World briefs – October 20

A super typhoon that killed 13 people and flattened forests and crops in the northern Philippines dumped heavy rains on the capital Tuesday as it headed across the sea toward southern China.

Super typhoon headed toward China

CAUAYAN, Philippines — A super typhoon that killed 13 people and flattened forests and crops in the northern Philippines dumped heavy rains on the capital Tuesday as it headed across the sea toward southern China.

Typhoon Megi struck the Philippines on Monday with ferocious winds of 140 miles (225 kilometres) per hour, but initial assessments showed relatively light damage and casualties, partly because the storm struck sparsely populated areas. Philippine officials also cited their massive emergency preparations days ahead of the storm.

Food vendor Nesie Callaotit, her husband and two children were hurriedly packing clothes to flee to safety when the wind yanked off half of their tin roof, exposing their house in northeastern Isabela province to pounding rain and the horrifying wind.

They held on to a wooden post for three hours, weeping and praying together, until the torrents eased.

“All of us were in tears,” the 40-year-old Callaotit said. “We thought it was our last day together.”

After it exited into the South China Sea on Tuesday, Megi was almost stationary packing winds of 108 mph (175 kph) but was forecast to regain strength before its expected landfall in southern China on Thursday. Chinese authorities evacuated 140,000 people from a coastal province.


Prisoner barred from frivolous filings

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has put a stop to new legal actions by an inmate in Kentucky who has filed more than 5,000 lawsuits and targeted the famous, the infamous and even the long-dead.

Under an order issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Karl F. Forester, the Bureau of Prisons can review and reject any legal mail sent by Jonathan Lee Riches.

Since 2006, Riches has filed lawsuits in nearly every jurisdiction in the country, court documents show. Prosecutors said he had filed more than 3,800 suits. The judge said it was over 5,000.

The 33-year-old inmate at the federal prison in Lexington has sued New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, former President George W. Bush, football star Michael Vick and even Somali pirates.


Bomb plot nets man 24 years in prison

DALLAS — A Jordanian man caught in an FBI sting trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper was sentenced Tuesday to 24 years in federal prison.

Hosam Smadi had faced up to life in prison but received a reduced sentence after pleading guilty in May to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Smadi, 20, will likely be deported after serving his sentence.

Smadi acknowledged leaving what he thought was a truck bomb in a garage beneath the Fountain Place building in September 2009. Smadi said he parked the truck, activated a timer connected to the decoy provided by undercover FBI agents, then rode away to watch the explosion.

Smadi dialed a cellphone number from the roof of a nearby parking garage, where he had planned to watch the explosion. The number was supposed to set off his truck bomb. It instead alerted tactical agents hiding in a stairwell, who swarmed the rooftop and arrested the teenager.

“Every day, I want you to think about the people in that building,” U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn said while sentencing Smadi.

“They are your sisters. They are your teachers. They are your neighbours. And you were prepared to end their lives.”