BEIRUT – Syria’s health care system is on the brink of collapse, with medics forced to engage in brutal medical practices in order to save lives: knocking out patients with metal bars because of lack of anesthesia, or amputating infants’ limbs for lack of other ways to treat their injuries, an international charity organization said in a report published Monday.
Newborns die in hospital incubators during power outages, while millions of children have been exposed to deadly diseases, some of which are preventable with vaccinations and basic medical equipment, Save the Children said.
The conflict has ravaged Syria for three years and has hit the country’s heath facilities and health providers hard. Hospitals have been bombed by government forces in rebel-held areas. Armed men with the opposition have forced their way into clinics to have their fighters treated. Many doctors have fled the country to escape harassment from the warring sides.
1st month’s pot tax revenue: $2 million
Colorado made roughly $2 million in marijuana taxes in January, state revenue officials reported Monday in the world’s first accounting of the recreational pot business.
The tax total reported by the state Department of Revenue indicates $14.02 million worth of recreational pot was sold from 59 businesses. The state collected roughly $2.01 million in taxes.
Colorado legalized pot in 2012, but the commercial sale of marijuana didn’t begin until January. Washington state sales begin in coming months.
Methodists drop gay-marriage case
A United Methodist bishop on Monday dropped the case against a retired minister accused of breaking church law by officiating his son’s same-sex wedding – a dramatic decision that came just months after another minister was defrocked for the same reason.
The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, 80, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, said he’s grateful his church had decided not to put him on trial for what he called an act of pastoral faithfulness and fatherly love.
Bishop Martin McLee, who made the announcement at a news conference in White Plains, N.Y., also called on church officials to stop prosecuting other pastors for marrying same-sex couples.
Journalist-author Joe McGinniss dies
Joe McGinniss, the adventurous and news-making author and reporter who skewered the marketing of Richard Nixon in The Selling of the President 1968 and tracked his personal journey from sympathizer to scourge of convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald in the blockbuster Fatal Vision, died Monday at age 71.
McGinniss, who announced last year that he had been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, died at a hospital in Worcester, Mass.
Few journalists of his time so intrepidly pursued a story, burned so many bridges or more memorably placed themselves in the narrative, whether insisting on the guilt of MacDonald after seemingly befriending him or moving next door to Sarah Palin’s house for a most unauthorized biography of the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate.
Russia won’t accept new Ukraine regime
Russia said Monday it is drafting counterproposals to a U.S. plan for a negotiated solution to the Ukraine crisis, denouncing the new Western-backed government as an unacceptable fait accompli and claiming that Russian-leaning parts of the country have been plunged into lawlessness.
The Kremlin moves came as Russian forces strengthened their control over Crimea, less than a week before the strategic region is to hold a contentious referendum on whether to split off and become part of Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said proposals made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are not suitable because they take the situation created by the coup as a starting point, referring to the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Pistorius vomits as injuries detailed
Hunched over, vomiting into a bucket by his feet and retching loudly, Oscar Pistorius was vividly reminded at his murder trial Monday in South Africa of the gruesome injuries he inflicted on his girlfriend when a pathologist described how the Olympian fatally shot her multiple times with bullets designed to cause maximum damage.
The testimony was so graphic that it was not broadcast or reported live by journalists under an order from Judge Thokozile Masipa.
Masipa briefly halted the testimony to ask chief defense lawyer Barry Roux to attend to his client. The judge later asked whether Pistorius could understand the proceedings as he sat with hands clasped over his ears, his body heaving.
Is your client fine? the judge asked. Roux replied: It’s not going to be fine.
New Zealanders to vote on flag’s future
New Zealanders will soon get to vote on whether to change their national flag, which many view as a relic from a colonial past.
Prime Minister John Key early today announced plans to hold a referendum within three years.
The current flag depicts the Southern Cross star constellation and includes Britain’s Union Jack in the top left corner. Many complain it is too similar to Australia’s flag and doesn’t reflect New Zealand’s independence from former colonizer Britain.
Key said he favors a silver fern set against a black background, an image that’s popular among sports teams. Some argue the country’s indigenous Maori should be represented in any new flag.