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Pakistan Warned Of More Flooding; Obama Hones 'Midterm Metaphor'

Pakistani flood survivors sit in a tent

Pakistani flood survivors sit in a tent at a relief camp in PirSabaq village. A. Majeed/AFP hide caption

itoggle caption A. Majeed/AFP

Pakistan's leading meteorologist has told the country to brace for no let up in massive flooding until the end of the month.

Arif Mahmood said water from overflowing rivers was still heading to cities such as Hyderabad and Sukkur in the south and could cause even more flooding. But he said there was no heavy rain forecast this week, "good news for aid agencies involved in the rescue and relief operations."

About a fifth of Pakistani territory has been affected by the massive flooding and some 20 million have been displaced. Aid agencies have been severely hampered in their ability to deliver food aid because of inundated roads and a lack of air transport. It is considered among the worst natural disasters ever to hit the South Asian country.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's The Dawn newspaper quoted President Asif Ali Zardari as saying the country would

come out of this a stronger nation. We have...the capabilities, we have the people, and all tragedies always unite nations. This tragedy will again unite us.

Zardari's comments were made at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he was attending a summit with his Russian and Afghan counterparts.

But even when the flood waters recede it will take more than a pep talk to get the country back on its feet. It's going to take money — lots of it.

Pakistan's United Nations ambassador, speaking in Geneva, said: "Initial indicators are that just for the northern part of Pakistan … the requirement would be somewhere to the tune of $2.5 billion."

The U.N. said Wednesday that the shortage of food, shelter and drinking water was a huge obstacle in meeting the challenge of the disaster. The world body appealed last week for $459 million in international aid for immediate relief to Pakistan. Aid groups have complained that the response so far has been anemic, but U.N. spokesman Maurizio Giuliano announced Wednesday that more than half of the money - 54.5 percent - had come in.

OBAMA'S MIDTERM METAPHOR

President Obama is out in the country's heartland today honing what The New York Times describes as his "midterm metaphor"

"You had a group of folks who drove the economy, drove the country, drove our car into the ditch," Mr. Obama told some 200 party faithful sipping sauvignon blanc by the pool Monday night at a Los Angeles fund-raiser.

The president may change a word here or refer to a different member of Congress there, but the basic arc of the anecdote has been the same at his stops so far this week on a three-day, five-state swing.

Ohio is likely to be a crucible for the fall elections, with Republicans Rob Portman, the White House budget director under President George W. Bush running for the Senate and John Kasich, a former congressman vying for governor. Kasich spent a decade at now-defunct Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers.

The Washington Post says:

Together, their races may provide the nation's clearest test of whether the Democrats' strategy of running against Bush and Wall Street can overcome a political climate tilted clearly toward the Republicans.

On Wednesday, the president will sit down for a choreographed chat and photo op with the Weithmans — Joe, Rhonda and their two children. Joe is co-owner of an architectural firm that's gotten a boost from stimulus spending.

Obama's renewed push to remind the public that the recession didn't begin on his watch comes as a new poll shows opinion of his handling of the economy at a new low.

MOSQUE ISSUE BACKLASH?

Republican strategists appear to be increasingly worried that their harsh rhetoric on the so-called 'Ground Zero mosque' issue could have a downside in November.

According to The Washington Post, GOP pollster David Winston has expressed concern that Republicans could lose their focus on more important issues:

"While this is certainly an issue that has generated a lot of emotion, when it comes to voting, the election is going to be about the economy and jobs," he said.

The issue has become a favorite of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; however, others fear it could cause the party to be viewed as intolerant. Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie was quoted by The Post as saying the GOP needs to tread lightly.

"It's very important that, as Republicans talk about this issue, we be thoughtful and careful ..."

The Post notes:

It was not all that long ago that Republicans considered Arab and Muslim Americans to be a potentially important voting bloc. In his 2000 campaign for president, Texas Gov. George W. Bush paid particularly close attention to their concerns. In his second debate with Vice President Al Gore, Bush criticized racial profiling of Arab Americans. He ultimately won the endorsements of various Muslim American organizations. Bush was also the first U.S. president to use the word "mosque" in his inaugural address.

BLACK HOLES AND OLD FOSSILS

The discovery of a rare magnetic star - or magnetar - has astrophysicists scratching their heads. The star, a powerfully magnetic remnant of a supernova explosion shouldn't really exist. According to calculations, the mass of the original star - 40 times greater than our sun - should have instead resulted in a black hole.

In a separate finding, tiny, irregular fossils found in South Australia could be the most ancient remains of simple animal life yet discovered.

The rocks in which they were found are about 650 million years old - 70 million years older than those that contain the next oldest fossils. The newly found fossils, which appear to be a type of sponge, would predate the Ediacaran Period, about 555 million years ago.

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