News Briefs Issue 20
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Over 10,000 people have evacuated their homes in Chile’s port city Valparaiso due to a large forest fire, says BBC News. The fire, which has been confirmed to have killed 11 people, began Saturday, and most of the damage occurred overnight. Regional authorities fear the fire may spread to the city’s center, where older buildings part of a UNESCO World Heritage site are especially vulnerable to fire. President Michelle Bachelet is in the city to oversee the emergency response. After declaring Valparaiso a disaster zone, she designated the army to oversee the evacuation. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and large portions of the city are without electricity. Many people are also suffering from smoke inhalation.
Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness for and pledged to impose penalties on Catholic clergy involved in sexually abusing children, according to CNN.com. In an interview with the International Catholic Child Bureau, Francis declared that he felt compelled to “personally ask for forgiveness” for the damages such children have suffered. The Pope’s statements, threatening sanctions for complicit bishops, designates a shift from other public responses that defended how the church addressed this issue. Advocates for victims of sexual abuse such as the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests say the church has still not done enough to protect children, and are waiting for Francis’s statements to spark change initiatives.
Ukraine will deploy troops in an anti-terror operation aimed at resisting attacks by armed pro-Russian groups. According to the Washington Post, President Oleksandr Turchynov revealed the Ukrainian Security Council’s decision to use the army in a televised address on Sunday. Amnesty will be granted to all who lay down weapons by Monday. Turchynov stated that the decision was made on the grounds that they would not allow a similar situation in Crimea to repeat in Ukraine’s east. Later on Russian state television, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych accused the CIA of influencing the decision, claiming the agency’s director John Brennan had met with new Ukrainian leadership and “provoked bloodshed.” The CIA has denied these accusations. The UN Security Council has called an emergency meeting to respond to the worsening situation.
Pyongyang, North Korea:
North Korea has opened its annual marathon to foreign, amateur runners for the first time, says The Guardian. Athletes from 27 different countries traveled to the country’s capital to participate in what is officially known as the Mangyongdae Price International Marathon. While elite athletes from other nations have participated in previous years, the 27th annual marathon was the first time amateurs were also extended an invitation. Many of the runners were attracted to the marathon because of its location. Pyongyang is one of the few places in North Korea that is accessible to foreigners. This decision is in line with the North’s recent efforts to boost tourism.
The U.S. Navy christened the USS Zumwalt, the first in a new class of destroyer ships, at the Bath Iron Works shipyard this Saturday. According to The Independent, the 610-foot-long warship cost over $3 billion and is equipped with advanced technology that will make it appear as a small fishing boat on enemy radars.The destroyer also has a hull designed to minimize wake, and will be the first US ship to use electronic propulsion. It was named after the late Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, who promoted changes to increase opportunities for women and minorities. His son and two daughters were present to honor him at the christening ceremony. The ship’s construction is 90 percent complete, and it will be delivered to the Navy later this year.