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Sept. 3, 2012 at 10:00 PM   |   Comments

President Obama visited Louisiana Monday to pledge support for the flood-damaged area and praise response workers for their quick and efficient actions.

"I want to commend everybody who's here for the extraordinary work that they've done in making sure that lives were saved, that although there was tremendous property damage, people were in a position to get out quickly," Obama said, lamenting the "enormous devastation" wreaked by Hurricane Isaac.

"I want to particularly thank [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and the state and local authorities, because sometimes in the past we haven't seen the kind of coordination that is necessary in response to these kinds of disasters. This time we've seen it."

Appearing in St. John the Baptist Parish with Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana's U.S. senators, Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter, Obama said federal authorities will help with debris removal, as well as providing housing for displaced people and assistance for parents to enroll their children in school.

Obama noted the Army Corps levees built around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina "worked very well."

"When disasters like this happen, we set aside whatever petty disagreements we may have. Nobody is a Democrat or a Republican -- we're all just Americans looking out for one another," the president said.


UA boots another frat over alleged hazing

TUCSON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The University of Arizona stripped the local chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity of recognition over instances of hazing, officials said.

After an investigation, the frat, nicknamed "Tekes," was found in violation of the school's code of conduct and booted last week by the dean of students, the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, reported Sunday.

New members of the frat allegedly subjected to "forced consumption of alcohol, extreme physical exertion to the point of individuals either vomiting or passing out [and] sleep deprivation," the university said.

Alleged hazing at Tau Kappa Epsilon "was part of their practice as an organization, which we couldn't allow to continue," said Dean of Students Keith Humphrey.

Chapter president Billy Dimitri, a UA senior, said the fraternity plans on appealing the decision, adding that the allegations were made by "a disgruntled former member we kicked out who's trying to get revenge."

The UA chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon has also been suspended by its headquarters, based in Indianapolis.

"We have a zero tolerance policy for hazing," said Tom McAninch, a spokesman for the frat.

The UA kicked out two other fraternities earlier this year.

In January, the local chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was stripped of its recognition over allegations of hazing and underage drinking, as well as lying to try to cover up wrongdoing, and in April, the local chapter of Delta Chi was booted for repeated violations that "presented a threat to the health and safety of members," the university said.


Floods, mudslides damage homes in Utah

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- More than 1,000 volunteers helped residents of Saratoga Springs, Utah, clean their homes after strong storms during the weekend produced floods and mudslides.

Powerful storms Saturday sent sludge from a recent wildfire site and massive amounts of water flowing through the city, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Mayor Mia Love said 11 basements were filled with mud and another 20 homes were damaged by water.

Alan Rencher said he heard the water and mud heading toward his home and moments later he "had 6 inches of mud in my basement and I'm one of the lucky ones."

"I've never seen anything like it," said Patti Robe, who spent Sunday helping empty a basement filled with mud. "I can't believe one basement was completely full with mud and every [basement] window was shattered."

Many residents said they are worried whether their insurance will cover the damage, as most people living in Saratoga Springs don't have flood coverage, as their homes sit on a hill.

"I don't have flood insurance," said Rene Schuurman, whose home was not damaged. "I don't think anyone has it around here. Who would have ever thought there would have been flooding in this area?"


Report: More action needed on bird strikes

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Changes must be made to scale back collisions of airplanes with flying birds that damage the craft and kill passengers, a U.S. transportation official says.

A report by the inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department makes 10 recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce the increasing number bird strikes, The Washington Post reported.

The report noted that "catastrophic failure" can occur when animals are ingested into an engine, adding. "Increases in the populations of hazardous wildlife species continue to challenge the airports' ability to provide a safe operating environment."

At Washington's three major airports, nearly 75 commercial planes have hit birds this year while taking off or landing. Notably, flights of both Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were interrupted when birds were sucked into engines or struck the plane.

Some $458 million has been spent in the past five years by the FAA to control birds around airports.

The FAA defended steps it has taken to cut hazards to aircraft.

In a statement, the agency said that while the total number of reported strikes is up, the number of damaging strikes is down.

The FAA said it had already instituted a majority of the inspector general's recommendations.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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