One Texan is dead and another is missing after Algerian forces assaulted a natural gas plant where Islamist militants held workers hostage for four days.
U.S. State Department officials confirmed the death of BP engineer Frederick Buttaccio to the Houston Chronicle. Buttaccio, 58, lived in the Houston area. “Fred spent a lifetime experiencing the world and always respecting everyone he met, no matter their position, culture, or religion,” his family said in a statement. Like many Texans, he worked in the oil-and-gas industry.
The Chronicle reports that another Houston man is still missing. Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) tells the Austin American-Statesman that a person from Austin escaped the facility during the attack.
23 hostages and 32 militants were reported dead after the Algerian army’s rescue attempt, but an Algerian government spokesman says he strongly fears the death toll “will be revised upward.” An estimated 800 employees worked at the Tiguentourine natural gas plant in the Sahara desert, representing 12 different nationalities.
The militants targeted the more than 100 Westerners who worked there, saying the assault was in retaliation for a French military campaign against their al-Qaeda affiliated group in neighboring Mali. They also demanded the release of terrorists being held in U.S. prisons.
Algerian, Malaysian, Japanese, British and Norwegian citizens are also believed to be among the dead and missing.
Gun control laws in U.S. may reduce violence in Mexico
It’s easy to buy a gun in the U.S. and easy to smuggle one over the border into Mexico. Our loose gun laws are contributing to an epidemic of gun violence in Mexico. Now, the Texas Tribune reports, officials in both countries are hoping new laws could help curb the illegal trade in firearms. The problem is certainly well-documented and severe. As the Tribune‘s Julián Aguilar writes:
A December 2012 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed that more than 68,160 of the approximately 99,700 weapons recovered in Mexico and submitted for tracing from 2007 to 2011 had originated in the U.S.
More than 70,000 people have been killed since Mexican president Felipe Calderon launched a military-style war against powerful drug cartels in his country. But Texas Republicans aren’t convinced that a change in U.S. law will make a difference.
“We all feel for what happened recently with the shooting in a very emotional way, but the fact is, a lot of their AK-47s, which is the Zetas’ [one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels] gun of choice, those are coming from China and Russia,” U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) tells the Tribune. “We could make guns in the United States illegal altogether and I don’t think it’s going to stop the drug cartels from getting weapons.”
And, of course, one Texas politician advocated a solution to gun violence that seems now to have become standard: more guns.
“There is no right to bear arms in Mexico,” says Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, an avid gun collector. “I would put forth a law that would establish a Second Amendment to keep and bear arms for Mexican citizens.”
Capoeira finds eager students in Alabama
The son of an African immigrant is trying to popularize a Brazilian martial art in Anniston, Alabama. Ayodele Ogunmiloro, a 25-year-old Air Force veteran, tells the Anniston Star that capoeira is “a martial art hidden in dance.” The Star‘s Laura Camper gives a brief history of the art form’s history:
The fighting style was first recognized among escaped African slaves in Brazil . . . Recaptured slaves hid the fact that they were practicing a form of martial arts by performing it to music, Ogunmiloro said. So today, it is performed to the beat of a berimbau, a wooden bow with a single string and a gourd attached, and drums among other instruments.
From Africa to Brazil to Alabama, where Ogunmiloro says he is using capoeira to teach students “perseverance, discipline, problem-solving and an alternative to violence.” He offers lessons at at a community center in Anniston, where eight children showed up last Wednesday.
“I wanted them to get in touch with different heritages and learn something that’s different from our culture,” says a local mother who brought her brood of four to the class.