Syrian regime pleads with Russia for aid
BEIRUT – Syria reached out to its powerful ally Russia on Friday, as senior officials pleaded with Moscow for financial loans and supplies of oil products – an indication that international sanctions are squeezing President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The signs of desperation came as resilient rebels fought regime forces in the Syrian capital only two weeks after the government crushed a revolt there. The renewed battles in Damascus show that Assad’s victories could be fleeting as armed opposition groups regroup and resurge.
Syria is thought to be burning quickly through the $17 billion in foreign reserves that the government was believed to have at the start of Assad’s crackdown on a popular uprising that erupted in March 2011. The conflict has turned into a civil war, and rights activists estimate more than 19,000 people.
Clinton hopes drones can find warlord Kony
ENTEBBE, Uganda – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she hopes drones will soon be able to see through jungle cover so they can locate warlord Joseph Kony.
Clinton made the remark in Uganda as she watched a small U.S.-made drone that the Ugandan military uses in Somalia to fight al-Qaida-linked militants.
The U.S. last year sent 100 special forces advisers to Central Africa to help hunt Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a band of jungle-roaming militants known for kidnapping children, taking girls as sex slaves and disfiguring victims. Ugandan forces are at the forefront in the hunt for Kony, whose campaign of terror originated in Uganda but who now is elsewhere in central Africa.
Kony’s terror rampage was made famous earlier this year by a viral Internet campaign by the U.S.-based aid group Invisible Children. The U.S. troops helping in the hunt are in Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo.
$50K bail for Vermont man accused of crushing cars
NEWPORT, Vt. – A 34-year-old Vermont man who authorities said used a large farm tractor like a monster truck and drove over seven police vehicles – then tried to run over two officers who pursued him – was ordered held on $50,000 bail Friday.
Orleans County sheriffs said Roger Pion of Newport was angry about a recent arrest for resisting arrest and marijuana possession when he drove the tractor into the parking lot of the sheriff’s department and rolled it multiple times across cruisers and a transport van parked in the lot. No one was injured in Thursday’s incident.
Sworn police statements filed at the court said Pion would face 14 charges. The most serious one, felony aggravated assault on a police officer, carries a penalty of up to 16 years in prison.
Sheriffs said that after Pion left their lot, they were unable to pursue him because they had no intact vehicles. Converging city and state police and county sheriffs then surrounded Pion and ordered him from the tractor at gunpoint.