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CAROLINA, US September 20, 2018 (News Wires) -- Aerial photographs show widespread devastation to farms and industrial sites in eastern North Carolina.

But conditions remain so bad on the ground that inspectors have been prevented from visiting some of the hardest hit areas to collect samples of the floodwater for lab testing.

Photographs have revealed tell-tale trails of rainbow-colored sheen indicating potential contamination visible on top of the black floodwaters.

State officials say about 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market.

BEIJING, September 19, 2018 (Reuters) - China foreign ministry said on Wednesday China does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, when asked about US President Donald Trump’s tweet accusing China of trying to sway the US election.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang made the comment at a regular briefing in Beijing.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that China was “actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me.”

 

BEIJING, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - China on Tuesday announced tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion in retaliation for President Donald Trump's decision to slap duties on $200 billion in Chinese products next week.

Tariffs of between five and 10 percent will take effect on some 5,200 US products on Monday, on the same day as the new US duties, the finance ministry said.

The two side already traded tariff salvos on $50 billion in goods from each country in the summer.

"If the United States insists on raising tariffs even more, China will respond accordingly," the finance ministry said in a statement.

China also announced that it was lodging a new complaint at the World Trade Organization in its tariffs battle with the United States.

Beijing had previously warned that it would target $60 billion in US goods if Trump made good on his threat to impose the new tariffs.

The lower Chinese figure highlights Beijing's inability to match the US dollar-for-dollar in a tariffs war.

The US imported around $500 billion worth of products from China last year, compared to $130 billion in US goods imported by the Asian country.

Trump threatened to hit another $267 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing took retaliatory action.

The Chinese finance ministry did not provide a detailed list of products to be hit by the new tariffs on Monday.

A preliminary list in August said products ranging from pig hides to cocoa butter and condoms would be targeted with tariffs of five to 25 per cent. It was unclear if the tariffs announced on Tuesday were lower to match the US plan.

The US said the Chinese imports will face 10 per cent tariffs through the end of the year, and then the rate will jump to 25 per cent.

BUCHAREST, Romania, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Europe should lessen its dependence on Russian gas and diversify energy sources, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday at a summit to improve ties between eastern Europe and the US and the European Union.

Perry asserted that Europe's dependence on Russian gas has increased from 30 percent to 40 per cent in recent years, calling it "a cause for concern."

"There is great security in energy diversity," he said in comments made in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. "Energy security is tantamount to national security."

Perry said countries of Central and Eastern Europe are facing "challenges due to a single (gas) supplier and Russia's aggressive posturing." He cited a nuclear project in the Czech Republic and offshore oil and gas drilling in the Black Sea as alternative energy sources.

Perry was a key speaker at the Three Seas summit, which aims to boost connectivity in Eastern Europe and reduce the gap between the European's eastern and western members.

Earlier, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country wants the US to play a key role in Eastern Europe, to strengthen the continent as a whole.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, a centrist with pro-Western views, called the economic presence of the US "a catalyzer for economic cooperation in the area."

Iohannis, who hosted the two-day summit, announced that Germany, "which has multiple economic interests" in the region, would become a partner state in the Three Seas initiative. He also announced that Slovenia would host next year's summit.

Perry and leaders including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic discussed some 40 government-approved projects that aim to boost regional connectivity in transport, energy and the digital fields.

Juncker called for more regional energy projects like a gas pipeline project between Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. He also called for members in the East to respect the rule of law, because "investments make no sense in the absence of respect for the rule of law."

"Europe needs to breathe with two lungs, one in the East and the other in the West, while the emphasis must be put on cooperation," Juncker said.

NEW YORK, Sept 18, 2018 (MENA) - Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of St. Mark Diocese on Tuesday said that his current pastoral visit to the US is aimed at following up services extended by Coptic Orthodox churches in the US.

He added that arrangements for the visit started last year, said Spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church Bishop Paul Halim in press statements.

 

RALEIGH, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Rain-gorged rivers threatened further flooding on the storm-battered US East Coast as the death toll from Hurricane Florence, now a tropical depression, jumped to 31.

Emergency management authorities in North Carolina said an earlier toll of 17 had risen to 25 since Florence made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, with its aftermath threatening further flooding as well as potential dam failures and landslides.

Six deaths have been confirmed in neighboring South Carolina, with the latest being the driver of a pickup truck who drove into standing water in Lexington County.

“River flooding is dynamic and it’s happening all over our state,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters.

“This is an epic storm that is still continuing,” Cooper said. “This is a monumental disaster for our state.”

In Virginia, near state capital Richmond, emergency services said one man died after a building collapsed during severe weather, though it was not clear if that death was directly linked to Florence.

More than a dozen rivers across North Carolina were at major flood stage yesterday or threatening to rise to critical levels.

“Many roads in our state are still at risk of floods,” Cooper said, warning people who have been evacuated not to return home yet and others not to go out if they do not need to.

“Please don’t make yourself someone who needs to be rescued,” he said.

Wilmington, on the banks of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, was almost completely cut off by land but emergency management teams managed to truck food and water overnight into the port city of 120,000 people.

North Carolina emergency department officials said 23 truckloads of Meals, Ready to Eat — packaged US military rations — and crates of bottled water had been sent into Wilmington.

And a wave of solidarity rippled through hard-hit New Bern, where hundreds of people lined up as a local supermarket distributed fried chicken and hamburgers.

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