Sinkhole Swallows Floridian Homes
At least six homes have been evacuated in a Tampa exurb after a sinkhole opened up around dawn this morning. By nightfall, the maw, stretching more than 90 feet across and 50 feet deep, had already consumed chunks of two homes and begun cracking a third. A number of residents in the area voiced resigned concern, Wayne Erby, who lives adjacent to the still spreading sinkhole said, “I called my boss early this morning. At 6:20, something like that, and I told him, ‘I’ll be in late today. I’ve got a sinkhole in my backyard.’ He was like, ‘Oh man! You gotta be kidding me!’”
Sinkholes are not uncommon in the area, as the Florida peninsula is made up of porous carbon rocks like limestone that house and channel water underground. Over time, the stone dissolves, creating subterranean caves. When dirt, clay or sand gets too heavy for the cave roof, it collapses, creating a sinkhole. Earlier this year, a man died when his bedroom was suddenly consumed by a collapse in nearby Seffner. Michael Dupre, who lost his home this morning said, “After the Seffner sinkhole, we were scared.” Adding, “This is our house. This is what we bought five years ago and hoped to grow old in.” Still timely action by Dupre’s daughter Ivy saved their family’s lives.
U.S. Crushes Ivory Cache
Agents for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed more than six tones of ivory tusks, carvings, and jewelry seized at U.S. ports of entry from smugglers, traders, and tourists after 1989′s global ban on the ivory trade. The symbolic act was carried out to demonstrate the Obama administration’s commitment to dismantling the illegal ivory trade. Still the symbolism may be lost in the face of the steady rise in wildlife trafficking. The illegal ivory trade has grown into a $10bn a year industry. Nearly 100 African elephants are killed every day for their tusks. “This is not the kind of poaching that we have dealt with in the past,” said Dan Ashe, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency leading the U.S. fight against wildlife trafficking. “It’s syndicated and sophisticated criminal organizations that are driving the trade.”
But today’s action doesn’t go far enough for some groups. “I am convinced more than ever of the necessity of destroying all stockpiles and ending trade in ivory in order to disrupt the world’s addiction to ivory,” said African Wildlife Foundation’s chief executive, Patrick Berrigan. “Many countries, including China and the United States, still allow domestic trade, which has served only to sustain demand for ivory products while providing legalized cover for the illicit industry.” The president of the Humane Society Wayne Pacelle, agreed saying there ought to be a U.S. ban on all domestic sales of ivory. “We hear a lot about China, and concerns about the trade there are warranted, but the fact is, the United States is the second-largest market for ivory in the world.”
Ukraine Fails to Pass EU Demanded Legislation
A vote to allow jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country for medical treatment has stalled in the Ukrainian parliament, and perhaps with it, the country’s chance to join the European Union. EU representatives has imitated that yesterday was the deadline to resolve the Tymoshenko issue. But Ukrainian legislators attempts to finalize a bill allowing convicts to receive medical treatment abroad failed. The bill was aimed at allowing Tymoshenko to receive medical treatment in Germany. The ex prime minister has been serving a seven-year jail term since being controversially convicted of abuse of power in 2011. Politicians with the EU have made clear their organization believes the campaign against Tymoshenko has been politically motivated. Yesterday’s parliamentary session was closed without a vote taking place, leading to cries of “Shame!” from the pro-EU opposition.
Tymoshenko’s rival, and current president, Viktor Yanukovych is ardently skeptical of his country joining the Union, going to so far as to court Russian favor instead. Moscow envisions a Eurasian trading bloc to rival the EU, sans the nominal commitment to democracy espoused by Brussels. Kazakhstan and Belarus have already joined Russia’s new league.
Firefight in CAR Kills Three
Former members of Central African Republic’s rebel group Séléka, were involved in a fire fight with police which saw three people killed and several more wounded in the capital of Bangui. Demonstrators had erected flaming barricades in protest of the abduction of a local resident by Séléka, going so far as to throw stones at the passing motorcade of transitional President Michel Djotodia, whom Séléka brought to power. Djotodia spokesperson Selemane Adjar said, “This attitude angered the Séléka elements who returned to the neighborhood and fired shots to disperse the protesters, injuring several of them.”
The Central African Republic in turmoil since Séléka rebels seized Bangui in March, forcing President François Bozizé to abdicate and flee to Cameroon. Djotodia attempted to normalize the situation by dissolving Séléka, but remnants of the organization continue to pose security problems.