Posted: Jul 2, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2012 4:01 AM
Heat, wind, fire, wind, drought, floods: Scientists call US summer a global warming preview
WASHINGTON (AP) If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.
Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.
These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it's far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.
Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn't caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.
And this weather has been local. Europe, Asia and Africa aren't having similar disasters now, although they've had their own extreme events in recent years.
Official: 25 killed, 40 injured in vegetable truck explosion at city market south of Baghdad
BAGHDAD (AP) Iraqi authorities say at least 25 people have been killed and scores wounded by a vegetable truck that exploded in a market in in a Shiite city south of Baghdad.
Qadisiyah provincial council chairman Jubair al-Jabouri says the blast came around 10 a.m. in a vegetable and fish market in the city of Diwaniyah, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Baghdad.
He said 40 were wounded in the explosion and blamed Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaida.
Utility crews making headway, but nearly 1.8M still without power days after deadly storms
WASHINGTON (AP) A chainsaw's buzz and the thump of logs striking grass disturbed the ordinary stillness of a leafy, well-to-do neighborhood in upper northwest Washington.
A three-man contract crew for the utility company Pepco worked steadily to remove remnants of a tree that had fallen on a power line. A worker in a white hard hat, lifted by a crane some 50 feet in the air, used a saw to slice off leaves and branches from the wire. He chucked them to the ground or they fell on their own. But for a crew already working 16-hour days, feelings of success were short-lived.
"From here we've got another complaint," crew member Jose Climaco said Monday. "As soon as we finish here, we have to go to another complaint."
More than three days after a wave of violent thunderstorms wreaked havoc in parts of the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic, utility crews had restored electrical service to more than 1 million customers but were working Tuesday morning to turn on the lights and air-conditioning at nearly 1.8 million other homes and businesses.
Utilities were warning that many neighborhoods could remain in the dark for much of the week, if not beyond. But public officials and residents were growing impatient.
Pope fires Slovak bishop in rare show of papal power; usually bishops are asked to resign
VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope Benedict XVI fired a 52-year-old Slovak bishop for apparently mismanaging his diocese in a rare show of papal power over bishops that could have implications for U.S. sex abuse cases.
Usually when bishops run into trouble either for alleged moral lapses or management problems they are persuaded by the Vatican to resign. But Benedict has become increasingly willing to forcibly remove bishops who refuse to step down, sacking three others in the past year alone.
His willingness to do so raises questions about whether he would take the same measures against bishops who covered up for sexually abusive priests. So far he has not.
In the most notable case to date, Benedict fired Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, Australia, last year after he called for the church to consider ordaining women and married men. He also removed a Congolese bishop for management problems in his diocese and an Italian one in May for similar reasons.
On Monday, the Vatican said Benedict had "relieved from pastoral care" Bishop Robert Bezak of Trnava, Slovakia. No reason was given, but Italian news reports suggested administrative problems were to blame, and Slovak news reports quoted Bezak as saying he thought his criticism of his predecessor may have had a role.
Report: Syrian president says he regrets downing of Turkish jet
BEIRUT (AP) Syrian President Bashar Assad said he regrets the shooting down of a Turkish jet by his forces, and he will not allow tensions between the two neighbors to deteriorate into an "armed conflict," a Turkish newspaper reported Tuesday.
Syria downed the RF-4E warplane on June 22, after according to Syria it flew very low inside its airspace. Turkey says the jet was hit in international airspace after it briefly strayed into Syria.
Assad offered no apology for the downing of the plane during an interview with Cumhuriyet on Sunday, insisting that it was shot down over Syria, and his forces acted in self-defense.
He said that the plane was flying in a corridor inside Syrian airspace that had been used by Israeli planes in 2007, when they bombed a building under construction in northern Syria. The UN nuclear agency has said that the building was a nearly finished reactor meant to produce plutonium, which can be used to arm nuclear warheads
"The plane was using the same corridor used by Israeli planes three times in the past," Assad told Cumhuriyet. "Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radars and we were not informed about it."
Soldiering on: Mich. soldier fights through rehab after Afghanistan accident takes his limbs
VASSAR, Mich. (AP) Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills served two deployments to Afghanistan without suffering anything close to a major injury. Then, in a second, everything changed.
On patrol during his third tour in April, Mills put his bag down on an improvised explosive device, which tore through the decorated high school athlete's muscular 6-foot-3 frame. Within 20 seconds of the IED explosion, a fast-working medic affixed tourniquets to all four of Mills' limbs to ensure he wouldn't bleed to death.
"I was yelling at him to get away from me," Mills remembers. "I told him to leave me alone and go help my guys.
"And he told me: 'With all due respect, Sgt. Mills, shut up. Let me do my job.'"
The medic was able to save Mills' life but not his limbs. Today, the 25-year-old Mills is a quadruple amputee, one of only five servicemen from any military branch to have survived such an injury during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Maria Tolleson, a spokeswoman at U.S. Army Medical Command. And instead of serving alongside his unit, he has been spending his days based at Walter Reed Medical Center, working on rehabilitation after the accident that dramatically altered the trajectory of his life.
$2.2 million expedition to find wreckage of Amelia Earhart's plane begins in Hawaii
HONOLULU (AP) A $2.2 million expedition is hoping to finally solve one of America's most enduring mysteries: What exactly happened to famed aviator Amelia Earhart when she went missing over the South Pacific 75 years ago?
A group of scientists, historians and salvagers think they have a good idea, and are trekking from Honolulu to a remote island in the Pacific nation of Kiribati starting Tuesday in hopes of finding wreckage of Earhart's Lockheed Electra plane in nearby waters.
Their working theory is that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed on a reef near the Kiribati atoll of Nikumaroro, then survived a short time.
"Everything has pointed to the airplane having gone over the edge of that reef in a particular spot and the wreckage ought to be right down there," said Ric Gillespie, the founder and executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, the group leading the search.
"We're going to search where it in quotes should be," he said. "And maybe it's there, maybe it's not. And there's no way to know unless you go and look."
Mass. health care law, 6 years on, may point to successes and challenges ahead for federal law
BOSTON (AP) Massachusetts has the nation's highest rate of residents with health insurance. Visits to emergency rooms are beginning to ease. More residents are getting cancer screenings and more women are making prenatal doctors' visits.
Still, one of the biggest challenges for the state lies ahead: reining in spiraling costs.
Six years after Gov. Mitt Romney signed the nation's most ambitious health care law one that would lay the groundwork for his presidential opponent's national version supporters say the Massachusetts law holds promise for the long-term success of Barack Obama's plan.
Like the federal law it inspired, the Massachusetts law has multiple goals, among them expanding the number of insured residents, reducing emergency room visits, penalizing those who can afford coverage but opt to remain uninsured, and requiring employers to offer coverage or pay a fine.
Supporters of the Massachusetts experiment are quick to point out its successes.
Peru's big, ambitious low-cost program to provide students with laptops gets mixed grades
LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru's equipping of more than 800,000 public schoolchildren in this rugged Andean nation with low-cost laptops ranks among the world's most ambitious efforts to leverage digital technology in the fight against poverty.
Yet five years in, there are serious doubts about whether the largest single deployment in the One Laptop Per Child initiative inspired by MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte was worth the more than $200 million that Peru's government spent.
Ill-prepared rural teachers and administrators were too often unable to fathom much less teach with the machines, software bugs didn't get fixed, Internet access was almost universally absent and cultural disconnects kept kids from benefitting from the machines.
"In essence, what we did was deliver the computers without preparing the teachers," said Sandro Marcone, the Peruvian education official who now runs the program.
He believes the missteps may have actually widened the gap between children able to benefit from the computers and those ill-equipped to do so, he says, in a country whose public education system is rated among the world's most deficient.
'This is really over': Dara Torres just misses out in bid to make a record 6th Olympic team
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Dara Torres is headed back to Florida to watch the Olympics on TV, like a lot of middle-aged folks.
The 45-year-old mom missed making a record sixth U.S. swim team by nine-hundredths of a second, finishing fourth in the 50-meter freestyle on the last night of the trials Monday.
"This is really over," she said, smiling. "That's it, I'm going to enjoy some time with my daughter, have a nice summer and cheer on the U.S. team from afar."
Torres carried 6-year-old Tessa, her blond head buried in her mother's shoulder, as she came off the pool deck and made her way past reporters for the last time.
"She's bummed she's not going to London now," Torres said. "I told her I'd still take her though."