In brief: Official questions border security

WASHINGTON – The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee asked the Obama administration Friday to provide data to back up its assertions that the southwest border is more secure than it has been in decades.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the administration’s claims of success on the border appeared at odds with a Los Angeles Times story Thursday that cited details from internal Customs and Border Patrol reports.

The Times story quoted internal reports on the Vader, short for Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar. The system, which is mounted on a Predator drone, tracks people on the ground. Border Patrol agents are then sent to intercept them.

The internal reports showed that border agents apprehended fewer than half of the individuals who the airborne radar showed had illegally crossed into a 150-square-mile stretch of Arizona west of Nogales between Oct. 1 and Jan. 17.

Dozens killed in building collapse

MUMBAI – The death toll in the collapse of a residential building being constructed illegally in India’s financial capital rose to 68 today amid diminishing hopes of finding any survivors alive, police said.

Another 70 people were injured when the eight-story building on forest land in the Mumbai suburb of Thane caved in into a mound of steel and concrete Thursday evening, police said.

Thirty-seven of the injured were still in city hospitals and the rest discharged after medical treatment, said Sandeep Malvi, a spokesman for the local municipal corporation.

Most bodies have been recovered, but some people might still be trapped in the debris, said Malvi.

Malvi said 16 bodies were recovered overnight.

At the time of the collapse, between 100 and 150 people were in the building.

The dead included 17 children, police said.

Man kills another, then self at day care

GATINEAU, Quebec – A man shot and killed another man at a day care center in Quebec then killed himself, and the 53 children present were evacuated unharmed. Police said some may have watched the killings.

Police on Friday received a call about an armed man with a shotgun threatening people, Gatineau Police Chief Mario Harel said. They arrived to find one man dead with a shotgun beside him and a second man, an unidentified employee of the day care, also dead.

Harel said the shooting seemed to be related to a recent separation between a couple but didn’t elaborate.

Trayvon Martin’s parents settle claim

SANFORD, Fla. – The parents of a teenager who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer last year have settled a wrongful-death claim against the homeowners association of the Florida subdivision where their son was killed.

An attorney for Trayvon Martin’s parents – Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin – filed that paperwork in Seminole County Portions of it were made available for public review Friday.

According to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, the settlement amount was marked out in a five-page document. Lower in the agreement, the parties specify that they will keep the amount confidential.

Martin was fatally shot in February 2012 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman during a confrontation in a subdivision in Sanford, about 30 miles north of Orlando.

Rally targets cuts in cancer research

WASHINGTON – Thousands of prominent cancer and other medical researchers will rally in the nation’s capital Monday to protest federal funding cuts that began several years ago.

Influential scientists say the United States has fallen to 10th place in medical research spending as a percentage of its total economy, at a time when China, Britain, Singapore, India and other countries are increasing their investments.

The rally is being organized by the American Association for Cancer Research, which Monday morning will suspend its annual convention in Washington and ask 15,000 attendees to gather about a dozen blocks from both the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

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