ST. LOUIS, June 20 (UPI) -- Word that the Mississippi River would crest lower than expected brought smiles to flood-weary residents sandbagging levees in Missouri river communities.
Meanwhile, residents living in the path of the rain-engorged river were fleeing their homes as floodwaters continued to flow over levees, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday.
The Mississippi is expected to crest Tuesday in Lincoln County at 36.8 feet, down from earlier forecasts that it would be closer to the record of 39.6 feet in 1993, the newspaper reported. Breaches in levees allowed enough water to move elsewhere, lowering high-water crest expectations.
"There was a big cheer when we heard that," said Andy Binder, spokesman for the Lincoln County Emergency Operations Command.
In St. Louis, Friday's predicted crest was lowered to 37.3 feet from 39.7 feet. Flood stage in St. Louis is 30 feet.
Inspectors found sandy water seeping into a levee protecting East St. Louis, Ill., but were able to repair it, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the levee was repaired.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich added St. Clair County to the lengthy list of disaster areas around the state. He also declared a flood insurance policies couldn't be canceled for 60 days for non-payment, the Post-Dispatch said.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency a second command center in Alton to coordinate flood-fighting efforts with Quincy. About 1,100 troops were deployed.
Report: Air Force nuclear components lost
WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. military appears to have misplaced hundreds of nuclear missile components, officials told The Financial Times.
The newspaper said it learned details of a report from the Defense Department on the security of nuclear weapons. One official said that more than 1,000 parts cannot be accounted for.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently fired two top Air Force officials after learning that missile nose cones had been mistakenly sent to Taiwan. Officials said that the report detailed more missing inventory.
Last year, in another error, a bomber flew across the United States carrying nuclear missiles.
U.N.'s Ban: Wartime rape 'pandemic'
UNITED NATIONS, June 20 (UPI) -- Leaders at the United Nations called for greater efforts to combat wartime sexual violence against women and girls.
After a daylong debate on women, peace and security Thursday, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that demands an end to sexual violence against civilians, and it calls for stronger measures to protect females.
"Violence against women has reached unspeakable and pandemic proportions in some societies attempting to recover from conflict," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said during the Security Council's debate.
The U.N. can act more forcefully when the Security Council adopts resolutions with strong language on sexual and gender-based violence, Ban said in a news release. He said future mandates on U.N. operations must contain explicit provisions to protect women and children in conflict.
Concerning accusations of sexual violence committed by U.N. personnel, Ban said, "Let me be clear: The United Nations and I personally are profoundly committed to a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation or abuse by our own personnel."
China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Zhenmin backed the zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation of women and girls by U.N. peacekeepers, urging countries supplying U.N. troops to boost training and monitoring.
Campaigns feud over public-funding issue
WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- John McCain's campaign denied a comment by Sen. Barack Obama's camp that the two sides discussed whether the Arizona senator would take public campaign funds.
Obama, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, announced Thursday he would forgo public funding, becoming the first presidential candidate to do so since the system was created in 1976.
Bob Bauer, counsel for the Obama campaign, said he and McCain's counsel talked about public funding during a discussion of joint town hall appearances in June, CNN reported.
"I asked him to address a (series) of issues of concern to the Obama campaign -- the McCain campaign's active raising and spending of private money since February for a general election campaign ... ," Bauer said in a statement. "He gave me his perspectives ... and it was clear to me that these offered no basis for any further exchange."
McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said Bauer "never negotiated with Potter about public financing."
McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, blasted the Illinois senator's decision, saying it "should be disturbing to all Americans."
He said his campaign may opt out as well, CNN reported.
"We'll have to re-evaluate in light of his decision," McCain said on a tour of flood-ravaged Iowa Thursday. He said he was favoring taking public money.
Sixth foot found in Canada 'cruel' joke
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 20 (UPI) -- Officials in British Columbia said the remains found in a sneaker this week weren't human and the incident was a hoax following the finding of five human feet.
The British Columbia Coroners Service issued a statement about the shoe found washed ashore on Vancouver Island, CTV News reported.
"A forensic pathologist and an anthropologist have examined the shoe and remains, and determined a skeletonized animal paw was inserted into the shoe with a sock and packed with dried seaweed," the service said. "This type of hoax is reprehensible and very disrespectful to the families of missing persons."
Among those upset by the prank was Sally Feast, whose brother's small plane went down in 2005. None of the four people aboard were found.
"It's a cruel joke, the cruelest joke. I can't believe someone would do this," she told CTV News.
The human feet in sneakers began appearing on beaches in August 2007 and officials have had no success matching DNA with anyone missing in the province, the report said.
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