Posted: Jun 27, 2012 4:54 AM
Updated: Jun 27, 2012 4:54 AM
Wildfire devours structures in Colorado Springs
WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (AP) Authorities in central Utah have found a woman dead in an evacuated wildfire area, marking the first casualty in a blaze that consumed at least two dozen homes and appears to be taking a turn for the worse.
Throughout the interior West, firefighters are also fighting searing, record-setting heat as they struggle to contain blazes in Colorado, Utah and other Rocky Mountain states.
More than 2,100 residents have been ordered evacuated from the Air Force Academy's grounds as heavy smoke billows from a nearby wildfire that has burned an unknown number of homes near Colorado Springs.
An area of the campus that houses cadets wasn't immediately evacuated and a new class of cadets is still scheduled to report tomorrow.
El Paso County sheriff's officials have ordered an estimated 32,000 people to leave.
At the 136-square-mile High Park fire in northern Colorado, nearly 260 homes have burned.
Debby weakens, but Fla. still faces flooding risk
ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. (AP) Forecasters say a combination of storm surge and tide could still bring flooding to coastal areas in Florida that are already drenched by Tropical Storm Debby.
Debby, now weakened to a tropical depression, also could cause tornadoes today.
The storm slogged across northern Florida overnight and is expected to head out to sea later today.
NEW: Spain's central bank says economy weaker in Q2
MADRID (AP) The central bank says Spain's recession-stricken economy has slumped further in the second quarter and will likely post a sharper contraction than the 0.3 percent of the first three months.
The bank's June report said drops in consumer demand, car sales and industrial production "indicate activity has continued to diminish at a greater rhythm."
Official second-quarter GDP figures are due to be published in July.
Spain, with a 24.4 percent unemployment rate, has agreed to seek a rescue package for its troubled banks but is battling to convince investors it will not need a sovereign bailout like Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
The interest rate for Spain's benchmark 10-year bonds an indicator of investor wariness was at 6.83 percent today, a rate considered unsustainable over the long term.
Top US Afghan general visits Pakistan amid tension
ISLAMABAD (AP) The top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan is expected to visit Pakistan amid heightened tensions over militant networks allegedly based on Pakistani soil and still-closed military supply lines.
The Pakistani military said U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen's visit today will focus on border cooperation.
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have plunged recently.
The U.S. is frustrated with what it says is a failure by Pakistan to go after the Haqqani network, a militant group that has attacked American forces across the border. The U.S. and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over Pakistan's closure of supply lines to Afghanistan.
The lines were closed after U.S. airstrikes accidentally killed 24 Pakistani border troops.
UPDATE: Syria: TV station attacked, 7 staffers killed
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) Syrian officials are denouncing a raid on a pro-government Syrian TV station as a "massacre against the freedom of the press" and are holding it up as an example of rebel atrocities.
Officials say gunmen killed seven employees, kidnapped others and demolished buildings.
The TV station is privately-owned but strongly supports President Bashar Assad's regime. Pro-government journalists have been attacked on several previous occasions during the country's 15-month uprising, although such incidents are comparatively rare.
Rebels deny they target the media. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group confirmed the raid and the deaths of several employees, but had no other information.
An employee at the station said several other staffers were wounded in the attack.
Hours after the attack, the station was still on the air, broadcasting a rally in Damascus' main square against the station raid.
Shareholders demand more reforms at Japan utility
TOKYO (AP) The power company behind Japan's nuclear crisis got support from shareholders for its decision to take $12.6 billion in public funds to cover huge compensation and cleanup costs.
But shareholders including the Tokyo city government demanded more restructuring and safety improvements from Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the tsunami hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
Hundreds of thousands of people had to evacuate the area around the plant due to radiation leaks from reactor meltdowns following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Eight other utilities across Japan also held annual shareholders meetings Wednesday, seeking support for a restart of idled reactors.
Ford to close assembly plant in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines (AP) U.S. carmaker Ford Motor Co. says it will close its 13-year-old assembly plant in the Philippines at the end of the year.
Ford Group Philippines president Randy Krieger says the company "could not make a strong enough business case for future manufacturing" in the Philippines.
The plant has exported over 80,000 vehicles since 2002.
About 250 workers will be affected. The plant will close after the last Ford Escape SUV rolls out in December.
Ford closed its original Philippine assembly plant in 1983 and reopened a new plant in 1999 citing improved political stability.
Navy attempts culture change on sexual assaults
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) The Navy is putting unprecedented attention on reducing sexual assaults among sailors this year.
High-ranking Navy leaders are likening it to their crusade years ago to stop rampant drug abuse. They say sexual abuse is not only dehumanizing to victims, but also threatens their operational readiness.
Most sexual assaults in the Navy occur after a night of drinking. Officials say many of them could be prevented if someone had spoken up sooner to stop that chain of events. There have been more than 600 sexual assaults involving Navy personnel reported in each of the past two years.
Under a Defense Department initiative, a higher level of command will start addressing the most serious sexual assault offenses starting Thursday. In the Navy, that's someone at the captain level.
NORTHERN IRELAND-QUEEN'S VISIT
NEW: Queen, ex-IRA chief shake hands in Belfast
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) Queen Elizabeth II and a former Irish Republican Army commander have offered each other the hand of peace in a long-awaited encounter symbolizing Northern Ireland's progress in achieving reconciliation after decades of violence.
Northern Ireland Office officials say the monarch and Martin McGuinness met privately today inside a Belfast theater during a cross-community arts event. Media were barred from the event, but the two are expected to have a public handshake later.
Experts say McGuinness was the IRA's chief of staff when the outlawed group assassinated the queen's cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in 1979.
BRITAIN-LOSING THE LORDS
Is Britain ready to lose the House of Lords?
LONDON (AP) Britain's government says it's time to force through long proposed attempts to reform the 700-year-old House of Lords, the country's unelected upper chamber.
Members of the Lords can revise laws proposed by the elected House of Commons and delay their passage, but do not have a role in creating legislation.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Wednesday that the government hoped to replace the 775-member Lords which has its roots in the Middle Ages with a 450-seat, mainly elected chamber, possibly called the Senate.
The task has frustrated British governments for decades, amid dissent from the Lords themselves and squabbles over the likely costs.
"We've been talking about it as a country for 100 years," Clegg says. "I think we should just now get on with it."
NEW: Police: 5 suspected of stealing 9.5 tons of garlic
VIENNA (AP) Austrian police did not need sniffing dogs to locate this suspected heist 9.5 tons of garlic.
The Austria Press Agency says police stopped three overloaded and sagging vans about to cross into Hungary from Austria on Wednesday and found them packed to the roof with the pungent cargo. After questioning the five men in the vehicles they charged them on suspicion of receiving stolen goods.
Police say the garlic apparently came from Spain and estimate its value at $37,500. The men all Romanian nationals were not named, in line with Austrian privacy laws.
APA cites one officer as saying it was clear what the vans were carrying even before their doors were opened.
"All three vehicles really stunk like garlic," he says.