DRY BRANCH, W.Va. (AP) — For Bonnie Wireman, the white plastic bag covering her kitchen faucet is a reminder that she can’t drink the water.
The 81-year-old woman placed it there after forgetting several times the tap water was tainted after a coal processing chemical leaked into the area’s water supply. Every time she turned on the water, she quickly stopped and cleaned her hands with peroxide — just to make sure she was safe.
The widow of a coal miner, Wireman was angered about the chemical spill that’s deprived 300,000 West Virginians of clean tap water for four days, but doesn’t blame the coal or chemical industries.
“I hope this doesn’t hurt coal,” said Wireman, who lives in an area known as Chemical Valley because of all the plants nearby. “Too many West Virginians depend on coal and chemicals. We need those jobs.”
And that’s the dilemma for many West Virginians: The industries provide thousands of good paying jobs but also pose risks for the communities surrounding them, such as the chemical spill or coal mine disasters. The current emergency began Thursday after a foaming agent used in coal processing escaped from a Freedom Industries plant in Charleston and seeped into the Elk River. Since then, residents have been ordered not to use tap water for anything but flushing toilets.
Iran, 6 world powers agree to deal opening Islamic Republic’s nuclear program
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment and to open its nuclear program to daily inspection by international experts starting Jan. 20, setting the clock running on a six-month deadline for a final nuclear agreement, officials said Sunday.
In exchange, the Islamic Republic will get a relaxation of the financial sanctions that have been crippling its economy.
The announcement that Iran and six world powers had agreed on the plan for implementing an interim agreement came first from Iranian officials and was later confirmed elsewhere. Some U.S. lawmakers have been leery of the agreement, calling for tougher sanctions against Iran, rather than any loosening of controls.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying the deal, which sets the terms of a landmark agreement reached in November, would take effect from Jan. 20. The agency said Iran will grant the United Nations’ watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency access to its nuclear facilities and its centrifuge production lines to confirm it is complying with terms of the deal.
Araghchi later told state television some $4.2 billion in seized oil revenue would be released under the deal. Senior officials in U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration put the total relief figure at $7 billion.
Israelis pay final respects to former prime minister and general Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israelis from all walks of life flocked to parliament Sunday to catch a glimpse of Ariel Sharon’s coffin and pay their final respects to the iconic former prime minister and general.
A stream of visitors ranging from former army comrades to political allies to citizens who only knew him from afar remembered Sharon as a decisive leader, for better or for worse, and one of the final heroes of Israel’s founding generation.
“Words escape me. He was just a man who was larger than life,” said a choked-up Shlomo Mann, 68, who served under Sharon’s command in the 1973 Mideast war. “Those who didn’t know him from up close can’t truly understand what a legend he was. There will never be anyone else like him.”
The 85-year-old Sharon died Saturday eight years after a devastating stroke left him in a coma.
In a career that stretched across much of Israel’s 65-year existence, his life was closely intertwined with the country’s history. He was a leader known for his exploits on the battlefield, masterminding Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, building Jewish settlements on war-won land and then, late in life, destroying some that he deemed no longer useful when he withdrew from the Gaza Strip.
Kerry calls attendance a credibility test as Syrian infighting strains democracy
PARIS (AP) — Syria’s Western-backed opposition came under steely pressure Sunday to attend peace talks in just over a week as envoys from 11 countries converged to help restore, and test, credibility of a rebel coalition sapped by vicious infighting and indecision.
But diplomacy’s limits were starkly apparent in Syria itself, where activists said rebel-on-rebel clashes have killed nearly 700 people in the deadliest bout of infighting since the civil war began.
The bloodshed, pitting al-Qaida-linked militants against several Islamist and more moderate rebel brigades, has begun to overshadow the broader war against the government.
Sunday’s meetings in Paris came just over a week before the scheduled talks in Switzerland, as the Syrian National Coalition nears collapse, its influence eroded by the chronic infighting, international pressure and disagreement over whether to negotiate with Syria’s president, Bashar Assad.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined 10 other foreign ministers who urged coalition President Ahmed al-Jarba to deliver his group to the Switzerland talks and finally meet face-to-face with the government it hopes to overthrow. Kerry said he was confident the coalition would be at the talks, and hinted at a diplomatic backlash from its allies if it skips the meetings.
Vote on new constitution could define Egypt’s post-Morsi future
CAIRO (AP) — With a presidential run by Egypt’s powerful military chief seeming more likely by the day, this week’s constitution referendum, to be held amid a massive security force deployment, is widely seen as a vote of confidence in the regime he installed last summer.
The charter is an overhaul of an Islamist-backed constitution adopted in December 2012 during the rule of Mohammed Morsi, the ousted president, and his Muslim Brotherhood. Drafted by a 50-member panel of mostly secular-leaning politicians, it criminalizes discrimination, enshrines gender equality and guarantees a raft of freedoms and rights.
And crucially, the Jan. 14-15 vote provides the country’s increasingly popular military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, with a first electoral test since he ousted Morsi in a military coup on July 3. A comfortable “yes” vote and a respectable turnout would be seen as bestowing legitimacy, while undermining the Islamists’ argument that Morsi remains the nation’s elected president.
“It is not just a referendum on the constitution. It is on many things, including el-Sissi and the fight against violence by militants,” said analyst and columnist Makram Mohammed Ahmed, who is close to the military. “I cannot imagine that a big ‘yes’ majority will automatically usher in a new legitimacy that will be swiftly recognized by the West, but it is a good constitution that must be given its due.”
With the stakes so high, authorities are undertaking a massive security operation to protect polling stations and voters. The deployment involves 160,000 soldiers, including elite paratroopers and commandos backed by armored vehicles and helicopters, according to military and security officials.
Car bombings and clashes kill 21 civilians in Iraq as militant siege in 2 cities rages on
BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of car bomb attacks and clashes between security forces and militants around and north of Baghdad killed at least 21 civilians, officials said Sunday, amid an ongoing standoff between Iraqi forces and al-Qaida-linked militants west of the Iraqi capital.
The deadliest blast occurred at a bustling bus station in central Baghdad when an explosives-laden car exploded outside, killing at least nine people and wounding 16, a police officer said. Thousands of people use the bus station every day or pass through the area. Last Thursday, a suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of security force recruits nearby, killing nearly two dozen.
Another parked car bomb targeted a gathering of buses and taxis in Baghdad’s northern Hurriyah neighborhood, killing four civilians and wounding 12, the same police officer said.
Shortly after sunset, fighting erupted in Baghdad’s western suburbs of Abu Ghraib as gunmen attacked a military convoy, authorities said. Army artillery shells later landed on the Sunni village of al-Mahsna in Abu Ghraib, killing five civilians and wounding 13, police said.
Later, a suicide car bomb exploded in the northern town of Tuz Khormato, followed minutes later by bomb hidden in a cart nearby, Mayor Shalal Abdoul said. He said the blasts killed three people and wounded 27.
Neighbor accuses Justin Bieber of egging home; singer investigated for assault, vandalism
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies are investigating Justin Bieber for yet another dispute with a neighbor that could land him in court.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore says Bieber has been named as a suspect in a misdemeanor vandalism and assault crime report for allegedly throwing eggs at a neighbor’s home in their gated Calabasas neighborhood Thursday evening.
The 19-year-old pop star allegedly egged the house while his neighbor and neighbor’s daughter were on the balcony. Whitmore says the two videotaped the incident.
Whitmore says Bieber won’t speak to deputies. Depending on the damage estimate, a charge could rise to a felony.
In October, prosecutors declined to charge Bieber after a neighbor complained he drove recklessly through the area.