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Trapped

BUSINESS
February 16, 2014 | Michael Hiltzik
The most sinister video you're likely to find online just now comes from people who oppose online gambling. "Disreputable gaming interests are lobbying hard to spread Internet gambling throughout the country," a voice over intones. Cue the grainy black-and-white footage of something sketchy going on in an alleyway, the ominous music and allusions to criminal "syndicates" and terrorism. The narrator warns that "an established Al Qaeda poker network could extract enough untraceable money from the United States in just a few days to fund several 9/11-sized attacks.
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WORLD
February 7, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
HOMS, Syria - They were stuck in their apartments for long stretches, hustling for whatever food was available. Sniper fire and shelling were constant. There was only occasional cellphone contact with the outside world. Running water and electricity were rare. A complex deal hammered out by the Syrian government, the United Nations and rebels led to a temporary cease-fire and the evacuation of 83 people from the Old City of Homs, many of them trapped for a year or more inside a rubble-strewn battleground.
WORLD
February 6, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
DAMASCUS, Syria -- An agreement has been reached to evacuate civilians trapped in the battle-scarred remnants of the Old City of Homs, Syria's third-largest city, the state news agency reported Thursday. The accord would also allow the delivery of “humanitarian assistance and supplies to the civilians who would choose to stay inside the city,” according to the official Syrian Arab News Agency. The plight of people trapped in Old Homs drew international attention last month when negotiators at Syrian peace talks in Geneva said officials had arranged to evacuate civilians and deliver humanitarian aid. However, that prospective deal fell apart amid deep distrust between the government and a holdout force of rebels who are bunkered down inside Old Homs.
WORLD
February 4, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
YARMOUK, Syria - They emerged from a dim alley called Rama Street, some carried on stretchers or pushed in wheelchairs, others dragging bulging suitcases as they looked for loved ones waiting beyond the clutch of gunmen and aid staffers. "I'm so happy: I can finally feed my children properly," said a gaunt but exhilarated 21-year-old named Ruba, clutching an infant son and a 3-year-old daughter as she strode down the muddy street to freedom Tuesday. The Syrian woman and others had finally escaped the war-ravaged confines of the Yarmouk camp, where about 18,000 people remain trapped without food, running water, electricity or other necessities in what was once home to more than 200,000.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 1, 2014 | By Mark Olsen
The stereotypical Sundance movie is thought of as something capital-Q quirky, typically a story of family dysfunction or coming-of-age. This year's festival, across its numerous sections, featured a newfound immersion in genre storytelling that pushed the films to places that were familiar but with unexpected and most welcome twists. Gareth Evans' "The Raid 2," for instance, does for the blood-soaked Asian action film what "The Dark Knight" did for the superhero film, injecting it with a seriousness, a depth of characterization and a scope of storytelling that raises it to a new level of legitimacy.
WORLD
January 26, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
GENEVA - Hundreds of women, children and other trapped civilians could leave the rebel-held center of the Syrian city of Homs -- and aid convoys would be allowed access to the besieged district -- in what appears to be the first concrete accomplishment of peace talks here, the United Nations said Sunday. “Hopefully, starting tomorrow, women and children will be able to leave the Old City of Homs,” Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy who is mediating the negotiations, told reporters here after a negotiating session with both sides.
NATIONAL
January 20, 2014 | By Michael Muskal and Matt Pearce
An Omaha plant that produces animal nutritional supplements partially collapsed after an explosion Monday, injuring several employees and perhaps trapping others. In a tweet, local police said: “#OPD praying for workers and families of all involved in this industrial accident.” Local media reported that there was an industrial explosion and fire at International Nutrition near South 76th and F streets around 10 a.m. local time. Television images showed smoke rising from the building.
WORLD
January 4, 2014 | By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Coast Guard was dispatching a special ice-breaking cutter to help free two ships lodged in the Antarctic, officials announced Saturday. The Polar Star, the Coast Guard's only active heavy polar ice breaker, was being sent to help free the Russian and Chinese vessels from thick bands of ice, officials said. According to a Coast Guard statement, the Polar Star left its home port of Seattle in early December on one of its primary missions, Operation Deep Freeze.
NATIONAL
December 6, 2013 | By Soumya Karlamangla
Wildlife experts said Friday that most of the 50 pilot whales caught in shallow waters of the Florida Everglades this week had disappeared, a sign that they have likely swam off to their deep-water home.  A rescue team on Wednesday found dozens of short-finned pilot whales swimming in very shallow water inside the western boundary of Everglades National Park. Seven beached themselves and died; four others were euthanized. The rescue team tried to herd the other whales away, but the highly social whales did not want to break away from their pod. Also, the whales had to traverse sandbars and shallow water.
NATIONAL
December 4, 2013 | By Soumya Karlamangla
Ten short-finned pilot whales were dead and more than 40 marooned in shallow water in a remote area of Everglades National Park in Florida, and officials warned Wednesday they were not likely to survive. "Most of these mass strandings that occur do not have a successful outcome, and we're lucky if we're able to even save a couple," said Blair Mase, southeast marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whales are at the western boundary of the park, more than 20 miles from their deep-water habitat and about two hours from the nearest boat ramp.
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