Horror stories as 10,000 feared dead in Typhoon Haiyan

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MANILA — The Philippines was still trying to comprehend the destruction that Typhoon Haiyan brought to this string of islands in the Pacific on Sunday.
 
Corpses hung from tree branches and were scattered along sidewalks and among flattened buildings. People raided grocery stores and gas stations in search of food, fuel and water.
 
As many as 10,000 people may have died when one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded destroyed entire villages and devastated cities with huge waves and winds of nearly 150 mph.
 
A weakened but still powerful Haiyan was churning through the South China Sea and nearing Vietnam, which evacuated tens of thousands of people.
 
In the Philippines, authorities were still trying to get to islands that no one had been able to communicate with since the typhoon struck Friday. But those reached revealed immense damage to homes, roads and buildings.
 
Frantic relatives crowded into the Villamor Airbase in Manila to wait for transport planes that were rescuing people from at least six of the archipelago's more than 7,000 islands that were hit hardest.
 
Maritess Tayag, in her 40s, and her sister, Maryann, 29, arrived at the airport dizzy, shaken and thirsty but elated to be alive. They came from their home in Tacloban on the island of Leyte, one of the hardest hit by the typhoon.
 
"I was in the house — trapped in my room. The water is up to my nose — I cannot breathe anymore. I am trying to save myself," said Maritess Tayag, describing the early hours of Saturday when ceaseless wind drove dark seawater mixed with foul-smelling water from canals higher and higher into their homes.
 
Her brother was in the house, too, trying to keep his head above the rising water, she said. But, "It reached up over his head. Then a big wave of fast flood reached up higher.
 
"I feel I would die at this moment because I can't — I don't know what I will do," she said, crying.
 
"I cry a lot of cry shouting 'Mom!' Open, open please open help us somebody."
 
Her younger sister and sister-in-law made it to the roof. Her brother and mother did not, she said, and both are probably dead.
 
Maryann described their town as looking as if it was a "World War II city" and said everyone was trying to flee in fear after the typhoon winds ended Saturday.
 
"It was almost a stampede at the airport in Tacloban," she said. "Everyone was trying to get on the plane. It's really, really terrible."
 
It was not until Sunday that authorities communicated with Leyte island. The sisters said there was no power or phone service. They said they saw looting everywhere. Food and water are almost non-existent, they said.
 
"It's all washed out … including the hospitals and malls, by the strong winds and floods that came," Maritess said in a quivering voice.
 
"The hardest thing is … seeing you mother floating in the flood and you don't know what to do. You just see there and the only thing is have to save yourself," Maryann said. "I could not save her because she drowned already, and it was not just water from the sea but mixed with dirty water — color black, like came from river and smell like canal."

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S Christie leaves door open for 2016 presidential bid

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, fresh from an overwhelming re-election victory last week, said Sunday that he intends to "run the state'' for the next four years, but left open the possibility of a Republican presidential bid.
 
"Listen, who knows,'' Christie said on ABC's This Week. "I don't know. I'm going to continue to do my job and finish the job. But everybody who is trying to figure out what life is going to bring you a few years from now, I didn't expect to be sitting here four years ago. … So, nobody can make those predictions.''
 
On Fox News Sunday, Christie said "everybody's going to be speculating on what may come on my future and lots of other people's future in our party.
 
"The fact is,'' he said, "I'm focused on being the governor of New Jersey and being the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. I think those two jobs will keep me pretty busy over the next year."
 
On a tour of the Sunday talk shows, Christie dropped similar hints of a possible 2016 candidacy, yet he sidestepped questions on such politically charged issues as immigration and a possible setback in negotiations to freeze Iran's nuclear program.
 
"I think when guys like me start to shoot off on opinions about this kind of stuff, it's really ill-advised,'' Christie said on CBS' Face the Nation referring to the Iran talks. "I'll leave it to Secretary (of State John) Kerry and the folks that are in charge of this to make decisions about where we go. And then, once they put something together, if they do, then I'll make a judgment on that.''
 
On immigration, Christie urged Congress to "fix a broken system.'' Though he declined to say whether that solution should include provisions that he has supported, including a path to citizenship and college tuition relief for the undocumented.
 
"Listen, everyone is going to have a point of view on immigration, and a myriad of other issues,'' the governor said on ABC. "Well, let's have our argument out publicly, then let's get to the table, come to a consensus and then move on.''
 
Pressed again on whether that consensus should include citizenship and tuition relief, Christie said the "national solution has to be figured out by the people who are in charge of our national government. My job is to fix what's going on in New Jersey. … I don't get to make those determinations.''
 
Christie did, however, say that President Obama's apology last week was "not enough'' for the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
 
"The fact is that the president didn't tell the truth,'' Christie said on CBS. "It turns out not to be true that people can keep their (health) insurance policies no matter what, that they can keep their doctor no matter what. And we need to confront that issue and the president needs to deal with it in a head-on way.''

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Relatives search for survivors in Philippines

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CEBU, Philippines — After two days with no news from her family since Typhoon Haiyan blasted through their hometown on Leyte island, elementary teacher Cherry Gonzaga took action Sunday.
 
The nearest airport to home remains battered and closed, so she left Manila for Cebu City, then queued for a late-night ferry.
 
"There's no way to get through to them, and my entire family is there, 15 people," said Gonzaga, 24, as she waited for tickets at a Cebu pier with dozens of other Filipinos desperate to learn whether their relatives are safe.
 
As many as 10,000 people may have died when one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded destroyed entire villages and devastated cities with huge waves and winds of nearly 150 mph.
 
 
To curb incidents of looting by hungry residents in hard-hit Tacloban city — Leyte's capital and air hub that is now closed to all but military and relief flights — authorities dispatched more than 100 additional police officers Sunday.
 
"A privately owned chopper tried to land in Leyte Sunday but couldn't as the residents rushed it," said Frederick Bonjoc, public affairs officer at Cebu airport. "They were unafraid of getting hit by the chopper as they are desperate for supplies."
 
The north part of Cebu Island also suffered extensive damage, Bonjoc said.
 
"In my mother's hometown, Bogo city, 70 to 80% of houses have had their roofs blown off, but luckily none of my relatives were killed," he said.
 
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported many family tragedies Sunday in Tacloban. In one case, two men silently pushed a wooden cart bearing the bloated bodies of a woman, her teenage son and her baby though the flooded downtown, the newspaper reported.
 
The woman, Erlinda Mingig, was a 48-year old fish vendor who was trapped inside her one-story home with her two children.
 
"I told them to stay in the house because it was safer," said her husband Rogelio, 48, but the water rose so quickly she could not open the door to escape. "We found her embracing the children in one arm and grabbing on to the ceiling with the other."
 
As telethons continued nationwide to raise money for victims, residents in the spared capital of Manila said they were keeping a close eye on the destruction to the south.
 
"It's worrying and devastating, the strongest typhoon ever," said Lourdes Lozada, 50, an electrical engineer. "It will be really hard for them to recover, and it won't be quick, but help is coming from inside and outside the Philippines."
 
"I've been through many typhoons where roofs are blown off, but nothing this strong," she added. "The scariest part was the storm surge; people didn't expect it would be like a tsunami."
 

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Vietnam on alert as weakened Haiyan nears landfall

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HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Vietnam's central coast appeared to have been spared the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan's deadly force Sunday as the storm's forecasted trajectory shifted north.
 
Haiyan continued to weaken as it neared landfall in Vietnam early Monday morning local time. Maximum sustained winds had dropped to 75 mph, the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane. The storm was taking a more northerly path and was forecast to miss much of the country.
 
Heavy rains and strong winds buffeted some coastal areas, but damage was minimal. Local media reported 12 dead and dozens injured as a result of accidents during storm preparations.
 
By Sunday afternoon, many of the more than 600,000 people who had been evacuated from areas across the central region from Phu Yen to Quang Binh provinces were allowed to return home.
 
Meanwhile, Vietnam's northern provinces were forced into emergency preparations Sunday, with Haiyan on a course to reach coastal Thanh Hoa and Nam Dinh provinces early Monday morning.
 
On Sunday afternoon, local media reported that more than 44,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas of Thanh Hoa province, and 80,000 were being evacuated in the port city of Haiphong, the third largest city in Vietnam.
 
Despite Haiyain's decrease in intensity since hitting the Philippines on Friday, meteorologist Le Thi Xuan Lan, former director of the southern region of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, said the typhoon remains "very, very dangerous."
 
Along with strong winds, she said potential storm surges of 10-20 feet threaten the coastline, and heavy rainfall of 12 inches or more could cause flash flooding in the Vietnam's northern highlands. The river systems of the Red River Delta are also in danger of flooding.
 
Francis Markus, spokesman for the Red Cross in Vietnam said that the unpredictable trajectory of the storm has stretched the country's emergency response resources thin, creating new challenges as preparations have shifted from the center to the north of the country.
 
And while the central area was spared the brunt of Haiyan, Vietnam is still on high alert.
 
"We don't really have an idea of the severity with which this northern region is going to be hit," said Markus. "I think everybody's been very shocked by the horror of the impact of Haiyan in the Philippines and it means we really have to do the maximum to prepare for it in Vietnam and in China and certainly not be complacent."
 
Contributing: Doyle Rice in McLean, Va.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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1 dead, scores hurt in latest Bangladesh protest

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DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Opposition activists in Bangladesh clashed with police and ruling party members Sunday on the first day of a four-day general strike amid concerns by businesses that the country will suffer terribly if the ongoing chaos does not immediately stop.
 
At least one man died and scores were injured across the country as the opposition enforced the strike to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to quit and form a caretaker government made up of people from outside of mainstream political parties to oversee an election next year.
 
The latest spate of violence came after at least 18 people died during similar protests over the last two weeks as the opposition enforced shutdowns totaling 120 hours.
 
Television stations said a man died Sunday in the southeastern district of Chittagong after picketers attacked an auto-rickshaw he was traveling in.
 
The latest developments come at a time of deep tension in Bangladesh, a nation struggling to overcome extreme poverty, rancorous politics and a string of horrific accidents linked to the garment industry.
 
The situation became further complicated when authorities arrested five prominent leaders of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Friday and Saturday.
 
After the arrests of Moudud Ahmed, M.K. Anwar, Rafiqul Islam Mia, Abdul Awal Mintoo and an aide to opposition leader Khaleda Zia, the opposition increased an already announced 72-hour strike by 12 hours in reply to the government's crackdown.
 
All of those who were arrested were sent to jail by a court on Saturday. They will have to stay there at least until Thursday, when the court will hear police charges against them.
 
Police said they were arrested in two separate cases involving charges of arson, smashing of vehicles and attacking police.
 
But the opposition says the charges are politically motivated and has vowed to intensify the protests.
 
Dhaka's Bengali-language Prothom Alo newspaper reported Sunday that at least 200 vehicles have either been torched or vandalized across the country since Friday in response to the arrests.
 
Meanwhile, businesses said Bangladesh's economy could be hit hard as its manufacturing sector could suffer a big blow, especially the garment industry, which earns more than $20 billion a year from exports.
 
"We are facing huge trouble. How will we do our business if such chaos continues?" said S.M. Mannan Kochi, a vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
 
"We have to confirm our shipment, we have to pay our workers, but nobody is caring about that," he said.
 
The garment industry employs more than 3 million workers, mostly women, and most factories are located in the capital, Dhaka, and its surrounding areas, as well as in Chittagong. During any strike, businesses are hugely affected in both Dhaka and Chittagong.
 
Hasina and Zia, a former prime minister, are the most powerful leaders in Bangladesh and they have alternated as prime minister since 1991.
 
Hasina wants an all-party government to oversee the next elections, but Zia wants her to resign to pave the way for forming a caretaker government with people from outside of political parties.
 
The government says it is determined to form an election-time government with other parties if Zia's party continues to refuse to join.
 
In addition to the election-related chaos, a war crimes tribunal stemming from Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan  has become another incendiary political issue.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Echoes of history heard in JFK Air Force One tapes

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DETROIT — John F. Kennedy arrived in Dallas on Air Force One before noon on Nov. 22, 1963. Hours later, the slain leader was being flown back to Washington, D.C., as radio communications crackled back and forth between the plane and various officials on the ground.
 
"The president is on board, the body is on board, and Mrs. Kennedy is on board," a voice said at one point, starkly describing the just sworn-in Lyndon B. Johnson and the-now dead JFK.
 
This month, as events, books and TV specials mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination, a new piece of evidence has Kennedy researchers buzzing.
 
It's an 88-minute audio recording of Air Force One radio transmissions that's described as the most complete version of those communications yet.
 
And it may indicate that a longer version with fresh revelations is out there somewhere.
 
The recording is described on the JFKFacts.org website as among the most important pieces of assassination-related evidence to surface in the past five years.
 
It was enhanced for sound quality and combined from two separate tapes by audio/video forensic expert Ed Primeau of Primeau Forensics in Rochester Hills, Mich.
 
Like anything new about the JFK assassination, the recording is bound to be pored over by those fascinated by what a majority of Americans consider an unsolved mystery.
 
Conspiracy theories still exist that cast suspicions on everyone from the Cubans and the Russians to the mob and even portions of the U.S. government.
 
Primeau believes "100 percent" that there was editing done to the two tapes that were used in the 88-minute version.
 
Primeau, 55, has been an expert witness for criminal and civil cases across the country.
 
In fall 2012, he was contacted by author and JFK assassination researcher Bill Kelly, who wanted technical help in combining two audiotapes of Air Force One radio transmissions: one released in the 1970s from LBJ's presidential library and a longer one that came to light a couple of years ago from the belongings of Gen. Chester Clifton, a military aide to Kennedy.
 
Kelly transcribed the tapes. Primeau, working off and on starting in about January, spent time enhancing the sound quality.
 
Brad Finegan of Primeau Forensics combined the two tapes in chronological order using Kelly's transcripts and some overlapping as guides.
 
Last month, Kelly presented an analysis of the tapes at a 50th anniversary assassination symposium at Duquesne University's Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law in Pittsburgh.
 
"The Air Force One tapes are sort of like the black box of the assassination. It has all the basic information there you want to know of what happened at the highest levels of government in the two hours after the assassination. And it all should be right there but there's some that's missing," says Kelly, whose website is JFKcountercoup.blogspot.com.
 
"Spine chilling" is how Primeau describes listening to the tapes, which are peppered with code names like Volunteer (for LBJ) and Lace (for Jacqueline Kennedy) and urgent efforts to make arrangements for things like a lift to remove the casket from the plane in D.C.
 
Generals, Secret Service members and radio operators can be heard. At one point, the airborne LBJ is patched through to JFK's mother, Rose, at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., to offer his condolences.
 
Primeau believes that the LBJ and Clifton recordings are what are called safety copies that don't contain the entire radio transmissions from Air Force One. "As I listen to the recordings, I can hear edits."
 
That raises questions. "What was taken out, who took them out and where are they?" he asks.
 
It also points to the possibility that the entire record of the radio transmissions is somewhere out there, says author and former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, who has led the charge to have the CIA release still-classified material on the assassination.
 
"It's not the tape itself. It's what the tape tells us. And what the tape tells us is that there was a longer recording of the Air Force One communications on November 22. That was never known before," says Morley, who's written about the new recording for the site he moderates, JFKFacts.org.
 
The Air Force One recording is considered significant by those still looking for a credible explanation for the JFK assassination. But new information based on fact, not speculation, also interests conspiracy debunkers.
 
"Aside from what I might disagree with Kelly on, it's always a good thing to try to get the historical record in better shape, to clarify the material," says professor John McAdams of Marquette University, whose JFK assassination website appeals to those who believe accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
 
Primeau suspects the original source tapes of the Air Force One tapes may no longer exist. "Will they ever surface? I don't think so. I think they're destroyed, like parts of the Watergate tapes were destroyed, permanently gone so that nobody could ever find out."

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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2 shot dead, 22 hurt at Houston-area birthday party

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HOUSTON (AP) — A burst of gunfire at an 18-year-old girl's birthday party Saturday night left two dead, another two critically wounded and dozens hurt in a chaotic scene where people jumped from second-floor windows to escape the shooting at a suburban Houston home.
 
More than 100 people, mostly 17- to 19-year-olds, had gathered at the home in Cypress, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said. Partygoer Shaniqua Brown told The Associated Press it "was not rowdy at all," and many people were dancing when they heard the shots, which police said were fired between 11:30 p.m. and midnight.
 
Authorities said they are seeking two gunmen.
 
A man and woman died — one at the scene and another at a hospital. They have not been identified by name. As many as 22 people were hurt, with injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to twisted ankles by those fleeing in panic. Sheriff's spokesman Thomas Gilliland said Sunday that authorities are still trying to determine the condition for many of the injured.
 
He said deputies were confronted with "mass chaos" when they responded to the call in the residential neighborhood about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Houston, adding that "kids were literally everywhere." He said witnesses reported partygoers jumping from the second floor in their scramble to flee.
 
Mariah Boulden told the Houston Chronicle it was her birthday party. She said her brother and others were patting down people as they entered her home. Two men refused to be searched and walked away, she told the newspaper, then apparently hopped a neighbor's fence and entered through a back gate.
 
"They wasn't supposed to be here whoever they was," Boulden said.
 
Brown said word about the party was spread through Instagram, a photo-sharing app and website. She said she first heard gunshots in the house and they continued outside as people ran into the streets seeking cover. She told the AP she saw one gunman when she ran outside to escape.
 
Pools of blood were visible outside the two-story brick home Sunday, and the garage door was bent after people had pushed it upward while trying to escape.
 
Karen Briones was visiting relatives in the neighborhood when the shooting occurred.
 
"Girls were crying and screaming, banging on people's doors asking them for help and to call" the police emergency dispatcher, she told the Houston newspaper.
 
The sheriff's statement said those hurt were taken to at least five area medical centers or hospitals, some by paramedics and some in private vehicles. Gilliland said some people were shot in the foot, ankle and hip.
 
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Christina Garza told the Chronicle that at least one parent was in the house. Gilliland said investigators were trying to determine if alcohol had been served at the party.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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More hit-and-run crashes reported in L.A., USA

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Hit-and-run crashes are increasing in many major cities, and fatal hit-and-run collisions are rising nationally as legislators in several states look to toughen up laws to address this troubling "plague."
 
These crashes have reached such epidemic proportions in Los Angeles that, during one recent year, nearly half of all collisions in the city involved a driver who fled the scene.
 
Crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes is trending upward, from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available.
 
Perhaps more significantly, the 13.7% increase in hit-and-run deaths over that three-year period occurred while traffic deaths overall were falling 4.5%, from 33,883 in 2009 to 32,367 in 2011.
 
"The problem is bigger than I think most people are aware," says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
 
The foundation's analysis of hit-and-run crashes found that about one in five of all pedestrian fatalities are hit-and-runs, and 60% of hit-run fatalities have pedestrians as victims, he says. "Alcohol is a major, major part of the problem, from the driver's perspective, especially. The main thing we can do as a society to sort of combat this problem is to simply be more alert as pedestrians," Kissinger says.
 
"People find themselves in these situations, and what do you do?" says Sara Solnick, chairwoman of the Department of Economics at the University of Vermont, who has studied hit-and-run crashes. "Drivers are more likely to run if they feel there is a reason to do so. They're more likely to have high blood-alcohol content, or they're driving without a license, or they're very young drivers."
 
In a recent, high-profile hit-and-run case, a 22-year-old Ohio man confessed in an online video that went viral to killing a man in a drunken-driving crash in June. Matthew Cordle of Dublin, Ohio, was sentenced last month to 6½ years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide and DUI in a wrong-way interstate crash that killed Vincent Canzani, 61.
 
Los Angeles has been ground zero for hit-and-run crashes after LA Weekly reported late last year that there were 20,000 such incidents in the city each year, with 4,000 resulting in injuries or death. In 2009, the newspaper reported, 48% of the city's crashes were hit-and-run, compared with 11% nationally.
 
"There is a values problem," says California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat from the Los Angeles area who introduced a bill that extended the statute of limitations for hit-and-run offenses from three to six years. The bill was signed into law last month and takes effect July 1.
 
"I had been reading the stories that Los Angeles had this just absolute plague … of hit-and-run accidents," Gatto says. "It really comes down to folks being left for dead on the side of the road by the person who is in a best position to call 911. When it comes down to it, the legislature speaks for society's values. Unless we did something, we were failing from a values standpoint."
 
Following the LA Weekly story, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck released a report that maintained that the city's hit-and-run crash rate compared favorably with other major cities, such as New York, Chicago and Houston.
 
Around the USA, the rise in hit-and-run crashes is leading to tougher laws in some of the states with the highest rates of resulting deaths.
 
• In Texas, legislators moved to close a loophole that police officers said encouraged intoxicated drivers involved in crashes to flee the scene. Before Sept. 1, the maximum penalty for failing to render aid was just half that for causing a drunken-driving crash death. The penalty for leaving the scene of a crash was raised from a third-degree felony, with a maximum 10-year prison term, to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison — same as for intoxicated manslaughter.
 
• In Florida, where the State Patrol says there were nearly 70,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2012 and three of every five road fatalities were pedestrians struck by hit-run drivers, legislators are considering a bill that would impose a mandatory sentence of at least three years on hit-and-run drivers. The sentence would be seven years if someone is seriously injured and 10 years in fatal crashes.
 
• In 2012, Arizona enacted a law requiring that any driver who leaves the scene of a crash resulting in serious injury automatically have their license suspended for five years. If there's a death, the automatic suspension is 10 years, not including time in jail.
 
• Also last year, Colorado enacted a law that made a hit-and-run crash with serious bodily injury a Class 4 felony, which carries the same penalty as driving while drunk.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Anambra 2013: Candidates, Factors, Intrigues In Buildup to Nov. 16

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WHEN the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in September released the list of 23 candidates for the November 16 Anambra governorship election, expectations were high that the election would be keenly contested. 

 But events in the state have since shown that majority of the shortlisted candidates appear to be more of the pretenders than contenders in the election, as they were nowhere to be found engaging in robust campaigns or canvassing for votes across the state ahead of the election.

  The development was a confirmation of The Guardian report then that majority of them were being sponsored by the candidates of the major parties in the race to achieve political mileage in the run-up to the election.

  So far, so good evaluating the campaign rallies, debates and scheming just a week to the election, it is becoming clear that it may be a five-way race among the candidates and their following political parties namely; Dr. Chris Ngige -All Progressive Congress (APC); Mr Willie Obiano-All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Comrade Tony Nwoye-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah Labour-Party (LP); and Chief Goody Ezeemo- Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).

  While the likes of Ngige, Ubah, Obiano, and Ezeemo have been on ground, campaigning in all the nooks and crannies of the state, Nwoye, and his party, who had been in a protracted legal battle since the party primaries, was finally confirmed the authentic candidate of the PDP on Monday by the Supreme Court.

   Up for battle by the candidates in the election are votes of 1, 711, 061 registrants spread across the 4, 608 polling units in the 21 council areas in the state

  Unfolding programmes for the election some months ago, INEC, in a statement said that between August, 19 and 25, 2013, the Commission would conduct Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) in the State, preparatory to the governorship election.

  It reads: “Before the CVR, the commission will conduct voter verification from 16th to 18th August, 2013. During this exercise, the Register of Voters for the state will be displayed at polling units statewide, for voters to verify their registration status.

  “Following the voter registration exercise conducted in 2011, INEC declared a figure of 2, 011, 746 registrants in Anambra State.    

   “The commission has since subjected that data to Register Optimization Process, which involved data consolidation, the use of the Automatic Fingerprints Identification System (AFIS) software to eliminate multiple registrations, and the application of business rules for printing of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs); ending up with a valid voter figure of 1, 711, 061 registrants. 

  “The impending CVR offers opportunity for persons, who have turned 18 years since 2011, or who were 18-plus at the time but did not register, or who had less than two fingerprints captured during the 2011 registration exercise, to get themselves registered ahead of the Anambra governorship election.

  “There are 4,608 polling units in the state, spread across the 21 Local Government Areas. The Commission, at the stakeholder meeting, identified 53 polling units in nine council areas that are without data. It also disclosed the identity of four polling units that have been found to be located in the forest, assuring stakeholders that the status of these polling units is being verified and the commission would make its decision on them known very soon.”

But since then, people in the state had continued to ask questions, to know if the commission had removed the 53 illegal polling units it said it discovered in nine council areas in the state. 

 Also interesting is the fact that the three senatorial zones in the state- Anambra Central, Anambra North, and Anambra South zone have seven council areas each and each of the major contenders has a political stronghold in the zones.

  The council areas in Anambra Central are Anaocha, Njikoka, Dunukofia, Idemili North, Idemili South, Awka North, and Awka South.

     Political bigwigs from the zone include the APC candidate in the election and senator representing the zone, Dr. Chris Ngige; Governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi; APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh; the new godfather of Anambra PDP, Prince Arthur Eze; Senator Annie Okonkwo, Senator Ben Obi, Prof. Dora Akunyili and others.

   In the North zone of the state are Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Anyamelu, Oyi, Anambra East, Anambra West and Ogbaru council area. It is also the zone of the APGA candidate, Willie Obiano and the PDP candidate, Comrade Tony Nwoye. The duo comes from the same council area, Anambra East.

  Others are Ngige’s running mate, Chief Ralph Okeke, Dr. Tim Menekaya, Senator Joy Emordi, Senator Emma Anosike, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Senator Mrs. Margery Okadigbo, the wife of former Senate President, late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and senator representing the zone on PDP platform. 

 In the South zone of the state are Ihiala, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Aguata, Orumba North, Orumba South and Ekwusigwo council area.

  Political figures from the zone include the candidate of LP, Mr Ifeanyi Ubah; candidate of the PPA, Chief Goddy Ezeemo; Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Senator Andy Uba, representing the zone in the Senate and his younger brother, Chief Chris Uba.

  Others are Sir Emeka Offor, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, Chief Chuma Nzeribe, former governor of the state, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr. Obinna Uzoh and others.

  Apart from this, another determining factor in the election may be the politics of religion, which has become so obvious in the state since the present government came into power. The two former governors of the state, namely, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju were Pentecostal. But however majority of the major contenders in the next Saturday’s election are Catholics, pointing to the direction that the votes of Anglicans and Pentecostals may be a deciding factor in the election.   

The Candidates 

Comrade Tony Nwoye (PDP)

  Before the PDP primaries for the election, it was alleged that the choice of Nwoye by the party leadership, Presidency and new godfather of PDP in the state, Prince Arthur Eze, was to spite Senator Andy Uba politically. Not many believed it then because there were insinuations that President Goodluck Jonathan had struck a deal with former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for Uba to be made governor.

  But days after the parallel primaries conducted by the factions of the party in the state, it became obvious that Uba had lost out. Nwoye, once Uba’s political godson was the preferred candidate of the power-that-be in the party.

   Even Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu’s legal attempt to thwart Nwoye’s candidature was nipped in the bud by Monday’s Supreme Court judgment that confirmed Nwoye the rightful candidate of the party for the election.     

   Nwoye was a former Medical student at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC). 

  While at the campus in 1998, Nwoye contested and won a seat to represent the Medical Students at the University of Nigeria House of Representatives, Students’ Union. That same year, he was elected the Speaker of the Students’ Union House of Representatives.

  Between 2000 and 2004, Nwoye became very prominent in the youth and student movements, and in December 2003, he was elected the National president, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).

  It was from there that he caught the attention of Chief Chris Uba and his elder now Senator Andy Ubah, who were in control of Anambra politics after Mbadinuju’s godfather, Sir Emeka Offor, was dislodged. 

   In 2005, Nwoye was elected the Assistant Secretary of the PDP in Anambra State, a position he held till 2006. While holding that office, Andy Ubah moved him to occupy the vacant of the office of the State Chairman of PDP in Anambra State, which he occupied from 2006-2009, and worked assiduously for the interest of Andy Ubah in the 2007 general elections. 

  In 2011 general elections, he contested election for Anambra East/West Federal Constituency seat at the National Assembly, but the Certificate of Return was issued to Chriscato Ameke. 

  He went to court to challenge the action and on July 13, 2011, the court declared him as the winner of the election into Anambra East/West Federal Constituency.

  However, the leadership of the House of Representatives did not allow him to take his seat in the House. Their argument was that the matter had to be finally decided by Supreme Court in line with the 1999 Constitution.

 Nwoye allegedly blamed his predicament on Andy Uba, whom he had fallen out with. The source of their quarrel was not revealed, but Nwoye immediately sought succor with the business mogul, Chief Arthur Eze, whom happens to be President Jonathan’s man Friday in the state.

  Nwoye hails from Anambra North zone just like the APGA candidate, Obiano. In fact, he is from the same council area, Anambra East, with Obiano, a development that is already raising fears among the people, who have been clamouring for the governorship seat, that there may be a division of votes in the zone in the election.

  Apart from Obiano, Ngige’s running mate, Chief Ralph Okeke,  a two-time chairman of Anambra West council area, and one-time member representing Anambra East/West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, will be another hard nut to crack for Nwoye and Obiano in the zone.

 Like Okeke, Nwoye is seen by many as a grassroots politician with followers, but how far such will go for him in the election will be seen on November 16.

   Another factor that may work against him is the crisis in the state chapter of the party. It is believed that Uba and Ukachukwu supporters in the party may work against his interest especially in Anambra South where they hail from.

  While some people even quarrel with age and antecedents, Nwoye enjoys the support of the party leadership, and the Presidency which The Guardian learnt yesterday, had released huge sums for his campaign’s flag-off today in Onitsha, Anambra State.

Senator Chris Ngige (APC)

   Ngige, a medical doctor was also a renowned public servant, who retired voluntarily in 1998 as deputy director, Federal Ministry of Health, to join politics.   

   He was a foundation member and national officer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before emerging governor of the state in 2003.

  His political battle with the then godfathers in Anambra politics and his achievements in office boosted his political image and endeared him to the people of the state. He was removed from office in 2006 via an Appeal Court judgment procured by the incumbent Governor Mr. Peter Obi. 

  He co-founded the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2006, and won the Anambra Central senatorial election on the party platform in 2011.

  Ngige is a staunch Catholic and a Knight of St. John (KSJ). When allegation was leveled against him that he slapped a priest at a function in Anambra State recently, the Catholic Diocese debunked the allegation, describing it as a calculated attempt to malign him ahead of the election.

  He is from Anambra Central just like Governor Obi, Chief Umeh, Prince Arthur Eze, Prof. Dora Akunyili and others. His council area is Idemili South.

  There is no doubt that the Central zone is Ngige’s stronghold.

  Popularly known as Onwa, (the moon that shines), Ngige is seen by many in the state as a courageous, rugged and grassroots politician.

     He has a strong following in the state, as many see him as a man who, as governor, opened the eyes of the people to what the government could with prudent management of state’s resources.

  He has been running serious campaigns which flag-off was witnessed by who is who in his political party; a clear evidence that he enjoys the support of the APC governors and leadership.   

  Being the only major contender from the Anambra Central in the election, Ngige may get the bulk votes from the zone. With his deputy’s influence in the North zone coupled with the cosmopolitan nature of the commercial cities of Nnewi, Ogbaru and Onitsha, he is expected to garner votes in the South zone. 

  Many people are of the view that the race is between him and Obiano or Uba, but election, especially in Anambra State, is not and can never be mathematics, in which one plus one is two.    

  Before now, some people saw his party platform as his undoing, but such appears to be fading out, considering that party is just a vehicle to take politicians to where they are going.

Willie Obiano (APGA)

  He is a professional banker and chattered accountant, before being lured into politics by Governor Peter Obi, to see if he could succeed him in office. He was the dark horse, who later, against all expectations and permutations emerged APGA candidate for the election through Obi’s support.

  His emergence ruffled feathers in the party as the faction loyal to Mr. Maxi Okwu, had also picked Dr. Chike Obidigbo as the party candidate.

   Obidigbo was the choice of the Anambra North political and traditional leaders whom Obi has mandated to search for his successor from the zone, only for Obi to make a u-turn and hand-picked Obiano.

  Before the Supreme Court judgment that confirmed Comrade Tony Nwoye the authentic candidate of the PDP in the election, everything appeared to be working for Obiano for good in the zone. But since the judgment was delivered, the situation appeared to have changed, with the people of the zone now divided between Obiano and Nwoye.

 Poll watchers are of the view that unless the people of the zone come together to make a choice between Obiano and Nwoye, the votes would be divided in the zone. As it is now, Anambra North is the only zone with two formidable candidates for the election.

    Obiano may be having an edge against Nwoye because he enjoys the support of the Governor Obi and his political structures in the state.

  Both Nwoye and Obiano have political godfathers in the persons of Prince Arthur Eze and Governor Obi respectively, a political syndrome the people of the state may not like to risk again, considering the experiences of the Ngige/Uba crisis in 2003. 

Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah (LP)

  He was among the first that declared his intention to run for the governorship election. He hobnobbed with the Chief Victor Umeh-led faction of the APGA when Umeh fell out with Governor Obi. Many had thought that Ubah would be contesting the election on the APGA platform, but when he saw that the coast was not clear there, he quickly moved over to the Labour Party. 

  He has run a robust campaign and established offices in all 21 council areas in the state. He has continued to tell those who care to listen that if he did not win, he would not contest again. Ubah is the Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil and Gas, which is being run temporarily by the Asset Management Company (AMCON)

  He has age on his side and has the financial muscle to finance his campaign. He is a Catholic and has done enough for churches in the state, especially the Catholic Church.    

    He is from Anambra South, the same zone as the candidate of the PPA, Chief Goddy Ezeemo. He is also a Catholic by faith.   

  Observers believe that he may garner majority votes in the zone, but he has to contend with the some influential politicians in the zone like Sir Emeka Offor, Senator Andy Uba, Chief Chris Uba, Prof. Charles Soludo and others. 

 Besides, his zone is that of late Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu. So, it is expected that APGA may make an inroad in the zone.

Chief Goddy Ezeemo (PPA)

  He is a London-based businessman. After losing out in the party primaries of the APC to Senator Chris Ngige, Ezeemo switched to the PPA where he was used to substitute the initial candidate of the party, who also happened to be a London-based legal practitioner.

  The gist is that he was initially planted in the APC by the state government to thwart the emergence of Dr. Chris Ngige. But Ezeemo has since denied the allegation, claiming that he is in the race to win the election.

  He has been running a robust campaign. He is from Anambra South zone just like Ubah. 

  Finally, it is certain that between now and next Saturday (Election Day), there will be a lot of political alignments and re-alignments among the candidates and the political parties, major political stakeholders, the churches, town unions and the people that may alter or strengthen the current political permutations or calculation.

  So, there is air of anxiety, surprises and uncertainties ahead of the election which many are praying to be decided at the polling booths instead of the courts. 

   In view of these, all eyes are on the INEC, security agents, voters and the political parties to make the election a free and fair contest, where losers will congratulate the winner, and winner embraces the losers.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ngige Leads Other Candidates In Pre-election Poll

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Seven days to the Governorship election in Anambra State, an opinion poll conducted in the state has ceded the result of the election to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Chris Ngige.

The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Willie Obiano, came second, while Comrade Tony Nwoye of the people’s Democratic party (PDP) came third with Labour Party’s (LP), Ifeanyi Ubah in fourth place.

The poll was conducted by Pollstar Opinion Poll and Survey, a policy, politics, economy, business and consultancy outfit wich has Obi Benedict Ekene as its Executive Director.

Others who followed the leaders included Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) with 10 per cent; Ifeatu Ekelem of Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) with 5 per cent; Basil Iwuoba of PPN (3 per cent); Prince Akanegbu of UPP (2.5 per cent); Anayo Arinze of ACD (1.5 per cent) while the remaining 3.5 percent was shared by the remaining candidates.

In the poll result made available to reporters in Awka yesterday, Ngige’s APC scored 27 per cent, Obiano’s APGA polled 21 per cent while Nwoye’s PDP had 15 per cent.

According to Pollstar, “Key factors that will determine the election outcome include pedigree, organisational capacity, emotional attachment and to a larger extent, the political party platform.

“In organising this opinion poll on Anambra 2013 governorship election, our major aim is to instill further the spirit of sportsmanship into the election, which has characterised Anambra election in recent times, and to separate the real contenders from the pretenders.

“We have therefore exercised the highest level of objectivity in generating and analysing data, leading to a factual result which reflects the reality on the ground.

“Pollstar is the most respected opinion poll agency in Nigeria with our predictions reflecting close to 99 per cent clarity,” Ekene said.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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