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Record-setting rains drench Southern Calif.



Published: Sat, February 15, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Record-setting rainsdrench Southern Calif.

LOS ANGELES -- It's feast or famine for weather in Southern California, where a long stretch of dry days ended in a burst of torrential downpours that caused mudslides, power outages, street flooding and roof collapses.

"We had six weeks without rain, and we've just made up for it," National Weather Service spokesman Bruce Rockwell said.

Rainfall amounts broke and in some cases doubled records Wednesday in many locations, including Mount Wilson in Pasadena, where the 7.68 inches of precipitation topped the 2001 record for the date by 4.34 inches.

Several motorists were rescued from vehicles stuck in floods as rivers, washes and arroyos overflowed.

In Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles, a mile-long wall of mud crashed onto Interstate 5 and covered all four southbound lanes. The mud was as deep as 4 feet in some areas, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Travis Mitchell said.

As the Wednesday night rush hour was beginning, the CHP had recorded about 1,500 accidents in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. On Tuesday, a car crash on wet pavement in the high-desert city of Lancaster killed the driver and injured a passenger.

Police charge fatherin daughter's death

BALTIMORE -- A man who set off Maryland's first Amber Alert with a phony tale of an illegal cabdriver abducting his infant daughter has been charged with first-degree murder in the girl's apparent death, police said Wednesday.

Police had questioned Kenneth Jenkins, 20, since Tuesday, when he reported that his 2-month-old daughter, A'Shia Jenkins, was taken after a robbery. He was arrested and charged late Wednesday with first-degree murder, said Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman.

"We received enough information ... to give us reason to believe the child is dead," Harris said.

The (Baltimore) Sun reported on its Web site Wednesday night that the girl's mother, 19-year-old Lakeisha Ballou, said Jenkins called her early Tuesday and told her he put the baby's body in a trash bin after he found her dead.

The girl's mother said Jenkins told her he found the baby dead when he awoke Tuesday morning. He told her he panicked, wrapped the body in a pink blanket and put it in a cardboard box, according to the report. Police declined to comment on the report.

Angry over acquittal

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Relatives of two teenage brothers who admitted killing their sleeping father with a baseball bat are angry the man they believe influenced the boys was acquitted of molestation.

Ricky Chavis, 41, was found innocent Wednesday of charges he kidnapped and molested the younger brother, Alex King, in the months before the slaying of 40-year-old Terry King.

Chavis was convicted of the lesser offense of false imprisonment and was sentenced later Wednesday to the maximum of five years in prison.

Kelly Marino, mother of Alex, now 13, and Derek King, now 14, said she still believes Chavis killed the boy's father -- although Derek confessed he struck the fatal blows Nov. 26, 2001, and that Alex urged him on.

Marino called Wednesday's acquittal "insane" and appeared visibly disappointed when the verdict was read.

"It's an outrage," she said.

Protests leave 14 dead

LA PAZ, Bolivia -- Striking police and furious civilians clashed with government troops Wednesday as protests turned into riots and looting that plunged the Bolivian capital into chaos. At least 14 people were killed and 100 injured, and seven buildings were left in flames.

Government troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to quell the riots, which started when demonstrators stormed the presidential palace to protest government proposals to raise taxes and cut spending on social programs.

President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada withdrew all troops from the historic center as protesters set fire to seven government buildings that burned throughout the night as the city's firefighters abandoned their posts and joined the police in the protests.

As smoke from fires swirled through La Paz's historic center, the president gave a nationally televised speech appealing for calm and announcing he would suspend the tax increases.

No war crimes trial

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The Belgian Supreme Court rejected an attempt Wednesday by Palestinians to bring Ariel Sharon to trial for war crimes for massacres in two refugee camps in 1982, but didn't rule out trying the Israeli prime minister after he leaves office.

The Palestinians were seeking to try Sharon and retired Gen. Amos Yaron for their alleged roles in the massacres at the Sabra and Chatilla camps south of Beirut, using a Belgian law that allows the country's courts to hear cases of war crimes committed anywhere in the world.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted angrily and recalled the Israeli ambassador in Brussels for consultations.

"Belgium is helping to harm not only Israel but also the entire free world, and Israel will respond with severity to this," Netanyahu said in a statement.

Associated Press




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