Hurricane Gustav, raging ashore on the Gulf Coast, has cast a thousand-mile shadow all the way to St Paul, Minnesota, where the Republican convention opens/opened in curtailed and subdued session. Organisers are anxious not to be seen having a party while fellow Americans are losing their homes in a deluge. Convention proceedings are being kept to a constitutional minimum until the full extent of Gustav's wrath is known.

The US news networks, which provided round-the-clock coverage of last week's Democratic Party events, have a headache. To ensure a measure of balance they want to give similar prominence to the Republican event, but key correspondents and senior anchors have been redeployed south. Vast swathes of air time are going to catalogue Gustav's progress in minute, and sometimes morbid, detail, squeezing the time available for the events in St Paul. Politicians vie with meteorologists for the best slots.

US news shows adore weather stories - gung-ho reporters, excited, soaking wet and almost impossible to hear in the storm's fury, push themselves to the very edge of what safety and common sense would dictate, to show how bad things are. For some, it's news coverage at its sexiest, it's certainly difficult for a politician making a stump speech to compete.

The initial Republican response to the challenge has been sober and practical, reflecting the mood in the South. Convention organisers have made Gustav part of the narrative
in the Twin Cities - the hurricane is setting the tone for the week. John McCain must be all too aware of Katrina's effect on the Bush presidency - he will not want Gustav to taint his campaign for the White House.

So prepare for a subdued and purposeful week for the Republicans. It's likely the streamers and the balloons suspended in their thousands from the ceiling of the convention venue, designed to add a festive tone to McCain's anointment as presidential nominee, will stay firmly in their nets until the gavel in St Paul comes down for the last time and the delegates have headed home.

curtailed 縮減,削減;縮短,省略
subdued 制服,征服,鎮壓;使順從
deluge 洪水[C] 暴雨[C]
proceedings訴訟 (會議)議項;會議記錄
wrath 憤怒,狂怒
prominence 凸出物;引人注目的事物(或地方)[C]顯著;傑出,卓越;聲望[U]
correspondents 通訊記者;特派員
anchors 新聞節目主播
redeployed 調動;重新配置
Vast 廣闊的,浩瀚的,廣大的
catalogue 登記,記載
Politicians 從事政治者,政治家
meteorologists 氣象學者
soaking 使濕透
fury(天氣,疾病,感情等的)狂暴,猛烈[the S]
edge 邊,棱;邊緣
dictate 命令,規定,要求,指定 命令,支配
initial 開始的,最初的
sober 認真的;嚴肅的,持重的冷靜的,清醒的;審慎的
narrative 敘述,講述[U]
presidency 美國總統職位
taint 使感染,使腐壞;沾染;污染
purposeful 有目的的 意味深長的;重大的 有決心的;果斷的
streamers 橫幅;長旗;幡
balloons 氣球,輕氣球
delegates 代表;會議代表;代表團團員


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