Saturday, March 3, 2012

Napolitano Calls Governors Affected by Tornadoes

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

"Our Thoughts and Prayers are With Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones..." 

WASHINGTON—Today Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano called Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to offer the condolences and support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) following the storms that affected much of the Midwest and Southern states this week.

DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been in contact with affected states throughout the week and are continuing to closely monitor conditions following severe storms.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and with the communities affected by the recent storms,” said Secretary Napolitano.

“The Department’s priority is to work with the impacted states to identify and address their needs, and we will continue to remain in close contact with the states as they respond to and recover from these storms.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill. and Atlanta, Ga., is in close contact with state emergency officials in states that are being affected by severe weather, including tornadoes.

FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., and its Regional Response Coordination Center in Chicago, Ill. are fully activated to support state requests for assistance.

FEMA's regional administrators have been in touch with state emergency management officials for Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.  

At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories.

To support the affected states, FEMA has coordinated with the Department of Defense to establish a national Incident Support Base in Kentucky to stage commodities in strategic locations close to the impacted areas, if needed and requested by the state.

More than 98,000 meals and 146,000 liters of water are en route to the Incident Support Base.

Many local governments and voluntary agencies, such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, are providing shelter to disaster survivors who have been displaced from the storms.

Visit www.fema.gov/donations for more information on how you can help, .

Weekly Address: Taking Control of Our Energy Future


President Obama talks about how the American auto industry is back and creating cars that are better than ever -- and says we need to fight for a clean energy future that is within our reach.

President Obama Speaks at Conference on Conservation


Effective conservation is about more than protecting the environment, it's about strengthening the economy.

White House Briefs

Oval Office Chat Session: Obama and Governors of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio


President Affirmed That FEMA Stands Ready to Provide Assistance

Today, after receiving a briefing from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, President Obama called Indiana Governor Daniels, Kentucky Governor Beshear, and Ohio Governor Kasich to express his concern for citizens impacted by the severe weather and tornadoes this week, including yesterday and overnight, and condolences to families who had lost loved ones. 

The President acknowledged that the extent of damage may not be known for days, and reiterated to each Governor that FEMA stood ready to provide assistance, if necessary, to the extensive response efforts already underway in each state, led by the Governors' teams. 

The administration, through FEMA, is closely monitoring the storms and their impacts and remains in close contact with emergency officials in impacted states across the country to ensure there are not any unmet needs.

FEMA, Federal Partners Stand Ready



Vow to Support States Affected by Severe Weather

WASHINGTON - The Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the entire federal family, is continuing to closely monitor conditions following severe storms that affected much of the Midwest and Southern states this week. 

FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill. and Atlanta, Ga., is in close contact with state emergency officials in states that are being affected by severe weather, including tornadoes.

FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., and its Regional Response Coordination Center in Chicago, Ill. are fully activated to support state requests for assistance. 

FEMA's regional administrators have been in touch with state emergency management officials for Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storms.  Our priority, as always, is to make sure that we are here to support local efforts to keep residents and communities safe. FEMA has teams on the ground in hard hit areas and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources if needed by the states," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. 

"We urge residents in impacted areas to listen carefully to instructions from their local officials.  If asked to remain in shelters, homes or safe places or to avoid affected areas, please do so.  Roads may be damaged or blocked by debris, and traffic jams can slow emergency managers and first responders in doing their job."

At the requests of the states, FEMA and the Small Business Administration have deployed teams to Missouri and Illinois to assist with preliminary damage assessments. 

These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested. 

A FEMA disability integration specialist was part of the preliminary damage assessment team in Missouri to assess the needs of people with disabilities and access and functional needs who were displaced from their independent living center. 

FEMA has also proactively deployed a federal coordinating officer to Indiana, who is serving as a liaison to the Indiana Emergency Operations Center to provide support to the state and to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond to the recent storms. 

Incident Management Assistance Team and eleven community relations teams have also been proactively deployed to Indiana to assist with situational awareness following the storms in support of the state and governor, as requested. 

At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories. 

To support the affected states, FEMA has coordinated with the Department of Defense to establish a national Incident Support Base in Kentucky to stage commodities in strategic locations close to the impacted areas, if needed and requested by the state.  More than 98,000 meals and 146,000 liters of water are en route to the Incident Support Base. 

Many local governments and voluntary agencies, such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, are providing shelter to disaster survivors who have been displaced from the storms. 

During these times, the compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than after a disaster.

If you would like to help residents suffering the effects of recent Midwest storms, cash donations are best. They go right to the areas of need and bring relief faster. 

Visit www.fema.gov/donations for more information on how you can help.  

According the National Weather Service, there is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms across the eastern Gulf Coast into the coastal Carolinas.  The main threat will be heavy rains across much of the Southeast today. 

FEMA encourages everyone to take steps to ensure their family, homes and businesses are prepared for a possible emergency.  Important items to have ready in case of an emergency include a battery-powered radio (like a NOAA Weather Radio), flashlight, extra batteries, medicines, non-perishable food, hand-operated can opener, utility knife and first aid supplies. Important documents, such as medical records, contracts, property deeds, leases, banking records, insurance records and birth certificates, should be copied and kept in a safe place. Visit www.Ready.gov for more information on preparing yourself and your family for emergencies.

Search Starts for Tornado Survivors as Death Toll Climbs

More than 30 people are dead after at least 10 tornadoes hit Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.



By Nathan Bryne
Anchor: Lauren Zima
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Class Valedictorian Faces Deportation

Students at North Miami High School are protesting in an effort to keep their valedictorian from being deported back to Colombia.



By Lucas Geisler
Anchor: Zach Toombs
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Russians Set to Rally as Putin Seeks Third Term

Opposition leaders and City Hall have agreed on the terms for the next large-scale protest which involve some 10,000 demonstrators.



By Tatiana Darie
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Ocean Acidity Poses New Threat Ocean Acidity Poses New Threat

New study shows carbon dioxide is causing the highest level of ocean acidification in 300 million years.



By Allie Spillyards
Anchor: Allie Spillyards
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Spain Fails to Meet EU Deficit Targets

The EU fiscal pact was signed by 25 member states on Friday, but Spain fail to meet deficit targets.



By Liam Keegan
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Slightly Premature Babies Run Health Risks as Kids

A report released shows that babies born just weeks before their due date have a higher risk of developing health problems.



By Gillian Stedman
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Friday, March 2, 2012

Representative Dicks to Retire

Congressman Norman Dicks

Statement by the President

I want to thank Norm Dicks for more than 30 years of service on behalf of the people of Washington State. Norm has spent his career working to protect our national security, championing the men and women of our Armed Forces and fighting for the many natural resources of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest. Norm’s dedication to our nation’s intelligence personnel and his leadership on the Appropriations Committee will be missed in Congress and Michelle and I wish him and family well in the future.

To learn more about Congressman Dicks and his record of achievement, click here: Congressman Norman Dicks

Author: United States Government
Permission: Public Domain

Peninsula Hospital Center Consents to Appointment of Trustee


Remedial Actions Taken to Re-Open Hospital Laboratory Within Two Weeks

Far Rockaway, NY - 
Today, Peninsula Hospital announced that it has consented, along with the official committee of unsecured creditors and its lender, Revival Funding, LLC, to the appointment of an Operating Trustee in the Bankruptcy case in order to assist Peninsula towards a reopening of the hospital following the NYSDOH's order to suspend operations on February 23, 2012 due to deficiencies in its laboratory.

At this time Peninsula is working with the union, SEIU 1199, and is instituting short term layoffs to conserve cash while the hospital is on diversion.

A source who is employed at Peninsula Hospital contacted From The G-Man on the morning of March 2 and indicated that a total of 238 employees are expected to be laid off between March 2 and March 5. The source also noted that they personally read a listing of all employees expected to be laid off. 

"Unfortunately, my name is on the list. I got to see the list of names, so the blow was somewhat cushioned. Imagine what the reaction will be for employees that have no idea their name is on the list," said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"I feel blindsided, and I know many other employees will also. SEIU 1199 has been missing in action on this, and I don't understand it. The union leadership has said nothing to its members during this entire process, and I suspect a lot of 1199 members at Peninsula are going to want answers in the days and weeks to come," the source concluded.


Management of Peninsula has been working closely with NYSDOH to rectify the laboratory deficiencies and reopen the hospital as soon as possible and has been working around the clock with experts in the field to essentially build a new lab from the ground up.


At the time of the DOH orders, Peninsula had successfully negotiated with its creditors, and all parties in interest have agreed to a term sheet which would allow Peninsula to exit bankruptcy in the spring. Currently, Peninsula’s counsel still anticipates an exit from bankruptcy in mid-May.

Laboratory Status

According to Peninsula Hospital’s CEO Todd Miller, “At the end of December 2011, the hospital began the process of addressing the  necessary lab improvements through a remediation action plan, including revising and updating policies and  procedures, ordering upgrades to equipment and maintenance routines and upgrades to staffing.  It’s a big job but we are working around the clock to get all of the necessary changes completed.”

“All elements in the Department of Health’s Survey of the Lab are expected to be addressed by the hospital by week’s end.  Once these initiatives are complete, the hospital is hopeful that the Department of Health will quickly lift the diversion of the hospital through a satisfactory review of our corrective action plan.”

More information on the hospital shutdown is available in the following New York Daily News article: State Shutdown of Peninsula Hospital

Contract Ratification Reached Between State and NYSCOPBA Members


Contract Includes Zero Percent Wage Increases for 2012-2013

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) President Donn Rowe today announced the ratification of the contract between the state and NYSCOPBA law enforcement membership. The contract was ratified by NYSCOPBA members by a vote of 996 to 62.

The contract includes zero percent wage increases for 2011-2013, ensures protections against layoffs, and offers health benefits commensurate with other state bargaining units. 

The contract provides for a 2% increase in both 2014 and 2015, 9 days of deficit reduction leave, and adjustments to the health insurance premium.

"The contract that was overwhelmingly ratified by NYSCOPBA ensures competitive benefits and protects the jobs of New Yorkers in law enforcement, all while helping to secure the financial future of our state," Governor Cuomo said.

"By continuing to work together, we will emerge from these difficult financial times with a stronger New York. I congratulate NYSCOPBA for the success of the contract ratification and I thank President Rowe for his leadership."

"Our law enforcement members perform some of the most dangerous jobs in New York, and they have never asked for more than their fair share. The overwhelming vote in favor of this contract clearly shows that these members also recognize New York's fiscal situation,” stated Donn Rowe, President, New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (NYSCOPBA).

“Governor Cuomo deserves credit for acknowledging the difficult job our law enforcement members have and the valuable service they perform for the public every day."

NYSCOPBA represents over 26,000 New York State employees and retirees from the Security Services Unit. The contract applies to law enforcement members who are not eligible for arbitration.

The agreement follows the pattern of contracts negotiated over the past year and includes the following:

Zero percent wage increases for 2011-2013, a 2% increase in both 2014 and 2015

The agreement includes 3% and 4% wage increases for 2009-2010, the same pattern as other units; these increases were previously reserved for in the state financial plan

A $1,000 retention bonus paid out $775 in the third year and $225 in the fourth year

Deficit Reduction Leave of five days this fiscal year and four days next fiscal year, saving $4.3 million; the total deduction for the days comes from the retro pay for 2009-11
Employees will be repaid the value of 4 days in equal installments starting at the end of the contract term

Retroactive payments that are scheduled to be paid in two installments next fiscal year 

A 2% increase in health insurance premium contributions for Grade 9 employees and below, making the share 12% for individuals and 27% for family premiums; and 6% increase for Grade 10 employees and above, making the share 16% for individuals and 31% for family premiums

A health plan opt-out so officers can opt-out through a spouse/partner to a non-state health plan

All changes to health benefits, including premium shifts, will save $8.2 million over the contract period and $2 million annually after 2016

A labor/management committee to review all leave taken by officers, including annual, personal, sick, workers compensation, and the manner of such use; recommendations will be made to the President of NYSCOPBA and the GOER Director for implementation

Officers will receive broad layoff protection; workforce reductions due to management decisions to close or restructure facilities authorized by legislation, SAGE recommendations, or material or unanticipated changes in the state's fiscal circumstances are not covered by this limitation

West Wing Week: 3/2/2012


This week, the President honored the resurgence of the American auto industry, challenged governors to invest in education, held a dinner honoring Iraq War Veterans, hosted the Prime Minister of Denmark and urged Congress to end subsidies for oil and gas companies during a trip to New Hampshire.

Obama Urges Congress to End Oil Subsidies

Opponents of the proposal say make it will make prices at the pump even higher.



By Xiaonan Wang
Anchor: Emily Spain
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Power Struggles in Iran's Parliamentary Election

As Iranians voted in parliamentary elections, analysts discussed the country's power struggles.



By Steven Sparkman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of Newsy.com 

Is the GOP Losing Ground in Contraception War?

The Senate rejects Senator Roy Blunt's health care amendment, and many in the media call it a win for Democrats. But is it?



By Allie Spillyards
Anchor: Allie Spillyards
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Travel Ban Lifted for American NGOs in Egypt

The travel ban is lifted for American NGOs on trial in Egypt. Will be enough to ease tensions between the U.S. and Egypt in recent months?



By Emily Allen
Anchor: Emily Allen
Link courtesy of Newsy.com 

Bank of America Exploring Fresh Fees

Bank of America is working on adding new fees for customers who don't meet certain guidelines.



By Meredith Baldwin
Anchor: Emily Spain
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Ex-Senators Suggest Ties Between Saudi Arabia, 9/11

Affidavits filed by former U.S. senators and released Wednesday suggest ties between the Saudi government and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.



By Zach Toombs
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012

R.I.P: Andrew Breitbart, Conservative Activist

Andrew Breitbart speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2012.

Santorum: "What a Huge Loss"

Andrew Breitbart, one of the leading conservative voices and activists in the country, died during the early morning hours of March 1, 2012. According to the Yahoo News blog "The Cutline", Breitbart was walking near his Brentwood, California home and suddenly collapsed. He was transported to UCLA Medical Center where he was pronounced dead sometime after midnight. The cause of death has not been determined. 

More information on Breitbart's career and life is available here: Yahoo News: The Cutline

Photo source: Own work
Author: Gage Skidmore

The President and First Lady Honor Troops Who Served in Iraq and Afghanistan


President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a dinner in honor of the Armed Forces who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, along with their families.

White House Briefs

Newsy Now: Latest Headlines

US Senate to vote on contraception measure; Istanbul bomb blast; two Americans killed in Afghanistan; Costa Allegra passengers reaches dry land.



By David Earl
Anchor: David Earl
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

GM Buying Part of French Car Maker

GM is taking a 7 percent stake in French automaker Peugeot. It’s a move the company says will save money.



By David Earl
Anchor: David Earl
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Stocks Slide After Fed Chair Comments

U.S. stocks fell in Wednesday trading after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaling no new buys of bonds.



By David Earl
Anchor: David Earl
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Archaeologists Say They've Found Jesus' Tomb

In a new book, two archaeologists detail and explain their findings. Find out why some experts support them, and others are skeptical.



By Lauren Zima
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of Newsy.com