WASHINGTON – The Senate has confirmed career diplomat James B. Cunningham to be the next ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing Ryan Crocker.
Cunningham has been serving as deputy ambassador in Kabul for more than a year. Before that, he was the U.S. ambassador to Israel. He has also served as U.S. consul general in Hong Kong and as deputy envoy to the United Nations. He was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday.
Crocker stepped down in May after running embassies in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as Pakistan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria.
Ebola spread at victim’s funeral
KAMPALA, Uganda – The aid group Doctors Without Borders said the first victim of the latest Ebola outbreak in Uganda was a 3-month-old girl and that of the 65 people who attended her funeral, 15 later contracted the deadly disease.
At least 11 of those who attended the baby’s funeral have since died, the group said in a statement on Wednesday.
In a national address this week, Uganda’s president urged people to avoid unnecessary contact with each other and discouraged handshakes. Doctors Without Borders said that while that is good advice people without symptoms are not contagious, and avoiding contact with others’ bodily fluids is the best way to limit an Ebola outbreak.
Ebola is highly infectious and kills quickly.
N. Korea needs immediate food aid
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea needs immediate food assistance after heavy rains killed scores of people and submerged vast swaths of farmland, a U.N. office said Thursday.
That assessment was released by the U.N. resident coordinator’s office in Pyongyang following visits to flood-stricken areas in North Korea earlier this week. Floods caused by two storm systems last month killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands homeless, according to the North’s state media.
The United States said it would consider a request for assistance but has not received one.
The flooding, which occurred on the heels of a severe drought, renewed concerns about North Korea’s ability to feed its people. In June, the U.N. said two-thirds of the country’s 24 million people are coping with chronic food shortages.
Thursday’s U.N. report said torrential rains caused severe damage to homes, public buildings, infrastructure and farms, affecting maize, soybean and rice fields.
Puerto Rican laments anti-Obama tweets
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The adviser to Puerto Rico’s most powerful female lawmaker has apologized for sending tweets to President Barack Obama that many here have deemed racist.
Heidi Wys tweeted on Thursday night that she lamented the tweets were seen as racist and that she apologizes to those offended by them. Wys said her intention was to attack a politician she doesn’t believe in.
In response to the U.S. first lady’s upcoming birthday, Wys had sent a tweet to Obama urging him to buy her a double-banana sundae and take her to Kenya.
Wys is the main adviser to House of Representatives President Jenniffer Gonzalez.
Several legislators have demanded that Wys step down or that Gonzalez ask for her resignation.