Saturday, November 3, 2012

Published:

Lights return to lower Manhattan, but frustration grows in outer areas over gas, power

NEW YORK (AP) -- The lights were back on Saturday in lower Manhattan, prompting screams of sweet relief from residents who had been plunged into darkness for nearly five days by Superstorm Sandy. But that joy contrasted with deepening resentment in the city's outer boroughs and suburbs over a continued lack of power and maddening gas shortages.

Adding to the misery of those without power, heat or gasoline were dipping temperatures. Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged older residents without heat to move to shelters and said 25,000 blankets were being distributed across the city.

"We're New Yorkers, and we're going to get through it," the mayor said. "But I don't want anyone to think we're out of the woods."

Bloomberg also said that resolving gas shortages could take days. Lines snaked around gas stations for many blocks all over the stricken region, including northern New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie imposed rationing that recalled the worst days of fuel shortages of the 1970s.

Perhaps nowhere was the scene more confused than at a refueling station in Brooklyn, where the National Guard gave out free gas -- an effort to alleviate the situation. There, a mass of honking cars, desperate drivers and people on foot, carrying containers from empty bleach bottles to five-gallon Poland Spring water jugs, was just the latest testament to the misery unleashed by Sandy.

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Dems upbeat about holding onto Senate; GOP pursues last chances to grab control

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans vigorously pursued their last, longshot chances for taking control of the Senate -- Pennsylvania topped their list -- as Democrats remained cautiously optimistic that they'd retain their narrow majority after Tuesday's suspense-filled elections.

In the final days of a caustic campaign marked by negative ads, more than $1 billion in spending and the direct impact of a close White House race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, Democrats who were once considered a sure-fire bet to lose the Senate were upbeat about flipping Republican seats in Maine and Massachusetts and holding most of the 23 seats they're defending this year.

GOP candidates' statements on rape and abortion proved to be self-inflicted political wounds that could cost the party Indiana and undermined its chances of taking down a vulnerable Democrat in Missouri. Incumbent Democrats considered in jeopardy at the start of the election cycle managed to counter a barrage of outside spending and were on track to keep their seats in Michigan and Florida.

Democrats hold a 53-47 Senate edge but Republicans are defending only 10 seats Tuesday. Retirements in 10 states proved the most vexing for both parties.

Democrats were counting on holding the open seat in Hawaii, were unsure whether former Sen. Bob Kerrey's late surge would work in Nebraska and considered Virginia, Wisconsin and North Dakota toss-ups. New Mexico leaned Democratic but was a bit uncertain after the national parties left the two candidates -- Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich and former GOP Rep. Heather Wilson -- to fend for themselves.

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Availability of electricity explains why some areas have enough gas and some still don't

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's a question that's rankled and bewildered many in the Northeast: Why do some areas struck by Superstorm Sandy have plenty of gasoline and others still don't?

It turns out we need electricity to drive. Even if we're driving cars that run on gasoline. And many areas still have no power.

Without electricity, gasoline can't be pumped from refineries, through pipelines, off tanker ships, out of terminals or from gas stations into Toyotas, Chevys and Fords.

"The problem will go away when the power is restored, and it won't go away if it's not," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

The gasoline crisis is expected to end within days as electricity comes back on in most areas of the Northeast.

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AP PHOTOS: Long gas lines after destructive Sandy

NEW YORK (AP) -- Filling stations with "No Gas" signs taped to the pumps are confronting drivers across New York City and coastal New Jersey amid fuel shortages following Superstorm Sandy.

Those lucky enough to find stations with gas for sale face long lines to reach the pumps.

The gas crisis is expected to end within days as electricity comes back across the region, allowing fuel to be pumped from refineries, through pipelines, off tanker ships, out of terminals and to gas stations.

But in the meantime, getting gas for vehicles and home generators can mean protracted hunts for open stations and then hours spent in line.

In Staten Island, drivers seemed to be taking the long wait with calm. Sammy Cruz sat for three hours Saturday and still had 20 cars in front of him.

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Syrian tanks enter demilitarized zone bordering Israel, first time in 4 decades

BEIRUT (AP) -- Three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights on Saturday, Israel said, raising concerns violence from Syria's civil war could heat up a long-quiet frontier that has not seen such an incursion in nearly 40 years.

Israel complained to U.N. peacekeepers present in the area, a relatively low-key response that suggested it did not see the Syrian armor as an immediate threat. But the entry marks the most serious spillover of Syria's turmoil to date at the frontier, where stray ordnance has exploded on the Israeli side in the past.

Neighboring countries are dealing with a variety of incidents linked to the conflict -- Turkey exchanged artillery fire with Syria for a week last month, while Jordan has seen several shootings at the border and clashes linked to the uprising against President Bashar Assad have broken out in Lebanon.

Some in Israel worry that that if Assad goes, the country could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists or descend into sectarian warfare that would destabilizing the region. Islamic fighters -- some from abroad -- are increasingly taking part in key engagements alongside the rebels.

Inside Syria on Saturday for example, Islamic militants took part in a dawn assault on a strategic airbase in the north of the country. The attack, reported by activists, aimed to disrupt strikes by government warplanes and helicopters that are pounding rebel-held towns.

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Hour by hour: What to watch on Election Night; will the suspense linger well into Wednesday?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stock up on munchies and make sure the batteries in your TV remote are fresh. With this year's presidential election razor-close to the finish, Tuesday could be a long night.

Even if the presidency isn't decided until after midnight EST, there will be plenty of clues early in the evening on how things are going for President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. Obama has more options for piecing together the 270 electoral votes needed for victory, so any early setbacks for Romney could be important portents of how the night will end.

Here's a timetable for armchair election watchers on how the night will unfold, based on what time the last polls close in each state. All times are EST.

--7 p.m.: Polls close in six states but all eyes will be on Virginia, the first of the battleground states to begin reporting results. If either candidate is comfortably ahead in Virginia, with 13 electoral votes, that could be a leading indicator of which way the night is going.

Virginia typically has been fairly fast at counting ballots. But there's a new voter ID law in the state that could complicate things this year. Voters who don't bring identification to the polls still can have their ballots counted if they produce ID by Friday. If the race in Virginia is super tight, it could come down to those provisional ballots. On Election Night, no one will even know how many of them are out there.

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Navy removes top officers of San Diego-based frigate after boozy Russian port visit

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The commander and top officers of a San Diego-based Navy frigate have been relieved of duty after a rowdy, booze-fueled port visit to Vladivostok, Russia.

Cmdr. Joseph E. Darlak, skipper of the USS Vandegrift, was removed Friday by Capt. John L. Schultz after an investigation "due to loss of confidence after demonstrating poor leadership and failure to ensure the proper conduct of his wardroom officers" during the three-day September stop, the Navy said in a statement.

Executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Ivan A. Jimenez and the ship's chief engineer and operations officer were also relieved "for personal conduct involving use of alcohol and not adhering to established liberty policies," the statement said.

The names of the two lower-ranked officers were not released because their positions are not considered public under Navy policy, and Navy officials did not give specifics on the misbehavior of any of the officers.

In a post on the official Facebook page of the Navy's 7th Fleet, the commander celebrated the visit as it began on Sept. 20.

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If I am no longer 'undocumented and unafraid,' asks Angy Rivera, what am I?

NEW YORK (AP) -- Angy Rivera glided through the airport as though she owned it, giddy with excitement at her brave new world.

Then she saw the security guards, and froze.

After a lifetime of avoiding any public place where she might be asked for identification, had she just made the biggest mistake of her life? Would she be stopped, arrested, detained -- and deported? Nervously, she handed over her boarding pass.

The security guard barely glanced at her Colombian passport, questioned her about a tube of hair mousse -- and waved her through. Elated, she boarded the plane.

"I am flying for the first time," the 22-year-old criminal justice student from Queens wrote, in a jubilant essay.

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Rebel with a cause: George Lucas fought the moviemaking empire before he built one

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- There's no mistaking the similarities. A childhood on a dusty farm, a love of fast vehicles, a rebel who battles an overpowering empire -- George Lucas is the hero he created, Luke Skywalker.

His filmmaking outpost, Skywalker Ranch, is so far removed from the Hollywood moviemaking machine he once despised, that it may as well be on the forest moon of Endor.

That's why this week's announcement that Lucas is selling the "Star Wars" franchise and the entire Lucasfilm business to The Walt Disney Co. for more than $4 billion is like a laser blast from outer space.

Lucas built his film operation in Marin County near San Francisco largely to avoid the meddling of Los Angeles-based studios. His aim was to finish the "Star Wars" series-- his way.

Today the enterprise has far surpassed the 68-year-old filmmaker's original goals. The ranch covers 6,100 acres and houses one of the industry's most acclaimed visual effects companies, Industrial Light & Magic. Lucasfilm, with its headquarters now in San Francisco proper, has ventured into books, video games, merchandise, special effects and marketing. Just as Anakin Skywalker became the villain Darth Vader, Lucas --once the outsider-- had grown to become the leader of an empire.

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Saturday night special: Yeldon's 28-yard TD in final minute leads No. 1 Alabama past LSU 21-17

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- T.J. Yeldon took a swing pass from A.J. McCarron and went 28 yards for a touchdown with 51 seconds remaining, giving top-ranked Alabama a stunning 21-17 victory over No. 5 LSU on a raucous Saturday night in Death Valley.

The Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) showed it could come from behind after Zach Mettenberger rallied the Tigers (7-2, 3-2) from a 14-3 halftime deficit.

LSU had a chance to put the game away in the closing minutes, driving into Alabama territory and forcing the Tide to use its timeouts. But Drew Alleman missed a field goal, and McCarron took over. He completed three straight passes before reading an LSU blitz, flipping a pass to Yeldon. The freshman broke one tackle and faked out another defender for the winning TD.