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Sunday, August 28, 2011

NYC tweet this Hurricane Sunday

Comedian Andy Borowitz tweeted a jab at both the Weather Channel and Fox News: "If the Weather Channel loses any more credibility it will be Fox."
   
 #irene.

New York Actors react the the Hurricane Irene Hype



Hurricane Irene - Satellite Image
Getty Images News

ALEC BALDWIN TWEETED A POWER OUTAGE AND BROKEN WINDOW IN HIS NEW SOHO APARTMENT; BETHENNY FRANKEL LOST POWER IN THE HAMPTONS.


Hurricane Irene: New Yorkers React to the Hype - The Hollywood Reporter

More Americans Hungry For Food Stamps


 
For the full audio and story, go to Weekend Edition Sunday at NPR News (click here).
About 46 million people get government help in the form of food stamps when buying food. That's roughly 15  percent of the population.
EnlargeJoe Raedle/Getty Images
About 46 million people get government help in the form of food stamps when buying food. That's roughly 15 percent of the population.
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This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to release its latest update on the food stamp program. It's an important indicator of the nation's economic health — and the prognosis is not good.
Food stamp use is up 70 percent over the past four years and that trend is expected to continue.
The spike began in late-2008 and early-2009 when the worst of the recession was triggering massive layoffs and home foreclosures. Although the economy has been growing since mid-2009, the pace has been too slow to absorb the nearly 14 million people without jobs. Nearly half of those have been out of work more than six months.
As a result, the number of people seeking federal help with groceries has been soaring. At this time four years ago, before the recession hit, about 27 million people were using food stamps. Today 46 million get help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — what most people call food stamps — which is roughly 15 percent of the population.
The combination of rising prices and stagnant wages have contributed to the need for food stamps; about 40 percent of food stamp recipients live in households where a family member is earning a wage.
But the government's latest inflation report shows that the cost of living increased 3.6 percent in the past year while wages have barely budged. So a lot of working people need food stamps to close the gap between their low wages and high grocery bills.
Expensive For Taxpayers
The problem is likely to get worse. A number of factors — spring floods, summer droughts and soaring global appetites — have contributed to push up corn prices by about 70 percent since last August. Corn goes into many food products as well as livestock feed, so it appears likely retail food prices will continue to rise more quickly than wages or jobs in coming months.
Whether the food stamp program can keep pace with demand is unclear because the program is very expensive for taxpayers — about $68 billion last year.
For recipients, it's not particularly generous. The maximum for a family of four is $668 a month, which works out to about $42 per person per week. If each person were to eat three meals a day, that's about $2 for each meal. But the collective cost of all those meals is significant at a time when Congress is looking to cut spending.
A graph charting the rise in food stamps participants from 2007 to 2011.

Notes

FY 2011 data are preliminary; all data are subject to revision.
Federal support for food stamps was boosted in early 2009 as part of the federal stimulus package. But that extra spending will expire in 2013, and extending the extra funding beyond that date would be controversial.
Helping Families And The Economy
Some economists say the program is worth every penny because it stimulates the retail sector. There's no dispute that many grocery stores would see a huge drop in business if their customers couldn't afford food.
For example, in Alabama, about one-third of the residents purchase their food with government help.
Economists say federal aid for food allows families to spend more on gasoline to drive a family member to work or purchase coats for their children, and that all helps expand the economy.
But other economists, as well as many conservative candidates and lawmakers, say food stamps dampen incentives to find work or even plant a garden.
And there's the question of fraud. About one-third of the people who qualify for aid don't reach out to get it and a number of other people try to scam the system.
Plus, many taxpayers simply object to having money taken from their paychecks to put food on someone else's table.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

On the Day of the Chicago Fire, when Mrs. O'Leary's cow allegedly kicked over a lantern and set the city on fire, a much larger fire in Wisconsin charred hundreds of times the land, and led to more deaths than the big city fire to the south. Yet it did not top the headlines and it is forgotten with time.

Who will remember today's Oregon and Arizona fires? The record heat wave and its impact on the Midwest and western US? What will people remember...an earthquake in Virginia and a Class one Hurricane turned Tropical Storm  battering the eastern seaboard.

With last week's earthquake and this weeks hurricane there may be a feeling here out west, or for that matter most of the geographic US, that that media is too focused on their precious headquarters and the east coast. The facts are that one in three Americans live within 120 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, so at least a third of the population of this country are impacted by the high winds and rain of Hurricane Irene. Another interesting fact is that with a hurricane this large, winds and damage could be worse further from the eye than closer to the center of the storm. particularly with heavy rain on top of already drenched soil. FYI, the population center of the nation, the point where half of all Americans live on one side or another of an imaginary line, is in Missouri. Take a good look at where Missouri falls on a map of the US.

Which brings us to the issue of how we elect a president. If we go with the popular vote, which seems to be the trend in public debate, then the East Coast and maybe a few major cities, like Los Angeles, would elect the president, not the entire United States. Why should a candidate pay attention to Iowa, Nevada, Oregon. Louisiana, Alaska, Hawaii or the states outside of the eastern seaboard and say Chicago? Are Americans the same coast to coast? Could a candidate elected by the majority of Americans, and not the Electoral College, represent all Americans, regardless of geography, whether rural or urban, Yankee or Southerner, coastal or inland?

 Hurricane Irene is being blamed for at least nine deaths in five states this morning. The latest comes in Connecticut, where authorities say a person killed by a fire is apparently the state's first death related to
Hurricane Irene.  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says police believe the fire was caused by wires knocked down at a house in Prospect, southwest of Hartford. A spokesman for state police, Lt. J. Paul Vance, says one person
also was severely injured. Troopers are at the scene. Irene is knocking down utility lines and causing power outages across the shoreline. The storm center is forecast to make landfall in the Stamford area around 8 a.m. Pacific / 11 AM Eastern, as a weak hurricane or a strong tropical storm. More than 350,000 customers are already without power. Malloy also closed the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways because
they are already littered with debris. He also has ordered a tractor trailer ban on all roads across the state.

The director of operations for the National Guard Bureau says he expects to get busier once Hurricane Irene passes and damage assessments begin. At least 7,500 Guard troops either have been pre-positioned in key regions or have been told to prepare to deploy to provide help to states affected by the storm this weekend.

Hurricane Irene is almost certain to be a national travelers' nightmare as airlines will need time to bring operations back to normal after canceling thousands of weekend flights. Some Monday flights are also canceled. Train and bus service has also been curtailed.

Authorities say a 15-year-old boy is in "very critical condition" after accidentally shooting himself in the head during target practice. Davis County Utah Sheriff's Sgt. Susan Poulsen says the boy was practicing at a range in Davis County Saturday afternoon when he fell and the gun went off and he was hit in the head. The boy had been shooting with his father at the Wasatch Shooters Association Public Shooting Range.  Poulsen tells the Deseret News that a doctor there immediately began CPR and the boy was rushed by medical helicopter to University Hospital. He underwent surgery and is listed in " very critical condition." The officer says an investigation will continue until the cause of the shooting is absolutely determined.

A U.N. spokesman says the death toll has risen to 23 two days after a car bombing at the U.N.'s Nigeria
headquarters. Martin Dawes also said Sunday that 81 people were wounded in Friday's attack. U.N. security chief Gregory Starr says there was no advance warning of the attack and that the U.N. had only received "general threats." A spokesman for the radical Muslim sect that claimed responsibility on Saturday promised future attacks. It was the first suicide attack targeting foreigners by Boko Haram, a group which has reported links to al-Qaida, wants to implement a strict version of Shariah law in the nation and is vehemently opposed to Western education and culture. After the attack, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to
bring terrorism in Africa's most populous nation "under control."

Turkey's government is returning dozens of properties confiscated from the country's Christian and Jewish
minorities over the past 75 years. A government decree, published by the Official Gazette also says the government will pay compensation for any confiscated property that has since been sold on. The properties include former hospitals, orphanages and\ graveyards and were mostly seized when they fell into disuse. Their
return is a key European Union demand and a series of court cases has also been filed against primarily Muslim Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to announce the decision formally later today when he hosts leaders of the minority communities at a fast-breaking dinner for the holy month of Ramadan.

A Clark County jury has awarded $2.2 million to the family of a 47-year-old man who died from injuries he suffered in a crash with a Las Vegas police officer in July 2007. A lawyer for the family of Raymond Yeghiazarian says they're happy with the Friday's verdict against the Metropolitan Police Department.
Officer Jared Wicks was pursuing a suspect at high speed without his lights or siren when the crash occurred.

 Early voting begins in the special election to fill Nevada's vacant U.S. House seat. Republicans hold a 30,000
voter registration advantage in the 2nd Congressional District, which covers all of Nevada except the most populated areas of Clark County. Republican Mark Amodei, a former state senator, is running gainst Democrat Kate Marshall, currently state treasurer. Independent American Party candidate Tim Fasano and independent Helmuth Lehmann also are on the ballot.



Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I


News is no longer news. The cable news network MSNBC has chosen civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton to host its 6 p.m. hour. Members of the National Association of Black Journalists have questioned the hiring, saying journalists of color should have the opportunity to host prime-time cable news shows. In any case, MSNBC's moves follows similar decisions by CNN (with Eliot Spitzer) and Fox News (with Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin), which have recently turned to public figures -- not journalists -- to helm their high-profile programming. FOX News was the first to program for ratings instead of new content, created deliberately to bring to TV the financial success of AM Conservative Talk Radio. While you can scream about the damage to journalist, ratings are up on all of those shows. Sharpton, for example, was up 13% as he guest hosts. Cable news executives, who are mostly from a sales or entertainment background, want bombastic opinions, firing up the audience and keeping the quarter hours. Journalist do not do that, at least not as large and obvious as the new "anchor/hosts". Journalist are trained to be as balanced as possible, to report facts and when possible, to take the time to gather information accurately. Talking head celebrities are not trained in journalism, coming from politics, religion or social activism where sermons, opinion and advocacy are rewarded and a part of their very being. And the same audience that complains about the "decline in journalism" flock to the talking head, shouting opinionated celebrity hosts.

Reality shows set in American subcultures are everywhere - from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" to "Jersey Shore" to "Hoarders." Now, the cable network Lifetime is setting a reality show called "Russian Dolls" in the Russian immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.  The trend for television viewership is to seek out these programs, which are not "reality" as much as they are selected participation for personality, opinion, manufactured conflict and voyeurism. 

Unfolding on TV today is a very real reality show, which due to decreasing winds and over hype by media, is under performing as a disaster reality show, despite taking lives, putting millions at risk and causing what will probably be billions of dollars in damage long the eastern seaboard.

Pacific time is used instead of eastern because this blog is authored in the Pacific Time Zone.

Hurricane Irene has landed in  New York City, where hundreds of thousands of residents have taken shelter, the subways are shut down and the streets are deserted. At 5 in the morning pacific time the East River overflowed its banks. There was flooding in Brooklyn before 5 AM  Pacific time, as already wet land was hit with heavy rain, plus water coming in from Sheapshead Bay and Manhattan Beach.


Meanwhile cleanup and recovery efforts are beginning along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

The Northern Philippines is recovering from massive typhoon that did heavy damage, claiming 8 lives. 


Rebels have consolidated their control over the main city, Tripoli. Reports of human rights abuses are surfacing, with reports of apparent retaliatory murders.

Today is the five-year anniversary of the crash of Comair Flight 5191. Forty-nine people died when the plane took off from the wrong runway at Lexington's Blue Grass airport. 

Folklorist Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940's and wrote about it in his book "The Klan Unmasked,"  died yesterday at the age of 94. Among  his roles as an activist was frustrating the Klan by leaking their secrete weekly password every week to the entire nation, during  the "Superman" radio series. On another radio show he would name names, including who attended the last meeting and what was said. Kennedy contributed to an episode of "Superman" titled "Superman vs. The Grand Dragon" exposing actual Klan practices

While the rich get richer the burden falls on the poor. Demand for food stamps is at record levels, over 68 billion dollars last year and expected to be much higher this year, with many states are going ahead with plans to cut food-stamp benefits. Conservative Republican legislatures and governors are set on balancing tight budgets without raising taxes, something that in the past has proven impossible. 46 million Americans are on food stamps, about one in four adults. Half of the unemployed are now on food stamps. The cost of living, in particular food, is going up while average pay is going down. One example is a 70% rise in the cost of corn in one year. Another impact, lowering the ability of families to pay for food, are skyrocketing gas prices (even those who do not drive are hit by the higher cost of goods to make up for transportation costs).

It is confirmed that U.S. officials say early this past week  they have killed another key al-Qaeda leader with a drone attack in Pakistan. This time it is the group's second-in-command, a key operative named Atiyah al-Rahman. He was a Libyan who was a key Osama bin Laden associate who fought alongside bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan.