News United States
Tsunami warning issued for at least 50 areas after
of a tsunami prompted the U.S. National Weather
Service to issue a warning for at least 50 countries
and territories after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake
struck Japan Friday.
wide-ranging list includes Russia and Indonesia,
Central American countries like Guatemala, El
Salvador and Costa Rica and the U.S. state of
Hawaii. The weather service's bulletin is intended
"as advice to government agencies."
which struck near the coast of Honshu, Japan on
Friday afternoon, unleashed a wall of water that
rushed in toward land, leveling houses and bashing
cars in its path.
officials feared that the fast-moving waves from a
tsunami could be so high that they wash over entire
islands in the Pacific, a spokesman for the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies said Friday.
saying that it could be anywhere from 4 to 10
meters. That's higher than some of the Pacific
islands are above sea level. We just have to do the
calculations to see that this is a real threat,"
federation spokesman Paul Conneally said.
situation like this, we have to prepare for the
worst case scenario," he added.
Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said
even though waves could cause significant flooding,
"washing over islands is not going to happen."
waves can travel at speeds of 800 kilometers per
is more than one wave, and the waves can be
separated by 20 minutes or half an hour. So just
because you see a wave come up and then go back in
the ocean again, that doesn't mean it's over," Fryer
sounded in Hawaii around 10 p.m. Thursday (3 a.m.
ET), warning residents they could expect tsunami
waves five hours later.
Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center early Friday
issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas along the
United States and Canadian west coasts. The tsunami
warning includes coastal areas of California and
Oregon from Point Conception to the
Oregon-Washington border. It also includes coastal
areas of Alaska from Amchitka Pass to Attu.
Philippines, the government has evacuated 20 coast
areas. A tsunami could could hit by 6 p.m. (5 a.m.
ET), it said.
the regional government in eastern Taiwan's Taitung
county canceled classes and work, but did not
immediately begin evacuations.
Emergency Situations Ministry said more than 11,000
people living in dangerous areas had been evacuated
after a tsunami warning was issued for the Kuril
Islands. Ships docked in open ports were heading
back out to sea to avoid being hit by tsunami waves,
the ministry said.
McCreary of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said
officials estimated the quake was already causing
waves with magnitudes of up to 2 meters above normal
"This is a
very large earthquake. We've evaluated it as about
the same size as the earthquake last year in Chile.
However, it's much closer to the Hawaiian islands
than the Chile earthquake," he said.
Weather Service list includes Japan, Russia, the
Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia,
Fiji, Mexico, New Zealand, Guatemala, El Salvador,
Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Chile,
Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and the United States.
Pacific islands, including some U.S. territories,
are also on the list.
8.9-magnitude temblor in Japan was the largest
earthquake since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck
the Banda Aceh area of Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004,
causing a massive tsunami that killed about 250,000
people in 14 countries and washed away entire
communities. The tsunami caused nearly $10 billion
in damage and more casualties than any other tsunami
in history, according to the United Nations.
earthquake, initially reported as a 7.8 earthquake,
was upgraded to an 8.9 quake.
"When you jump a magnitude from
7 to 8, it's not 10 times stronger, it's 1000 times
stronger," said CNN International meteorologist Ivan
Cabrera. "With an ... earthquake that shallow, that
close to shore, there will be more than one
Senate passes union curbs as protesters rally
in the Wisconsin state Senate approved sweeping
curbs on collective bargaining by public employees
on Wednesday in an abrupt and accelerated vote that
caught many Democrats by surprise.
added to the already bitter political atmosphere in
Wisconsin over the fight, and dozens of protesters
flooded the Capitol in the evening following the
vote, ignoring announcements from police that the
building was closed.
The ground floor and first floor
appeared nearly as full as they were during the first days of the demonstrations
more than three weeks ago, and protesters stayed in the Capitol defiantly
chanting "recall" and "Whose house? Our house!"
Outside the Assembly chamber, House
Minority Leader Peter Barca allowed protesters to fill out forms listing
themselves as witnesses to a violation of the state's open meetings laws
stemming from the Republicans' earlier conference committee meeting.
The move by the Wisconsin Senate will
increase the anxiety of union workers nationwide, who face similar efforts to
roll back public employee power in a number of other states.
The bill, which also increases the
health care and pension costs for workers and was the most controversial part of
newly elected Governor Scott Walker's emergency budget repair bill, now heads
for the Republican-controlled state Assembly, where quick passage as early as
Thursday is all but assured.
By stripping out the sections of
Walker's bill that involved appropriating funds, the Senate Republicans were
able to work around the legislative roadblock their 14 Democratic colleagues
threw up three weeks ago when they fled the state to deny the Republicans a
In an 18-to-1 vote, the Senate approved
the curbs on collective bargaining by public employees.
Republican Walker insists the limits are
needed to help the state's cash-strapped municipalities deal with a projected
$1.27 billion drop in aid over the next two years from the state, struggling to
close its own $3.6 billion budget gap.
The measure has prompted massive
demonstrations in the state capital by the bill's opponents and triggered a wave
of recall campaigns targeting both the governor's supporters and opponents in
What began a month ago as a Republican
effort in one small U.S. state to balance the budget has now turned into a
confrontation with unions that could be the biggest since then President Ronald
Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers nearly 30 years ago.
If the plan is approved as expected in
Wisconsin, a number of other states where Republicans swept to victory in the
2010 elections could follow. Legislatures including those in Ohio, Indiana,
Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, and Kansas have already been working on union curbs of
The stakes are high for labor because
more than a third of U.S. public employees such as teachers, police and civil
service workers belong to unions while only 6.9 percent of private sector
workers are unionized. Unions are the biggest single source of funding for the
Walker, 43, applauded the move, which
came despite signs, including public opinion polls, that a growing number of
Wisconsinites don't back the measure.
Walker never mentioned the proposal on
his official campaign website nor debated it during his two-year campaign. It
reverses long-standing policy in Wisconsin, among the first states to give
public employees union rights.
"The Senate Democrats have had three
weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home,
which they refused," Walker said in a statement.
But Wisconsin Democrats blasted the
move, whose speed seemed to surprise the missing Senators.
"In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid
50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of
Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten," Senate
Minority Leader Mark Miller said.
Miller and other Senate members said
they would now be coming back to the state and continuing the fight.
"We have no reason to remain away and
when the Assembly acts on the bill tomorrow we will be back in the state within
a matter of hours," Democratic Senator Jim Holperin told Reuters in a telephone
"We did what we could to delay the bill
so people could know what was in it and to try to negotiate something less than
the complete elimination of workers' rights."
Democrats say Walker is taking advantage
of the state's current financial problems to attack organized labor --
traditionally a strong supporter of the Democratic Party and a critical player
in any effort by Democrats to recover from the setbacks they suffered in the
midterm elections last fall and to keep President Barack Obama in the White
House in 2012.
Immediately upon being sworn as governor
in this January, Walker convened a special session of the legislature to pass
what he called a budget repair bill. Buried inside were the provisions slashing
public employee union rights.
By stripping out the fiscal fixes in the
bill and considering just the collective bargaining portions, the Senate
Republicans were able to pass the measure on Wednesday without the absent
The Senate measure requires public
workers to pay health care premiums and contribute to their pensions --
concessions the workers had signaled they would accept if the collective
bargaining restrictions were removed.
A conference committee made up of
Republican members of the legislature on Wednesday separately approved a revised
budget repair bill over the objections of Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca,
who called the meeting a violation of state law.
Obama budget has $556 billion, six-year transport
Barack Obama on Monday proposed an ambitious
long-term transport spending plan in his 2012 budget
as a way to boost U.S. economic competitiveness and
spur job growth.
cutting other spending, Obama aggressively
accelerated efforts to upgrade aging roads, bridges
and introduce high-speed rail with a six-year, $556
about a big vision, a bold vision, an innovative
vision," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told
The total is
60 percent richer than the last transportation
blueprint enacted by Congress, which expired in
working on its own transportation spending
priorities with proposals expected soon. LaHood
expressed optimism recently legislation could be
approved this year.
In a sign of
the intense opposition to Obama's transportation
policies, House of Representatives Republicans on
Friday proposed eliminating Obama's high-speed
passenger rail effort.
hold the majority in the House and are seeking deep
cuts across the board to narrow the budget deficit,
which is forecast to reach $1.48 trillion this
proposal relies heavily on competitive grants and
sidesteps earmarks in order to depoliticize how
projects are financed. According to LaHood, the plan
will consolidate 55 smaller highway programs into
five different areas.
does all that I've talked about in bold terms ...
without passing any debt on to future generations,"
LaHood said, adding the federal government will
ensure "the dollars we give out do not exceed
dollars coming in."
department documents, the proposal's high price
would be paid by a "Transportation Trust Fund."
Essentially, the administration would expand the
current Highway Trust Fund to also back transit,
high-speed rail, and a national infrastructure bank.
But LaHood said Obama has not suggested where to
find revenues for the bigger account.
Obama is not
seeking to raise gasoline taxes nor does he embrace
calls by some experts to charge motorists a fee for
each mile they drive.
includes a $53-billion proposal to advance
high-speed rail over six years and a proposal to
spend nearly 17 percent of the overall $556 billion
transportation package in the first year.
also create an infrastructure bank capitalized at
$30 billion over six years to finance the biggest
projects with the help of states and private
the infrastructure bank idea last year, but it got a
cool reception in Congress and a government poll
released this summer showed analysts, transportation
agencies and states' leaders were unclear about how
it would operate.
Obama's plan the bank would reside within the
Transportation Department and be run by an executive
director and a board of officials from federal
agencies. At first, it would only finance
Electric Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said last month
that prospects are slim for an infrastructure bank,
because of deficit concerns.
of an infrastructure bank have said investments from
private equity and pension funds and other sources
would complement federal capital. Projects could
generate revenue through tolls or other fees that
would provide long-term, low-yield returns for
Macquarie Group is the global leader in private
infrastructure investment, according to
Infrastructure Investor magazine rankings. Others
include Goldman Sachs and Alinda Capital Partners,
the largest U.S. manager of pension funds for
Society of Civil Engineers estimates it will cost
more than $2 trillion to bring roads, bridges, and
other infrastructure to a state of good repair.
spending would potentially benefit companies like
heavy equipment makers Caterpillar Inc and Deere &
Co, sand and gravel producer Vulcan Materials,
industrial conglomerate General Electric,
engineering firm Parsons Corp, steelmakers and
prefabricated materials manufacturers. LaHood is
scheduled to visit Caterpillar on Tuesday.
transport bill, a five-year, $285 billion package,
expired in September 2009. Since then, Congress has
funded road and transit projects through short-term