In brief | Nation & World, 08-04-14


Discussion in Toledo turns to long-term solutions for Lake Erie algae on second day without water

TOLEDO, Ohio — The toxins that contaminated the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in northwest Ohio didn’t just suddenly appear.

Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup color in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.

In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade.

While residents around Ohio’s fourth-largest city were being told to avoid drinking tap water for a second day, discussion began to center around how to stop the pollutants fouling the lake that supplies drinking water for 11 million people.

“People are finally waking up to the fact that this is not acceptable,” Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said Sunday.

Question after huge wildfire: Remove dead trees and replant, or let nature take its course?

GROVELAND, Calif. — Nearly a year since a historic wildfire charred a huge swath of California’s High Sierra, debate rages over what to do with millions of dead trees left in its wake: truck them to lumber mills or let nature to take its course?

One side argues that the blackened dead trees and new growth beneath them already sprouting to life create vital habitat for dwindling birds such as spotted owls and black-backed woodpeckers. Others say time is running out on a golden opportunity to salvage timber to pay for replanting and restoring the forest.

It’s a classic standoff between environmentalists and supporters of the timber industry, which contends dead trees and brush pose a new fire hazard.

The U.S. Forest Service is expected to unveil its final decision in the coming weeks on how much of the land burned by the wildfire, known as the Rim Fire, can be logged.

“It’s not always possible to please everybody,” said Robert Bonnie, the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture’s Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. He oversees the Forest Service.

Supreme Court unwilling to step into legal fight over secrecy surrounding execution drugs

WASHINGTON — No one on the Supreme Court objected publicly when the justices voted to let Arizona proceed with the execution of Joseph Wood, who unsuccessfully sought information about the drugs that would be used to kill him.

Inmates in Florida and Missouri went to their deaths by lethal injection in the preceding weeks after the high court refused to block their executions. Again, no justice said the executions should be stopped.

Even as the number of executions annually has dropped by more than half over the past 15 years and the court has barred states from killing juveniles and the mentally disabled, no justice has emerged as a principled opponent of the death penalty.

10 Lebanese troops killed, over a dozen likely captured in Syrian rebel raid on border town

BEIRUT — Syrian rebels killed 10 Lebanese troops and likely captured over a dozen more in a raid on a Lebanese border town, the country’s military chief said, the most serious spillover of violence yet into the tiny country from its neighbor’s civil war.

The capture of Lebanese soldiers and police raised fears that the country could become further entangled in the Syrian civil war and could worsen already-brewing sectarian tensions.

“What happened today is more serious than what some people imagine,” Lebanon’s army chief, Gen. Jean Kahwaji, told journalists.

As fighting raged Sunday, some residents tried to flee from the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal, home to 40,000 residents and 120,000 Syrian refugees.

The attack began Saturday as Syrian rebels made a cross-border raid into Arsal, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the capital, Beirut. The clashes continued into Sunday around the municipal building and an army checkpoint, Lebanon’s state news agency reported. Local television footage showing wailing ambulances racing into town and soldiers standing guard just outside its limits.

By wire sources