Friday, April 18, 2014
People return to charred cities after Colorado wildfires

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U.S. News Headlines – Yahoo! News
New Jersey’s Christie presses legislators on taxes

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Eastern U.S. battles heat wave amid power outages

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Blistering heat blanketed much of the eastern United States for the third straight day on Sunday, after violent storms that took at least a dozen lives and knocked out power to more than 3 million customers.

Emergencies were declared in Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., on Saturday because of damage from storms that unleashed hurricane-force winds across and a 500-mile (800-km) stretch of the mid-Atlantic region.

The storms’ rampage came as sweltering temperatures topped 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in several southern cities, including Atlanta, where the mercury hit an all-time record of 106 degrees (41 Celsius), according to Accuweather.com.

Over two dozen cities across 10 states set or tied all-time record high temperatures on Friday and Saturday, including Columbia, South Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

The heat wave continued Sunday for millions of people from the Plains to the mid-Atlantic.

One of the hardest hit cities was Charlotte, North Carolina, where the mercury hovered at about 101 degrees (38.3 C) Sunday afternoon and was expected to at least tie its all-time record of 104 (40 C) later in the day.

From St. Louis, Missouri, to Washington, D.C., the forecasts were for temperatures that could climb to more all-time records.

“It is very unsafe outdoors for those susceptible to these extreme conditions,” the National Weather Service said in a statement.

‘CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE” TO POWER GRIDS

Power crews worked to restore service to homes and businesses, and officials in some areas said the job could take up to a week. Utilities in Ohio, Virginia and Maryland described damage to their power grids as catastrophic.

Six people were killed in Virginia in storm-related incidents, and more than 1 million customers were left without power in the worst outage not linked to a hurricane in the state’s history, said Bob Spieldenner, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Two Maryland residents died in the storm – one struck by a falling tree in Anne Arundel County, the other electrocuted after a tree crashed into a house in Montgomery County – said state emergency management agency spokesman Edward Hopkins.

In a late Sunday morning update, Maryland Emergency Management Agency spokesman Ed McDonough said a Chesapeake Bay boater was still missing after the storm and 639,000 customers remained without power. That was down from more than 1 million Maryland customers without lights and crucial air conditioning earlier on Sunday morning.

In New Jersey, two cousins aged 2 and 7 were killed by a falling tree in a state park. And in eastern Tennessee, heat was blamed for the deaths of two brothers, ages 3 and 5, in Bradley County. They had been playing outside in 105-degree (41-degree C) heat.

HEATED LABOR DISPUTE

Ohio, where one storm-related death was reported, faced similar difficulties. Outages hit two-thirds of the state with about 1 million homes and businesses left without electricity. Governor John Kasich said it could take a week to fully restore power.

President Barack Obama authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the storm-ravaged state.

West Virginia was also hard-hit by storm-related outages, with about 614,000 customers without power, said Terrance Lively, spokesman for the state emergency management agency.

Further north, the storm caused outages from Indiana, where 135,000 customers lost power, to New Jersey, where Atlantic County declared a state of emergency and at least 206,000 customers were without power.

In New York, a heated labor dispute threatened to compound problems posed by the summer heat wave, which has already put an added strain on the electrical grid for New York City and suburban Westchester county.

Power utility Consolidated Edison Inc locked out its unionized workers early on Sunday after contract talks broke down, both sides said, raising the possibility of power cuts.

The company said it had asked to extend negotiations for two more weeks but the union, which had threatened a strike by its 8,500 workers over a new contract, refused. In response, the firm told union members not to report for work on Sunday.

That left managers and any crews the company can hire to fix whatever problems arise as 8.2 million New Yorkers crank up their air conditioners to beat the heat.

Records for June were broken on Friday in Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. The temperature hit at least 104 F (40 C) in all four cities, according to the National Weather Service.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Paul Thomasch in New York, Susan Guyett in Indianapolis, Tim Ghianni in Nashville and Alistair Bull in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown, Sandra Maler and Vicki Allen)

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About 175 arrested early Sunday in Chicago protest (Reuters)

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Police arrested all around 175 demonstrators at a nascent protest camp in a downtown Chicago park early on Sunday, hauling them away in vans and buses even as protesters vowed to carry on their marketing campaign from economic inequality.

The Chicago protests, connected to the Occupy Wall Road movement that sparked weekend demonstrations around the globe, drew far more than two,000 individuals on Saturday and into the early hrs of Sunday. Marches in New York and Los Angeles attracted about 5,000 folks every single on Saturday.

But the predawn arrests scuttled, at minimum for now, ideas by the Chicago protesters to build a protest camp comparable to that in New York’s Zuccotti Park, the Manhattan hub of the Occupy Wall Road movement that commenced previous month.

Right after the arrests, demonstrators in Chicago said they had been plotting a way ahead, grappling with issues such as trespassing laws barring occupation of manifeste spaces, organizing challenges and dropping temperatures.

The arrests transpired soon after protesters marched on Saturday from Chicago’s monetary district, wherever some have spent the night on sidewalks, to Grant Park where they hoped to set up camp regardless of a regulation barring the public from town parks soon after 11 p.m.

“We went in knowing that we had been going to occupy,” explained Kyle Miskell, a 24-calendar year-old laptop or computer technician, including he was amid people arrested. “We have been hoping the city would say, ‘OK, let them occupy right here.’ But it didn’t perform out that way.”

Police warned them to leave. But some protesters linked arms about the tents, stating they ended up ready to be arrested. Others stood across the road to chant and sing on the sidewalk in a gesture of solidarity.

“They were presented warnings, recommended of the statute and that they ended up in violation, and they selected to remain,” Chicago Police spokesman Daniel O’Brien stated.

Police took down close to thirty tents following hauling away the last of the arrested protesters early on Sunday, protesters said. At minimum 1 protester stated the police acted “humanely.”

Miskell explained the protesters “definitely require a far more long term residence” much more cozy than the fiscal district sidewalk they at present occupy.

“Sleeping on the streets in November and December in Chicago is not a good notion,” he explained.

Yet another Chicago protester, an intensive treatment nurse, explained that as the Chicago movement grew it necessary a “far more visible, yet secure” location to call house.

“There has been talk about men and women making an attempt to reoccupy Grant Park tonight. When the police had been tearing down the tents, there was a chant of ‘We have far more tents,’” explained the girl, 31-yr-old Heather Fallon.

ARRESTS IN OTHER Cities

In New York, in which the motion began when protesters set up camp on September 17, 92 demonstrators ended up arrested on Saturday and early on Sunday for disorderly perform and resisting arrest, police said.

Much more than a dozen have been demonstrators arrested in Washington Square Park for violating the park’s midnight curfew.

Another approximately twenty protesters have been arrested late on Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina, and about 50 were arrested in Phoenix.

In addition to the U.S. protests, demonstrations stretched into Sunday in London, exactly where about 250 people set up camp outside the house St Paul’s Cathedral, vowing to occupy the internet site indefinitely to show their anger at bankers and politicians through the international economic crisis.

The protests, in Asia and Europe as properly on Saturday, ended up largely peaceful apart from in Rome, where the demonstration sparked riots.

American protesters are angry that U.S. banking institutions are savoring booming earnings soon after finding bailouts in 2008, even though numerous regular Americans are struggling to stay afloat in a challenging economy with much more than 9 % unemployment.

They also imagine the richest 1 percent of Americans do not spend their honest share in taxes and want a far more equitable economic method.

Some protesters stated they were happy with the weekend’s turnout, although some marches ended up more compact than organizers had expected and it was unclear if the motion, mainly driven by social media, would sustain its momentum. Critics have accused it of lacking obvious objectives.

Occupy LA organizer Clark Davis was exuberant over the 5,000 men and women who marched by means of the streets of Los Angeles and gathered peacefully outside City Hall.

“Wow, they really showed up,” he mentioned.

In New York, Troy Simmons, production manager for a well being food organization, explained he was surprised turnout was not more substantial.

“Men and women do not want to get involved. They’d instead observe on Tv,” he explained.

(Added reporting by Brad Dorfman in Chicago, R.T. Watson in Los Angeles, Ray Sanchez in New York Composing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Johnson, modifying by Cynthia Johnston)

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Latest News

Iran threatens Israel; new EU sanctions take force

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran announced missile tests on Sunday and threatened to wipe Israel “off the face of the earth” if the Jewish state attacked it, brandishing some of its starkest threats on the day Europe began enforcing an oil embargo and harsh new sanctions.

The European sanctions – including a ban on imports of Iranian oil by EU states and measures that make it difficult for other countries to trade with Iran – were enacted earlier this year but mainly came into effect on July 1.

They are designed to break Iran’s economy and force it to curb nuclear work that Western countries say is aimed at producing an atomic weapon. Reporting by Reuters has shown in recent months that the sanctions have already had a significant effect on Iran’s economy.

Israel says it could attack Iran if diplomacy fails to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear aims. The United States also says military force is on the table as a last resort, but U.S. officials have repeatedly encouraged the Israelis to be patient while new sanctions take effect.

Washington said the EU’s oil ban might force Tehran to give ground at the next round of nuclear talks, scheduled for this week in Istanbul.

Announcing three days of missile tests in the coming week, Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the exercises should be seen as a message “that the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolute in standing up to … bullying, and will respond to any possible evil decisively and strongly.”

Any attack on Iran by Israel would be answered resolutely: “If they take any action, they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth,” said Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ airborne division, according to state news agency IRNA.

The missile tests will target mock-ups of air bases in the region, Hajizadeh said, adding that its ability to strike U.S. bases in the Gulf protects Iran from U.S. support for Israel.

“U.S. bases in the region are within range of our missiles and weapons, and therefore they certainly will not cooperate with the regime (Israel),” he told IRNA.

Iran has repeatedly unnerved oil markets by threatening reprisals if it were to be attacked or its trade disrupted.

The threat against the Jewish state echoed words President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke in 2005, saying Israel “must be wiped off the page of time” – a phrase often translated as “wiped off the map” and cited by Israel to show how allowing Iran to get nuclear arms would be a threat to its existence.

The EU ban on Iranian oil imports directly deprives Iran of a market that bought 18 percent of its exports a year ago. The sanctions also bar EU companies from transporting Iranian crude or insuring shipments, hurting its trade worldwide.

“They signal our clear determination to intensify the peaceful diplomatic pressure,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

The EU sanctions come alongside stringent new measures imposed by Washington this year on third countries doing business with Iran. The United States welcomed the EU sanctions as an “essential part” of diplomatic efforts “to seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said he hoped the sanctions would force Tehran to make concessions in technical-level talks with six world powers later this week.

MALICIOUS POLICIES

“Iran has an opportunity to pursue substantive negotiations, beginning with expert level talks this week in Istanbul, and must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear activities,” Carney said in a statement.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – foes of Iran which face it across the oil-rich Gulf – announced their own joint air force exercises on Sunday which they said would take “several days,” their state news agencies reported.

In three rounds of talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the Western powers have demanded Tehran halt high-grade uranium enrichment, ship out all high-grade uranium and close a key enrichment facility.

The talks lost steam at the last meeting in Moscow last month and there was not enough common ground for negotiators to agree whether to meet again. Officials – but not political decision-makers – meet in Turkey on Tuesday.

Washington sees the sanctions and talks as a potential way out of the standoff to avert the need for military action, but has not said it would block Israel from attacking Iran.

Tehran says it has a right to peaceful nuclear technologies and is not seeking the bomb. It accuses nuclear-armed states of hypocrisy. Officials said they were taking steps to reduce the economic impact of the new sanctions.

“We are implementing programs to counter sanctions and we will confront these malicious policies,” Mehr news agency quoted Iranian central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani as saying.

Bahmani has struggled to prevent a plunge in the value of the rial currency and steadily rising inflation as the sanctions have taken effect. He said the effects of the sanctions were tough but that Iran had built up $ 150 billion in foreign reserves to protect its economy.

Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said oil importing countries would be the losers if the sanctions lead to price rises.

“All possible options have been planned in government to counter sanctions,” Qasemi said on the ministry’s website.

Last Friday, another Revolutionary Guards commander, Ali Fadavi, said Iran would equip its ships in the Strait of Hormuz – the neck of the Gulf and a vital oil transit point – with shorter-range missiles.

(Additional reporting by Marcus George and Isabel Coles in Dubai and by Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Egypt’s new president faces burden of expectation

CAIRO (Reuters) – If Egypt‘s new president, Mohamed Mursi, needs any reminder of the weight of expectations bearing down as he begins work, he can glance from a window of the presidential palace.

Citizens seeking jobs, compensation from the state or clemency for jailed relatives crowded at the palace gates on Sunday, showing how Mursi‘s unprecedented popular mandate has raised hopes for a more responsive kind of government.

“My name is Alaa Ahmed Bayoumy and I am here to ask for a higher pension,” said one 52-year-old among the group mingling with palace security officials. “I have five children and my rent costs more than my pension. That is unacceptable.”

As Mursi worked to replace an army-backed interim cabinet with his new government, members of the public bearing petitions were allowed to rest in the gardens outside the palace perimeter, where they ate, drank and lounged in the shade.

Ordinary Egyptians were never allowed near the palace under President Hosni Mubarak, toppled in a popular revolt last year.

Anxious to show a break with his autocratic predecessor, Mursi has said he will not turn his back on a compatriot and will seek justice for all Egyptians, including those killed or wounded in the uprising.

Like Mursi, Mubarak had humble village origins, but the former air force chief slipped out of touch with an increasingly impoverished population during three decades in power.

In Mubarak’s day, staging political protests was almost impossible, with large numbers of police always on hand to disperse and often arrest anyone brave enough to try.

Streets plied by the presidential motorcade were smartened up and lined with crowds of admirers bussed in for the occasion – or simply closed to traffic for hours, creating huge jams for motorists, to allow the president to speed across the capital.

When Mubarak occupied the presidential palace in central Cairo, security was tight.

On Sunday, uniformed police and state security officers sporting suits and dark glasses tried to deal calmly with the crowd hoping to enter the presidential precincts, taking down names or suggesting that people make written requests for help.

Visitors pleading volubly for an audience with Mursi were occasionally let inside the palace grounds.

An old woman wearing a black veil, Ahlam Mohamed, sat outside on the pavement. “I want a job for my son. He has been staying at home for months and he is the one who feeds us. Without him we will die,” she said.

TALL ORDER

Haitham Ezzat, 29, demanded compensation because a facial injury sustained during the anti-Mubarak revolt had stopped him working.

“I am hoping to meet the president,” said another man, 61-year-old Sayed Rashad, who said he had not been compensated for a war wound even despite filing a lawsuit against the army.

Workers laid off during Mubarak-era economic reforms brandished a petition naming 15 companies they accused of illegally firing employees.

“We are here to tell the president to help us quickly. If he wants to get the production cycle moving again, we need to be paid and secure all our rights,” said Atef Mondy, 38, head of the Movement for Fired Workers.

Some 40 percent of Egyptians live on less than $ 2 a day. The uprising was driven by a sense that nothing could get worse, but for many it has.

The economy is floundering and joblessness is growing after political turmoil hammered investment and tourism.

State finances are stretched, which will make it hard for Mursi to spend his way to popularity. His policy programme is anyway geared towards liberalization to spur investment, raising the risk of deeper economic pain in the near term.

That would come as a shock to many Egyptians who are hoping Mursi will turn on state taps and provide benefits on a far greater scale than those distributed by his Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s charity and social welfare networks helped to make it one of Egypt’s most popular political forces, providing cheap food, medicine and other essentials to the poor.

Some wonder whether Mursi, whose prerogatives were clipped by the military even before he took office on Saturday, has the power to drive through radical change.

Any attempt to tackle poverty among Egypt’s 82 million people will run up against an inefficient, lethargic bureaucracy with vested interests that could slow the pace of reform.

For now, Mursi is promising swift measures with an immediate social impact, pledging to get traffic moving, restore security, collect rubbish, and clear bottlenecks in the distribution of subsidized bread, petrol and cooking gas.

But with the military keeping a grip on national security, a remit that may include control of the Ministry of Justice, some popular demands may be impossible for Mursi to meet.

Among those waiting to see the 60-year-old president on Sunday were three women – Nahed Hussein Abdel Fattah, Marwa Khaled and Nadia Mohamed Ahmed – demanding the release of family members who they say were framed and jailed under Mubarak.

“We know Mubarak’s people were tyrants and thugs. They used to fabricate crimes against people and they did that to my husband,” said Ahmed.

As the day wore on, some of the petitioners at the palace gates began to lose patience. Some drifted away, others began shouting at the police keeping them outside.

“Open this door. It will never stand between you and your people, nor will it protect you from us,” they cried.

(Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Mexican election could return longtime ruling party to power

Lot to love here RT @McCollumAshley: .@mattbuchanan talking 5 years of the iPhone on CNN. http://t.co/HGBXGCKf
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Iran says happy to examine U.S. plot allegations (Reuters)

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday it would take a look at “seriously and patiently” U.S. allegations it prepared to assassinate a Saudi ambassador and called on Washington to deliver evidence of the plot it has dismissed as baseless propaganda.

“We are well prepared to look at any matter, even if fabricated, significantly and patiently, and we have known as on The usa to submit to us any information in regard to this scenario,” Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA information company.

U.S. authorities explained very last week they had foiled a plot to destroy Saudi’s ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, and had arrested an Iranian-U.S. joint nationwide — information that raised tensions in between Tehran, its Arab neighbors and the West.

President Barack Obama said the foiled plot must lead to tighter sanctions against Iran — previously beneath numerous rounds of U.N. sanctions above its nuclear program — and repeated that all options are on the table to deal with the Islamic republic, a tacit threat of potential army action.

U.N. Secretary-Common Ban Ki-moon stated on Monday he had passed correspondence about the U.S. suspicions of Iran’s involvement in the alleged plot to the U.N. Security Council.

Tehran says Washington fabricated the plot to divert attention from its own economic difficulties and boost pressure on Iran, which it has lengthy regarded as a supporter of “terrorist” groups with nuclear weapons ambitions.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned the West Iran will counter any “inappropriate measure” taken in opposition to it and stated he had no concern of military or sanctions threats.

“Despite the high army, protection, propaganda and sanctions strain, the Islamic Republic is very pleased not to again down even an iota for the duration of the past 32 many years,” he stated in a televised speech during a tour of Kermanshah province.

“The Iranian nation and its officials will not yield to the enemies’ blackmailing and pressure.”

NUCLEAR Advances

The plot furor appears to have killed any possibility of a rapid return to talks among Tehran and world powers worried about its nuclear course, but Salehi stated Iran continued to make strides in the technologies it states is for purely peaceful ends.

Salehi conceded Iran had at first feared the assassination of a nuclear scientist in Tehran final November — which it blamed on Israel — had dealt a significant blow to a important portion of its atomic work.

“When (Majid) Shahriyari was martyred we have been anxious due to the fact he was the only man or woman who understood about this expert area (enriching uranium to 20 percent purity),” he mentioned.

“But soon after our trip to (the nuclear plant in the town of) Isfahan, I recognized that the graceful martyr had skilled about twenty folks in his workshops. Appropriate now we have several thousand nuclear engineers and there is virtually nothing in the nuclear concern that we want to obtain but can’t.”

Iran’s announcement final year that it had escalated uranium enrichment from the lower level essential for electrical power creation to twenty %, alarmed many international locations that feared it was a crucial phase towards making materials potent enough for a nuclear bomb.

Tehran states the fuel is essential to make isotopes for cancer treatment and preceding nuclear talks targeted on a deal to provide ready-built fuel for its healthcare reactor in trade for some of Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium.

Salehi mentioned in January — forward of the previous spherical of nuclear talks that then stalled — that these kinds of a fuel swap deal was turning out to be much less relevant as Iran would be able to generate its personal fuel plates for the reactor in the very first half of the Iranian yr, which began in March.

With that deadline currently passed, Salehi said on Monday Iran would be creating the medical reactor fuel within the subsequent four to five months. He explained Iran had created nearly 70 kg (a hundred and fifty lb) of twenty % enriched uranium, up from an approximated 40 kg in January.

(Producing by Robin Pomeroy modifying by Philippa Fletcher)

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