WASHINGTON

Obama: Triple renewable sources for electric power

President Obama on Thursday ordered the federal government to nearly triple its use of renewable sources for electricity by 2020.

Obama said the plan to use renewables for 20 percent of electricity needs will help reduce pollution that causes global warming, promote American energy independence and boost domestic energy sources such as solar and wind power.

The order is part of the president’s wide-ranging, second-term drive to combat climate change and prepare for its effects. A plan announced in June would put first-time limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, boost renewable energy production on federal lands and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures. The directive on renewable energy applies to all federal agencies, civilian and military.

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla.

Pods of pilot whales swim into deeper waters off Florida

Pods of 35 pilot whales slowly swam Thursday into deeper water off Florida’s southwest coast, raising hopes that the strandings of whales on Everglades National Park beaches may soon end on a positive note.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries official Blair Mase said Thursday that the three whale pods were nine miles north of their original location and continuing to move offshore. They were in 18 feet of water about six miles offshore, still several miles from the 900- to 1,000-foot depths they usually call home, she said.

“They are in deeper water, and they are getting closer to their normal home range,” Mase said. “Even though we are hopeful, this situation could go either way. There is a chance they could come back inshore again.”

Mase said the total of dead whales has reached 11, with five still unaccounted for. She said wildlife workers were surprised Thursday morning to discover that most of the live whales had moved out of the shallows on their own sometime during the night. By early evening, most crews had left the scene, but a Coast Guard cutter was to remain stationed with the whales overnight Thursday.

About 15 vessels carrying about 35 personnel were involved in the effort to track the whales, which were first spotted Tuesday in extremely shallow water in the Everglades park south of Naples.

Wildlife workers had planned to try using noises such as banging on pipes and revving boat engines to herd the whales out to the open ocean. But that turned out to be unnecessary, and the workers simply used positioning of the boats to prevent any of the whales from turning away from the open sea, Mase said.

BANGUI, Central African Republic

Scores die in ambush on Muslim neighborhoods

Wielding rifles and machetes, armed Christian fighters who support the Central African Republic’s exiled president assaulted the capital at dawn on Thursday, leaving nearly 100 people dead. Shrouded bodies were lined up in a mosque as dozens of wounded lay on blood-stained hospital floors.

The ambush on Muslim neighborhoods of Bangui came as the United Nations voted to send a contingent of French troops to try to stabilize the country, and French President Francois Hollande announced plans to double the force. The daylong gunbattle touched even the most protected parts of the capital, including the residence of the prime minister, underscoring the volatile mix of arms and ideology facing the arriving French force.

Scores died in Thursday’s attack, including 48 people whose bodies were laid out at a mosque in a northern suburb of Bangui. Separately, a Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman, Amelie Ketoff, said another 50 deaths had been confirmed, bringing the toll to 98.

Some died of bullet wounds, others from what appeared to be machete blows using a weapon known in the local language as a “balaka.” The Christian militia, whose members are believed to have led the attack Thursday, call themselves the “anti-balaka,” reminiscent of the horrific violence once seen in Rwanda.

LONDON

Powerful storm with wind, tidal surge wallops Britain

LONDON – A powerful storm with hurricane-force gusts hit Britain and began moving across Europe on Thursday, disrupting air travel, halting trains and leaving tens of thousands of homes without electricity. Accidents linked to the storm killed three people.

Authorities evacuated some 10,000 homes along the eastern English coast after warning that the country could face its worst tidal surge in 60 years. The Thames Barrier – a series of huge metal plates that can be raised across the entire river – was being closed late Thursday to protect London from the surge. Tidal floods were expected in Britain, Germany and Scandinavia. 

– From news service reports