Storm’s death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria’s devastating passage across the island.

A group of anxious mayors arrived in the capital to meet with Gov. Ricardo Rossello to present a long list of items they urgently need. The north coastal town of Manati had run out of fuel and fresh water, Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez said.

“Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity,” he said, crying. “We need someone to help us immediately.”

The death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico was at least 10, including two police officers who drowned in floodwaters in the western town of Aguada. That number was expected to climb as officials from remote towns continued to check in with officials in San Juan.

Authorities in the town of Vega Alta on the north coast said they had been unable to reach an entire neighborhood called Fatima, and were particularly worried about residents of a nursing home.

“I need to get there today,” Mayor Oscar Santiago told The Associated Press. “Not tomorrow, today.”

Rossello said Maria would clearly cost more than the last major storm to wallop the island, Hurricane George in September 1998. “This is without a doubt the biggest catastrophe in modern history for Puerto Rico,” he said.

A dam upstream of the towns of Quebradillas and Isabela in northwest Puerto Rico was cracked but had not burst by Saturday afternoon as the water continued to pour out of rain-swollen Lake Guajataca. Federal officials said Friday that 70,000 people, the number who live in the surrounding area, would have to be evacuated. But Javier Jimenez, mayor of the nearby town of San Sebastian, said he believed the number was far smaller.

Secretary of …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

McCain’s choice: Ailing senator plays spoiler again for GOP

WASHINGTON John McCain faced a choice that balanced friendship, party loyalty and his convictions. He made the decision some of his closest advisers expected.

Looking at the twilight of his career and a grim cancer diagnosis, the Republican senator from Arizona who prides himself on an independent streak could not be moved to go along with a last-ditch GOP push to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Those close to him say he wrestled with the choice the legislation was championed by his best friend in the Senate but rarely strayed from his intention to send a message to the institution where he’s spent three decades.

That message was bipartisanship and what he cast as the integrity of the Senate process that insists on debate and often yields compromise. The call for “regular order” isn’t the stuff of campaign bumper stickers, but it has become McCain’s mission since he’s returned to Washington, to keep up his work and treatment for an often fatal brain tumor.

“If he supported this, then he guts his whole message that he’s been trying to give his colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans,” said Rick Davis, who managed McCain’s two presidential campaigns and remains close to the lawmaker.

Davis said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., “made his pitch” to his longtime friend, but McCain was motivated by “his drive to move the Senate toward more comity and bipartisanship.”

McCain’s decision probably will kill the bill and crush the GOP’s hopes for repealing the Obama health law this year. Republicans have tried to go it alone in overhauling the Affordable Care Act, speeding two attempts at passage along with minimal hearings and debate.

McCain’s statement declaring his opposition to the legislation Friday was the second time he derailed the effort.

In July, bearing a fresh surgery scar over his left eye, McCain scolded …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

Site C dam project draws criticism at Vancouver public input session

Critics of an $8.8-billion dam project in British Columbia voiced concerns over the long-term costs of the project during the first in a series of public input session.

The province’s new NDP government directed the BC Utilities Commission to review the economic viability of the Site C hydroelectric dam project that was initiated by the former Liberal premier Christy Clark.

Galen Armstrong with the Sierra Club BC says although the dam will be located on the Peace River in the northeast region of the province, everyone will be paying for it in the years to come through increased hydro rates.

The utilities commission released a preliminary report Tuesday that said $1.8 billion was already spent on construction by June 30 and the cost of cancelling the project would amount to $1.1 billion.

But Armstrong says those costs don’t suggest the project is past the point of no return, as it represents a fraction of the total project cost, and its cancellation would spare the environmental implications of flooding rich agricultural land.

Ten more public input sessions are scheduled across the province in the coming weeks and a final report is expected to be delivered to the government on Nov. 1.

…read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun