harmon may have had mortgage problems and that the shooting occurred during a mediation session, the TV station said.

Phoenix police said the altercation began about 10:30 a.m. and escalated into multiple shots being fired.

Steve Singer, 48, owner of the Scottsdale call center Fusion Contract Centers, was fatally wounded. Mark Hummels, a 33-year-old lawyer, was hospitalized in critical condition at the hospital and a 32-year-old woman with non-life-threatening wounds, the TV station said.

Three other people were hospitalized for stress brought on by the shooting, the Times reported.


Teen who performed at inauguration killed

CHICAGO, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A teenage girl who performed during President Obama's inauguration festivities last week was shot and killed in a park on Chicago's South Side, police said.

Hadiya Pendleton, 15, a sophomore at King College Prep was fatally shot Tuesday as she and a group of other students gathered under a canopy in the park not far from the school, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday. Police said a 16-year-old boy was wounded.

Asked about the shooting, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters: "It's a terrible tragedy any time a young person is struck down with so much of their life ahead of them.And we see it far too often. The president and the first lady's thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton. All of our thoughts and prayers are with her family."

Carney said he was unaware of a petition asking Obama to attend the girl's funeral, and didn't know if the president reached out to the family.

Pendleton attended Obama's inauguration in Washington and performed at inaugural events with the school's band and drill team.

Police said most of the people in the park were gang affiliated and people with Pendleton's group didn't remain on scene after the shooting. Investigators said their initial information indicated Pendleton didn't belong to a gang, but others in the group may have.

Officials said a man jumped a fence near the group, opened fire then fled in a vehicle. Police said Pendleton was not the target.


Cleric with cocaine detained in Moscow

MOSCOW, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A Colombian cleric was detained by Russian police at a Moscow airport for attempting to smuggle cocaine into the country, the Russian federal drug agency said.

The man, identified as Fabio Ricardo Rodriguez, claimed in an interview after his arrest he was forced to smuggle drugs by what he described as the Colombian mafia, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

"He was detained and delivered to a Moscow hospital, where some 13 containers with cocaine were discovered in the man's digestive tract. Five more containers with drugs were found in his luggage," a statement from the Federal Drug Control Service said.

Rodriguez served a parish in Bogota, Colombia, officials said, and is a member of a breakaway Anglican group in South America that identifies him on its website as a "missionary reverend," the news agency said.

He faces up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted.

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