Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hurricane Tomas.

Haiti Braces for Hurricane Tomas

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—This battered country is bracing for the arrival of a hurricane later this week that could complicate its efforts to control a cholera outbreak, and expose hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors living in tent cities to high winds and heavy rains.
Residents attend Mass in front of the destroyed national cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday.
Hurricane Tomas weakened slightly Sunday as it moved through the eastern Caribbean as a Category 1 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. But the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami forecast that it would strengthen by the time it turns northwest toward Haiti later this week. The slow-moving storm means the island nation could endure hours of wind and rain.
"Haiti is a very big concern with this storm," NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. But it isn't possible to determine what the impact on Haiti will be as its path is still uncertain, he cautioned. "There is a great deal of uncertainty as to where the storm will go after 72 hours."
The approaching storm is adding to the challenges for Haitian and international aid officials already combating a cholera epidemic, which has sickened at least 4,764 people and killed 337 as of Saturday, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health. Flooding from the hurricane is likely to further contaminate water and put stress on poor sanitation systems, increasing the chances of the disease's spread, health officials said.
"We've been planning hurricane preparedness for months, but to cope with that on top of cholera is hugely complex and demanding, and placing massive pressure on resources already stretched," said Imogen Wall, a spokeswoman for the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "We need to move supplies quickly and our logistics are concentrated on cholera right now."
On Sunday, aid workers and camp leaders were scrambling to protect more than 1.3 million displaced survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake who live in more than 1,300 tent cities spread throughout the capital of Port-au-Prince. They also emptied warehouses of tarps and ropes to distribute to the camps. Survivors have been living in homemade, tattered tents of tin, cardboard and plastic sheets, all strung together in endless rows to fortify them against heavy rains. But they may not resist a hurricane.
Meanwhile, one map that aid workers reviewed showed many weather shelters are in hospitals—some of which are busy treating cholera patients, said some relief workers.
Focused for the past 10 days on getting water to Artibonite Valley to contain the cholera outbreak, emergency officials now have to shift resources to the country's south coast—the area most likely to be affected by Tomas, Ms. Wall said.
"You need boats and helicopters, which are already in use to distribute chlorine, to get supplies to the south," she added. "The roads will be inaccessible due to flooding."
Trucks carrying fuel supplies were dispatched by relief agencies on Sunday to Jacmel, a city on the south coast, in the event that access to fuel is cut off by the storm. Humanitarian officials have enough food for 1.1 million Haitians for six weeks, said OCHA, the coordinating office for relief agencies.
At Camp Corail, a sprawling tent city outside of Port-au-Prince, relief workers were fighting against time to build hurricane-resistant shelters. Some 7,500 earthquake survivors were relocated here in April in efforts to reduce the more than 1,316 campsites in the capital.
Workers were building shelters for at least 1,000 people before Hurricane Tomas arrives. Only 115 shelters had been built as of Sunday afternoon.
The camp's population has swelled to about 40,000 people and lacks a medical clinic, according to Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for the Organization for International Migration, which manages the camps.
"The situation is tense and we are trying to move families discreetly so as to avoid things getting out of control here," he said.
A massive storm in September destroyed 100 tents here and flooded the camp, which is the size of five football fields.
The newest shelters stood out among the thousands of igloo-looking tents placed here since April. Meristal Uluse, a 31-year old father of five, moved Sunday into one of the new shelters. It is made of fireproof fiberboard walls on reinforced cement floor with a tin roof.
Mr. Uluse's family is still in a village in the mountain above the capital, and he said he plans to bring them to the camp in mid-November.  (the wallstreet journal)
— Betsy McKay
contributed to this article 

Brazil's presidential election.

Rousseff wins Brazil's presidential election race

31 October 2010 Last updated at 22:51 GMT

Dilma RousseffDilma Rousseff has been elected president of Brazil, succeeding Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, electoral officials have confirmed.
Ms Rousseff, 62, who had never before held elected office, becomes the country's first woman president.
She has enjoyed the full support of President Lula, who is leaving after two terms with record popularity.
Ms Rousseff has promised to continue policies that have fostered years of strong economic growth.
She has won 55% of those votes, with her main rival Jose Serra taking 46%.

    The Superior Electoral Court declared her the winner with 92% of the votes counted.
This second round of voting was forced after Ms Rousseff fell short of the 50% needed in the 3 October first round. She won 47% to Mr Serra's 33%. More than 130 million voters were due to take part in the polls.
'New phase'
The career civil servant is expected to broadly continue Mr Lula's left-leaning policies, with an emphasis on raising government efficiency, expanding the role of the state in some sectors such as mining, and upgrading the country's decrepit infrastructure.
A bill aimed at reforming Brazil's Byzantine tax system is likely to be Ms Rousseff's first major legislative effort after taking over from President Lula on 1 January.


It wasn't the outright first round win President Lula had hoped for, but in the end he has managed to ensure his preferred successor, Dilma Rousseff was elected.
The campaign of Jose Serra was an uphill struggle against a president boasting approval ratings of about 80%. But even though the second round campaign was heated, with many personal attacks and corruption allegations, the candidates didn't differ much in what they had to offer to voters, nor went into great detail over their programmes.
Brazilians have elected Ms Rousseff trusting she will be able to build on President Lula's social and economic achievements. But they do not have a clear idea of the first woman to be elected for the highest office in the country.
She's considered a tough and efficient manager but she hasn't yet shown her political skills, especially when compared to President Lula, who's often described as a master negotiator.
She can count on strengthened majorities for the ruling coalition in both houses of Congress to help ease the task of pushing her legislative agenda.
Ms Rousseff flashed a victory sign and gave a big smile to photographers after casting her vote in the southern city of Porto Alegre.
"Tomorrow we begin a new phase in our democracy", she said.
"I will govern for everyone, speak for all Brazilians, without exceptions".
After casting his vote in Sao Paulo, Mr Serra of the Social Democratic Party said that after eight years of government by the Workers Party, Brazil needed change.
But he said he had faced an "uneven battle", in apparent reference to the booming economy that has boosted the popularity of President Lula and his preferred successor.
Jose Serra, 68, is a former governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous state, and a former health minister.
Mr Lula has been active and highly visible in Ms Rousseff's election campaign. He has to step down after completing the maximum allowed two consecutive terms. (bbc)

Our Lady of Salvation church in central Baghdad (file photo)There are about 1.5 million Christians from ancient denominations in Iraq

Baghdad church hostage drama ends in bloodbath

Click to play
The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says that the full death toll remains unclear
At least 37 people have been killed after Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church in central Baghdad to free dozens of hostages being held by gunmen there, security sources say.
Twenty-five hostages were among the dead, along with seven members of the Iraqi security forces and at least five of the attackers, they told the BBC.
About 100 people had been inside Our Lady of Salvation for an evening Mass.
The gunmen had reportedly demanded the release of jailed al-Qaeda militants.
The local TV station, al-Baghdadiya, said it had received a phone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers, who said they were from the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group to which al-Qaeda in Iraq belongs.
Reports said the attackers were not Iraqis, but foreign Arabs.
The raid came two days after a suicide attack on a cafe in Diyala province left 21 people dead.
'Priest killed'
Residents of Baghdad's Karada district, where the attack took place, first heard a loud explosion at about 1700 (1400 GMT), followed by gunfire.
Police said a group of armed men began by attacking the Iraq Stock Exchange building, and then took over the Catholic church just across the road, clashing with guards and killing some of them.
Security forces later surrounded the church and sealed off the area, with helicopters hovering overhead. Then they stormed the building.
Witnesses nearby said they then heard two explosions from inside the church and more shooting.
One eyewitness, who was inside the church, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the gunmen "came into the prayer hall and immediately killed the priest".
The witness, who declined to give his name, said the people in the church had huddled into the main prayer hall when the gunbattles began with the security forces.
The gunmen reportedly threw grenades and blew their suicide vests.
There were no negotiations with the gunmen before the security forces stormed the church, reports suggest.
Witnesses also say they saw US troops on the ground and US military helicopters hovering above the scene, but the extent of their involvement is not yet clear.
"The operation has finished and we released all the hostages," said the commander of police in south-eastern Baghdad, Brig-Gen Ali Ibrahim.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are different figures from different sources for the number of hostages and attackers involved, and how many of each were killed or captured.
Earlier reports said that two security guards at the stock exchange had been killed before the attackers occupied the church.
Many churches have been bombed in recent years - including Our Lady of Salvation in August 2004 - and priests kidnapped and killed, but there has never been a prolonged hostage situation like this before, our correspondent says.
There are about 1.5 million Christians from ancient denominations in Iraq.
Iraqi Christians have been leaving the country in droves since the US-led invasion in 2003. (bbc)

Indonesia News -- volcano

Merapi erupts again, sparking fresh exodus

A police officer and a volunteer walk from house to house to search for villagers to be evacuated following the eruption of Mount Merapi in Pakem on Saturday.
APA police officer and a volunteer walk from house to house to search for villagers to be evacuated following the eruption of Mount Merapi in Pakem on Saturday.

Mount Merapi in Indonesia spewed another searing cloud of ash down its slopes on Sunday, prompting panic and chaos among thousands of villagers who had taken advantage of a lull in activity to rush home and check on their livestock.
The new eruption came as rescuers hundreds of kilometres away finally were able to resume food deliveries and evacuate injured victims of a tsunami triggered by a 7.7—magnitude earthquake near a chain of remote islands off western Sumatra. The number of people killed in the twin catastrophes climbed to almost 500 on Sunday.
Sirens blared, and people jumped into rivers trying to escape Mount Merapi’s latest fury, while others sprinted down the mountain or sped off in cars and trucks, local disaster official Rusdiyanto said.
It wasn’t clear if there were any new casualties on Sunday, though an official said the ash cloud was not near populated areas. The volcano has killed 38 people since Tuesday.
The notoriously unpredictable mountain had been mostly quiet on Sunday after letting out its most powerful eruption of the week on Saturday. Despite warnings from officials, thousands of the more than 53,000 people who had been evacuated from the danger zone rushed back Sunday morning to check on their livestock high up on the scorched slopes.
“My farm has been destroyed by volcanic debris and thick dust. ... All I have left now are my cows and goats,” said Subarkah, who lives less than two miles (three kilometers) from the peak. “I have to find grass and bring it up to them, otherwise they’ll die.”
Since the eruptions began on Tuesday, officials have struggled to keep villagers off the slopes of Merapi, which means Fire Mountain. More than 2,000 troops had to be called in Saturday to force men, women and children to leave.
The airport in Solo, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Merapi, was forced to close Sunday for at least an hour due to volcanic dust that fell like rain, said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the transportation ministry.
National airline Garuda Indonesia also rerouted flights from Yogyakarta because of concerns that volcanic dust from Merapi, 30 kilometers to the north, would damage plane engines, airline spokesman Pujobroto said.
The 46-minute eruption on Sunday shot dust about two kilometers into the air and a cloud of hot ash a kilometre down Merapi’s eastern and southern slopes, said Surono, chief of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation.
“There should be no casualties from the new eruption because the flow of hot ash is lower and far from populated areas,” Mr Surono said.
He said heavy rain on Sunday increased the danger of another larger eruption because water falling into the fiery crater can create sudden vapour pressure in the lava dome, he said.
In the last century, more than 1,400 people have been killed by Merapi, one of the world’s most active volcanos. Since Saturday’s large eruption, the volcano has had 63 lava bursts and nine small gas emissions, said Mr Subandrio, an official with the volcano’s monitoring agency. “The trend seems to be that the volcanic activity is increasing,” he said.
Indonesia, a vast island nation of 235 million people, straddles a series of fault lines and volcanoes known as the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The fault that ruptured Monday, running the length of the west coast of Sumatra island, also caused the 9.1- magnitude quake that unleashed a monster tsunami around the Indian Ocean in 2004, killing 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Earlier on Sunday, Indonesian rescue workers were combing through hamlets on Mount Merapi’s slopes to forcibly evacuate residents who defied an evacuation order. Rescue teams of soldiers, police and volunteers were looking for more residents at four hamlets of Merapi’s southern slopes, one of the most dangerous areas.
The state-run Antara quoted a village chief named Bejo as saying that residents of the four hamlets would be evacuated to safety. “If there are still some residents staying at home, we will appeal them to immediately get into the evacuation vehicle. If they resist leaving then we force them,” said Bejo, who like many Indonesians uses only by one name.
There were reportedly several residents who defied the evacuation order, fearing for the security of their property.
The 2,968-metre volcano is located about 500 kilometres south-east of Jakarta. It’s most deadly eruption on record occurred in 1930 when 1,370 people were killed. At least 66 people were killed in a 1994 eruption and two people were killed in 2006.

David Cameron plans for British and French troops to serve in single brigade

Prime minister announces unprecedented military co-operation between London and Paris in future conflicts
David Cameron at the Conservative party conference
David Cameron is expected to tell MPs that military co-operation is in Britain's national interest. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
David Cameron will tomorrow outline plans for unprecedented military co-operation between London and Paris that will see British and French troops deployed as a single brigade in future conflicts.
Amid rising concerns among Eurosceptic Tories about a Anglo-French military treaty, to be signed at Lancaster House on Tuesday, the prime minister is expected to tell MPs that the co-operation derives from a "hard-headed" assessment of Britain's national interest.
Cameron will reach out to his party's Eurosceptics when he outlines the treaty at the end of a parliamentary statement on last week's European summit in Brussels. The centrepiece of the agreement, which will see all branches of the armed forces working together, will be plans for the French and British armies to be deployed in a single brigade. The first step will be a joint exercise in Flanders which is to be followed by more training together with the aim of deploying troops "alongside each other", in the words of one government source.
"Working together with France on defence makes good practical sense," a senior government source said . "This is about two sovereign countries working together based on a hard-headed assessment of what is in the British national interest."
Anglo-French military co-operation will be controversial for the prime minister because the Tories criticised the St Malo declaration signed by Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac in 1998. But Downing Street says that St Malo was about co-operation under the European security and defence policy, while the treaty is about bilateral co-operation between France and Britain.
Cameron will be at pains tomorrow to reassure Tory Eurosceptics that the Nato alliance remains the bedrock of British defence policy. But he is expected to tell MPs that the French president Nicolas Sarkozy's decision last year to reintegrate France fully into Nato – 43 years after Charles de Gaulle withdrew from the central military command – makes co-operation easier.
The prime minister will also make clear that Britain and France will stop short of full integration because there will be times when the interests of Paris and London diverge. France strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq.
The French and British armies have been involved in the same military operations before. British forces in Bosnia served under the command of the French general, Philippe Morillon. But he was a UN commander.
Cameron and Sarkozy are drawing up plans for British and French troops, with the support of their navies and air forces, to be deployed together. "You could see the French and the British deploying together in African countries where Britain and France have shared interests," one government source said of the plans that could see joint deployments in the future equivalent of the British operation in Sierra Leone in 1999, frequent French interventions in Chad and the operations in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.
The Anglo-French summit on Tuesday caps a week of intense European activity for the prime minister. It began last Thursday with the European summit in Brussels where he won agreement that future rises in EU spending should be linked to national budgets. In return the prime minister agreed to Germany's demand for a modest treaty revision to underpin future bailouts of ailing eurozone countries.
Over the weekend, the prime minister hosted Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, at Chequers. They agreed to establish a new trade experts' group, to be co-sponsored by Turkey and Indonesia, that will examine ways of reviving the Doha round of trade talks.The group is to be co-chaired by Peter Sutherland, the first director general of the World Trade Organisation, and Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, the intellectual father of India's liberalising economic reforms. (