Tuesday, October 30, 2012
http://www.voanews.comU.S. President Barack Obama will visit the storm-battered state of New Jersey Wednesday to view damage with the governor and thank emergency workers struggling to cope with the disaster. The visit, announced Tuesday by the White House, comes as a vast army of rescue and utility workers confront the wreckage from Hurricane Sandy. The storm hit the New Jersey shore late Monday as a powerful tropical storm, causing massive flooding, raging fires and power outages that crippled the New York metropolitan area. The storm, which stalked the East Coast for days before coming ashore, has killed at least 43 people. Earlier Tuesday, the president declared "major disasters" in New York and New Jersey, freeing up federal funds aimed at off-setting billions of dollars in East Coast property damage. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said many of the city's flooded subway tunnels are closed, and warned that the city faces days, if not weeks, of storm recovery challenges. "The damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive and it will not be repaired overnight. The two biggest challenges facing our city going forward are getting our mass transit system up and running and restoring power," said Bloomberg. Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was canceled Tuesday for a second day in a row, marking the first time since 1888 that trading has been suspended for two consecutive days because of weather. It will open on schedule Wednesday. In neighboring New Jersey, a possible berm breach has caused flooding in several towns, forcing at least 800 people to evacuate. Also, a New Jersey nuclear power plant declared an alert after waters rose to a designated high-level mark. Officials said there were no safety concerns at the plant, which was shut off for maintenance. In a news conference, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said a popular vacation destination in his state has been hit hard. "The level of devastation at the Jersey shore is unthinkable," said Christie. VOA's Daniela Schrier took her camera to the East Village district in Lower Manhattan Monday night to document the damage from flood waters rushing city streets.
http://www.cbsnews.comPresident Obama has temporarily suspended his campaign events in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, but former President Bill Clinton hit the trail on his behalf in Minnesota today and used the storm to explain why the president should be re-elected. Speaking before a crowd of students at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Mr. Clinton recalled watching "the triumph of the moderate Mitt Romney" in the first presidential debate.
In a GOP debate last year, Mitt Romney promoted the idea of sending emergency management back to the states, or better yet, the private sector. Now his campaign says he would not abolish FEMA.The day after hurricane Sandy hit the eastern United States, to devastating effect, a political debate is raging over whether Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggested last year the elimination of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. The Romney campaign maintains he did nothing of the kind in the Republican primary debate held on June 13, 2011. Democrats – and the editorial page of The New York Times – insist he did. Let’s look at the transcript. IN PICTURES: October surprises – last-minute election game-changers The topic under discussion was the role of the federal government, and which functions Washington keeps. Moderator John King turned to Mr. Romney and asked him about disaster relief, following the tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., the month before. “FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role,” Mr. King said. “How do you deal with something like that?” Romney’s response: “Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better. “Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut – we should ask ourselves the opposite question,” Romney continued. “What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do? And those things we've got to stop doing, because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. We cannot ...” King interjected: “Including disaster relief, though?” Romney replied: “We cannot – we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all.” Fast-forward to now. Contacted by the media, the Romney campaign asserts that Romney would not abolish FEMA, but still prefers that states take the lead in disaster response. “Governor Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement to Politico. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.” It’s not clear how, under a President Romney, the relationship between FEMA and state governments would change. But in liberal circles, Romney’s statement from last year is all the evidence needed that he would trim government spending and functions to harmful effect. On Monday, before Sandy engulfed much of the eastern US late in the day, the editorial page of The New York Times slammed Romney’s 2011 statement in “A big storm requires big government.” “Does Mr. Romney really believe that financially strapped states would do a better job than a properly functioning federal agency?” the editorial asked. “Who would make decisions about where to send federal aid? Or perhaps there would be no federal aid, and every state would bear the burden of billions of dollars in damages.” So far the Obama campaign has not taken up this line of attack. That might be risky. At a time of tragedy, Americans have little tolerance for politics.
http://www.politico.com/The mayor of Atlantic City said Tuesday morning that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was “dead wrong” for suggesting that city residents were not encouraged to evacuate in advance of Hurricane Sandy. Mayor Lorenzo Langford said on the “Today” show that during a “major catastrophe” the governor chose to “play politics” when he singled him out during a Monday evening press briefing. Christie called Langford a “rogue mayor”) and said residents were given a mixed message on whether to evacuate when shelters in the city were opened.“I’m telling you that is absolutely false and the governor needs to be challenged,” Langford said when asked about Christie’s comments. “Where did he get that information? He’s dead wrong.” Langford said most residents heeded his warnings to flee, although some decided to stay. “There will always be those who will not heed that warning and decide to stay,” Langford said. “We had that contingency plan in place.” Langford said the “glass is half full” in his city after the storm and that damage could have been much worse. Also appearing on “Today” on Tuesday, Christie said his anger has turned to sympathy as he focuses on the massive cleanup and rescue efforts afoot in the hard-hit state. “We’re just going to try to save the folks. I feel badly for them that they got mixed messages,” Christie said of Langford. “I had signed an executive order declaring an emergency and ordering the evacuation of Atlantic City, and for some reason the mayor gave a mixed message. But my focus right now is on the people of Atlantic City, and we need to get them out and keep them safe.” The two have quarreled before. Christie said earlier in October that Langford has “failed” and is “impossible to work with.” And though Christie said his focus has shifted from chastising the mayor, all does not yet seem forgiven. “I would love nothing better than that to confront the governor mano y mano,” Langford said Tuesday morning after a “Today” host suggested the two go on air at the same time.
http://www.voanews.comIndia’s new foreign minister says he will strengthen relations with Pakistan and China. Salman Khurshid is expected to bring new energy to the government's efforts to improve ties with regional neighbors. Forging relations In one of his first comments after taking over as foreign minister, Khurshid said he hopes to work more closely with Pakistan. Khurshid, 59, is much younger than his 80-year-old predecessor and is widely described as one of India’s most sophisticated and articulate politicians. Khurshid comes from an illustrious Muslim family. And he is not a newcomer to the foreign ministry -- he was junior foreign minister in the 1990s. The head of New Delhi’s Center for Media Studies, Bhaskar Rao, says the new minister will give momentum to India’s efforts to resolve differences with its Muslim neighbor. “First and foremost the name itself rings a bell with people on the other side of the border. On any of these contentious issues, he is not known for taking [a] hard stand. He is a good negotiator. He would be able to establish a wavelength,” said Rao. Peace talks between the nuclear-armed neighbors - put on hold after the 2008 Mumbai attacks -- restarted last year. But Islamabad’s failure to prosecute the Pakistani militants who allegedly plotted those attacks has stifled progress. Common ground Nevertheless, Khurshid is optimistic and suggests India has more common ground with Pakistan than ever before. He says issues New Delhi has highlighted in the past have emerged as a concern for Pakistan. C. Rajamohan, a strategic affairs analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, says Khurshid is referring to India’s long-held concerns about terrorism and militant groups based in Pakistan. “India’s terrorism comes from across Pakistan and [in] Pakistan, much of the threat is coming from within. I think the idea is that look as Pakistan’s civilian leaders and probably even its military recognize that terrorism is a threat to themselves it is possible to work together and try and find a way of working together to combat terrorism and then in the process also look at resolving outstanding disputes like Kashmir and other issues,” Rajamohan stated. Closer ties with China Khurshid is also optimistic about India’s ties with China. He says the potential for growth is huge and that the passage of time and emergence of a new economic order in the world has brought China and India far closer together. As he vows to take India’s foreign policy ahead, the new foreign minister recommends so-call out-of-the-box thinking. Analysts say Khurshid will likely display more diplomatic skill than his predecessor, whose reputation was battered by several public gaffes. S.M. Krishna once began reading from the Portuguese foreign minister's speech at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York. Another embarrassment came when he was accused by his Pakistani counterpart at a press conference in 2010 of having to take his orders by phone from New Delhi.
The Express TribuneHina Rabbani Khar
President Asif Ali Zardari has reiterated Government's commitment to undertake all efforts for complete eradication of polio virus from the country. Addressing a specially convened meeting in Karachi to review the current situation vis-à-vis Polio eradication efforts in Sindh‚ he advised the concerned authorities to follow innovative strategies in reaching out to those populace and places that were still serving as reservoir of the virus and have so far remained under-served due to various reasons. The President emphasized that we can secure future of our generations by ensuring proper vaccination.
Malala Yousufzai continues to make steady progress at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, where she is in a stable condition. Yesterday, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, Pakistan Minister Rehman Malik and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, met members of the medical team caring for the 15-year-old, and her father Ziauddin. Afterwards, the ministerial delegation held a short press conference during which Mr Hague said Malala's "swift and full recovery is our absolute priority" and thanked the doctors at the hospital. Only the medical team caring for Malala and her immediate family have been given access to her bedside.
The Associated Press/CNNMonster Storm Sandy slammed into the East Coast Monday, killing at least 16 people, hurling a record-breaking 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City and knocking out power to an estimated 6.2 million people. The massive storm was downgraded from a hurricane after it barged ashore in southern New Jersey, bringing more than 85-mph winds and a roiling wall of seawater as it moved through New York City. It sent water surging into two major commuter tunnels and into subway stations and tracks. It was unclear how much water had come in. The 16 deaths were reported in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Some of the victims were killed by falling trees. At least one death was blamed on the storm in Canada. The power was out for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and an estimated 6.2 million people altogether across the East, with the full extent of the storm's damage across the region unclear and unlikely to be known until daybreak. The MTA cut power to some subway tunnels in lower Manhattan, after water came into the stations and tracks. The MTA couldn't say at this point how much damage had been done, and how much time it would take to restore everything to normal. Consolidated Edison was prompted to cut power to part of the area to avoid storm damage. A large portion of Manhattan's FDR Drive was under water. Reuters reported late Monday that there had been an explosion at a Consolidated Edison power station on the east side of Manhattan. Despite earlier reports, ConEd said on Twitter no one was trapped inside the plant. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says backup power has been lost at New York University hospital and the city is working to move people out. The mayor delivered a news conference Monday night and said rain was tapering off in the city and the storm surge was expected to recede by midnight. The hospital complex is near the East River in an area of lower Manhattan where flooding has been reported. The hurricane-turned-post-tropical cyclone, still a powerful, 900-mile-wide hybrid of several weather systems, sent 30-foot-high swells toward New Jersey, and as its eye passed over the shoreline, a surge as high as 10 feet tore into dunes and washed across boardwalks. The state had evacuated all shore towns ahead of the strike, with Gov. Chris Christie telling residents who ignored the evacuation orders they were "both stupid and selfish." "[It's a] very intense, very dangerous storm. People will die in this storm," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said Monday. "So folks will need to mind their families, stay home and hunker down." Even homes on stilts were threatened by the massive surge, and water was cresting dunes and boardwalks from Delaware's Rehoboth Beach to Jones Beach in New York. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down all major New York bridges and schools, airports and the New York Stock Exchange were closed for Tuesday. North of Atlantic City, the storm was expected to be at maximum force from about 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., with gusts up to 90 mph, especially on ocean-facing beaches. For Long Island, Connecticut, and the rest of coastal New England, the high impact winds could last until midnight, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Weather Journal. The National Guard was deployed along the densely-populated Atlantic Coast, and airports shut down Monday afternoon as the massive system churned in from the sea, creating 30-foot swells off the Jersey shore. The storm is on a collision course with a winter storm and a cold front, and high tides from a full moon make it a rare hybrid storm that could be felt all the way to the Great Lakes. Still, it could be worse – the storm could be well inland when evening high tide comes, some six hours after landfall.Sandy has already been blamed for 69 deaths in the Caribbean before it began traveling northward, parallel to the Eastern Seaboard. In Washington, President Obama urged the millions in Sandy’s path to heed warnings from local and state officials. “When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate,” Obama said. “Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given because this is a powerful storm." States of emergency were declared from North Carolina, where gusty winds whipped steady rain on Sunday, to Connecticut. Delaware ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal communities on Sunday, while Ocean City, Md., also was evacuated. Tens of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate in anticipation of the storm, including 375,000 in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City. At least 50,000 were ordered to evacuate in Delaware alone and 30,000 in Atlantic City, N.J., where the city's 12 casinos were forced to shut down for only the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalized gambling there. Airlines canceled more than 8,962 flights and Amtrak suspended passenger train service across the Northeast for Monday and Tuesday. New York and Philadelphia shut down their subways, buses and commuter trains Sunday night and announced that schools would be closed on Monday. Boston, Washington and Baltimore also called off school. In Washington and New Jersey, Metrorail and PATH train services were canceled. In Connecticut, the number of power outages began climbing as the storm moved through the state. In New York City, 250,000 homes were reported to be without power. "We're looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people," said Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An assistant manager at a Lowes store in Columbus, Ohio, told 10TV.com that people were calling in from West Virginia and Maryland to ask for supplies, and in northern Virginia, a cashier at Pitkins Ace Hardware in Dale City said batteries, flashlights and candles were flying off the shelves, PotomacLocal.com reports. The storm even put Lady Liberty on hold. The Statue of Liberty was scheduled to reopen Sunday to the public after a renovation project, but the monument will be closed Monday and Tuesday as Sandy passes through the area. The danger of the storm is hardly limited to coastal areas. Forecasters were far more worried about inland flooding from storm surge than they were about winds. Rains could saturate the ground, causing trees to topple into power lines, utility officials said, warning residents to prepare for several days at home without power. In North Carolina's Outer Banks, there was some scattered, minor flooding Sunday on the beach road in Nags Head. The Virginia National Guard was also authorized to call up to 500 troops to active duty for debris removal and road-clearing, while homeowners stacked sandbags at their front doors in coastal towns. President Obama said the storm is "serious and big" and will be "slow moving," while he was at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get an update on plans for responding to Hurricane Sandy. The White House said in a news release that the president on Sunday signed the state of emergency declaration, which had been requested by Mayor Vincent Gray. It says federal aid should supplement the city's response efforts due to the emergency conditions. The move follows the federal government's decision to close offices on Monday. The district's board of elections also announced it was suspending early voting on Monday. It has not been determined whether here will be early voting on Tuesday. Obama nixed his participation in a campaign rally in Orlando on Monday and flew back to Washington to monitor the storm. The president has instructed his team to make sure that needed federal resources are in place to support state and local recovery efforts. Mitt Romney canceled all his campaign events for Monday night and Tuesday due to the storm. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, announced in a rare move it would not convene on Tuesday. The court will hear Tuesday's arguments on Thursday.