Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan: 'We Can Turn This Thing Around'

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Earthquakes Kill Dozens in Iran

Strikes Occurred Near Town of Tabriz

Aljazeera reports the following: 

"Two strong earthquakes have hit northwestern Iran, killing at least 80 people and injuring scores more, Iranian officials have told the state news agency."

The full news report can be read here: Iran Earthquakes

From The G-Man will post additional reports on this breaking story as more information becomes available.

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Weekly Address: All-Hands-On-Deck Response to the Drought

FTG Flashback: President Bill Clinton - Response to Lewinsky Allegations

At the end of a speech about education policy proposals (6:18), President Clinton responds to the allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, saying: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

President Obama Hosts an Iftar Dinner

President Obama hosts an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room. This is the fourth Iftar that President Obama has hosted, continuing the tradition of hosting Iftars that began annually under President Clinton and was continued by President George W. Bush. The invited guests include elected officials, religious and grassroots leaders in the Muslim American community, and leaders of diverse faiths and members of the diplomatic corps.

Today in History: August 11th

Highlights of this day in history: Start of the Watts riots in Los Angeles; President Ronald Reagan's joke causes a Cold War flap; The Mall of America opens; 'Roots' author Alex Haley born; Painter Jackson Pollock killed in auto accident. (Aug. 11)

Confidential Photo of Trayvon Martin's Body Released


By Steven Sparkman

Anchor: Lauren Gores
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Egypt Deploys Troops to the Sinai

Al Jazeera's corresondent Jamal Elshayyal reports from the town El Arish in Sinai.

Paul Ryan Tapped as Romney's Running Mate

Mitt Romney, the Republican US presidential candidate, is expected to announce Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate, US media has reported. Ryan built his reputation with aggressive plans for cutting the deficit by dramatically chopping federal spending. He is also a socially conservative Catholic who is pro-life and opposes same sex marriage, but is less confrontational than others with the same views. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher looks at what Ryan will bring to the ticket.

Food Prices Spike Amid Record Temperatures

The US is facing its worst harvest for 15 years, and as corn production plummets, global food prices are rising. Temperatures in some states have been even higher than in the devastating Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Al Jazeera's Jesse Mesner-Hage reports.

Unions Seek to Regain Political Clout

In the US, tens of thousands of trade unionists and their supporters are set to hold a demonstration in Philadelphia. But many within the labour movement admit that it is in trouble in some states. The unions suffered a massive political blow last year when public sector workers were stripped of their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. They are also criticised for being slow to embrace the Occupy Wall Street movement. Now some say that to be successful, unions need to alter their relationship with power and big business. Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports from Philadelphia.

U.S. to Crack Down on Hate Groups

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the memorial service for Sikhs killed in a temple in Wisconsin . He pledged to crack down on violence by hate groups. Researchers say there are nearly twice as many such groups as there were a decade ago. Tom Ackerman reports.

Friday, August 10, 2012

In Memoriam....Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy

Killed After Insurgent Detonated a Suicide Vest

Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 in honor of a New York Soldier who died in Sarkowi, Afghanistan on August 8.

Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, of West Point, N. Y., died when an insurgent detonated a suicide vest. He was assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Carson, Colorado.

"Along with all New Yorkers I mourn the loss of this outstanding officer," said Governor Cuomo.

"We will remember his honorable service to our nation and we are grateful for his dedication to duty."

From The G-Man would like to take this opportunity to honor Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, his love of country, and his service with the following video tribute. May he forever rest in peace. 

Video uploaded to YouTube by moderatepopulist

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West Wing Week 08/10/12

Moyers Moment (1999): George Lucas on Mentors and Faith

In this Moyers Moment from 1999, George Lucas discusses his mentors and the role religion plays in the films' mythology.

Today in History: August 10th

Highlights of this day in history: 'Son of Sam' killer David Berkowitz caught near New York City; Leno and Rosemary LaBianca murdered by Charles Manson's cult; FDR stricken with polio; The Smithsonian Institution established. (Aug. 10)

Top Newsy Headlines: Three U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan


By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Lauren Zima
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Eastpoint Focuses on Alternative Energy

The first commercial tidal energy project in North America is in its last test phase. Turbines have been engineered a little way off the coast of Eastport Maine in such a way to ensure they always turn the same way, whether the tide is rolling in, or out. The turbines power a generator, creating electricity. Cables carry it onshore and directly into the power grid. Three years from now, they hope to power 1,200 homes. Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports from Eastport Maine.

Argentina Feels Pinch of Global Economic Crisis

Argentina's economy has long been upheld as a model for successful recovery from a financial crash. Its leaders managed to steer the country to growth, following a 2001 banking sector collapse. But the global economic crisis is threatening that recovery. Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman reports from Buenos Aires.

Europe's Economic Woes Deepen Amidst Uncertainty

Europe has had more bad news as the economic outlook looks very bleak. The Bank of England has admitted there will be little growth in the UK economy this year as the double-dip recession intensifies. he European Central Bank has warned that the debt crisis hitting the eurozone is causing the region's financial market to become increasingly fragmented. France could also slip back into recession while Germany's exports are also facing problems. Al Jazeera's Peter Sharp takes a look at the figures.   Al Jazeera's Peter Sharp takes a look at the figures.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Today in History: August 9th

'Sewage Pollution Right to Know' Bill Signed

New York Plants Must Inform the Public When Untreated Sewage is Discharged into Community Waterways

The 'Sewage Pollution Right to Know' law will require publicly owned sewage treatment plants and sewer systems to notify the general public whenever the facility discharges untreated or partially treated sewage.

"New Yorkers have a right to know when potentially harmful, untreated sewage is discharged into waterways in their communities," Governor Cuomo said.

"These new notification requirements will let the general public know when untreated sewage is released in water bodies, especially swimming beaches and fishing areas. In addition, this new law will also raise awareness to the need for upgrades and maintenance of our state's wastewater infrastructure. I thank the bill sponsors for their work on this important law."

The law is designed to protect New Yorkers by increasing awareness when discharges which may affect public health occur, allowing the general public to make informed decisions about fishing, swimming and recreating in affected water ways.

Currently, notification of a discharge is only provided to certain public officials and not the general public.

Sewage treatment plants were required to inform the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the local health department only to instances where the discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage may affect shellfish harvesting, swimming or recreational areas.

The new law will expand the notification requirements, ensuring that all New Yorkers know when untreated sewage that poses a threat to public health has been discharged in their communities, as well as giving DEC additional information, enabling the agency to focus compliance education and outreach efforts.

The new law also requires DEC to prepare an annual report of discharges of treated or untreated waste from each publicly owned sewage treatment plant and system.

The report will contain the total number of discharges, the volume and duration of such discharges, and the remedial responses, if any, to such discharges.

"Sewer discharges affect the public's ability to safely swim, fish and recreate. This new law will provide the public with important information about New York's water bodies and further DEC's efforts to make all waterways in the state fishable and swimmable," noted DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

"I am pleased to have sponsored the bill that is now law creating a 'Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act' for all New Yorkers who want to enjoy the many great bodies of water in our state,” said Senator Mark Grisanti, Chairman of Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

“This law ensures that the water people use for both recreational and commercial activities will not be threatened by bacteria, toxins or chemicals due to the spillage of raw sewage. When accidents do occur prompt notification and swift action for clean-up must happen." 

"I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing and helping to shape this important public health protection law. Many communities in New York State are served by aging and dilapidated sewage infrastructure,” stated Assembly Member Bob Sweeney, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation.

“As a result, hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage enter into the waters we use to swim, boat, and fish each year. The 'Sewage Pollution Right to Know' law will protect the public from avoidable exposures to sewage in our waterways by requiring that the public be warned if sewage is released. Our waterways are one of New York’s great assets and people should be able to fish, boat and swim in them without fear of contamination."

The new law takes effect on May 1, 2013.

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NYS Seeking Proposals for Flood Control Projects

Cuomo: "NY Works Projects Will Provide Critical Improvements to Our State's Flood Control Infrastructure"

New York State is seeking proposals for an estimated $355,000 in survey work on eight NY Works flood control projects.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will award the work to a qualified firm upon completion of the contract letting process.

The boundary survey projects include Binghamton (Broome County), Endicott (Broome County), Vestal (Broome County), Johnson City (Broome County), Corning (Steuben County), Canisteo (Steuben County), Gang Mills (Steuben County), and Montour Falls (Schuyler County).

Projects include surveying 30 miles of flood protection project boundaries.

"NY Works projects will provide critical improvements to our state's flood control infrastructure," Governor Cuomo said.

"As a result of the NY Works program's expedited procurement process, work can begin immediately on vital repairs that will rebuild our municipalities and put New Yorkers back to work. The state’s flood control projects will receive much-needed repairs as a result of the NY Works initiative. Work is underway to ensure these projects perform as designed and protect New Yorkers and infrastructure well in the future."

"Surveying work is important to bring the state's flood control projects into compliance with federal standards. The NY Works program has provided the means to ensure all of these projects are brought into good repair," stated DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

Scoping sessions for prospective contractors are scheduled for August 28 in Binghamton.  

Visit New York State Contract Reporter, for more information. Users must register. 

Surveying the boundaries of these flood control projects enables DEC to properly maintain them in accordance with the federal government's criteria under the oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Projects need to maintain a clear right of way to provide access to prevent floods and for maintenance.

These areas also need to be maintained free of trees and other vegetation which could harbor burrowing animals and create root systems which could allow flooding waters to migrate through and weaken the earthen levees and cause a breach in the levee.

In addition, trees too close to flood control projects can fall over and pull up soil that is part of the levee. This could compromise the integrity of a levee or floodwall.

Also, fallen limbs could cause an obstruction in a waterway which could increase the likelihood of flooding.
NY Works is the centerpiece of Governor Cuomo's jobs program, reinventing state economic development with an innovative new strategy to put New Yorkers back to work rebuilding the state's infrastructure.

The program is designed to create tens of thousands of jobs by coordinating comprehensive capital plans, overseeing all investment in infrastructure projects, and accelerating hundreds of critical projects across the state.

DEC maintains 106 flood control projects, of which 91 have been rated "minimally acceptable" or "unacceptable" by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The NY Works Funds will designate $56 million to perform maintenance of flood control facilities such as levees, pump station and flood gates.

FTG Flashback: President Nixon Resigns

After the turmoil of the Watergate scandal, and the initiation of impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives, President Nixon decides to resign from office and announces the decision to the American people.

August 8th, 1974

President Obama Campaign Event in Denver, Colorado

Top Newsy Headlines: Gu Kailai Admits to Killing Businessman


By Charles McKeague

Anchor: Lauren Zima
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U.S. Families Commemorate Those Killed in Vietnam

A ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington for US airmen lost in Vietnam is also a demonstration of how the two countries, once at war, have tried to move beyond old hostilities. Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports from Washington, DC.

Syria's Rebels Demand Weapons from Allies

Syrian rebel commanders have told Al Jazeera that they need more weapons if they are to overcome government forces. One of most senior generals in the Free Syrian Army also said that the promised foreign military aid has not materialised. Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons reports from northern Syria.

Egypt's President Fires Intelligence Chief

Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has fired his spy chief Murad Muwafi in a major shake-up of military and intelligence ranks extending to the head of the Republican Guard and the governor of North Sinai. Wednesday's decision comes several days after a deadly ambush in Sinai killed 16 soldiers, prompting an unprecedented military crackdown in the peninsula, but Morsi's spokesman did not say whether the attack had prompted the changes. Morsi also ordered Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the defence minister, to replace the head of military police Hamdi Badeen, his spokesman Yassir Ali said in a televised statement on Wednesday. Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal reports from Sinai.

Russia Sect Held Children Underground

Four members of a reclusive Muslim sect in the Russian region of Tatarstan have been charged with cruelty against children for allegedly keeping them underground. Police found 27 children and 38 adults living in catacomb-like cells, dug on eight levels under the home of the sect's founder. It is not clear how long the children were kept underground. Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reports from Moscow, the Russian capital.

Corruption and Cheating Threatens UK Olympics

The history of the olympics is not just one of sporting achievement - there is also a parallel history of cheating and corruption. The London Olympics will see more doping tests take place than at any previous games, and organisers are also on the look out for evidence of match fixing and illegal gambling. Andy Richardson reports.

Philippine Appeals for Flood Aid for Millions

There has been a reprieve in the weather in the Philippines, but hundreds and thousands of people are still in temporary shelters. Nearly two weeks of torrential rain has caused widespread flooding and landslides, and at least 19 people have died. It is not the first time the capital Manila has been inundated. Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reports from Manila.

UN Chief Wants Sanctions Against Mali Rebels

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, has called on UN security council to impose sanctions against fighters who have taken over northern Mali. Ban asked the council on Wednesday to consider financial and travel sanctions against rebels and fighters linked to radical Islamist groups, including several who are allied with al-Qaeda. Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall reports.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Buffalo Bills Battle Brewing

Cuomo: "New York State is Committed to Doing All We Can to Keep the Bills a Part of the Buffalo Community..."

Irwin P. Raij, a nationally-recognized professional sports expert with extensive experience in stadium development and the sports industry, will advise the state on its efforts to keep the Bills in Buffalo. 

Raij currently serves as a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP and is co-chair of the Sports Industry Team. He has represented and counseled major sports clients including a professional sports league, professional sports teams, owners and acquirers of professional sports teams.

Raij advises clients in connection with a variety of new stadium development projects, construction agreements, new and interim lease agreements, acquisition of professional sports franchises, strategic counsel, and commercial matters.

"New York State is committed to doing all we can to keep the Bills a part of the Buffalo community, while also protecting taxpayer dollars and seeing that the team can thrive in Western New York for years to come," Governor Cuomo said.

"Irwin Raij has years of experience working together with sports franchise owners, local communities, and government in sports development projects, and he will be a valuable addition to the state's efforts to keep the Bills right here in New York."

"I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate closely with the State of New York on an issue that carries both emotional and economic implications among many residents," stated Raij.

"Throughout this process, I plan to leverage my and the firm’s collective experience on these complex and evolving issues in order to find a solution that helps keep the Bills in Buffalo."

Raij's experience includes leading the team that represented Guggenheim Baseball Management in the recent acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the single largest transaction ever for a professional sports franchise and represented Rangers Baseball Express in its acquisition of the Texas Rangers.

Raij was appointed by Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball, to serve on a three person committee to determine feasibility of developing a new stadium for the Oakland A's in Northern California, represented MLB in the relocation of the Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals, to Washington, D.C., and acted as MLB's counsel in its successful efforts to facilitate the negotiation and approval of new stadiums for the Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals.

Mr. Raij has also provided counsel to the Miami Dolphins in their efforts to renovate Sun Life Stadium and has worked with private developers regarding in the creation of stadium development concepts throughout the country.

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Oval Office Chat Session: Obama and Singh

President Offers Condolences to India's Prime Minister in the Wake of Wisconsin Shootings

President Obama spoke with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh this morning to express condolences for victims of the senseless attack at the gurdwara in Wisconsin, which took the lives of Indian nationals as well as Americans, and to convey the solidarity of the American people.  

President Obama reiterated that the Sikh community is an essential and vibrant part of the American family.  

The President also underscored that the incident is particularly tragic because it took place in a house of worship.  

Prime Minister Singh expressed his gratitude for the many messages and gestures of support from the United States, and for the prompt reaction and heroism of the local police department.  

The two leaders re-affirmed their nations’ commitment to the shared values of pluralism, religious freedom, and freedom of worship.    

Hillary Clinton: Secretary of 'Shake'

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got her groove on while she danced at a party in Pretoria, South Africa.

$30 Million Awarded to Developers for Solar-Power Projects

Funding Will Support Large-Scale Solar Projects in Downstate Area

A total of $30 million has been awarded to 16 developers to finance large-scale photovoltaic (PV) projects at multiple sites in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley.

As part of the Governor's NY-Sun initiative, the funding will assist businesses and other facilities in generating electricity from solar power.

The funding is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority through the Renewable Portfolio Standard Customer-Sited Tier Regional Program.

Projects under this program are sited at manufacturing facilities, colleges and universities, schools, department stores, apartment complexes and other locations.

The developers awarded funding today will develop an installed capacity of 34 MW of solar to be online in 2013.

"These awards will help large commercial and industrial businesses to invest in solar power, stimulating economic development while helping reduce use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases emissions,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

"Through the NY-Sun program, the state continues to be a leader in the development of solar energy and making solar power a more attractive option for businesses. These investments will help create green jobs, while protecting the environment and leading to a more sustainable future for our state."

The solar developers receiving these awards consist of: American Capital Energy Inc., Dynamic Solar LLC, EmPower Solar CES LLC, EnterSolar LLC, GreenLogic LLC, Lighthouse Solar, Mercury Solar Systems Inc., OnForce Solar Inc., Orion Energy Systems Inc., Ross Solar Group LLC, Safari Energy LLC, Solar Energy Systems LLC, Solartech Renewable Systems LLC, SunEdison Commercial Solutions LLC, SunWize Technologies Inc., and TriState Solar Alliance.

The NY-Sun Initiative was first outlined by the Governor in his 2012 State of the State Address. The initiative is designed to double the amount of customer-sited solar power installed annually in New York in 2012, and quadruple that amount by 2013. 

"NYSERDA has received an enthusiastic response again to this program confirming that solar power can help the metropolitan New York City area in addressing the challenge of meeting its energy, environmental and reliability needs,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA.  

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we are poised to expand this program upstate providing greater energy independence to New York by increasing the state’s renewable-energy portfolio while reducing demand on the electric grid.”

"We remain committed to the growth of renewable energy projects, including solar, in the metro New York City area, as well as the rest of the state. Developing renewable energy resources is a primary goal of the Commission,” noted Garry Brown, Chairman of the state Public Service Commission.

Programs that encourage and strengthen renewable resources will help ensure a cleaner environment. In addition, developing renewable resources will enable us to guide and direct our energy future."

Last year, through this program, NYSERDA awarded more than $30 million across 22 contracts in support of 26.62 MW of solar PV projects.

The projects are meant to produce power for on-site use, not for direct sale to utilities. Under certain circumstances, however, unused power can be added to the grid in exchange for future utility credit.

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Addabbo Praises NYPD and Volunteers During 'National Night Out'

Statement from New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. 

"Last night, as I traveled throughout my district’s police precincts on National Night Out, it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves and showing great appreciation for the efforts of our law enforcement personnel. I commend all of our precincts for the work that they do ensuring our safety with the limited resources they have. I also am grateful for all the volunteers who make up our auxiliary police force, explorers, and precinct councils for their hours dedicated to the security concerns of our residents."

National Night Out Against Crime is an annual event that strives to improve relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve. More information here: 
PNJ news report

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Congress and the Fiscal Cliff

Stephen Moore discussed the oncoming "fiscal cliff" and what Congress would quickly have to do to avoid it. The "fiscal cliff" was intended to serve as motivation for the agreement on a new budget in Congress; however, without an agreement being reached many federal programs, notably defense, will be automatically defunded. Moore also discussed the impact that the Republican and Democratic tax cuts would have on the economy.

FTG Flashback: Geraldine Ferraro Vice Presidential Acceptance Speech

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed Into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 5872

On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, the President signed into law:

H.R. 5872, the "Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012," which requires the President to provide a report to the Congress relating to funding reductions scheduled to take place on January 2, 2013.

President Obama Discusses Drought Response Effort

Romney Says Obama 'Gut' Welfare Reform: Is it True?


By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
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More Assistance Needed to Secure U.S. Borders

When it comes to border security, there is a lot on the line for US states in the southwest of the country. For many, Mexico's relentless drug violence can be too close for comfort. Now local authorities want to use equipment from US wars abroad to keep the border conflict from spilling over. Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports from Laredo, Texas.

Philippines Crippled by Heavy Floods

In just over 24 hours, at least several people have been killed, since heavy rains pounded the Philippine capital Manila and other surrounding provinces. Almost half of northern Philippines is now under water. Tens of thousands of people from the capital have been moved to higher ground. Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reports.

In Focus: Russia's Pussy Riot

In Moscow, the trial of the activist-feminist group known as Pussy Riot continues into its second week. The case has captured both domestic and international attention, with the Russian opposition rallying around them as an anti-Putin symbol. Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan takes a closer look at what these women are all about.

Rich Countries Reap Medal Haul at Olympics

The medals table at the London Olympics is dominated right now by the US, China and hosts Great Britain. But for every medal won by those countries, many more are losing out. Jonah Hull reports from London.

DR Congo Rebels Work on Image Makeover

Rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are on a mission to repair their image. The M23 rebel army, which seized control of areas along the border with Rwanda, is now establishing its own administration, complete with ministers, committees and local councils. The militia is trying to present itself as a new type of Congolese army; as a stabilising, liberating force rather than the old-fashioned gang of thugs. But some residents remain sceptical about their motives. Al Jazeera's Peter Greste reports from the town of Rutshuru.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

White House Briefs

32BJ Endorses Addabbo

Union Praises Senator's "Dedication and Commitment to Working Families" 

Queens, NY - Citing his dedicated service, and commitment to fighting for working class families, 32BJ endorsed Senator Joe Addabbo for his third term representing New York Senate’s 15th district.

“Joseph Addabbo has shown through his service on the New York City Council and in the State Senate his dedication to improving the lives of middle-class and working New Yorkers,” said Hector Figueroa, Secretary-Treasurer for 32BJ.

“He has fought to strengthen rules that would help protect workers from injuries on the job.”

“32BJ is proud to support Senator Addabbo’s reelection and will work hard to ensure he returns to Albany to continue representing our state’s working people,” added Figueroa.

“I am honored to have the support of 32BJ, as they represent and fight for thousands of working New Yorkers,” stated Addabbo.

“I am eager to stand with them in continuing the fight for the rights and benefits of property service workers, and all working class families across the state and in the district.”

Senator Addabbo supports legislation to aid property service workers including the Unnumbered School Custodian Prevailing Wage Bill, and legislation that would ensure workers employed to provide service work for the benefit of public agencies are paid prevailing wages.

The senator also co-sponsors the New York Healthy Workplace Act, which establishes a civil cause of action for employees who are subjected to an abusive work environment, and supports legislation to raise the minimum wage.

32BJ represents 70,000 property service workers in New York City and Long Island, and has more than 120,000 members around the U.S., making it the largest property service workers union in the country.

It is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has over 2 million members. 

Bath Salt, Synthetic Drug Regulations Passed in NY

Violators Will Face Fines Up to $500 and Potentially Up to 15 Days in Jail

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) has issued new regulations to crack down on the increasingly widespread use of bath salts and other synthetic drugs. 

The new regulations, issued today by DOH and approved by the Public Health and Health Planning Council, will expand the existing list of prohibited drugs and chemicals to include dozens more substances that are now used to make synthetic drugs, better ensuring that distributors can no longer skirt the law by simply modifying the drug's ingredients.

In addition, the regulations will allow for the first time an owner of an establishment and/or an employee selling synthetic drugs to be charged with possession of an illicit substance.

Further, to support enforcement, the regulations will increase the criminal penalties for those who violate the rules. Violators will face fines up to $500 and potentially up to 15 days in jail.

"Bath salts and other synthetic drugs pose a direct, serious threat to public health and safety, and we must do everything we can to remove these harmful substances from sale and distribution in New York," said Cuomo.

"The actions we are announcing today attack the problem by helping our law enforcement officers enforce the rules, expanding the list of banned substances used to manufacture bath salts, and imposing tougher penalties so those who sell these drugs are held accountable."

Over the past year, there has been a dangerous rise in instances of New Yorkers using synthetic drugs. In 2011, there were 39 reported emergency room visits in upstate New York as a result of bath salts.

Already in 2012, there have been 191 such visits with 120 occurring this past June and July.

According to the New York State Poison Control Center, in 2010 there were only 20 calls concerning synthetic marijuana poisonings. There were 291 in 2011, and there were already 321 through the first six months of 2012.

Bath salts and other synthetic drugs are manufactured with a similar, but slightly modified structure of controlled substances that are listed on Schedule I of the state and/or federal controlled substances laws as a means to avoid existing drug laws.

These designer drugs can be – and are – continually chemically modified in the attempt to avoid legal repercussions.

In an effort to mask their true purpose, these products are marketed as "bath salts" or as "legal alternatives to marijuana." They are currently sold online, in small convenience stores, smoke shops, and other retail outlets.

When consumed, these substances produce dangerous effects similar to cocaine and amphetamines, including hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, and violent behavior as well as chest pains, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rates.

Bath Salts are sold under names including, White Lightening, Snow Leopard, Tranquility, Zoom, Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Vanilla Sky, and others. Synthetic marijuana is sold as Spice, K2, Blaze and Red Dawn X among other names.

Although federal law bans the manufacture or sale of many of these substances, as a result of the new regulations put in place today, local law enforcement officials for the first time will be able to pursue perpetrators under state laws and refer violators to local District Attorneys for prosecution.

The State Health Department and the New York State Police will coordinate investigations and arrests with local law enforcement and district attorneys.

New criminal penalties will include a fine up to $500 and or up to 15 days in jail. New civil penalties will include a fine of up to $2,000 per violation.

The Governor also announced a new toll-free hotline 1-888-99SALTS (1-888-997-2587). Individuals with information about illegal distribution of bath salts or synthetic drugs are encouraged to call this hotline.

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Republicans Release New Report On Fast And Furious Investigation

FTG Flashback: 'You Don't Like It, SHOE Me!'

White House Briefs

Bill Moyers Essay: Everyone Should Be Entitled to Medicare

Moyers recalls his days with Lyndon Johnson as they prepared to sell Medicare to Congress, and makes the case for why everyone should be entitled to it today.

U.S. Credit Downgrade, One Year Later

Yuval Rosenberg discussed the ramifications of the U.S. credit rating downgrade, which happened one year ago. He argued that the downgrade has not really affected the American marketplace due to the global fiscal crisis.

Top Newsy Headlines: Missouri Mosque Burned to the Ground


By Charles McKeague

Anchor: Lauren Zima
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Texas Set to Execute Mentally Unstable Man

A Texas man whose lawyers say is clinically "mentally retarded" is set to be put to death by lethal injection. Nearly 20 years ago Marvin Wilson was convicted of fatally shooting a police drug informant, with the sentence of death by lethan injection. It was a penalty the US Supreme Court soon afterward found to violate the constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment when imposed on the mentally retarded. Texas courts have judged Wilson as not mentally retarded -- even though psychologists measured his IQ in the bottom one percentile, about equal to that of an average five year old child. Commenting on the case of Wilson, Simon Whitaker, a clinical psychologist from the UK told Al Jazeera: "This is a miscarriage of justice, he would have the same reasoning powers of a five year old child, if a five year old child killed someone we would not execute them in part." "With his diagnosis he cannot make rational decisions, there will be a clear problem for him to think things through." Texas is one of 33 states, along with the federal government, which still maintains the death penalty, which still has widespread support, as a recent poll indicated more than seventy per cent of Texans approve of capital punishment for murder.