Monday, October 18, 2010

Barack Obama fights to avert midterm Republican avalanche

Barack Obama tried to recapture the spirit of his 2008 White House election today in a desperate effort to save Democrats facing a Republican avalanche in next month's midterm elections.
Speaking at one of the biggest Democratic rallies since 2008, he reminded the crowd of 35,000 at Ohio State University of all the enthusiasm there had been then, the doors being knocked on, the phone booths manned, election night itself and the inauguration concert, with Beyonce and Bono.
He told them to rekindle that mood and campaign just as hard again now, adding that it was never just about getting him elected. "It was about building a movement for change that lasted for a long time. We will build a movement for change that will last 10 years from now and 20 years from now," he said.
But, with election day just over a fortnight away, his appeal may be too late. An Associated Press poll published today showed a quarter of those surveyed who had backed Obama in the 2008 White House election were considering voting Republican.
The Democratic party campaign leaders, bowing to political reality, are cancelling millions in advertising planned for Congressional candidates they no longer believe are capable of winning, and transferring the cash to shore up seats previously regarded as safe.
The Republicans said yesterday they were expanding each day the number of contests they now see as winnable. They are on course to take control of the House and to reduce the Democratic majority in the Senate to a handful, according to polls. At stake on 2 November are 37 of the 100 US Senate seats, all 435 House seats, and 37 of the 50 governorships.
The chairman of the Republican Senatorial committee, John Cornyn, predicted they might have to wait until 2012. "We're going to fight for every seat we can possibly get," he told Fox News. "I'm not predicting we're going to get back to the majority. It may be a two-cycle process."
With Obama unwilling to trumpet his success in securing health reform and with unemployment hovering around 10%, he has gone negative, playing on fears of the impact of Republican control of Congress, warning of a return to Bush-era politics. One of his main campaign messages is that the Republicans are the beneficiaries of anonymous foreign donations, a claim he has so far failed to prove.
At the university he was joined for the first time on the campaign trail since 2008 by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, who introduced him.
He attacked the Republicans for exploiting the economic crisis, counting on voters "forgetting who caused the mess in the first place". He had been trying to solve the economic mess, but "it doesn't happen as quick as we want".
The AP-Knowledge Networks poll, of 1,254 potential voters published today found that among Democrats surveyed only half of those who voted for Obama in 2008 said they will definitely vote on 2 November, an ambivalence that contrasts with the enthusiasm of Republicans intent on punishing Obama and the Democratic incumbents.
The poll, conducted between 17 September and 7 October, went back to people surveyed in 2008.

Hiker killed by mountain goat in Olympic Nat'l. Park

PORT ANGELES -- A 63-year-old hiker died after he was gored by a mountain goat in Olympic National Park, witnesses say.

The National Park Service says Robert H. Boardman of Port Angeles was hurt Saturday as he hiked near the park's Klahhane Ridge and died hours later at a Port Angeles hospital.
Park rangers then tracked down and killed the animal, which will be analyzed by a veterinary pathologist.
"I am deeply saddened by this tragedy," said Karen Gustin, Olympic National Park superintendent. "My thoughts are with his family and friends."
Officials said this is the only known fatal attack by a mountain goat in the park's history. About 300 mountain goats live in the park.
Barb Maynes, park spokeswoman, said the ram involved in the attack was known for its aggressive behavior, and the park had been monitoring the ram for "the last several years," she said.
Family and friends say Boardman was an experienced hiker, diabetes nurse and musician who loved the Olympic Mountains.
The deadly incident happened when Boardman, his wife, Susan Chadd, and their friend, Pat Willits, had gone for a day hike on the switchback trail to Klahhane Ridge, about 17 miles south of Port Angeles.
Witnesses in the area of the attack were interviewed by the Peninsula Daily News, a KOMO News partner, and gave this account of the deadly encounter:
The threesome had stopped for lunch at an overlook when a goat appeared and moved toward them, said Jessica Baccus, who arrived on the scene at about 1:20 p.m. Saturday.
Baccus, also out for a day hike with her husband and their children, saw Willits, her longtime friend, coming up the trail.
Willits told Baccus that when the goat had begun behaving aggressively, Boardman had urged her and Chadd to leave the scene.
Then Boardman, an experienced hiker, tried to carefully shoo the ram away.
Willits told Baccus that although Boardman tried also to leave, the goat attacked him, goring him in the thigh.
"Nobody saw what actually happened. They heard Bob yell," Baccus said.
The goat stayed, standing over Boardman, who lay on the ground bleeding.
Bill Baccus, a park ranger not on duty but familiar with mountain goat behavior, moved forward with a safety blanket and shook it at the goat, he said.
He also pelted it with rocks, and after what seemed like a long time, "it moved away, but it stayed close by," Jessica Baccus said.
At 1:23 p.m., park rangers called the Coast Guard, while Jessica Baccus began cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Boardman.
At the same time, her husband sought to keep the goat from coming closer again, and kept other hikers away.
After receiving the call, a four-person Coast Guard helicopter crew from Port Angeles that had been headed for Neah Bay turned around, returned to Port Angeles to pick up a litter, and made it to Klahhane Ridge at 1:51 p.m., Lt. Commander Scott Sanborn said.
An emergency medical technician was lowered to administer electric shock in an attempt to revive Boardman.
He had no pulse, Sanborn said, and was lifted into the helicopter. The crew restarted CPR while in the air.
Boardman arrived at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles at 2:47 p.m., where further efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, nursing supervisor Pattijo Hoskins said.
About an hour after the attack, rangers were able to locate the ram, which was about 8 or 9 years old.
They identified the animal after seeing blood on it, then shot and killed it.

Police shoot, kill N.Y. college student

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. — A Pace University varsity football player was shot and killed by police early Sunday in a chaotic bar brawl in Thornwood, N.Y., during the school's homecoming weekend, police said.
The student, Danroy Henry, 20, of Easton, Mass., was allegedly trying to speed away from the scene as police arrived and was shot at by two police officers — one was standing in the way of his car and the other was clinging to the hood.
During the incident, two police officers sustained minor injuries and Henry's front-seat passenger suffered a minor gunshot wound. All three were treated and released from Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y.
"It's horrendous, it's something that I would hope would never have happened here, but unfortunately it did and we'll proceed with a very, very thorough investigation," Mount Pleasant Police Chief Louis Alagno said at a morning press conference.
Alagno would not release several details of the incident, including the names of the officers involved, the names of Henry's two passengers and how many shots were fired. He described the two officers who shot at Henry as veterans with at least five years' experience.
According to a Mount Pleasant police news release, several Mount Pleasant town and Pleasantville, N.Y., village police officers responded at around 1:20 a.m. to a disturbance at a bar at a corner of a strip mall that is a short drive from Pace's campus.
More than 150 people were at the front of the bar and in the parking lot, where sporadic fights broke out even after police arrived, Alagno said. Police approached Henry's vehicle, which was parked in a fire lane. When an officer knocked on the car window, Henry sped off, police said.
A Pleasantville officer tried stopping the vehicle, but Henry accelerated into him and the cop ended up on the hood of the car, police said.
While still clinging onto the hood as the car continued to accelerate, the Pleasantville officer shot at Henry, the release stated. The vehicle continued down the fire lane, moving directly toward another Mount Pleasant officer, who also fired at the vehicle, which finally hit a Mount Pleasant police cruiser and came to a stop.
Alagno said investigators believe the Pleasantville officer fired the fatal shot.
Henry and his front-seat passenger were transported to Westchester Medical Center, where Henry was pronounced dead and the male passenger was treated for a "minor gunshot wound," the release stated. The passenger was not a Pace student, a Pace spokesman said.
Alagno said he spoke with Henry's parents after the incident.
"They're extremely distraught. I expressed my deepest sympathies for their loss," he said.
The Mount Pleasant officer who fired at Henry will be put on administrative duty, Alagno said, but he added that none of the other officers were yet facing modified duty or suspension.
Pace released a statement Sunday, saying, "We extend the deepest sympathies of our community to Mr. Henry's family and friends. We are working with the police investigation and as appropriate will share more information when it becomes available."
A campus-only vigil was planned for 9 p.m. Sunday night.
Pace freshman Kelly Van Wort said she was leaving the bar with friends when she heard what she said sounded like four gunshots.
At first, she said, "I didn't think it was gunshots, I just thought I was hearing things. ... But the minute we left, people started calling and texting like, 'Oh my God, they just shot Danroy,' freaking out."
She said Henry had been a designated driver.
"I don't know why they shot him at all," she said. "I figure when cops shoot at somebody, there's a reason for it, like to get somebody to back off. But to shoot him four times, that's a little unnecessary. ... Someone told me he hit one of the cops. I don't think someone deserves to die for that."

Plane Crash on Long Island Kills One

A small, single-engine airplane apparently attempting an emergency landing crashed on a Long Island street Sunday, killing one passenger and seriously injuring the pilot and two other occupants, authorities said.
The cause of the 9 a.m. crash is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration, but Suffolk County police believe the pilot was trying to land the aircraft on East Carmans Road in East Farmingdale after experiencing engine failure.
The 1969 Marchetti propeller plane had taken off from Republic Airport and was rounding back toward the runway for a practice landing—a touch-and-go maneuver where the pilot allows the landing gear to touch the tarmac and immediately lifts off again, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said.
Less than a mile from the runway, the pilot requested permission from the control tower for a low approach, Mr. Peters said. The controller asked the pilot, identified as Gus Halouvas, if there was anything wrong but Mr. Halouvas gave no indication of trouble.
"There was no mayday, no distress call," Mr. Peters said.
It was then that the engine apparently gave out and the plane clipped a tree and a fence before striking four parked cars and crashing, sending debris onto a nearby lawn, police said.
"Two seconds felt like a whole hour-long movie," said Robert Arroyo, 54, who witnessed the crash through his window while smoking a cigarette. Mr. Arroyo and several passersby removed the occupants from the airplane, at one point using a knife to cut a jammed seatbelt off a victim.
Mr. Arroyo said fuel was gushing from the craft and his concern was to get the occupants out, fearing a fire would ignite. Police said when rescuers arrived, the victims were out of the plane and firefighters doused the leaking fuel with fire-retardant foam.
Christina Guardado, 29, who lives on East Carmans Road, said the plane crash produced a "crazy noise, tons of banging."
"After it stopped, everything was silent," she said.
Relatives said the four men, who had formed a bond over a passion for flying, were returning from their usual Sunday routine—taking brunch at a café inside a small Duchess County airport roughly 100 miles from Republic Airport.
The trip to the Perfect Landing Café in was usually made in Ed Cerverizzo's small aircraft or, as was the case this Sunday, in the airplane owned by his buddy and fellow pilot, Mr. Halouvas.
Relatives said the group had likely taken advantage of the clear conditions practice landing and taking off.
Mr. Cerverizzo, 75, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Massapequa, where he was pronounced dead at 9:45 a.m., police said. Mr. Halouvas, 55, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow with spinal injuries. Passenger William Mancusi, 83, was taken to the same hospital, where he was treated for cuts to his face.
Charles Bianculli, 61, was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where was listed in critical condition, police said.
"I'm not surprised they were practicing," said Mike Cerverizzo, Mr. Cerverizzo's son. "It was a nice, nice day. Good day to practice touch and goes."
The four men were known at the café, situated in Sky Acres Airport in Lagrangeville, N.Y., coming in every Sunday for brunch at the popular hangout for airmen.
Cindy Anderson, 52, the owner of the café, described them as "very friendly" men who sat at the same table on every visit. "This is really sad," she said. "Those…guys were here every single Sunday."
Mr. Cerverizzo was a licensed pilot for more than 30 years and kept a small plane at Republic Airport, his family said. He started a family business installing fences and passed it on to his son and was meticulous about safety.
"If there's one thing my dad was, he was Mr. Safety," said Mike Cerverizzo, 47. "You couldn't get into his plane without the safety lecture."
He was still energetic at 75, finding it difficult to stay still during retirement. "He was the kind of guy who would say I'm taking the day off and go into work with sneakers on, just a fair honest man," his son said.
His daughter, Margaret Cerverizzo, 49, said: "He loved [flying], so if he had to die in any way, this is what he'd want."
The FAA spokesman said his agency was gathering facts on Sunday but because of the fatality and serious injuries, the National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Merkel says German multiculturalism has failed

(Reuters) - Germany's attempt to create a multicultural society has "utterly failed," Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarising her conservative camp.

Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims.

"This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed," Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.

Merkel faces pressure from within her CDU to take a tougher line on immigrants who don't show a willingness to adapt to German society and her comments appeared intended to pacify her critics.

She said too little had been required of immigrants in the past and repeated her usual line that they should learn German in order to get by in school and have opportunities on the labour market.

The debate over foreigners in Germany has shifted since former central banker Thilo Sarrazin published a book accusing Muslim immigrants of lowering the intelligence of German society.

Sarrazin was censured for his views and dismissed from the Bundesbank, but his book proved highly popular and polls showed a majority of Germans agreed with the thrust of his arguments.

Merkel has tried to accommodate both sides of the debate, talking tough on integration but also telling Germans that they must accept that mosques have become part of their landscape.

She said on Saturday that the education of unemployed Germans should take priority over recruiting workers from abroad, while noting Germany could not get by without skilled foreign workers.

In a weekend newspaper interview, her Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) raised the possibility of lowering barriers to entry for some foreign workers in order to fight the lack of skilled workers in Europe's largest economy.

"For a few years, more people have been leaving our country than entering it," she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. "Wherever it is possible, we must lower the entry hurdles for those who bring the country forward."

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) says Germany lacks about 400,000 skilled workers.

Yet Horst Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the CDU's sister party, has rejected any relaxation of immigration laws and said last week there was no room in Germany for more people from "alien cultures.

(Writing by Sarah Marsh; editing by Noah Barkin)

Rasmussen Predicts GOP Gain of 55 in House

John Gizzi is Political Editor of HUMAN EVENTS (writing this topic)
Newport Beach, Calif.—Nationally-recognized pollster Scott Rasmussen last night predicted that Republicans would gain 55 seats in races for the U.S. House of Representatives November 2—much more than the 39 needed for a Republican majority in the House for the first time since 2006.

But the man whose Rasmussen Reports polling is watched carefully by politicians and frequently quoted by the punditocracy said that whether Republicans gain the ten seats they need to take control of the Senate is in question.

“Republicans should have 48 seats [after the elections next month], Democrats 47, and five seats could slide either way,” said Rasmussen in his banquet address at the Western Conservative Political Action Conference. He was referring to seats in five states in which the Senate race this year he considers too close to call: California, Illinois, Washington, West Virginia, and Nevada (or “that mudwrestling contest,” as Rasmussen described the race between Republican Sharron Angle and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid).

In recent years, Rasmussen has gained widespread attention for being the first to forecast Scott Brown’s dramatic win in the special Massachusetts Senate race in January (the major networks never knew it was a competitive race until the weekend before the election) and the political vulnerability among Pennsylvania Republicans of Sen. Arlen Specter (who later switched to Democrat and lost his new party’s primary in May of this year).

Rasmussen also brought out some intriguing survey figures regarding the economy for the Western CPAC crowd at the Radisson Hotel here in Newport Beach.

Noting that the top three issues this election year are “one-the economy, two-the economy, and three-the economy,” Rasmussen said his polls show overwhelming support among voters nationwide for cutting spending, taxes, and the deficit.

“And by two-to-one, voters say they prefer a congressman who will reduce overall spending to one who promises to bring a ‘fair share’ of government spending to their congressional district,” the veteran pollster said, adding that a plurality of Texas voters backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent decision to turn down federal dollars a program because federal strings were attached to it.

The Republicans’ strong position three weeks before midterm elections began, Rasmussen recalled, “when every Republican [in the House] said they would oppose the stimulus package. That’s when the generic ballot [showing support for Republican and Democrat candidates nationwide] started to go up.” He also noted that support fell dramatically for the Democratic health care reform bill “when the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] figures showed it would cost more than a trillion dollars.
And support for it never recovered.”

Voter nervousness about the economy, Rasmussen noted, is clear in the declining number of people he finds who feel their own finances are “in good order.” Two years ago, he recalled, 43% of Americans felt their finances were in good order, 38% felt this way the day Barack Obama was elected, and 35% felt that way on the day he took office as President.

“At the beginning of the year, that figure dropped to 32%,” he added, “and today, it is down to 30%.” Rasmussen also said that more than half of homeowners are “unsure if their home is worth more than their mortgage.”

Noting how he periodically polls about different terms—conservative and liberal, for example—Rasmussen said that the term packing the most response is “tea party.”

“It generates the strongest reaction, both positive and negative, among voters,” he concluded, “It’s a defining force.”