In his weekly address, President Obama says that it’s time for Congress to pass the middle class tax cuts for 98% of all Americans. Both parties agree that this will give 98% of families and 97% of small businesses the certainty that will lead to growth, and so there is no reason to wait. On Tuesday, the American people voted for compromise and action, and the President calls on Congress to come together in that spirit to help create jobs and strengthen our economy.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Application Deadline Extended To February 4, 2013
New Yorkers who lost their job or income due to Hurricane Sandy now have an extension from December 3, 2012 to February 4, 2013 to apply for federal disaster unemployment assistance (DUA).
Additionally, claimants now have up to 90 days to submit proof of employment or self-employment and will be provided an IRS link to expedite the retrieval of lost or destroyed tax documents.
Disaster unemployment benefits are available to provide financial support to anyone who has lost their job and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties.
“Job loss due to a storm like Hurricane Sandy makes a horrible situation even worse,” stated Governor Cuomo.
“With this extension, New Yorkers who may not have been able to apply for disaster unemployment assistance will have more time to do so.”
This assistance supplements New York’s existing unemployment insurance system and expands eligibility to include individuals who might otherwise not be covered.
The Federal Government has committed to providing additional assistance as the demand for these services is identified.
Since DUA relief was announced, the Department of Labor has received more than 17,000 calls related to disaster unemployment. More than 2,700 for claims disaster unemployment assistance have already been filed, surpassing the combined total claims filed for Hurricane Irene and Lee.
Anyone unemployed as a result of Hurricane Sandy can submit a claim to the Department of Labor.
The criterion for collecting disaster assistance is broader than for collecting regular unemployment benefits. Specifically, an individual can collect disaster assistance in any of the following cases:
Injured in the disaster and unable to work, whether the person is an employee or self-employed.
Workplace is damaged, or destroyed, or the person cannot work because of the disaster.
Transportation to work is not available because of the disaster.
Cannot get to work because they must travel through the affected area, which is impossible due to disaster.
Scheduled to begin working, but cannot because of the disaster.
Derived most of income from areas affected by the disaster, and business is closed or inoperable because of the disaster.
Is not otherwise eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
However, this list is not exhaustive, and if someone is uncertain about eligibility, he or she is encouraged to apply. All applicants will be required to submit wage information and documentation supporting their application.
Examples of self-employment include small business owners, independent taxi drivers, vendors, independent commercial fisherman, and farmers.
State Department of Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said, “Our hearts go out to the victims of this disaster. I commend our staff members, who are working extended hours and on weekends to help meet the demand for those applying for this vital assistance.”
To apply for unemployment benefits or disaster unemployment assistance, those affected by the storm and have lost their job or income should call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124, or 1-877-358-5306 if they live out of state.
Applicants should answer the questions to indicate they lost their job due to Hurricane Sandy. In order to receive benefits you must apply by February 4, 2013.
Bus Shuttle Will Replace Portion of Storm-Battered “A” Line
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will resume service on the A subway line to Howard Beach and begin a bus shuttle to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, restoring service to thousands of residents of the Rockaway Peninsula who lost mass transit access after Hurricane Sandy.
“The people of the Rockaway Peninsula were especially hard-hit by this storm, and restoring transportation service to them and to Howard Beach is a priority for my administration,” said Governor Cuomo.
“This combination of subway and bus service will provide them with immediate transit relief while the entire system is rebuilt.”
Service on the A line to Howard Beach and the bus shuttle from there to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway will begin Sunday, November 11.
The A train normally runs to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway as well as Lefferts Boulevard, but currently goes only to Lefferts. Once service to Howard Beach is restored, the service will once again be split with half going to Howard Beach.
The bus shuttle will remain in place until the heavily damaged North Channel Bridge and subway infrastructure through Broad Channel is replaced. The bridge was underwater during the storm and some sections of track were entirely washed out.
Photos of the damage are available here.
“The damage to the A line in Jamaica Bay is absolutely unprecedented, and so is the MTA’s response,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota.
“Restoring the entire A train will take months, but the MTA is committed to doing it and to providing alternatives to our customers in the meantime.”
When A service is restored to Howard Beach and the bus shuttle connects it to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, customers from the Rockaway Peninsula will have several travel alternatives.
From Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, the regular Q22 line operates to Roxbury.
From the Rockaway Boulevard A station, regular limited-stop Q53 bus service operates to Rockaway Park-Beach 116 Street, as well as Q52 service to Arverne-Beach 69 Street.
From the Brooklyn College/Flatbush Avenue station on the 2 and 5 train, regular Q35 service operates to Rockaway Park-Beach 116 Street.
From the Parsons-Archer station in Jamaica on the E, J and Z trains, regular and limited-stop Q113 service operates to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway as well as Seagirt Boulevard.
Photo source: en.wikipedia
Author: Fan Railer
Permission: GNU Free Documentation License
Friday, November 9, 2012
Statement by the President on the Resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus
David Petraeus has provided extraordinary service to the United States for decades. By any measure, he was one of the outstanding General officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end. As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has continued to serve with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism. By any measure, through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger.
Today, I accepted his resignation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission, and I have the utmost confidence in Acting Director Michael Morell and the men and women of the CIA who work every day to keep our nation safe. Going forward, my thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Holly Petraeus, who has done so much to help military families through her own work. I wish them the very best at this difficult time.
This week, the President urged Americans to contribute to the recovery efforts in the Northeast, met with governors, mayors, and other local officials, as well as his Homeland Security team to talk about the response to Sandy, and addressed the nation on election night.
Service Members May Be Missing Valuable Student Loan Benefits Resulting in Higher Loan Costs
Albany, NY - Like many Americans, active-duty military men and women are carrying significant student loan debt. The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), the State’s student financial aid agency that helps people pay for college, reminds men and women serving in the military to review their student loans options to find opportunities for reducing their overall loan costs.
A recent report issued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that many service members are choosing less favorable repayment plans, which may lead to thousands of dollars in excess debt.
The average student loan debt was $25,566 for those graduating from college in 2008.
Postponing loan payments through military deferment or forbearance may seem like an ideal option, but it could be costing tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
When the student loan is an unsubsidized federal loan, the interest rate continues to accrue, even though repayment is suspended during deferment or forbearance.
Alternatives to Military Deferment: Income-Based Repayment (IBR) may be a better option and help save thousands over the life of the loan. IBR sets a borrower’s monthly payment at a fixed amount after accounting for income and family size.
The plan allows payments to be reduced, while limiting an increase in principal due to interest capitalization.
Active-duty career service members may qualify for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF).
Beginning on or after Oct.1, 2007, anyone making 120 monthly on-time payments while on active duty, or while employed in another eligible public service position, will qualify to have any remaining student loan debt forgiven on their Direct Student Loans.
Taken together, these options could save tens of thousands of dollars, particularly on large student loans. Information on other benefits is available on HESC's Military Corner website.
Military men and women have unique challenges when considering their student loan repayment options. Taking time to evaluate their repayment options now may save thousands of dollars later.
Image courtesy of http://www.hesc.ny.gov.
Governor Cuomo: "I Call on Any State or Federal Chartered Banks That Have Not Yet Waived Fees to Follow Suit"
Several major state-chartered banks have agreed to waive a number of fees and penalties in response to the impact on consumers by Storm Sandy.
State-chartered banks that will drop the fees include M&T Bank, Apple Savings, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, Emigrant Savings Bank and New York Community Bank.
“Thousands of New Yorkers’ lives have been disrupted by the storm – including their usual financial obligations and activities,” Governor Cuomo said.
“As a result, some people may have late payments or be forced to incur other bank fees and penalties. For example, they may not be able to avoid ATM fees if they can’t find a working ATM from their own bank. To help New Yorkers, major state-chartered banks have agreed to drop fees and penalties so consumers won’t have this additional cost. I call on any state or federal chartered banks that have not yet waived fees to follow suit.”
Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, stated, “Many state chartered banks are community banks with close ties to the areas they serve, so it is not surprising that many are willing to support consumers and local businesses in this difficult time. This is a standard I hope all our banks will follow.”
Details may vary from bank to bank and consumers should contact their individual bank for specifics. In general, banks have agreed to temporarily waive the following fees and penalties at least until November 15, and in some cases longer:
Late payment charges
Penalties for checks returned because of insufficient funds
Overdraft protection transfer fees
Penalties for early withdrawal of savings in circumstances where the customer has a demonstrable need for the funds resulting from the disaster
Lawsky also urged banks to work with depositors or borrowers who have been affected by the disaster.
Banks should consider reassessing the current credit needs of communities to help meet those needs by making or participating in sound loans.
They should also consider a prudent restructuring of an affected borrower’s debt obligations, by altering or adjusting payment terms.
“Local banks can play a major role in helping our communities recover, as they have played a major role in their growth before the storm,” Superintendent Lawsky added.
Financial institutions seeking additional guidance for assisting customers affected by the impact of Storm Sandy are urged to contact the Department’s Albany office at 518-473-6160.
Student Loan Relief for New Yorkers Affected by Hurricane Sandy
Governor Andrew Cuomo today directed New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) to grant temporary student loan relief to New Yorkers who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
If requested, New Yorkers in Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland Suffolk and Westchester counties are now eligible to receive a 90 day grace period, from October 27th, 2012 to January 25th, 2013, in order to repay their student loan payments.
All members of the military who have been called to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy will also be eligible.
“We are working to provide New Yorkers recovering from Hurricane Sandy with as much relief and support as possible,” said Cuomo.
“Those who lost homes or are still without power should not be burdened with the added worry of being late on their student loan payments. The grace period we are providing will give these New Yorkers some breathing room to focus on rebuilding and restarting their lives after the storm.”
In addition to the suspension of collections efforts, other actions to assist impacted student loan borrowers will include the suspension or reversal of delinquency or default notifications made by HESC to credit reporting agencies, the suspension of referrals for administrative wage garnishment and the suspension of collections calls to federal student loan borrowers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who are delinquent in their federal student loan payments.
“More than 80 percent of our borrowers with delinquent or defaulted student loans reside in and around the New York City metropolitan area,” stated Elsa Magee, Acting President of HESC.
“This is another component of the Governor’s overall effort to assist those who have been adversely impacted by Sandy.”
Borrowers should contact HESC at 1-866-991-HESC (4372) to request a temporary suspension. Email request can be made via Dept736@hesc.ny.gov.
A specific option has been added to the toll free number for Sandy victims.
U.S. president Barack Obama will visit Myanmar later this month, becoming the first sitting US president to visit the country. It's another step towards normalization with a country which two years ago was shunned by the international community. What's behind this dramatic change in attitude? Mereana Hond takes a look back at two years of reform in Myanmar.
A few years ago, the Pakistani Army began an operation to drive out the Taliban from the country's northwest. They succeeded but only partially. The group is still active in the area and routinely targets those who openly oppose it. And as Imran Khan reports from the Swat valley, people are worried about what the armed group's plans are for the future.
China's economic statistics portray an image of startling success in recent years - but as the world economy slows down it may be difficult to sustain high levels of growth. Divya Gopalan reports on the problems being experienced in one industrial city.
The Church of England will soon have a new leader. Justin Welby is tipped to be the next archbishop of Canterbury, and head of the worldwide Anglican communion. But as Laurence Lee reports, people have conflicting views about him.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Representatives Will Be at Fort Tilden Park on November 9th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, announced representatives of the Department of Financial Services (DFS) will be in the Rockaways from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, November 9 to offer help to homeowners, renters and business owners with insurance-related issues stemming from damage caused by Sandy.
The Department's representatives will be available to meet with local residents inside the agency's Mobile Command Center, which will be located at Fort Tilden Park, 1-199 Rockaway Point Boulevard, Breezy Point.
Department representatives will help citizens contact their insurers if they have be unable to do so and answer questions about homeowners', renters' and business owners' insurance coverage.
Citizens unable to go to the Mobile Command Center are encouraged to call the Department's storm hotline (800) 339-1759 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, or from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Insurance information is also available on the Department's website, http://www.dfs.ny.gov/.
Moyers and Company
Laura Flanders discusses the Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action case with Kimberlé Crenshaw and Luke Harris.
The segment was posted on the Moyers website on November 8, 2012.
Air date: November 7, 2012
The day after the 2012 elections, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) congratulated President and Mrs. Obama and Vice President and Mrs. Biden. He spoke to reporters about working with President Obama and the Senate to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” the impending automatic tax increases and budget cuts at the end of 2012 if Congress cannot reach a new budget agreement. He said that Republicans would consider a deal that includes higher taxes “under the right conditions.” He also stated, “Mr. President, this is your moment. We’re ready to be led....We want you to succeed.” He did not respond to questions.
Air date: November 7, 2012
Conservative panelists discussed the implications of 2012 election results to their movement. Topics included campaign issues, conservative numbers in the House and Senate, and the future of the Republican Party.
Adolf Hitler makes his first attempt to seize power in Germany; Democrat John F. Kennedy wins the presidency; Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California; Bonnie Raitt is born; Led Zeppelin releases the album ''Led Zeppelin Four.''.
In the first full days after the election, it's back to work for Barack Obama, the newly re-elected US president. Shortly before returning to the White House Obama called leaders from the rival Republican party, who control the House of Representatives, to discuss the so-called "fiscal cliff" ahead for the country. The cliff facing the United States is the point at which taxes are scheduled to increase while federal spending will be cut by more than $100 billion, what experts say is a recipe for recession. Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane reports from Washington on how Democrats and Republicans remain at odds on how to tackle it.
Afghanistan's southwestern province of Helmand has seen daily attacks by fighters ahead of the 2014 international troop withdrawal. More than 900 NATO soldiers have died in and around the Helmand river valley but now the Afghan National Army has taken increased control in the province's battle against fighters. With fighters often hiding near and among local civilians, Afghan forces now see themselves facing the same challenges as the US Marines that are increasingly taking a back seat in the efforts against groups of armed fighters. Al Jazeera's Steve Chao reports from Nolay.
President Barack Obama's US election win was welcomed by many Chinese, perhaps because of the tougher line Republican Mitt Romney took towards China during his campaign. But Obama faces his own challenges with China. Both sides view each other with suspicion, largely over issues of national security. Analysts say the future of the relationship is less about who's in the White House and more about who will emerge next week at China's helm. Al Jazeera's Laura Kyle reports from Beijing, where the Communist Party is set to name a new leadership.
China's ruling Communist Party has launched its national congress, a pivotal event that ushers in a new set of top leaders for the next decade. More than 2,200 delegates gathered at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Thursday for the start of the week-long session that will install Vice President Xi Jinping as the party's new general-secretary. Laura Kyle reports from Beijing.
The EU economic crisis is also taking its toll on the bloc's largest economy. German industrial output has fell by more than expected last month. And now government advisers have lowered their growth forecast for this year, while also calling on the Chancellor, Angela Merkel to rein in public spending. Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports from Berlin.
Greeks can expect more spending cuts, tax hikes and job insecurity after Parliament passed another austerity bill. The decision led to rioting by groups of young protesters, exchanging rocks and petrol bombs for rounds of tear gas. Al Jazeera's Simon Mcgregor Wood reports from Athens.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Measure Targets Eligible New York and New Jersey Victims of Hurricane Sandy
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As part of ongoing efforts to ensure families and individuals impacted by Hurricane Sandy get the support they need, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that the agency is increasing the amount of rental assistance that it may provide eligible disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey.
The rental amount, based on existing HUD Fair Market Rates (FMR) for fiscal 2013, is being increased by an additional 25 percent.
HUD FMR rates are rental cost estimates that include the cost of the shelter and all other tenant-paid utilities except telephone, cable, and internet services. HUD designs annual FMR levels to be high enough to allow for a wide selection of available units, yet low enough so that as many units as possible may be rented and provided to low-income families.
Immediately after the recent disasters in the Northeast, FEMA evaluated the number of available rental resources within Metropolitan New York and Northern New Jersey that might be available to house disaster survivors. It was quickly apparent that the cost of available rental units could become a limiting factor, so FEMA authorized funds to increase the existing rental assistance in New York and New Jersey to exceed current FY2013 levels by 125 percent.
The increase will be implemented when the survivor is recertified for a continued need for temporary housing assistance. Disaster survivors are free to rent properties above the 125 percent FMR, but will only receive assistance up to the 125 percent FMR.
The approved FMR increase is expected to make an additional 1,800 rental resources available for temporary housing of disaster-impacted families in New York, and an additional 1,200 rental resources available for similar families in New Jersey.
The increase in the FMR for New York and New Jersey is one of many ways FEMA is committed to supporting survivors in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as they begin their disaster recovery efforts.
FEMA encourages all the affected states to take the lead in identifying their local needs and resources by convening state-led Housing Task Forces. These individualized task forces help ensure the states continue to have the authority to select from available temporary housing solutions they deem sufficient to meet the needs of their residents following a disaster.
The state Housing Task Forces in New York and New Jersey have already begun meeting with FEMA representatives and recovery housing plans are underway.
Families and individuals in the declared counties who are registered for federal disaster assistance and seeking rental resources can search through hundreds of listings on the FEMA Housing Portal at http://asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm.
The site is updated regularly but families are advised that properties listed in the Housing Portal are only potential housing options, and they should contact the property owner to check if the listed unit is still available.
The FEMA Housing Portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by a variety of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), but also lists rental properties provided by private organizations and property owners willing to help their neighbors during these difficult times.
State Liquor Authority and Department of Environmental Conservation Help Businesses Meet Deadlines
Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced extensions provided by the State Liquor Authority and the Department of Environmental Conservation for license renewals and permit applications for businesses in impacted regions of the state. In addition, the state agencies are providing certain waivers for fees and extensions for payments.
“Thousands of businesses were affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, and state agencies must take steps to ensure these businesses can re-open and operate with as little interruption as possible,” Governor Cuomo said.
“Providing extensions for permit applications, license renewals and payments will help these businesses meet deadlines for an expeditious recovery.”
State Liquor Authority Extensions for Liquor License Holders
The State Liquor Authority (SLA) will extend renewal periods for liquor license holders in hurricane affected areas so that these businesses can meet filing and payment deadlines.
Current licensees in New York City and the counties of Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk, who are due for renewal in October and November, will receive an automatic 60 day grace period after the expiration date, during which they may continue to operate.
The Governor also announced an extension for the time frames in which retailers can pay distributors for deliveries made just prior to the storm.
Additional SLA related relief initiatives include:
Free License Replacement - The SLA will provide, free of charge, replacement license certificates for those lost or damaged due to Hurricane Sandy.
New Year’s Eve Permits - The deadline for applying for New Year’s Eve “all night permits” will be extended for licensees in the affected areas from November 16, 2012 to December 1, 2012.
Temporary Licenses - Businesses currently operating on temporary licenses (temporary retail permits), may request to have these licenses extended for an additional 30 days.
Special Event Permits – Upon request, full refunds will be provided for events cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. Permittees seeking to reschedule an event will be issued new permits at no additional cost, regardless of whether the event is moved to a new location.
Deficiency Letters – Applicants who filed applications during the week of Hurricane Sandy, or who received a deficiency letter during that time, will have 40 days, rather than the regular 20, to correct the deficiencies.
Conditional Approval Extensions - Any applicant whose license application was conditionally approved during the week of Hurricane Sandy will be granted an additional 60 days to meet the conditions of approval, with further extensions considered upon request. Typical conditions of approval include obtaining workers’ compensation and disability policies, authority to collect sales taxes, certificates of occupancy, and photographs showing an establishment is ready to open. Similarly, conditions of approval for alterations will be extended for an additional 60 days.
Deferral of Civil Penalties – Licensees owing civil penalties due during the period of October 26, 2012 to November 30, 2012, are granted an additional 30 day extension from the original due date.
Extension of Retailers’ Time to Pay Distributors - Retailers will have an additional 15 business days to submit payment to wholesalers for deliveries made in affected areas. The SLA’s website provides extension dates for each segment of the industry (beer, wine and liquor), at http://www.sla.ny.gov/.
For additional information regarding SLA related Hurricane Sandy relief or to request a refund or temporary permit, please contact the SLA at email@example.com or call (518) 474-3114.
DEC Extensions for State Permits and Fees for Affected Businesses
Governor Cuomo also announced the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will waive fees and extend application deadlines for state permits for 30 days beginning today.
These waivers and extensions will apply to businesses in Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties, Long Island, and New York City. This will help those businesses meet deadlines for submitting permit applications for minor modifications and renewals, obligations in consent orders and payment of regulatory fees.
These relief efforts for businesses include:
DEC is granting an extension for application submissions for minor permit modifications and permit renewals.
The agency is preparing a General Order to specify requirements for generators of hazardous waste to comply with, to allow for hazardous waste generated by the storm damage to be properly disposed of without incurring the fees and taxes for a specified period of time.
The state will extend the due date for regulatory fees which include fees for tons of regulated air pollutants emitted by facilities subject to the Title V operating permit program.
DEC is extending deadlines for compliance with obligations in agency-issued orders on consent for respondents. In addition, DEC will reschedule routine cases on the hearings docket.