Storm Sandy: Transport chaos as floods recede

 At least 40 people have been killed, millions have no power and transport has been crippled across the north-eastern US as storm Sandy heads north.

In New York City, 18 people have been killed and the flooded subway remains closed until further notice.

More than 18,000 flights were cancelled, though reduced services are to resume in New York and New Jersey.

President Barack Obama, who has suspended his election campaign, is due to visit affected areas in New Jersey.

The storm was causing heavy snowfalls over West Virginia on Tuesday afternoon.

It was due to turn towards western New York state before moving into Canada on Wednesday.

Though forecast to weaken, it was expected to cause heavy rain and flooding.

Earlier, Sandy killed nearly 70 people as it hit the Caribbean.

Across several states, tens of thousands of people spent a second night in school gymnasiums, community centres and hotel rooms, with or without electricity.

In a converted detention centre in Teterboro, across the Hudson River from upper Manhattan, I found evacuees receiving food and a bed for the night, but anxious about their flooded homes.

In the nearby communities of Little Ferry and Moonachie, the streets were dark, deserted and, in some places, still under water.

At least eight million homes and businesses are without power because of the storm, says the US Department of Energy.

Sandy brought a record storm surge of almost 14ft (4.2m) to central Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet (3m) during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

New York's subway system sustained the worst damage in its 108-year history, said Joseph Lhota, head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).

Subway tunnels were flooded and electrical equipment will have to be cleaned before the network can re-open.

Mr Bloomberg said there was "no timeline" for when the subway would restart, but he hoped buses could begin running again on Wednesday.

It is likely to be two or three days before power is restored to most of the city, Mr Bloomberg said.

John F Kennedy airport and Newark in New Jersey are due to reopen at 07:00 (11:00 GMT) on Wednesday, with a reduced service, though New York's LaGuardia airport will stay shut.

The New York Stock Exchange says it will also re-open after two days' closure, as will the Nasdaq exchange. The last time the stock exchange shut down for two days was in 1888,according to BBC.

 

 

 

New York paralyzed as Sandy slams into eastern U.S

 

Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the United States, battered the nation's eastern seaboard on Tuesday, swamping New York City streets with record levels of floodwater, blacking out power to millions of people and bringing transportation to a halt through much of the region.

At least 13 people were reported killed in the United States by Sandy, which dropped just below hurricane status before going ashore in New Jersey on Monday, according to officials and media reports. More than 1 million people across a dozen states were under orders to evacuate as the massive system continued to plow westward.

One disaster forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion, only half insured..

 The storm also slowed the presidential campaign at a key time ahead of next week's vote and closed U.S. markets for two days.

 Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-raging winds, brought a record surge of almost 14 feet to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

 Water poured into the subway system and tunnels that run under the rivers around Manhattan, raising concerns that the world's financial capital could be hobbled for days to come.

 "Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time," said Jeffrey Tongue, meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York.

 Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour were recorded, he said.

 "Hopefully it's a once-in-a-lifetime storm," Tongue said.

 Large sections of New York City were in darkness without power and transportation in the metropolitan area was at a standstill.

"In 108 years our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now," Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a statement.

 The unprecedented flooding was hampering efforts to fight a massive fire in one of the city's barrier island neighborhoods, Breezy Point in the borough Queens, the New York Fire Department said. More than 170 firefighters battled a fire that destroyed more than 50 homes.

 Some 6.8 million people in several states

 

 

Gatilov: Condemnation of Terrorist Attack in Damascus Blocked in UNSC by Westerners AGAIN

 MOSCOW, (ST)_ Gennady Gatilov, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, declared Saturday that a condemnation of terrorist attack in Damascus was blocked in UNSC by Westerners again.

Gatilov, in a message on his Twitter account, added that the opposition in Syria foiled cease-fire, choosing instead to continue violence.

Earlier, Gatilov wrote that ''achieving ceasefire in Syria greatly depends on ability of the external players to urge the opposition in the right direction'', asserting that it is important that ''the armed opposition in   Syria respects the "holiday truce" and then the pause could be extended for a few days more.''

Gatilov underscored that respecting the cease-fire by Syrian sides during the feast of sacrifice would be first and very important step to end the violence.

Gatilov, however, pointed out that '' If started, direct Western arms supplies to the Syrian opposition will go against the letter and spirit of Geneva Communiqué.  It turns out that there are "bad" terrorists who must be condemned and those whose actions can be left without response from international community''.

The Russian Deputy foreign minister underlined last week  that ''Having blocked the UNSC's condemnation of terrorist attacks in Syria, Western countries proved "double standards" in assessing terrorists' actions".

 

M.A. Al-Ibrahim

 

 

Moscow: Extremist Forces Undermine Stability in Syria

 MOSCOW, (ST)_ The Syrian  Army faces armed opposition groups that  receive  aid continuously   from the  outside. A matter increased armed operations, making the situation in Syria very complex, said official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Lukashevic, warning that extremist forces deliberately perpetrate acts to undermine   stability  in Syria  and dispel the hopes to a solution.

In a press conference held in Moscow today, the Russian official expressed concern  over the increase of terrorist acts in different parts of Syria , especially the recent blast  on October 21st in Bab Touma , while the UN envoy was in Damascus to find a solution for the crisis in Syria.

He renewed Moscow's welcome to the decision taken by the Syrian leadership to stop armed operations during the Eid al-Adha and support for al-Ibrahimi efforts.

He continued that the talks between the Russian Foreign Minister and al-Ibrahimi next Monday will deal with possible practical steps to reach a quick solution to the crisis in Syria, pointing out that Moscow is waiting for the arrival of al- Brahimi for consultations which were scheduled beforehand, noting that strenuous talks will be held  for finding out practical steps conducive to a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis .

Russia, he said, is confident that a collective action is taken,  built on Geneva document, approved on June 30th  by all states of the " International Working Group".

Earlier this week, the Russian Foreign Minister said   that Russia hopes al- Ibrahimi will bring value added to the principles set forth in the Geneva document, which contains a "simplified irreplaceable," agreement,  pointing out that the Syrian leadership supports this document.

 

T . Fateh 

 

 

 

Russia Considers Ceasefire in Syria Priority

 

 

 

MOSCOW, (ST) -- Moscow has considered the stop of violence in Syria as a priority to solve the crisis in Syria at the current stage, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

"In a particular situation in Syria, like in any similar crisis situation in a certain state, one should see what the main task is at the particular moment. I deeply believe the most urgent task now is to stop the violence," Lavrov told reporters after talks with his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of  Foreign affairs.

"I really expect the truce the parties are trying to arrange during Eid al-adha to be observed," he said.

According to Lavrov, Russia and Switzerland shared concerns over the situation in Syria and agreed that only political solutions would lead to the end of confrontation with minimal losses.

 Russia hopes Brahimi’s visit to Moscow would promote Syrian settlement

Russia hopes that a Moscow visit by United Nations Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi due on October 29 will promote the Syrian crisis settlement, Russia’s United Nations ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Wednesday.

“We are waiting for him in Moscow early next week,” he said. “We hope that the Moscow talks will make it possible for Russia to make another contribution to the settlement of the crisis in Syria.” He stressed that Russia “resolutely supports” Lakhdar Brahimi’s efforts.

On Tuesday, a diplomatic source told Itar-Tass that the United Nations will pay a one-day working visit to Moscow on October 29.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council called on all sides to accept Lkhdar Brahimi’s plan and agree to a ceasefire during the holiday of Eid al-Adha marked on October 26-29.

Churkin expressed satisfaction over the United Nations Security Council’s statement which, in his words, is based on a draft offered by the Russian delegation on Monday.

Earlier, Minister Lavrov,  described the UN Envoy to Syria, el-Akhdar al-Ibrahim's, initiative for a cease fire in Syria during Eid al-Adha as 'timely' and 'important' and as an 'important step towards a long-term ceasefire', to launch a 'political settlement process'.

In press statements on Monday, Minister Lavrov reiterated Russia's support for an ''immediate end to violence in Syria'' and for a ''peaceful settlement of the crisis without foreign interference''.

Minister Lavrov pointed out that some countries are interested in fueling violence in Syria as part of a “geopolitical remapping” of the Middle East, saying: '' “It appears that every time the hope for progress in the Syrian situation arises, somebody attempts to prevent it from calming down and deliberately fuels the continuation of the bloodshed and civil war in Syria,” interview with on Monday.

Interviewed by the Russian Rossiiskaya Gazeta, (Russian Gazette) yesterday, the veteran Foreign Minister of Russia disclosed that some opposing groups in Syria told the Russian side about some Western Countries' urging of the opposition as not to accept dialogue and continue fighting against the Syrian Government.

Minister Lavrov underscored that the crisis in Syria is but “part of geopolitical remapping of the Middle East, where various players attempt to safeguard their interests.'' And in the Syrian case, unfortunately, -at the expense of the Syrians' blood-

Minister Lavrov hailed the role played by President Bashar Al-Assad, and described His Excellency as a “guarantor of the security of national minorities, among them Christians, who have been living in Syria for centuries.”

Minister Lavrov added: "By the most conservative estimates, our Western partners quote in confidential contacts, President Al-Assad still enjoys support of at least a third of citizens as a man who vowed to prevent Syria's transformation into a state where minorities will be simply unable to live and exist,"

Minister Lavrov concluded that foreign ready-made “recipes” would never provide a long-lasting and reliable solution to the conflict in Syria.

Minister Lavrov, in the third part of his interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Minister Lavrov confirmed that Russia would seek clarity on the Turkish Authorities' air piracy on a Syrian Airlines passenger plane.

Regarding Iran, Minister Lavrov repeated that there was not a single proof of Tehran seeking to make a nuclear bomb.

"Russia has been consistent in defending its point. As long as there is no real evidence that Iran is making nuclear weapons, no sanctions can be imposed on it. This contradicts international law. It’s very important for us to hold on to our position….there is absolutely no evidence that Iran has decided to include a military component in its nuclear program,"

 “We won’t allow any more such disingenuous interpretations. We will see to it that no resolution is open to interpretation like the one on Libya,” Lavrov underscored, asserting that his country would never allow the approval of an anti-Iran resolution at the UN Security Council.

The idea that Russia is losing influence in the Arab world as a result of the Arab Spring is "wishful thinking," added Lavrov, asserting that "We disagree with such opinions because our relations with the majority of the region’s most influential countries have either retained their intensity or even deepened.

"No matter what happens, Russia would still be treated as a reliable partner and an important guarantor of geopolitical balance, just like it used to be in the past, when the region was freeing itself from colonial rule,” Lavrov added.

The challenge over the  success  of the initiative the  UN  envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi to stop the violence in Syria during the Eid al-Adha is not confined to the  consent of the UN Security Council; it is indeed the commitment of all regional and international parties to exercise their influence on armed groups to abide by the truce and halting violence", said Russia 's  permanent representative to the UN  Vitaly Churkin, in a press conference on Wednesday,  at the UN headquarters .

"We are not surprised that some  armed groups refused to halt violence because many of them refuse to quit  armed violence," noting that is why Russia calls on sides having influence on them  to stop providing them  with weapons and missiles. He added that Russia is urging "all regional and international actors to use their influence" to ensure the truce is implemented."

He expressed Russia's hope to implement the Eid-al-Adha  truce on the ground by the opposition and the government would reach a cessation of violence and the launching  of the political process that leads to a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

Churkin said the statement issued by the Security Council is based on three elements:  Support  of  members of the  UN Security Council for Brahimi initiative,  dealing with urgent humanitarian issues the Syrians face and  opening up the atmosphere for a political settlement  to the crisis.

 

M. Daoud/ M.A. Al-Ibrahim

 

 

 

Neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party represent majority of Americans

 Two of the candidates to contest Obama and Romney at the US elections told RT about the challenges minor parties face in their bids to offer Americans an alternative voice, and the crucial significance of breaking the media blockade to deliver it.

 ­Following the debate of third-party presidential candidates, RT spoke with two of those alternatives – Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Both candidates believe that it is crucial to give voice to the vast majority of the American people, who want to see real changes.

Anderson said that he, like most Americans, wants to stop building an “imperial presidency” and stop the “shredding of US constitution.”

“I think people in the Democratic Party who stand behind the president have totally lost sight of principle,” he said. “What they are doing is anti-American and subversive."

 Anderson believes he, as well as any other alternative candidate, would have been able to swing votes in his favor had he been allowed to challenge Obama and Romney on national television.

 “They have been basically arguing who is going to build the military the most, who is going to drill on public lands and offshore the most, whether we’re going to send small arms or large arms to Syria,” he said. “And we are saying things that you’ll never hear from the Republicans or the Democrats, and we’re saying what reflects what the majority of what the American people want."

 The presidential debates are tightly controlled because the top two parties are afraid of fresh ideas reaching the ears of the electorate – which could turn the US political system upside down, but prefers to stay at home due to the lack of any real political choice.

“In fact one out of every two American voters is going to be staying home from this election because they know neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party represent them,” Jill Stein told RT. “So the establishment parties are quaking in their boots that the word will get out, and in fact if it does, there are enough people to turn the result of this election on its head."

 The corporate media is not giving third-party candidates any opportunity to express their positions, as the presidential debate commission is owned and operated by the Republican and Democratic parties, Anderson explained.

She called the debate between Romney and Obama, controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a “farce of a debate that makes a mockery of our democracy.”

 “It is not so much the candidates, the alternative candidates who are being locked out – it is the American people that are being locked out, because when a debate is controlled, censored really, by corporate America, by Wall Street, by the same economic elite that are sponsoring the political parties – we are not going to hear about the critical problems that the American people are facing,” she said.

 As Americans “are being thrown under the bus" a rebellion in the US is in full swing, but no corporate media will report on it, Stein said.

ST

Moscow: Armed Groups Possess US-made Weapons

 

 

 

MOSCOW,(ST)_ "We have reliable information that Syrian ''militants''- foreign-backed armed terrorist groups- have foreign portable anti-aircraft missile systems, including those made in the USA... it should be cleared up who delivered them," General Nikolai Yegorovich Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia told journalists in Moscow,  adding that these weapons, equipment and ammunition  are transferred to these groups in different ways, including by air transportation. 

Commenting on directives given by President Barack Obama to provide the armed terrorist groups in Syria   with a shipment of anti-aircraft portable missiles, the Russian army official added: "The Americans have abandoned such directives and said they did not provide the Syrian opposition with any kind of weapons."

Earlier, Alexander Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson asserted that the arming the terrorist groups in Syria with a man-portable air defense systems, (MANPADS) was a ''most dangerous act,"

 

T. Fateh

 

 

 

Lavrov: Peaceful Settlement to Crisis without Foreign Interference

  MOSCOW, (ST)_ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov,  described the UN Envoy to Syria, el-Akhdar al-Ibrahim's, initiative for a cease fire in Syria during Eid al-Adha as 'timely' and 'important' and as an 'important step towards a long-term ceasefire', to launch a 'political settlement process'.

In press statements on Monday, Minister Lavrov reiterated Russia's support for an ''immediate end to violence in Syria'' and for a ''peaceful settlement of the crisis without foreign interference''.

Minister Lavrov pointed out that some countries are interested in fueling violence in Syria as part of a “geopolitical remapping” of the Middle East, saying: '' “It appears that every time the hope for progress in the Syrian situation arises, somebody attempts to prevent it from calming down and deliberately fuels the continuation of the bloodshed and civil war in Syria,” interview with on Monday.

Interviewed by the Russian Rossiiskaya Gazeta, (Russian Gazette) yesterday, the veteran Foreign Minister of Russia disclosed that some opposing groups in Syria told the Russian side about some Western Countries' urging of the opposition as not to accept dialogue and continue fighting against the Syrian Government.

Minister Lavrov underscored that the crisis in Syria is but “part of geopolitical remapping of the Middle East, where various players attempt to safeguard their interests.'' And in the Syrian case, unfortunately, -at the expense of the Syrians' blood-.

Minister Lavrov hailed the role played by President Bashar Al-Assad, and described His Excellency as a “guarantor of the security of national minorities, among them Christians, who have been living in Syria for centuries.”

Minister Lavrov added: "By the most conservative estimates, our Western partners quote in confidential contacts, President Al-Assad still enjoys support of at least a third of citizens as a man who vowed to prevent Syria's transformation into a state where minorities will be simply unable to live and exist,"

Minister Lavrov concluded that foreign ready-made “recipes” would never provide a long-lasting and reliable solution to the conflict in Syria.

Minister Lavrov, in the third part of his interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Minister Lavrov confirmed that Russia would seek clarity on the Turkish Authorities' air piracy on a Syrian Airlines passenger plane.

Regarding Iran, Minister Lavrov repeated that there was not a single proof of Tehran seeking to make a nuclear bomb.

"Russia has been consistent in defending its point. As long as there is no real evidence that Iran is making nuclear weapons, no sanctions can be imposed on it. This contradicts international law. It’s very important for us to hold on to our position….there is absolutely no evidence that Iran has decided to include a military component in its nuclear program,"

 “We won’t allow any more such disingenuous interpretations. We will see to it that no resolution is open to interpretation like the one on Libya,” Lavrov underscored, asserting that his country would never allow the approval of an anti-Iran resolution at the UN Security Council.

The idea that Russia is losing influence in the Arab world as a result of the Arab Spring is "wishful thinking," added Lavrov, asserting that "We disagree with such opinions because our relations with the majority of the region’s most influential countries have either retained their intensity or even deepened.

"No matter what happens, Russia would still be treated as a reliable partner and an important guarantor of geopolitical balance, just like it used to be in the past, when the region was freeing itself from colonial rule,” Lavrov added.

Russia: Urging All Regional and International Actors to Ensure Eid al-Adha Truce is Implemented

The challenge over the  success  of the initiative the  UN  envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi to stop the violence in Syria during the Eid al-Adha is not confined to the  consent of the UN Security Council; it is indeed the commitment of all regional and international parties to exercise their influence on armed groups to abide by the truce and halting violence", said Russia 's  permanent representative to the UN  Vitaly Churkin, in a press conference on Wednesday,  at the UN headquarters .

"  We are not surprised that some  armed groups refused to halt violence because many of them refuse to quit  armed violence," noting that is why Russia calls on sides having influence on them  to stop providing them  with weapons and missiles. He added that Russia is urging "all regional and international actors to use their influence" to ensure the truce is implemented."

He expressed Russia's hope to implement the Eid-al-Adha  truce on the ground by the opposition and the government would reach a cessation of violence and the launching  of the political process that leads to a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

Churkin said the statement issued by the Security Council is based on three elements:  Support  of  members of the  UN Security Council for   Brahimi initiative,  dealing with urgent humanitarian issues the Syrians face and  opening up the atmosphere for a political settlement  to the crisis.

 

M.A. Al-Ibrahim