In Brief | Nation & World, December 31, 2013


Uganda’s president warns South Sudan rebel leader against rejecting cease-fire offer

JUBA, South Sudan — Uganda’s president on Monday warned South Sudan’s rebel leader against rejecting the government’s offer of a cease-fire, saying regional leaders would unite to “defeat” the former vice president who is accused of mounting a failed coup in the world’s newest country.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told reporters in Juba, the South Sudan capital, that a regional bloc known as IGAD had given Riek Machar “four days to respond” to the cease-fire offer.

“If he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us,” he said, referring to IGAD.

A meeting of East African leaders last week said it “welcomed the commitment” by South Sudan’s government to cease hostilities against rebels and urged both sides to start peace talks by Tuesday. Machar instead called for a negotiated cease-fire that includes a way to monitor compliance.

Violence since mid-December in South Sudan has displaced up to 180,000 people, the United Nations said Monday.

Feds announce drone development testing sites in Alaska, Nevada, Virginia, New York, North Dakota

LAS VEGAS — Six states were named Monday by federal officials to develop test sites for drones — a critical next step for the burgeoning industry that could one day produce thousands of unmanned aircraft for use by businesses, farmers and researchers.

Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host the research sites, providing diverse climates, geography and air traffic environments as the Federal Aviation Administration seeks to safely introduce commercial drones into U.S. airspace.

Members of Congress and other politicians lobbied intensely to bring the work to their states. Representatives were jubilant about the likelihood that the testing will draw companies interested in cashing in on the fledgling industry.

An industry-commissioned study has predicted more than 70,000 jobs would develop in the first three years after Congress loosens drone restrictions on U.S. skies. The same study projects an average salary range for a drone pilot between $85,000 and $115,000.

“This is wonderful news for Nevada that creates a huge opportunity for our economy,” said U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada. In New York, Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, called the announcement a boon for his state.

A selfie taken just before death turns teen into symbol of Lebanese caught in crossfire

BEIRUT — It’s a happy moment, a selfie taken by a group of teenagers on a sunny day in downtown Beirut. Mohammed Shaar sits among his friends in a red hoodie and his dark-framed glasses.

The next photos, captured by journalists only moments later, are tragic. The 16-year-old Shaar lies mortally wounded, his red hoodie and his blood forming a scarlet blur on the pavement — an anonymous civilian casualty of a car bomb that killed a prominent politician.

The before-and-after montage of Shaar, who died of his wounds a day after Friday’s bombing, has rattled Lebanese who in Shaar’s ordinary-turned-horrifying day saw their own lives and potentially their own fate. The Lebanese teenager has since become a symbol of a population held ransom by the country’s widening violence and swelling tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria.

On Monday, hundreds of Shaar’s fellow students marched to the Starco building, outside of which the bombing took place. They held signs saying “We are all Mohammed,” waved the Lebanese flag and left flowers.

The powerful car bomb targeted Mohammed Chatah, a former finance minister critical of Syria and Hezbollah. Chatah’s allies in a mainly Sunni political coalition backed by the West quickly pointed the finger at the Shiite Hezbollah guerrilla group, which denied the accusations.

By wire sources