Blast in embassy area
Syrian state TV and residents said Sunday an explosion shook a Damascus neighborhood that houses several embassies and a military airport.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saida car bomb detonated at a checkpoint near the military airport in the western neighborhood of Mazzeh on Sunday evening.
The Observatory, which has a wide network of activists on the ground in Syria, said there are reports of casualties. The media office of the Free Syrian Army’s military council in the Damascus area also said the explosion targeted the military airport in the neighborhood.
Woman on death row released
An Indiana woman put on death row at age 16 for killing an elderly Bible school teacher is scheduled to be released today after serving a prison term that was shortened after the state Supreme Court intervened.
Paula Cooper’s death sentence at such a young age sparked international protests and a plea for clemency from Pope John Paul II. Now 43 years old, Cooper is being given a second chance at her life.
Cooper was 15 when she and three other teenage girls showed up at Ruth Pelke’s house on May 14, 1985, with plans of robbing the 78-year-old Bible school teacher.
Cooper’s three accomplices were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 25 to 60 years. But Cooper, who confessed to Pelke’s slaying, was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair. At the time — in 1986 — she was the youngest death row inmate in the U.S.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.
Residents anxious to return
Residents are anxious to return to the scene of Colorado’s most destructive wildfire but authorities said Sunday it’s still not safe.
Fire crews were putting out hot spots Sunday to prevent flare ups in heavily wooded Black Forest, where nearly 500 houses have been destroyed.
However, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said roads and power lines still need to be repaired. The death of two people trying to flee is still being investigated and he’s in no hurry to let people back near what is considered a crime scene for now.
The 22-square-mile fire is 65 percent contained.
Leader stresses duty for order
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday it was his “duty” to order riot police to evict activists occupying an Istanbul park that became a center of defiance against his rule, even as the government crackdown continued across town with tear gas fired at protesters trying to regroup.
Erdogan also railed against foreign media coverage of the unrest amid criticism over his government’s handling of the protests that left his international image battered, and exposed deep rifts within Turkish society.
About six miles away in central Istanbul, riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons on thousands of defiant protesters attempting to regroup and demonstrate again in the city’s main Taksim Square.
Protesters are angry over the eviction of overwhelmingly peaceful activists at Gezi Park, next to Taksim Square, who oppose government plans to rip down its trees and erect a replica Ottoman-era barracks. But the protests quickly spiraled into a widespread denunciation of what many say is Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian way of governing — charges he vehemently denies.