By Jonathan Kaminsky OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - A Washington state county where a mudslide killed at least 41 people last month delayed a decision on Wednesday on a proposed ban on construction in landslide-prone areas over concerns it could hamper rebuilding efforts. The five-member Snohomish County Council voted unanimously to table the issue of whether to impose a moratorium on construction within a half-mile of landslide hazard areas defined by the county, opting to take up the matter next Monday. The decision to delay action came after Councilman Ken Klein raised concerns that the moratorium could affect rebuilding efforts of people whose homes were flooded, but not destroyed, as a result of the mudslide. Council Chair Dave Somers said the county must more clearly define its goals in regulating development in areas prone to mudslides.
MOSCOW (AP) — The founder of Russia's leading social media network — a wunderkind often described as Russia's Mark Zuckerberg — has left his post as CEO and fled the country as cronies of President Vladimir Putin have made steady inroads into the company's ownership.
Former U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, who is serving 35 years in prison for turning over classified files to WikiLeaks, can exchange the name Bradley for Chelsea to reflect her desire to be treated as a woman, a judge in Kansas ruled on Wednesday. Manning's name is legally changed to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, according to the decision handed down by Leavenworth County District Judge David King. Manning will be issued a new birth certificate to reflect the name change.
A teenage stowaway who survived a flight to Hawaii in the wheel well of a passenger plane told investigators he spent the night sleeping in the jet's cramped compartment at a California airport before the flight took off, an FBI official said. The 15-year-old boy from the Northern California city of Santa Clara, whose name has not been released, is one of a fraction of stowaways to survive such a treacherous trip. His journey has raised concerns about airport security. The boy told investigators in Maui that he sneaked into the San Jose International Airport overnight and chose a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 at random, climbing into its rear left wheel well and falling asleep, said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon.
By Marc Frank HAVANA (Reuters) - The lawyer for jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross told the press in Havana on Wednesday that his client planned to return from Cuba to his family within the year, dead or alive, and called on the Obama administration to do more to obtain his release. Attorney Scott Gilbert, in Cuba to discuss the case with his client and local authorities, said Gross, 64, was suffering from various ailments and angry at the U.S. government for not obtaining his release. He ended a 9-day hunger strike earlier this month at the urging of his 91-year-old mother. "Alan is a very determined individual ... He means that one year from now if this issue ... has not been resolved he will come home dead," Gilbert emphasized, referring to Gross's pledge to renew his hunger strike, which he said had also taken a toll on Gross's health.
LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (AP) — Authorities who searched the home of a Minnesota man who shot and killed two teens testified Wednesday that they found an audio recorder that was turned on, an operating surveillance system and a cellphone jamming device.
By Chris Francescani NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York Police Department campaign to burnish its image via social media instead produced a flood of pictures of apparent police brutality and tweets critical of the force being shared at a rate of thousands an hour. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Wednesday he would continue and expand the NYPD Twitter campaign a day after it backfired, triggering an outpouring of negative images including police violence at New York's Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, an NYPD officer pointing a gun at a dog, and an officer asleep in a subway car. "Most of those photos that I looked at are old news," said Bratton, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to take over from Ray Kelly, who served for 12 years under de Blasio's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.