- - Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Miracle baby emerges from quake rubble

ERCIS — After 48 hours, a miracle emerged from a narrow slit in rubble of a Turkish apartment building: a 2-week-old girl, half-naked but still breathing.

Stoic rescue workers erupted in cheers and applause at her arrival — and later for her mother’s and grandmother’s rescues — a ray of uplifting news on otherwise grim day.

The bad news just kept on coming Tuesday: The death toll from Sunday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake climbed to at least 459, desperate survivors fought over aid and blocked aid shipments, and a powerful aftershock ignited widespread panic that turned into a prison riot in the provincial city of Van.

With thousands of quake survivors facing a third night out in the open in near-freezing temperatures, Turkey set aside its national pride and said it would accept international aid offers, even from Israel, with which it has had strained relations as of late.

The dramatic operation to save three generations in one family was all the more remarkable because the infant, Azra Karaduman, was later declared healthy after being flown to a hospital in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

In a separate rescue, 10-year-old boy was pulled from the rubble of another building after being trapped for 54 hours, but he died later at a hospital, state-run TRT television reported.


Report: Dominican police torture, kill people

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Police in the Dominican Republic have been responsible for an alarming number of killings and torture in a five-year period, Amnesty International said in a report released Tuesday.

The report, titled “Shut up if you don’t want to be killed,” documents alleged human rights violations and calls for the police department to thoroughly investigate them.

“Authorities must ensure those responsible for the killings and torture face justice,” said Javier Zuniga, Amnesty International director for the Dominican Republic.

Police spokesman Maximo Baez said the department does prosecute officers accused of crimes including murder and that 156 officers have been charged since August 2010.

He said that police try to minimize side effects while fighting crime, but that they face “a very aggressive delinquency.”

Last week, Police Chief Jose Armando Polanco said he would not meet with Amnesty delegates unless they mentioned in the report that 55 police officers and soldiers were killed while on duty and another 170 injured. He said at the time that he would not comment further on the report.

At least 154 people were reported killed by police from January to July of this year, compared with 125 people in the same period last year, according to the Dominican Republic’s Office of the Prosecutor General.


Vatican investigating abuse claims at abbey

LONDON — The Vatican has ordered an inquiry into decades of sexual abuse by clerics at a Benedictine abbey in London whose former head monk has disappeared while facing allegations of sexual assault.

Ealing Abbey runs St. Benedict’s School, a private Catholic institution whose former pupils have made allegations of abuse dating back to the 1960s.

A former headmaster, Father David Pearce, was jailed in 2009 for abusing boys at the school for 35 years. He was dubbed the “devil in a dog collar” by one of his victims.

Father Laurence Soper, who was abbot of Ealing from 1991 to 2000, was arrested last year on suspicion of sexual assault. He is the subject of an international manhunt after jumping bail in March.

The Vatican confirmed Tuesday it had launched an investigation, known as an apostolic visitation.


Conservative government to ease gun laws

TORONTO — Canada’s Conservative government introduced legislation Tuesday to scrap a controversial law that requires the registration of rifles and shotguns.

Canada has long required registration of handguns, but the long-run registry law passed in 1995 faced bitter opposition in rural Canada, the Conservative party’s base, which considered it an overreaction to the problem of urban crime. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said it doesn’t want laws targeting law-abiding citizens such as hunters.

Police and victims groups are voicing opposition, but the Conservatives have a new majority in Parliament after national elections in May and now can scrap the law.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper previously tried to kill it, but his bill was narrowly defeated in the last Parliament.


Talks with U.S. yield progress, no deal on nuclear program

GENEVA — An intensive round of talks between the United States and North Korea on Pyongyang’s nuclear program ended Tuesday without a deal to resume formal negotiations.

But top diplomats from both sides reported progress on the steps that will be needed to finally get there.

The U.S. special envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, told reporters just after the two-day talks wrapped up that there had been progress without agreeing to a formal resumption of negotiations, either bilaterally on in the so-called six-party format that also includes China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

Nevertheless, he called it a useful meeting whose tone was “positive and generally constructive.”


Floodwaters close in, raising fears in Bangkok

BANGKOK — Advancing floodwaters in Thailand breached barriers protecting Bangkok’s second airport Tuesday, halting commercial flights at a complex that also houses the country’s flood relief headquarters and thousands of displaced people.

The flooding at Don Muang airport, less than 10 miles northwest of the center of Bangkok, is one of the biggest blows yet to government efforts to prevent the sprawling capital from being swamped.

Its effective closure is certain to further erode public confidence in the ability of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration to defend the increasingly anxious metropolis of 9 million people.

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, the country’s main international gateway southeast of the capital, has yet to be affected by flooding and flights there were operating normally. Most of the city has been spared inundation so far.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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