Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekly Address: Strengthening the American Education System

President Obama explains that states will have greater flexibility to find innovative ways of improving the education system, so that we can raise standards in our classrooms and prepare the next generation to succeed in the global economy.

President Obama on No Child Left Behind Flexibility

To help states and schools move forward with developing a world-class education system, the Obama administration will enable states to request flexibility from specific mandates under No Child Left Behind, in exchange for a real commitment to undertake education reform.

Seventeenth Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act

Vice President Joe Biden honors the 17th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.

Palestine Asks for Statehood

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the UN to become a separate state from Israel.

By Jonathan Ketz
Anchor: Jonathan Ketz
Link provided by

States Opting Out of No Child Left Behind

Obama said states can opt out of aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act if they so choose.

By Nick Adams
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link provided by

Southwest Graffiti: Terrorist Threat or Innocent Prank?

Strange symbols are appearing on the underbellies of dozens of Southwest Airlines 737 jets.

By Victoria Craig
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link provided by

Gay Soldier Booed at Debate

Rick Santorum and the debate crowd in Florida had what some call a shocking response to the repeal of the military's ban on gay service members.

By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link provided by

Friday, September 23, 2011

West Wing Week 09/23/11 or "It's Math"

This week, the President signed patent reform into law with the America Invents Act, spoke to the American people on his common-sense proposal to deficit reduction,traveled to New York City to meet with world leaders and address the United Nations General Assembly before visiting Cincinnati to speak on jobs. That's September 16th to September 22nd or "It's Math."

Ahmadinejad's Fiery Speech Causes UN Walkout

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says US used September 11 attacks as justification to invade Middle East for oil.

By Marc Steidler
Anchor: Zach Toombs
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Romney, Perry Trade Blows in GOP Debate

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney took shots at each others' records and books.

Sources:Fox News

By Zach Toombs
Anchor: Zach Toombs
Link provided by

Ground Zero Mosque Opens Without Controversy

The Islamic Center in New York City opened its first exhibit on Wednesday without protests.

By Alexandra Olgin
Anchor: Christian Bryant
Link provided by

Government Headed for Shutdown?

The House failed to pass a temporary spending bill that would fund disaster relief and keep the government up and running.

By Evan Bush
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link provided by

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Disaster Food Stamps Available for Storm Victims

Assistance for Households Hardest-Hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that disaster food stamp benefits are available to households in 15 counties hard-hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program for residents in counties affected by Hurricane Irene is available starting today. Counties covered by the program include Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, and Westchester. These counties will accept Disaster Food Stamp benefit applications for at least seven days beginning today.

The Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program for residents in counties affected by Tropical Storm Lee is available starting Friday, September 23, in Broome, Delaware, Schenectady and Tioga counties, and on Monday, September 26, in Chenango and Otsego counties.

"The devastation caused by these storms has displaced many families from their homes and jobs, leaving them without food or the means to purchase food," said Cuomo.

"Families and individuals who normally would not seek food stamp benefits may find themselves in need of this temporary help. This emergency program will ensure that those who were most severely impacted by the storm will be able to provide for their families’ nutritional needs as they continue to recover from this tragedy."

The federal government oversees the Food Stamp Program, which is operated in New York State by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin said, "Because of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee even more New Yorkers are struggling to provide meals for their families. This Disaster Food Stamp Program will help lift some of the burden of those who are eligible. It is important that families act quickly to seek this help, as it is only available for a limited time. By contacting their local department of social services, people can find the location nearest them where they can apply."

Disaster food stamp benefits can be made available when the number of people applying for food stamp benefits increases rapidly and significantly as a result of an emergency or disaster. Under the Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program, standard eligibility criteria are relaxed so that those who may not normally qualify for food stamps can receive help to purchase food. Verification rules are also eased, reducing administrative burdens as both local agencies and applicants may not have access to records normally used for verification in the aftermath of a disaster.

To qualify for disaster food stamp benefits, applicants: Must have lived in one of the designated counties at the time of the disaster. (Applicants may be eligible if they are temporarily living outside of the disaster area but within the State at the time of the disaster); must plan on purchasing food during the month of September; must have experienced at least one of the following: loss of food or food stamp benefits; damage to, or the destruction of, the household’s home or self-employment business; disaster-related expenses not expected to be reimbursed during the month of September (e.g. home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, etc.); loss or inaccessibility of income including reduction or termination of income, or a delay in receipt of income for half a month; i
naccessible liquid resources (e.g. banks are closed due to the disaster).

To find out where to apply for disaster food stamp benefits, call 1-800-342-3009, or contact your local department of social services. A list of county social services districts can be found at:

Family Fined for Bible Study

A San Juan Capistrano family faces a $500 fine for holding Bible study at home. The city says that violates zoning codes.

By Kim St. Onge
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link provided by

125 NY Farmers to Receive $2.4 Million in Aid

Aid Will Assist with Restoration of Flood-Damaged Farmland

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced $2.4 million from the state's Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund (ACRF) will be distributed to 125 farms to help New York's agricultural communities recover from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Governor Cuomo made the announcement at the John Glebocki Farm in Goshen, New York, which sustained major damage from the past flooding.

The governor also announced that certain regulations will be temporarily suspended to allow additional financial assistance for the rebuilding of rural communities to be approved and distributed as quickly as possible.

"Although many New York farms were destroyed during the recent storms, we are moving quickly to distribute recovery funds so the rebuilding process can begin as soon as possible," Governor Cuomo said.

"Before the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee began, we had already lost nearly 140,000 acres of farmland from Hurricane Irene. I have visited hard-hit farming areas together with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and N.Y. Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Aubertine and we have seen the destruction firsthand. This aid will provide much-needed assistance to agricultural communities so farmers can begin to rebuild."

Darrel Aubertine, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, said, "The recent storms did tremendous damage to some of our best farmland. Governor Cuomo created the Agriculture and Community Recovery Fund to speed the rebuilding process in our farming sector. This aid will allow work to begin in short-order to help our farmers recover from this catastrophe."

The ACRF was announced by Cuomo on September 3rd and will provide at least $15 million to rebuild communities and the agricultural industry in hard-hit areas. The funds are from the ACRF Conservation Program, which is designed to help farms recover, stabilize soils and stream banks, restore water control structures, and improve and protect water quality.

Today's distribution of aid includes:

Albany County Soil & Water District – $30,250
Projects: Replacement of alternative water supply and reconstruction of an access road, fencing, and gravel deposition removal.

Broome County Soil & Water District - $20,000
Projects: Fence repair, stream bank stabilization, replacement of alternative water supply, and debris removal from cropland.

Chenango County Soil & Water District - $37,564
Projects: Debris removal and streambank stabilization.

Clinton County Soil & Water District – $11,700
Projects: Replace failed culverts and access road repair.

Columbia County Soil & Water District – $44,000
Projects: Access road, stream crossing, fencing repair, debris removal from crop fields, and stream bank stabilization.

Delaware County Soil & Water District - $101,214
Projects: Debris removal, milk house waste treatment system replacement, fencing, access road replacement and repair, stream bank stabilization.

Dutchess County Soil & Water District – $17,403
Projects: Debris removal from pastures, access road repair, fence repair, downed tree removal, and vegetative buffer planting.

Greene County Soil & Water District - $174,650
Projects: Debris removal, fence repair, and grassed waterway repair.

Essex County Soil & Water District – $45,460
Projects: Stream channel restoration, debris removal, fence repair, and access road and culvert repair.

Montgomery County Soil & Water District – $153,250
Projects: Gravel and debris removal from cropland, stream bank stabilization, and vegetative buffer plantings.

Oneida County Soil & Water District – $18,995
Projects: Field restoration, diversion ditch, and obstruction removal

Orange County Soil & Water District - $319,620
Projects: Access road repair and replacement, crop field restoration, debris removal, animal laneway repair, water control structure repair, water supply, and fencing repair.

Otsego County Soil & Water District – $167,100
Projects: Barnyard water management, stream bank stabilization, debris removal, and critical area seeding.

Rensselaer County Soil & Water District – $184,060
Projects: Fence replacement and repair, stream bank stabilization, debris removal, and access road repair.

Saratoga County Soil & Water District – $30,000
Projects: Replace main access road and large culvert crossing.

Schenectady County Soil & Water District - $26,000
Projects: Debris removal, erosion control practices, stream crossing repair, and streambank stabilization.

Schoharie County Soil & Water District – $556,090
Projects: Debris removal, including gravel piles, whole trees, buildings, and fuel and propane tanks in crop fields; milk house waste treatment system replacement; fencing; access road replacement and repair stream bank stabilization; cover cropping; field repair; and water control structure repair.

Suffolk County Soil & Water District – $25,000
Project: Repair to water control structures to keep Hallock’s Bay from flooding farm fields.

Sullivan County Soil & Water District - $3,300
Projects: Debris removal and streambank stabilization.

Tioga County Soil & Water District - $219,920
Projects: Debris and obstruction removal, vegetative buffer repair, streambank stabilization, manure storage evaluation, pump replacement, and fence repair.

Ulster County Soil & Water District – $190,252
Projects: Stream crossing for equipment repair, critical area seeding, irrigation system repair, fencing, orchard repair, debris removal, access road repair, and cover cropping.

Washington County Soil & Water District – $60,415
Projects: Streambank stabilization, crop field restoration, alternative water supply repair, debris removal, and riparian buffer replacement.

Expedited Financial Assistance to Farms

The additional steps announced by Governor Cuomo today will temporarily remove a number of bureaucratic barriers that would impede the delivery of much-needed financial assistance to New York farming communities.

The measures will: Allow the Department of Agriculture and Markets to expedite the authorization process for emergency contracts to Soil and Water Conservation Districts; allow for expedited allocation of appropriations from the Upstate Agricultural Economic Development Fund to hard-hit areas; provide measures to ensure the expedited approval of contracts or purchases directed toward assisting farming areas affected by Hurricane Irene, avoiding the time-consuming standard procurement process; and w
aive the waiting period to allow expedited delivery of Community Development Block Grant funds

About the ACRF Conservation Program

The Conservation Program is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in consultation with the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee. Applications for funding will be accepted from County Soil and Water Conservation Districts within the eligible counties. Eligible counties are those that received a disaster designation for Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The Soil and Water Districts will determine land eligibility based on site inspections of damage. For land to be eligible, the Tropical Storms must have created a new conservation problem that, if left untreated, would: degrade the state’s natural resources; impact public drinking water supplies; present ongoing pollution risks to surface and groundwater; pose threats to production facilities; impair farm safety; affect the land’s productive capacity; or present challenges to farm production that would be too costly to implement without state assistance.

Eligible emergency conservation practices include, but are not limited to: debris removal; restoring fences and conservation structures; crop removal; land shaping and grading; and installation of vegetative practice, including cover crop. Eligible costs include: architectural and/or engineering services; consultant services; construction; and other direct expenses related to implementation.

Project sponsors within eligible counties may submit applications on a weekly basis. Applications will be taken until all available funds are awarded.

Project selection will be based on identified need and degree of loss and with consideration of the available funding for eligible counties. Recovery funds requested will be reviewed and approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. The Commissioner may consult with the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, the agency that oversees policy and programs for New York’s 58 County Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

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Newsy: Breaking Headline News

Troy Davis Executed; Texas Execution; House Rejects Spending Bill; Abbas Firm on Palestine Statehood; NASA says UARS Satellite to Hit Earth Friday

By Erik Shute
Anchor: Blake Hanson
Link provided by

Troy Davis Execution

Troy Davis was executed late Wednesday night after a final appeal to stop the lethal injection was denied.

By Adam Falk
Anchor: Blake Hanson
Link provided by

Patent Reform with the America Invents Act

President Obama is joined by CEO's and Entreprenuers as he signs the America Invents Act into law. The bill invests in America's future by streamlining the patent process, allowing start-ups and small business owners to turn their innovative ideas into products three times faster than they can today. Learn more at

Vice President Biden Announces $20 Billion in Additional Small Business Lending

Vice President Joe Biden is joined by Small Business Administrator Karen Mills at Wrap Tite, Inc. in Solon, Ohio to announce $20 Billion in additional small business lending through private/public partnerships with large banks that will help to continue to spur job growth and small business expansion in America. Learn more at

Cuomo Launches Electronic Town Hall

New Website Opens Up State Government to the People

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched CitizenConnects, an online town hall to encourage New Yorkers to participate in state government and share their ideas to help shape New York's future. The new online town hall website will feature multiple interactive platforms for New Yorkers to communicate and participate with their state government.

The website will give New Yorkers unprecedented access to the workings of the executive branch as well as provide new and easy ways to participate in the ongoing activities of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the cabinet, and top officials in the executive chamber.

The website will feature a new online town hall where the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and top commissioners and executive officials will participate in weekly online chats where they will take questions directly from New Yorkers. The Governor will hold the first chat this Saturday. To visit CitizensConnects go to

The website will also be a portal for New Yorkers to participate in upcoming state events and activities, use social media to talk and comment on the workings of state government, and track future and past travel for the Governor and the executive branch.

"Democracy works when the voice of the people rings strong and citizens participate in government," Governor Cuomo said.

"This will be a ‘Town Hall’ in every sense. It will be an open forum for New Yorkers to interact and participate in their government; it will be a place New Yorkers can visit to communicate with their leaders and sign up for community activities; and it will allow New Yorkers to have a direct window into the workings of their government. This world is changing. New technology allows us new opportunities to communicate with the people of the state. Traditional forms of communication and information have given way to electronics. It’s time government gets up to date."

Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has worked to open state government and make it more accessible to all New Yorkers. CitizenConnects builds on those efforts and empowers citizens with the information they need to actively participate in their state government. On his first day in office, Governor Cuomo opened up the second floor -- where the Governor and his top staff have their offices -- to the public after it was closed off for more than a decade.

The Governor then for the first time invited the public to attend the State of the State address and traveled to communities across the state to lay out his agenda for the people. During the budget and legislative process, the Governor held dozens of public forums and presentations in every region of the state, encouraging the public to support his agenda for reform and to make government work for the people once again.

As Attorney General, Governor Cuomo launched “Project Sunlight,” the state’s first-ever online database of information related to campaign finance, lobbying activity, state spending, and state contracts.

CitizenConnects is another step in the Governor’s transformational efforts to bring government to New Yorkers. CitizenConnects will be an online Town Hall and a forum for New Yorkers to communicate with his administration and their government. The website will provide unprecedented direct access to the activities of the Governor and state agencies.

On the website, New Yorkers will be able to:
Participate in online town halls where New Yorkers can submit questions directly to government officials; Learn about and sign up to participate in upcoming state government events; follow the travel of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and top officials and commissioners; submit ideas and policy questions to the Governor; follow the executive branch with enhanced access on Facebook and Twitter; sign up to receive e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter updates; and access the Governor’s daily and future schedules

    The first online chat will be hosted by Governor Cuomo; the second will be hosted by Superintendent Ben Lawsky who will answer questions about storm damage insurance claims and the third will be hosted by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens who will answer questions about hydrofracking.

    The site also features a calendar showing Governor Cuomo's daily public schedule, including a map showing upcoming events, as well as places the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have visited since taking office. This feature will help New Yorkers stay informed about the Governor and Lieutenant Governor's upcoming visits to their home towns.

    Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government said, “I congratulate Governor Cuomo for taking government transparency to a new level. By providing information of importance to the public, even before anyone asks for it, the website will give New Yorkers the opportunity to know how their government serves them and offer their points of view. This is a groundbreaking effort in bringing government closer to the people.”

    "The 'town hall' web page offers a user friendly way for two-way communication between New Yorkers and the governor and his staff. Particularly at a time filled with so many challenges, the public wants to keep tabs on what public officials are up to. Through this portal the governor can boost transparency of his activities and contribute to the public's trust in government, " stated Russ Haven, Executive Director of the New York State Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).

    Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union, noted, "This new public access resource tool promises to bring a new level of transparency and knowledge about how the Governor is working for the people of New York.”

    Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said, "The internet can make it easier than ever before to increase transparency and accountability in government. We’re happy to see Governor Cuomo taking this new step to further open the governor’s office to the public."

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    President Obama Addresses the UN General Assembly

    After a difficult decade of war, the President says we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace.

    University of Montreal Blackface Incident

    Students at the University of Montreal dressed in Jamaican colors and painted their faces in black paint.

    By Julia Corderoy
    Anchor: Lauren Gores
    Link provided by

    Recent SCOTUS Decisions Spark Death Penalty Debate

    Death penalty cases in the news are calling attention to the issue in Texas and the U.S.

    By Nicole Thompson
    Anchor: Jim Flink
    Link provided by

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Newsy: Breaking Headline News

    Troy Davis Update; Iran Hikers Freed; Typhoon Roke Hits Japan; SABMiller Buys Fosters for $10 Billion; PAC12 Keeps Its Dozen

    By Erik Shute
    Anchor: Jim Flink
    Link provided by

    Rick Perry Attacks Obama's Israel Policy

    The Texas governor and other Republicans could scoop up more Jewish support due to Obama’s two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

    By Zach Toombs
    Anchor: Zach Toombs
    Link provided by

    President Obama at the Open Government Partnership Event

    Introduces the American National Plan and announces an Open Government Declaration rooted in several core principles.

    Politics in Action: H.R. 2401


    H.R. 2401 – Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011

    (Rep. Sullivan, R-OK, and 44 cosponsors)

    The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2401, which would block two landmark public health regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and require the preparation of costly, unnecessary, and redundant reports. While the Administration strongly supports careful analysis of the economic effects of regulation, the approach taken in H.R. 2401 would slow or undermine important public health protections.

    Since its enactment in 1970 and subsequent amendment in 1990, both times with strong bipartisan support, the CAA has improved the Nation's air quality and protected the health of this country’s citizens. Forty years of success have demonstrated that strong environmental protections and strong economic growth go hand in hand. H.R. 2401 would undermine this progress by blocking EPA's ability to move forward with two long overdue CAA rules – the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule – to reduce harmful air pollution that threatens public health, especially the health of the most vulnerable populations, including children and seniors.

    Each year, these rules would avoid tens of thousands of premature deaths, prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and thousands of hospital visits for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and alleviate hundreds of thousands of childhood asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. EPA estimates that these two rules alone will yield hundreds of billions of dollars in net benefits each year. H.R. 2401 would block these rules and indefinitely delay these public health and economic benefits.

    If the President is presented with H.R. 2401, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

    Photo source: National Parks Service
    Author: U.S. Federal Government
    Permission: Public Domain

    Book Says: Hostile Environment for Women in Obama Whitehouse

    A group of White House female staffers accuse the White House of being a "hostile work environment;" allegations published in book, "Confidence Men."

    By Mila Mimica
    Anchor: Erica Coghill
    Link provided by

    The Federal Reserve Considering More Bond Buying

    The Federal Reserve might announce another bond-buying program – "Operation Twist" -- to lower long-term interest rates.

    By Anli Xiao
    Anchor: Zach Toombs
    Link provided by