Flooding the Biggest Concern in Irene’s Wake
Tropical Storm Irene was weakening as it moved into the Northeast and headed toward Canada, but officials warned the worst is yet to come in some areas along the Eastern Seaboard where flooding has become the big concern. At least 21 deaths were blamed on the storm. Along the Mid-Atlantic coast, the storm appeared to have fallen well short of doomsday predictions. At least 2.3 million people were given orders to evacuate, though it was not clear how many obeyed them. Power was knocked out to more than 4.5 million homes and businesses. Irene made landfall over New York’s Coney Island with winds at 65 mph. It hit New York City at 9 a.m. ET, bringing with it a storm surge that sent 3½ feet of water into New York Harbor. The storm’s maximum sustained winds lessened to 50 mph as it crossed into New England on Sunday afternoon. The north tube of the Holland Tunnel, which carries traffic from New York City to New Jersey, was closed for a time due to flooding. Rainfall overflowed sewers and seawater lapped at sidewalks at the edges of the city. Water cascaded toward Wall Street, which had been fortified with sandbags. Twenty homes on Long Island Sound in Connecticut were destroyed by high surf.
Gov. Chris Christie warned New Jersey residents Sunday to prepare for record flooding the next two days in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The Ramapo River was rising quickly and was expected to crest at 19.2 feet at the Pompton Lake Dam, breaking the record of 18 feet set in 1984. In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont Emergency Management is asking residents of the state to stay off roadways today because of flooded roads, debris, washouts and downed power lines. Transportation officials say 260 roads have been washed out and six covered bridges destroyed. Heavy rain and strong winds from Hurricane Irene knocked down trees and power lines Sunday, leaving up to half Rhode Island’s 1 million residents without power. Overall, the flooding was called the worst in over 100 years. Hurricane damage could total $10 billion.
We will be seeing a lot more of “worst” weather coming as the end-times roll forward, eventually resulting in the 100-pound hailstones of Revelation 8:7 and 16:21
Perry Bills Feds for Housing Illegals
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reimburse the state $350 million to cover costs of imprisoning illegal immigrants. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the top-tier Republican presidential candidate blamed the federal government for not securing the border with Mexico, allowing illegal immigrants to cross over and use taxpayer-funded resources. He said resources for county jails are being depleted as a result. Perry is combating criticism from conservatives that he has been too lenient on illegal immigrants.
Officials Find More Tunnels Along Arizona Border
Law-enforcement officials called to a house in Douglas last week found an unusual sight: a large hole in the floor of one room and mounds of dirt piled high in other rooms. The hole was the opening of a tunnel that drug smugglers were burrowing from the United States to Mexico. It was the second tunnel discovered along the Arizona border in less than two weeks. Federal law-enforcement officials are concerned that the discoveries show that smugglers are increasingly using tunnels to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. to evade tighter border security. This summer, the Border Patrol finished installing new fencing in Nogales that allows agents to see to the other side, making it more difficult for smugglers to avoid detection. The Border Patrol also has installed more than 300 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers along Arizona’s border with Mexico in recent years and added hundreds of agents. Agents in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, which covers most of Arizona’s border with Mexico, discovered eight tunnels through the end of July this fiscal year in addition to the two recent finds.
U.N. Warns of Bird Flu Resurgence, Mutant Strain
The United Nations warned Monday of a possible resurgence of the deadly bird flu virus, saying wild bird migrations had brought it back to previously virus-free countries and that a mutant strain was spreading in Asia. A mutant strain of H5N1, which can apparently sidestep defenses of existing vaccines, is spreading in China and Vietnam, The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement Monday. It urged greater surveillance to ensure that any outbreaks are contained. Eight people have died from the new strain in Cambodia and the virus is spreading across Vietnam. Elsewhere, FAO says bird migrations over the past two years have brought H5N1 to countries that had been virus-free for several years, including Israel, the Palestinian territories, Bulgaria, Romania, Nepal and Mongolia.
Half of U.S. Adults Now Use Social Networks
A new study says half of all American adults are now on social networks, and use among Baby Boomers is growing. A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project says that of the adults who use the Internet, nearly two-thirds use social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. That’s up slightly from a year ago. Among Baby Boomers aged 50 to 64, 32 percent say they use a social networking site on a typical day. That’s up from 20 percent a year ago. Seniors are also testing the waters of social networking.
Unemployed? Go to North Dakota
Unemployment is a national problem in the U.S., but you wouldn’t know that if you travel through North Dakota. The state’s unemployment rate hovers around 3 percent, and “Help Wanted” signs litter the landscape of its major cities. Billions of dollars are coming into the state and thousands of people are following—all because millions of barrels of oil are flowing out. The result: A good, old-fashioned oil boom. There’s no available housing, so people sleep in truck stops and Wal-Mart Stores’ parking lots. Developers have expanded plans from just a few dozen new homes and are now building hundreds of houses and thousands of apartment units. The McDonald’s in Williston is one of the busiest in the country, and they need to pay $15 an hour just to attract employees to work there. And then, there’s the trucks—thousands of them—on country roads. There’s one left turn in Williston that can get so backed up with truck traffic, it can take hours to get through the intersection.
Super Committee Members Call for Tax Hikes
The Dirty Debt Deal “Super Committee” has not even officially convened, yet these elite members are already angling to use their super-legislative powers to raise taxes. In a high-profile Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, three Democratic members of the Super Committee (Sens. Baucus, Murray and Kerry) sent a very strong and clear signal that they will be pressing for tax increases to be included in the Super Committee’s conclusions. Meanwhile, House GOP leaders are also issuing the GOP version of tax increases. Boehner and Cantor are now talking openly that they support “tax reforms” that make the tax code “more fair by closing loopholes.” (Read: “tax increases.”). Grassfire Nation observes that, “this entire process of debt reduction (and tax increases) is being controlled by a 12-member super-empowered Super Committee that is at best a legislative mockery and at worst unconstitutional!”
Consumer spending rebounded in July, making the biggest gain in five months. The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending rose 0.8% in July. That followed a drop in June, the first decline in spending in 20 months. Consumer spending is important because it accounts for 70% of economic activity. The increase in spending was led by a 1.9% jump in purchases of durable goods, products such as autos and appliances that are expected to last at least three years. Spending on non-durable goods rose 0.7%. However, the purchase of services, the biggest spending category, fell 0.7%. Services include everything from haircuts to airline tickets.
The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell in July, evidence that the depressed housing market remains a drag on the economy. The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 1.3% in July to a reading of 89.7. A reading of 100 is considered healthy. Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There’s typically a one- to two-month lag between a sales contract signing and a completed deal. But a growing number of buyers have cancelled contracts after appraisals showed the homes were worth less than they bid.
Short sales are increasing as a percentage of home sales in many states, helping some neighborhoods and homeowners avoid the more devastating impacts of foreclosures. Short sales — when lenders allow financially strapped borrowers to sell homes for less than their unpaid mortgage — accounted for 12% of home sales nationwide in the second quarter. Short-sale homes, which often remain occupied until sold, tend to retain values better than those that go through foreclosure. That helps values of neighboring homes.
The Economist (UK) published an interview with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday which he revealed that Israel will allow Egypt to deploy thousands of troops in the Sinai Peninsula, in violation of the 1979 Camp David Accords, in order to allow Cairo to reassert control over the area which many fear has become a haven for international terrorist groups. The Egyptian soldiers “will have helicopters and armored vehicles, but no tanks beyond the lone battalion already stationed there,” Barak said, adding that the decision had the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Barak also acknowledged the risks, saying that it is unlikely Egypt will ever withdraw the troops, once deployed, but Israel’s options are limited. Knesset Speaker Ruevin Rivlin reacted to the report by saying that such a move might require a vote in the Knesset.
Top Libyan rebel officials Monday urged NATO to maintain pressure on the remnants of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime and protect crews trying to restore critical water and power services. “Gadhafi is still capable is doing something awful in the last moments,” the head of the rebel’s transitional government, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, told senior NATO envoys meeting in the Gulf nation of Qatar. Other rebel officials urged NATO to shift its focus to help safeguard reconstruction teams seeking to ease water and power shortages in the capital, Tripoli, and elsewhere. Rebel leaders estimate at least 60 percent of Tripoli’s residents don’t have enough water. “Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO,” the rebel leaders told military chiefs of staff and other key defense officials from NATO nations.
As Libya’s capital slowly staggers back to life, evidence is emerging of revenge killings committed by both rebels and the regime army, which could provoke continuing violence. Human Rights Watch said the evidence it has collected “strongly suggests that Gadhafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling.” More than 200 decomposing bodies have been found at a Tripoli hospital that doctors and nurses abandoned because of fierce fighting between Libyan rebels and loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi, according to eyewitness reports. Gadhafi’s forces had occupied the facility Saturday and snipers held rebels and medical staff at bay Some of the dead were civilians and some were fighters, including some that appeared to be African mercenaries. AFP reports that 17 patients were found alive, including a child, and that the Red Cross evacuated them.
Syrian protesters chanted “Bye, bye Gaddafi, Bashar your turn is coming” overnight, but the regime of president Bashar Assad has not slowed his crackdown, sending tanks and troops into several rebellious villages in the country’s southeast. A UN survey team completed its tour and is expected to issue a report soon, but Assad’s regime appeared unconcerned, perhaps because of the unqualified political, military and economic support it has received from Iran. Prominent satirist Ali Ferzat, who has been one of the few outspoken critics of the regime’s brutality among Syria’s intelligentsia, was kidnapped and severely beaten Thursday, as a “warning” to other potential regime critics.
Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and a close, longtime associate of Osama bin Laden, has been killed in Pakistan, apparently from a CIA drone attack, the Associated Press reports. Al-Rahman was killed in the tribal region of Waziristan, the AP says. Al-Rahman, believed to be in his mid-30s, joined bin Laden as a teenager in Afghanistan and later served as bin Laden’s emissary to Iran.
At least 25 security personnel were killed when between 200 and 300 militants attacked border posts along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Those who died included Pakistani soldiers and police. Twenty of the militants, who came from across the border, were reportedly killed. The militants used both small and heavy weapons in a well coordinated attack that took place over areas that spanned roughly 125 km (about 75 miles).
An infuriated Afghan government, fearful that President Hamid Karzai’s influence being undermined, leaked details of secret talks between the United States and an emissary to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar that had begun to bear fruit, the Associated Press reports. The emissary, Tayyab Aga, fled into hiding in Europe when news of the secret talks surfaced in June. The AP, quoting a former U.S. official, says the clandestine meetings were held in Germany and Qatar, starting in late 2010 and were held twice this spring. Collapse of the direct talks between Aga and U.S. officials probably spoiled the best chance yet at reaching an agreement. The AP, quoting an unidentified member of the council, says the United States, Afghan government, Afghan National Security Council and the High Peace Council are now all holding separate and secret talks with their own contacts within the insurgency.
Bombs in Baghdad killed six people Saturday night, capping a deadly day which in at least 35 people died across Iraq. Late Saturday night, a bomb hidden in a bicycle outside a Sunni mosque killed three worshippers and wounded eight others leaving evening prayers at the Omer Bin Abdul Aziz mosque just north of Baghdad. A half hour later, three policemen died nearby while responding to an explosion under a bridge in the predominantly Christian al-Ghadeer neighborhood in the capital’s east side. Also, Iraqi security official said two explosions in the northern city of Mosul wounded 15 people, including nine Iraqi soldiers and policemen.
How many wars are too many? Unnoticed largely in the press of larger events and obviously downplayed by the controlled Western media, the US and its allies are pursuing yet another aggressive, illegal war – this one in Yemen. The US is helping its Yemeni allies fight back against the terror threat. It is a full-on conflict that has reportedly seen SEALS come ashore on a regular basis at night to engage tribal fighters in Abyan province. Unconstitutional, secretive and expanding in scope and violence, it includes the massive, violent projection of US naval, air and Special Forces into parts of Yemen.
A moderate earthquake shook California’s central coastal area early Saturday. The quake was widely felt in the region but there were no immediate reports of any injuries or damages. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude 4.6 quake struck at 12:18 a.m. and was centered 22 miles southeast of Hollister. In the two hours that followed, several smaller quakes ranging from magnitude 3.6 to 2.5 struck in the same general area.
A magnitude-5.4 earthquake rattled the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan early Saturday. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The USGS said the quake hit was about 45 miles southeast of Faizabad, Afghanistan, and 157 miles northeast of Kabul.
In the bone-dry northwest, there are now nine wildfires burning in Montana which have consumed over 100,000 acres (about 156 sq. miles). Nine wildfires are also active in Oregon having burned around 90,000 acres (about 140 sq. mi.). Another nine wildfires are burning in Wyoming across 26,000 acres (almost 40 sq. mi.).
A massive landslide swallowed homes in eastern Uganda early Monday, killing at least 23 people, the Red Cross said. Torrential rains triggered the landslide. Two people have been rescued, but the death toll is expected to rise as rescue crews scour through the site in Bulambuli district. Bulambuli district is about 300 kilometers northeast of the capital, Kampala. Flooding also destroyed roads and washed away bridges in the region.
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