EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 9, 2013

Around the World and Nation


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — The central Philippine city of Tacloban was in ruins Saturday, a day after being ravaged by one of the strongest typhoons on record, as horrified residents spoke of storm surges as high as trees and authorities said they were expecting a “very high number of fatalities.”

At least 138 people were confirmed dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. But Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwen Pang said that agency field staff in the region estimated the toll was about 1,000. Pang, however, emphasized that it was “just an estimate.”

The typhoon slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, wiping away buildings and leveling seaside homes. At least 118 of the confirmed deaths were on hardest-hit Leyte Island, where Tacloban is located, said national disaster agency spokesman Maj. Reynaldo Balido.

But after arriving in Tacloban on Saturday, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said it was too early to know how many people had died in the storm, which was heading toward Vietnam after moving away from the Philippines.

“The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” Roxas said. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living — communications, power, water — all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way.”

Talks between Iran and world powers over disputed nuclear program hit a snag

GENEVA (AP) — Talks on a deal to temporarily curb Iran’s nuclear program ran into trouble Saturday when France questioned whether the proposal went far enough, casting doubt an agreement could be reached during the current round of negotiations.

Chances of bridging all differences appeared to diminish as the day went on, but efforts continued. The foreign ministers of the seven delegations discussing Iran convened a meeting late Saturday night, and were later joined by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in what appeared to be last-ditch efforts to salvage the talks.

France’s insistence on tough terms on Iran surfaced earlier. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke of “several points that ... we’re not satisfied with compared to the initial text,” telling France-Inter Radio his nation does not want to be part of a “con game.”

He did not elaborate, but it appeared France wanted tougher constraints on a reactor that will make plutonium when completed and also on parts of Iran’s enrichment program.

Iranian state TV strongly criticized the French position, calling France “Israel’s representatives at the talks,” while Iran’s IRNA news agency cited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as urging world powers to reach a deal.

Journalists covering Syria’s civil war face a growing risk of kidnapping, murder

BEIRUT (AP) — Behind a veil of secrecy, at least 30 journalists have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Syria — held and threatened with death by extremists or taken captive by gangs seeking ransom.

The widespread seizure of journalists is unprecedented, and has been largely unreported by news organizations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help to negotiate the captives’ release.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 30 journalists are being held and 52 have been killed since Syria’s civil war began in early 2011. The group also has documented at least 24 other journalists who disappeared earlier this year but are now safe. In a report this week, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders cited higher figures, saying at least 60 “news providers” are detained and more than 110 have been killed.

The discrepancy stems from varying definitions of what constitutes a journalist because much of the reporting and news imagery coming out of Syria is not from traditional professional journalists. Some of those taken have been activists affiliated with the local “media offices” that have sprouted up across opposition-held territory.

Only 10 of the international journalists currently held have been identified publicly by their families or news organizations: four French citizens, two Americans, one Jordanian, one Lebanese, one Spaniard and one Mauritanian. The remaining missing are a combination of foreign and Syrian journalists, some of whose names have not been publicly disclosed due to security concerns.

Utah doctor’s conviction follows long pursuit by victim’s family

PROVO, Utah (AP) — The conviction of a Utah doctor in the murder of his wife was the culmination of a yearslong pursuit of justice by the family of the victim.

The daughters and sisters of Michele MacNeill hounded authorities to investigate Martin MacNeill amid an initial finding that the 2007 death was natural, possibly from heart disease. They attended court hearings and sat in the front row of the courtroom at a 2012 preliminary hearing holding photos of Michele MacNeill. They were in Provo again throughout this three-week trial, listening intently. Several of them testified.

When the verdict was read, they let out a loud yelp before dissolving in tears as the jury delivered its verdict to the tense, packed courtroom.

“We’re just so happy he can’t hurt anyone else,” said Alexis Somers, one of his older daughters and his main protagonist. “We miss our mom; we’ll never see her again. But that courtroom was full of so many people who loved her.”

The jury convicted MacNeill of first-degree murder about 12 hours after getting the case, returning the verdict after 1 a.m. He faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 7. He also was found guilty of obstruction of justice, which could add 1-15 years.

Thousands gather for WWII Doolittle Raiders’ final toast events in Ohio

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The surviving Doolittle Raiders, all in their 90s, considered their place in history for their daring World War II attack on Japan amid thousands of cheering fans, as they prepared for a final ceremonial toast Saturday to their fallen comrades.

A B-25 bomber flyover helped cap an afternoon memorial tribute in which a wreath was placed at the Doolittle Raider monument outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton. Museum officials estimated some 5,000 people turned out for Veterans Day weekend events honoring the 1942 mission credited with rallying American morale and throwing the Japanese off balance.

Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said America was at a low point, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other Axis successes, before “these 80 men who showed the nation that we were nowhere near defeat.” He noted that all volunteered for a mission with high risks throughout, from the launch of B-25 bombers from a carrier at sea, the attack on Tokyo, and lack of fuel to reach safe bases.

Only four of the 80 are still alive. The Raiders said, at the time, they didn’t realize their mission would be considered an important event in turning the war’s tide. It inflicted little major damage physically, but changed Japanese strategy while firing up Americans.

“It was what you do ... over time, we’ve been told what effect our raid had on the war and the morale of the people,” Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93, said in an interview.

As game draws near, Dolphins fend off questions about Martin-Incognito harassment case

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The latest allegations from tackle Jonathan Martin went mostly unanswered Saturday by the Miami Dolphins, weary of fending off questions about the harassment case that has rocked the franchise.

“I’m not going to give you nothing,” offensive lineman Nate Garner told a throng of reporters in a genial tone.

“I’m only talking about football,” center Mike Pouncey said.

“We have a game on Monday,” defensive end Cameron Wake added. “I’m not thinking about anybody that’s not in this locker room, and that’s the truth.”

The Dolphins creating all the attention this week aren’t with the team. Martin left last week and alleges he was harassed by teammates, including guard Richie Incognito, who has been suspended.