U.S. troops have Memorial Day ceremonyNearly a decade later, after more than 1,400 killed in combat, some U.S. troops paused for a moment Sunday to remember what brought America to Afghanistan and to honor the lives that continue to be lost.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Nearly a decade later, after more than 1,400 killed in combat, some U.S. troops paused for a moment Sunday to remember what brought America to Afghanistan and to honor the lives that continue to be lost.
Blackhawk helicopters churned through the night sky as a strong wind coming over Kabul’s surrounding mountains blew against the flickering candles that cast an orange glow on those gathered for the ceremony at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ headquarters.
Earlier in the day, those working there enjoyed one of their five days off a year from building police stations, dams and other projects in a nation torn by decades of war. Col. Thomas Magness, 47, of Los Angeles, California urged the more than 100 corps employees and U.S. troops gathered there to remember the meaning of Memorial Day — advice that could carry home to America.
“While we were playing volleyball today, no doubt some soldier gave the ultimate sacrifice,” the corps commander said.
Memorial Day, instituted to honor America’s war dead, will be observed Monday with a public holiday. This Memorial Day comes before the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which ultimately brought U.S. troops into Afghanistan to unseat the Taliban government and hunt terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Alabama town hit by tornadoes upset by ban on single-wide trailers, including FEMA housing
CORDOVA, Ala. (AP) — James Ruston’s house was knocked off its foundation by tornadoes that barreled through town last month and is still uninhabitable. He thought help had finally arrived when a truck pulled up to his property with a mobile home from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Then he got the call: Single-wide mobile homes, like the FEMA one, are illegal in the city of Cordova.
The city’s refusal to let homeless residents occupy temporary housing provided by FEMA has sparked outrage in this central Alabama town of 2,000, with angry citizens filling a meeting last week and circulating petitions to remove the man many blame for the decision, Mayor Jack Scott.
Ruston and many others view the city’s decision as heartless, a sign that leaders don’t care that some people are barely surviving in the rubble of a blue-collar town.
“People have to live somewhere. What’s it matter if it’s in a trailer?” asked Felicia Boston, standing on the debris-strewn lot where a friend has lived in a tent since a tornado destroyed his home on April 27.
Clashes erupt in Belgrade to protest Mladic arrest; 3,000 riot police deployed in Belgrade
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Protesters throwing stones and bottles clashed with baton-wielding riot police Sunday in Belgrade after several thousand Serbian nationalist supporters of jailed war-crimes suspect Ratko Mladic rallied outside the parliament building to demand his release.
By the time the crowds broke up by late evening, about 100 people were arrested and 16 minor injuries were reported. That amounted to a victory for the pro-Western government, which arrested Mladic on Thursday, risking the wrath of the nationalist old guard in a country with a history of much larger and more virulent protests.
Rioters overturned garbage containers, broke traffic lights and set off firecrackers as they rampaged through downtown. Cordons of riot police blocked their advances, and skirmishes took place in several locations in the center of the capital.
Doctors said six police officers were among the 16 people brought to a hospital with minor injuries. Police remained on the streets as the crowds broke up.
The clashes began after a rally that drew at least 7,000 demonstrators, many singing nationalist songs and carrying banners honoring Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander. Some chanted right-wing slogans and a few gave Nazi salutes.
Next frontier for renewable power? Companies look for power in the sky, very high in the sky
BOSTON (AP) — The world’s strongest winds race high in the sky, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of reach as a potentially potent energy source.
Flying, swooping and floating turbines are being developed to turn high-altitude winds into electricity.
The challenges are huge, but the potential is immense. Scientists estimate the energy in the jet streams is 100 times the amount of power used worldwide annually.
Cristina Archer, an atmospheric scientist at the California State University in Chico, said there’s “not a doubt anymore” that high-altitude winds will be tapped for power.
“This can be done, it can work,” she said.
In Arizona, 9/11 memorial preaches vengeance and tolerance, rivaling stories etched in steel
PHOENIX (AP) — Matthew Salenger etched 54 phrases in a circular piece of steel, building Arizona’s Sept. 11 memorial one story at a time. He wanted everyone’s story to be told.
Phrases like “10:28 a.m. WTC North Tower Collapses” stated undisputed facts. Then there was “Must Bomb Back” and its polar opposite: “You Don’t Win Battles of Terrorism With More Battles.” Gary Bird, a businessman and Arizona’s sole Sept. 11 victim, was listed. So was a Sikh who was killed in a hate crime outside Phoenix, four days later.
Salenger thought that all of those thoughts could coexist peacefully on a public memorial. He was wrong.
“I think we overestimated how much respect people would have for each other and their views,” says Salenger, who was one of the monument’s three designers. “People didn’t want to see something they don’t agree with in public.”
The rivaling stories on the memorial touched off a bitter, yearslong struggle in Arizona over how Sept. 11 should be publicly remembered. Here, as in the rest of the United States, there are opposite and diverging opinions about tolerance and patriotism, hate and peace. And on the Phoenix memorial, those opinions are etched in steel, side by side.
AP Exclusive: Syria says it will cooperate on nuclear probe but US pushes for UN referral
NEW YORK (AP) — In a major turnaround, Syria is pledging full cooperation with U.N. attempts to probe strong evidence that it secretly built a reactor that could have been used to make nuclear arms, according to a confidential document shared with The Associated Press on Sunday.
If Syria fulfills its promise, the move would end three years of stonewalling by Damascus of the International Atomic Energy. Since 2008, the agency has tried in vain to follow up on strong evidence that a target bombed in 2007 by Israeli warplanes was a nearly built nuclear reactor that would have produced plutonium once active.
Syria’s sudden readiness to cooperate seems to be an attempt at derailing U.S.-led attempts to have Damascus referred to the U.N. Security Council amid already strong international pressure on the Syrian leadership to end its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
An IAEA report last week said the Vienna-based agency “assesses that the building destroyed ... was a nuclear reactor” — the finding sought by Washington and its allies to push to have Syria reported to the council by a 35-nation IAEA board meeting next month.
That, in turn, apparently triggered Syria’s decision to compromise.
JR Hildebrand crashes on final turn, Wheldon drives past to claim his second Indy 500 title
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — JR Hildebrand was one turn away from winning the Indianapolis 500 and within sight of the checkered flag when the 23-year-old rookie made the ultimate mistake.
Leading by almost 4 seconds with a lap to go, Hildebrand skidded high into the wall on the final turn, and Dan Wheldon drove past to claim an improbable second Indy 500 win Sunday in his first race of the year.
“It’s a helpless feeling,” Hildebrand said.
Wheldon, the 2005 winner but without a full-time ride this season, appeared headed for his third straight runner-up finish when Hildebrand took the white flag needing only to make it through the last of 200 laps around the 2½-mile speedway.
The first three turns went smoothly. Then Hildebrand came up on another rookie, Charlie Kimball, in the fourth turn. Instead of backing off, Hildebrand moved to the outside to make the pass and lost control, slamming the wall to a collective gasp from the crowd of 250,000.
Why are you paying more to fly this summer? It’s not the peanuts. Jet fuel bills are soaring
NEW YORK (AP) — To fly someone from New York to Los Angeles and back, airlines spend close to $330 these days — just on fuel.
That’s a 48 percent increase from last year and the main reason vacationers face record costs to fly this summer. To offset their single biggest expense, airlines have hiked fares seven times this year and raised fees for checking bags and other services.
This has only added to the frustration of most casual fliers who see $59 fares advertised but are quoted prices well above $300 when they actually try to book. Americans’ expectations of a cheap vacation are being destroyed by the reality of $100-a-barrel oil.
“The passenger has to understand that the airline industry in the United States is not meant to be a low-cost mass transit system. The airlines are in business to be profitable,” says airline analyst Robert Herbst.
A decade ago, fuel accounted for about 15 percent of airline operating expenses. Five years ago, it was 29 percent. Today, it’s 35 percent.