- Drought-hit Pacific island nation down to last few days of water
- Romney says would exert U.S. leadership globally
- Wall St protests spread, Fed official sympathizes
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 09:27 PM PDT
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A drought-stricken Pacific island nation is down to its last few days of water, prompting a mercy dash by New Zealand and Australia with water-making equipment.
Tuvalu, the world's fourth-smallest nation sitting just below the Equator, has declared a state of emergency and is rationing water.
Tuvalu has a collective land mass of just 25 sq km (10 square miles) with its highest point five metres above sea level and is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change and rising oceans.
Air force planes from New Zealand and Australia were combining on Friday to move a large desalination plant to Tuvalu, a group of small islands around 3,180 km northeast of New Zealand.
"The advice is that more capacity is needed to relieve the acute water shortage and replenish stocks," said New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully in a statement.
"The large army desalination equipment...will help ease the critical shortage and should provide a sufficient buffer if the dry period continues as expected."
Residents in the capital Funafuti have been rationed to two buckets of fresh water a day. The country has a population of fewer than 11,000 on nine low lying atolls.
Emergency water supplies have also been shipped to the Tokelau island group, where 1,300 people are down to a few days water because of drought.
Rain, which supplies much of the water for the two nations, has been well below average for the past six months because of a severe La Nina weather pattern.
That has increased the strength of eastern trade winds across the Pacific, pushing rainfall to the west and away from the islands.
(Writing by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 09:27 PM PDT
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will vow on Friday to exert U.S. leadership worldwide with military power and diplomacy in a speech aimed at showing he has foreign policy mettle.
Romney will say that if elected in November 2012, he will promise a series of actions over his first 100 days in office to demonstrate American might.
"I will not surrender America's role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president," Romney will say, according to excerpts released by his campaign.
Romney, a former businessman who was also Massachusetts governor, has little foreign policy experience. In his speech, he seeks to demonstrate to Americans he would be able to handle crises abroad and exert U.S. leadership in an unsettled world.
He also attempts to portray Democratic President Barack Obama, whom he wants to replace, as weak despite some clear foreign policy successes by the president, such as the killing last May of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and well-received efforts to wind down the U.S. troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Romney would step up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program by ordering the regular presence of an aircraft carrier task force in both the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region and begin discussions with Israel to increase military and intelligence coordination.
MAINTAINING MILITARY SUPREMACY
Stressing the need to maintain U.S. military supremacy, Romney will pledge to prevent any massive cuts in defense spending. He has denounced an August agreement between Obama and Congress that could permit deep cuts in the U.S. defense budget as part of an effort to tackle record budget deficits.
Romney would order the U.S. Navy built up by increasing the shipbuilding rate to about 15 a year from nine in order to bolster the American presence on the high seas.
"The United States should always retain military supremacy to deter would-be aggressors and to defend our allies and ourselves," he will say.
He would work to bolster relations with Israel that some critics say have been damaged by what they feel was Obama's favoring of the Palestinians over Israel.
Romney would also strengthen the U.S.-British "special relationship" and begin talks with Mexico on border violence due to the drug trade.
"America must lead the world, or someone else will," Romney will say.
Romney is hoping South Carolina will give him a second chance in 2012.
Consigned to a humbling fourth-place finish in the South Carolina Republican primary in 2008, Romney has some convincing to do to persuade the state's conservatives to back him this time over rivals such as Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Romney on Thursday spent the first of two days in the Charleston area trying to appeal to U.S. military veterans who live in the state and are an influential voting bloc.
He leads in national opinion polls over Perry and businessman Herman Cain three months before Republican primary voting begins, but is attempting to break out of the pack.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 06:54 PM PDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Protests against the U.S. financial system and economic inequality spread across America on Thursday and found unlikely sympathy from a top official of one of the main targets of scorn -- the Federal Reserve.
The Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York last month with a few people expanded to protests in more than a dozen cities.
They included Tampa, Florida; Trenton and Jersey City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Norfolk, Virginia, in the East; Chicago and St. Louis in the Midwest; Houston, San Antonio and Austin in Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Los Angeles in the West.
Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher surprised a business group in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday when he said, "I am somewhat sympathetic -- that will shock you."
The Fed played a key role in one of the protest targets, the 2008 Wall Street bailout that critics say let banks enjoy huge profits while average Americans suffered high unemployment and job insecurity.
"We have too many people out of work," Fisher said. "We have a very uneven distribution of income. We have too many people out of work for too long. We have a very frustrated people, and I can understand their frustration."
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also acknowledged the frustration and anger of the protesters on Thursday.
"People are frustrated and, you know, the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works," Obama said at a news conference in Washington.
Biden, speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum, likened the protest movement to the Tea Party, which sprang to life in 2009 after Obama's election and has become a powerful conservative grass-roots force helping elect dozens of Republicans to office.
"The American people do not think the system is fair," Biden said.
With support from unions boosting the protesters' ranks, organizers predicted the momentum would build across the country.
"This is the beginning," said John Preston in Philadelphia, business manager for Teamsters Local 929. "Teamsters will support the movement city to city."
In Philadelphia, up to 1,000 protesters chanted and waved placards reading: "I did not think 'By the People, For the People' meant 1 percent," a reference to their argument the country's top few have too much wealth and political power.
In Los Angeles, more than 100 protesters crowded outside a Bank of America branch downtown, while a smaller group dressed in business attire slipped inside and pitched a tent. Eleven were arrested when they refused to remove the tent.
In Washington, protesters carried signs that read: "Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed" and "Stop the War on Workers."
"I believe the American dream is truly in jeopardy," said protester Darrell Bouldin, 25, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. "There are so many people like me in Tennessee who are fed up with the Wall Street gangsters."
On Wednesday, about 5,000 people marched on New York's financial district, the biggest rally so far, swelled by nurses, transit workers and other union members. Dozens of people were arrested and police used pepper spray on some protesters.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he understood the anger being felt by the protesters but had to balance that with the economic importance of Wall Street to the state. Wall Street is the pillar of the New York state economy, making up 13 percent of tax contributions.
The head of General Electric Co finance arm, Michael Neal, said he was sympathetic to the cause.
"People are really angry, and I get it. If I were unemployed now, I'd be really angry too," Neal told Reuters in Columbus, Ohio, after a GE event.
(Additional reporting by Corrie MacLaggan in Austin, Bruce Olson in St. Louis, Jim Forsyth in San Antonio, Ian Simpson in Washington, Dave Warner in Philadelphia and Chris Baltimore in Houston; Writing by Michelle Nichols and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Jerry Norton, Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
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