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News Wrap: New England Hit Hard by Flooding

March 31, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news Wednesday, flooding in the Northeast forced hundreds to evacuate their homes after the second major rainstorm in a month and an investigation has largely cleared British scientists accused of fabricating climate change data.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Flooding across the Northeast and New England drove hundreds of people from their homes today. Rivers surged over their banks after the second major rainstorm in a month. A state of emergency was declared in Rhode Island, where flooding was said to be the worst in more than 200 years.

Sewage treatment plants and electrical substations were submerged, along with other buildings, homes and roadways. State officials warned all one million people in the state to conserve water and power.

GOV. DONALD CARCIERI, R-R.I.: Right now, this is what we’ve got. And, as the water recedes and — and each of those communities can then get in those facilities and make an evaluation of how quickly they can get back up and running. So, there are a lot of unknowns right now. Short term, it’s not a good, pleasant situation.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Parts of Interstate 95 in Rhode Island were under water, and officials said they might not be passable for days. National Guard troops were called out in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

A British investigation has largely vindicated a team of researchers of claims they tampered with climate data. The probe involved e-mails leaked from the University of East Anglia. They appeared to show efforts to sideline skeptics of global warming. A committee of the House of Commons found nothing in the e-mails would challenge the notion that humans are causing the Earth to warm.

A Chechen rebel leader claimed today his group carried out Monday’s subway bombings in Moscow. Doku Umarov spoke in an online video. He said he personally ordered the attacks that killed 39 people, and he threatened more to come.

In southern Russia today, two more suicide bombings killed 12 people in the Dagestan province. That region borders Chechnya. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In Afghanistan, parliament rejected President Hamid Karzai’s bid to gain tighter control over a commission that monitors elections. That body stripped Karzai of nearly a third of his votes in last year’s election due to fraud.

Also today, a bicycle bomb killed eight Afghans and injured 35 near Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province.

The trial in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, wrapped up today. There were three defendants, a Pakistan national said to be the lone surviving gunman and two Indians. They’re accused in a three-day siege in Mumbai that killed 166 people. The prosecutor charged again today that Pakistani authorities played a role.

UJJWAL NIKAM, public prosecutor: This is a case of a — classic case of state-sponsored terrorism. And some people from security apparatus of Pakistan are involved in this terror attack.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The judge is due to issue a verdict in May. The suspects could face the death penalty if they’re convicted.

In economics news, Toyota reported U.S. sales surged 40 percent this month from a year ago. The company offered deep discounts and generous financing to win back customers after a wave of recalls.

And Wall Street took a step backward today. Stocks fell after a payroll company reported U.S. companies cut jobs this month. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 50 points to close at 10856. The Nasdaq fell more than 12 points to close just below 2398.

The Transportation Department has stepped up its campaign against distracted driving. The agency called today for a permanent ban on text-messaging while driving for some of the largest vehicles on the road. It would apply to drivers of interstate buses and commercial trucks that weigh more than 10,000 pounds. An interim ban is already in effect. This new proposal would make it permanent.

Jaime Escalante, the teacher who transformed a tough East Los Angeles high school, died on Tuesday. He had battled cancer for several years. Escalante challenged perceptions that poor kids just weren’t teachable by motivating them to master advanced math. He became one of the most famous teachers in the country when he was played by Edward James Olmos in the movie “Stand and Deliver.”

Jaime Escalante was 79 years old.