Beyond the Hedges
Wildfires rage in west Texas
Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Sunday that the state needs more federal aid to combat the wildfires that have consumed 1.6 million acres of forest and land in west Texas. Twenty new fires were reported Sunday, in addition to nearly 8,000 that had been reported since the beginning of the year. Texas Forest Service told the Christian Science Monitor that the fires are caused by unusual dry conditions and strong winds. One of the fires was caused by a homeless man that went on a beer run, leaving his fire unattended on Sunday. After heavily damaging 10 homes, the fire is 50 percent contained on the outskirts of Austin. Currently, 1,400 firefighters are on duty to fight the Texas wildfires — only a portion of US Forest Services' 10,500 firefighters though the Forest Services have said more of those firefighters could be called in to help if needed. However, many fires are still starting every day and a large portion of the state is on high alert for forest fires.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor
"These are are ecosystems that before Europeans were here burned regularly so the animals will be fine, the plants will be fine in some number of years. From the perspective of natural ecosystems, it won't be a big problem. It's more an issue for human health and cities."
Department Chair of Ecology and Evolutionary biology
Tornadoes outside Raleigh, NC kill 22
A storm system that started in Oklahoma Thurs., Apr. 14 moved through Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia over the past week. At least 43 were left dead across all the states, with a minimum of 22 dead in North Carolina alone. The storm left 84,000 people without power in N.C. after crushing hundreds of homes and injuring 130 people. A meteorologist for the National Weather Service explained to the New York Times that the tornadoes came from one thunderstorm system whose effects were felt as far as away as New York City where winds reached 50 miles an hour during a rainstorm on Saturday. The storm left four dead in Virginia after a tornado and flash flooding, while Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi had a combined death toll of 17 after the tornadoes came through. Public information officer for N.C.'s Division of Emergency Patty McQuillan said that the series of tornadoes is the worst to hit the state since March 1984. Governor Beverly Perdue called for a state of emergency which allows large supply and utility trucks in to the state for rescue and cleanup efforts.
Source: New York Times
"There were at least seven tornadoes that touched ground [near my home town]. When you watch the video it's one thing, but when you recognize the buildings it's scary."
— Liz Tacy
Lovett College sophomore
Three countries to send advisers to Libya
Shortly after Britain announced that it would send an estimated 20 advisers to Libya to aid rebels fighting against Muammar el-Qaddafi, France and Italy announced they would also send military liaisons. The liaisons will remain small — France said that their group would stay in the single digits, so that the countries do not disobey the UN Security Council resolution that allowed NATO air strikes but did not authorize foreign forces to occupy the country. François Baroin, the French government spokesperson, told reporters that liaisons from France's goal would be to help organize protection for civilians. Ignazio La Russa said at a news conference last Wednesday that Italy's advisers would not be active in the battlefield, but would act as mentors. However, the Libyan government criticized the British decision. Through a BBC interview, Libyan foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi said that a cease-fire, including for the NATO bombings, should be called so that Libyans can come to an agreement without foreign interjection. Obeidi's plan does not require Qaddafi to step down before the UN supervised elections that would take place after the cease-fire causing opposition leaders in Libya to dismiss Obeidi's call.
Source: New York Times
More from The Rice Thresher
Amy Dittmar, the senior vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, has been selected as Rice’s new provost, incoming president Reginald DesRoches announced Thursday. DesRoches, the current provost, will become Rice’s president on July 1, and Dittmar will start August 1.
The 109th Convocation ceremony was held in person this past Friday night, with no restrictions on attendance. Hundreds of class of 2022 Rice undergraduates passed under the Sallyport before meeting at Rice football stadium for the ceremony.
The Student Association executive board drafted a formal complaint against the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship to present to University Court for violation of the SA Constitution nondiscrimination policy that every Rice organization is required to adhere to. This complaint comes in light of the recently published Thresher article, where several students shared their experience with discrimation within the club on the basis of sexual orientation.