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Not long after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the South Island city of Christchurch in September, a 6.3-magnitude aftershock rocked the city on Feb. 22, killing at least 75 people. The recent temblor caused more destruction--no one died in the earlier quake, even though it released 11 times the energy--because it struck during the workday and was centered just 3 miles (5 km) from the city and at a much shallower depth. Emergency officials, some flown in from the U.S., worked to free hundreds of people trapped under rubble.

States in Mexico with the highest casualty rates

[The following text appears within a map. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual map.]

34,550 Homicides related to organized crime in Mexico, 2007-10

Chihuahua accounted for almost a third of Mexico's crime deaths

SOURCE: Trans-Border institute

Drug War Claims American Agent

MEXICO

The murder of Jaime Zapata, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent stationed in Mexico City, by the hired guns of a drug cartel underscored growing tensions between the U.S. and its southern neighbor in their war against drugs. U.S. officials complain of corruption in Mexico's security forces, while their Mexican counterparts blame failed U.S. policies on drug and gun running and lament that their country suffers disproportionately from a crisis spawned, in large part, north of the border. More than 2,000 members of Mexico's security forces have died since President Felipe Calderón took office in 2006 and declared war on the cartels. Zapata was the first American agent killed.

Iran Crosses The Suez

SYRIA

Two Iranian warships sailed through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean Sea, a passage no Iranian naval vessel has made since the 1979 Islamic revolution. A frigate and cruiser headed to a port in Syria on what Tehran claims is a routine training mission, but experts say it's a sign of widening strategic interests. Israel called the maneuver a "provocation," especially at a time when a number of its allies in the Arab world face upheaval at home.

A Fragile Kingdom

BAHRAIN

Thousands of antigovernment protesters swarmed the capital city of Manama, some demanding the departure of the majority-Shi'ite country's Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty. Activists claimed their demonstrations had little to do with Bahrain's sectarian tensions and instead simply sought greater democratic freedoms.

Belgium Still Waffles Over Government

Belgium After eight months, Belgium is inching closer to matching a record set by Iraq for the number of days a country has gone without a formal government. June's inconclusive elections led to a caretaker administration that is presiding over the polarized country's 6 million Dutch speakers in the north and 4.5 million French speakers in the south. Despite recent demonstrations for national unity, fears remain that Belgium could experience a Czechoslovakia-style breakup.

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