SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE
Evacuations lifted as gains made on SoCal blaze
IDYLLWILD, Calif. (AP) — Southern California authorities are allowing thousands of people to return to homes in communities near Palm Springs as firefighters begin to get the upper hand against a week-old wildfire that has burned across 42 square miles.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department lifted evacuation orders Sunday for Idyllwild, Fern Valley and other communities that had been threatened by the fire between Palm Springs and Hemet.
More than 6,000 people have been out of their homes the past several days.
The fire, which began Monday, has destroyed seven homes and 16 other structures.
The blaze is about half contained.
Firefighters are now making quick headway, however, with the help of heavy rain that arrived on Sunday morning.
Storm rolls through Phoenix, prompts road closures
PHOENIX (AP) — A storm that rolled through metropolitan Phoenix this morning brought about a half inch of rain and has caused flooding in some washes.
Authorities say they rescued several motorists who became trapped in their vehicles as they tried to drive through floodwaters. No injuries were reported.
The downpour has prompted the shutdown of several roads.
Areas north of Tucson also are seeing rain.
On Saturday, southeast Tucson experienced flash flooding from a storm that brought about three-fourths of an inch of rain.
The storm led to several downed electric power lines in Tucson and two water rescue efforts Saturday.
The rainy weather in parts of Arizona is expected to end in the coming days as the moist air will once again turn dry.
SIX FLAGS-WOMAN DIES
Company to inspect Texas coaster where woman fell
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A German roller coaster maker is sending officials to a North Texas amusement park to inspect a ride after a woman fell to her death.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Gerstlauer Amusement Rides in Munsterhausen, Germany, will investigate what led to Friday's accident at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.
Witnesses said the woman expressed concern about the coaster's safety bar not completely engaging as the ride was starting.
But a project manager for Gerstlauer, Tobias Lindnar, tells the paper he's "sure there's no safety bar that is broken."
He says the company has never had problems with car safety bars on any of the roughly 50 roller coasters it's built around the world over the past 30 years.
A park spokeswoman confirms the victim died while riding the 14-story Texas Giant, but she wouldn't give specifics.
Police identify suspect in deaths of 3 Ohio women
EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts has publicly identified the suspect in the deaths of three women found wrapped in trash bags, and officers and volunteers have ended hours of searching without finding more bodies.
Spotts says Sunday that 35-year-old registered sex offender Michael Madison is in custody and expected to be formally charged on Monday.
Sunday's search included scouring about 40 abandoned houses and other areas, but turned up no more bodies in the neighborhood where three were found separately on Friday and Saturday.
A medical examiner says the bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition, and it will take days to identify the women and determine how they died.
Police did not plan to continue searching Monday.
KID SHOT-FELON FLEES
UPDATE: Police: Wash. 4-year-old shot, dies; felon flees
SEDRO-WOOLEY, Wash. (AP) — A manhunt is under way in rural Washington for a convicted felon after a 4-year-old boy died Sunday of a gunshot at his home.
Sedro-Woolley Police Chief Doug Wood says investigators are treating the case as a homicide.
Wood says the man, 25-year-old Trevor Braymiller, is considered armed and dangerous and has a prior conviction for selling drugs.
Investigators believe Braymiller is not the boy's father, but rather a father figure.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports the house where the shooting occurred is well known to authorities. In 2011, police conducted a drug raid there.
Sedro-Woolley is a town of about 10,000 people 70 miles north of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
EX-AUBURN PLAYER DROWNS
Ex-Auburn hoops player Korvotney Barber drowns
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say former Auburn basketball player Korvotney Barber has died from an apparent drowning.
Panama City Beach Cpl. Jason Gleason said a passerby found the 26-year-old's body Sunday at 3:49 p.m. between two condominium complexes.
He said police believe Barber drowned. His body has been released to the medical examiner.
Gleason said Barber went missing Saturday about 7 p.m. The Manchester, Ga., native averaged 10.9 points and 7.2 rebounds during his four-year Auburn career ending in 2008-09.
He was only the second McDonald's All-American signed by the Tigers.
Auburn coach Tony Barbee released a statement saying that members of the basketball program are "deeply saddened to lose one of its great players."
Athletic director Jay Jacobs said those who knew Barber remember him as a loving father.
Obama to begin new series of economic addresses
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will return this week to an Illinois college where he once spelled out a vision for an expanded and strengthened middle class as a freshman U.S. senator, long before the Great Recession would test his presidency.
The address Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., will be the first in a new series of economic speeches that White House aides say Obama will deliver over the next several weeks ahead of key budget deadlines in the fall, including the start of a new fiscal year in October.
Obama will talk about efforts to expand manufacturing, sign up the uninsured for health care coverage, revitalize the housing industry and broaden educational opportunities for preschoolers and college students. He will also promote the economic benefits of an immigration overhaul.
Deaths reported after strong, shallow earthquake hits western China
BEIJING (AP) — A strong, shallow earthquake has hit a moderately populated western province in China.
The local government in Gansu province reports at least 11 people have been killed and 81 others injured.
The Chinese government's earthquake monitoring center says the quake struck at 7:34 a.m. Monday morning near the city of Dingxi, about 766 miles west of Beijing. The largely desert and pastureland region has a population of 26 million.
It gives the quake's magnitude as 6.6, which can cause severe damage. It also says the quake was at a shallow depth of 12.4 miles beneath the surface, although the Gansu provincial earthquake administration says the quake was at an even shallower depth of just 3.7 miles.
Quakes near the surface tend to be more destructive.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude as 5.9 and the depth at 6 miles.
Initial measurements of a quake can vary widely, especially if different monitoring equipment is used.
Colombia vows assault on FARC after 19 troops dead
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia's president says his military will mount a strong offensive against the country's biggest rebel movement after guerrillas killed 19 soldiers this weekend in two regions.
President Juan Manuel Santos said Sunday the army will go after the rebels even though the government has been in peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia since last year.
Santos says Colombia has put its hand out to the FARC and is negotiating to end a half-century-long conflict. But, in his words, "we also have the club, we have the military force, and we are going to use it."
Colombia's military says FARC rebels killed 15 government soldiers in northern Colombia on Saturday and four more soldiers in the south.
13 more killed in Iraq on Sunday
BAGHDAD (AP) — Bombings and shootings in Iraq have killed 13 people on Sunday, a day after a wave of car bombings and other attacks left more than 70 dead.
The deadliest of Sunday's attacks came when gunmen fired on a checkpoint manned by Kurdish security forces near Kirkuk, killing five.
More than 450 people have been killed in Iraq so far this month, including at least 284 since Ramadan began on July 10, according to an Associated Press count.
Created: Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:15:18 EST
Updated: Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:15:18 EST