Tuesday, January 27th4.3°C
24624
24152

Drowned puppy in airport toilet

A Florida woman is suspected of drowning a two-week-old puppy in a Nebraska airport bathroom so she could board a plane.

Grand Island Police Sgt. Stan Steele says 56-year-old Cynthia V. Anderson of Edgewater, Florida, was denied access to a flight Friday at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport because the puppy was so young and not properly contained. Steele says she tried to conceal the Doberman in her carry-on bag.

He tells The Grand Island Independent Anderson then was seen entering a bathroom before another woman reported finding a dead Doberman puppy in the toilet.

Steele says the Central Nebraska Humane Society conducted an autopsy. It determined the animal's cause of death was drowning.

Anderson was arrested on animal abuse charges. She's being held in the Hall County Jail.

The Canadian Press


24643


Rising tide of anti-Semitism

A Jewish leader stood before 300 survivors of the Nazis' most notorious death camp on Tuesday and asked world leaders to prevent another Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews fearful of walking the streets, and is causing many to flee Europe.

Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

He said his speech was shaped by the recent terrorist attacks in France that targeted Jews and newspaper satirists.

"For a time, we thought that the hatred of Jews had finally been eradicated. But slowly the demonization of Jews started to come back," Lauder said. "Once again, young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris and Budapest and London. Once again, Jewish businesses are targeted. And once again, Jewish families are fleeing Europe."

The recent attack in Paris, in which four Jews were killed in a kosher supermarket, is not the first deadly attack on Jews in recent years. Last May a shooting killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels and in 2012 a rabbi and three children were murdered in the French city of Toulouse.

Europe also saw a spasm of anti-Semitism last summer during the war in Gaza, with protests in Paris turning violent and other hostility across the continent.

"This vilification of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, quickly became an opportunity to attack Jews," Lauder said. "Much of this came from the Middle East, but it has found fertile ground throughout the world."

One Holocaust survivor, Roman Kent, became emotional as he issued a plea to world leaders to remember the atrocities and fight for tolerance.

"We do not want our past to be our children's future," the 85-year-old said to applause, fighting back tears and repeating those words a second time.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who was in Saudi Arabia to pay respects after the death of King Abdullah, issued a statement paying tribute to the 6 million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazis.

"The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a painful reminder of our obligation to condemn and combat rising anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust," Obama said. A U.S. delegation to the ceremony was led by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where he said: "My job as prime minister of Israel is to make sure that there won't be any more threats of destruction against the state of Israel. My job is to ensure that there won't be any reasons to establish any more memorial sites like Yad Vashem."

The commemorations in Poland, which during World War II was under Nazi occupation, were also marked by a melancholy awareness that it will be the last major anniversary that a significant number of survivors will be strong enough to attend.

"The survivors are completely gutted that in their lifetime they went through what they went through and that now they are at the end of their life and they don't know what kind of world they are leaving for their grandchildren," said Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation. "That is very disappointing for them. We have let them down."

Politics also cast a shadow on the event, with Russian President Vladimir Putin absent — even though the Soviet Red Army liberated the camp — the result of the deep chill between the West and Russia over Ukraine.

Among those in attendance were French President Francois Hollande, who has vowed to fight the violent extremism that has wounded his nation, as well as the presidents of Germany and Austria, the perpetrator nations that have spent decades atoning for their sins.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was also there in a sign of Poland's strong support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

Poland apparently snubbed Putin, though officials don't say that openly. The organizers, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council, opted for a form of protocol this year that avoided direct invitations by Poland's president to his foreign counterparts. The organizers instead simply asked countries that are donors to Auschwitz, including Russia, whom they planned to send. Poland's Foreign Ministry says Putin could have attended if he wished.

The Russian delegation was led by Sergei Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff.

The public spat comes at a low point in relations between Russia and the West, following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, and its support for the rebel forces battling Kyiv's troops in eastern Ukraine. Poland has been vocal in condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine, which has plunged the continent into one of the worst East-West crises since the end of the Cold War.

Some of the survivors said they thought Putin should have been there, given the fact that Soviet soldiers fought and died to liberate the camp, and Russia is the successor state to the Soviet Union.

"They lost their lives and we should honour them," said Natan Grossmann, a survivor who now lives in Munich.

In Moscow, Putin visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center and used the occasion to press the Russian points on Ukraine. He spoke of the Ukrainian nationalists' collaboration with the Nazis in killing Jews during the war, and he accused Ukrainian authorities today of killing civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk in cold blood.

The Canadian Press


More monarchs flutter back

The number of Monarch butterflies that reached wintering grounds in Mexico has rebounded 69 per cent from last year's lowest-on-record levels, but their numbers remain very low, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Last year, the Monarchs covered only 1.65 acres (0.67 hectares), the smallest area since record-keeping began in 1993.

This year, the butterflies rebounded, to cover 2.79 acres (1.13 hectares), according to a formal census by Mexican environmental authorities and scientists released Tuesday.

The orange-and-black butterflies are suffering from loss of milkweed habitat in the United States, illegal logging in Mexico and climate change. Each year, the butterflies make a migration from Canada to Mexico and find the same pine and fir forests to spend the winter, even though no butterfly lives to make the round trip.

"Of course it is good news that the forest area occupied by Monarchs this season increased," said Omar Vidal, head of the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico. "But let*s be crystal clear, 1.13 hectares is very, very low, and it is still the second-smallest forest surface occupied by this butterfly in 22 years of monitoring."

At their peak in 1996, the Monarchs covered more than 44.5 acres (18 hectares) in the mountains west of Mexico City.

Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, has said that with anything below 2 hectares (4.1 acres), "they will remain in the danger category and I will continue to be concerned. " A population covering 4 or 5 hectares (9 to 12 acres) would be a sign of significant recovery, he added.

The butterfly population has plummeted before, and then partially recovered.

In 2001, driving rain and bitter cold killed millions, leading scientists to speculate that migrating populations would be seriously depleted in 2002. To their surprise, twice as many returned as some had predicted.

In 2004, unfavourable weather, pollution and deforestation caused a drastic decline in the population, but the next year, the butterflies bounced back.

But the overall tendency since 1993 points to a steep, progressive decline. Each time the Monarchs rebound, they do so at lower levels. The species is found in many countries and is not in danger of extinction, but experts fear the migration could be disrupted if very few butterflies make the trip.

The temperate climate of the mountains west of Mexico City normally creates an ideal setting for the Monarchs. Every fall, tens of millions of the delicate creatures fly thousands of miles to their ancestral breeding grounds, creating clouds of butterflies. They clump together on trees, forming chandelier shapes of orange and black.

The migration is an inherited trait: No butterfly lives to make the full round trip, and it is unclear how they find the route back to the same patch of forest each year. Some scientists suggest the butterflies may release chemicals marking the migratory path and fear that if their numbers fall too low, the chemical traces will not be strong enough for others to follow.

Extreme cold and drought also hurt butterfly populations, and in Mexico, illegal logging can punch holes in the forest canopy that shelters them, creating a situation in which cold rainfall could kill millions.

Vidal said Mexico has been able to essentially stop illegal logging in the Monarch protected reserve, but he said habitat loss in the United States remains a huge problem. Milkweed, the butterflies' main source of food has been crowded out by pesticide-resistant crops.

"The question we should all be asking now" is whether the U.S. can halt the loss of milkweed habitat, he said.

The Canadian Press


24936


Maritimes brace as storm moves in

Flights were cancelled and schools, government offices and universities throughout the Maritimes were closed Tuesday as a powerful winter storm unleashed stiff winds and brought heavy snowfall to the region.

The messy system had already shuttered schools and businesses in the eastern United States, with thousands of flights also being cancelled.

Environment Canada issued blizzard warnings for Prince Edward Island, southeastern New Brunswick and most of Nova Scotia, along with a mix of freezing rain, wind and snowfall warnings for Newfoundland.

The federal forecasting agency says winds could gust up to 100 kilometres per hour and snowfall accumulations could reach 40 centimetres or more.

Meteorologist Linda Libby said the storm would likely intensify early in the afternoon, but that much of the region was already seeing visibility drop sharply and snowfall accumulations climb.

"It's a big storm," she said from Charlottetown, which was expecting some of the system's highest winds and snowfall amounts. "We are looking at some persistence of some very severe conditions, certainly making travel for many locations around the region really quite hazardous."

Wind speeds were starting to pick up to more than 60 kilometres an hour on the Island, reducing visibility to less than half a kilometre in much of the region, Libby said.

In its long list of warnings, Environment Canada said snow will mix with or change to ice pellets over parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island later in the day.

Municipal officials throughout the region urged people to stay off the roads as there could be near-zero visibility with wind gusts whipping snow across roads. In Nova Scotia, power outages were also being reported in Yarmouth and Kingston.

Dozens of flights were cancelled at airports across the region but that didn't mean a day off for security worker Brad Gilroy, who was taking the storm in stride as he took the bus to his job at the airport in Halifax.

"It's all shut down from what I'm told but I have to report to work regardless and I'm ... leaving my car safely in the garage," said Gilroy, 50.

"Sometimes they're much ado about nothing and sometimes they're worse than forecast so you just have to take it moment by moment and judge it accordingly," he said.

"That's why I'm leaving my car at home because I don't know what it will be doing 10 or 12 hours from now."

Libby said she doesn't expect the system to move out of the area completely until Wednesday evening.

The storm spun up the East Coast, pounding parts of coastal New Jersey northward through Maine with high winds and heavy snow.

While the storm failed to live up to predictions in some areas, eastern Long Island north through Massachusetts and Maine were expected to fare the worst, with up to just under a metre of snow, punishing hurricane-force winds and the possibility of some coastal flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

It said Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get about a half a metre of snow. In Maine and New Hampshire, a state of emergency has been declared, and government offices in both states were closed Tuesday.

Parts of Long Island were dealing with hazardous conditions, with snow falling five centimetres per hour. Blizzard warnings were lifted for New York City and New Jersey early Tuesday.

The Canadian Press


AirAsia recovery efforts halted

Indonesia's military has halted its recovery efforts for the crashed AirAsia plane, including attempts to locate more bodies and raise the fuselage from the Java Sea, an official said Tuesday.

The Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency, however, said it would continue looking for victims with its own ships and helicopters.

Rear Adm. Widodo, head of the military's search and rescue task force, said the decision to withdraw was made after four days of unsuccessful attempts to raise the fuselage. He said three warships and two military helicopters were being removed.

He apologized to the families of the victims for being unable to retrieve all the bodies.

A total of 70 bodies have been recovered from AirAsia Flight 8501, which crashed Dec. 28 with 162 people on board while flying from Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, to Singapore.

"Our priority was to find the dead bodies, and we found nothing over the last two days," Widodo said. "We are really sorry to tell the families of the victims that we've done everything we could to find the bodies."

About 80 navy divers struggled with strong currents and poor visibility while trying to lift the fuselage from a depth of 30 metres (100 feet). They were able to enter the fuselage for the first time last Friday and retrieved some bodies.

Citing the National Transportation Safety Committee and AirAsia management, Widodo, who uses one name, said the fuselage is not needed for the investigation. He also said no more bodies were believed to be inside.

Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said the withdrawal of the military did not mean the search for bodies would halt. "Our aim is to locate bodies instead of lifting the fuselage or cockpit," he said.

The cockpit is about 500 metres (yards) from the fuselage on the floor of the Java Sea, and the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot are believed to be inside.

Investigators are analyzing data from the Airbus A320's cockpit voice and flight data recorders with advisers from Airbus.

The Canadian Press


Teen dies tubing in N.Y. storm

Police say a 17-year-old boy snow-tubing down a New York street with friends has crashed into a light pole and died.

Suffolk County police say it happened around 10 p.m. Monday in Huntington on Long Island.

The boy was one of three teens taking turns snow-tubing. Police say he apparently lost control of the tube and struck a light pole.

Police identified the victim as Sean Urda of East Northport. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Long Island was under a blizzard warning at the time of the crash. A meteorologist with the National Weather Service says moderate to heavy snow was falling and winds were gusty.

The Canadian Press


No Putin for Auschwitz anniversary

When the Soviet army entered Auschwitz exactly 70 years ago, finding piles of corpses and prisoners close to death, a Russian soldier took a small and hungry 11-year-old girl into his arms and rocked her tenderly, tears coming to his eyes.

That girl, today 81-year-old Paula Lebovics, doesn't know who that soldier was, but she still feels enormous gratitude to him and the other Soviet soldiers who liberated the camp on Jan. 27, 1945.

To her, it is a shame that Russian President Vladimir Putin won't be among other European leaders Tuesday on the anniversary of the death camp's liberation, his absence coming amid a deep chill between Russia and the West over the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine.

"He should be there," said Lebovics, who travelled from her home in Encino, California, back to the land of her birth for the ceremonies. "They were our liberators."

Another survivor, Eva Mozes Kor, said she will not miss Putin, "but I do believe that from a moral and historical perspective he should be here." Kor compared Putin to Adolf Hitler, "grabbing land here and grabbing land there to see what he can get away with."

Among the leaders to attend are the presidents of Germany and Austria, the perpetrator nations that have spent decades atoning for their sins, as well as French President Francois Hollande and others. The U.S. is sending a delegation led by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The participants will gather under an enormous tent covering the gate and railroad tracks of Birkenau, a part of the vast Auschwitz-Birkenau complex where Jews, Gypsies and others were transported by train and murdered in gas chambers. It is located in the Polish village of Brzezinka, which during the war belonged to a large section of Poland that was under German occupation.

Before going to Poland for the ceremonies, German President Joachim Gauck told the Parliament in Berlin that the lessons of the crimes of Auschwitz were "woven into the texture of our national identity."

From the "guilt and shame and remorse" of the Nazi genocide, modern Germany has emerged to become a champion of human rights and equality, he said.

"We did that as we returned to the rule and dignity of law," he said. "We did it as we developed empathy for the victims. And today we do it as we oppose all forms of exclusion and violence and offer a safe home to all those who are fleeing persecution, war and terror."

Pope Francis said on Twitter that "Auschwitz cries out with the pain of immense suffering and pleads for a future of respect, peace and encounter among peoples."

Poland apparently snubbed Putin, though officials won't admit that openly. The organizers, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council, opted for a form of protocol this year that avoided direct invitations by Poland's president to his foreign counterparts. The organizers instead simply asked countries that are donors to Auschwitz, including Russia, whom they planned to send. Poland's Foreign Ministry says Putin could have attended if he wished.

The public spat comes at a low point in relations between Russia and the West, following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, and its support for the rebel forces battling Kyiv's troops in eastern Ukraine. Poland has been one of Europe's most vocal countries in condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine, which has plunged the continent into one of the worst East-West crises since the end of the Cold War.

The Russian delegation will be led by Sergei Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff.

Some other Holocaust survivors, asked Monday at Auschwitz about who should represent Russia, didn't want to discuss the matter, saying it was a time to honour Holocaust victims, not enter into political polemics. Some reacted emotionally at the mention of the conflict in Ukraine, remembering how Ukrainians helped the Nazis kill Jews during the war.

Not all Soviet actions were heroic: there were also cases of Soviet soldiers who raped Jewish women who survived death camps after the war.

"A lot of people have bad memories from that (the liberation), but I have good ones. I am very grateful," Lebovics said.

Natan Grossmann, a survivor who now lives in Munich, also feels Putin should have been invited.

"They put their lives on the line to free us. They lost their lives and we should honour them," Grossmann said.

At the United Nations, commemorations planned for Tuesday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, were cancelled because of a snowstorm in New York.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had been scheduled to speak along with the head of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev. The event has tentatively been rescheduled for Wednesday, depending on the weather.

The Canadian Press


Storm wallops Northeast U.S.

A storm packing blizzard conditions spun up the East Coast early Tuesday, pounding coastal eastern Long Island into Maine with high winds and heavy snow, but it failed to live up to the hype in big cities like Philadelphia and New York, which cancelled its travel ban amid better-than-expected weather conditions.

Massachusetts was pounded by snow and lashed by strong winds early Tuesday as bands of heavy snow left some towns including Sandwich on Cape Cod and Oxford in central Massachusetts reporting more than 18 inches of snow. Total accumulation was expected to reach or exceed two feet in most of Massachusetts, potentially making it one of the top snowstorms of all time. The National Weather Service says a wind gust of 78 mph was reported on Nantucket, and a 72 mph gust was reported in Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard.

Coastal residents braced for a powerful storm surge and the possibility of damaging flooding and beach erosion, particularly on Cape Cod.

"So far, so good," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said at a morning briefing at the state's emergency management bunker in Framingham. He said colder than expected weather produced light and fluffy snow, which may be helping in keeping the overall number of power outages down.

Maine and New Hampshire each declared a state of emergency, and government offices in both states were closed Tuesday.

Parts of Long Island dealt with hazardous conditions, with snow falling 2 inches per hour. Islip had 14.7 inches of snow by early Tuesday.

Police say a 17-year-old boy snow-tubing down a New York street with friends has crashed into a light pole and died. Suffolk County police say it happened around 10 p.m. Monday in Huntington on Long Island. Police say he apparently lost control of the tube and struck a light pole. Police identified the victim as Sean Urda of East Northport.

Sections of New York were forecast to see from 10 to 20 inches of snow, and a 60-mile stretch of the New York Thruway was reopened after being shut down for about nine hours. In Hartford, Connecticut, up to a foot of snow was expected.

But as the storm system spun northward, conditions improved quickly from southwest to northeast. Travel bans were lifted before midmorning in New Jersey and New York. New York City buses, subways and trains were expected to restart later in the morning and a return to a full schedule was expected Wednesday.

The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions.

But some areas in the Northeast escaped the brunt of the storm.

In southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, where a foot or more of snow had been forecast, residents dealt with 3 to 5 inches of the white stuff, which proved to be more annoying than life-altering.

On Monday, life abruptly stopped across parts of the region as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels, and assembled their biggest plowing crews.

Light snow fell steadily early Tuesday in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets. The city had an almost eerie, post 9-11 feel to it: No airplanes in the sky. An unexpected quiet.

Brandon Bhajan, a security guard at a West 33rd Street building, said the situation early Tuesday was better than expected.

"We expected a lot more accumulation," Bhajan said. "I feel like the wind is more of the problem than the actual snowfall. It's rough to walk and it's very, very cold.

"I don't think they (city) overblew it. I think it's like the situation with Ebola ... if you over-cover people are ready and prepared rather than not giving it the attention it needs."

More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were cancelled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.

On Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange said it would operate normally Tuesday.

Through midmorning, utility companies across the region reported minimal power outages.

The Canadian Press


Cops fatally shoot teenage girl

Several dozen people with candles and protest signs gathered near the alley where Denver police officers fatally shot a 16-year-old girl on Monday, recalling her bright smile and demanding answers about the deadly encounter.

Police shot the teenager early Monday morning after they say she struck and injured an officer with a stolen car. Authorities did not release the girl's name, but friends identified her as Jessica Hernandez.

"We're angry about it. It's another life taken by another cop," said 19-year-old Cynthia Valdez, a close friend and schoolmate of the girl. "She was trying to find her talent. She wanted to find out what she wanted to be. ... Who knows what she could have been?"

Few details were immediately released after the shooting in an alley in the older, middle-class residential neighbourhood. The four other people in the car were not injured by the gunfire, and all were being questioned as part of the investigation, police said. It was not clear whether any had been arrested.

Police Chief Robert White said an officer was called to check on a suspicious vehicle and a colleague arrived after it was determined the car had been reported stolen.

In a statement, police said the two officers then "approached the vehicle on foot when the driver drove the car into one of the officers."

White said both officers then opened fire. The officer hit by the car was taken to a hospital with a leg injury.

Bobbie Diaz, whose 16-year-old daughter was in the car, said she was lying in bed when she heard four gunshots followed by an officer yelling "Freeze! Get out of the car! Get down!"

Diaz said she came outside to see officers with their guns drawn pulling people out of the car, including Jessica.

"She seemed like she was not responding, not moving," she said. "They just yanked her out and handcuffed her."

Meanwhile, Diaz said she heard another person screaming "She's dead! She's dead!"

"I'm just trying to process everything. I'm just heartbroken for the girl's family," Diaz said. "How could something like this happen again?"

Another woman, Arellia Hammock, who has lived in the neighbourhood for about a decade, said she heard three gunshots about 6:30 a.m. and then saw several police cars streaming down the street. Hammock said she understands one of the officers was injured, but "that's still no reason to shoot."

"They shouldn't have stolen a car. But the cops are too fast on the gun," she said. "You've got stun guns. You've got rubber bullets. Why do they have to shoot all the time?"

That sentiment was echoed during Monday's vigil as some held signs decrying police brutality.

One of the signs read "Girls' Lives Matter," a play on the "Black Lives Matter" chant that became a rallying cry after the police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.

"It should have been handled differently. She's a young girl. I'm just not OK with it," said 16-year-old Destiny Moya, who grew up with Jessica.

Both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, which was being conducted by police, the district attorney and the Office of the Independent Monitor, a civilian oversight agency for the city.

The Canadian Press


Fidel Castro ends silence

Former President Fidel Castro has ended his silence over the Dec. 17 declaration that Cuba and the United States would move to restore full diplomatic relations, writing that though he does not trust Washington's politics, differences between the nations should be resolved through co-operation.

Castro made the comments in a statement sent to a student federation and read Monday at the University of Havana.

Castro wrote: "I don't trust the politics of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts."

He said he will always defend co-operation and friendship among the world's peoples, including Cuba's adversaries.

They are the first comments the 88-year-old has made on the negotiations launched by his brother, Raul Castro.

The Canadian Press


Northeast bracing for the worst

More than 35 million people along the Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor rushed to get home and settle in Monday as a fearsome storm swirled in with the potential for hurricane-force winds and 1 to 3 feet of snow that could paralyze the Northeast for days.

Snow was blowing sideways with ever-increasing intensity in New York City by midafternoon as flurries began in Boston. Forecasters said the storm would build into a blizzard, and the brunt of it would hit late Monday and into Tuesday.

As the snow got heavier, much of the region rushed to shut down.

More than 6,500 flights in and out of the Northeast were cancelled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.

"It's going to be ridiculous out there, frightening," said postal deliveryman Peter Hovey, standing on a snowy commuter train platform in White Plains, New York.

All too aware that big snowstorms can make or break politicians, governors and mayors moved quickly to declare emergencies and order the shutdown of streets and highways to prevent travellers from getting stranded and to enable plows and emergency vehicles to get through.

"This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned.

He urged New Yorkers to go home and stay there, adding: "People have to make smart decisions from this point on."

Up to now, this has been a largely snow-free winter in the urban Northeast. But this storm threatened to make up the difference in a single blow.

Boston was expected to get 2 to 3 feet of snow, New York 1 1/2 to 2 feet and Philadelphia more than a foot.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. Forecasters warned that the wind could gust to 75 mph or more along the Massachusetts coast and up 50 mph farther inland.

New York City's subways and buses planned to shut down by 11 p.m. In Massachusetts, ferry service to Martha's Vineyard was greatly curtailed and to Nantucket was suspended. Commuter railroads across the Northeast announced plans to stop running overnight, and most flights out of the region's major airports were cancelled.

Authorities banned travel on all streets and highways in New York City and on Long Island and warned that violators could be fined $300. Even food deliveries were off-limits on the streets of takeout-friendly Manhattan. The governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island also slapped restrictions on nonessential travel.

"We learned the lesson the hard way," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, referring to instances in which motorists got stranded in the snow for 24 hours or more.

Nicole Coelho, a nanny from Lyndhurst, New Jersey, was preparing to pick up her charges early from school and stocking up on macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas and milk at a supermarket.

"I'm going to make sure to charge up my cellphone, and I have a good book I haven't gotten around to reading yet," she said.

Shopping cart gridlock descended on Fairway, the gourmet grocery on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The meat shelves were all but bare, customers shoved past each other and outside on Broadway the checkout line stretched for a block as the wind and snow picked up. Store employees said it was busier than Christmastime.

Ben Shickel went grocery shopping in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and found shelves had been cleaned out.

"We're used to these big snowstorms in New England, but 2 to 3 feet all at once and 50 to 60 mph winds? That's a different story," he said.

In another possible sign that people were hunkering down at home, Fresh Direct, a grocery delivery service in the Northeast, said it had seen a rise in orders for Movie Day snacks such as microwave popcorn and chocolate chip cookies.

On Wall Street, however, the New York Stock Exchange stayed open and said it would operate normally Tuesday as well.

Coastal residents braced for a powerful storm surge and the possibility of damaging flooding and beach erosion, particularly in New Jersey and on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Officials in New Jersey shore towns warned people to move their cars off the streets and away from the water.

Utility companies across the region put additional crews on standby to deal with anticipated power outages.

The storm posed one of the biggest tests yet for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who has been in office for less than three weeks. He warned residents to prepare for power outages and roads that are "very hard, if not impossible, to navigate."

The storm interrupted jury selection in the Boston Marathon bombing case and forced a postponement in opening statements in the murder trial of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots got out of town just in time, leaving from Logan Airport around midday for Phoenix, where the temperature will reach the high 60s.

The Washington area was expecting only a couple of inches of snow. But the House postponed votes scheduled for Monday night because lawmakers were having difficulty flying back to the nation's capital after the weekend.

The Canadian Press


F-16 crash kills at least 10

A Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed into other aircraft on the ground during NATO training in southeastern Spain Monday, killing at least 10 people, Spain's Defence Ministry said.

Another 13 people were injured in the incident at the Los Llanos base, which sent flames and a plume of black smoke billowing into the air, the ministry said in a statement. Seven were in serious condition, one person was treated and released from hospital, while the conditions of the five others were not disclosed.

Most victims were not believed to be Spaniards but military personnel from other NATO member countries participating in the program, according to a Defence Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ministry rules preventing him from being named.

Based on initial reports, there were no U.S. personnel killed but an unknown number were treated for minor injuries, said Air Force Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Nine of the injured were Italians taking part in the training course, the Italian defence ministry said in a statement. Seven suffered slight injuries but the conditions of two were still being assessed at a hospital.

The two-seat jet was taking off but lost thrust and crashed into an area of the base where other aircraft involved in the NATO exercise were parked, the Spanish Defence Ministry said. The Italian statement said "numerous" helicopters were damaged.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was "deeply saddened by the crash of a Greek fighter jet at the Los Llanos base in Spain, which has caused many casualties."

He did not specify their nationalities in a statement, but called the crash "a tragedy that affects the whole NATO family."

The Spanish ministry said the jet that crashed was taking part in a NATO training exercise called the Tactical Leadership Program.

The 10 NATO countries that participate in TLP are Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.

According to a U.S. Air Force website, TLP was formed in 1978 by NATO's Central Region air forces to advance their tactical capabilities and produce tactics, techniques and procedures that improve multi-national tactical air operations.

The first TLP course took place at Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany. It has been held at the Spanish base since June 2009.

The Los Llanos base is near the southeastern Spanish city of Albacete, about a two and a half hour drive from Madrid.

18810
The Canadian Press


Drone crash at White House

A small drone flying low to the ground crashed onto the White House grounds before dawn Monday, triggering a major emergency response and raising fresh questions about security at the presidential mansion.

Although President Barack Obama was not at home, the security breach prompted a lockdown of the entire complex until officials could examine the drone. The White House later said the drone did not pose a threat.

The Secret Service launched an immediate investigation into the origins of the drone, which crashed on the southeast side of the White House grounds just after 3 a.m. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said officials were also working to identify any suspects and determine what their motive might have been.

The device was described as a two-foot-long quadcopter — an unmanned aircraft that is lifted by four propellers. Many small quadcopters are essentially sophisticated toys that can also be useful for commercial operations like aerial photography and inspections. Often weighing only a few pounds, they sell for as little as a few hundred dollars or less, and were popular Christmas gifts last year.

The Secret Service said the drone discovered Monday was of the commercially available variety.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama are travelling in India and were not present for the incident, but their daughters, Sasha and Malia, may have been at home. White House officials declined to comment on the daughters' whereabouts Monday, but ahead of the president's trip aides had said the daughters would remain in Washington so as not to miss school.

"The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House," said presidential spokesman Josh Earnest.

Still, the incident was likely to reinvigorate a long-running public debate about the use of commercial drones in U.S. skies — as well as White House security. At the urging of the drone industry, the Obama administration is on the verge of proposing rules for drone operations that would replace an existing ban on most commercial flights.

Although remote-controlled airplanes and related toys have been available for decades, the recent proliferation of inexpensive drones has prompted growing fears about potential collisions with traditional aircraft. Technological advances have also made it easier to equip drones with advanced capabilities such as cameras, raising privacy issues as well as concerns that such devices could carry weapons.

White House aides could not recall any similar incidents occurring at the complex.

Police, fire and other emergency vehicles swarmed the White House just after the crash, with several clustered near the southeast entrance to the grounds. The White House was dark and the entire perimeter was on lockdown until around 5 a.m., when those who work there were allowed inside.

After daylight, more than a dozen Secret Service officers fanned out in a search across the White House lawn as snow began to fall. They peered down in the grass and used flashlights to look through the large bushes that line the driveway on the south side of the mansion.

It was not immediately clear that the Secret Service could have done anything to prevent the incident. Yet the episode joins a string of recent security breaches at the White House that have fueled questions about the agency's effectiveness and ability to protect the president.

Four high-ranking executives were reassigned this month, and former Director Julia Pierson was forced to resign last year after a Texas man armed with a knife was able to get over a White House fence and run into the executive mansion before being subdued.

An independent panel that investigated the agency's leadership and practices after that September incident, and the disclosure of a previously unreported security breach, recommended hiring a new director from outside.

That report was the second critical review of the agency responsible for protecting the president. In November, the Homeland Security Department, which oversees the Secret Service, released an internal investigation about the fence-scaling incident that found poor training and staffing and a series of missteps led to the breach.

Homeland Security investigators found, among other things, that uniformed agents patrolling the White House grounds the night of Sept. 19 mistakenly assumed that thick bushes near the mansion's front door would stop the intruder.

The Canadian Press


Storm cancels thousands of flights

The Monday morning commute was normal for much of the Northeast as officials continued to urge residents to prepare for a "crippling and potentially historic" storm that could bury communities from northern New Jersey to southern Maine in up to three feet of snow starting later in the day.

The National Weather Service said the nor'easter would bring heavy snow, powerful winds and widespread coastal flooding through Tuesday. A blizzard warning was issued for a 250-mile stretch of the Northeast, including New York and Boston.

Meanwhile, airlines cancelled thousands of flights into and out of East Coast airports as a major snowstorm barrels down on the region.

JetBlue, whose flights are largely in the Northeast, has already cancelled about a third of its entire schedule.

Airlines cancelled 2,194 flights Monday, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware. More than 2,000 additional flights have been scrapped for Tuesday.

Problems in the Northeast are rippling outward, however.

In West Palm Beach, Florida, where temperatures are expected to be in the 70s Monday, about 30 per cent of all flights have been cancelled. Fort Lauderdale and Orlando are also reporting major cancellations.

Most major airlines are allowing customers whose flights are cancelled in the next few days to book new flights without paying a penalty. Customers ticketed on flights to dozens of Eastern airports are generally eligible for the allowance, though specific terms vary by airline.

The National Weather Service predicts 2 to 3 feet of snow for a 250-mile stretch of the Northeast, including the New York and Boston areas. Philadelphia should get 14 to 18 inches.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker warned residents to prepare for roads that are "very hard, if not impossible, to navigate," power outages and possibly even a lack of public transportation.

Boston is expected to get 18 to 24 inches of snow, with up to 2 feet or more west of the city, and Philadelphia could see up to a foot, the weather service said.

The Washington area expected only a couple of inches, with steadily increasing amounts as the storm heads north.

"We do anticipate very heavy snowfall totals," said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the weather service in College Park, Maryland. "In addition to heavy snow, with blizzard warnings, there's a big threat of high, damaging winds, and that will be increasing Monday into Tuesday. A lot of blowing, drifting and such."

President Barack Obama, who is travelling in India, has been briefed on the storm, spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. White House officials also have been in touch with officials from states "up and down the Eastern seaboard" that are in the storm's path, Earnest said.

Wind gusts of 75 mph or more are possible for coastal areas of Massachusetts, and up to 50 mph further inland, Oravec said.

Airlines cancelled and delayed thousands of flights into and out of East Coast airports. Most major airlines are allowing customers whose flights are cancelled in the next few days to book new flights without paying a penalty.

A storm system driving out of the Midwest brought several inches of snow to Ohio on Sunday. A new low pressure system was expected to form off the Carolina coast and ultimately spread from the nation's capital to Maine for a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard," the weather service said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged commuters to stay home on Monday and warned that mass transit and roadways could be closed before the evening rush hour, even major highways such as the New York Thruway, Interstate 84 and the Long Island Expressway.

In New York City, the Greater New York Taxi Association offered free cab service for emergency responders trying to get to work, and disabled and elderly residents who become stranded.

The New York Rangers decided to practice Monday afternoon at the Islanders' home arena on Long Island instead of at their own training facility just outside New York City. They'll stay overnight on Long Island for Tuesday's game against their rival — if it's still held.

The Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots expected to be out of town by the time the storm arrives in Boston. The team plans to leave Logan Airport at 12:30 p.m. Monday for Phoenix, where the temperature will reach the high 60s.

The Canadian Press




Read more World News

24745


Recent Trending







24899


24635



World Quick Links World Discussion Forum
United Nations
World Health Organization
UNESCO
World Trade Organization
NATO
European Union
The Commonwealth
Francophonie
Olympics
Google Earth


Member of BC Press Council


24284