Five crew members are missing after a U.S. Navy helicopter crashed in the Red Sea on Sunday during routine flight operations, military officials said.The MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6 — nicknamed the HSC Indians — went down in the Central Red Sea at about noon local time, according to an official with the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.The official said the crash was not a result of any hostile activity.The Knighthawk had been trying to either land or takeoff from the rear helicopter deck of the USS William P. Lawrence, a guided-missile destroyer, at the time of the crash, officials said.The USS Nimitz is leading the search and rescue mission for the five crew members who were aboard the helicopter by providing planes and small boats, officials said.
Reuters – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives are on course to win a historic absolute majority in Sunday’s election, according to a projection based on exit polls and some results from broadcaster ARD.The projection put Merkel’s conservatives on 42.5 percent, a whisker over the combined total for the left parties who together scored 41.6 percent.The last time a German party won an absolute majority was in 1957 with conservative leader Konrad Adenauer.The projection showed Merkel’s Free Democrat FDP allies and the anti-euro Alternative for Germany AfD just failing to clear the 5 percent threshold needed to enter the Bundestag lower house.
The US is pushing Russia into approving a UN resolution that would allow for military intervention in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, in exchange for American support of Syria’s accession to OPCW.“Our American partners are starting to blackmail us: ‘If Russia does not support a resolution under Chapter 7, then we will withdraw our support for Syria’s entry into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons OPCW. This is a complete departure from what I agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry’,” said Lavrov.Chapter 7 of the UN charter would allow for potential military intervention in Syria.
Forget the myth of an Obama recovery. The past week has been disastrous for the White House and America’s increasingly disillusioned Left. No wonder the angry and desperate Vice President Joe Biden is talking about “playing hell” if his party suffers defeat in November.
Here are five reasons why the Obama presidency’s outlook is getting significantly worse, not better:
1. A new Gallup poll suggests the November mid-terms could result in the biggest victory for Republicans in the House since 1894
Gallup’s latest poll is absolutely devastating in its analysis of the Democrats’ prospects for November 2, projecting a 13 point lead for the Republicans based on higher overall turnout, and a staggering 18 point lead if turnout is low. In Gallup’s view:
If there is a widely disproportionate skew in turnout toward Republican voters and their national vote lead ends up being in the double digits, the Republican gains would be very substantial.
As leading election analyst Michael Barone noted, the Gallup numbers “suggest it looks like 1894, when Republicans gained more than 100 seats in a House of approximately 350 seats.” If the Gallup poll proves accurate, we could be looking at a GOP victory in the House of Representatives of absolutely historic proportions, a scenario frightening enough to give even the most seasoned Obama White House adviser nightmares.
2. The Senate now hangs in the balance
Rasmussen’s latest projection has both the Democrats and Republicans with 48 seats in the Senate, with Florida moving into the solid GOP camp, and West Virginia moving from toss up to leans GOP. Four states (all Democrat) are now in the toss-up category: California, Illinois, Nevada and Washington. This is a highly significant development, as this is one of the first polls to show the Republicans and Democrats neck and neck in the Senate race. Over at RealClear Politics, the current projection with no toss-ups, has the GOP and Democrats at a dead heat of 50 seats each, with a projected Republican gain of nine seats.
3. The economic figures are grim
On the economic front, the news has been unremittingly grim for the Obama administration over the past few days. The latest jobs data shows that a net 95,000 US jobs were lost in September, significantly higher than the 57,000 jobs lost in August. Unemployment also rose to 10.1 percent, up from 9.3 percent in August and 8.9 percent in July according to Gallup. Among Americans aged 18 to 29, that figure was 15.8 percent.
The influential Investor’s Business Daily is now warning that the United States won’t recover the more than 8 million lost jobs until March 2020:
At this year’s pace, the U.S. won’t recoup all those 8.36 million lost jobs until March 2020 — 147 months after the December 2007 high. That would obliterate the old post-World War II record of 47 months set in the wake of the 2001 recession.
This is extremely bad news for the president, as his party heads towards an election where his Big Government economic agenda will be the leading issue.
4. A quarter of Democrats have turned against the president
Last week’s Washington Post/ABC News poll had an astonishing but barely reported revelation – nearly 25 percent of Democrats now believe “a return to Bush’s policies would be good,” a staggeringly high figure. As The Washington Post reported:
Obama and the Democrats have argued that if Republicans were to gain control of Congress, they would return to the policies of President George W. Bush. Two-thirds of Democrats share that view and say it would be bad for the country. But almost a quarter of Democrats say a GOP-led Congress would take the country in a new and better direction or say a return to Bush’s policies would be good.
5. George W. Bush is now as popular as President Obama
As I noted in an earlier piece, President Bush is making an extraordinary political comeback, even though he is nowhere to be seen on the campaign trail and has kept completely out of the political limelight since leaving office. A new CNN poll reports a surge in popularity for the former president, who is now almost neck and neck with President Obama in terms of approval ratings. As CNN concluded:
By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago.
“Democrats may want to think twice about bringing up former President George W. Bush’s name while campaigning this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
To describe this as a monumental embarrassment for Barack Obama, after relentlessly bashing his predecessor’s leadership and policies for the past 20 months, would be an understatement. As I wrote previously:
The CNN poll is of course deeply humiliating for the White House, especially coming just three and a half weeks before the November mid-terms. George W. Bush’s resurgence is in large part due to mounting opposition to the Obama presidency’s left-wing agenda, but it is also spurred by Obama’s image as an out of touch, aloof and elitist president, divorced from economic and political reality on the ground.
BERLIN AFP – Germany votes Sunday with Chancellor Angela Merkel poised to win a third term, making her Europe’s only major leader to survive its financial crisis but potentially forced into governing with her main rivals.After shepherding Europe’s top economy through the debt turmoil, Merkel emerged more popular than ever due to her motherly reassurance as the crisis felled leaders in France, Greece, Italy and Spain.Pollsters suggest that voters will re-elect the 59-year-old, whose nickname “Mutti” “Mummy” can seem incongruous with her other often-used description as the world’s most powerful woman.But the burning question will be with whom she will govern.”Rarely was it so close. Merkel’s coalition only has a razor-thin majority in the polls,” the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said, adding that many of the near 62 million voters only make up their minds at the last minute.Merkel boasts her current centre-right coalition has been Germany’s most successful since reunification in 1990, enjoying a robust economy and a jobless rate of less than seven percent.But her stated aim for her conservative Christian Democratic Union CDU to stay in power with its junior partners, the pro-business Free Democratic Party FDP, hinges on the smaller party’s unpredictable fortunes.”The continued governing by this coalition remains uncertain,” Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist from Berlin’s Free University said.If the alliance fails to rally a ruling majority, Merkel could be forced back into the arms of her traditional rivals, the Social Democrats SPD, with whom she governed in a loveless “grand coalition” during her first term.Under the watchful eye of Germany’s European partners, a new eurosceptic party, the Alternative for Germany AfD could also prove a wild card, either by clawing enough support to send MPs into parliament or wooing disgruntled centre-right voters away.”For Chancellor Merkel the eurosceptics are becoming a problem,” Spiegel Online commented on the eve of the vote.”If the protest party manages to jump into the Bundestag lower house of parliament, that may cost the black-yellow coalition power,” it added, referring to the colour code for Merkel’s current alliance.Three polls in the run-up show the AfD, which advocates ditching the single currency and an “orderly dissolution” of the eurozone, falling below the five-percent hurdle needed to enter parliament.But some analysts and pollsters have not ruled it out amid fresh Greek aid fears, stressing it is hard to assess the fledgling party’s chances because it has no election track record and supporters may not own up to backing it in surveys.Merkel again hammered home Europe’s importance for Germany at a last-chance push for votes in Berlin Saturday, saying her country “can only do well in the long term if all of Europe does well”.”This is why the stabilisation of the euro is not just a good thing for Europe but it is also in Germany’s fundamental interest,” she said, as a band belted out “Angie must save the world”.Supporters of stronger stimulus measures have pinned their hopes on the SPD whose gaffe-prone candidate Peer Steinbrueck, 66, has struggled to score points and still trailed Merkel’s conservatives by 13 points in the last opinion poll.A former finance minister in Merkel’s 2005-2009 grand coalition, Steinbrueck has run into trouble during the campaign, most recently with a surly middle-finger front-page photo of him as a non-verbal reply to a question on his stumbling candidacy.He has zeroed in on the growing low-wage sector and calls for an across-the-board minimum wage, while Merkel favours more flexible pay agreements hammered out between employers and unions, regionally and by sector.In his final-day stump speech, he urged voters to remove “the most inactive government that has made the most reversals” in over two decades and mocked the famously ideologically flexible Merkel for “going round and round”.Polls open at 0600 GMT, with initial television estimates expected shortly after booths close at 1600 GMT.
RENO, Nevada – A World War II soldier’s heartfelt letter to his daughter has finally reached her, seven decades after it was written.Peggy Eddington-Smith received the letter penned by her father, Pfc. John Eddington, as well as his Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, during an emotional ceremony Saturday in Dayton, Nev., about 40 miles southeast of Reno.The father she never met wrote the three-page letter shortly after she was born and shortly before he died in Italy in June 1944. He sent it while stationed in Texas, just before he was sent overseas.Getting his medals was nice, but the letter meant more because it made her feel closer to her father, Eddington-Smith said. She knew little about him since her mother could rarely bring herself to discuss the love of her life.”The letter gave me more knowledge of who he was,” she told The Associated Press. “He poured out his heart to me, and a lot of men don’t put that kind of emotion in writing. I’m just overwhelmed by everything, trying to absorb everything.”Donna Gregory of St. Louis found the soldier’s letter and other World War II memorabilia in a box 14 years ago while helping her then-husband clean out his grandparents’ home in Arnold, Mo., a St. Louis suburb.Gregory’s voice cracked with emotion as she read the letter Saturday, bringing tears to Eddington-Smith and many in the crowd of about 150. The soldier devoted the first page to his wife, saying he hoped she did not find it “silly” that he was writing a letter to a child who could not read.Addressing the next two pages to his “darling” daughter, he wrote that while she may not see him “for some time,” he wanted her to know that she was always on his mind.”I love you so much,” the letter says. “Your mother and daddy … are going to give you everything we can. We will always give you all the love we have.”Eddington urged his daughter to “always treat your mother right. You have the sweetest mother on the Earth.”He closed the letter by writing, “I love you with all my heart and soul forever and forever. Your loving daddy.”Eddington-Smith and Gregory are unsure what connection the soldier had to the couple who owned the house where his memorabilia was found. Eddington was from Leadwood, Mo., about 75 miles southwest of St. Louis.Gregory tracked down Smith in June after a search that involved libraries and the Internet. Both women cried during their initial phone conversation that left the daughter shocked by the items’ discovery.Eddington-Smith knew her father died in the war. She was unaware of the letter and other contents of the box, including 16 letters from Eddington to his mother, his draft card and military dog tags, his high school diploma and newspaper clips.An only child, she grew up in St. Louis and lived there until her mid-20s. She moved with her four children to Nevada in 1972 after a divorce. Her mother, Helen, never remarried and died in 1997.”I would ask my mother why she didn’t get remarried and her only comment was that she found the perfect man and will never again find the perfect man,” Eddington-Smith said.
The New York Times staff photographer Tyler Hicks was nearby when gunmen opened fire at an upscale Nairobi mall, killing at least 39 people in one of the worst terrorist attacks in Kenya’s history. He was able to go inside the mall as the attack unfolded.
His conversation with James Estrin has been edited.