Friday, October 26, 2012

'State of Emergency' Declared in New York

Hurricane Sandy May Hit New York State This Weekend

Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in New York in preparation for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy, which may hit New York State in the coming days. A state of emergency mobilizes resources to local governments that otherwise are restricted to state use only and suspends regulations that would impede rapid response.

The Governor is continuing to coordinate statewide preparation for the storm and has ordered the state's Emergency Operations Center in Albany to operate twenty-four hours a day.

At the Governor's direction, state agencies and local governments are planning cooperative response efforts. Governor Cuomo and his administration have been in contact with local officials to coordinate preparation. The state government is communicating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service to discuss the potential tracks of the storm.

“As we prepare for the possibility of Hurricane Sandy hitting New York State, I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any potential impacts,” Governor Cuomo said.

“We are working with federal and local partners to follow storm developments and organize a coordinated response plan. With unpredictable weather conditions, we are taking the greatest precautions – especially after our experience from last year’s storms. I urge New Yorkers to plan for hurricane conditions and follow news reports to stay updated on the storm’s progress.”

Governor Cuomo has asked President Obama for a pre-landfall disaster declaration. This would allow for State access to funds and FEMA resources to prepare. 

Due to the impending storm, the Governor’s conference on Emergency Preparedness scheduled for October 29-30 in Albany is being postponed.

Governor Cuomo is overseeing state mobilization in preparation for the potential storm, including:


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is monitoring the progress of Hurricane Sandy and taking necessary precautions to protect its transportation network. The storm is tracking toward New York and holds the potential for high winds and heavy rain that could make it unsafe to operate subway, bus and railroad lines, as well as to allow vehicles on the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels. The MTA Hurricane Plan calls for an orderly shutdown of transit and train service before the arrival of sustained winds of 39 mph or higher. No decision has been made whether to suspend some or all service in advance of the storm, but ample notice will be provided of any suspension. Customers and the media should monitor the website, which is updated continuously with service information as it becomes available. Customers can also call 511 for service information.

New York City Transit/Metro-North Railroad/Long Island Rail Road: Crews are working throughout all three transit systems to inspect and clear drains, pump rooms, ditches, swales, as well as flood-prone areas that will be continually monitored. Equipment like emergency response vehicles, cranes, excavators, back hoes, chain saws, generators, and pumps are checked, fueled, and ready for use – particularly in known low spots. Other actions include securing work sites against possible high winds, fueling equipment, stocking supplies and making plans to move trains, buses, equipment and supplies away from low-lying areas. Extra personnel will be assigned to report for duty before the storm is expected to make landfall. 

Bridges and Tunnels: All roadway and drainage systems at Bridges and Tunnels facilities are being checked and cleared of debris. Wrecker trucks and other response vehicles are readied to help motorists who may become stranded. Motorists are advised to reduce speeds when winds are between 40 and 49 mph in dry conditions, and 30 to 49 mph in windy and wet conditions. When the winds are 50 mph or more in dry or wet conditions, certain vehicles will be barred from using MTA crossings. These include motorcycles, tractor trailers, step vans, mini buses, trucks with open backs, cars pulling trailers, motor homes and vehicles carrying plate glass. If there are sustained winds of 60 mph or above, the MTA may close one or more bridges to all traffic.

Capital Construction: All construction work has been suspended until further notice on East Side Access, the Second Avenue Subway, the 7 Line Extension and Fulton Center.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is making preparations to have a full complement of staff at all of its transportation facilities to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of customers who use them each day can be safely accommodated during this severe weather event. The agency also will activate its emergency management office to monitor the changing weather conditions and coordinate with the governor’s offices in New York and New Jersey, the New York City mayor’s office, other external stakeholders and the Federal Aviation Administration, which controls air traffic.

At the Port Authority’s five airports, officials have begun taking precautions including securing any outdoor loose materials and notifying tenants and lessees to do the same; checking and clearing all storm drains and roadway gutters; servicing and fueling all vehicles, generators and pumps; preparing and placing sand bags and preparing traffic control equipment such as cones and barrels. As the storm approaches, the Port Authority strongly advises airline passengers to check with their carriers on the status of their flight.

Workers in the agency’s Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Department are reviewing high wind procedures and readying for potential traffic restrictions or closings.

At the Port Authority Bus Terminal, staff is coordinating with all of the terminal’s bus carriers to determine their service plans in the coming days.

The World Trade Center staff notified contractors to secure construction sites and take precautionary measures including tying down and securing material and loose debris at construction sites; storing loose tools; and securing netting, banners, scaffolding and sidewalk sheds. Engineers also are implementing plans to secure cranes against the storm’s winds, while crews are preparing to use pumps, sandbags and other measures to stem flooding.

The Thruway Authority is carefully monitoring the progress of Hurricane Sandy to ensure that the agency is ready to handle any potential impacts to their system. The agency has inspected drainage systems and culverts to ensure that they are functioning properly and not blocked, prepared and tested equipment that may be needed for storm response, and mobilized staff for deployment as needed. As usual, the agency’s Statewide Operations Center functions around the clock to monitor conditions throughout its 570-mile highway system.


Administration officials conducted a conference call earlier today with the Chief Executive Officers of all the public utilities and the Public Service Commission to plan for storm preparations, recovery and response. Approximately 2700 utility workers are on alert to assist in storm preparation around the state. Additional crews will be deployed for post-storm recovery.


New York Power Authority (NYPA): The water level of the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project’s lower reservoir on the Schoharie Creek has been lowered to the minimum depth as a precaution against flood conditions. NYPA has also released water to lower the level of the Hinckley Reservoir where it operates a small-hydro facility to create additional storage capacity.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working closely with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to lower the water level in the Schoharie and Ashokan reservoirs to prevent flooding in Schoharie and the Catskills. DEC has authorized an emergency drawdown of the Schoharie Reservoir at a rate of approximately 600 million gallons per day. Lowering the water level can reduce the amount of water that may spill over the top of the Gilboa dam and flow downstream into the Schoharie Creek. This release will assist in creating a void space in the Schoharie Reservoir. Waters drained from the Schoharie is diverted to flow through the Shandaken Tunnel to the Esopus Creek then into the Ashokan Reservoir. DEC has authorized releases from the Ashokan Reservoir at a rate of 600 million gallons per day to facilitate a reduction in peak storm flows through maximization of reservoir storage capacity. These releases will be terminated at the onset of storm precipitation or if any flood risk arises based on monitored stream gauges.

The Canal Corporation has implemented a plan to lower water levels in the Mohawk River sections of the Erie Canal between Fort Plain and Schenectady in order to increase the rainwater storage capacity for potential rainfall associated with Hurricane Sandy. The Canal Corporation is working with marinas, contractors, and commercial and recreational vessels on the Canal System to clear vessels from these impacted areas, and will begin lowering these levels by approximately three to five feet on Saturday, October 27. If the projected track of Hurricane Sandy suggests severe impacts to the Mohawk River Basin, the Canal Corporation will further reduce these levels to their lowest winter points, beginning on Sunday, October 28. In addition, to help create more rainwater storage capacity mitigate the impact of any potential flooding associated with Hurricane Sandy, the Canal Corporation began lowering the level of Hinckley Reservoir near Utica on Thursday, October 25.

The Hudson River – Black River Regulating District is preparing to store rainfall in response to potential significant inflow to the Great Sacandaga Lake and Indian Lake reservoirs in the Hudson River watershed and to the Stillwater, Sixth Lake, and Old Forge Reservoir in the Black River watershed. After the storm, and after any river flooding conditions have subsided, the Regulating District will maximize the release of water from each reservoir in a reasonable and prudent manner to lower water elevation in each reservoir as quickly as possible. 

The Lake George Park Commission, which oversees the lake level of Lake George and ensures that the operator of the outlet dam in Ticonderoga (LaChute Hydro) operates within the “rule curve” to ensure the welfare of the public and infrastructure and power generation. The commission is coordinating with LaChute Hydro on the operation of the penstock and waste gates which control lake levels and has recommended immediate maximum drawdown from the current level to allow capacity.


The New York State Police has implemented internal agency disaster preparedness plans for Hurricane Sandy. Troop personnel remain ready for assignment to county and local Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) as needed. Personnel in each troop have been pre-identified to be available for deployment to hardest hit areas of the state if necessary. All emergency power and communications equipment has been tested. Specialized resources including boats, aircraft, and four wheel drive vehicles are staged for deployment.

The actual strength of the hurricane will depend on its course up the east coast of the United States. Parts of the state that are adjacent to coastal waters, such as Long Island and New York City, are considered most at risk. Inland locations can also be affected by heavy rainfall and strong winds, which can cause flooding and power outages.

Governor Cuomo urges New Yorkers to take stock of their emergency supplies, such as water, non-perishable food, radios, batteries, supplies for any pets, and first aid kits. The Governor also encourages New Yorkers to check in with neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled, who might need assistance to ensure that their needs are met if emergency instructions are issued. 

The Department of Health also issued the following tips for New Yorkers in preparation of the storm:

Have plenty of non-perishable food and water supplies on hand. Make sure battery-operated radios and flashlights are available and have an ample supply of batteries. Hand-cranked flashlights and radios that do not need batteries may also be useful. Have a first aid kit available and make sure there is adequate supply of medicines on hand for those who require it.

Know how to contact all family members at all times. Identify an out-of-town friend or family member to be the “emergency family contact.” Then make certain all family members have that number. Designate a family emergency meeting place where the family can meet in case you can’t go home.

Pay particular attention to relatives with special needs, small children and pets. Know where to relocate pets during a storm because many shelters are not able to accept pets. Shelters often only accept “service animals” that assist people with disabilities.

Prepare an emergency phone list of people and organizations that may need to be called. Include children’s schools, doctors, child/senior care providers, and insurance agents.

Follow the news and emergency broadcasts of local radio and television stations that will provide up-to-date official information during a storm emergency, including recommendations to evacuate specific areas.

Find out what emergency plans are in place in your community and how you will be notified in the event of an emergency.

Know the hurricane risks in your area and learn the storm surge history and elevation of your area.

Store important documents such as insurance policies, medical records, bank account numbers, and social security cards in waterproof containers. Also have cash (in small bills), a checkbook, and credit/ATM cards readily available.

New Yorkers can get up to date information at and following our office on Twitter @NYGovCuomo. The public can also receive notifications via email, text and phone call through the state’s notification system, NY-Alert by going to to sign up for free.

'Frankenstorm': God's Latest Warning?

A Special Guest Commentary by Activist Ted Glick

'Frankenstorm': God's Latest Warning?

By Ted Glick

It is ironic, way beyond ironic really, that the Nation's Capital-and the entire Northeast- is staring down the barrel of an incredibly powerful storm, which a National Weather Service meteorologist has said, ""I've never seen anything like this and I'm at a loss for expletives to describe what this storm could do."

Perhaps this weather scare that may well be much more than just a scare is God's revenge for the refusal of the U.S. government to take action on the climate crisis.

Or maybe this is His way of inserting the climate issue into a Presidential election campaign that, astoundingly, has not been discussed. The words "global warming" and "climate" were not spoken by anyone, by the moderators or by the candidates, over the course of all three Presidential debates or the Vice Presidential debate.

And let's be clear: this "Frankenstorm" isn't a fluke. It is absolutely true that strong storms are not anything new, but the fact is that this second decade of the 21st century, 2010, 2011 and 2012, has seen for the first time ever three consecutive years of 19 or more named storms in the Atlantic Ocean. Since the recording of Atlantic-named storms began 140 years ago, there have only been seven years, in total, where this has taken place. 

In addition to 2010-2012, there was one in 2005 (28, the record) and one in 1995 (19). There were only two years between 1880 and 1994 where there were 19 or more named storms (19 in 1887, 20 in 1933).

Could this storm, particularly if there's a direct hit on DC, be what finally lights a fire under Washington politicians to take action? I wouldn't bet on it. But it almost certainly will increase the numbers of people who make the connection between one extreme weather event after the other and climate disruption, and it damn well better strengthen the growing and urgently needed climate movement.

Ted Glick is the National Campaign Coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at, and he can be followed on twitter at

Romney: GDP Report is the Latest Disappointing News

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Krueger: 'The Economy is Moving in the Right Direction'

Alan B. Krueger

Advance Estimate of GDP for the Third Quarter of 2012

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 thirteenth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 2.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Over the last thirteen quarters, the economy has expanded by 7.2 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 10.1 percent.  While we have more work to do, together with other economic indicators, this report provides further evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction.

It is important to recognize that GDP is made up of various components.  Personal consumption expenditures, for example, increased by 2.0 percent at an annual rate in 2012:Q3, as compared with 1.5 percent in the previous quarter. Residential investment increased by 14.4 percent last quarter and has increased for six quarters in a row, its longest streak since 2004-2005. Federal defense spending rose 13.0 percent, federal nondefense spending rose 3.0 percent, and state and local government purchases were essentially unchanged.  The severe drought, which has affected more than half of the country, subtracted 0.4 percentage point from overall GDP growth.

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, would 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.  Extending these tax cuts would provide more certainty for the economy for 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small business owners.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

West Wing Week: 10/26/12

This week, the President urged Congress to join him in helping responsible homeowners refinance, Cecilia Muñoz reflected on the importance of the Cesar Chavez National Monument, and the Vice President and Dr. Biden honored Breast Cancer Awareness Month, while the White House wrapped up its annual fall garden tours and held a Garden Social Tweet Up.

President Obama Briefed on Hurricane Sandy

President Barack Obama receives an update on the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy during a conference call with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Dr. Rick Knabb, Director of the National Hurricane Center, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, in the Oval Office, Oct. 26, 2012. Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, and Richard Reed, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, are seated at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza - Click on image to enlarge.)

Storm's Impact Could Be Felt As Early As This Weekend

This morning, President Obama convened a call with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb, and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan to receive an update on Hurricane Sandy and ongoing federal actions to prepare for the storm as it continues to move toward the United States mainland.

The President directed Administrator Fugate to ensure that all available federal resources are being brought to bear to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas along the eastern seaboard as they prepare for the severe weather.

Impacts from the storm could be felt as early as this weekend, and FEMA is in close contact with state and local partners as the storm approaches. 

At the request of states, FEMA is proactively deploying Incident Management Assistance Teams to multiple states up and down the Eastern seaboard to assist efforts as state and local partners prepare for the storm. Because of the potential for significant power outages, FEMA is encouraging state and local authorities responsible for coordinating with local utility companies to do so ahead of any impacts.

The President asked his team to continue to ensure there were no unmet needs and to keep him regularly updated on weather forecasts and hurricane preparations.

Hajj and Eid al-Adha Greetings from the President

Statement by President Obama

Michelle and I extend our best wishes for a joyful Eid al-Adha to Muslims in the United States and around the world.  We also congratulate the millions of peaceful pilgrims who are performing the Hajj, including thousands of American Muslims.

Throughout the year, Muslims join members of many faiths in serving  those suffering from hunger, disease, and conflict.  Muslim communities will continue this practice as they celebrate Eid by distributing food and charity to those in need.  Such acts of compassion underscore the shared values of the Abrahamic religions and people of all faiths. On behalf of the American people, we extend our warmest greetings on this holiday.  Eid Mubarak.  

Hurricane Sandy Could Be a "Frankenstorm"

Forecasters have found a new word to describe the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast: "Frankenstorm." David Bernard, chief meteorologist for Miami's CBS-4 has the latest on the storm.

Editor's note: Please allow a few seconds for video to begin.

Legislation Strengthens New York's Domestic Violence Laws

New Law Increases Penalty for Repeat Offenders to a Felony

On October 25, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a package of legislation that will improve the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence while at the same time provide survivors with enhanced protections so they can more safely sever ties with their abusers. 

The bill package signed by Cuomo addresses the recidivist nature of domestic violence by holding serial offenders more accountable for their behavior with the creation of a new crime and new considerations when determining bail, and creates a state-level Fatality Review Team to find new ways to prevent intimate partner homicides.

“By strengthening the domestic violence laws, New York is leading the way in protecting victims and prosecuting offenders while demonstrating to the nation that we will not tolerate violence against our families,” said Governor Cuomo.

“This new law will make it a felony crime for criminals who repeatedly harm their families and ensure that they can are stopped. I thank Majority Leader Skelos, Speaker Silver and the bill sponsors for working with me to make our state safer for all New Yorkers.”

"This new law builds on our commitment to combat domestic violence and protect innocent victims, which has always been a focus of our Senate Republican conference,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos.

“Rather than politicize this issue as others have done, we’ve worked cooperatively with the Governor and Assembly to once again show that government can function and deliver on a critically important issue. I applaud the Governor for his leadership and commend Senator Saland for helping us achieve a strong result that will save lives."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver added, “These measures represent a crucial step towards ending the cycle of abuse caused by domestic violence. I applaud the Governor for his actions to protect and empower victims, and prevent future tragedy. Domestic violence impacts all, regardless of age, race, gender and economic status, and it is our sincere hope that these new laws reduce the hundreds of thousands of domestic violence incidents reported in New York every year.” 

Domestic violence is a problem of enormous prevalence and impact in both New York State and across the nation. It has been identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as the number one health problem affecting American women, and it floods the justice system of New York State as well as the courts of every other state in the nation.

Manhattan District Attorney and President of the New York District Attorneys Association of the State of New York Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., stated: “I thank Governor Cuomo for signing the Domestic Violence law, which gives prosecutors a critically important tool to better protect victims of domestic violence. This legislation addresses one of the underlying problems of domestic violence – the ability of offenders to abuse their victims again and again without serious consequences. And too often, we see domestic violence cases turn deadly. This new law, in part, creates a new class E felony, Aggravated Family Offense, for repeat abusers, and will help victims escape violence and return to a place of safety. The Aggravated Family Offense bill was the result of a partnership that my Office undertook with the Governor, the Senate, the Assembly, and domestic violence advocates throughout the state. I thank them for their strong support and tireless efforts.”

Research shows that domestic violence offenders most often recidivate against the same victims (70 – 80 percent), and that those in an intimate relationship are more likely to re-offend than those who commit crimes in “other” family relationships.

In addition, offenders released without bail had a higher pre-trial recidivism rate than those released on bail, as did those charged with violating an order of protection. 

New Felony Crime and Expanded Definition of Aggravated Harassment

The law creates the Class E felony of Aggravated Family Offense, which enables law enforcement to prosecute as felons defendants who commit certain misdemeanor-level offenses and have a previous conviction for a specified misdemeanor or felony against a family or household member within the past five years.

It also expands the definition of the Class A misdemeanor of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree to include when a defendant, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm, causes physical injury to an individual, or to a family or household member of that individual.

Although New York State already has a number of strong domestic violence protections, many domestic violence abusers repeatedly commit low-level offenses, which carry minor penalties, enabling them to continue subjecting their victims to fear and harm. 

The aggravated family offense takes effect in 90 days and the aggravated harassment misdemeanor and the bail provision take effect in 60 days. The maximum sentence for a class A misdemeanor is one year in local jail; the maximum sentence for a class E felony is up to four years in state prison.

Allows Judges to Consider Additional Risk Factors in Determining Bail to     Better Protect Victims from Further Harm 

Under the new law, courts will be required for the first time to consider certain risk factors when determining recognizance or bail for a defendant who is charged with an offense against a family or household member.

Currently, courts are not required to consider any special factors when determining recognizance or bail in a domestic violence case, allowing offenders in some cases to go free on low bail and thereby be allowed to stalk, harm and sometimes kill their specifically targeted victims.

Under the legislation that was signed today, judges will be required to consider well-established risk factors, such as an offender’s prior violation of an order of protection and the accused’s access to guns.

Establishes Statewide Fatality Review Team to Find New Ways to Reduce Intimate Partner Homicides 

Under the new law, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence will establish a statewide domestic violence fatality review team.

The review team will bring together domestic violence-related professionals to review domestic violence homicides, in an effort to understand more fully the factors involved and determine how the system can be improved in order to help prevent future deaths.

The review team will report periodically to the Governor and the Legislature to assist the State and local communities in improving domestic violence prevention measures. The review team will be established in 180 days.

The package of laws signed today also includes provisions that address non-criminal needs of domestic violence victims, providing them options to sever their relationships with abusers in a variety of ways: enhancing last year’s address confidentiality bill to provide appropriate protections for family members; ensuring that insurance companies, when notified of the domestic violence, do not jeopardize a victim’s safety by disclosing confidential information to the abuser; and preventing abusers who were subject to an order of protection or charged with someone’s death from making funeral or burial arrangement decisions.

In addition to targeting domestic violence through stronger legislation, New York State will institute three new programs designed to enhance victim and officer safety, and hold offenders accountable for their crimes: a specialized domestic violence court at the Rikers Island Judicial Center for parolees with a history of domestic violence; a high-risk response team, and free, online training for police officers.

NYC Domestic Violence Court for Parolees

A joint initiative of the New York State Board of Parole and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the specialized court will serve the five boroughs of New York City beginning this fall.

Two Administrative Law Judges will hear domestic violence cases and provide judicial oversight through the parole violation process.

In addition, specially trained parole revocation specialists will work with victim advocates and other law enforcement agencies to contact the victim quickly after the incident, develop a safety plan for the victim(s) and coordinate treatment services. The ultimate goal is to provide for the safety of victims, especially children, and to enforce strong offender accountability and monitoring. 

High-Risk Team

The multi-disciplinary High Risk Team – composed of a domestic violence advocacy group, the police department, and the department of probation - will use a standard list of risk assessment questions to identify the highest risk cases.

The goal of the initiative is to identify high-risk cases at the earliest point possible; develop a system for open communication among team members and make sure it works; contain and monitor the offender; and ensure victim services are easily accessible and comprehensive. 

Online Training for Law Enforcement

For the first time, police departments in the state will have access to web-based training on essential topics in domestic violence response, including investigating current and past incidents, collecting evidence, conducting interviews, applying the state’s mandatory arrest and primary physical aggressor provisions, and identifying possible criminal charges; officers are then guided through videos and asked to apply their knowledge to the cases depicted.

Image courtesy of

Today in History: October 26th

Highlights of this day in history: President George W. Bush signs USA Patriot Act; Henry Kissinger says 'peace is at hand' in Vietnam; Gunfight at the OK Corral takes place; Actor Bob Hoskins and 'Wheel of Fortune' host Pat Sajak born.

Obama Administration to Expand Drone Kill List

Sources:The GuardianThe Washington Post
The AtlanticCouncil on Foreign Relations 

By Harumendhah Helmy

Anchor: Zach Toombs

Video courtesy of

Barack Obama Calls Mitt Romney a Bullsh***er

Sources:Rolling StoneExtraCain TVMSNBC 

By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero

Video courtesy of

On Second Term, Hillary Clinton Sends Mixed Signals

Sources:Christian Science MonitorWall Street Journal 

By Elizabeth Hagedorn

Anchor: Zach Toombs

Video courtesy of

Political Killings on the Rise in South Africa

Political killings are on the rise in South Africa. Dozens of people have been murdered in the last two years, and it's feared there could be more violence ahead of the ruling party's conference in December. Tania Page reports.

Afghan Official Sys Taliban 'Resorting To' Suicide Attacks

Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan ministry of interior spokesman, has said though Afghan National Security Forces have made strides in the nation, "suicide attacks are still a challenge". The Taliban, Sediqqi told Al Jazeera, "cannot face the [Afghan] security forces anymore" and must "resort to" suicide bombings.

How Temporary is Syria's Eid Truce?

Al Jazeera speaks to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Security Stepped Up in Saudi Ahead of the Hajj

Security's been stepped up in Saudi Arabia, as more than three million Muslims from around the world gather for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The conflict in Syria is on many pilgrims' minds. Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal has been following some of them to Mina.

Mexico Migrants' Mothers on "Route" of the Missing

Mexico's government says 150,000 migrants pass through the country every year hoping to reach the United States. Human rights groups put the number close to 400,000. Most come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In Mexico, they face several dangers, including sexual assaults, kidnappings and extortions. More than 11,000 migrants were kidnapped in Mexico in 2010, most of them in the border state of Chiapas in the south and its northwestern neighbor Veracruz. Most of the migrants attempt their final crossing through the northern state of Tamaulipas, an area dominated by the Zetas drug gang. A caravan of Central American mothers has begun the journey on the so-called "route of the immigrant" in Mexico in the hopes of finding their missing children. Al Jazeera's Rachel Levin traveled with the mothers and sent this report.

Syllabus in Indonesia to Cut 'Non-Essentials'

In a bid to lighten the workload of its students, the Indonesian government is mulling over a change to the primary school curriculum that would see the elimination of English, science, and social studies. Religion, the Indonesian language, and nationalism lessons, deemed essential, are set to take the place of the subjects should they be axed. Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reports from Jakarta.

Europe Car Industry Faces Tough Times Ahead

The French government has bailed out Peugeot Citroen with a $9.1 billion loan, and in Belgium and the UK, manufacturer Ford also announced factory closures. Thursday saw talks between the French state and the car-maker Peugeot over the loan. In return for the bailout, the government wants a position on the firm's supervisory board alongside a workers' union rep, with the aim to avoid huge job cuts that will be all the more damaging with unemployment already over 10 per cent. America's car-maker  Ford, confirmed it is planning to shut two British sites next year with the loss of at least 1,500 jobs. Production of the transit van is being shifted to Turkey from Ford's Southampton plant in southern England. Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports from Paris.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

As Hurricane Sandy Nears Southeast Florida, FEMA Urges Residents to Prepare

Fugate: “Now is the Time to Update Your Family Communication Plans, Check Your Supplies, and Stay Informed

WASHINGTON - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through their regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, continues to closely monitor Hurricane Sandy located in the eastern Caribbean Sea about 85 miles south-southeast of the central Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour, and remains in close coordination with state emergency management partners in Florida and the potentially affected southeast, Mid-Atlantic and New England states.

With hurricane season lasting through November 30, FEMA states that is stands prepared and ready to support state, local, tribal and territorial partners in responding to storms.

The agency has a federal coordinating officer and staff that are currently in Florida working previously declared disasters.  They continue to work closely with the state on recovery operations. 

Regional Administrators and other senior officials in FEMA's regional offices along the East Coast have been in contact with their state counterparts in order to ensure coordination for any emergency response.

FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams are on alert for potential deployment to states in order to help with coordination, should emergency response assistance be needed or requested.

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

"As Hurricane Sandy proceeds closer toward southeast Florida, residents should listen to local officials for updates and follow their instructions," urged FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. 

"As the storm moves northward, it serves as a reminder that we all need to be prepared for severe weather.  Now is the time to update your family communication plans, check your supplies, and stay informed.  A hurricane isn't a point on a map - it's a big storm and its impact will be felt far from the center. FEMA is in contact with states and tribal governments and stands ready to support their preparedness efforts."

According to NOAA's National Weather Service, Sandy is now a Category 2 hurricane expected to produce storm conditions along the east coast of Florida tonight and Friday. 

In addition, rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are possible across the Florida Keys into southeast and east-central Florida. 

Tropical Storm watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service remain in effect in southeast Florida.
Tropical Storm warnings are in effect for Florida east coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach and Lake Okeechobee. 

A Tropical Storm watch is in effect for the Florida east coast from  north of Flagler Beach to Fernandina Beach; for  the Florida Upper Keys from Ocean Reef southward to Craig Key; and Florida Bay. 

FEMA urges residents in potentially impacted areas, including the Florida Keys, southern Florida peninsula to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news, monitor for severe weather updates and warnings, and follow instructions of local officials. 

State and local officials make determinations and announcement about evacuations, and if local officials give the order to evacuate, leave immediately. 

While the exact track of the storm is uncertain, according to the National Weather Service, storm conditions associated with Hurricane Sandy may impact additional states throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast early next week.

While tropical storms are unpredictable, those in the possible path of the storm should be preparing. If you haven't done so already, take the time now to put together a family emergency plan and emergency kit. 

Some of the items in a basic emergency kit include: one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio; flashlight and extra batteries; and First Aid kit.  Having a kit can help you weather the storm.

FEMA urges everyone to familiarize themselves with the terms that are used to identify a severe weather hazard. 

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours, and a Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. 

We urge coastal and inland residents to be familiar with flood and flash flood terminology and safety tips:

Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.  Remember - turn around, don't drown.

Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

NY Division of Homeland Security, Emergency Services to Monitor 'Sandy'

Hurricane Has the Potential to Affect Many Parts of New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo today directed the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to closely monitor the progress of Hurricane Sandy and prepare for potential storm impacts.

Although the storm track is still uncertain, Hurricane Sandy has the potential to affect many parts of New York State with a variety of threats, including heavy rain, high winds, flooding, tornadoes, coastal surges, and widespread power outages.

"I have directed state agencies and New York's emergency operations personnel to begin preparations now for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy," Governor Cuomo said.

"I urge all New Yorkers to closely track the storm's path, using local radio and television or online reports. We will actively monitor the storm's progress and take any steps necessary to protect our state's residents."

The Governor cautioned New Yorkers to pay close attention to TV and radio for the latest information on the storm and especially for Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages that carry local emergency orders, such as evacuation or travel restrictions. 

A storm emergency kit should include items such as non-perishable food, water, cash, filled prescriptions, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, first aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries. 

For the latest information on Hurricane Sandy, please visit The best way to receive emergency information is to subscribe to NY-ALERT, the State’s alert and notification system, at You can sign up for free. 

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama for President

(CBS News) Former Secretary of State Colin Powell broke with the Republican party during the 2008 election, to endorse then-candidate Barack Obama for president, calling Obama a "transformational figure."

With 12 days to go before the presidential election, Powell publicly endorsed President Obama for re-election on "CBS This Morning" Thursday.

"I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012 and I'll be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month."

Editor's note: Video may be slow to appear, so please be patient. 

Democratic Efforts in Florida

Air date: October 24, 2012

Democratic consultant Steven Vancore talked about the party’s election efforts in Florida, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. Topics included early voting, some of the state’s key congressional races, and presidential campaign issues.

Republican Efforts in Florida

Air date: October 24, 2012

Lenny Curry talked about Florida Republican Party efforts in the state, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. Topics included voter registration, polling data, the Florida Senate race between Senator Bill Nelson (D) and Representative Connie Mack (R), and campaign issues.

NBC News: Brian Williams with President Obama

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Today in History: October 25th

Highlights of this day in history: Cuban missile crisis fuels Cold War clash at UN; China's UN seat changes hands; 'Charge of the Light Brigade' battle takes place; Author Geoffrey Chaucer dies; Golfer Payne Stewart killed in plane crash.

Top News Headlines: Obama, Romney Battle for Swing States

Sources:CNNFox NewsHLNMSNBC 

By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Logan Tittle

Video courtesy of

Biden Secret Service Agent Charged With Sexual Assault

Sources:KFBBKTVXFox News 

By Logan Tittle

Anchor: Logan Tittle

Video courtesy of