Record U.S. heat wave deaths up to 36
WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- Ten days into a record-shattering U.S. heat wave, the associated death toll rose to 36 Sunday, a compilation of state records shows.
Maryland and Virginia each reported 10 deaths so far, Chicago officials cited six deaths and in St. Louis, in the center of the sweltering, three people had died and six other deaths were still under investigation, The New York Times reported.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported there had been more than 3,500 U.S. high temperature records broken from June 30 through July 6, Accuweather.com said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Katie Garrett told the Times a stubborn high pressure system over the central and eastern parts of the country is keeping back usual flows of other weather systems that would bring cooling.
As cities and town issued alerts and encouraged residents to seek shelter in air-conditioned public buildings, there were reports of roads and highways melting and buckling in the heat.
Train travel throughout the region was also affected, the Times said. A train outside Washington derailed Friday after tracks expanded, forcing rail officials to order a reduction in speed limits, the report said.
The heat wave also spawned violent electrical storms in the Northeast June 29 that knocked out power to more than 4 million customers.
McConnell: GOP not a party of 'no'
WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- Republicans in the U.S. Senate are not going to cooperate with the Democratic majority just for the sake of cooperating, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
McConnell, R-Ky., said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday President Obama and the Democrats were bemoaning a seemingly uncooperative GOP minority that refused to rubber-stamp their agenda.
"The primary problem is the president would like for us to keep doing more of what he was able to do the first two years when he had total control of Congress," said McConnell. "The American people have looked at the results of that. It clearly has not worked."
McConnell denied there was an election-year Iron Curtain on Capitol Hill. He told CNN he meets regularly with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and cited the recent passage of the Transportation Bill as an example of bipartisan cooperation.
"We were addressing an issue that we had broad agreement on, that transportation is important to our economy," McConnell said. "But, the way we are going to get the private sector going again is to change the way the government is treating the private sector."
Party chiefs trade barbs over Obama, Mitt
WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- Leaders of the two major U.S. political parties traded broadsides Sunday over whether President Obama or Mitt Romney would be a bigger disaster.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. and head of the Democratic National Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, had failed to spark the Massachusetts economy during his stint as governor and had settled on a economic platform that basically toadied up to the wealthy.
"I think folks at home are sitting and listening to Mitt Romney saying we should go back -- the answer is let's go back to the failed policies of the past and repeat the same playbook that got us into this economic mess in the first place," Wasserman Schultz said. "Romney's budget would actually make sure that the wealthiest, most fortunate Americans get more and more tax breaks."
Wasserman Schultz dismissed the GOP's overtures to minority voters, saying she saw great enthusiasm for an Obama re-election among blacks and Hispanics despite the tepid economy.
"President Obama has been committed to not just getting the economy turned around and creating jobs, but closing the achievement gap in education for Hispanics and African-Americans, investing in education and innovation, and making sure that we can keep folks in their homes," she said.
Republican National Committee chief Reince Priebus countered that Obama's first term was a bottom-line flop because unemployment remained mired around 8 percent despite assurances the high-priced economic stimulus would reduce the unemployment rate to around 5 percent.
"I don't know if she (Wasserman Schultz) is on vacation in New Hampshire or on Mars," Priebus scoffed. "The fact of the matter is people are not better off today than they were three or four years ago."
Priebus accused the Democrats of falsely painting Romney as a proponent of replacing U.S. workers with low-paying foreign factories, and said Obama had refused to take a strong stand against China's reputedly unfair economic policies.
"The only job that we need to make sure we outsource in this country is Barack Obama's job," Priebus said. "And we have to do that because No. 1, he hasn't been truthful to the American people, hasn't fulfilled the mission."
Quake off northern Japan hits 6.0
TOKYO, July 8 (UPI) -- A magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck off the northern coast of Japan Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, but there were no reports of damage or tsunamis.
The quake occurred near the Kuril Islands, nearly 1,500 miles from Tokyo and 600 miles from the island of Hokkaido.
The Japan Meteorological Agency, which tracks seismic activity in the region, had no tsunami advisories in effect Sunday.
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