Dangerous Heat Wave Envelops Much of U.S., Somalia Facing Famine Crisis

BY News Desk  July 21, 2011 at 8:29 AM EDT

A dangerous “heat dome” blanketing the Midwest to the East Coast is being blamed for as many as 22 deaths Thursday, as 141 million people remained under a heat advisory with relief several days away in many places.

According to the National Weather Service, heat indices Thursday afternoon will reach as high as 110 degrees in the East, where “excessive heat watches” remain in effect.

There is unlikely to be much relief through the weekend, with temperatures peaking in Washington, D.C., Friday and triple-digits in the forecast for much of the eastern seaboard.

In Minneapolis, known for its severe winters, residents grappled with a heat index of 119 earlier this week. On Wednesday, Chicago neared its 1980 record of 101 degrees, not including a higher index because of stifling humidity.

U.S. Pledges Aid for Somalia Famine Victims

The United States said it will send $28 million in aid to victims of a famine in Somalia and allow it to be used in areas controlled by al-Shabab, which is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

U.S. Agency for International Development deputy administrator Donald Steinberg told the BBC that steps are being taken to ensure the money is not funneled into al-Shabab’s hands.

“What we need is assurances from the World Food Program and from other agencies, the United Nations or other agencies, both public and in the non-governmental sector, who are willing to go into Somalia who will tell us affirmatively that they are not being taxed by al-Shabab, they are not being subjected to bribes from al-Shabab, that they can operate unfettered,” he said.

On Wednesday, the U.N. described the famine as the worst in a generation and said tens of thousands may have died. According to the World Food Program, more than 11 million people are in need of urgent food aid.

TSA to Install Privacy-Friendly Scanning Software

The Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday it is in the process of adding software in 40 airports across the United States that will make full-body scans more private. The software would show screeners a generic image of the body, rather than the passenger’s, but still show potential hazards.

Opponents of full-body scans criticize the screening method on grounds of privacy rights and for its use of low doses of radiation from the x-ray machines.

Full-body scans became more common after a man attempted to hide a bomb in his underwear in December 2009.

Man Executed for 9/11 Revenge Attacks

A Texas man was put to death Wednesday for the murder of a convenience store clerk in what he described as a retaliation for the 9/11 terror attacks. A Texas court denied a last-ditch appeal on Wednesday ahead of the 9:53 p.m. ET execution.

Anthony Stroman was convicted of killing Vasudev Patel, who was from India and operated a gas station in Mesquite, Texas, and for wounding Waqar Hasan and Rais Bhuiyan, who were of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, respectively. Stroman claimed the attacks were revenge for 9/11 and openly admitted to being a white supremacist. The shootings took place between Sept. 15-Oct. 4, 2001.

Bhuiyan, a Muslim, had filed in court to stop the execution, citing his beliefs, and had set up a website as part of an effort to halt the execution. “For myself, it is clear that nothing would cause more devastation and pain to the life I struggled to rebuild after the attack than for Mark Stroman to be killed,” Bhuiyan wrote. He lost vision in one eye as a result of the shooting.