Evening Reads: Non-Election News Round-Up

Tonight’s reads will focus on other news events around the world.

Time for the Northeast to get hit again, this time the storm has been named “Athena” by The Weather Channel.

Wintry storm brings new woe to hard-hit Northeast

authorities warned weary residents not to ignore this storm’s dangers.

“You have to prepare for the storm that’s coming in a few hours,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told residents. “I’m waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” he joked, in a reference to Old Testament plagues.

The low-pressure weather system brought wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour and could drop 2 inches to 4 inches of snow on New York City, the National Weather Service said.

Ice pellets hit Long Island and the storm lifted wave heights to nearly 20 feet off Nantucket, Massachusetts, AccuWeather reported.

School districts in Connecticut sent students home early as a precaution and the New York Stock Exchange removed the giant U.S. flag from its facade to protect it from high winds.

A mix of rain and snow fell on parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, causing airport delays.

Airlines canceled more than 1,700 flights, with Newark airport facing the most cancellations, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.

Many folks are still without power, and this new storm in hitting them hard.

“It’s coming up on 10 days with people being freezing in their homes,” said Peter DiPaola, town supervisor of Pelham, north of New York City.

“I lost all my winter clothing in the flood, so I am wearing three layers of things in order to stay somewhat warm and dry,” said Wayne Steinman, a resident of Staten Island, one of the parts of New York City hardest hit by Sandy. “Everything becomes overwhelming.”

Utilities warned that the storm would slow their efforts to restore power to homes and businesses.

“Up until today we have been making some good restoration progress. We’ve had some good restoration weather, but today is certainly an exception,” said John Miksad, senior vice president of electric operations at New York-area utility Consolidated Edison Inc. “We actually pulled back as a result of the weather today but we will be back out there first thing tomorrow morning.”

There was also a large earthquake today, Strong quake off Guatemala kills 39, felt in Mexico City

A strong earthquake off the coast of Guatemala shook buildings in the capital and killed at least 39 people on Wednesday, trapping others under rubble and triggering evacuations as far away as Mexico City.

The 7.4 magnitude quake hit at 10:35 a.m. local time (11:35 EDT). A local fire chief said at least some of the dead were buried under debris in a mountainous region near the Mexican border.

Landslides blocked roads in some areas, authorities said, and about 40 houses were severely damaged.

It was the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a 7.5 magnitude quake in 1976 that claimed more than 20,000 lives.

President Otto Perez said that as many as 100 people were unaccounted for, based on reports from relatives.

“These are preliminary figures and we don’t have them confirmed,” Perez said in Guatemala City. “Our priority is to focus on lives, rescuing people and treating the wounded.”

Okay, now for the man-made disasters: Greece narrowly passes crucial austerity bill

Greece’s Parliament passed a crucial austerity bill early Thursday in vote so close that it left the coalition government reeling from dissent.

The bill, which will further slash pensions and salaries, passed 153-128 in the 300-member Parliament. It came hours after rioters rampaged outside Parliament during an 80,000-strong anti-austerity demonstration, clashing with police who responded with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons.

Approval of the cuts and tax increases worth €13.5 billion ($17 billion) over two years was a big step for Greek efforts to secure the next installment of its international rescue loans and stave off imminent bankruptcy.

The country’s international creditors have demanded that the bill and the 2013 budget, due to be voted on Sunday, pass before they consider releasing an already delayed €31.5 billion installment from Greece’s €240 billion bailout. Without it, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says Greece will run out of money on Nov. 16.

“Greece made a big decisive and optimistic step today. A step toward recovery,” Samaras said, adding that he was “very happy” with the result.

Greek parliament narrowly approves €13.5bn austerity package after mass protests – as it happened

A petrol bomb thrown by protesters explodes near riot police in front of parliament during clashes in Athens, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012.

A petrol bomb thrown by protesters explodes near riot police in front of parliament during clashes in Athens, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. Photograph: Dimitri Messinis/AP
Over in Syria, here is the latest according to BBC News – David Cameron meets Syrian refugees as UK begins rebel talks

David Cameron says he is determined to give Syria a brighter future as he met refugees of the conflict at a camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Britain is to begin talks with armed Syrian rebels in a bid to unite the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, the UK prime minister said.

The discussions are due to take place in Jordan and Turkey.

Visiting the refugee camp on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said the suffering of refugees was “horrendous”.

Up to 500 people a day have been arriving at the Za’atri camp, Mr Cameron was told, some having walked 15 days in order to try and find shelter.

I want to end this post with a video, I don’t know if it is “real” or not, but it sure is funny…and I think we all need a laugh.

It starts at 1:09, and it involves a bank robbery…

Now that isn’t just luck, that is plain dumb.

This is an open thread!