Northeast US tries to dig out, power up after latest storm

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A man clears snow off of his car on State Street in Danbury, Connecticut, during a snowstorm on March 7, 2018. (Carol Kaliff/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)
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Pedestrians walk along Delancey St. during a snowstorm on March 7, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Northeast US tries to dig out, power up after latest storm

HARTFORD, US: Residents in the US Northeast dug out from as much as 2 feet of wet, heavy snow Thursday, while utilities dealt with downed trees and power lines that snarled traffic and left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the dark after two strong nor’easters — all with the possibility of another storm headed to the area.
With many schools closed for a second day, forecasters tracked the possibility of another late-season snowstorm to run up the coast early next week.
“The strength of it and how close it comes to the coast will make all the difference. At this point it’s too early to say,” said Jim Nodchey, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Massachusetts. “We’re just looking at a chance.”
Snow still was falling Thursday in places including Vermont, where storm warnings were in effect until the evening.
Police say an 88-year-old woman has been killed by a tree that fell and crushed her as she shoveled snow in the New York City suburbs.
Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn told the Journal News that Barbara Suleski was injured around 5 p.m. Wednesday and died at a hospital.
Neighbors were trying to help her when police arrived. Live wires wrapped around the tree made the rescue more difficult.
More than 800,000 customers were without power in the Northeast, including some who have been without electricity since last Friday’s destructive nor’easter. Thousands of flights across the region were canceled, and traveling on the ground was treacherous.
A train carrying more than 100 passengers derailed in Wilmington, Massachusetts, after a fallen tree branch got wedged in a rail switch. Nobody was hurt. Tory Mazzola, a spokesman for Keolis Commuter Services, which runs the system for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said the low-speed derailment remains under investigation.
In New Hampshire, Interstate 95 in Portsmouth was closed in both directions because of downed power lines, leaving traffic at a standstill for hours.
Amtrak restored modified service between New York City and Boston on Thursday after suspending it because of the storm. New York City’s Metro-North commuter railroad, which had suspended service on lines connecting the city to its northern suburbs and Connecticut because of downed trees, restored partial service Thursday.
In Wells, Maine, the Maine Diner remained open even though much of the town was without power after the storm dumped a foot-and-a-half of snow.
“If people are going to lose power, then they need some place to go. We do everything we can to stay open and provide that service,” said Jim MacNeill, the restaurant’s general manager.
Steve Marchillo, a finance director at the University of Connecticut’s Hartford branch, said he enjoyed the sight of heavily snow-laden trees on his way into work Thursday but they also made him nervous.
“It looks cool as long as they don’t fall down on you and you don’t lose power,” he said.
The Mount Snow ski area in Dover, Vermont, received 31 inches of snow by Thursday morning with more still falling. The resort said the snowfall from the past two storms would set it up for skiing through the middle of April.
Montville, New Jersey, got more than 26 inches from Wednesday’s nor’easter. North Adams, Massachusetts, registered 24 inches, and Sloatsburg, New York, got 26 inches.
Major cities along the Interstate 95 corridor saw much less. Philadelphia International Airport recorded about 6 inches, while New York City’s Central Park saw less than 3 inches.
The storm was not as severe as the nor’easter that toppled trees, flooded coastal communities and caused more than 2 million power outages from Virginia to Maine last Friday.
It still proved to be a headache for the tens of thousands of customers still in the dark from the earlier storm — and for the crews trying to restore power to them. Eversource, an electric utility serving Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, said it could take several days to restore power for everyone due partly to the challenge of clearing storm debris and repairing damage.
Massachusetts was hardest hit by outages, with more than 345,000 utility customers losing service Thursday. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker shut down all non-essential state offices.
In Maine, Republican Gov. Paul LePage also closed state offices and encouraged residents to stay off roads “unless it is an absolute emergency.”
In New Jersey, the state’s major utilities reported more than 247,000 customers without power a day after the storm.
An 88-year-old woman in the New York City suburb of Suffern was crushed to death by a tree that fell as she shoveled snow Wednesday afternoon, Police Chief Clarke Osborn old the Journal News.
In North White Plains, New York, 10 people were taken to hospitals with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator inside a home, police said. All were expected to survive.
In Manchester Township, New Jersey, police said a teacher was struck by lightning while holding an umbrella on bus duty outside a school. The woman felt a tingling sensation but didn’t lose consciousness. She was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.


China ups pressure as tech exec's hearing goes into Tuesday

Liu Xiaozong, husband of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer arrives at a Vancouver, British Columbia courthouse following a break in the bail hearing for his wife on Monday, December 10, 2018. (AP)
Updated 11 December 2018
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China ups pressure as tech exec's hearing goes into Tuesday

  • The Canadian province of British Columbia has already canceled a trade mission to China amid fears China could detain Canadians in retaliation for Meng's detention
  • The prosecutor said her husband has no meaningful connections to Vancouver and spends only two or three weeks a year in the city

VANCOUVER, British Columbia: A jailed Chinese technology executive will have to wait at least one more day to see if she will be released on bail in a case that has raised U.S.-China tensions and complicated efforts to resolve a trade dispute that has roiled financial markets and threatened global economic growth.
Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of its founder, was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport Dec. 1 — the same day that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China agreed to a 90-day cease-fire in the trade dispute that threatens to disrupt global commerce.
The U.S. has accused Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It also says Meng and Huawei misled banks about the company's business dealings in Iran.
After a second daylong session, Justice William Ehrcke said the bail hearing would continue Tuesday.
In urging the court to reject Meng's bail request, prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley noted the Huawei executive has vast resources and a strong incentive to flee as she is facing fraud charges in the United States that could put her in prison for 30 years.
Gibb-Carsley later told the judge that if he does decide to grant bail it should include house arrest.
David Martin, Meng's lawyer, said Meng was willing to pay for a surveillance company to monitor her and wear an ankle monitor but she wanted to be able to travel around Vancouver and its suburbs. Scott Filer of Lions Gate Risk Management group said his company would make a citizen's arrest if she breached bail conditions.
Martin said Meng's husband would put up both of their Vancouver homes plus $1 million Canadian ($750,000) for a total value of $15 million Canadian ($11.2 million) as collateral.
The judge cast doubt on that proposal, saying Meng's husband isn't a resident of British Columbia — a requirement for him to act as a guarantor that his wife won't flee — and his visitor visa expires in February.
The prosecutor said her husband has no meaningful connections to Vancouver and spends only two or three weeks a year in the city. Gibb-Carsley also expressed concern about the idea of using a security company paid by Meng.
He said later that $15 million Canadian ($11.2 million) would be an appropriate amount if the judge granted bail, but he said half should be in cash.
Meng's arrest has fueled U.S.-China trade tensions at a time when the two countries are seeking to resolve a dispute over Beijing's technology and industrial strategy. Both sides have sought to keep the issues separate, at least so far, but the arrest has roiled markets, with stock markets worldwide down again Monday.
The hearing has sparked widespread interest, and the courtroom was packed again Monday with media and spectators, including some who came to support Meng. One man in the gallery brought binoculars to have a closer look at Meng, while outside court a man and woman held a sign that read "Free Ms. Meng."
Over the weekend, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canadian Ambassador John McCallum and U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad.
Le warned both countries that Beijing would take steps based on their response. Asked Monday what those steps might be, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said only, "It totally depends on the Canadian side itself."
The Canadian province of British Columbia has already canceled a trade mission to China amid fears China could detain Canadians in retaliation for Meng's detention.
Stocks around the world fell Monday over investor concerns about the continuing U.S.-China trade dispute, as well as the cloud hanging over Brexit negotiations after Britain's prime minister postponed a vote on her deal for Britain to quit the European Union. In the U.S., stocks were volatile, tumbling in the morning and then recovering in the afternoon.
The Huawei case complicates efforts to resolve the U.S.-China trade dispute. The United States has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports, charging that China steals American technology and forces U.S. companies to turn over trade secrets.
Tariffs on $200 billion of those imports were scheduled to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent on Jan. 1. But over dinner Dec. 1 with Xi in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Trump agreed to delay the increase for 90 days, buying time for more negotiations.
Bill Perry, a trade lawyer with Harris Bricken in Seattle, said China's decelerating economy is putting pressure on Xi to make concessions before U.S. tariffs go up.
"They need a trade deal. They don't want the tariffs to go up to 25" percent, said Perry, who produces the "US China Trade War" blog. "This is Damocles' sword hanging over the Chinese government."
Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, has become the target of U.S. security concerns because of its ties to the Chinese government. The U.S. has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.
Lu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, accused countries he didn't cite by name of hyping the "so-called" threat.
"I must tell you that not a single piece of evidence have they ever presented to back their allegation," he said. "To create obstacles for companies' normal operations based on speculation is quite absurd."
Canadian officials have declined to comment on Chinese threats of retaliation, instead emphasizing the independence of Canada's judiciary and the importance of Ottawa's relationship with Beijing.