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World briefly for Oct. 30

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POSTED: October 30, 2012 9:39 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in New York and Long Island.

The declaration makes federal funding available to people in the area. It bore the brunt of the sea surge from a superstorm that hit the East Coast on Monday.

The National Hurricane Center said that as of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the storm was moving westward across Pennsylvania and was centered about 90 miles west of Philadelphia.

It lost its hurricane status on Monday and is now considered an extratropical cyclone. It has left more than 7.5 million people without power.

It is expected to move into western New York on Tuesday night and move into Canada on Wednesday.

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AP PHOTOS: Big waves and high winds, images of the East Coast superstorm

Superstorm Sandy lashed the Eastern United States as it made landfall along the New Jersey coast, packing torrential rains and wind gusts and knocking out electricity to millions.

The initial impact was severe: making rivers out of coastal roads, forcing those who waited too long to be rescued by boats or fearfully ride out. Power was out for hundreds of thousands in New York City and an estimated 6.2 million across the East. Stock trading will be closed in the U.S. for a second day — the first time the New York Stock Exchange will be closed for two consecutive days due to weather since 1888. Schools and public transportation were closed and city streets were abandoned as the storm moved over a region of 50 million.

Here's a look at AP photos of the storm so far:

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A state-by-state look at what's happening with the East Coast superstorm

The massive storm that started out as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast and morphed into a huge and problematic system, putting more than 7.3 million homes and businesses in the dark and causing at least 16 deaths. Here's a snapshot of what is happening, state by state.

CAROLINAS

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue expanded a state of emergency to western North Carolina, which could see a foot of snow. A woman who was pulled from the Atlantic after abandoning a tall ship died. Power outages: 6,600.

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Then and now, gaffe-prone candidates hurt GOP's chances of retaking Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans hopeful of taking over the Senate should be measuring the drapes. But a series of blown opportunities two years ago and again this year has cost Republicans dearly in their quest for a Senate majority.

Flawed, gaffe-prone nominees may have cost them the chance to win three seats in the 2010 GOP wave. Now, an easy pickup in Missouri and a longtime GOP seat in Indiana are in question after high-profile stumbles on rape and abortion.

Democrats presently control the Senate with 53 votes, including two independents who usually vote with them. By any measure, Republicans should hold more seats if it had not been for losses two years ago in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, where tea party-backed candidates stormed to wins in GOP primaries but fell short in the general election.

The biggest flameout of 2010 came in Delaware, where longtime Rep. Mike Castle had been considered a sure bet to take over a longtime Democratic seat despite the state's strong Democratic lean. But Castle was upended in the GOP primary by tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell, who in turn got crushed by 17 points in the general election by Chris Coons.

In Colorado, tea partyer Ken Buck defeated GOP establishment favorite Jane Norton in the primary, only to lose by 2 points to appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. And in Nevada, gaffe-prone tea party candidate Sharron Angle lost to Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, who entered the race with high unfavorable ratings and would probably have been an underdog to a more mainstream Republican candidate.

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As Egyptians affirm their faith on hajj, questions over how much faith should be in politics

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Now that she has finished the hajj and is returning home to Egypt, Magda Bagnied says her family will no doubt try to convince her to put on the headscarf to demonstrate her religiosity after a pilgrimage meant to cleanse her of sin and bring her closer to God.

She fully expects that from her parents. But she doesn't want that kind of pressure from her government or leaders.

"Leave religion to the people," said Bagnied, a media professor at Ahram Canadian University, in Cairo's suburbs.

The annual pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites offers Muslims a chance to reaffirm their faith and root themselves more firmly in their beliefs. It comes at a time when several Arab nations are facing a similar issue on a political level after uprisings that toppled longtime leaders and brought Islamists to greater power: The question of how much a government should be rooted in Islam.

Egypt in particular is struggling with that question. Elections since the fall last year of Hosni Mubarak elevated Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, to president. The Brotherhood was vaulted to become the country's strongest political force, along with even more conservative Islamists known as Salafis, who follow a strict Saudi-style interpretation of Islam.

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Bahrain bans protest all gatherings amid growing violence

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain imposed emergency-style rules Tuesday banning all protest gatherings and threating legal action against groups considered backing escalating demonstrations and clashes in the strategic Gulf kingdom.

The order, announced by the Interior Ministry, is the most sweeping attempt to quash the kingdom's anti-government uprising since martial law rules were in effect during the early months of unrest last year. It sharply increases pressure on political groups from Bahrain's Shiite Muslim majority, which has led the protests seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni Muslim-ruled nation.

Tougher steps against opposition groups could raise complications for Washington and other Western allies that have stood by Bahrain's monarchy during more than 20 months of unrest. The U.S. has important military bonds with Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, but it also has called for increased efforts at dialogue to ease the tensions.

Shiites comprise about 70 percent of Bahrain's 525,000 citizens, but claim they face systematic discrimination such as being denied top political and security posts. The Sunni monarchy has made a series of concessions — including giving more powers to the elected parliament — but opposition groups say the reforms do little to loosen the ruling family's hold on power.

More than 50 people have been killed in Bahrain's unrest since February 2011. Among them were two policemen who died this month from injuries suffered in attacks by firebombs and explosives.

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Sandy forces political pause, but campaigns still look for an edge with 7 days left

WASHINGTON (AP) — The havoc unleashed by Superstorm Sandy is bringing an unnerving pause to the presidential campaigning as President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney adjust the breakneck pace of the contest's final days to the anxieties and escalating emergency demands sweeping the Eastern Seaboard.

Seven days before the election, both men and their running mates tempered their campaigns for Tuesday, eager not to appear out of sync with more immediate worries over flooding, power outages, economic calamity and personal safety. Neither Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden planned to campaign Tuesday. Romney was going forward with a planned event in Ohio, but his campaign said its focus would be storm relief.

The fierce storm was clearly overwhelming politics, striking at the heart of the nation's financial district with a surge of seawater in New York City that prompted flooding and utility shutdowns in lower Manhattan. Millions were left without power as the deadly storm whipped its way through presidential battlegrounds like North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire and sprawled as far as the Great Lakes, where gales threatened Ohio's and Wisconsin's lakeside regions.

Obama shifted promptly from campaign mode to governing, abandoning a Florida event to return to Washington. Displaying authority like only an incumbent can, he received a briefing from his top emergency advisers, his second in so many days. He then addressed reporters at the White House, insisting that the public follow the directives of their local officials and warning that recovery from the giant storm would not be swift.

Obama voiced concern over the storm's effect on the economy, and the disruptions in New York's Wall Street region were bound to be among those that preoccupied the administration Tuesday. Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

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Swiss bank UBS announces massive layoffs of 10,000 to shrink investment unit

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss banking giant UBS AG is to cut as many as 10,000 employees, or some 15 percent of its staff, to drastically shrink its ailing investment bank.

The news of the layoffs came as Switzerland's biggest bank posted another big loss for the third quarter. It said Tuesday that the job cuts are part of a strategy to shore up profits.

As a result, UBS said it needs to reduce its headcount to "around 54,000" by 2015, down from its current 64,000 employees in 57 countries.

Some 7,500 jobs are to be cut mainly in London and the United States, where UBS has a prominent building and trading operations in Stamford, Conn., near New York City. The other 2,500 cuts are to be in Switzerland.

Investors cheered the move and the stock was trading 6 percent higher in early trading in Zurich at 13.88 Swiss francs.

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Alex Smith completes 18 of 19 passes, 49ers dominate Cardinals 24-3

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Three touchdown passes, one incomplete pass.

Not a bad night for Alex Smith, and it could have been better, considering that the one incomplete pass was dropped by a wide-open receiver.

The San Francisco quarterback completed 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns — two to Michael Crabtree and one to Randy Moss — to help San Francisco flatten the Arizona Cardinals 24-3 on Monday night.

"Eighteen of 19, I have never seen that," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "How important for your quarterback to play very well? It is very important and I don't know how you play much better. It was a fantastic game by him."

Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett could hardly believe what Smith had done.

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Syrian troops clash with rebels in Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say Syrian troops and rebels are clashing in a Palestinian refugee camp in the capital, Damascus.

They also say fighter jets have resumed attacks on the northern province of Idlib and suburbs of the capital. Tuesday's airstrikes come a day after activists reported the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's 19-month crisis began.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees say fighting in the Yarmouk refugee camp broke out after midnight. They had no word on casualties.

Palestinian refugees in Syria tried to stay on the sidelines when the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March. But many Palestinian youths have joined the fight as they became enraged by mounting violence and moved by Arab Spring calls for greater freedoms.

 

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