Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on September 23, 2005 · 4
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Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada · 4

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Friday, September 23, 2005
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4
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WORLD A4 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2005 EDMONTON JOURNAL HURRICANE RITA ON THE WAY Texans take no chances; flee storm early Traffic in massive gridlock as far as 160 km north of Houston SHELDON ALBERTS CanWest News Service GALVESTON, TEXAS Efforts to evacuate millions of Texans from the path of hurricane Rita turned chaotic Thursday as fleeing residents created massive gridlock across much of the state, an unexpected pre-storm crisis that left elderly evacuees stranded for hours on overheated buses and forced hundreds of frustrated drivers to abandon their cars when they ran out of gasoline. The island city ofGalveston, oneofthe most vulnerable communities on the Gulf Coast, was a virtual ghost town after almost all of its 60,000 residents heeded a mandatory evacuation order. But the trip inland for them and close to two million other evacuees quickly turned into a nightmare. The line of backed-up traffic stretched 160 kilometres north of Houston, with the drive to cities such as San Antonio and Dallas taking as long as 16 hours. In Houston, Mayor Bill White pleaded for state and federal government help to airlift supplies of gasoline to freeway rest stops so desperate motorists could refuel. He warned residents of his city the fourth-largest in the United States to ride out the storm at home unless they lived in low-lying and vulnerable areas in flood plains and near Galveston Bay. Highways a possible death trap "If the hurricane comes in a particular way or at a particular angle, being on the highway is a death trap," White said. "We know a lot of people have run out of gas on the highways, and we need to get fuel to those people as soon as we can." The traffic calamity came with hurricane Rita taking dead aim at the northern Texas coast, near the Louisiana border, as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm. It had sustained winds Thursday of 230 kilometres per hour and was slightly weaker than when gusts peaked at 280 kilometres per hour earlier in the day. At the time, Rita was the third most-intense hurricane in history, stronger even than hurricane Katrina. Hurricane-force winds extend 160 kilometres from the eye of the storm and will begin battering die Texas and Louisiana coasts later this afternoon. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Rita was turning further north than expected, easing concerns of a direct hit on Houston and Galveston, but causing alarm in Louisiana. The fragile city of New Orleans almost dry after weeks of flooding was under a tropical storm watch and engineers were furiously trying to strengthen levees that had collapsed during Katrina. WORLD Schroeder and Merkel fail to form gov't Berlin German conservative leader Angela Merkel and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder failed to resolve their battle over who should lead the country's new government, but agreed to meet again to explore forming a right-left coalition to steer efforts to revive Europe's largest economy. Both Merkel and Schroeder have laid claim to building Germany's next government after neither party won a .clear majority in elections Sunday, leaving the country, the world's third-largest economy, in political crisis. Influential cleric to back Iraqi constitution Baghdad Iraq's most influential Shi-ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sis-tani, will issue a religious ruling instructing Shiites to vote in favour of the country's draft constitution in a referendum planned for Oct 15, one of his aides said Thursday. The aide, who works in al-Sistanfs office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said the ayatollah told him he would issue the fatwa within the next several days. Al-Sistanfs support of the constitution, written largely by Shiite lawmakers, is not surprising, but the wording described for the fatwa is more direct than was anticipated and suggests he could have concerns that it will not pass on its own. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said the announcement should come from al-Sistani. Plot to bomb mosque lands Jewish man in jail to$ Angeles A former Jewish Defense League member who admitted plotting to bomb a mosque and the field office of an Arab-American con t f " " ' Zl r I r , Mmm' i 1 .. v -.am,, t mm t i rt k r A Houston resident waits on the road to Dallas as thousands in cars evacuate ahead of hurricane Rita on Thursday. Stormy hurricane season running short of names TOM SPEARS Ottawa Citizen While ordinary people worry about losing their homes to hurricane Rita, academics in weather offices are worried by another aspect They're running out of hurricane names for 2005. Hurricane season lasts six months, until Nov. 30. This one is not even two-thirds finished yet. And we've had so many storms the official list of names for this year only has four names left Since hurricane names run alphabetically and never start with Q, U,X, Yor Z, the remaining names on this year's list are Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma. They use up a name from each year's list as soon as a tropical storm forms in the Atlantic, even if it never reaches hurricane force. Tropical storm Philippe is out there now. The U.S. National Hurricane Center Eager to avoid mistakes made in emergency relief efforts after Katrina, officials in Texas hoped to avoid more hurricane-related misery by ordering mass evacuations from flood-prone regions well in advance of Rita's landfall. But the urgent appeals, combined with a heightened sense of anxiety among residents, were so successful that tens of DIGEST gressman was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison. Eari Krugel, a 62-year-old dental technician from Los Angeles, apologized for his actions, telling the court they were "dangerous, wrong and illegal and for that I am sorry " But U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew said he did not buy Krugel's claim that he was a changed man. Lew assailed him for "promoting hatred in the most vile way" and sentenced him to the maximum provided under federal guidelines. Krugel was charged in the plot in 2001 along with JDL leader Irv Rubin, 57, who committed suicide while in custody. Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian in West Bank Jerusalem Israeli soldiers shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian on Thursday when he entered an army base being dismanded in the northern West Bank where four Israeli set-dements were evacuated last month. The army later vacated the base, ending its permanent presence in the area of the former settlements, near the town of Jenin. A military spokeswoman said the army would continue to operate patrols in the region. Palestinians said Ala Khantuli, 19, was shot as he entered the base with other youths to scavenge for scrap metal hours before the Israelis left Lt-CoL Shmuel Kalmi said the youth was in a group who went into the Dotan base and ignored orders to halt "The Palestinians broke into two groups and ran into the camp. We feared they could be terrorists with explosive belts and fired at their legs" Kalmi said one of the youths was hit in the shoulder as he bent down. The youth later died. He said soldiers had dispersed about 500 Palestinians who had gathered near the base Wednesday. Li has never run out of names in a season. (They came close once, reaching Tammy.) But David Phillips of Environment ' Canadasaysthiscouldeasilybetheyear when they finally blow through the whole list "My gosh, already up to Rita! We're still in September, so there's a good chance" of finishing the year's list, the senior climatologist said. And storms do form well into the fall: "Not last year, but the year before that there even were two in December." Unfortunately the number of hurricanes so far in 2005 is no help in estimating how many may be left, he said. "Lastyear, the season started late and then we had a flurry of activity." Then it suddenly stopped. So what to do? There's a protocol. After Wilma, the World Meteorological Organization de- thousands of people in less-threatened areas of the state packed up their cars and hit the highways. "We have never called for an evacuation of Houston," said Robert Eckels, the judge of Harris County, which encompasses the city. "There is no point if you are not in flood zone to get out of there and get caught in this traffic." Reports of voting irregularities surface following Afghan elections KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN Allegations ofballot-box stuffing, multiple voting, security lapses and influence peddling are casting a pall over Afghanistan's Sunday election. "We heard that in Spin Boldak nearly 40,000 female voters cast ballots and that is impossible," Kamal Perera of the Asian Network for Free Elections said Thursday. "There was apparendy ballot stuffing ... there are not that many women in Spin Boldak," said Perera, a Bangkok native whose organization helped monitor the election. More than 10,000 candidate representatives and a half-dozen foreign monitoring organizations stationed themselves at thousands of polling stations during Afghanistan's first election in three decades. They recorded complaints of many things amiss. One of the worst-alleged violations was in Spin Boldak, a town on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan that has served as a gateway for Taliban insurgents moving between the two countries. UiKonfirmed reports indicate that some ballot boxes went missing when polls there closed at 4 p.m. Sunday. When the boxes re-appeared, the five numbered seals specified by the Joint Electoral Management Body secured their tops and flaps covering the slots where voters inserted ballots. Something wasn't right however. Ballots were stacked neady inside some boxes, as if the tops of the boxes had been opened and large bundles had been placed inside. The Electoral Complaints Cbrnmission (ECO, a UN-funded agency, has also heard complaints that some candidates bought voter registration cards, then handed them out to supporters. "We have a report of one candidate who was paying 100 Pakistan rupees j-ie ft crees that we go back to the beginning of the alphabet, but in Greek. Hurricanes Alpha, Beta and so on. People care, oddly, about whetheryou name the hurricanes that mow down their homes. In Florida a massive storm in the early 1990s happened in March, well outside hurricane season. People were mad it wasn't called an official hurricane, since it certainly acted like one. Coverage the following morning in the St. Petersburg Times began this way: "The storm had no name. But few will forget its angry face." Hurricanes were once named only for women. In 1979 officials adopted six lists of male and female names, rotating through one list each year. Names of monster hurricanes like Katrina and Camille are retired and replaced. The 2006 list begins with Alberto, Beryl, Chris and Debby. Canwest News Service At least one Canadian man said Thursday he was staying put. Chris Martin, a former Calgary resident now living in Houston, said he has boarded up his home and is prepared to wait out the violent storm's wrath. "Fm surrounded in plywood," said Martin. "We're living in Fort Knox right now." With business ties running deep be 3 J jl 1 3 in Afghanistan to use a person's voting card," said Saved Ahmed, secretary for the ECCs Kandahar Province office. "We are getting complaints from many places but Spin Boldak was the worst" The ECC will be scrutinizing 22 pages of voter registration card numbers from Spin Boldak. Those pages were supposedly filled out at the polls as voters presented registration cards and picked up their ballots. It appears some or all of those pages may have been filled out prior to Sunday's election, Ahmed said. Election officials also received reports of people with multiple voter registration cards. "One voter had three cards," Perera said. "He said he got them during the registration period by going from one registration office to another." Even with multiple registration cards, it shouldn't have been possible to vote more than once. When a voter received a ballot at the polling station that voter's finger was dipped in a bottle of indelible ink. Anyone with an inked finger couldn't vote again at least in theory. MORE WORLD NEWS German brothel opens in time for soccer tournament A15 Gas unwelcome in seminaries B12 Europe lukewarm over car-free day E9 tween oil-rich Alberta and Texas the heart of America's energy industry hundreds of people from Alberta have moved to work in the southern state. Some 30,000 Canadians are in Texas at any one time. Betty Roberson, 44, and her mother, 62-year-old Nina Cummings, were stuck on a school bus headed north from Galveston to a Huntsville shelter. There was no air conditioning and the 37 degree Celsius temperatures outdoors seemed even more stifling inside. "I think they are going to save a lot more lives than they did from Katrina," said Roberson. "But it is hot, overcrowded in here. I feel sorry for some of these people. Some of these elderly people are just wore out and having trouble." For the first time in state history, Texas Governor Rick Perry ordered inbound lanes of Interstate 45 the main evacuation route open to outbound traffic for 200 kilometres north of Houston. Inbound lanes to Houston along Interstate 10, the main east-west route across southern Texas, were also opened to outbound traffic to alleviate the parking-lot conditions. Roads will be cleared: official David Paulison, the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized for its response to Katrina, assured Texans highways would be clear by the time Rita made landfall. While the roadways were jammed in Houston, the streets were all but abandoned in Galveston, a coastal city where residents still recount tales of how their ancestors weathered the 'Great Storm' of 1900, which killed 8,000 people. The few residents who remained in Galveston Thursday bought gasoline at a Mobil service station near East Beach, the only fuel that could be bought in town. Others who were determined to ride out the storm purchased emergency supplies at Bob's Grocery near Galveston's historic Strand neighbourhood. "There is no place for me to go," said Ronald Stoveall, 58, who was staying with friends in a pink two-storey Victorian home just two blocks from Galveston's 5.5-metre-high seawall. "I think it is safer to be here than to be stuck on ahighway when this thing hits. I am not going to get on the highway with all those maniacs and run out of gas and have an old car break down. That doesn't seem practical to me." Along with grocery bags filled with canned goods and a six-pack of beer, Stoveall carried his identification and family contact numbers in a plastic Zi-ploc bag "just in case I drown." The last evacuation vehicles in Galveston seven yellow schoolbuses left just before noon Thursday. Aboard were about 180 people elderly residents in wheelchairs, homeless men and blue-collar workers who did not have any other transportation out of the city. "I watched as a whole lot of women arrived together at the District No. 6 polling station in Kandahar," said parliamentary candidate Shadeeha Hus-sain. "That polling station had many of the family of candidate Farida Ahmadi working there. They did not ink the women's fingers as the women went to the ballot boxes in 10 or 12 separate rooms." Hussain was a member of the grand assembly that chose Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's interim president and she was a member of the grand assembly that forged Afghanistan's current constitution. Based on her record, election observers felt she had a good chance of being elected, but she sees her electoral hopes evaporating. "I was crying as I witnessed this. No one was listening to me when I complained," she said. "I went home and my blood pressure was so high I took medication." All of those complaints will be investigated says Grant Kippen, the Canadian who chairs the ECC "We are just trying to get a handle on what is a lot of talk and what is substantiated," Kippen said. Regardless of what is proven, Kippen doesn't think the legitimacy of the election will suffer a mortal blow. "People came out and voted and people were reeling pretty positive about the election on Sunday ... We need to be guarded in what we try to read into things." lfarrellthejoiirnal.canweft.com Edmonton journal i

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