Manila, Philippines – A tropical storm barreling toward the northern Philippines today intensified into a typhoon with destructive winds and flooding rains threatening farmlands and populated areas, including the capital Manila.
Typhoon Nari forced U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to call off today’s trip to the Philippines. Kerry, who was visiting Southeast Asia for regional summits, said in Brunei on Thursday he was advised by his pilots to postpone the trip.
Authorities placed 14 provinces and metropolitan Manila under storm alert, closed schools and put emergency services on notice.
The typhoon is forecast to slam ashore in northeastern Aurora province with winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts of up to 93 mph.
Musharraf’s legal woes continue
Islamabad – Just when former Pakistani president and army chief Pervez Musharraf thought he was in the clear, he was hit with a new legal challenge Thursday when police arrested him in a case involving a 2007 crackdown on a pro-Taliban mosque in Islamabad.
The arrest came hours after Musharraf submitted about $19,500 in surety bonds to the Supreme Court after being granted bail Wednesday in the last of three previous legal cases.
The latest arrest suggests there is disagreement within the Pakistani government over whether to prosecute Musharraf or let him leave the country, analysts said.
Syria inspections extend to three sites
Beirut – International inspectors have so far visited three sites linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program, a spokesman said Thursday, as the team races to destroy the country’s stockpile and delivery systems amid a raging civil war.
Underscoring the complexity of the mission, a regime warplane bombed the rebel-held town of Safira, an activist group said. A regime-controlled military complex believed to include chemical weapons facilities is located near the town.
The inspectors are to visit more than 20 sites around the country as part of the disarmament mission. The facilities they inspected in the past 10 days have been in government-held areas, making them fairly easy to reach, said Michael Luhan, spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
At some point, the 27-member team may have to cross rebel-held territory to reach other locations linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program. The U.N. hopes to organize cease-fires between rebels and government forces to ensure safe passage.