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High Risk of Tsunami Seen For
Cities in Indonesia

By Andrew C. Revkin
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Two Indonesian cities that escaped the devastating tsunamis of December 2004 are at risk of inundation over the next few decades from undersea earthquakes predicted along the coast of Sumatra, researchers say.

The researchers, using computer models, produced simulations showing that a major earthquake could send a series of waves 15 to 20 feet high sweeping ashore around Padang or Bengkulu, coastal cities of 800,000 and 350,000 just south of the Equator on Sumatra’s Indian Ocean coast.

Many seismologists say such quakes are inevitable off the coast near those cities.

The analysis was published on the Web on Monday by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Sunda Fault, a seam in Earth’s ever-shifting crust beneath the seafloor and just beyond a chain of islands parallel to the coast, generates clusters of great earthquakes roughly every 230 years, according to old records and studies of coral reefs in the region. The reefs lift or sink abruptly after such jolts, with the skewed orientation of successive layers of coral providing a chronology of these seismic shifts.

A tsunami in 1797 carried a 200-ton British ship half a mile inland in Padang, and another deadly set of waves struck the coast in 1833, focused more around Bengkulu.

Bill Would Restructure Red Cross

By Stephanie Strom
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Sen. Charles E. Grassley filed legislation Monday to overhaul the American Red Cross. It is the first time in almost 60 years that Congress has moved to amend the organization’s charter.

The legislation, which has the organization’s strong support, would cut the size of the Red Cross’ national board by more than half, change the way board members are nominated and mandate the appointment of an independent ombudsman charged with reporting annually to Congress, among other steps.

Grassley, R-Iowa, who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has been pushing for change at the organization. A House version of the bill was filed by George P. Radanovich, R-Calif.

Following widespread criticism of its performance after Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross commissioned a panel of experts to examine its governance and make recommendations. The report suggested many changes that require legislative action because the Red Cross is governed by a congressional charter.

“The Red Cross views this legislation as vital to modernizing its governance structure to meet the demands of the 21st century and is hopeful that Congress will pass this historic legislation before it adjourns for the year,” the organization said in a statement.

US Marine is Convicted of
Rape in Philippines

By Carlos Conde
THE NEW YORK TIMES MANILA, PHILIPPINES

A Philippine court Monday convicted a U.S. Marine accused of raping a Filipina, ending an emotional year-long case that tested Philippine-American relations and revived calls for the abrogation of a controversial defense agreement that is seen by many here as too lopsided in favor of Washington.

The court sentenced Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, 21, of St. Louis, to life imprisonment — which, in the Philippines, could mean up to 40 years in prison — for raping a drunken 23-year-old Filipina in November 2005 inside a former American Naval facility in Subic, Pampanga, a province just north of Manila.

Three other Marines — Lance Cpls. Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier, all of them Marines, were acquitted. They had been accused of egging on Smith as he raped the Filipina inside a van.

“The court is morally convinced that Smith is guilty of having committed the crime,” a court clerk announced, reading from the verdict by Judge Benjamin Pozon. “He was the one who was on top of the complainant, who resisted his kisses, pushed him and fought him back until she lost consciousness because of alcoholic drinks she had taken.”

The defendants had claimed that what took place inside the van was sex between consenting adults and that the woman only cried rape because she wanted to salvage her reputation.

Four US Troops Killed as
Helicopter is Forced Down

By Kirk Semple
THE NEW YORK TIMES BAGHDAD

Four American troops were killed when a military helicopter suffered mechanical failures while flying over a lake in Anbar Province in western Iraq and made an emergency landing on the shore, American military officials said Monday.

The military said the Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight troop transport helicopter, with 16 people aboard, was flying over Lake Qadisiya, near Haditha, on Sunday when it began to experience “mechanical difficulties.” The pilots lowered the twin-rotor aircraft in a controlled maneuver and guided it to the water’s edge, according to Lt. Col. Josslyn L. Aberle, a military spokeswoman in Baghdad.

The mechanical failures were not caused by an enemy attack, officials said.

In the minutes after the accident, 12 of the people on board were accounted for and the body of one Marine was recovered from the water. The bodies of the three other victims were recovered in the lake on Monday during an intensive search that included air, amphibious and diving teams, officials said.

Citing an ongoing investigation, military officials declined to explain how the victims ended up in the water.

Sunni Arab officials said Monday that a bombing of a Sunni Arab mosque in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriya on Sunday had shattered its blue dome. The building, called the Nidaa Allah Mosque, was empty during the afternoon attack, and the explosion caused no casualties, according to a local cleric, Said Ahmed Mohammad.