Philadelphia Building Collapse Claims One
At least one person died in a building collapse in Philadelphia this morning; 13 others were pulled from the rubble. A four-story building under demolition collapsed onto a neighboring two-story Salvation Army Thrift Store. According to Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, Those pulled from the rubble suffered minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals, where they were in stable condition. While authorities say the cause is as yet unknown, witnesses say a crane removed a support beam from the front of the building, causing the edifice to sway and collapse. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said officials don’t know if anyone else is still trapped. Ayers said, “We have two dogs that have come out to work the pile (of debris), to locate others. It’s an active search-and-rescue right now.”
Boko Haram banned in Nigeria
Nigeria has officially banned Boko Haram and Ansaru. President Goodluck Jonathan has declared the two militant groups to be terrorist groups, and those assisting either will face 20 year jail sentences. This announcement seems to fly in the face of earlier amnesty offers, asking separatists to re-integrate into Nigerian society in exchange for protection from prosecution. Boko Haram and Ansaru, a Boko Haram splinter group formed in 2012, have killed about 2,000 people in Nigeria since 2009. The Nigerian army has responded with several scorched earth campaigns in three northern Nigerian states, Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, that have have been the strongholds of the rebellion. Yesterday, the U.S. State Department announced a $7 million reward for information leading to the capture of Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s somewhat nebulous leader.
Chevron Assets Thaw in Argentina
The Argentine Supreme Court ended a freeze on the assets of Chevron Corp. that had been frozen since last year, after the petroleum company lost a $19 billion dollar judgment in Ecuador. An Ecuadorean court ordered Chevron to pay $19 billion for oil contamination caused in the Amazon rainforest by Texaco between 1972 and 1990. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001 and inherited the problem. As Chevron no longer has assets in Ecuador, plaintiffs filed suits in Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Today’s judgement said that as the Argentine Chevron is a “legally distinct unit” from the U.S.-based Chevron, the Argentine unit cannot be held responsible. Last month a similar judgment was reached in Canada.
Putin says Syria does not have S-300 Missiles
Vladimir Putin reiterated that Russia has not yet fulfilled its contract to send S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria. This puts to rest vague statements made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week suggesting that the missile system was included in shipments from Russia. Putin defended the Russo-Syrian weapons deal yesterday, saying it complies with international law, but added that his country has not yet finished fulfillment. “It’s perhaps the best such weapon in the world,” Putin said referring to the S-300 system. “It’s indeed a serious weapon. We don’t want to throw the region off balance.” Israel has been vociferous in their insistence that Syria could not be allowed to possess such a system. The S-300 missile system has a range of 125 miles and the capability to strike multiple targets simultaneously, which would impair the efficacy of the Israeli air force. Israel has threatened to attack the missiles if they are delivered.
Latvia Set to Join the eurozone
Today the European Commission released a report that commended Latvia’s economic management in the past decade and enthusiastically said that “Latvia is ready to adopt the euro in 2014.” Today’s report will go to the European Parliament for approval. Latvia is expected to become the 18th member of the eurozone on July 9th. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis greeted the report warmly, saying that “joining the euro will benefit Latvia’s economy by removing currency conversion costs and raising Latvia’s credit rating.” Dombrovskis has piloted Latvia into the eurozone despite significant popular opposition. Girts Mazurs launched a popular petition to prevent Latvian membership in the eurozone and spoke before the Latvian Parliament saying, “The fact is this; the people don’t want the euro. Parliament should listen to the people’s wishes.” Indeed, several surveys have suggested that 62 percent of Latvians oppose the switch from lats to the euro.