State of emergency, Evacuations, rescues as ‘historic’ floods hit northeastern U.S.

A road is submereged in flood water after heavy rains in Spring Lake, New Jersey, U.S., August 13, 2018, in this still image taken from a veideo obtained from social media. @TheWeatherMstr/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – New Jersey declared a partial state of emergency on Tuesday as forecasts for further heavy rainfall posed new danger in parts of that state, New York, and Pennsylvania, where rescuers hauled people from waterways, flooded cars, and homes.

Following several days of torrential rain throughout the northeastern United States, the National Weather Service issued new warnings for flooding in areas around Binghamton, New York, near the Pennsylvania border, and in New Jersey.

A road is submereged in flood water after heavy rains in Spring Lake, New Jersey, U.S., August 13, 2018, in this still image taken from a veideo obtained from social media. @TheWeatherMstr/via REUTERS

A road is submereged in flood water after heavy rains in Spring Lake, New Jersey, U.S., August 13, 2018, in this still image taken from a veideo obtained from social media. @TheWeatherMstr/via REUTERS

Federal forecasters warned that areas in the region could see as much as 4 inches (10 cm) more rain on Tuesday.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement five of the state’s 21 counties were under a state of emergency, where additional rainfall could further complicate flood cleanup.

“Parts of our state have received nothing less than historic amounts of rain, and some communities received an entire month’s worth in just a few hours,” said Murphy.

The police department in Brick, a town of 75,000 on the Atlantic coast, said on Facebook that residents were barred from returning to 105 homes without a security escort until township officials finished inspecting them.

In Seneca County, New York, emergency crews were evacuating some residents by boat and taking them to a nearby shelter, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

“Flooding is one of the primary killers with regards to weather. It’s not tornadoes. It’s not wind damage,” said Brett Rossio, an Accuweather meteorologist. “It doesn’t take much. Even just a foot of water can pull you away very easily.”

More than 8,000 people had lost power in areas drenched by the storms and the Red Cross said it was operating shelters. It was not immediately clear how many people were in them.

“It’s Mother Nature so it’s a fluid situation, watching where the rain falls and if there’s additional evacuations necessary,” said Jay Bonafede, the Red Cross spokesman.

Both Pennsylvania and New York have already activated their emergency response centers for the storms, which started over the weekend.

Molly Dougherty, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said some people affected by the flooding had been recovering from deluges three weeks ago.

“People are looking at losses of most of their belongings and, in some cases, we’re still concerned about the safety of folks and making sure they’re able to stabilize,” said Dougherty.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone, Susan Thomas, and Bernadette Baum)

‘Four’easter’ pounds U.S. East as Californians wary of mudslides

A woman holds an umbrella as she walks toward the Washington Monument during a snowstorm in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. East’s fourth major snowstorm this month brought heavy snow on Wednesday, snarling flights and commuter travel, closing schools and triggering emergency declarations in several states.

The storm will have passed over the Northeast by dawn Thursday. By then, it will have dumped 8 inches of snow on Philadelphia, 12 inches on New York City, and 17 inches over northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, said Weather Prediction Center meteorologist Marc Chenard.

The storm faded as it reached New England, which received less snow than had been forecast, Chenard said.

The wintry blast on the second day of spring was dubbed “four’easter” by some media outlets because it struck after three previous storms this month. Those nor’easters left nine dead and more than 2 million homes and businesses without power.

While he offered no guarantees, Chenard told Reuters: “At this point, I would say there is a good chance this is the last” Northeast snowstorm for March.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo declared local emergencies for New York City and five nearby counties.

Schools in the largest U.S. school district in New York City will reopen on Thursday after being shut on Wednesday, city officials said.

“Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to go out,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Twitter on Wednesday. Murphy on Tuesday declared a state of emergency as crews cleared roadways and transit bus service was suspended statewide.

Murphy said at least one death was caused by the storm in a traffic crash, NJ.com reported, and the New York Daily News reported that a woman was killed on Long Island in another traffic accident.

Delaware Governor John Carney also declared a state of emergency for Wednesday.

Throughout the East Coast, many other buses and trains, including some Greyhound bus and Amtrak rail routes, that millions of people rely on to commute to and from work and school also canceled service on Wednesday.

With many commuters staying home, New York City’s normally bustling Times Square was sedate.

“We’re not going to let the snow get in the way of our snow day,” said Cheryl Mandelbaum, 30, an elementary school teacher who was taking pictures with a friend, another teacher who had the day off.

Several inches of snowfall in Washington and its suburbs forced the closure of federal government offices, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The office also said federal agencies told workers to arrive two hours later than usual on Thursday, work remotely or take the day off.

Washington schools were also closed, and children in Philadelphia, parts of New Jersey and Pittsburgh also enjoyed a snow day. In Boston, students were told to trudge to school.

The National Weather Service said that farther inland, snow also blanketed parts of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

Airlines scrapped 4,444 flights within, into and out of the United States, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, and 3,206 U.S. flights were delayed.

As the storm ends for the Northeast on Thursday morning, parts of coastal California will be poised for possible mudslides.

About 25,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, Santa Barbara officials said on Wednesday night. The evacuations are called mainly in hillside areas burned by winter wildfires and where in January 21 people were killed in mudslides.

No one had been hurt by Wednesday night, said Kelly Hoover of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, who added that heavy rains were expected from 5 to 11 a.m. on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Alana Wise and Scott DiSavino in New York, Bernadette Baum in Montclair, New Jersey, Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Keith Coffman in Denver, Eric Walsh in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Additional reporting and writing by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Himani Sarkar)

Snow storm pounds U.S. Northeast, closing schools, snarling commutes

A man takes shelter as snow falls in Times Square in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The second winter storm in a week will continue to dump wet, heavy snow on New England on Thursday, forcing schools to close and leaving hundreds of thousands without power as it promised to slow the morning commute across the region.

A foot (30 cm) of snow and fierce wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour (88 km/h) were expected from eastern New York through northern Maine on Thursday after the storm slammed the region on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said in several watches and warnings.

Up to 2 feet of snow accumulation was expected in some inland parts of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts and 18 inches was possible in Maine.

Boston public schools along with dozens of schools throughout New England canceled classes on Thursday as local officials and forecasters warned commuters of whiteout conditions and slick roads.

“With snow removal efforts underway, motorists are asked to stay off roads, stay home and stay safe,” the Boston Police Department said on Twitter.

Amtrak suspended passenger train services between New York City and Boston until at least 10 a.m. local time and canceled dozens of routes on Thursday.

Two dozen flights were already canceled early on Thursday morning after about half of all scheduled flights were canceled at the three major airports serving New York City on Wednesday.

The website said more than 2,100 flights had been delayed and 2,700 canceled, most of them in the Northeast, as of 8 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

The dense snow and strong winds downed trees and power lines, knocking power out for hundreds of thousands in New England and the Mid Atlantic, according to Poweroutage.us, a website that tracks outages.

“4am, no power (no heat), waiting for a text from work to say “we will be closed today”. Fingers crossed!” tweeted Jessica Squeglia in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy ordered many state workers to head home early on Wednesday afternoon at staggered intervals to avoid traffic snarls on slippery roads.

The governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania declared states of emergency, giving them access to support from the U.S. government if needed.

Last week’s storm brought major coastal flooding to Massachusetts, killed at least nine people and knocked out power to about 2.4 million homes and businesses in the Northeast.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Travel snarled, power outages as storm bears down on U.S. Northeast

A woman walks during rain while the New York skyline and the One World Trade Center are seen from Exchange Place in New Jersey, U.S., March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The second winter storm within a week crept into New York and surrounding states on Wednesday, with forecasters predicting intensifying snowfall that could snarl the evening commute as thousands remained without power from the last nor’easter.

Between 4 and 12 inches (10 and 30 cm) of snow were forecast for New York City and the surrounding suburbs in New Jersey and Connecticut through to Thursday morning, with wind gusts creating “near-whiteout conditions” for commuters, the National Weather Service said on Wednesday.

The storm will spread with varying degrees of intensity across the Northeast, from western Pennsylvania up into New England, and officials took precautions.

New York’s three major airlines reported a total of 1,431 canceled flights on Wednesday morning, about 40 percent of their normally scheduled flights.

All schools were closed in Philadelphia while schools across the region canceled classes or shortened the school day ahead of the storm, local news media reported. Schools stayed open in New York City.

This week’s storm was not forecast to have the hurricane-strength winds whipped up at times by the storm last week, but forecasters say strong gusts of 60 miles per hour (96.56 km per hour) and accumulated snow will still be enough to knock down more power lines.

Last week’s storm brought major coastal flooding to Massachusetts, killed at least nine people and knocked out power to about 2.4 million homes and businesses in the Northeast.

Some 100,000 homes and businesses in the region remained without power on Wednesday. A nor’easter is an East Coast storm in which winds blow from the northeast.

The governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania declared states of emergency, giving them access to support from the U.S. government if needed.

The Amtrak passenger train service canceled some Wednesday trains between Washington and Boston, as well as some services in Pennsylvania, New York state and other parts of the Northeast.

The storm got off to an uncertain start in New York City, where the air was damp, and the odd stray snowflake could be spotted, but many early commuters saw no reason to unfurl the umbrellas stashed under their arms.

“I was expecting more than this,” Michelle Boone, 50, said as she waited for a bus to get to her job at a Manhattan homeless shelter. “I’m happy it’s not doing what they said it was going do. This evening could be different, though.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York and Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. top court rejects challenge to California gun waiting period

Firearms are shown for sale at the AO Sword gun store in El Cajon, California, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a blow to gun rights activists, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away a challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases that is intended to guard against impulsive violence and suicides.

The court’s action underscored its continued reluctance to step into the national debate over gun control roiled by a series of mass shootings including one at a Florida school last week. One of the court’s most conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, dissented from the decision to reject the case and accused his colleagues of showing contempt toward constitutional protections for gun rights.

The gun rights groups and individual gun owners who challenged the law had argued that it violated their right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. The challengers did not seek to invalidate California’s waiting period for everyone, just for people who already owned guns and passed a background check.

In his dissent, Thomas scolded his colleagues. “If a lower court treated another right so cavalierly, I have little doubt this court would intervene,” Thomas wrote. “But as evidenced by our continued inaction in this area, the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this court.”

The Supreme Court has not taken up a major firearms case since issuing important gun rulings in 2008 and 2010.

The United States has among the most lenient gun control laws in the world. With the U.S. Congress deeply divided over gun control, it has fallen to states and localities to impose firearms restrictions. Democratic-governed California has some of the broadest firearms measures of any state.

A series of mass shootings including one in which a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school on Feb. 14 have added to the long-simmering U.S. debate over gun control and the availability of firearms.

In another gun case, the high court on Tuesday also declined to take up a National Rifle Association challenge to California’s refusal to lower its fees on firearms sales and instead use a surplus generated by the fees to fund efforts to track down illegal weapons.

Thomas said he suspected that the Supreme Court would readily hear cases involving potentially unconstitutional waiting periods if they involved abortion, racist publications or police traffic stops.

“The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this court’s constitutional orphan. And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message,” Thomas added.

Lead plaintiff Jeff Silvester, the Calguns Foundation and its executive director Brandon Combs, and the Second Amendment Foundation in 2011 challenged the 10-day waiting period between the purchase of a firearm and its actual delivery to the buyer, saying it violated the Second Amendment for individuals who already lawfully own a firearm or are licensed to carry one.

The waiting period gives a gun buyer inclined to use it for an impulsive purpose a “cooling off” period before obtaining it, which has been shown in studies to reduce handgun suicides and homicides, the state said in a legal filing. The waiting period also gives officials time to run background checks and ensure that weapons being sold are not stolen or being purchased for someone prohibited from gun ownership, the state said.

The states of California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, Minnesota, Florida, Iowa, Maryland and New Jersey as well as Washington, D.C., have waiting periods that vary in duration and type of firearm, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gun control advocacy group.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law in 2016, reversing a federal trial court that had ruled it unconstitutional.

Last year, the Supreme Court left in place a California law that bars permits to carry a concealed gun in public places unless the applicant can show “good cause” for having it.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

New Jersey woman raises $325,000 for homeless Samaritan

New Jersey woman raises $325,000 for homeless Samaritan

(Reuters) – A homeless man who spent his last $20 on a New Jersey woman whose car ran out of gas has received more than $325,000 in charitable pledges after she started a fund-raising drive to reward him for his generosity.

Kate McClure, 27, launched a page on GoFundMe.com that had raised $325,420 for the man, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., as of Friday afternoon. The number was rising steadily throughout the day.

Bobbitt describes himself as a 34-year-old former U.S. Marine and paramedic who has been homeless for about a year, according to NJ.com, the website whose story on the encounter helped spark the fundraising interest.

McClure said on the GoFundMe website she was driving on Interstate 95 one night last month when she ran out of gas. She then met Bobbitt, who had been sitting on the side of the road with a panhandling sign.

He told her go back to her car and lock her doors, McClure said.

“A few minutes later, he comes back with a red gas can. Using his last 20 dollars to make sure I could get home safe,” McClure said on GoFundMe.com.

Bobbitt told BBC Radio on Friday that he considered the side of the road an unsafe place for anyone, especially for a woman by herself.

“She just seemed like she needed help,” Bobbitt said. “The situation I’m in, people help me every day. When I have the chance to help someone else, it’s the right thing to do.”

After the highway incident, McClure went back periodically to check on Bobbitt, bringing warm clothes and some cash. Eventually she and her husband decided to start a formal effort to raise money for rent, a car and other expenses until he can find a job.

The fund has grown by thousands of dollars in recent days as widespread media coverage combined with goodwill surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday appeared to have unleashed a groundswell.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Tom Brown)

New Jersey man sentenced for role in Russian uranium bribe scheme

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A New Jersey man was sentenced on Monday to a year and a day in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with his role in arranging bribes for the awarding of contracts with Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Boris Rubizhevsky, 67, of Closter, New Jersey, was sentenced to prison along with three years of supervised release and a $26,500 fine by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang for the District of Maryland, the department said in a statement.

Rubizhevsky pleaded guilty to the money-laundering conspiracy charge in June 2015. He was accused of acting as an intermediary in connection with bribes to co-conspirator Vadim Mikerin, a former nuclear official of Russia’s state-run enterprise Rosatom, the statement said.

Mikerin, former president of a U.S.-based Rosatom subsidiary, pleaded guilty in 2015 to helping orchestrate more than $2 million in bribe payments through secret accounts in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland.

Between October 2011 and February 2013, Rubizhevsky and Mikerin agreed to conceal bribes paid from the United States to overseas bank accounts, including a payment to an account in Latvia, the statement said.

Mikerin was sentenced in December 2015 to 48 months in prison for his role in the money-laundering scheme.

Authorities have said those payments went to Russian nuclear energy officials in exchange for contracts to U.S. companies involved in the shipment of uranium from Russia. Attorneys for Rosatom have said Mikerin acted alone.

Mikerin oversaw the shipment of uranium from Russia for use in American power plants. Much of that material was drawn from decommissioned Russian weapons under an agreement with Washington known as the “Megatons to Megawatts” program, which converted the uranium from thousands of nuclear warheads for civilian use in U.S. nuclear power plants.

At one point, the arrangement fueled 10 percent of U.S. electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Daren Condrey, the former owner of Transport Logistics International, pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiring to make bribe payments to Mikerin in exchange for uranium shipping contracts. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime to bribe overseas officials to win business.

Mikerin’s arrest followed a seven-year investigation that began as a U.S. intelligence probe into Russian nuclear officials, according to court records and people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Additional reporting by Joel Schectman; Editing by Peter Cooney and Lisa Shumaker)

New York City truck attack suspect followed Islamic State plans

Amaya Lopez-Silvero, 20, and Elliot Levy, 21, embrace by a makeshift memorial for victims of Tuesday's attack lay outside a police barricade on the bike path next to West Street a day after a man driving a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path alongside the Hudson River in New York City, New York, U.S.

By Gina Cherelus and Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An Uzbek immigrant suspected of killing eight people in New York City by crashing a truck through a crowd on a bike path followed online plans from Islamic State and left a note saying the militant group would “endure forever,” police said on Wednesday.

Police said they had interviewed Sayfullo Saipov, 29, who is in hospital after an officer shot him, ending the riverfront rampage. They said he appeared to have been planning the attack for weeks and that investigators recovered notes and knives at the scene.

“The gist of the note was that the Islamic State would endure forever,” New York Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller told a news conference. “He appears to have followed almost exactly the instructions that ISIS has put out on its social media channels to its followers.”

The attack was the deadliest on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, when suicide hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, killing more than 2,600 people. A further 12 people were injured, some critically, in Tuesday’s attack.

Similar assaults using vehicles as weapons took place in Spain in August and in France and Germany last year.

Saipov allegedly used a pickup truck rented from a New Jersey Home Depot Inc store to run down pedestrians and bicyclists on the path before slamming into the side of a school bus.

He then exited the vehicle brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun before a police officer shot him in the abdomen.

Saipov reportedly lived in Paterson, New Jersey, a one-time industrial hub about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of lower Manhattan.

 

TRUMP: ‘SEND HIM TO GITMO’

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham urged authorities to treat Saipov as an enemy combatant, a move that would allow investigators to question the man without him having a lawyer present.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would be open to transferring Saipov to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where other suspects including alleged Sept. 11 plotters are held.

“Send him to Gitmo. I would certainly consider that,” Trump told reporters. “We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said that Saipov had been radicalized while living in the United States.

The majority of the 18 Islamic State-inspired attacks carried out in the United States since September 2014 were the work of attackers who developed radical views while living in the United States, said Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, research director at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.

Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 1, 2017.

Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 1, 2017. New York PD/Handout via REUTERS

ARGENTINE FRIENDS AMONG DEAD

Six victims were pronounced dead at the scene and two more at a nearby hospital, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Five of the dead were Argentine tourists, visiting New York as part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, the government there said. Belgium’s foreign minister said a Belgian citizen was also among those killed.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said police will be out in force to protect the city’s marathon on Sunday, one of the world’s top road races, which draws some 51,000 runners and 2.5 million spectators from around the globe.

A pair of ethnic Chechen brothers killed three people and injured more than 260 with homemade bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, memories that were stirred for some runners by Tuesday’s attack.

“It was unsettling to hear the news,” said Neil Gottlieb, 48, who crossed the finish line in Boston shortly before the blasts and plans to run the New York City race on Sunday. “You simply can’t stop a truck and that’s the issue in my mind and my wife’s mind.”

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said his government would do all it could to help investigate the “extremely brutal” attack.

Last week an Uzbekistan citizen living in Brooklyn was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to support Islamic State.

Saipov had not been the subject of any U.S. investigation, Miller said. He had been in contact with a person who was the subject of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe, a U.S. government source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Trump, who has pressed for a ban on travelers entering the United States from some predominantly Muslim countries, criticized the U.S. visa system, blaming Democrats including U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for the diversity visa system that admitted Saipov. He said he wanted a “merit based” immigration program.

“We do not want chain migration, where somebody like him ultimately will be allowed to bring in many, many members of his family,” Trump told reporters.

Schumer shot back at Trump: “Instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, (Trump) should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution, anti-terrorism funding, which he proposed to cut in his most recent budget,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

 

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Melissa Fares in New York, Joseph Ax in Patterson, New Jersey and Mark Hosenball and Tim Ahmann in Washington; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Paul Tait and Bill Rigby)

 

Deadly attack in New York City branded ‘terrorism’ by authorities

Police investigate a pickup truck used in an attack on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S.,

By Gina Cherelus and Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in New York City by driving a rental truck down a riverfront bike path on Tuesday appeared to have acted alone in an attack that bore all the hallmarks of terrorism, authorities said.

The suspect, who was shot by police and arrested moments after the rampage in Lower Manhattan, left a note saying he carried out the attack in the name of the militant Islamic State group, the New York Times and CNN said.

The death toll was lower than from similar assaults in Spain in August and in France and Germany last year. However, it was still the bloodiest single attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, when suicide hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, killing more than 2,600 people.

The suspect allegedly swerved the pickup onto a path filled with pedestrians and bicyclists on a sunny, crisp autumn afternoon, mowing down everyone in his path before slamming into the side of a school bus.

The man then exited the vehicle brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun before a police officer shot him in the abdomen.

Multiple bikes are crushed along a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017.

Multiple bikes are crushed along a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The attack, which left crumpled bicycles scattered along the path and victims writhing on the ground, was over in seconds.

In addition to the eight fatalities at least 11 people were hospitalized for injuries described as serious but not life-threatening. That excluded the suspect, who underwent surgery for gunshot wounds.

Police declined to publicly identify the man, but a source familiar with the investigation said his name was Sayfullo Saipov, 29. He reportedly lived in Paterson, New Jersey, a one-time industrial hub about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of lower Manhattan.

He had rented the pickup from a Home Depot hardware store which, according to media accounts, was located in Passaic, just south of Paterson.

First responders tend to a victim after a shooting incident in New York City

First responders tend to a victim after a shooting incident in New York City October 31, 2017.

ARGENTINE FRIENDS AMONG DEAD

Six victims were pronounced dead at the scene and two more at a nearby hospital, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Five of the dead were Argentine tourists, visiting New York as part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, the government there said. Belgium’s foreign minister said a Belgian citizen was also among those killed.

Despite the attack, thousands of costumed Halloween revelers turned out hours later for New York City’s main Halloween parade, which went on as scheduled on Tuesday night with a heightened police presence just a few blocks away.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said police will be out in force to protect the city’s marathon, which is scheduled for Sunday. “You’ll see a lot of officers with long guns. Other things you won’t see that are protecting us,” he told MSNBC.

A U.S. law enforcement official described the suspect as a U.S. immigrant born in Uzbekistan, a predominantly Muslim country in Central Asia that was once part of the former Soviet Union. CNN and NBC News said he entered the United States in 2010.

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said his government would do all it could to help investigate the “extremely brutal” attack.

Authorities late on Tuesday surrounded a house in Paterson where, according to the New York Times, Saipov was believed to have lived. Paterson, known for its large immigrant population, is home to about 150,000 people, including 25,000 to 30,000 Muslims.

ABC News reported that Saipov had lived in Tampa, Florida. A check of court records related to a traffic citation that Saipov received in eastern Pennsylvania in 2015 showed he listed addresses then in Paterson and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

CNN and other media outlets, citing police officials, reported that the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar” – Arabic for “God is greatest” – when he jumped out of his truck.

Although authorities from the mayor’s office to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security all swiftly branded the attack an act of terrorism, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stressed that the suspect was believed to have acted alone.

The New York Times said investigators quickly recognized Saipov had come to the attention of law enforcement in the past. It cited three officials as saying federal authorities knew of Saipov from an unrelated probe, although it was unclear whether that was because he had ties to someone who was under scrutiny or because he was the target of an investigation.

A damaged school bus is seen at the scene of a pickup truck attack in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

A damaged school bus is seen at the scene of a pickup truck attack in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. Sebastian Sobczak via REUTERS

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, told MSNBC in an interview that authorities were not aware of any other suspects, but that finding any such links would be a priority.

“It’s still I think far too early to say” whether the suspect was radicalized before he came to the United States years ago or shifted once he was already here, or acted on his own rather than at the behest of an organized group, he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pressed for a ban on travelers entering the United States from some predominantly Muslim countries, said on Twitter that he had ordered Homeland Security officials to “step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

He also criticized the U.S. visa system, blaming Democrats and saying that he wanted a ‘merit based’ program for immigrants to the United States.

 

 

(Reporting by Dan Trotta and Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Anna Driver and Barbara Goldberg in New York, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Mark Hosenball and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Paul Tait and Chizu Nomiyama)

 

Maine, New Jersey end state government shutdowns

A "Park Closed" sign is seen at an entrance to Liberty State Park during a partial state government shutdown in Jersey City, New Jersey U.S., July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – New Jersey and Maine ended partial government shutdowns just in time for the Fourth of July holiday on Tuesday, helping New Jersey Governor Chris Christie move past the embarrassment of being photographed on a beach that had been closed to the public.

Both states had suspended non-essential services for three days after failing to reach budget agreements. Their Republican governors signed the budget bills after late-night negotiations with their respective state legislatures.

New Jersey and Maine were two of nine states that had missed their deadlines for enacting budgets in time for the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

Christie signed a $34.7 billion budget measure that included reshaping the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, which covers 3.8 million people in the state.

All state parks and beaches would be open for the Fourth of July holiday and state offices would be open as usual on Wednesday, the governor said.

Christie had remained unapologetic after the Star-Ledger newspaper captured the photos by hiring a plane to fly the New Jersey coastline, showing Christie with family and friends on a state beach on Sunday that was otherwise deserted because of the shutdown.

The scandal became a popular topic on social media with images of Christie in his beach chair superimposed into places such as famous beach scenes in the movies “From Here to Eternity” and “Planet of the Apes.”

Christie played down the kerfuffle.

“If they had flown that plane over the beach and I was sitting next to a 25-year-old blonde in that beach chair next to me, that’s a story,” Christie said.

While states have mostly recovered since the 2007-2009 recession, their revenue growth has not always kept pace with the national economy.

Illinois is in its third year without an enacted budget. In Connecticut and Pennsylvania, lower-than-anticipated income tax collections exacerbated budget gaps and led to disputes over how to close them.

Maine Governor Paul LePage announced on Twitter that he had signed a budget for the fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

“The Maine state government shutdown is now over. Happy Fourth of July!” LePage said.

“I have signed a budget with no tax increase. I thank the House Republicans for standing strong for the Maine people,” he said in a second tweet.Maine state police, parks and offices responsible for collecting revenue had all planned to work through the shutdown, the state’s first since 1991.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Chris Reese)