Tropical Storm Isaac is heading north after battering the Gulf Coast with heavy wind and rains. More than 730,000 people remain without power in Louisiana and Mississippi after Isaac slowed to a crawl and lashed the area on Wednesday. Sixty percent of residents of New Orleans have gone without power, and some neighborhoods saw flooding, but the city’s rebuilt levees helped prevent a repeat of the mass devastation of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. Among the areas to see flooding was Plaquemines Parish, where residents braved surging waters.
Stephen Mattison: “I am concerned. I don’t know what it’s going to do, but we’re going to stay here as long as we can.”
Patty Mattison: “I’m looking at the water in the back (of the house). It’s about ready to get into my laundry room. It (the rising water) doesn’t have too much further to go, because it’s — the laundry room is a little bit lower than the house. And I’m hoping that don’t happen.”
Sherry Campbell: “I saw water in my house. We have a computer room. The computers are all underwater. Just a couple of inches, but still a mess.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Isaac’s slow pace would result in extra damage to the Gulf Coast.
Mitch Landrieu: “Unfortunately, the storm just won’t seem to leave us. So, you know, some storms move by very quickly and cause a lot of damage shortly; other storms, that seem to be less powerful, stick around for a long time, and the continual pounding can actually cause more damage. And I believe we’re beginning to see the effects of that across all of Louisiana.”
New Orleans has been on lockdown with large numbers of police and National Guard patrolling the streets, many armed with assault rifles. On Wednesday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a curfew for all residents.
Mitch Landrieu: “Let me be clear: we are going to have a zero tolerance for lawlessness during this emergency and to make sure that this city is secure. In that regard, we are going to join with Jefferson Parish, that just decided to institute a curfew. Now that this storm is going to be with us for some time and is going to begin to stress the system, we have to make sure that the streets are clear and safe. And so, today, it’s going to begin. It will be a curfew from dusk to dawn and will stay in effect until otherwise notified.”
Speaking during a campaign stop in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Obama vowed relief efforts for Mississippi and Louisiana.
President Obama: “We are going to make sure that we are doing every single thing that we need to do to ensure that the folks down there are taken care of and have the support and the love of the rest of this country.”
Opposition activists in Syria claim thousands of people have fled eastern areas of the capital Damascus after deadly shelling by government forces. On Wednesday, opposition members said dozens of people were killed when the Syrian regime bombarded several districts and then carried out executions in house-to-house raids.
In a televised interview on Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared his regime is winning the conflict and dismissed calls for a buffer zone to protect the three million Syrians that it has displaced.
A U.S. drone strike has killed four people in a remote province in Yemen. The victims were traveling in a vehicle when they were hit by one of three missiles. It is unclear if there were other casualties.
A contingent of some 200 U.S. marines has begun operating along Guatemala’s western coast in a further escalation of U.S.-backed militarization in Central America. The United States says the Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, an effort to intercept drug traffickers in planes and boats. General Douglas Fraser, the head of the U.S. military’s Southern Command, confirmed the mission on Wednesday.
Gen. Douglas Fraser: “The efforts of the Marines here in Guatemala are to help provide a more persistent detection and monitoring capability for a key arrival zone for maritime traffic in the Pacific, which is the Pacific coast of Guatemala. Once we find information, we will pass that through JIATF-South to the Guatemalan armed forces, the Guatemalan law enforcement and authorities, and they will then take care of the intercepts.”
In Afghanistan, three Australian soldiers were killed on Wednesday when an Afghan soldier opened fire. It was the latest in a string of attacks by members of the Afghan forces on the U.S.-led NATO occupation.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has arrived in Tehran for the first visit by an Egyptian leader since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Morsi is attending the ongoing summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which concludes on Friday. Addressing the summit earlier today, Morsi prompted a walkout by the Syrian delegation when he called for solidarity with the uprising against the Assad regime.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan formally accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination Wednesday with a prime-time address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Ryan vowed a “turnaround” of the U.S. economy, should Mitt Romney defeat President Obama in November.
Paul Ryan: “His whole life — his whole life prepared him for this moment, to meet serious challenges in a serious way, without excuses and idle words. After four years of getting the runaround, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Governor Mitt Romney. President Obama is the kind of politician who puts promises on the record and then calls that the record. But we are four years into this presidency. The issue is not the economy that Barack Obama inherited, not the economy that he envisions, but this economy that we are living.”
Paul Ryan’s speech was briefly interrupted by two activists with the group CODEPINK. The demonstrators chanted “My body, my choice,” and “Fund healthcare, not warfare,” until they were forcibly removed.
Ahead of his speech to the Republican National Convention tonight, Mitt Romney addressed a gathering of the American Legion.
Mitt Romney: “It will be my privilege to make my case to the American people. Together, we’ll get this country back on track. We’ll deliver the recovery we’ve been waiting for. We’ll keep America strong, secure and the hope of the earth. This is our challenge. This is our pledge.”
At the Republican National Convention, Democracy Now! senior producer Mike Burke attempted to interview billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson inside the RNC on Wednesday night. Moments later, a woman identified as Adelson’s daughter grabbed the video camera of Democracy Now! videographer Hany Massoud, tried to take it into a private suite and then threw the camera to the ground. The incident was caught on tape. While Adelson’s daughter first accused our producer of hitting her, she later came out of the suite to apologize.
Two attendees at the Republican National Convention were removed earlier this week for a derogatory incident targeting an African-American camerawoman with the news network CNN. According to witnesses, the attendees threw nuts at the woman and shouted, “This is how we feed the animals!”
Two health and environment groups have filed a lawsuit accusing the federal government of failing to implement a new food safety law that could save the lives of thousands of people. The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health say government officials have repeatedly missed deadlines for issuing regulations required by the Food Safety Modernization Act. The groups are seeking a court order that would require the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Management and Budget to force mandatory enforcement of the law. More than 3,000 people die a year from food poisoning in the United States, and millions more get sick. The law was enacted last year after contaminated food led to several outbreaks of illnesses nationwide.
Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman has won the removal of a second consecutive judge in his case. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel ordered the recusal of Judge Kenneth Lester after Zimmerman’s attorneys alleged he had made disparaging remarks about Zimmerman’s character last month. Lester’s predecessor in the case was also removed after complaints from Zimmerman’s attorneys. Zimmerman remains free on a $1 million bail bond.