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Updated: Sun, 18 May 2014 01:15:05 EST


Exhausted crews prepare for long wildfire season

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters are scouring charred hillsides north of San Diego to guard against a resurgence of flames that ripped through the region as the last of tens of thousands of evacuees prepared to return home.

For firefighters, the relief on Saturday was mixed with a sense that drought-stricken vegetation, high temperatures and low humidity portend a long fire season ahead.

Several fires spanning 39 square miles in San Diego County have destroyed 11 houses, an 18-unit apartment complex and two businesses. A dead body was found in a transient camp, and one firefighter suffered heat exhaustion.

Crews are focused on fires at Camp Pendleton Marine base and the suburb of San Marcos.

California's firefighting agency has responded to more than 1,500 fires this year, compared with about 800 during an average year.


Thousands flee, 25 die in record Balkan floods

MAGLAJ, Bosnia (AP) — Thousands of people have fled their homes in Bosnia and Serbia to escape the worst flooding in a century.

They packed into buses, boats and helicopters, carrying nothing but a handful of belongings. Rapidly rising rivers have surged into homes, reaching up to the second floor of some homes and sending people climbing to rooftops for rescue.

Hundreds have also been evacuated in Croatia.

Authorities say 25 people have died but warn that the death toll could rise. Tens of thousands of homes are without electricity or drinking water.

Three months' worth of rain has fallen on the region in three days this week.

The rain has also triggered landslides, which have swept away warning signs marking minefields left over from Bosnia's 1992-95 war.


Strong earthquake hits Indonesia; no casualties

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — A strong, shallow undersea earthquake has hit parts of Indonesia's Sumatra island, causing panic but there are no immediate reports of casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey says Sunday's 6.2-magnitude quake at a depth of 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) beneath the sea was centered 319 kilometers (197 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province.

Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency put a preliminary magnitude at 6.4 and says it had no potential to trigger a tsunami.

Suhardjono, the agency official who like many Indonesians uses one name, said the quake was felt across many parts of the province, causing panic among some residents.

In 2004, a monster temblor off Aceh triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Most of the deaths were in Aceh.


Vietnam forcibly clamps down on anti-China protests after deadly riots

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese authorities have forcibly broken up small protests against China in two cities.

Witnesses in southern Ho Chi Minh City say police dragged away several demonstrators from a park in the city center.

China deployed an oil rig to the disputed South China Sea on May 1, triggering fury in Vietnam.

Last Sunday, the authoritarian government allowed protests as way of registering its anger at China.

But riots on Tuesday and Wednesday that left two Chinese nationals dead and scores of factories trashed damaged investor confidence and spooked the government, which keeps a tight grip on society.


Beijing sends evacuation ships to Vietnam

BEIJING (AP) — China is sending five ships to Vietnam to speed up the evacuation of its citizens following deadly anti-Chinese riots over Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in disputed waters.

The official Xinhua News Agency says that the first ship departed Sunday morning from the southern island of Hainan.

China's Foreign Ministry says more than 3,000 Chinese have already been evacuated from Vietnam following the riots this past week that left two Chinese dead and injured about 100 others.

Vietnam ordered a stop to anti-China protests and in the capital, Hanoi, on Sunday police pushed away a handful of protesters and journalists in front of the Chinese Embassy.

Vietnam has protested China's positioning of the oil rig in the South China Sea and has sent ships to confront China's vessels.


N. Korea reports 'serious' construction accident

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency is reporting a "serious" accident this past week at a construction site in Pyongyang, with "casualties" but no death toll mentioned.

The unusual report Sunday morning local time says the accident in Phyongchon district occurred Tuesday "as the construction of an apartment house was not done properly and officials supervised and controlled it in an irresponsible manner."

The report says the rescue operation ended Saturday and that officials apologized to bereaved families and district residents.

The KCNA report cites one official as saying North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un "sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident."

The highly controlled state media for the reclusive regime rarely report news that might be considered negative.


CDC: Man who met MERS patient has virus, not sick

NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials say an Illinois man has apparently picked up an infection from the only American diagnosed with a mysterious Middle East virus, but the man has not needed medical treatment.

The first U.S. case of Middle East respiratory syndrome was confirmed earlier this month in Indiana, where a man fell ill shortly after arriving from Saudi Arabia where he lived.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that tests completed Friday show the Illinois man probably was infected with the virus after having close contact twice with the MERS patient in Indiana.

Most cases of MERS have been in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Middle East.

A second U.S. case was confirmed last week in a man from Saudi Arabia who was visiting Florida.


Obama considering new housing, budget leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a second-term Cabinet shuffle for President Barack Obama.

Obama plans to nominate Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan to be White House budget director.

And the president is considering naming San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as Donovan's successor.

That's according to people familiar with the selection process. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name.

The moves would raise the profile of two men with close ties to the president.

Donovan is an original member of Obama's Cabinet and is well-liked within the White House.

Officials have praised his work overseeing the government's response to Hurricane Sandy. As budget director, he would have significant influence over the administration's policy and spending priorities.

Castro's star has been on the rise since Obama tapped him to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and his is considered a possible vice presidential pick in 2016.


Mexico nabs drug gang leader in state of Guerrero

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities say they have arrested the leader of a gang responsible for trafficking drugs from the southwestern state of Guerrero to the United States.

Federal police chief Monte Alejandro Rubido says that 45-year-old Leonor Nava Romero was arrested Friday in Tecpan de Galeana, Guerrero.

Rubido said Nava Romero worked with Hector Beltran Leyva, leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel. He added that not only was Nava Romero the main person responsible for drug shipments from Guerrero to the United States, he also was involved in kidnapping and extortion.

Nava Romero led a gang knows as "Los Rojos," or "The Reds." Rubido said Nava Romero allegedly ordered the killings of the Beltran Leyva cartel's opponents and is "probably responsible" for the slaying of eight soldiers in Chilpancingo, Guerrero in 2008.


Kraft recalls Knudsen, Breakstone's and other cottage cheese brands due to improper storage

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Kraft Foods Group is recalling some of its cottage cheese products.

Company officials say some ingredients used in Knudsen Cottage Cheese, Breakstone's Cottage Cheese, Simply Kraft Cottage Cheese and Daily Chef Cottage Cheese were not stored in accordance with proper temperature standards at a California, manufacturing facility. Kraft says that might have created conditions that could lead to premature spoilage and food-borne illness.

Kraft voluntarily recalled 1.2 million cases of the cottage cheese as a precaution. The products have a date between May 9 and July 23 stamped on them.

Anyone who purchased these products should not eat them. They can be returned to the stores where they were bought for exchanges or full refunds.

For more information about the recall, call Kraft at 1-800-396-6307 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EDT.


Arrest in fatal stabbing near Little League field

BABYLON, N.Y. (AP) — A man is charged with manslaughter after a fatal stabbing near a Little League field where kids were playing on New York's Long Island.

Suffolk County police say a fight broke out Saturday between two men in Babylon. WABC-TV reports that one of the men interrupted the game to tell people he was hurt. He died at a hospital a short time later.

Police say a witness alerted an off-duty officer and the officer and bystanders apprehended the suspect as he tried to flee. Authorities say the fight wasn't related to the baseball game.

Twenty-year-old Michael Grusel was arrested in the death of James Moran. Grusel is to be arraigned in Central Islip on Sunday.

The police activity prompted the Little League to cancel Saturday's games.


Last teen hurt in school stabbing spree discharged

MONROEVILLE, Pa. (AP) — The final student hospitalized in last month's stabbing spree at a Pennsylvania high school is back home.

Franklin Regional High School sophomore Greg Keener was released from a hospital Saturday. The 15-year-old was one of 20 students wounded when authorities say a classmate wielding two kitchen knives rampaged through the suburban Pittsburgh school. A security guard was also wounded in the April 9 attacks.

Keener had been moved out of the intensive care unit earlier in the week. His family says he has been able to engage in daily activities including watching the NHL playoffs.

Sixteen-year-old Alex Hribal has been charged as an adult with 21 counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault. He is scheduled for a June 4 preliminary hearing.

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