President Joe Biden flew Tuesday to storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey, just days after inspecting the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana — a trail of destruction the Democrat blames on climate change.
Biden — who is pushing a giant infrastructure spending bill, including major funding for the green economy — argues that extreme weather across the United States this summer is a harbinger of worse to come.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One that Biden believes the latest devastation shows “the average costs of extreme weather are getting bigger and no one is immune from climate change.”
Ida struck the US Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing major flooding and knocking out power to large parts of the heavily populated region, which is also a main hub for the oil industry.
The departing remnants of the hurricane then caught authorities in the New York region by surprise, with ferocious rainfall triggering flash flooding.
The final blast of the storm killed at least 47 people in the US Northeast as it turned streets into raging rivers, inundated basements and shut down the New York subway.
And while one part of the country buckles under hurricane fallout, California and other parts of the west are struggling to combat ever fiercer wildfires.
Biden was to tour Manville, New Jersey and the New York borough of Queens before making remarks at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT).
With his presidency straining from the aftermath of the Afghanistan pullout and surging Covid infections at home, Biden faces a difficult coming few weeks, including a struggle to get his infrastructure plans through the narrowly divided Congress.
The White House hopes that the dramatic impact from Hurricane Ida in two different parts of the country will galvanize action on the spending bills.
“It’s so imperative that we act on addressing the climate crisis and investing… through his ‘Build Back Better’ agenda, which is working its way through Congress,” Psaki said.
Biden is due to “highlight how one in three Americans live in counties that have been impacted by severe weather events in recent months,” she said.
“Just over the summer, 100 million Americans have been impacted by extreme weather — obviously in the northeast, out west with wildfires, and then in the Gulf Coast.”
Six people including a police officer and two suspects were killed during an hours-long shootout across a New York suburb not far from the Statue of Liberty, local officials said.
“Our officers were under fire for hours,” Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly told reporters after the latest high-profile US shooting.
In addition to the officer and the suspects, three civilians were killed in the incident that began around midday at a cemetery and ended in a store, Kelly said.
Bomb squad officers were examining a stolen U-Haul vehicle “that may contain an incendiary device,” he added.
No clear reason for the shooting has been given.
Five of the dead were found inside a store, said Kelly.
“We believe that two of them are bad guys,” while the other three are civilians, he said, describing the crime scene as “very extensive, three locations at least.”
Two other officers were wounded, Kelly told reporters.
“I heard fighting outside, then ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!'” the New York Daily News quoted a food store worker two blocks from the shooting as saying.
“I saw people running outside — men, women, children in the street. These people were scared.”
Kelly said the suspects’ “movement was rapid and continuous for four hours” during the drama which saw the deployment of hundreds of police from New Jersey and New York, including tactical officers armed with rifles and wearing olive-green fatigues and helmets.
NBC television reported that hundreds of rounds were fired.
Media reports said the shooting began when an officer investigating a homicide approached the suspects in the cemetery.
Identified by media as Detective Joseph Seals, he was the first victim.
Asked to confirm whether the officer was indeed probing a murder, Kelly said it is “being looked into.”
The suspects then took refuge in a grocery store where firing continued and the five bodies were later found.
US residents have become accustomed to shootings — everywhere from churches to schools and cinemas — and firearms were linked to nearly 40,000 deaths of various kinds in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At least 20 people were hurt early Sunday in a shooting at an all-night arts festival in Trenton, the state capital of New Jersey, that also left one suspect dead, a local prosecutor said.
“Multiple individuals opened fire” inside the festival venue shortly before 3:00 am, Mercer County chief prosecutor Angelo Onofri told reporters.
A 33-year-old man, one of the suspects, was killed, and another was taken into custody, he said.
Among the injured at the Art All-Night Trenton event was a 13-year-old boy in critical condition.
Several weapons were recovered at the scene, Onofri said.
The local CBS affiliate said 22 people were wounded, and that four of them were in critical condition.
Officials offered no immediate theory as to what prompted the shooting spree, or how it unfolded.
Art All-Night Trenton is an annual event in the city, which is home to 85,000 people and is located about 65 miles (100 kilometers) south of New York. The event was meant to last 24 hours from 3:00 pm Saturday.
“It’s with great regret that we announce that the remainder of Art All Night has been cancelled due to a tragic incident that occurred overnight,” organizers said on the event’s Facebook page.
“We’re still processing much of this and we don’t have many answers at this time,” the statement said. “Our sincere, heartfelt sympathies are with those who were injured.”
Bayern Munich Defender, Phillip Lahm, has said that he is fully convinced new Coach Carlo Ancelotti is the perfect man to take the club to greater heights.
He disclosed this during an interview with Goal.com on Tuesday.
“Few coaches understand the need for the right balance as well as Carlo Ancelotti. After two weeks of training with him, I fully believe that he is the perfect man to lead Bayern Munich right now, Lahm said.
“He’s an Italian who has coached in Milan, London, Paris and Madrid, winning national and international titles.
“He knows how to speak to the players and it’s obvious that he’s excited to be here – and that makes us feel great.
“I hope that our American friends will pick up on that good feeling while we’re on this tour; it was certainly promising to see so many Bayern shirts at the airport when we arrived. I can’t wait for the game in Chicago and then it’s on to Charlotte and New York!”
Carlo Ancelotti’s team will play AC Milan in Chicago on Wednesday before playing Inter Milan in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday.
They will wrap up the tour with a match against Real Madrid on August 3 in New Jersey.
Bayern’s Executive Board Chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigee, said the tour was important in building the club’s brand.
Republican candidate Donald Trump on Friday won the surprise endorsement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the most prominent mainstream Republican to get behind the former reality TV star’s White House campaign.
Christie said the billionaire front-runner has the best chance of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election – although Clinton has yet to secure her party’s nomination.
The endorsement gives Trump a further lift before next week’s Super Tuesday nominating contests. It comes just a day after he took a battering from his two main rivals at a televised Republican debate.
Trump’s unorthodox candidacy has stirred controversy and shaken the Republican Party at its roots, but an increasing number of senior Republicans are becoming resigned to the idea he will be their candidate in November.
Trump is “rewriting the playbook,” said Christie, 53, who until two weeks ago was himself a rival for the Republican nomination. Christie dropped out after failing to muster much support for his candidacy.
Trump, 69, who has never held public office, has campaigned as a political outsider. He is riding a wave of voter anger at the slow economic recovery, illegal immigration and what he says is America’s diminishing role in the world.
“The best person to beat Hillary Clinton in November on that stage last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump,” Christie told a news conference on Friday, a day after the last Republican candidates’ debate before Super Tuesday.
The debate marked a new, more aggressive approach for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, 44, who has emerged as the Republican establishment’s challenger to Trump. The other main challenger at the debate was U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Trump has unsettled mainstream Republicans by winning three straight nominating contests – in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Polls show he is likely to win big in key primaries on Tuesday.
“Since I started this whole thing I’ve been practically Number 1,” Trump said on Friday at a rally in Texas.
The 11 Republican nominating contests on Tuesday have a total of almost 600 delegates at stake, and could set Trump up to clinch the presidential nomination.
Reuters/Ipsos polling data on Friday showed Trump ahead nationally in the Republican race with support at 44.2 percent, followed by Cruz at 20.7 percent and Rubio in third place at 14 percent.
The Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, on Thursday restated his administration’s ambition to making Ogun State become to Lagos, what New Jersey is to New York.
He made his resolve known while on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, stressing that Ogun State must take the economic advantage of its proximity to Lagos.
“Yes, we want to be to Lagos what New Jersey is to New York, but we want to do even more than that,” he said.
“We must take the economic advantage of our proximity to Lagos and whenever I have the opportunity, I tell them that, we want to feed Lagos, we want to house Lagos, we want to move Lagos, indeed we want to clothe Lagos,” he said, noting that “if we must do that, we as a State must get it right”.
He also stated that Lagos was a huge market for investors and manufacturers, hence there would be good profit for Ogun State, adding that “if we are about 7 million and Lagos is about 20 million and of course Lagos is the biggest market”.
The Governor recalled that several years ago, Ogun State used to supply Lagos food but stopped at some point. He went further to state that Ogun was making efforts to supply food to Lagos, to mitigate the need for the citizens to wait for food from the Northern part of the country.
He stressed the need for infrastructure which is directly connected to economic increase, unlike education and health which he said were more of social services.
“For us, we believe, if we get agriculture right, if we get the infrastructure right, then we have gotten it right,” he concluded.
A computer hacker was sentenced on Monday to three years and five months in prison for stealing the personal data of about 120,000 Apple Inc iPad users, including big-city mayors, a TV network news anchor and a Hollywood movie mogul.
Andrew Auernheimer, 27, had been convicted in November by a Newark, New Jersey, jury of one count of conspiracy to access AT&T Inc servers without permission, and one count of identity theft.
The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in Newark was at the high end of the 33- to 41-month range that the U.S. Department of Justice had sought.
Prosecutors had said prison time would help deter hackers from invading the privacy of innocent people on the Internet.
Among those affected by Auernheimer’s activities were ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein, prosecutors said.
“When it became clear that he was in trouble, he concocted the fiction that he was trying to make the Internet more secure, and that all he did was walk in through an unlocked door,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement. “The jury didn’t buy it, and neither did the court in imposing sentence.”
Auernheimer had sought probation. His lawyer had argued that no passwords were hacked, and that a long prison term was unjustified given that the government recently sought six months for a defendant in a case involving “far more intrusive facts.”
The lawyer, Tor Ekeland, said his client would appeal. He said the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act doesn’t clearly define what constitutes unauthorized access.
“If this is criminal, then tens of thousands of Americans are committing computer crimes every other day,” Ekeland said in an interview. “There really was no harm.”
Auernheimer was handcuffed at one point during the sentencing, the lawyer said. He said his client may have been “tweeting” on his phone, and the U.S. marshals took it away.
Ekeland is also a lawyer for Matthew Keys, a deputy social media editor at Thomson Reuters Corp who was suspended with pay on Friday.
Keys was indicted last week in California on federal charges of aiding the Anonymous hacking collective by giving a hacker access to Tribune Co computer systems in December 2010.
The alleged events occurred before Keys began working at the website Reuters.com. Ekeland on Friday said Keys “maintains his innocence” and “looks forward to contesting these baseless charges.
Prosecutors called Auernheimer a “well-known computer hacker and internet ‘troll,'” who with co-defendant Daniel Spitler and the group Goatse Security tried to disrupt online content and services.
The two men were accused of using an “account slurper” designed to match email addresses with identifiers for iPad users, and of conducting a “brute force” attack to extract data about those users, who accessed the Internet through the AT&T servers.
This stolen information was then provided to the website Gawker, which published an article naming well-known people whose emails had been compromised, prosecutors said.
Spitler pleaded guilty in June 2011 to the same charges for which Auernheimer was convicted, and is awaiting sentencing.
Gawker was not charged in the case. In its original article, Gawker said Goatse obtained its data through a script on AT&T’s website that was accessible to anyone on the Internet. Gawker also said in the article that it established the authenticity of the data through two people listed among the names. A Gawker spokesman on Monday declined to elaborate.
AT&T has partnered with Apple in the United States to provide wireless service on the iPad. After the hacking, it shut off the feature that allowed email addresses to be obtained.
Millions of people were left reeling in the aftermath of monster storm Sandy on Tuesday as New York City and a wide swathe of the eastern United States struggled with epic flooding and massive power outages. The death toll climbed to at least 30.
Sandy, which crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds in New Jersey overnight as the biggest storm to hit the country in generations, swamped parts of New York’s subway system and Manhattan’s Wall Street district, closing financial markets for a second day.
As the weakened but still sprawling storm system continued its trek inland, more than 1 million people in a dozen states along its path were still under orders to evacuate. Sandy left behind a trail of damage – homes underwater, trees toppled and power lines downed – up and down the Atlantic coast.
The storm interrupted the presidential campaign a week before Election Day, giving President Barack Obama an opportunity to look presidential as he oversees the government response. He drew praise from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has been a strong supporter of Obama’s opponent.
“I want everyone leaning forward on this,” an aide quoted Obama as telling his disaster-response team in the White House Situation Room. “I don’t want to hear that we didn’t do something because bureaucracy got in the way.”
Houses and businesses on the New Jersey shore sustained extensive damage from the storm’s onslaught. “The devastation is unthinkable,” Christie told reporters after seeing aerial pictures of the area.
In the storm’s wake, Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that “major disasters” existed in both states. One disaster-forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion (12.4 billion pounds), only half insured.
“Make no mistake about it. This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst we have ever experienced,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. All along the East Coast, residents and business owners awoke to scenes of destruction.
“There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean,” said evacuee Peter Sandomeno, one of the owners of the Broadway Court Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. “That’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been there for 11 years.”
Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record storm surge of almost 14 feet (4.2 meters) to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet (3 meters) during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.
Water poured into the subway tunnels that course under the city, the country’s financial capital, and Bloomberg said the subway system would likely be closed for four or five days.
“Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time,” said Jeffrey Tongue, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York.
Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) were recorded, he said. “Hopefully it’s a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” Tongue said.
As residents and business owners began a massive clean-up effort and faced a long and costly recovery, large parts of the region remained without power, and transportation in the New York metropolitan area was at a standstill.
The U.S. Department of Energy said more than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity due to the storm, which crashed ashore late on Monday near the gambling resort of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
More than 50 homes burn
The unprecedented flooding hampered efforts to fight a massive fire that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point, a private beach community on the Rockaway barrier island in the New York City borough of Queens.
New York University’s Tisch hospital was forced to evacuate more than 200 patients, among them babies on respirators in the neonatal intensive care unit, when the backup generator failed. Four of the newborns had to be carried down nine flights of stairs while nurses manually squeezed bags to deliver air to the babies’ lungs, CNN reported.
The death toll continued to rise, with reports of at least 30 people killed by the storm.
“Sadly the storm claimed lives throughout the region, including at least 10 in our city … and we expect that number to go up,” Bloomberg said. Other storm-related deaths were reported elsewhere in New York state in addition to Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Toronto police also recorded one death – a woman hit by flying debris.
Sandy killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week before pounding U.S. coastal areas.
Federal government offices in Washington, which was spared the full force of the storm, were closed for a second day on Tuesday, and schools were shut up and down the East Coast.
The storm weakened as it ploughed slowly west across southern Pennsylvania, its remnants situated between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with maximum winds down to 45 mph (72 kph), the National Hurricane Centre said.
As Sandy converged with a cold weather system, blizzard warnings were in effect for West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina.
Wind gusts, rain and flooding were likely to extend well into Tuesday, but without the storm’s earlier devastating power, said AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Dickey.
At its peak, the storm’s wind field stretched from North Carolina north to the Canadian border and from West Virginia to a point in the Atlantic Ocean halfway to Bermuda, easily one of the largest ever seen, the hurricane Centre said.
Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney put campaigning on hold for a second day instead of launching their final push for votes ahead of the November 6 election.
Obama, who has made every effort to show himself staying on top of the storm situation, faces political danger if the federal government fails to respond well in the storm’s aftermath, as was the case with predecessor George W. Bush’s botched handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But Obama also has a chance to look presidential in a national crisis.
With politics cast aside for the moment, Republican Christie heaped praise on the Democratic incumbent for the government’s initial storm response.
“The federal government response has been great,” Christie, a staunch Romney supporter, told NBC’s “Today” show. “I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president personally … and the president has been outstanding in this.”
New Jersey towns flooded
Three towns in New Jersey, just west of New York City, were inundated with up to 5 feet (1.5 metres) of water after the nearby Hackensack River flooded, officials said. Rescuers were using boats to aid the marooned residents of Moonachie, Little Ferry and Carlstadt.
In New York, a crane partially collapsed and dangled precariously from a 90-story luxury apartment building under construction in Midtown Manhattan.
Much of the city was deserted, as its subways, buses, commuter trains, bridges and airports were closed. Power outages darkened most of downtown Manhattan as well as Westchester County, affecting more than 650,000 customers, power company Consolidated Edison said.
Neighbourhoods along the East and Hudson rivers in Manhattan were underwater, as were low-lying streets in Battery Park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Centre once stood.
U.S. stock markets were closed on Tuesday but would likely reopen on Wednesday. They closed on Monday for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Most areas in downtown Manhattan were without power on Monday morning. As the sun rose, most of the water in Manhattan’s low-lying Battery Park City appeared to have receded.
A security guard at 7 World Trade Centre, Gregory Baldwin, was catching some rest in his car after labouring overnight against floodwater that engulfed a nearby office building.
“The water went inside up to here,” he said, pointing to his chest. “The water came shooting down from Battery Park with the gusting wind.”
In Lower Manhattan, fire-fighters used inflatable orange boats to rescue utility workers stranded for three hours by rising floodwaters inside a power substation.
One of the Con Ed workers pulled from the floodwater, Angelo Amato, said he was part of a crew who had offered to work through the storm.
“This is what happens when you volunteer,” he said.