In other news Monday, large parts of Southeastern Louisiana remain underwater. Officials said for many, the damage from Hurricane Isaac ended up being worse than that from Hurricane Katrina. Also, President Assad’s regime has pledged support for a new United Nations diplomatic envoy to Syria, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi.
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Large parts of southeastern Louisiana remained heavily flooded today, almost a week after Hurricane Isaac hit. More than 100,000 homes and businesses still had no electricity, and hundreds of people were in shelters.
Water was up to five feet deep across Plaquemines Parish. Officials said, for many, the damage ended up being worse than from Hurricane Katrina. President Obama toured part of the area this evening on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
In Syria today, the embattled government pledged support for the U.N.’s new diplomatic envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi. The 78-year-old former Algerian diplomat replaces Kofi Annan, who resigned last month after his peace plan failed to halt the country’s civil war.
In Damascus, the Syrian information minister voiced hope that Brahimi will succeed.
OMRAN AL-ZOUBI, Syrian information minister (through translator):
Syria welcomed the appointment of Lakhdar Brahimi, and will offer him every possible help, the maximum assistance, the way we did with Kofi Annan. We will make sure his mission will not lead to a blocked wall, like what happened with Kofi Annan, when the external sides didn’t respond to his mission and international role.
Meanwhile, the new head of the International Red Cross arrived in Syria. He planned to appeal for greater humanitarian access to civilians caught in the fighting.
Thousands of Syrians have become refugees, and opposition groups say 5,000 were killed in the conflict in August, the highest monthly death toll yet. The U.N.’s children’s fund, UNICEF, estimates 1,600 people died last week alone.
A NATO soldier was killed today in a bombing in Southern Afghanistan. There was no immediate word on his nationality. Meanwhile, the coalition has temporarily halted training for at least 1,000 Afghan police recruits. That’s to allow for new background checks following a surge in Afghan soldiers and police attacking their NATO partners.
The Reverend Sun Myung Moon died early today near his home in South Korea. He’d been hospitalized with pneumonia. Moon founded a religious movement that made him known worldwide and brought him critical scrutiny, especially in the U.S.
Followers of Reverend Moon were in mourning today and flags flew at half-staff at the international headquarters of the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea. Some said they were overcome by the loss.
JOO SEUNG-JA, South Korea (through translator):
It’s hard to accept this all of a sudden. I don’t know how to express this feeling. Since he taught us true love, we will live our lives by preaching true love throughout the whole world until the end.
For others, Moon’s passing marked a new beginning.
REV. HONG SUNG-BOK, International Headquarters of the Unification Church (through translator):
We believe we can start again with a new look repaying the love we received from him. We have a lot of mixed emotions, but we will get it together and prepare for the coming future.
Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 in what is now North Korea. He moved South during the Korean War, and founded the Unification Church, mixing Christian, Confucian and traditional Korean values.
By the early 1970s, the movement spread throughout Asia and across the U.S. But Moon faced allegations of brainwashing young recruits in the U.S., dubbed Moonies by some parents, who said the church really was a cult. He drew fire for the church’s mass weddings.
Thousands were married at a time, with Moon often matching the couples himself, part of his doctrine of salvation through perfect marriages. The Unification Church now claims three million followers worldwide, but other estimates have ranged as low as 100,000.
Moon also created a business empire, including The Washington Times newspaper, which he founded in 1982 and sold in 2010. But he ran afoul of U.S. laws in the mid-1980s, and served 13 months in federal prison for tax evasion. In later years, he handed control of his multibillion-dollar holdings to his children. At his death, Sun Myung Moon was 92 years old. His funeral will be held on September 15.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.