Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rep. Ron Paul Questions Treasury Secretary Geithner

Representative Ron Paul questions Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about the similarity betwern the recent LIBOR fraud and the Federal Reserve Bank manipulating interest rates. Rep. Paul also questions why the Fed cannot purchase bonds directly from the Treasury instead of enriching middle men.

Sandy Weill Says Big Banks Should Split Up

In a surprising change of heart, the man who shattered the Glass-Steagall Act and practically invented too-big-to-fail banks calls for new regulations. 

Weekly Address: The House of Representatives Must Act on Middle Class Tax Cut Extension

President Obama Signs US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed Into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary on S. 2165

On Friday, July 27, 2012, the President signed into law:

S. 2165, the "United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012," which enhances security cooperation between the United States and Israel, and for other purposes.

Syrian Army Attacks Rebel Strongholds in Aleppo


By John O'Connor

Anchor: Candice Aviles
Video courtesy of

Editor's note: Other Newsy videos will play following this report.

Indonesia Struggles to Curb People Trafficking

Debate continues to rage in Australia over how to stop asylum seekers from taking dangerous sea journeys to its shores. Indonesia is used by many people traffickers as a transit port. In the second half of our series on Australia's immigration dilemma, we look at how Indonesian officials are attempting to stop the people smugglers. Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas reports from Pelabuhan Ratu.

UN States Fail to Reach Arms Trade Treaty

Efforts to create the first ever global Arms Trade Treaty have ended in failure. Delegates from around the world spent a month negotiating at the United Nations. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports on what went wrong and who is to blame.

Kurdish Forces Prevent Iraqi Troops from Disputed Border Area

Iraqi Kurdish security forces have prevented Iraqi government soldiers from reaching a disputed area that borders Syria. Baghdad sent the Iraqi army division to protect the border. But it's a sensitive area - both the Kurds and the Iraqi government claim the territory. Al Jazeera's Omar Al Saleh reports from the Fishkhabour border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

Swaziland's Public Health Services Grinding to a Halt

Striking workers in Swaziland have been ordered to return to work by the government, or risk losing their jobs. Civil servants including teachers and medical staff have been striking for over a month demanding a pay raise of 4.5 per cent, but authorities are refusing to increase their salaries. On Wednesday almost 3,000 teachers took to the streets in two towns of Siketi and Umhlanga, according to Sibongile Mazibuko, the president of Swaziland National Association of Teachers. Government officials of one of the only surviving monarchy's in Africa, say that they cannot afford the pay rise. Instead, they have given the striking public workers a Monday deadline to get back to work, or be fired. But strikers say they will not return to work until their demands are met. They blame the country's problems on the state-funded extravagance of King Mswati, rated by Forbes magazine as among the world's richest royals, and his refusal to implement democratic reforms. More than 60 per cent of the country's 1.1 million people live on less than $2 a day. With few nurses at work and drugs in short supply, the tiny nation's health system has also been severely affected. Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa reports from Swaziland.

PM Says Bangladesh Cannot Help Rohingya

Bangladesh's prime minister has told Al Jazeera that her country cannot afford to accomodate more Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar. The statement follows reports that Bangledishi authorities have been rejecting many of the asylum seekers. Sheikh Hasina defended the policy, saying Bangladesh is already overpopulated. There are already about 300,000 Rohingya living in refugee camps in the country. She said that it is not her country's responsibility to help all of the refugees.

Friday, July 27, 2012

White House Briefs

Jesse Owens: The Greatest Olympian

As the world anxiously awaits the start of the Olympics in London, From The G-Man would like to take this opportunity to salute a man that it considers to be "the greatest Olympian" in the history of the games: Jesse Owens. 

At the 1936 Olympic games, Owens won a total of four gold medals and broke world records in the process. The fact that he was competing against Adolf Hitler's "Master Race" of athletes provided an even greater level of drama and tension during the event. 

Owens received star treatment and an abundance of love and support during the competitions. However, when he returned to the United States, racism prevented him from obtaining a good paying job. The "Black Superman" that won four gold medals for America, and received a hero's welcome during his return to the states, had to support himself by making public speeches and racing against horses.

A number of years ago, ESPN selected former Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan as the "Athlete of the Century". The title should have been bestowed on Jesse Owens, without question. Why? The track and field icon's incredible performance was a foreshadowing of things to come for Hitler and the Aryan Nation. The German madman truly believed he and those of his race could not and would not be defeated under any circumstances, but Owens stood on the world's greatest stage and proved Hitler wrong. Ultimately, the allies involved in the second world war proved him wrong, too.   

Thank you, Jesse Owens. May you forever rest in  peace. 

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Steps Down

Ambassador Ryan Crocker

Statement from Press Secretary Jay Carney

The President met earlier today in the Oval Office with  Ambassador Ryan Crocker to receive an update on the situation in Afghanistan and to thank the Ambassador for his superb leadership of the United States’ efforts in Afghanistan over the past year.  Ambassador Crocker has served at a critical time, and thanks to his work, the United States – together with the Afghan government and our NATO-ISAF partners – has cemented a long-term partnership with the Afghan people that allows us to responsibly wind down the war as the Afghan Government stands up to take full responsibility for their security and sovereignty. Ambassador Crocker’s tireless and passionate focus on achieving our objective in Afghanistan has kept us safer and more secure, and completes another chapter in an unmatched career of diplomatic service in the most challenging postings. Ambassador Crocker will depart his role as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan with the President’s, and the nation’s, great thanks and admiration. 

Information regarding Ambassador Crocker and his departure is available here: New York Times

HIV Co-Founder Doubts Over Imminent Cure

Robert Gallo, the co-discoverer of HIV, says that he does not expect a cure for the virus will be discovered soon. Following an international conference on HIV/AIDS, Gallo says that there have been many advances in fighting the disease, but hope for a cure is a long way off.

President Obama on the Middle Class Tax Cuts

President Obama Speaks at the National Urban League Convention

Richard Schwartz, Assistant Attorney General, Killed During NY Storm

Cuomo: "His Work Ethic and His Passion Were an Inspiration to All Who Had the Privilege of Knowing Him"

Governor Andrew Cuomo today released the following statement on Schwartz's passing: 

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I would like to express my sympathy to the loved ones of Assistant Attorney General Richard Schwartz, who tragically lost his life during last night’s severe storm. Richard was a dedicated public servant and attorney who served the State of New York in the Office of the Attorney General for over 25 years. His commitment to placing the needs of New Yorkers above all else will be remembered and cherished. His work ethic and his passion were an inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues with whom he worked during his many years in State service.”

Details of the tragedy appear here: The Brooklyn Eagle

Image courtesy of

Albany Update: Crews Working to Restore Power

Storm Update from Governor Andrew Cuomo

Friday, July 27 – 2:30 PM:
NYSEG expects to have 90% of customer outages in all of its Divisions restored tonight, with the exception of the Elmira Division. A small number of customer outages in these divisions are anticipated to extend into Saturday.

In the more severely damaged Elmira area, the NYSEG expects to have 50% of customer outages restored tonight and 75% restored Saturday night. The remaining outages are likely to extend into Sunday. In addition to the 45 National Grid crews, NYSEG has 30 crews in route from Ohio to assist in restoring electric customers in Elmira.

Friday, July 27 – 12:30 PM

Statewide there are approximately 43,000 customers without power and 502 crews are working to restore service. NYSEG has 81 line crews and 49 service crews working to restore power in Elmira. 

Central Hudson expects to have the majority of customers restored by 11:00 PM.

'Seemingly, Disparate World Events Appear to be Connected to an Approaching World Crisis'

Flag of Cape Town, South Africa

South African Journalist Issues Urgent Plea to U.S. and Global Officials on Drought Crisis 


The following commentary was submitted by a South African resident and journalist to call attention to the drought crisis in the United States and how the dire situation will impact Africa and the global community. 

As per the resident's request, From The G-Man will consider this contributing writer a source and not reveal their identity. They intend to submit commentaries and special news reports on the social and political situations that are having an adverse effect on Africa and its inhabitants.

A Comment from Down South 

Drought in US is set to have dire consequences for the poor in Africa, and everywhere else.

We all grew up with the specter of one kind of doom or another looming over our lives. Many of us remember the Nazi’s, the Cuban missile crisis, the Berlin Wall, and more recently, the Jerusalem Wall. It’s something you learn to live with over time, and most of them tend to sort themselves out one way or another.

Well, this week is a bit different. It might be better not to look at the news from the past few days, what with bits of the Arctic falling off and Greenland melting completely in the unprecedented space of four days. These all pale into insignificance as the current disaster threatens to overshadow all the others put together.

The week began with a seemingly innocuous series of articles about the drought in the Midwest. To most people this is a fairly normal state of affairs. Droughts happen. Always have. And probably always will. Only this one gives cause for alarm. Why? Well for one, it’s big. Massive, in fact. The continent stands to lose millions of acres of maize. Most of the losses are due to poor land management practices. For years soil scientists, organic farmers and other observers have warned against the monoculture ‘factory farming’ methods utilised by modern agriculturists. These methods force production of more and more food from less and less land using increasingly debatable means.

Massive failure of maize crops across the United States could have dire consequences for the rest of the world. The ongoing drought is precipitating an impending crisis which is set to see prices rise around the world as the US imports maize that it should otherwise be able to produce at home. This could cause a worsening of the situation in Africa for one, where 80% of the population rely on maize as their staple diet, as the US will be forced to import maize from there and elsewhere in the world. South Africa is a major producer of maize with roughly 60% of the total arable land devoted to the production of maize. The price inflation will have severe consequences for people already stretched to the limits of human endurance.

The sad fact is that the majority of the maize required by the US market will go not into basic foodstuffs, but into the production of corn syrup to feed America’s sweet tooth, as well as the controversial production of ethanol from what is essentially a food crop.

The US, the shining light of the democratic model, appears to be leading the way in the ecological disaster business too. Environmental scientists, historians and farmers have been warning for decades that another Dust Bowl event in the US was merely a matter of time. Well, it appears that the time might be approaching again: a repeat of the 1930’s crisis in America, by when 850 million tons of topsoil had blown into the sea to be lost forever. It takes many centuries for an inch of good topsoil to be formed, and sources say that the US lost about five inches of it at the time. Man fought nature then and lost. Badly. We need only look back at the ruins of Mesopotamia, India and Greece to see our current model will fail just as those did.

Seemingly disparate world events appear to be connected to an approaching world crisis, which, although predicted in the literature of many cultures around the world, appears to have been entirely man-made and preventable.

It was our fault that time and it’s going to be our fault again, unless we radically change the way we do business with the Earth.

Editor's note:
 From The G-Man is proud to have this foreign correspondent's article showcased as its 2,000th posting of 2012.  

West Wing Week 07/27/12

Krueger: 'Over the Last Three Years, the Economy Has Expanded by 6.7 Percent Overall...'

(Click on image to enlarge)

Advance Estimate of GDP for the Second Quarter of 2012 and Annual Revision

The following statement was released today by Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Today’s report shows that the economy posted its twelfth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 1.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Over the last three years, the economy has expanded by 6.7 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 9.9 percent.  While the economy continues to move in the right direction, additional growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the deep recession that began at the end of 2007. 

With today’s report, the BEA also released its annual revisions back to 2009.  While the revisions did not meaningfully change the pace of growth over that entire period, it is noteworthy that State and local government purchases were revised up in 2009, which is consistent with the Recovery Act cushioning the effect of the recession and helping to launch the recovery.  Since the Recovery Act funds have been phasing out, however, declining State and local government activity has subtracted from GDP.  Indeed, today’s report indicates that State and local government purchases have declined for 11 straight quarters, the longest streak ever recorded since the official record of quarterly data began in 1947. 

To strengthen economic growth and increase job creation, President Obama has proposed to Congress a plan that would help State and local governments retain and hire teachers and first responders, assist the construction sector and economy of tomorrow by rebuilding and modernizing our Nation’s infrastructure, and would give small businesses tax cuts to encourage them to increase payroll.  President Obama also proposed extending tax cuts to protect middle class families and virtually every small business owner from getting a tax increase at the beginning of next year.  The Senate passed the President’s plan this week and President Obama has said that as soon as the House will act he will sign it right away in order to give certainty and security to middle class families.  Extending these tax cuts would provide more certainty for the economy for 98% of American families and 97% of small business owners. 

Top Newsy Headlines: Big Ben Rings in Olympics


By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Logan Tittle
Video courtesy of

Editor's note: Other Newsy videos will play following this report.

Palestinian Athlete Aims for Olympics Glory

Palestine will be sending five participants at the London Olympics 2012. Maher Abu Rmeileh, the first Palestinian to make it to the Olympics by qualifying in competition, aims to bring glory to his country in Judo. But because Abu Rmeileh lives in East Jerusalem he has had difficulty in co-ordinating events with Palestinians on the other side of the separation wall. Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reports from East Jerusalem.

UN Chief Makes Plea on Global Arms Treaty

The UN is set to begin negotiations on the first ever global Arms Trade Treaty. There are no internationally agreed standards for the sale of conventional weapons like rifles or handguns. And supporters say a treaty would help stem the violence in conflicts across the globe. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey has more.

Bo Xilai's Wife Charged with Murder

The wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai and a family aide have been charged with the murder of a British businessman. The prosecutor's indictment said Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had a falling out with Briton Neil Heywood over money and worried that it would threaten her and their son's safety. Al Jazeera's Gerald Tan reports.

Swaziland Teachers Strike Over Poor Pay

Thousands of teachers in Swaziland are striking over poor pay. They are calling for a 4.5 per cent wage increase. Many say widespread corruption in the government, including state-sponsored extravagance of the country's king, has caused a massive inequality gap between the rich and poor. 70 per cent of Swaziland's population live on less than two dollars a day, while the king as one of the richest royals in the world. Haru Mutasa is in Swaziland.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New York Storm Update

Update from Governor Andrew Cuomo

Thursday, July 26 – 9:00 PM:

Currently, there are approximately 93,700 customers without power statewide.

NYSEG has approximately 47,000 customers without power. Chemung County has 17,000 outages, Putnam, Westchester, and Steuben each have 5,000 outages, and Broome County has 4,000 outages.

Central Hudson has approximately 33,000 customers without power. The most significant damage is reported in the Dutchess County with more than 19,000 customers without service, Ulster, Orange, and Putnam Counties have 4,800, 3,500, and 1,575 outages respectively.

Orange and Rockland’s outages total approximately 7,600 in Orange and Sullivan Counties.

Con Edison’s Westchester Division is reporting 2,500 outages.

LIPA is reporting 1,800; National Grid is reporting 1,500; and RGE is reporting 38 outages at this time. All of the electric utilities are responding to emergencies and are performing restoration activities where it is safe to do so.

White House Briefs

State of Emergency Declared for Chemung County

Severe Thunderstorms Cause 60 MPH Winds and Widespread Damage 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency for Chemung County, allowing New York State to better coordinate and respond with local governments to the widespread damage caused by a line of severe thunderstorms that caused possible tornadoes, winds in excess of 60 miles per hours, and hail over one inch in diameter. 

The storms caused widespread power outages, damage to homes, apartments, businesses, public and private property, and damaged and downed thousands of trees.

"This afternoon's severe thunderstorms, including strong winds, possible tornadoes, and large hail, caused serious damage in Chemung County and the surrounding areas. This state of emergency declaration will help the state get critical resources to communities that were hit the hardest," Governor Cuomo said.

"New York State will continue to respond as quickly as possible to the severe weather moving across the state and do whatever is needed to protect New Yorkers. Additional disaster declarations will be issued as needed."

A state of emergency enables New York to mobilize state resources to assist local governments more effectively and quickly, and if necessary gives the Governor the authority to suspend statutes, rules and regulations that would impede response and recovery activities.

The declaration further gives the Governor the ability to direct state resources to local governments in need.

The declaration applies to Chemung County and contiguous areas.

Image courtesy of

Syrian Battles Rage in Major Cities

Syrian government forces have continued to battle opposition fighters across the country, including in Syria's major cities. The violence has focused on the power centres of Aleppo, Damascus and Homs. The government appears to be using heavy artillery. Jane Ferguson reports.

ECB to 'Do Whatever it Takes' to Save Euro

The message coming from the head of Europe's Central Bank could not be clearer; it will stand by its currency and will bolster it in any way it can, according to remarks made by its president. Mario Draghi's words sent positive noises through the markets, prompting the high rate at which Spain and Italy borrowed money to fall significantly. Europes economic woes are far from over, none more so than in Greece. Three years after his last visit, the European Commission leader, Manuel Barosso will find it much changed. The global markets will now wait to see how the ECB put its plan into action, hopeful it will bring some sort of stability. Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward reports.

Politics in Action: S. 3414


S. 3414 – Cybersecurity Act of 2012
(Sen. Lieberman, I-CT, and 4 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of S. 3414, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.  While lacking some of the key provisions of earlier bills, the revised legislation will provide important tools to strengthen the Nation's response to cybersecurity risks.  The legislation also reflects many of the priorities included in the Administration's legislative proposal.

The Administration particularly appreciates the bill's strong protections for privacy and civil liberties and would not support amendments that weaken these protections.  The Administration agrees that it is essential that the collection, use, and disclosure of such information remain closely tied to the purposes of detecting and mitigating cybersecurity threats, while still allowing law enforcement to investigate and prosecute serious crimes.  All entities – public and private – must be accountable for how they handle such data.  The bill should take care not to duplicate existing domestic or international law enforcement frameworks.  The bill also must protect the confidentiality of statistical data and honor the statutory confidentiality pledges made to respondents.  The Administration is confident that S. 3414 can improve the Nation's cybersecurity while protecting the privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties that are central to American values.

The revised bill contains critical-infrastructure protection measures that are less robust than in earlier drafts, but would still produce meaningful cybersecurity improvements.  However, the Administration would not support amendments that would weaken the critical infrastructure protection measures in the legislation, including: (1) reducing the Federal Government's existing roles and responsibilities in coordinating and endorsing the outcome-based cybersecurity practices; (2) weakening the statutory authorities of the Department of Homeland Security to accomplish its critical infrastructure protection mission; or (3) substantially expanding the narrowly-tailored liability protections for private sector entities.  While liability limitations are necessary to encourage information sharing, overly broad immunities from legal obligations would undermine the very trust that the bill seeks to strengthen.

S. 3414 would create an interagency National Cybersecurity Council to coordinate the identification of voluntary cybersecurity practices for critical cyber infrastructure.  As currently drafted, the structure of the National Cybersecurity Council raises constitutional concerns and should be amended to employ an administrative structure similar to that of other recently established councils.  Further, the bill contains provisions purporting to prescribe the Executive branch's responsibilities in coordinating with foreign governments and conducting diplomatic negotiations.  These provisions should be clarified so as to maintain the President's exclusive constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy.  The Administration also believes that to ensure consistency with existing law, processes, and Presidential directives, certain provisions must be addressed in the final bill regarding the protection of intelligence sources and methods, as well as information sharing and policy coordination.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure that cybersecurity legislation is sufficiently comprehensive to address the growing cyber threats facing the Nation.

Con Ed, Local 1-2 Agree to Return to Work

Compromise Reached in Order to Prepare for Possible Storms and Emergency Situations

The following statement has just been released by Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

“Due to the potential safety issues and emergency response needs that may result from the storm, earlier this morning I met with the leadership of Con Ed and Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America. At my request and in the interest of the safety of New Yorkers, Con Ed and Local 1-2 have agreed that the necessary personnel will immediately return to work to prepare for the possibility of an approaching storm and will remain on the job for the duration of any emergency and any following repairs. Con Ed and Local 1-2 will continue to work aggressively to reach a full contract agreement. I want to thank President Harry Farrell of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America, President of the International Union of UAW Michael Langford, and Con Edison President and CEO Kevin Burke for coming together and putting the interests of the people first.”

Storm Warnings Issued for New York

Cuomo: "New Yorkers Should Be Especially Aware of the Weather Conditions When Making Their Travel Plans..." 

The following statement was issued today by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“The National Weather Service has issued an updated weather advisory that warns of strong thunderstorms passing through the state throughout the day, primarily in the southern areas of upstate New York and the New York City area. I have activated the State Emergency Operations Center where Homeland Security Commissioner Jerome Hauer will be stationed throughout the day and night. New Yorkers should be especially aware of the weather conditions when making their travel plans today and monitor local news reports and weather alerts throughout the day.

This morning, I will be meeting with the leadership of Con Edison, the New York Power Authority, and the Public Service Commission to make sure the New York City area is covered by the appropriate personnel to deal with any emergency response that may be needed. The safety of New Yorkers always comes first.”

The storms are forecasted to bring heavy rain, high winds, and possible tornadoes, and may cause widespread power outages.

Yesterday, the National Weather Service briefed state officials on the approaching storms and declared a Moderate Risk of Severe Weather for New York State.

The prediction includes the possibility of high winds and possible tornadoes. At the Governor's direction, the State Emergency Operations Center will be activated today.

As weather conditions can change rapidly, the Governor is urging New Yorkers to pay close attention to local radio and television reports to stay up to date with the storms' progress.

“I urge all New Yorkers to take caution and pay attention to local radio and television reports for the latest information on the progress of these summer storms," Cuomo said.

"Proper precautions undertaken now can help ensure that the strong winds and heavy rain cause as little damage as possible and that families and individuals are kept safe from harm."

New York State Office of Emergency Management Director Steven Kuhr added, "Families and individuals should have an emergency kit and an emergency plan in place. Your emergency kit should include items such as non-perishable food, water, a portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries. Pay attention to Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages that carry local information and emergency orders, such as evacuation or travel restrictions. If emergency orders are issued, do not hesitate – take immediate action."

Governor Cuomo offered the following tips as the storm approaches:

Before the storm hits:

Tie down or bring inside lawn furniture, trash cans, tools and hanging plants that could be projectiles during the storm.

If you have a basement, check sump pumps to ensure they are operating and be prepared to use a backup system.

Have a standby generator or alternative source of power available.

Check on neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled.

As the storm approaches:

Stay inside, away from windows and glass doors.

Charge your cellphones and important electronic devices

Stay off roads. If you are traveling, find safe shelter immediately.

If you must travel:

Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads – turn around and go another way. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.

Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.

If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

If you are at home or at work:

Stay at home unless you have been ordered to leave.

Turn refrigerator to maximum cold and open only when necessary.

Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.

Turn off propane tanks.

Unplug major appliances.

Fill large containers with water.

If winds become strong:

Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered.

Close all interior doors.

Secure and brace external doors.

If you are in a two or multiple-story house, go to an interior lower-floor room.

Remain indoors during a severe thunder storm. If warned of a tornado, go to a basement or other low area in your home or business or in a room with no windows.

If you lose electrical service:

Call your utility first to determine area repair schedules. Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate power has been restored.

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce food spoilage.

If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, fill plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one. This will help keep food cold.

If you need to use a generator:

Before installing a generator, be sure to properly disconnect from your utility electrical service. If possible, have your generator installed by a qualified electrician.

Run generators outside, downwind of structures. Never run a generator indoors. Deadly carbon monoxide gas from the generator's exhaust can spread throughout enclosed spaces.

Fuel spilled on a hot generator can cause an explosion. If your generator has a detachable fuel tank remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.

Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Most small, home-use portable generators produce 350 to 12,000 watts of power. Overloading your generator can damage it and appliances connected to it, and may cause a fire. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Keep children away from generators at all times.

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

Do not operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Do not use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
Do not use your gas oven to heat your home -- prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.

Install a carbon monoxide alarm.

The best way to receive emergency information is to subscribe to NY-ALERT, the State’s alert and notification system. Visit

For more information on how to best prepare, visit:

Obama, Romney Talk Gun Control


By Charles McKeague

Anchor: Logan Tittle
Video courtesy of

Editor's note: Other Newsy videos will play following this report. 

Syrians Cross into Lebanon

As Syrians head back to Damascus from Lebanon, differing opinions expressed on what the future will hold for their country.

Fears Over Sicily's Sinking Economy

There are fresh concerns about Italy's economy, this time it is the region of Sicily some consider the trouble spot. Prime Minister Mario Monti has met local officials who are worried the island is on the brink of bankruptcy. Al Jazeera's Claudio Lavanga reports from Palermo.

Job Creation May Just Be Mitt Romney's Bane

US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is on a European tour to promote among other things, his job-creating credentials but back home in a small town in Illinois - those qualities are being questioned. Nearly 200 workers at the Sensata plant linked to Romney's former company, Bain Capital, are about to lose their jobs. And to add insult to injury, They have to train their Chinese replacements first. Al Jazeera's John Hendren reports from Freeport.

Pennsylvania's New Controversial Voting Law

A law backed by Republicans in Pennsylvania will add a new requirement for voters in the upcoming US presidential election - a photo ID with an expiry date. Opponents of the new law say it could prevent hundreds of thousands of people from voting; primarily the elderly, minorities and the poor because they are less likely to have the necessary paperwork or the means to get an id. They are also more likely to vote Democrat. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports.

Somalia Set to Birth New Government

Somalia is on the brink of creating its first legitimate government in more than 20 years. The National Constituent Assembly is meeting in Mogadishu and is due to vote on a new Constitution and it will also pick members of parliament - who, in turn, will choose Somalia's next President. Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri reports from Nairobi in neighbouring Kenya.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cuomo Letter Seeks End to Lock Out

PSC Chairman Garry Brown

Document Submitted to Public Service Commission Chairman

Governor Andrew Cuomo today sent a letter to Public Service Commission chairman Garry Brown, urging the Commission to bring together representatives from Con Edison and the utilities' labor union to end the lock out. 

The letter is in response to a memorandum from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to the Governor's office regarding the dispute between Con Ed and labor unions. Attached is the memorandum from PSC to the Governor's office.

The letter from the Governor is below:

Dear Chairman Brown:

I am in receipt of your memorandum outlining your view of the legal authority of the Public Service Commission to respond to work stoppages or lockouts involving regulated utilities. 

I understand that the Public Service Commission’s view is that its authority to intervene directly in what is primarily a labor dispute is prevented by federal labor law. I understand further from your memorandum that the Commission has not previously inserted itself into a labor dispute. The Commission’s position is that it can only respond when “a severe event compromising safety or disrupting the provision of reliable service” occurs. 

I respectfully suggest an alternative perspective. My administration has focused on fundamentally changing the way state government operates in order to position the government to proactively address problems facing New Yorkers and, when possible, prevent them happening in the first place. When we can take steps to avert disaster before it strikes, it is a dereliction of our public duty not to act. In the case of the current Con Ed lockout, it would be a failure to serve the public to respond only after a blackout or serious safety incident that occurs due to the labor dispute. I believe there is a real possibility of a safety or reliability issue if this situation continues. This is especially true as our region faces an ongoing heat wave which places significant stress on the power grid and requires all parties to devote the highest level of attention to the energy system.

This lockout has gone on long enough. Elected state and city officials are rightfully concerned. I urge you to bring both parties together to strongly encourage an expeditious resolution, and to emphasize that both Con Ed and the union will be held accountable by the people of the state if their failure to settle the dispute contributes to service disruptions or impacts safety. 


Photo courtesy of

Iraq's VP, Tariq al Hashemi, Speaks Out

Vice President Tariq Al Hashemi is being tried in absentia in a Baghdad court.

Politics in Action: S. 3412


S. 3412 – Middle Class Tax Cut Act
(Sen. Reid, D-NV)

The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of S. 3412 to prevent income taxes from going up at the start of next year on millions of middle-class Americans. 

If the Congress does not act, a typical middle-class family of four will see its taxes rise next year by $2,200 – a sizable financial hit for middle-class families that could hardly come at a worse time.  By extending middle-class income tax relief for an additional year, S. 3412 will provide certainty to the 98 percent of Americans with incomes of less than $250,000 (for married couples) that their income taxes will not go up next year – strengthening the recovery by helping spur economic growth and job creation. 

Extending middle-class tax cuts means continuing the temporary income tax relief currently scheduled to expire at the end of the year for the first $250,000 of income for married couples.  If this temporary tax relief is not extended, over 35 million families will receive a smaller Child Tax Credit, while millions of low- and moderate-income working families will lose access to the credit altogether; 11 million middle-class families will no longer get help paying for college from the American Opportunity Tax Credit; married couples will see a tax increase of up to $890 from the expiration of the 10 percent tax bracket; and nearly 38 million middle-class couples will lose the temporary relief they are receiving from marriage penalties.  Under the legislation, 97 percent of small businesses owners would continue to receive tax cuts on their business income, and small businesses that are investing in the economy will be able to claim immediate tax deductions for $250,000, rather than just $25,000, of new investments.

While preventing any income tax increases on 114 million American families earning less than $250,000, acceptable middle-class tax relief would not extend the tax cuts on income above that amount.  But households at all income levels would benefit from middle-class tax relief.  S. 3412 is similar to the President's proposal to extend the middle-class tax relief.  Under the President’s proposal, even households with incomes over $1 million will continue to receive tax cuts averaging more than $10,000 from lower tax rates on their first $250,000 of income.  In contrast, if all of the tax cuts were extended, including those that go only to the top 2 percent of households, tax cuts for households with incomes over $1 million would average about $160,000.

Rather than continuing the unaffordable and unneeded tax cuts for the highest-income 2 percent of Americans, middle-class tax relief, such as S. 3412, asks the best off to contribute to deficit reduction by paying income taxes at the same rates as during the 1990s, when the economy created nearly 23 million new jobs and the largest budget surplus in American history.  Relative to S. 3412, continuing all of the income tax cuts for the top 2 percent of households for just one more year would add about $50 billion to the deficit.  Making the high-income tax cuts permanent would add about $850 billion to deficits over the next 10 years, or nearly $1 trillion if the cost of proposed estate tax cuts is included as well.  Allowing these tax cuts to expire is an essential component of the President's plan for balanced deficit reduction.

The Administration believes that the Nation's prosperity has always come from an economy that is built on a strong and growing middle class.  All sides agree on the need to extend the tax cuts for the middle class – this legislation reflects that consensus, and should not be held hostage while debating the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy.

76 Counties in Six States Deemed Disaster Areas

Producers in 1,369 Counties in 31 Drought-Stricken States Eligible for Disaster Assistance

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2012—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today designated 76 additional counties in six states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat.

During the 2012 crop year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 1,369 counties across 31 states as disaster areas—1,234 due to drought—making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans.

The additional counties designated today are in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The U.S. Drought Monitor currently reports that two-thirds of the continental United States is in a moderate to exceptional drought.

"President Obama requested that USDA take the steps within our existing programs to support struggling farmers and ranchers and we announced these new measures earlier this week," said Vilsack.

"The President and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation's economy by sustaining the successes of America's agricultural economy through these difficult times. As USDA officials visit drought-stricken areas to stand with our producers and rural communities, the urgency for Congress to pass a food, farm and jobs bill is greater than ever. The hardworking Americans who produce our food and fiber, feed for our livestock, and contribute to a home-grown energy policy—they need action now. That is why USDA is taking every possible step to help farmers through this difficult time."

During the week ending July 22, the portion of the U.S. corn crop rated in very poor to poor condition climbed to 45 percent, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybeans rated very poor to poor rose to 35 percent. Such ratings for both commodities have increased for seven consecutive weeks.

During the same period, from June 3 to July 22, the portion of the U.S. corn rated good to excellent fell from 72 to 26 percent. Soybeans rated good to excellent tumbled from 65 to 31 percent.

The current corn and soybean ratings represent the lowest conditions at any time of year since 1988. At the same time, more than half—or 55 percent—of the nation's pastures and rangeland are rated in very poor or poor condition.

Last week, President Obama and Secretary Vilsack met to discuss additional steps the Administration could take to help farmers and ranchers recover when disaster strikes. Five days later, Vilsack announced USDA's use of existing authority to help create and encourage more flexibility within USDA's major conservation programs as well as the Federal Crop Insurance Program.

USDA announced that it will allow additional acres under CRP to be used for emergency haying or grazing. The action will allow lands that are not yet classified as "under severe drought" but that are "abnormally dry" to be used for haying and grazing.

In addition, USDA is allowing producers to modify current Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contracts to allow for grazing, livestock watering, and other conservation activities to address drought conditions, and has authorized haying and grazing of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easement areas in drought-affected areas where haying and grazing is consistent with conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands.

USDA has expedited its authorization process for this haying and grazing. Vilsack also announced plans to encourage crop insurance companies to provide a short grace period for farmers on unpaid insurance premiums, as some farming families can be expected to struggle to make ends meet at the close of the crop year.

Increasingly hot and dry conditions from California to upstate New York have caused significant crop damage to many crops, including corn and soybeans, as well as pastures and rangeland.

Vilsack has instructed USDA subcabinet leaders to travel to affected areas to augment ongoing assistance from state-level USDA staff and provide guidance on the department's existing disaster resources.

To deliver assistance to those who need it most, the Secretary effectively reduced the interest rate for emergency loans from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent, while creating greater flexibility for ranchers within the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for emergency haying and grazing purposes.

In addition, the disaster designations announced today fall under a new, streamlined process that simplifies Secretarial disaster designations and will result in a 40 percent reduction in processing time for most counties affected by disasters.

The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to designate disaster counties to make disaster assistance programs available to farmers and ranchers.

During times of need, USDA has historically responded to disasters across the country by providing direct support, disaster assistance, technical assistance, and access to credit. USDA's low-interest emergency loans have helped producers recover from losses due to drought, flooding and other natural disasters for decades.

USDA agencies have been working for weeks with state and local officials, as well as individuals, businesses, farmers and ranchers, as they begin the process of helping to get people back on their feet.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has also made 63 agency declarations in 33 states covering 1,675 counties, providing a pathway for those affected to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). SBA's EIDLs are available to small, non-farm businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community.

Also today, USDA released an info-graphic that helps to illustrate how growth and diversity in the U.S. agriculture sector since the 1988 drought has better positioned American agriculture to endure the current natural disaster.

For this and other updates about USDA's efforts to respond to the drought, visit