Pollution overwhelms capital
Air pollution has reached dangerously high levels in China’s capital, where the concentration of toxic small particles today registered more than two dozen times the level considered safe. The density of PM2.5 particles was at about 350 to 500 micrograms per cubic meter in the midmorning, and had reached as high as 671 at 4 a.m. at a monitoring post at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. That is about 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World Health Organization. Authorities said the severe pollution is likely to continue through Friday.
$2.4 billion pledged for Syria
Western nations and their Gulf Arab allies led the promises of support at a fundraising conference in Kuwait on Wednesday that generated pledges of at least $2.4 billion to alleviate the suffering of Syrians affected by the country’s relentless civil war. Millions of Syrians have been driven from their homes as a result of the crisis, both inside the country and in neighboring states struggling to cope with the influx. Getting aid to many of those in need inside Syria is a challenge because they remain trapped in communities besieged by the fighting.
Higher voter turnout observed
Egypt’s top election official declared Wednesday that turnout was high in a national referendum, but a boycott by a wider-than-expected range of ultra-conservative Islamists raised the prospects of continued polarization. The majority of Egyptians who converged at the polls appeared to support the charter, which was likely to pass in voting Tuesday and Wednesday amid an intense media campaign in its favor and a tight security grip silencing its opponents. The interim government was seeking a high turnout as a mandate for its vision. The constitution is a key piece of a political road map toward new elections for a president and a test of public opinion about the coup that removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power last July. It is a heavily amended version of a constitution written by Morsi’s Islamist allies and ratified in December 2012.
Compiled from wire reports.