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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

PUERTO RICO: Small mercury spill inside Puerto Rico's main airport closes terminals, delays flights
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ A small amount of mercury spilled inside Puerto Rico's main airport Tuesday and authorities closed three terminals as a precaution, delaying about a dozen flights.
The terminals were closed and the air conditioning system was shut off out of concern for dangerous fumes, said Alvaro Pilar, director of the U.S. Caribbean territory's port authority.
The passenger who packed the mercury in his suitcase said it was for his brother, a dentist in the Dominican Republic, regional police chief Jose Caldero said. The 52-year-old Dominican man, identified by police as Pedro Rafael de Pena de La Cruz, was being held for questioning but had not been charged.
Mercury is a toxic metal that is widely used as an ingredient in dental fillings. While mercury can damage the brain and nervous system, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says silver fillings contain too little of the substance to harm people.
The suitcase had been checked and was going through a security inspection when an explosive detection machine sounded an alarm, said Greg Soule, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. He said a TSA employee opened the bag, noticed a suspicious liquid and alerted fire and rescue authorities who evacuated the terminal.
CUBA: Fidel Castro calls US war in Afghanistan a mistake, supports Obama's domestic agenda
HAVANA (AP) _ Cuba's Fidel Castro is criticizing President Barack Obama's stepped-up U.S. war in Afghanistan while backing Obama's effort to provide health care coverage for all Americans.
The former Cuban president said in an essay published Tuesday that he hasn't the slightest doubt that "the racist right" will do anything to stop Obama from succeeding domestically.
Castro's remarks appeared on the Cubadebate Web site, which publishes his frequent essays on global affairs. He formally stepped down as Cuba's president in February 2008 after ceding power to his brother Raul.
"The strategy of withdrawing troops from Iraq and sending them to the war in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban is a mistake. The Soviet Union sank there," wrote Castro, who was a close ally of the Soviets at the time.
"The United States' European allies are more and more unwilling to spilling the blood of their soldiers in that country."
Even so, Castro said he has read "with astonishment" news reports on U.S. public opinion polls suggesting a decline in Obama's performance ratings.
GUANTANAMO: US military judge in 9/11 case at Guantanamo denies defense request to see secret CIA prisons
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Lawyers for a Guantanamo prisoner charged in the Sept. 11 attacks have been denied access to the secret CIA sites where he was held before being moved to the U.S. base in Cuba.
The lawyers for Ramzi bin al Shibh wanted to inspect the so-called "black sites" where he was held from 2002 to 2006. They say it's necessary to help prepare for a hearing to determine whether the prisoner is mentally competent to stand trial for his alleged role in the terrorist attacks.
But a military judge disagreed. Army Col. Stephen Henley said in a ruling released Tuesday that secret jails have probably changed and are not relevant.
GUYANA: Caribbean nations vulnerable to rising seas seek common stance ahead of climate conference
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) _ Caribbean nations plan to develop strategies to bring more attention to the vulnerability of low-lying countries to rising sea levels.
The 15-nation Caribbean Community announced it will hold a regional meeting next month in St. Lucia to seek a unified position ahead of a U.N. climate change summit in Denmark in December.
Trade bloc spokesman Garfield Barnwell said Tuesday that the threat of rising sea levels is the grouping's key point.
More than half the Caribbean's population lives within a mile of the coast.
A recent World Bank report listed six countries in the region as among the most vulnerable to rising seas: Suriname, Guyana, Jamaica, Belize, the Bahamas and Haiti.
PUERTO RICO: Dead woman in swim suit found chained to buoy off popular beach in Puerto Rico's capital
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ A woman was found dead chained to a buoy off a popular beach in Puerto Rico's capital Tuesday, police said.
A police officer spotted the body and swam out to her before realizing she was dead. The unidentified blonde woman was tied around the waist with two chains and two padlocks, a police statement said.
The woman, who wore a black and white bathing suit, appeared to be in her early 50s and her body did not show any signs of violence, police spokeswoman Maria del Pilar Bon said. Homicide detectives are investigating and police have not ruled out suicide.
The body was found off San Juan's Last Trolley beach, which juts into the Atlantic Ocean and is packed with locals and tourists on weekends.


Updated : 2021-06-25 07:06 GMT+08:00