Headlines from around the world: 3-5-12

Armed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad continued to bombard the Jobar residential neighborhood of Homs, home to thousands of refugees from an adjacent area overrun by the army. The Syrian government also continued to block a Red Cross convoy attempting to deliver food, medical supplies, and blankets to the thousands of people stranded in the area.

Mexican drug traffickers and US border agents exchanged gunfire across the Rio Grande in south Texas last Wednesday. The agents opened fire when fleeing smugglers attempted to run them over. After the shootings, agents recovered nearly two tons of marijuana with an estimated value of $3 million, but made no arrests.

The Netherlands, which became the first country to legalize human euthanasia in 2002, instated mobile euthanasia units last week to allow teams of doctors to visit terminally ill patients who wish to end their lives. The unit is to be used for patients whose primary care physician has refused to assist them in ending their lives. The program, called “Levenseinde,” meaning “Life End” requires patients to apply for a mobile visit unit, and that patients be suffering tremendous pain and articulate repeatedly their wish to die.

The U.S. storm prediction center received 81 reports of tornadoes March 2 in what may be the largest March single day tornado outbreak on record. Reports indicated at least 33 people died due to the weather. The storm system came from the upper Midwest and later moved on to Georgia and Florida, with reports of 13 deaths and more tornadoes.

16 deaths and over 40 injuries were reported in an explosion at a chemical plant in northern China. According to China’s State Administration of Work Safety, the explosion occurred during the production of guanidine nitrate, which is a high-energy monopropellant used in the Jetex model plane engine. Rescue efforts were delayed due to fears of another explosion and the toxic fumes released from the initial explosion.

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Greece’s bond rating to the lowest possible level after a recent debt-restructuring deal. The deal, part of a 130 billion euro rescue package, imposes hefty losses on private creditors. Moody’s lowered Greece’s local and foreign currency bond ratings from Ca to C. Bonds rated C are typically considered to have minimal chance of recovery.

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