Ice glazes over swath of US as wind chills fall below zero

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Waves crash over homes on Lighthouse Road during a winter storm that brought snow, sleet and rain to the area on January 20, 2019 in Scituate, Massachusetts. Icy conditions are predicted for much of Massachusetts. (AFP)
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Ice and snow cover Interstate 93 through the city during Winter Storm Harper in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20, 2019. (AFP)
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Ice and snow cover Interstate 93 through the Zakem Bridge during Winter Storm Harper in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20, 2019. (AFP)
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A man scrapes ice and snow off of his car following a winter storm that brought snow, rain, and a flash freeze on January 20, 2019 in Quincy, Massachusetts. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Ice glazes over swath of US as wind chills fall below zero

  • More than 1,500 flights were canceled nationwide Sunday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company

BOSTON: Bitter cold is setting in after a major winter storm blanketed a wide swath of the country in snow, sleet and rain this weekend, creating dangerously icy conditions that promise to complicate cleanup efforts and make travel challenging on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Some of the coldest temperatures felt so far this season started to set in across the Midwest and Northeast Sunday and are expected to plunge further overnight.
Wind chills will bring temperatures into teens in the New York City area and down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius) in upstate New York, the National Weather Service predicted.
In New England, they’ll fall to as low as 20 F (29 C) below zero around Boston and as low as 35 F (37 C) below zero in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, the service said.
Temperatures across the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and the Mid-Atlantic will drop 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit below average, the service said.
“It’s life-threatening,” said Ray O’Keefe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany. “These are dangerous conditions that we’re going to be in and they’re prolonged, right through tomorrow.”
The freeze will follow the weekend’s run-ins with power outages, canceled trains and planes, overnight stays at the airport and traffic jams.
Local officials warned residents to limit their time outside to prevent frostbite and to avoid treacherous travel conditions. They also said places could see strong wind gusts, flooding and further power outages.
Utilities in Connecticut reported more than 20,000 customers without power by Sunday afternoon.
“We had more freezing rain and sleet than we expected,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Sunday as public works crews across the state raced to clear and treat major roadways before dangerous black ice could form.
Amtrak canceled trains across the Midwest and Northeast over the weekend, but promised full service would resume Monday. Boston’s transit system urged commuters to allow 10 to 15 minutes of extra travel time and warned of icy conditions for pedestrians come Monday.
The storm — caused by the clash of an Arctic high-pressure system with a low-pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley — wreaked havoc on air travel and other forms of transportation all weekend.
More than 1,500 flights were canceled nationwide Sunday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company.
Among the hardest hit was Boston’s Logan Airport, where stranded passengers lingered Sunday as typically bustling security lines, ticketing counters and baggage claims were largely deserted.
Xavi Ortega, a 32-year old engineer from Spain, said he and his wife slept overnight at the airport after their Saturday night flight home to Barcelona was canceled. He said the couple hoped to board a flight Sunday night.
“We’ve been sleeping, playing Candy Crush,” Ortega said when asked how’d they been passing the hours.
A ferry service route across Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York was also closed Sunday and flights were mostly canceled at major airports in Vermont and New Hampshire.
In the Midwest, where it dumped 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow in parts, the storm caused a plane to skid on a slick runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Saturday, though no injuries were reported.
In Kansas, a snowplow driver was killed when his vehicle rolled over, and in southeastern Missouri, slippery conditions caused a 15-vehicle crash on Interstate 55 on Saturday.
One saving grace of the storm: heavily populated coastal communities from New York to Boston largely escaped major snowfall after days of sometimes dire predictions.
Manhattan saw mostly rain while places along Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ coast recorded 2 to 5 inches (5 to 13 centimeters) of snow.
Mountain regions saw significantly more, to the delight of ski resort operators.
New York’s Adirondacks registered up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) while western Massachusetts’ Berkshires saw as much as 10 and parts of northern New England were on track to approach 24 inches of snow.
Nicholas Nicolet and his 6-year-old son Rocco welcomed the fresh powder as they cross-country skied on the sidewalks of Montpelier, Vermont early Sunday morning.
“We think it’s great,” Nicholas Nicolet said during the storm.
President Donald Trump urged Americans affected by the winter storm to “be careful” in a tweet early Sunday. But, as he’s done in the past, Trump conflated the short-term weather phenomenon with longer-term climate change.
The White House’s own National Climate Assessment recently rejected the idea that a particular plunge in temperatures can cast uncertainty on whether Earth is warming.
“Amazing how big this system is,” Trump tweeted. “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!“


Dutch court cuts state’s liability for Srebrenica deaths

In this Wednesday, March 20, 2019 file photo, a woman prays at the Potocari memorial center for victims of the Srebrenica genocide, in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (AP)
Updated 20 July 2019
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Dutch court cuts state’s liability for Srebrenica deaths

  • The 350 were among the almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the genocide at Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II

THE HAGUE: The Dutch Supreme Court on Friday slashed the state’s liability for 350 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, saying peacekeepers had only a “slim” chance of preventing their deaths.
The 350 men were among 5,000 terrified residents who had sought safety in the Dutch peacekeepers’ base when the besieged Muslim enclave was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
The lightly armed Dutch troops eventually became overwhelmed and shut the gates to new arrivals before allowing Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic to evacuate the refugees.
The men and boys were separated and taken in buses to their deaths, their bodies dumped in mass graves.
Judges, however, on Friday reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent the Dutch state’s responsibility for compensation to the families in a case brought by the Mothers of Srebrenica victims’ organization.
The 350 were among the almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the genocide at Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II and the darkest episode in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
“The Dutch State bears very limited liability in the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ case,” the Supreme Court said. “That liability is limited to 10 percent of the damages suffered by the surviving relatives of approximately 350 victims.”

After the ruling, Mothers’ president Munira Subasic, who lost family members including her son, husband and father in the massacre, expressed disappointment.
“Today we experienced humiliation upon humiliation. We could not even hear the judgment in our own language because we were not given a translator,” she told AFP.
At Srebrenica “every life was taken away 100 percent. There is little we can do with 10 percent, but yes, the responsibility still lies where it does.”
“I only have two bones. I have found less than 10 percent of his body,” she added, referring to her teenage son.
The Dutch government accepted responsibility, saying it was relieved that “finally there was some clarity.”
A Dutch court originally held the state liable for compensation in 2014. In 2017 the appeals court upheld that decision before it was referred to the Supreme Court.
The lower court had said in 2017 that the Dutch actions meant the Muslims were “denied a 30 percent chance of avoiding abuse and execution,” and thus the Dutch state was liable for 30 percent of damages owed to families.
The Supreme Court agreed that “the state did act wrongfully in relation to the evacuation of the 5,000 refugees” in the compound, including 350 Muslim men the Bosnian Serbs were unaware of.
It said the Dutch peacekeepers “failed to offer these 350 male refugees the choice to stay where they were, even though that would have been possible.”
But explaining the decision to reduce the liability, the Supreme Court said that “the chance that the male refugees would have escaped the Bosnian Serbs had they been given the choice to stay was slim, but not negligible.”
Reacting to the ruling, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said in a statement the cabinet would “examine how to best implement the liability for damages suffered by the relatives in such a way it does justice to the Supreme Court ruling.”

In a swipe at the failure of other foreign powers to act during the 1995 crisis, the top court added that the “chance of Dutchbat (the Dutch UN mission) receiving effective support from the international community was slim.”
Former Dutchbat soldiers attending the case said they were disappointed on behalf of the victims’ families.
“I think the final judgment is a bit disappointing, especially when you see the court ruling of 30 percent and now it’s downgraded to 10 percent,” said Remko de Bruijne, a former Dutch blue helmet who served at Srebrenica.
“I think that’s not fair for the Mothers of Srebrenica but, on the other hand, now it’s clear,” he told AFP.
Srebrenica has cast a long shadow over The Netherlands, forcing a the government to resign in 2002 after a scathing report on the role of politicians in the episode.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is currently serving a life sentence in jail in The Hague after being convicted of genocide over Srebrenica and war crimes throughout the 1990s.
Ex-military chief Mladic, 76, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia,” is currently appealing a life sentence on similar charges at an international tribunal in The Hague.
Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic’s long-time patron during the war, was on trial in The Hague at the time of his death in 2006.