Archive for January 2, 2014

NEW YORK UNDER STATE OF EMERGENCY AS BLIZZARD LOOMS

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NEW YORK, New York | DMN —  A major snowstorm is sweeping across the Midwest and Northeast Thursday, creating treacherous travel conditions for millions in Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Cleveland. The worst of the storm will arrive overnight for the Northeast, bringing blizzard conditions from Boston to New York with wind gusts as high as 50 mph. In some locations, snow will fall at a rate of 2 inches per hour. Drivers can expect slowed travel as blowing and drifting of snow occurs across major roadways, such as I-90 and I-95, and visibility lowers.

The storm also has the potential to cause flight delays in major travel hubs including Boston-Logan International, La Guardia International and JFK International airports.  During Thursday and Thursday night, the storm will affect 20 states with more than 120 million people in the Midwest and the Northeast combined and could have a major negative impact on travel for people returning from holiday destinations, heading back to school or resuming business activities. It will be far from the worst storm to ever hit the area, but people should be prepared for flight delays and cancellations because of direct and indirect impacts from the far-reaching storm. Some roads may even close for a time.

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The high temperature in New York City will be in the teens on Friday during the day and drop to between 5 and 8 degrees in the evening, with the wind chill making it feel well below zero. “Please, starting this evening, stay indoors for the maximum extent possible,” newly minted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio implored residents at a Thursday evening briefing. “If you don’t need to go out, please don’t go out.” North of the New York, it will be even colder. Lows in Boston will be below zero. Maine could see the mercury drop to minus 30 after dark. “That is a very, very dangerous set of circumstances,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. He dismissed all state workers at 3 p.m. and urged residents to minimize time outside and be aware of frostbite and hypothermia symptoms.

A second wave of icy weather will hit the nation’s midsection by late Sunday, stretching from the upper Midwest to Kentucky and Tennessee, forecasters said. Chicago will struggle to get above minus 8 and by Monday morning the wind will make it feel like it’s 40 below zero there.  In Green Bay, Wis., where the Packers host an NFL playoff game Sunday evening, the low temperature could reach minus 18.

Larry Wittmers, a hypothermia expert at the University of Minnesota-Duluth medical school, said it’s not necessarily the coldest areas that face the most peril. “True hypothermia cases turn up more often in more southern regions because people are not prepared and don’t know what to do,” Wittmers said. How long people can safely spend outside depends on how wet or windy it is and how they are dressed, Wittmer said. Shoveling snow or other exercise can be dangerous because sweat reduces the insulation capability of clothing, and consuming alcohol can speed heat loss and reduce awareness of the cold. And even though record snowfall is not expected, the cold could make roads even more hazardous because the snow-melting salt that homeowners and road crews use loses effectiveness at between 10 and 20 degrees.

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To give plows time to work and guard against vehicles getting stranded, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency and closed several major roads, including the Nassau and Suffolk county sections of the Long Island Expressway from midnight to 5 a.m. New Jersey also declared a state of emergency. At the Pine Street Inn shelter in Boston, vice president Heidi Daniels was preparing for a packed house. “We won’t turn anybody away,” she said. “We’ll pull out cots and mats and make sure everybody has a warm place to stay tonight.”

Winter storm warnings and advisories were in effect in 22 states, stretched from Chicago through the New York tri-state region into New England and affecting an area home to more than 90 million people. Flights were being canceled by the hundred at some of the nation’s busiest airports. Five hundred had been scrapped at Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy; Boston’s last departure was slated for 8:30 p.m.; almost 600 were off the boards at Chicago’s O’Hare, according to FlightAware.  The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning on Long Island in New York beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, predicting inch-an-hour snow with 45 mph winds during the worst of it Thursday night. Blizzard conditions also are warned for Cape Cod and coastal Massachusetts.

Gov. Patrick said that storm models were showing heavy bands that could sock some communities with up to 2 feet of snow, depending on wind drifts, while the rest of the state was anticipating 8 to 10 inches. In New York City, the administration of newly minted Mayor Bill DeBlasio said it would do its best to keep outdoor subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains moving, calling out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ice-busting equipment. Bus riders might not be so lucky: If roads become impassable, bus service will be suspended, the MTA said.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino — in his last official act in office —  pre-emptively declared a snow emergency for Thursday and closed the city’s schools Friday as weather models pointed to up to 18 inches of new snow. “What a New Year’s gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor,” Menino said Wednesday.  Buffalo was also predicted to get a 12- to 18-inch wallop, and accumulations of 8 to 12 inches were expected in areas of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Kelly St. Denis, of Auburn, Maine, hit the slopes at at the Sunday River ski area with family and friends. “Hey, it’s winter in Maine,” she told the Associated Press. “We go with it.”

Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: LOUISIANA’S EX-FELON GOVERNOR MUM ON POSSIBLE CONGRESSIONAL RUN

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If you love politics…here is a story for you to salivate over. Former Louisiana Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards, who spent eight years in prison after being convicted of racketeering charges, is staying mum about reports that he’s considering a campaign for a vacant Louisiana congressional seat. The 86-year-old told the Times-Picayune that he had not decided whether to run for the 6th Congressional District seat and that it would be a “while” before he made an assessment. His remarks followed a Thursday report on the Hay Ride, a Louisiana-focused politics blog, that he was thinking about running for the seat.

Edwards spent 16 years as governor and seven years in the House of Representatives. In 2001, he was found guilty on a series of corruption charges. Still, he’s kept alive the idea of a return to politics. In an October radio interview, Edwards said: “Lately, for some strange reason, I’m beginning to think it might be a nice thing to do. But I’m not going to make the decision based upon that. I’m going to make the decision based on whether I think I can win and whether there’s a need for me, because I don’t want to end what I consider to be a successful political career on a sad note.”

Edwards was recently the subject of an A&E reality series called “The Governor’s Wife,” about his marriage to Trina Edwards, who is more than 50 years his junior. The show was canceled late last year. Should he enter the race for the Baton Rouge-area seat, Edwards would join a field of candidates that includes Republicans Dan Claitor, a state senator, and Paul Dietzel, a businessman. GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy is vacating the seat to run for Senate.

Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

FIVE DEAD IN BEIRUT BLAST NEAR HEZBOLLAH STRONGHOLD

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BEIRUT, Lebanon | DMN – A powerful car bomb exploded near a Hezbollah security zone in southern Beirut on Thursday, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more in the fifth such attack on the militant group’s heartland since July. The blast came a week after another bomb killed a senior opposition figure and seven other civilians in the downtown area of the Lebanese capital. The explosions have marked a deterioration in security across the country widely believed to stem from the war in neighbouring Syria, which has kindled long-standing regional rivalries.

Thursday’s attack hit the Haret Hreik district of the suburb of Dahiyeh, which has long been an operations hub for Hezbollah. The organisation said none of its people or sites had been affected. The increasing frequency of the attacks has, however, instilled widespread fear among the group’s supporters and those who live in areas protected by Hezbollah and other Shia militias. Four of the attacks have been in civilian neighbourhoods. A blast in July that wounded at least 50 people was followed on 15 August by an attack that killed at least 20. In November, twin suicide bombers targeted the Iranian embassy, killing another 23 people, including an Iranian diplomat.

Analysis

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BBC News, Beirut

Hezbollah is heavily involved in the conflict in Syria, fighting alongside government forces. The party’s intervention is believed to have been forceful and decisive, and has drawn the wrath of opponents of the government. Some groups have threatened revenge on the streets of Beirut, and many will be quick to say this attack is another retaliation for Hezbollah’s role.

But Lebanon is in the midst of several conflicts, some local, others regional, all of them interconnected and mired in intrigue. This explosion happened less than a week after a former government minister was killed by a car bomb. Every suicide attack, car bomb or assassination is swiftly sucked into a war of narratives, and this one will not be different.

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Last month, a senior Hezbollah figure, Hassan Laqqis, who directed logistics for the organisation, was assassinated by gunmen using silenced weapons outside his Beirut apartment. In Tripoli, at the other end of the country, two explosions in August outside Sunni mosques killed more than 40 people. Community leaders and many of those killed had been vocal supporters of the largely Sunni opposition in Syria. Hezbollah, meanwhile, robustly backs the Syrian regime, which draws much of its support base from Shia Islamic interests, including Iran, the Alawite sect and a large Iraqi Shia militia.

As the Syrian war has worsened, Lebanese political leaders from these two main blocs have insisted they are trying to quarantine the feeble state from steeply rising sectarian tensions over the border. The western-leaning 14 March faction has sent weapons and funds to the Syrian opposition, while in May, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, revealed the depth of his organisation’s support for the Assad regime, on which it has relied for support since its inception more than 30 years ago. Mohammed Shatah, senior 14 March official, was killed in last week’s car bombing. Both sides suggest their involvement in Syria is a counterweight to the other and have repeatedly said that importing the war to Lebanon serves neither of them. The rising number of interests in the war and the vehemence of the protagonists is, however, making attempts to control Lebanon evermore difficult.

Also on Thursday, the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon confirmed that Saudi national Majed al-Majed, whom local authorities believe is the leader of an al-Qaida affilliated group, the Abdullah al-Azzam Brigades, had been captured in Beirut on Monday. He is being questioned in relation to the Iranian embassy bombing, which the group claimed responsibility for shortly after the attack. Nasrallah had previously accused Saudi Arabia of being responsible for the bombing, a claim Riyadh denied. The Beirut blast comes a day after it was reported that Lebanese authorities had captured a militant leader suspected of leading a group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, in November.

Majid bin Muhammad al-Majid is believed to be the leader of the al-Qaida-inspired Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the 19 November attack that killed 25 people, including an Iranian diplomat. He is believed to have been arrested on Monday by an intelligence unit of the Lebanese military.

Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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DMN: THE WORLD TONIGHT THURSDAY

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100 MILLION PEOPLE IN PATH OF MAJOR WINTER STORM

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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana | DMN —  Some of the U.S.’s biggest cities braced for what’s expected to be another mammoth snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in the Midwest and the Northeast — with as much as a foot and a half forecast through Friday. Winter storm warnings stretched from Chicago through the New York tri-state region into New England — affecting an area home to more than 100 million people. Central Indiana motorists took to Twitter and Facebook early Thursday morning to complain about a perceived lack of road crews as snow fell heavily during the overnight and early-morning hours.

Commute times were tripled for many as motorists returning to work after the holidays were treated to snow-packed highways and the resulting creeping traffic. Forecasts called for 3 to 5 inches of accumulation, and Indianapolis had more than 4 inches on the ground as of 8 a.m according to Indianapolis television station WRTV. Traffic on many of the major interstates around Indianapolis moved at 20 mph or less, and there were numerous slide-offs, compounding an already difficult commute.  INDOT spokesperson Nathan Riggs said the timing and length of the storm were challenges for crews.

FULL STORY CLICK HERE

 

 

 

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Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: NEW YORK TIMES CALLS FOR SNOWDEN CLEMENCY

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The New York Times is calling on President Barack Obama to make a clemency or plea bargain deal with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to bring him home. The paper’s editorial board waded into the traitor-vs.-hero debate with a piece titled “Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower” out Thursday, writing that although Snowden may have broken the law when he stole and revealed details about the NSA’s surveillance tactics, he provided an important service in exposing the tactics.

“He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service,” the Times board wrote. “It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.”

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The Times also took issue with a past statement from Obama that Snowden should have used other avenues afforded to whistleblowers to air his concerns with the NSA program, saying that Obama’s whistleblower protections didn’t apply to contractors like Snowden and saying his superiors ignored him when he did raise concerns to them. “In retrospect, Mr. Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not,” the Times wrote.

In a tweet, journalist Glenn Greenwald, who worked closely with Snowden to publish his material in The Guardian, called the editorial “remarkable.” The New York Times has been working with the British publication The Guardian to publish information provided by Snowden since this summer. The Guardian posted its own editorial urging clemency for Snowden on Thursday saying “Mr Snowden – through journalists, in the absence of meaningful, reliable democratic oversight – had given people enough knowledge about the nature of modern intelligence-gathering to allow an informed debate. Voters might, in fact, decide they were prepared to put privacy above security – but at least they could make that choice on the basis of information.”  Snowden has been given a year of amnesty to live in Russia, where he traveled after fleeing the U.S. to China shortly before his leaks were published. He has remained there out of fear of prosecution were he to return to the U.S. The government has charged Snowden with espionage.

When Snowden first made headlines revealing that the N.S.A. was grabbing meta-data from Verizon Wireless, I took a somewhat wait and see attitude. Like many people, I grappled with the traitor vs whistleblower reality that confronted us but with the revelations as deep and disturbing as they are, I say thanks Edward Snowden…a true American who should be able to come home and continue this debate.

Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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PLUMES OF STEAM RISE FROM CRIPPLED FUKUSHIMA REACTOR

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TOKYO, Japan | DMN —  Fresh plumes of most probably radioactive steam have been detected rising from the reactor 3 building at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, said the facility’s operator company. The steam has been detected by surveillance cameras and appeared to be coming from the fifth floor of the mostly-destroyed building housing crippled reactor 3, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant’s operator.  The steam was first spotted on December 19 for a short period of time, then again on December 24, 25, 27, according to a report TEPCO published on its website.

The company, responsible for the cleanup of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has not explained the source of the steam or the reason it is rising from the reactor building. High levels of radiation have complicated entry into the building and further inspection of the situation.  Three of the plant’s reactors suffered a nuclear meltdown in March 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the region. The plant is comprised of six separate water boiling reactors. At the time of the earthquake, reactor number 4 had been de-fueled and reactors 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance, thereby managing to avoid meltdowns.

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Unlike the other five reactors, reactor 3 ran on mixed core containing both uranium fuel and mixed uranium and plutonium oxide, or MOX nuclear fuel. The Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods. In a similar incident, small amounts of steam escaped from the reactor 3 building in July 2013, Asahi Shimbun reported. However it was unclear where the steam came from. TEPCO said that radiation levels did not change, adding that the steam could have been caused by rain that found its way to the primary containment of the reactor, and because this vessel was still hot, the water evaporated. On 23 July the steam was seen again coming out of the fifth floor just above the reactor containment, the Japanese newspaper reported.

In November, TEPCO, responsible for the decommissioning of the plant, began the highly risky removal of over 1,500 potentially damaged nuclear fuel rods from reactor 4. The reactor is the most unstable part of the plant as it was offline at the time of the 2011 catastrophe and its core didn’t go into meltdown. Instead, hydrogen explosions blew the roof off the building and severely damaged the structure.One of the most dangerous operations attempted in nuclear history was a success as a total of 22 assemblies containing 50 to 70 fuel rods have been transported to a new storage place. While the extraction of the fuel rods is a significant challenge for TEPCO, a more complex task of removing the cores of the stricken reactors is yet to come.

REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: COLORADO GOES TO “POT” AS CUSTOMERS SWARM “DRUG STORES”

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In a historic swirl of commerce and cannabis, the world’s first stores licensed to sell marijuana legally to anyone 21 or older opened in Colorado on Wednesday. Hordes of customers braved bitter cold and snow at about two dozen outlets. Residents aged 21 and over can buy 1oz while those from out of the state can purchase up to 0.25oz. Washington state has also legalized cannabis, and is expected to allow the drug’s sale later this year. Colorado’s system differs from the Netherlands in that the Dutch have never legalized cannabis, even though the purchase and consumption of small amounts of the drug have been informally permitted since 1976.

Last month, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize pot, but it has yet to set up its system. Blustery winter weather could not deter Colorado’s cannabis consumers from turning out in large numbers on 1 January, dubbed Green Wednesday, to see history in the making. Joints, cannabis pastries and confectionery, and even marijuana-infused soaps, oils and lotions were on sale at licensed dispensaries. Under the new rules, cannabis can only be smoked on private premises, with the permission of the owners. Police reportedly issued citations to several shoppers who appeared to be under the impression that the new rules allowed them to smoke pot in public. “It’s a huge deal for me,” Andre Barr, a 34-year-old deliveryman who drove all the way from the state of Michigan, told the Associated Press news agency. “This wait is nothing.”

Jacob Elliott, 31, a defense contractor from Leesburg, Virginia, near Washington DC, told Reuters news agency as he queued outside the 3D Cannabis Center in Denver: “I never thought it would happen.”  In 18 other states, marijuana is approved for medical purposes, though the drug is still illegal under federal law. The US Department of Justice has advised Colorado officials to ensure the drug remains within state borders or face a federal crackdown. Signs at Denver International Airport warn travelers they are forbidden to take the drug home with them. Store owners stocked up, hired extra security and prepared celebrations for their Green Wednesday grand opening. But it wasn’t just the customers that were high – the prices were enough to give some a sore head.

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One dispensary was charging $70 for one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis, nearly three times what medical marijuana patients had been paying just a day earlier for the same amount. Iraq war veteran Sean Azzariti, who has campaigned to legalize marijuana, reportedly made Colorado’s first legal recreational marijuana purchase, at an outlet in Denver. He said the drug helps to ease his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. “I couldn’t be happier,” he told US media. “It’s a huge stepping stone for other states as well, so it’s a huge honor, to say the least.” Under a measure approved by Colorado’s voters, possession, cultivation and private, personal, recreational consumption of marijuana has already been legal in the state for more than a year. But under the new law that took effect on Wednesday, cannabis is being sold and taxed like alcohol.

State officials expect it to raise $67m in annual tax revenue, a chunk of which will be used for school construction. A total of 136 stores, mostly in Denver, have so far been given licenses to sell marijuana with more permits pending. Some communities elsewhere in Colorado have exercised their right not to have the stores. Supporters of legalizing cannabis have praised Colorado’s move. But critics say it sends the wrong message to the nation’s youth and fear it will lead to serious health and psychiatric problems.

Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: CRACK SMOKING TORONTO MAYOR FILES FOR RE-ELECTION

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Despite all the controversy, Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford will run for office this year and his spokesman has said that his chances are ‘excellent’. Last year his reputation was left in tatters after he admitted that he smoked crack cocaine. Following the admission Mr Ford has barely been out of the headlines with a stream of allegations about his excessive behavior typically followed by gaffe-prone press conferences in which he steadfastly refused to consider stepping down.  He even had his special privileges removed by the city council. However, his spokesman, lawyer Dennis Morris revealed that he will run for re-election, with the news tweeted by CNN producer Vaughn Sterling.

Mr Morris said in an interview with The Globe And Mail that there was nothing stopping Mr Ford re-running.  ‘What reason is there for him to step aside?,’ he asked. ‘I’m not really sure because I don’t think there’s any precedent that anybody must step aside. What if he said, “I overindulged in alcohol?” Is it because alcohol’s legal, crack cocaine isn’t? I don’t really know.  ‘And I think he made an excellent decision not to step aside because, as you see, he’s rehabilitating himself as of the past [several] weeks.’ When asked what his chances were he added: ‘I think they’re excellent. I think if you asked me that a few months ago, I’d think otherwise because people aren’t happy when an individual with substance abuse difficulties doesn’t acknowledge and do something about them’.

Last month Mr Ford revealed that he was going to give his wife cold-hard cash for Christmas because ‘women love money.’ Ford was participating in a regular call-in on a Washington, DC, sports radio show when one of the hosts asked him what he plans to get Renata for Christmas. ‘Just money. Women love money. Give them a couple of thousand bucks and they’re happy. Get some treats on the side obviously for her,’ the 44-year-old conservative said, according to the National Press.

Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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EX-PAKISTANI PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF SUFFERS “HEART PROBLEM” ON WAY TO COURT

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RAWALPINDI, Pakistan | DMN —  Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is in hospital after his lawyers said he suffered chest pains on his way to court for his treason trial. The 70-year-old was transferred to the Armed Forces Cardiology Hospital in Rawalpindi and is undergoing tests. It is the third time the former president has failed to appear in court following two previous security scares. The treason charges relate to his decision in 2007 to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule.

Mr Musharraf denies the charges and says all the accusations against him are politically motivated. He is the first former military ruler to face trial for treason in Pakistan, which has a history of army rule. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison. He also faces separate charges of murder and restricting the judiciary. Mr Musharraf is a keen swimmer and former commando thought to be fit for his age. There has been no word from doctors on his condition.

Security around the hospital in Rawalpindi is tight and all entry points closed to the public, witnesses say. The former general’s lawyers had earlier told the special court trying him for treason in Islamabad that he would probably appear before it, as ordered on Thursday. But his heavily guarded motorcade was diverted to nearby Rawalpindi and one of his lawyers, Khalid Ranjha, said he had developed a “heart problem”. “Pervez Musharraf is a man of strong nerves, but he felt pain in the chest and doctors are examining him,” said Mr Ranjha, the Associated Press reported.

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A spokeswoman for Musharraf said in November that he is willing to face all charges against him. “Gen. Musharraf has full faith in the judiciary and trusts the legal system to clear his name,” Aasia Ishaque told CNN. “He is a man of his word, and he will let the court decide his fate.” The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan, who was at court, says many people view the reports of his illness with skepticism, as they do the security scares which his defense team say prevented him from appearing in court on 1 January and 24 December.  The former general spent much of last year under house arrest on an array of other charges relating to his time in power from 1999-2008, but is now on bail in all those cases. He runs the risk of being taken back into custody.

The judge gave him an exemption from appearing on Thursday because of the reports about his health. The next hearing is set for Monday. The defense team is arguing that Mr Musharraf cannot get a fair trial in Pakistan because current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is “biased” against their client. Mr Musharraf seized power from Mr Sharif in a coup in 1999. He remained president until 2008, when a democratically elected government forced him to resign. He left the country soon afterwards to live in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London. On his return to Pakistan in March 2013, Mr Musharraf hoped he could lead his party into elections but was disqualified from standing. Correspondents says many Pakistanis believe Mr Sharif’s government is using the trial to divert attention from the problems the country is facing, including a struggling economy and continuing sectarian and other attacks.

Posted January 2, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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100 MILLION PEOPLE IN PATH OF MAJOR WINTER STORM

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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana | DMN —  Some of the U.S.’s biggest cities braced for what’s expected to be another mammoth snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in the Midwest and the Northeast — with as much as a foot and a half forecast through Friday. Winter storm warnings stretched from Chicago through the New York tri-state region into New England — affecting an area home to more than 100 million people. Central Indiana motorists took to Twitter and Facebook early Thursday morning to complain about a perceived lack of road crews as snow fell heavily during the overnight and early-morning hours.

Commute times were tripled for many as motorists returning to work after the holidays were treated to snow-packed highways and the resulting creeping traffic. Forecasts called for 3 to 5 inches of accumulation, and Indianapolis had more than 4 inches on the ground as of 8 a.m according to Indianapolis television station WRTV. Traffic on many of the major interstates around Indianapolis moved at 20 mph or less, and there were numerous slide-offs, compounding an already difficult commute.  INDOT spokesperson Nathan Riggs said the timing and length of the storm were challenges for crews.

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Indiana State Police estimated they responded to about 100 crashes and slide-offs related to the weather conditions by 8:30 a.m., though calls of roadway incidents were coming in too fast to keep track. “Our INDOT plow drivers are out, and we are plowing and they’re hard at work. Quite frankly, it’s just the rate of the snowfall that we’re seeing, especially over the last two or three hours, significant rates of accumulation, and it can take a matter of time, sometimes more than hour for these truck drivers to run their route,” Riggs said. He urged drivers to leave plenty of room as plow trucks pass by, and said crashes and stalled cars can cause more of a delay in the clean-up process.

Snow began to fall in Boston, the first major city on the East Coast to be hit, at around 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. “It’s going to be a long-duration event,” said Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel. “The wind is going to whip around the snow and reduce the visibility, creating near-blizzard conditions in Boston, much of Connecticut and then down maybe as far south as New Jersey and even New York City.”  The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning on Long Island in New York beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, predicting inch-an-hour snow with 45 mph winds during the worst of it Thursday night. Blizzard conditions also are warned for Cape Cod and coastal Massachusetts.  “It’s going to be a pretty significant storm, which will cause major travel disruption for a lot of people early in the new year,” said Dave Houtz, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. “Any untreated roads will be a real mess.”

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that travel would be tricky in the coming days. “We are telling people, prepare for road closings and take mass transit,” he told reporters in a Wednesday conference call about the storm.  In New York City, which was warned to expect 5 to 8 inches of snow through Friday, the administration of newly minted Mayor Bill DeBlasio said it would do its best to keep outdoor subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains moving, calling out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ice-busting equipment. Bus riders might not be so lucky: If roads become impassable, bus service will be suspended, the MTA said.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning on Long Island in New York beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, predicting inch-an-hour snow with 45 mph winds during the worst of it Thursday night. Blizzard conditions also are warned for Cape Cod and coastal Massachusetts.  “It’s going to be a pretty significant storm, which will cause major travel disruption for a lot of people early in the new year,” said Dave Houtz, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. “Any untreated roads will be a real mess.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that travel would be tricky in the coming days. “We are telling people, prepare for road closings and take mass transit,” he told reporters in a Wednesday conference call about the storm.

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In New York City, which was warned to expect 5 to 8 inches of snow through Friday, the administration of newly minted Mayor Bill DeBlasio said it would do its best to keep outdoor subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains moving, calling out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ice-busting equipment. Bus riders might not be so lucky: If roads become impassable, bus service will be suspended, the MTA said. The storm system was already walloping Detroit, which were under several inches of snow Wednesday, with 5 to 8 inches more on the way.

Brutally cold weather and more snow is in store for parts of the Midwest. Indianapolis weatherman Paul Poteet says 6 inches of snow are likely on Sunday  followed by bitterly cold air. Temperatures are unlikely to rise above zero ALL DAY Monday and Tuesday. Lows Monday night and Tuesday night could approach 20 below zero. At least 16 flights out of Indianapolis International Airport were canceled today, including morning and noontime trips to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Cleveland. FlightAware.com reports that almost 3,000 flights have been delayed today with 1,246 cancellations.

AccuWeather and NBC News contributed to this report.

 

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