EarthLink – News
2 people dead, dozens of homes damaged in Indonesian quake
Mon, July 15, 2019 03:06 EDT
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A strong earthquake in eastern Indonesia killed two people and damaged at least dozens of homes, a disaster official said Monday, as the government declared a seven-day emergency response period.
The magnitude 7.3 quake on Sunday was centered 166 kilometers (103 miles) southeast of Ternate, the capital of North Maluku province, at a depth of just 10 kilometers (6 miles). Shallow quakes can cause more damage.
National disaster agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said two women were killed by collapsing houses and more than 2,000 people have fled to temporary shelters. The quake was followed by at least 65 smaller aftershocks.
The agency is still assessing the level of destruction but said two bridges and about 58 homes in one village alone, Saketa, were damaged.
Authorities said there was no tsunami risk from the quake, but many people ran to higher ground anyway. TV footage showed people screaming while running out of a shopping mall in Ternate.
The hardest-hit areas, Sofifi and Labuha, only can be accessed by a 10-hour boat trip from Ternate or by small plane, Wibowo said.
With a population of around 1 million, North Maluku is one of Indonesia’s least populous provinces.
Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.
EarthLink – News
Weakened Barry unleashes a final blast of torrential rains
By REBECCA SANTANA and JONATHAN DREW | Mon, July 15, 2019 01:54 EDT
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tropical Depression Barry failed to unleash catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, but it still swamped parts of Louisiana with up to 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain and transformed part of the Mississippi Delta into “an ocean.”
Although Barry was downgraded from a tropical storm Sunday afternoon, its torrential rains continued to pose a threat Monday. Much of Louisiana and Mississippi were under flash-flood watches, as were parts of Arkansas, eastern Texas, western Tennessee and southeastern Missouri.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to be cautious as they ventured outside after a weekend in which many had sheltered indoors.
He said he was “extremely grateful” that the storm had not caused the catastrophic floods that had earlier been forecast. More than 90 people had been rescued in 11 parishes, but there were no reports of weather-related fatalities, Edwards said.
“This was a storm that obviously could have played out very, very differently,” he said. “We’re thankful that the worst-case scenario did not happen.”
But Barry was still proving disastrous in parts of Louisiana, particularly in areas north of Lake Charles where streams and rivers were on the rise. Up to 17 inches (43 centimeters) has fallen in isolated spots in that part of the state, the National Weather Service stated in one of numerous flash flood warnings issued Monday.
“Please don’t drive through these flooded areas,” Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso pleaded with motorists.
“I noticed our rivers coming up real quick,” Mancuso said in an interview aired on KPLC-TV . “It’s just very serious right now.”
In Mississippi, forecasters said 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain had fallen in parts of Jasper and Jones counties, with several more inches possible. An additional 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) was expected Monday in the western part of the state, including parts of the rural Delta that have been flooded for months from the Mississippi River and its backwaters.
“The South Delta has become an ocean,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant wrote on Twitter on Monday.
He’s calling on the federal government to build pumps to drain water from the confluence of the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers. The EPA shelved the project in 2008 amid concerns about wetlands and wildlife. The Trump administration has said it might reconsider that decision.
Forecasters had warned of a continued threat of heavy rains into Monday as the center of the storm trudged inland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday parts of south-central Louisiana could still have rainfall totals of up to 12 inches (30 centimeters), with isolated pockets of 15 inches (38 centimeters).
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Sunday the city was “beyond lucky” that rainfall there fell well short of early predictions of a deluge that could overwhelm the city’s pumping systems.
“We were spared,” she said at a news conference, while noting the city was ready to help nearby parishes hit harder.
About 51,000 customers in Louisiana, 1,800 customers in Mississippi and another 1,700 customers in Arkansas were without power Sunday night, according to poweroutage.us.
Edwards thanked the public for taking officials’ warnings seriously over the weekend, but he also reminded residents that it is still relatively early in the Atlantic’s hurricane season.
“Based on what we’ve experienced, I think (we will be) even better prepared for next time — and we do know that there will be a next time,” Edwards said.
Drew reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Kevin McGill in New Orleans; Jay Reeves in Mandeville; Rogelio Solis in Morgan City; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; Jeff Martin in Atlanta; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina.
For the latest on Tropical Storm Barry, visit https://apnews.com/Hurricanes .
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
EarthLink – News
Salvadoran accused of abortion faces retrial, hefty sentence
By MARCOS ALEMAN | Mon, July 15, 2019 10:24 EDT
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A young woman who gave birth to a baby in an outhouse toilet in El Salvador was back in court Monday facing a second trial for murder in a case that has drawn international attention because of the country’s highly restrictive abortion laws.
Evelyn Beatriz Hernández, who says she is a rape victim and had no idea she was pregnant, had already served 33 months of her 30-year sentence when the Supreme Court overturned the ruling against her in February and ordered a new trial, with a new judge.
It is the first retrial of an abortion case in a country that aggressively pursues legal cases against women who have experienced miscarriages and obstetric emergencies, accusing them of murder.
“I want justice to be done. I know everything is going to be OK. My faith lies with God and my lawyers,” Hernández told journalists as she entered the courthouse, adding that she hopes for “good things, unlike what happened before, and I am innocent.”
Women’s rights advocates hope the new government of President Nayib Bukele, who took office in June, will soften the country’s stance on women’s reproductive rights — starting with an acquittal for Hernández. Dozens of women have been jailed in El Salvador with similar convictions.
“What Evelyn is living is the nightmare of many women in El Salvador,” said her lawyer, Elizabeth Deras.
Hernández has said she recalls making her way to an outhouse in a poor, rural community in April 2016 with strong abdominal pains. She squatted to defecate, she says, and the baby must have slid to the bottom of the septic tank. Evelyn’s mother says she found her daughter passed out next to the makeshift toilet and hailed a pickup truck to transport her to a hospital 30 minutes away.
The fetus was 32 weeks old — nearly full term — and forensic examiners weren’t able to determine whether the death occurred in the womb, or in the feces. The cause of death remains unclear.
Both women insist they didn’t know there was a baby in the septic tank.
“I truly did not know I was pregnant,” Hernández said Monday. “If I had known, I would have awaited it with pride and with joy.”
Prosecutors don’t believe them, though the Supreme Court accepted defense lawyers’ argument that no proof had been presented that Hernández caused the baby’s death.
The Associated Press only identifies victims of alleged sexual assault by name if the victims themselves go public with the allegations.
The trial of Hernández, 21, was set to begin Monday in what looks to be the first test for women’s reproductive rights under Bukele, who is young and has expressed disdain for all forms of discrimination.
Bukele has said he believes abortion is only acceptable when the mother’s life is at risk but that he’s “completely against” criminalizing women who have miscarriages.
“If a poor woman has a miscarriage, she’s immediately suspected of having had an abortion,” Bukele said in 2018. “We can’t assume guilt when what a woman needs is immediate assistance.”
Later Monday, the court adjourned the trial until July 26, because of a prosecution witness’ health issue.
Women who turn up at public hospitals following a miscarriage are sometimes accused of having killed the fetus.
Recent public opinion polls in El Salvador show broad support for more lenient abortion laws, such as allowing medical interventions when a mother’s life is in danger or the fetus is not viable. However, many Salvadorans still believe rape victims should be obligated to carry out their pregnancies.
An intervention on behalf of Hernández would show that Bukele is “interested in the lives of women,” said Deras. Morena Herrera, who fights for women’s reproductive rights in El Salvador, also urged Bukele to raise his voice “in favor of Evelyn” so that the young woman can get on with her life.
Bukele has not spoken publicly about the Hernández case.
El Salvador is one of three countries in Central America with total bans on abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger.
Salvadoran law dictates up to eight years in prison for women who intentionally terminate a pregnancy, and for medical practitioners who assist them. However, aggressive prosecutors frequently upgrade the charges to aggravated homicide, which carries a maximum 40-year sentence.
The Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion in El Salvador has tracked 146 prosecutions against women for abortion since 2014. Of those cases, 60 women were sentenced to jail, with 24 convicted of aggravated homicide. Some insist they suffered miscarriages and did not intentionally terminate their pregnancies.
The punishments often fall on poor, young women and victims of rape.
El Salvador is a deeply religious country, with 80% identifying as either Catholic or Evangelical Christian.
But it’s also a country plagued by gang violence and macho attitudes about the roles of women. Every year, an estimated 25,000 women are impregnated after rapes in the country of just over 6 million inhabitants. It’s believed that thousands of clandestine abortions are carried out each year in El Salvador.
EarthLink – News
Italian police clear migrant squatters amid burning debris
By NICOLE WINFIELD and DEREK GATOPOULOS | Mon, July 15, 2019 12:08 EDT
ROME (AP) — Migrants and squatters set up burning barricades at an abandoned school outside Rome on Monday after police were ordered to clear the site.
Residents set fire to tires, mattresses, and garbage to try and deter the police in riot gear. But authorities doused the blaze and proceeded with the eviction.
Police used mobile video cameras in the operation along with a negotiator who used a loudspeaker to tell the building occupants: “Those who have nothing to do with this, families, come down. You can come down, come. Nothing will happen.”
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has championed a crackdown on migrants, said Italy had “no tolerance” for anyone who illegally occupies abandoned buildings. He said the structure was dangerous and put women and children living there at risk.
City hall officials said they were providing alternative housing for the nearly 200 people affected.
Rome has a long history of squatters, with Italians and migrants alike lamenting a lack of affordable housing.
The number of migrants crossing the central Mediterranean to Europe has fallen sharply over the past year, according to the European Union’s border protection agency Frontex, with an increase reported in June in the East Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration and home affairs, was in Athens to meet officials from Greece’s new conservative government, which has promised to speed up the asylum process for migrants and refugees and restart deportations to neighboring Turkey.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met Avramopoulos and government officials later said that discussions focused on rapidly reducing a backlog of asylum applications and a return to the terms of a 2016 EU-Turkey agreement that allow for the deportation of migrants whose applications have been rejected.
Mitsotakis’ conservatives won a general election this month on a pledge to cut taxes and take a tougher line on migration. Greece and NATO-ally Turkey are currently at odds over a drilling rights dispute around the war-divided island of Cyprus.
Derek Gatopoulos reported from Athens, Greece.
Follow https://twitter.com/nwinfield and Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos
EarthLink – News
Police say Greek man detained in American scientist’s death
Mon, July 15, 2019 02:15 EDT
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek man has been detained for questioning in the slaying of an American scientist on the island of Crete, police said Monday.
Authorities said the 27-year-old man detained Monday was one of 10 people interviewed over the weekend for the investigation of Suzanne Eaton’s slaying. He was not named in accordance with Greek law.
Eaton, a 59-year-old molecular biologist, was attending a conference on Crete when she went missing on July 2. Her body was found six days later in a tunnel used as a storage site during World War II.
A coroner has said her death resulted from a criminal act but did not elaborate.
The detained man, police said, was being questioned in the port city of Chania in connection with the killing.
Homicide detectives traveled from Athens to the island to head the investigation. Police and Fire Service officials had taken part in an extensive search for Eaton, who is believed to have gone for a run before her disappearance.
Eaton was from New York state but had been living and working in Germany at the Max Planck Institute in eastern city of Dresden. In messages on the Institute’s website, her brother, Rob Eaton, described his sister as kind and intelligent.
“I have lost a sister. The world has lost more than it will ever know,” he wrote. “I will miss our animated conversations. I would always walk away with a head full of new ideas and enthusiasm. Most of all I will miss the kindest, wisest person I will probably ever know.”