Days after Isaac, thousands still in the dark By CAIN BURDEAU and KEVIN McGILL | Associated Press – 3 hrs ago NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tens of thousands of customers remained in the dark Monday in Louisiana and Mississippi, nearly a week after Isaac inundated the Gulf Coast with a deluge that still has some low-lying areas under water.Most of those were in Louisiana, where utilities reported more than 100,000 people without power. Thousands also were without power in Mississippi and Arkansas.President Barack Obama visited Monday, a day ahead of theDemocratic National Convention, and walked around storm damage in St. John the Baptist Parish, where subdivisions were soaked in water from Isaac.”I know it’s a mess,” Obama said as he approached a resident in the Ridgewood neighborhood. „But we’re here to help.”Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited the state Friday.In St. John the Baptist Parish, residents spent Labor Day dragging waterlogged carpet and furniture to the curb and using bleach and water to clean hopefully to prevent mold.LaPlace resident Barbara Melton swept mud and debris from her home, which was at one point under 2 feet of water. The garbage, debris and standing water — combined with heat reaching the 90s — created a terrible stench.”It’s hot, it stinks, but I’m trying to get all this mud and stuff out of my house,” she said.Melton was grateful for the president’s visit.”I think it’s awesome to have a president that cares and wants to come out and see what he can do,” Melton, 60, said.A few houses away, Ed Powell said Isaac was enough to make him question whether to stay.”I know Louisiana’s a gambling state, but we don’t want to gamble in this method because when you lose this way, you lose a lot.”Powell said even if Obama comes up with a plan or solution to the flooding problem in his area, time is not on the residents’ side.”Even if they narrow down what the problem is and begin to resolve the problem, it usually takes years. And between now and whenever, a lot of things can happen,” Powell said.More than 2,800 people were at shelters in Louisiana, down from around 4,000. State officials were uncertain how many people would eventually need longer-term temporary housing. Kevin Davis, head of the state’s emergency office, said housing would likely include hotels at first, then rental homes as close as possible to their damaged property.Progress was evident in many places, though lingering flooding remained a problem in low-lying areas.Crews in the town of Lafitte intentionally breached a levee Sunday night in an effort to help flooding there subside, Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts told The Times-Picayune.Much of Plaquemines Parish, a vulnerable finger of land that juts into the Gulf of Mexico, remained under as much as 5 feet of water, Parish President Billy Nungesser said. The Category 1 hurricane walloped the parish, and for many, the damage was worse than that from Katrina in 2005._Burdeau reported from Bay St. Louis, Miss., and Slidell, La. Associated Press writer Stacey Plaisance in LaPlace, La., contributed to this report.
Strong quake hits off Indonesia’s Bali AFP – 9 hrs ago A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the Indonesian resort island of Bali early on Tuesday, but there was no tsunami warning and no immediate reports of damage or injuries.The quake’s epicentre was at a shallow depth of eight kilometres (five miles), the US Geological Survey said, putting it 278 kilometres south of Denpasar, on Bali. The quake hit at 2:23 am (1823 GMT Monday).Indonesia sits on the Pacific „Ring of Fire” where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity
Super-trawler cleared to fish in Australian waters AFP – 12 mins ago A huge Dutch super-trawler was Tuesday given the go-ahead to fishin Australian waters but with tough conditions to minimise by-catch such as dolphins, seals and sea lions.The 9,500-tonne FV Margiris repelled Greenpeace protesters to dock at Port Lincoln in South Australia last Thursday for re-flagging as an Australian vessel before its proposed deployment toTasmania for bait-fishing.Environment Minister Tony Burke sought legal advice about whether he could intervene over concerns that dolphins and other marine life would inadvertently get swept up in its huge nets.But he said he had been told he does not have the power to block itfishing in Australian waters.”Under national environmental law I don’t have the power to block it altogether,” he told ABC television, but said the trawler’s operators would have to prove they were doing everything necessary to minimise by-catch.”What I do have is the legal power to impose a number of restrictions on it based on the impact it can have, not on the fish that it’s targeting, but on the by-catch — the seals, the dolphins, the fish that are protected and listed and I have responsibility for,” Burke said.”The big vessel will have to fish within the rules so that the impact it has on the environment is no more than if it was fishing on a small vessel,” he added.Under conditions imposed by the government, fishing will have to be suspended if a dolphin dies in the ship’s nets or if three or more seals perish. It will also be banned from sea lion hunting grounds.The trawler will also be required to have an observer on board and to record its activities on an underwater camera.The 143-metre (469-foot) Margiris sparked protests among conservation groups and local fishermen when it was announced earlier this year that it would fish off Tasmania.The Tasmanian businessman behind the Margiris venture said the restrictions were acceptable, and workable.”I think what he’s suggesting sounds reasonable, and we’ll certainly study those conditions very closely,” Seafish Tasmania director Gerry Geen told the broadcaster.”But on the face of it I think that they’re the sort of measures that will help us to reduce by-catch down to a very low level and we’ll be very pleased to go along with them.”The Australian Fisheries Management Authority has dismissed concerns about over-fishing, saying the trawler would be allowed to catch just 10 percent of available fish and would have little if any impact on the broader eco-system.