Showing posts with label virginia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label virginia. Show all posts

Friday, June 29, 2012

US News:Storms knock out power to 2M across eastern US

heavy storm in Washington
A passing storm brought a halt to rides Friday, June 29, 2012 at the 26th annual Italian-American Festival being held this weekend at the Stark County Fairgrounds in Canton, Ohio.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Violent storms swept through the eastern part of the United States Friday night, killing a northern Virginia woman when a tree fell onto her home, damaging subway cars in Washington, D.C., and knocking out power to more than 2 million people in the middle of a heat wave.

The storms that converged on Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Ohio packed winds topping 70 mph in some places, uprooting trees and damaging numerous homes. They came after a day of sweltering heat across the region.

The nation's capital reached 104 degrees just before 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service, beating a record of 101 set in 1934.

Fairfax County police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said the woman in the Springfield, Va., area was killed during the height of the storm. Authorities were at the scene of the home but weren't able to immediately get inside, she said.

Jennings said police also were responding elsewhere to reports of a park police officer injured when his car was hit by a tree and an 18-year-old man struck by a downed power line.

As of 1 a.m. Saturday, Pepco was reporting 406,000 outages in the District of Columbia and Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Md.

"We have more than half our system down," said Pepco spokeswoman Myra Oppel. "This is definitely going to be a multi-day outage."

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency after more than 500,000 customers in 27 counties were left without electricity.

In Washington, D.C., Metrorail trains were returned to their endpoints due to the storms and related damage, officials said.

"It has had a widespread effect on the region," Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said early Saturday. He said about 17 train stations were operating on backup power due to local power outages, but that he didn't anticipate service being disrupted on Saturday.

In Ohio, the State Highway Patrol said three tractor trailers blew over on Interstate 75 near Findlay, but no one was injured.

News by AP

Saturday, April 07, 2012

US Navy jet crashes into Virginia apartments

 US Navy jet crashes into Virginia
Firefighters work to control the blaze after the crash of an F-18 US Navy jet
Emergency crews searched the charred remains of a Virginia Beach apartment complex on Friday (Saturday NZT) after a fighter jet crashed into it just after takeoff in what Navy officials called a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction".

Two Navy pilots - a student and an instructor from nearby Naval Air Station Oceana - ejected just before the jet careened into the apartment complex, demolishing sections of some buildings and engulfing others in flames. Some 40 apartment units were damaged or destroyed in the crash, but hours later no fatalities had been reported.

Seven people, including both pilots, were taken to a hospital. All except one of the pilots were released by late afternoon.

Virginia Beach Fire Department Captain Tim Riley said more than two dozen residents remained unaccounted for, although all but the six most damaged apartments had been searched.

"What I'm praying for, what I'm thinking about now is that we don't find any more victims," Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms told reporters.

The two-seat F18 Hornet had dumped loads of fuel before crashing, though it wasn't clear if that was because of a malfunction or an intentional maneuver by the pilots, said Captain Mark Weisgerber with US Fleet Forces Command. The jet went down less than 10 miles from Oceana.

Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, said witnesses saw fuel being dumped from the jet before it went down, and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.

The plane not having as much fuel on board "mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire," Nedelka said. "With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been."

The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, is located in Virginia Beach. Both the pilots were from Virginia Beach, Weisgerber said.

Weisgerber said he did not know how many times the student pilot had been in the air, but that the instructor was "extremely experienced".

Dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filled the densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hoses snaked through side streets as fire crews poured water on the charred rooftops of brick apartment houses. By late afternoon, the fire had been put out.

Residents of the apartment complex described a confusing scene and an apologetic pilot.

Colby Smith said his house started shaking and then the power went out, as he saw a red and orange blaze outside his window. He ran outside, where he saw billowing black smoke and then came upon the pilot as he ran to a friend's home.

"I saw the parachute on the house and he was still connected to it, and he was laying on the ground with his face full of blood," Smith told WVEC-TV.

"The pilot said, 'I'm sorry for destroying your house'."

Smith said he and another man helped the pilot onto the street.

Patrick Kavanaugh, who lives in the complex where the jet crashed, opened up his sliding glass door after hearing a loud explosion and saw one of the jet's pilots on the ground with blood on his face. Kavanaugh said the pilot, whom he described as a "young boy", was very upset and apologetic.

"The poor guy was in shock. I checked for broken bones and opened wounds," said Kavanaugh, who spent 23 years in the rescue squad and retired in 1996.

Despite having suffered several heart attacks and open-heart surgery, Kavanaugh said his old rescue skills kicked in as he dragged the pilot around the corner and away from the fire before several other explosions occurred.

As authorities closed roads in the neighborhood, traffic backed up on side streets and on nearby Interstate 264, with slow-moving columns of vehicles bringing drivers to a virtual standstill early on Friday afternoon.

Edna Lukens, who works at the apartment complex across the street from the crash, said she saw three apartment buildings on fire.

"We heard this loud noise and we looked out the window and there was smoke all in the sky. Then the flames started going up in the sky, and then the apartment building just started burning and the police was called and everybody came out," Lukens said.

Felissa Ezell, 71, was sitting in a folding chair outside her townhouse near the crash site on Friday and recalled hearing the crash as she returned home earlier in the day.

"Oh, my God, I heard three really loud explosions, then the black smoke went up high in the sky," she said.

The same model of fighter jet, an F/A-18D, crashed in December 2008 while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a training exercise in a San Diego neighborhood. That crash killed four members of one family and destroyed two homes.

The Marine Corps said the jet suffered a mechanical failure, but a series of bad decisions led the pilot - a student - to bypass a potentially safe landing at a coastal Navy base after his engine failed. The pilot ejected and told investigators he screamed in horror as he watched the jet plow into the neighborhood, incinerating two homes. A federal judge ordered the US government to pay the family nearly $18 million in restitution.

Most flights from Naval Air Station Oceana are training flights, Weisgerber said.

"This is where the Navy teaches our F18 pilots for the very first time in flee-representative aircraft," he said.

News by Stuff

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pentagon budget cuts will reshape U.S. military

US Army
The Pentagon
(Reuters) - The Pentagon unveiled a 2013 budget plan that would cut $487 billion in spending over the next decade by eliminating nearly 100,000 ground troops, mothballing ships and trimming air squadrons in a bid to create a smaller, agile force with a new strategic focus.

The funding request, which includes painful cuts that will be felt across the country, comes at a historic turning point for the military as it winds down 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and shifts its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

The budget plan, sharply criticized by some lawmakers, sets the stage for a new struggle between President Barack Obama's administration and Congress over how much the Pentagon should spend on national security as the country tries to curb its trillion-dollar budget deficits.

"Make no mistake, the savings that we are proposing will impact all 50 states and many districts, congressional districts across America," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday.

"This will be a test of whether reducing the deficit is about talk or action."

Panetta, previewing a budget to be made public February 13, said he would ask for a $525 billion base budget for the 2013 fiscal year, the first time since before the September 11, 2001, attacks that the Pentagon has asked for less than the previous year. That compares with $531 billion approved this year.

Panetta said he would seek $88.4 billion to support overseas combat operations, primarily in Afghanistan, down from $115 billion in 2012 largely due to the end of the war in Iraq and the withdrawal of U.S. forces there at the end of last year.

Congress ultimately controls the Pentagon's purse strings and regularly intervenes to change the size and detail of military spending as it sees fit. The Defense Department's budget accounts for about 20 percent of total federal spending.

Republican lawmakers who oversee military affairs on Capitol Hill sharply criticized the plan.

Senator John McCain said it "ignored the lessons of history" by imposing massive cuts on the military, and Representative Buck McKeon said it reflected "Obama's vision of an America that is weakened, not strengthened, by our men and women in uniform."


The 2013 budget is Panetta's first as defense secretary and is the first to take into account the Budget Control Act passed by Congress in August that requires the Pentagon to cut $487 billion in projected spending over the next decade.

The budget plan does not take into account an additional $600 billion in defense cuts that could be required after Congress failed to pass a compromise agreement to cut government spending by $1.2 trillion. The Pentagon could face cuts of another $50 billion a year, starting in 2013, unless Congress changes the law.

Panetta said he hoped once lawmakers understood the sacrifice involved in reducing the defense budget by almost a half a trillion dollars, they would make sure to avoid another $500 billion in additional cuts that would "inflict severe damage to our national defense for generations."

The budget begins to flesh out a new military strategy announced by the Pentagon earlier this month that calls for a shift in focus from the ground wars of the past decade towards efforts to preserve stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

"To ensure an agile and ready force, we made a conscious choice not to maintain more force structure than we could afford to properly train and equip," Panetta said.

The budget plan would provide new challenges for the Pentagon's top suppliers, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. The Arca index of defense stocks closed Thursday down 0.7 percent.

The plan retains but slows the purchase of weapons like Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon's largest procurement program, as well as submarines, amphibious assault ships and other vessels. It would retain a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.

The Pentagon would boost its emphasis on special operations forces like those who carried out the raid in Pakistan that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year and rescued two aid workers this week from kidnappers in Somalia.

It would also increase its emphasis on cyber operations, expand its work on drone aircraft, go ahead with a long-range bomber and proceed with other weapons that would allow it to project power from a greater distance.

Those capabilities are needed as countries like Iran and China develop arms that could threaten U.S. aircraft carriers in international waters near their shores.

General Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned against "parsing through each cut, each change, to look for a winner or loser," saying the plan should be judged for how it adapts the military to a changing security environment.

While the cuts announced on Thursday would affect all major defense contractors, consultant Loren Thompson said shipbuilders would be hit particularly hard because of the plan to cut 16 vessels from the total planned for the next five years.

The plans could affect work flow at Huntington Ingalls' shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Newport News, Virginia.

The size of the active-duty Army would be trimmed to 490,000 over five years from its wartime peak of 570,000 in 2010 and the size of the Marine Corps would fall to 182,000 from its high of about 202,000.

Military pay increases would begin to slow after two more years of growth, and fees would be increased on healthcare benefits for military retirees, those who served more than 20 years, both above and below the age of 65.

In addition, the Pentagon would:

- Delay development of a new ballistic missile submarine by two years.

- Eliminate six of the Air Force's tactical-air fighter squadrons and retire or divest 130 aircraft used for moving troops and equipment.

- Retire seven Navy cruisers and two smaller amphibious ships early, postpone the purchase of a big-deck amphibious ship by one year and postpone the planned purchase of a number of other vessels for several years.

- Eliminate two Army heavy brigades stationed in Europe and compensate by rotating U.S. based units into the region for training and exercises.

- Study the possibility of further reducing the size of U.S. nuclear arsenal.

- Begin a new round of talks on closing bases made unnecessary by the smaller force.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Romney leads Paul in Iowa poll, Santorum surges

united states
(Reuters) - Republican Mitt Romney narrowly leads rival Ron Paul in Iowa three days before the state kicks off the party's presidential nominating race, according to a Des Moines Register poll released on Saturday.

The closely watched poll, which has a strong track record in Iowa races, showed Rick Santorum surging past Newt Gingrich into third place in a fluid race where 41 percent of likely caucus-goers said they could still change their minds.

The newspaper's poll, conducted Tuesday through Friday, showed Romney with 24 percent support, Paul with 22 percent, Santorum with 15 percent and Gingrich 12 percent. In fifth place was Rick Perry with 11 percent while Michele Bachmann was sixth with 7 percent.

The poll was released as candidates launched the final stretch run for Tuesday's contest in Iowa, the first in the state-by-state battle to choose a Republican challenger to Obama, a Democrat, in the November election.

The results were a huge boost to Romney, who has resumed his front-runner's role in the Republican presidential race in the last few weeks after the slide of Gingrich.

A victory for Romney in Iowa, combined with a win in the next contest on January 10 in New Hampshire could put the former Massachusetts governor on a path to clinching the Republican nomination early.

But Santorum was the candidate with the momentum. The Register poll was taken over a four-day period and the newspaper said that in the final two days of that period, Santorum was in second place with 21 percent. Romney stayed the same at 24 percent.

The poll was more bad news for Gingrich, the former House speaker who led the race a few weeks ago but has faded under an onslaught of attack ads from Paul and an outside group that backs Romney.

At a stop in Iowa earlier on Saturday, Gingrich said he would adjust his campaign strategy to respond more forcefully to the attacks.


"We're learning a lot about what our opponents will do. They are nastier and more dishonest than I expected. So we'll have to make some adjustments," Gingrich said in Atlantic, Iowa.

But Gingrich said he would not respond directly to negative ads run by the group that supports Romney.

"We may go to a much more clearer contrast but we're not going to respond in kind," Gingrich said. "Those ads are dishonest and he knows it. They are factually false and he knows it. And we're not doing anything like that."

The candidates rolled across Iowa in buses on Saturday, stopping at coffee shops, restaurants and even a car museum to try to win over doubters and energize supporters to turn out to the caucuses.

In Iowa's quirky caucus system, voters gather to cast ballots in public meetings after listening to pitches on behalf of the candidates.

Paul, known for his libertarian views, is taking the holiday weekend off in Texas before returning to Iowa on Monday.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania with a strong social conservative message, is trying to unite Iowa's influential evangelical Christian voters behind him and score an upset with a surge in the final days.

"If you really want to transform America, it has to be about values, faith and freedom," he told a crowd in Knoxville, Iowa.

Gingrich, along with Santorum, Bachmann and Jon Huntsman, also joined a lawsuit already filed by Perry against Virginia's Board of Elections to qualify for the state's 2012 primary election.

Romney and Paul were the only candidates who managed to submit the required 10,000 verifiable signatures collected by registered voters in the state in order to get on Virginia's ballot for its March 6 primary.

News by Reuters

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Boy escapes from terrorist group after five months in captivity

Kidnapped Boy
A BOY of 14 kidnapped by a terror group linked with al-Qaeda has escaped by fleeing in bare feet through a jungle for two days.

Kevin Lunsmann was missing for five months while Islamic militants made ransom demands to his family.

But he outwitted four armed guards by telling them he was going to wash in a stream, before running away.

Villagers found him the next evening after he followed a river down a mountain on the southern Philippine island of Basilan.

Kevin was flown to the capital Manila and phoned his Filipino-American mum Gerfa, who was in the U.S. She and Kevin’s Filipino cousin Romnick Jakaria were kidnapped with the teenager during a holiday to the country in July.

His mum Gerfa was released by the ­insurgent group in October.

Romnick then managed to escape from the terrorists last month.

Kevin and Gerfa’s family in Virginia had received demands for money to ensure their safe return.

Ransom kidnappings in the region are blamed mostly on Abu Sayyaf, an al-Qaeda-linked group which is ­considered a terrorist organization by the Americans.

News by Mirror