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Snow blankets Northeast, NY vows to improve clean-up

By Echo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Northeast dug out of yet another winter storm on Thursday that pummeled the region with unexpectedly heavy snowfall, making January the snowiest month in New York in more than 85 years.
In Central Park, 19 inches of snow fell overnight in the storm that forced airports and schools to close. The wet snow fell at dizzying speeds during the height of the storm, as much as three inches per hour, said Weather Channel meteorologists.
New York officials vowed to keep the city running after Mayor Michael Bloomberg, agency heads and municipal workers came under heavy criticism for the slow response to the Christmas weekend blizzard that brought services to a halt.
"We learn," said Bloomberg at a City Hall news conference on Thursday. "We asked the questions of what didn't work last time and whether there's anything we could do differently."
The city suspended bus service shortly after midnight, he noted. In the Christmas blizzard, 600 city buses became stranded but with this suspension, almost no buses were stranded on Thursday, the mayor said.
Bus service was gradually being restored at midday.
Some 1,700 plows were working as of mid-morning in New York, the mayor said. About 1,500 day laborers were shoveling out bus stops as well.
"Our expectation is that by tomorrow morning's rush hour all of the city streets and roadways will have been plowed," Bloomberg said.
The storm, which dropped twice as much snow as had been predicted, brought the city's January total accumulation to 36 inches, breaking a record from 1925, the mayor said.
"This is so much worse than I think we all expected," said Julia Scharf, 27, a dental technician who commuted to New York from Bethpage, Long Island.
"I had to clean about 15 or so inches off my car before I could drive to the train station."
Commuter train and bus service from some suburbs, including Long Island, was limited or suspended. New York City schools were closed, only the ninth time since 1978 that schools were closed due to snow, the mayor said.
Flight delays of more than two hours were reported at Newark International and John F. Kennedy International airports, which had been closed due to the storm but reopened on Thursday morning, authorities said.
Delays were reported at Philadelphia International Airport where hundreds of flights were canceled due to snowfall that ranged from 12 to 17 inches in the city. About 1,500 passengers were stranded overnight, authorities said.
Nine people spent nine hours on a bus stuck in the snow in Philadelphia, said Jerri Williams, a spokeswoman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
Most passengers got off the bus but those nine and the driver chose to remain rather than brave the elements, she said. The bus was heated, she noted.
"Their only choice was to stay on the bus," she said.
About 15,000 households south and west of Philadelphia lost power as tree limbs broke under the weight of wet snow and fell on power lines, according to the utility Peco.
In the Washington, D.C., area some commuters were stranded for several hours in massive traffic jams on Wednesday that stretched well into the night. Adding to the chaos were hundreds of cars abandoned on the roads by their drivers.
Although traffic improved in the morning, tens of thousands were without power in parts of the city and surrounding suburbs, mostly due to snow-laden trees downing utility lines. Many schools were closed throughout the area.
A second runway at Boston's Logan International Airport was closed, said spokesman Phil Orlandella.
The 9.9 inches of snow recorded at the Boston airport during the storm contributed to nearly 200 inbound and outbound flight cancellations, he said.
The National Weather Service said 19 inches of snow fell in Central Park, nearly 19 inches at Newark Airport and 18 inches in suburban New Canaan, Connecticut.
The snowfall was just shy of the Christmas blizzard that dropped 20 inches on New York City.
Amtrak suspended trains between New York and Boston but was resuming service, with delays likely, it said.
North of Boston, snow accumulation contributed to a partial roof collapse that trapped two people in a vehicle parked inside a building in Lynn, Mass., officials said. Initial reports showed the two had no serious injuries.
In weather-related deaths, a woman was struck and killed by a snowplow on Wednesday in Center Moriches, New York.
Police said the 64-year-old woman was walking in a parking lot mid-afternoon when she was hit by a truck clearing snow.
(Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper in Boston, Jon Hurdle in Philadelphia, and Bernd Debusmann Jr. and Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Jerry Norton)

2012 Presidential Election

Category: By Echo
Running for president in 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on change. But in the 2012 presidential elections, voters could be looking for a different kind of change. The Obama administration has scored several landmark achievements, the 2009 stimulus package, the healthcare overhaul, and financial reform bills for example. But the nation’s high unemployment and increasing federal debt may still have voters worried about the future. If so, Obama could face a tough reelection bid. With his approval ratings sinking to the low 40s, beltway buzz is already building for potential 2012 Republican candidates. Those mentioned include South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, who made headlines in 2004 by defeating incumbent and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Thune is up for reelection in 2010 but doesn’t have a challenger, though he has still raised over $11.5 million. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has already said he is considering a presidential run and will make a decision early in 2011.

There are also several sitting and former governors in the mix. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will leave the governor’s mansion when his term ends this year and could be eyeing the presidency. He was rumored to be on John McCain’s short list of running mates in 2008. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal may also be eyeing the spot. He’s benefited from national name recognition due to his leadership during Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, as has Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels appeals to many as a budget cutter uninterested in social issues. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who both ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, are expected to contend again in 2012. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also mentioned regularly. And former Alaska governor turned Fox News pundit Sarah Palin can’t be ruled out as a potential 2012 contender. She’s become the darling of the Tea Party movement that has gained momentum this year. But with plenty of time until 2012, other presidential candidates still have some time to come out of the woodwork.