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World briefly for Nov. 1

POSTED: November 1, 2012 8:00 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — The cleanup of miles of New Jersey shorefront ripped apart by Superstorm Sandy has just begun, but New York City moved closer to resuming its normal frenetic pace by getting back its vital subways.

New Yorkers began lining up at subway stops by 5 a.m. Thursday, an hour before the storm-crippled subways were to start running. The predawn commuters waiting at platforms included construction workers, shop owners and executives.

The decision to reopen undamaged parts of the nation's largest transit system came as the region struggled to find its way back from a storm that killed more than 70 people and left more than 5 million without power.

Two of the region's main airports opened Wednesday and officials promised that the third, LaGuardia Airport, would return to service Thursday. Actors and eager audiences brought darkened Broadway theaters back to life. And New Yorkers packed on to buses that returned for the first time to city streets since the storm, joining a throng of gridlocked traffic that navigated the city without working stop lights.

Across the region, people stricken by the storm pulled together, in some cases providing comfort to those left homeless, in others offering hot showers and electrical outlets for charging cellphones to those without power.

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In storm-battered NJ, agonizing question over whether to rebuild Jersey Shore

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — In its tear of destruction, the megastorm Sandy left parts of New Jersey's beloved shore in tatters, sweeping away beaches, homes, boardwalks and amusement parks.

The devastation left the state a blank canvas to redevelop its prized vacation towns. But environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how — and if — to redevelop the shoreline as it faces an even greater threat of extreme weather.

"The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we've seen in the past 50 years," said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts.

The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.

He and other shoreline advocates say the state should consider how to protect coastal areas from furious storms when they rebuild it, such as relocating homes and businesses farther from the shore, building more seawalls and keeping sand dunes high.

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Bicycling 'Info Ladies' bring Internet to remote Bangladesh villages where connections rare

JHARABARSHA, Bangladesh (AP) — Amina Begum had never seen a computer until a few years ago, but now she's on Skype regularly with her husband. A woman on a bicycle brings the Internet to her.

Dozens of "Info Ladies" bike into remote Bangladeshi villages with laptops and Internet connections, helping tens of thousands of people — especially women — get everything from government services to chats with distant loved ones. It's a vital service in a country where only 5 million of 152 million people have Internet access.

The Info Ladies project, created in 2008 by local development group D.Net and other community organizations, is modeled after a program that helped make cellphones widespread in Bangladesh. It intends to enlist thousands more workers in the next few years with startup funds from the South Asian country's central bank and expatriates working around the world.

D.Net recruits the women and trains them for three months to use a computer, the Internet, a printer and a camera. It arranges bank loans for the women to buy bicycles and equipment.

"This way we are providing jobs to jobless women and at the same time empowering villagers with critical information," said Ananya Raihan, D.Net's executive director.

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Superstorm Sandy invigorates proponents of massive barrier to shield New York from the sea

NEW YORK (AP) — The vast destruction wreaked by the storm surge in New York could have been prevented with a sea barrier of the type that protects major cities in Europe, some scientists and engineers say. The multibillion-dollar price tag of such a project has been a hindrance, but may appear more palatable after the damage from Superstorm Sandy has been tallied.

"The time has come. The city is finally going to have to face this," said oceanography professor Malcolm J. Bowman at Long Island's Stony Brook University. He has warned for years of the potential for a catastrophic storm surge in New York and has advocated for a barrier.

Invented by Bowman and his colleague Douglas Hill, two European engineering firms have drawn up proposals for walling most of New York off from the sea, at a price just above $6 billion.

Before the storm, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration had said it was working to analyze natural risks and the effectiveness of various coast-protection techniques, including storm-surge barriers. But officials had noted that barriers were only one of many ideas, and they have often emphasized more modest, immediate steps the city has taken, such as installing floodgates at sewage plants and raising the ground level while redeveloping a low-lying area in Queens.

"It's a series of small interventions that cumulatively, over time, will take us to a more natural system" to deal with climate change and rising sea levels, Carter H. Strickland, the city's environmental commissioner, told The New York Times this summer.

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Putin stays close to home, but spokesman says flight with cranes not the reason

MOSCOW (AP) — Did Vladimir Putin's flight with a flock of cranes end up grounding him? The Russian president's spokesman says no.

In recent weeks, Putin has rarely left his official residence, sparking speculation that illness or injury had laid him low.

On Thursday, the respected newspaper Vedomosti cited unnamed Kremlin-connected sources saying Putin's September flight in a motorized hang-glider accompany migrating cranes had aggravated an old injury.

But his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state news agency RIA Novosti that Putin had an old injury, but it was not connected to the highly publicized flight.

Peskov was quoted as saying Putin was making only infrequent trips to the Kremlin because he didn't want his motorcade to disrupt Moscow's notoriously bad traffic.

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As Obama gets back to campaigning following storm hiatus, race with Romney remains tight

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama dives back into campaigning after three days immersed in managing the federal response to the storm that battered the East Coast. The contours of the presidential race remain much the same, with Obama and Republican Mitt Romney locked in a tight contest and both campaigns predicting victory.

The president's advisers insist his break from campaigning had minimal impact on his standing. If anything, it gave Obama a chance to offer the type of comfort and command in a crisis that only a president can deliver.

Still, the Democratic campaign is seeking to make up for the lost time with a heavy travel itinerary in the coming days, including rallies Thursday in Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado.

Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said that while the president remains focused on the storm recovery, "there is a reality of a political election happening in five days and he will return to the trail to make the case to the American people on why they should send him back for four more years."

The storm created headaches for Romney, diverting the public's attention away from the campaign as he was trying to build momentum. It also forced the Republican challenger to temper some of his harshest critiques of the president to avoid looking insensitive as people coped with the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

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Should he lose, Paul Ryan still faces bright future as he weighs possible White House run

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — Professor Ryan? Lobbyist Ryan? Maybe back to plain-old Congressman Ryan or future President Ryan?

If Paul Ryan loses his bid to become vice president, he is still a man with options. The wonky chairman of the House Budget Committee is one of the Republicans' best voices in explaining fiscal issues. Should Mitt Romney's presidential bid fail, Ryan will be a much-sought-after figure in political and business circles.

Even in failure, the 42-year-old Wisconsin native's best days might be ahead of him.

"I refer to Paul Ryan as the Paul Revere of the next generation," said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was chairman of the House Budget Committee when Ryan was an aide there.

"I tell you, he's just getting started," Kasich said of Ryan before a recent rally in Ohio. "He's getting started in the process of helping America and building a much stronger America."

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Ripped apart by financial crisis, Greek society in free-fall

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A sign taped to a wall in an Athens hospital appealed for civility from patients. "The doctors on duty have been unpaid since May," it read, "Please respect their work."

Patients and their relatives glanced up briefly and moved on, hardened to such messages of gloom. In a country where about 1,000 people lose their jobs each day, legions more are still employed but haven't seen a paycheck in months. What used to be an anomaly has become commonplace, and those who have jobs that pay on time consider themselves the exception to the rule.

To the casual observer, all might appear well in Athens. Traffic still hums by, restaurants and bars are open, people sip iced coffees at sunny sidewalk cafes. But scratch the surface and you find a society in free-fall, ripped apart by the most vicious financial crisis the country has seen in half a century.

It has been three years since Greece's government informed its fellow members in the 17-country group that uses the euro that its deficit was far higher than originally reported. It was the fuse that sparked financial turmoil still weighing heavily on eurozone countries. Countless rounds of negotiations ensued as European countries and the International Monetary Fund struggled to determine how best to put a lid on the crisis and stop it spreading.

The result: Greece had to introduce stringent austerity measures in return for two international rescue loan packages worth a total of €240 billion ($312.84 billion), slashing salaries and pensions and hiking taxes.

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Britney Spears passes live TV test on 'X Factor,' Khloe Kardashian Odom struggles as new host

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears was coolly composed on the first live episode of "The X Factor." The same can't be said for new host Khloe Kardashian Odom and her microphone.

Odom, adding to her reality TV credentials, was paired with Mario Lopez to emcee "X Factor" as the singing contest shifted Wednesday from taped to live broadcasts.

Lopez, host of "Extra," performed like the pro he is. Odom came across like the novice she is, shouting her lines despite the mic clutched in her hand and making awkward small talk with contestants and judge and executive producer Simon Cowell.

When Lopez teased 13-year-old singer Diamond White about having a boyfriend, the girl replied, "No, we're friends. My mom would kill me."

"Don't let your mom kill you," exclaimed Odom, drawing a confused smile from White.

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What Halloween? Thousands fly Giants colors, stand 30 deep at parade hailing World Series win

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Halloween treat came hours early for San Francisco Giants baseball fans who turned out by the thousand — many climbing trees and rooftops — to cheer on the World Series champions during a confetti-drenched parade through the heart of town.

Fans in the team's holiday-appropriate orange and black stood 30 deep Wednesday for a chance to see their favorite players wave from convertibles and get serenaded by Tony Bennett singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, who swatted three home runs in his first three at bats in Game 1, and second baseman Marco Scutaro, who batted in the winning run of the game that clinched the title, addressed the throngs at the rally in Spanish.

"This is the second, but there are going to be a lot more," Sandoval said, expressing special thanks to the Bay Area's Latino community. "You should enjoy this and feel this in your hearts."

Clouds of black, orange and white confetti were shot from cannons positioned on roofs and along the canyon-like, skyscraper-lined street. Spectators and parade participants, who included legendary Giants alumni Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal and politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reveled in the showers.

 

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