Top of the Morning: A Suicide Bomb in Syria, New Funds for Horn of Africa, A Huge Oil Spill in Nigeria

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Twin Suicide Bombings in Damascus Kill 40

If confirmed that these attacks was carried out by anti-Assad forces, they are very much poised to lose any moral high ground or international standing they have achieved. This does not augur well, particularly considering that the Security Council was making some strides on a tough anti-Syria resolution. “Twin suicide car bomb blasts ripped through an upscale Damascus district Friday, targeting heavily guarded intelligence buildings and killing at least 40 people, Syrian authorities said. The blasts came a day after an advance team of Arab League observers arrived in the country to monitor Syria’s promise to end its crackdown on protesters demanding the ouster of President Bashar Assad. Government officials took the observers to the scene of the explosions and said it backed their longtime claims that the turmoil is not a popular uprising but the work of terrorists. The blasts were the first such suicide bombing in Syria since the uprising began in March.” (AP

USA Releases an additional $113 million for Horn of Africa Crisis

From the White House: “As we enter the season of giving and renewal, more than 13.3 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance amid the worst drought the region has seen in 60 years.  The heartbreaking accounts of lives lost and of those struggling to survive remind us of our common humanity and the need to reach out to people in need.  I want to thank the many Americans who have reached out in support, and made donations over the last several months to support people in need in the Horn of Africa. Today, on behalf of the U.S. Government and the American people, I am announcing an additional $113 million in emergency relief assistance for the Horn of Africa.  This funding will support urgently needed food, health, shelter, water and assistance needs. To date, the U.S. has provided approximately $870 million for relief purposes.  Importantly, and even as we help to meet the emergency needs of the people of this region, we are also investing in their long-term food security.” (White House

The Worst Oil Spill in a Decade Bearing Down on Nigeria’s Coast

This is not getting much play in the western press, but definitely something approaching a huge disaster. For comparison, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico emitted 53,000 barrels per day. “Nigerian authorities were putting emergency measures in place on Thursday to prevent an oil spill from a Royal Dutch Shell facility, the biggest leak in Nigeria for more than 13 years, washing up on its densely populated coast. Tuesday’s spill, which Shell said happened while a tanker was loading oil, has led to the complete shutdown of the company’s 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) Bonga facility, about 120 kilometres off the coast of the West African nation. Shell’s pipelines in Nigeria’s onshore Niger delta have spilled several times, which it usually blames on sabotage attacks and oil theft, though it did not in this case. “It’s comparable to what happened in 1998 with the Exxon Mobil spill, in terms of the quantity that has been spilled, it’s the biggest since then,” Peter Idabor, director of Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), told Reuters by telephone from the capital Abuja… In 1998, some 40,000 barrels leaked from a ruptured Mobil pipeline off the coast of Nigeria.” (AlertNet