TURKEY QUAKE: AS TOLL RISES, ONE BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
-BABY AZRA…One of the rescuers at the scene put it this way to Alex MARQUARDT: “It was like I’d had a second child.” Alex and team were in Ercis, Turkey, where – 47 hours after the quake – a two week-old baby girl named Azra was lifted from the rubble, alive. Even before the quake the child faced a tough road ahead – born prematurely in this hardscrabble corner of eastern Turkey. But Azra is apparently in good condition. What followed was an all-out effort to reach her mother, Semiha, 25, and within an hour she was out, having been pinned against a couch for two days, inside the flattened building. “Crowd cheered, and the ambulance raced off,” MARQUARDT reports. He has just spoken to a very grateful brother-in-law. Now — the grandmother is out. As other reporters and onlookers gather — they’ve cordoned off the area as they try to reach others.
-MORE RESCUES…Earlier this morning, Clark BENTSON witnessed another survivor pulled from rubble and rushed to the hospital. As rescuers searched, BENTSON reports that about every 10 minutes or so there is a call for complete silence to allow rescuers to listen for signs of life.
-THE WEB CAN HELP…Yesterday we mentioned the Twitter and Facebook connections to the tragedy; Google also has a helping hand – in its Person Finder. The options on the opening page: “I’m Looking For Someone” or “I Have Info On Someone.”
-BIG PICTURE…Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Administration says the death toll has risen to 366, with nearly 2000 injured. Some 2,262 buildings have collapsed and the AP reports that a seven-story building just collapsed this morning in Van – two days after the quake. It is not known whether anyone was inside – but witnesses heard voices.
-THE COLD…MARQUARDT adds that thousands have spent a second night outdoors in near-freezing conditions in the stricken areas. Many have lost their homes – but many more are just afraid to go back indoors, as aftershocks continue. And as aid groups pour into Ercis, the Turkish Red Crescent says it has distributed up to 13,000 tents, and is preparing to provide temporary shelter for about 40,000 people. The relief agency was criticized for failing to ensure that some of the most needy, particularly in villages, received tents as temperatures plummeted overnight.
-A SECRET BURIAL…As Whitney LLOYD notes, it will be difficult to independently confirm today’s news – but officials of the new Libyan regime say Moammar Gadhafi, his son Mutassim and his defense minister were taken to an undisclosed location for burial this morning at dawn. A few relatives attended the burial and despite earlier doubts – members of the former leader’s tribe were allowed to pray over the body. Also today, the New York Times takes a look at recent White House discussion about Libya’s future - and Gadhafi’s future.
-HIS FINAL DAYS…A confidant of Moammar Gadhafi tells the AP that Libya’s former leader spent his final weeks shuttling between hideouts in his hometown of Sirte. The former chief of Libya’s feared Revolutionary Guards, who’s now in custody, says Gadhafi alternated between rage and melancholy as his regime crumbled around him. He adds that Gadhafi, his son Muatassim and an entourage of two dozen die-hard loyalists were largely cut off from the world while on the run.
-SON SAIF ON THE RUN…A high-ranking Tuareg official in Niger has told The Associated Press that Moammar Gadhafi’s son is making his way toward the country. Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, appears to taking the same route his brother al-Saadi Gadhafi used in September to flee Libya.
-DOUBLE STANDARDS?…We noted yesterday that Human Rights Watch had unearthed evidence of a massacre – a bloody mass execution at a Sirte hotel. Today, the New York Times writes that although it appeared to be one of the worst massacres of the eight-month conflict – no one from Libya’s new government had come to investigate. The interim leaders, who declared the country liberated on Sunday, may simply have their hands full with the responsibilities that come with running a state – but they have also shown themselves to be unwilling or incapable of looking into accusations of atrocities by their fighters.
-DOUBLE STANDARDS (PART II)…As criticism mounted this weekend over the way Gadhafi’s body was shown off – Arab bloggers were quick to point out that two notorious European dictators met similar fates. Recall what happened to Mussolini? Or Ceaucescu? Big debate rages – over whether the brutal treatment of Gadhafi was warranted – even given what he and his regime did while in power.
ARAB SPRING VOTES: STILL COUNTING
Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda Party appears set for a decisive victory in the country’s elections for a constituent assembly, in an historic test for how the region’s long suppressed Islamic movements will govern. The New Yorker has an interesting piece about why the Egyptian elections will be nothing like those in Tunisia. For starters – the rules in Egypt are “algorithmically complicated” – the NYer attempts to simplify. And Al Jazeera reports that a few international observers who have made it to nearly a dozen polling stations – are generally happy with the conduct of the Tunisian vote.
SYRIA: USING HOSPITALS FOR TORTURE?
Patients in government-run hospitals in Syria are being tortured in an attempt to suppress dissent, an Amnesty International report alleges. The 39-page report claims patients in at least four state hospitals have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including by medical staff. Many injured civilians consider it safer not going to hospital, it says. Syrian authorities have denied torturing opponents of the government.
FUNERAL FOR SAUDI CROWN PRINCE
World dignitaries have started arriving for today’s funeral of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Ben Abdul Aziz who died Saturday. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak are among the world leaders heading to the Saudi capital to offer condolences.
GAZA: FORMER PRISONERS PAMPERED ON THE STRIP
After years in prison, freed Palestinian prisoners deported to Gaza are enjoying five-star digs at Gaza’s brand new Al-Mashtal Hotel – on Hamas’ tab. The Washington Post writes that the splendor is startling – and steaks perfectly cooked – but not everyone is comfortable yet. “We sacrificed part of our lives not to stay in hotels like these, but to liberate Palestine,” one prisoner said, another told the Post that he’s still sleeping on the floor. Their bodies are slow to adjust too – doctors have advised the former inmates not to gorge on the buffet just yet, to allow their stomachs to transition from the bland prison food. Menu items such as the fondue bourguignonne will have to wait.
The BBC reports that just one year after the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill – British oil giant BP has announced a big rise in third-quarter profits and says it has reached a “turning point” for its oil and gas operations and production. BP reported third-quarter profits of $5.14bn, a near tripling of the $1.85bn replacement cost profit it made in the same period a year ago. Chief executive Bob Dudley said operations were “regaining momentum” and the firm had “greater confidence.”
U.S. MILITARY TURNS ITS EYES TO ASIA
During Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit to Asia - the Wall Street Journal notes that the commentary following Obama’s Iraq announcement largely missed the most important strategic implication: Winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan clears the way for the U.S. to shift its focus to Asia as the region gathers economic strength.
GLOBALIZATION – THE ART EDITION
The Economist reports that as the economy takes a toll on auction houses – the art world is looking east. According to the European Fine Art Foundation, China has overtaken Britain to become the second-largest art market after America. Auction and gallery sales in China were $8.3 billion last year, accounting for 23% of the global market, compared with America’s 34%. China last year accounted for 33% of global fine-art sales at public auctions, followed by 30% in America, 19% in Britain and 5% in France. Until recently, Chinese collectors have focused mostly on Chinese works – but the million dollar question is: will Chinese buyers develop a lasting taste for Western art?
INDIA: DIAMOND DISPENSING ATM MACHINES
In Dubai you can get gold at your ATM. In India – if you forgot that anniversary, no worries. The Times of India brings you the perfect solution: ATM machines that dispense diamonds.
The NOAA reported overnight that Rina has became the sixth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season. It is now a Cat 2 hurricane and is forecast to possibly become a major hurricane Wednesday into Thursday with winds near 115 mph as it nears Island of Cozumel and the resort town of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula.
After all the on-again, off-again warnings, officials now say floodwaters are entering Bangkok’s second airport, forcing one airline to halt flights. The video is strong – but the main airport remains dry.
SUNKEN TREASURE: SIR FRANCIS DRAKE’S FLEET FOUND?
The former president of the Philadelphia 76ers has an odd retirement hobby: treasure hunting. The Telegraph reports that Pat Croce, who fancies himself as a “pirate aficionado,” with an American team of treasure hunters thinks they have discovered two ships from Drake’s fleet lying on the seabed off the coast of Panama. The 195-ton Elizabeth and 50-ton Delight were scuttled shortly after the naval hero’s death from dysentery in 1596. Drake was buried in full armor, in a lead casket – and it is thought his coffin may lie nearby.
ANIMAL NEWS PART I: HUNTING BIGFOOT?
Throughout the world, lore persists about wild hairy creatures walking upright through woods. In the U.S. they are called Bigfoot and Sasquatch, in Russia the Snow Person and Forest Creature. Tibet spawned the names Yeti and Abominable Snowman. The Wall Street Journal writes today that research centers are now being set up offering hefty rewards for anyone that finds a Yeti – the director of one such institute: “We need to sit down with him, drink some tea and talk about life.”
ANIMAL NEWS PART II: WHERE PENGUINS OUTNUMBER PEOPLE
The BBC writes about the Falkland Islands - which we remember for a 1980's war – where penguins outnumber people. Nowhere in the world are there so many penguins living alongside a settled human population – the islands are home to five species of penguin: kings, gentoos, Magellanics, rockhoppers and the rarely-seen macaronis.
ANIMAL NEWS PART III: RHINO SPECIES EXTINCT?
While conservationists fight to save whales at home – Vietnam has lost its fight to save its Javan rhinoceros population after poachers apparently killed the country’s last animal for its horn. Global demand for rhinoceros horn is driven by Asian countries where people think it cures cancer. The WWF says there are no Vietnamese rhinos in captivity.