U.S. ambassador to leave Afghanistan
Veteran U.S. diplomat Ryan Crocker will be leaving his post as ambassador to Afghanistan this summer, an embassy spokesman said today.
Crocker, 62, came out of retirement last July to take over the post after a request from President Barack Obama. Crocker was widely known for his role as U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009.
It is unclear why he is leaving the post a year ahead of schedule or who will replace him. The most likely candidate would be James Cunningham, one of four other ambassadors serving under Crocker in Kabul. There have been persistent rumors that Crocker wanted to leave for personal reasons.
Indian passenger train rams freight train; 25 dead
A passenger train rammed into a parked freight train and caught fire before dawn today in southern India, killing at least 25 people and injuring dozens more.
Rescuers worked for about six hours to pull some 70 survivors from the twisted and smoldering wreckage near the southwestern border of Andhra Pradesh state.
Medical workers brought drinking water to traumatized survivors at the scene, while mothers cried for help in finding their lost children. Witnesses reported seeing victims on fire.
Eurozone warned ‘severe recession’ looming
The 17-country eurozone risks falling into a “severe recession,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned today, as it called on governments and Europe’s central bank to act quickly to keep the slowdown from dragging down the global economy.
OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan warned the eurozone economy could contract by as much as 2 percent this year, a figure that the Paris-based think tank had laid out as its worst-case scenario in November.
In its twice-yearly global economic outlook, the OECD — which comprises the world’s most developed economies — said its average forecast was for the eurozone economy to shrink 0.1 percent this year and grow a mere 0.9 percent in 2013.
After bombing, somber Yemen marks National Day
Grieving Yemenis held somber ceremonies today to mark the country’s National Day following a suicide bombing a day earlier that killed nearly 100 soldiers and deeply shook the faith of many people in the nation’s future.
Months of mass protests pushed longtime authoritarian ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh from power early this year, fueling hopes that the Arab world’s poorest country could finally get on track. But Monday’s blast during a rehearsal for a military parade that left scenes of carnage in the capital made clear to many in Yemen just how daunting the challenges facing the country are.
“No holidays, no revolutions and no state. Nothing. Everything is over,” said teacher Assiya Thabit at Sanaa’s Change Square, which was the heart of the anti-Saleh uprising. “We are following in the footsteps of Somalia and Afghanistan.”
Deeply shocked by the bloodshed, some Yemenis lashed out at Saleh, suspecting that his associates had a hand in the violence.
“Saleh has destroyed everything in our souls and minds,” said Ahmed Rakin, a 25-year-old protester. “What happened is the price the nation pays for Saleh’s ceding power.”