Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Showdown over disaster aid looms in Congress

Showdown over disaster aid looms in Congress

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A woman walks past the U.S. Capitol dome, seen through a porthole in nearby brick-work, in Washington, August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON | Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:41pm EDT
(Reuters) - Congress headed toward a showdown on disaster aid on Tuesday as the Democratic-controlled Senate advanced a measure that is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled House.
Lawmakers from both parties say they want to ensure victims of tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters get the help they need but the money could get tripped up in the spending debate that has dominated Washington this year.
Republicans want extra disaster aid to be offset by spending cuts if possible to avoid deepening the country's fiscal problems. Democrats say budget concerns should not be a factor during one of the most extreme years for weather in U.S. history.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will need an extra $5.1 billion to cover disaster aid, according to the White House. FEMA could run out of money in the coming weeks and has already suspended some rebuilding efforts to ensure that victims of Hurricane Irene get immediate help.
The Senate voted, 61-38, to take up a measure that will include $6.9 billion in disaster aid -- enough to cover disaster response efforts until October 2012.
"It's time for Republicans to prove, for the first time this Congress, that they are willing to put politics aside for the good of the American people," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor.
Eight Republicans, many from disaster-hit states, voted with the Democrats. The bill could clear the Senate in the next several days.
Meanwhile, House Republicans prepared a measure that would include about $1 billion to cover FEMA's disaster-aid activity for the next several months.
Republicans offset that money by cutting a program that promotes electric vehicles. They will look for further budget cuts in coming months to cover the additional disaster aid, an aide said.
That bill will come up for a vote in the House next week, according to House Republican Leader Eric Cantor.
"Its important that we get the relief to people who need it -- no one's holding any money hostage," Cantor told reporters. "I also think we can do so in a responsible way."
Much of the northeastern U.S. coast suffered flooding from Hurricane Irene last month while Texas has been struggling with drought and wildfires this summer. In May tornadoes devastated parts of Alabama and Missouri.

Can $97 Really Turn Into $6795? We Investigated...

Can $97 Really Turn Into $6795? We Investigated...

Italy pays higher interest rate to borrow money

Italy pays higher interest rate to borrow money

Silvio Berlusconi  
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has struggled to convince the markets that Italy's finances are sound
Italy's borrowing costs have hit a new high, reflecting continuing lack of confidence in the nation's finances.
Italy raised 3.85bn euros (£3.3bn) in five-year bonds - but the interest rate rose to 5.6%, up from 4.93%.
Before the fund raising, reports said that the Italian finance ministry had met delegates from China's largest sovereign wealth fund, CIC.
This sparked speculation that CIC might invest some of its vast wealth in Italian assets and bonds.
The European Central Bank has been buying Italian bonds, but there was no immediate disclosure on Tuesday if it had intervened in this latest auction.
Peter Chatwell, a strategist at Credit Agricole, said: "Markets were positioned for a weak auction. The five-year yield of 5.6% is probably the most telling sign that issuance of new bonds into this environment is very difficult."
Italy has about 1.9 trillion euros of debt, and must raise about 70bn euros by the end of the year.
The government will start talks in the next few days on more measures to stimulate economic growth and reduce the debt burden.

Obama's Jobs Plan Fact Sheet - .pdf

Obama's Jobs Plan Fact Sheet

All My Children star Mary Fickett dies

All My Children star Mary Fickett dies

Mary Fickett  

Fickett appeared in the soap's first episode in 1970

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Mary Fickett, an original cast member on US soap opera All My Children, has died at her Virginia home after a period of ill health, aged 83.
The actress played nurse Ruth Martin in the show's first episode in January 1970 and last appeared in 2000.
She made history in 1973 when she became the first performer to receive an Emmy for work on daytime television.
The soap will dedicate an episode to the actress on 21 September, two days before the entire series ends.
Fickett had two spells on the series, which is set in the fictional Pennsylvania town of Pine Valley, first from 1970 to 1995 and then again from 1998 to 2000.
She won her Emmy after her character's son was sent to Vietnam and she became a vocal critic of the war - a storyline that troubled TV executives at the time.
Over the years, viewers also saw Ruth experience an abusive first husband and a rape at the hands of her adopted son's biological father.
In Fickett's last episode, her character and on-screen husband, Dr Joe Martin, retired to Florida after years of melodrama.
Born in New York state in 1928, Fickett was surrounded by drama from an early age.
Her father produced the radio series Theatre Guild on the Air, and she made her stage debut in 1946.
She won a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt on Broadway in 1958, before finding work in television series such as The Untouchables.
Her marriages to actor James Congdon and businessman Jay Leonard Scheer ended in divorce. Her third husband, soap-opera director Allen Fristoe, died in 2008.
"We at ABC were very saddened to learn about the passing of one of All My Children's original cast members," the network said in a statement.
"As we honour All My Children's 41 years on ABC, we cannot help but recognize and remember Mary's wonderful depiction of Pine Valley's revered Ruth."
The actress is survived by a daughter and a son.

Iran to release U.S. hikers after they pay $500,000 bail each, attorney says

Iran to release U.S. hikers after they pay $500,000 bail each, attorney says
Hikers Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal are shown in a picture release 
by state-run Iranian TV in February.

Iran to release U.S. hikers after they pay $500,000 bail each, attorney says
September 13th, 2011
06:03 AM ET
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two American hikers accused of being spies in Iran, will be released from an Iranian prison after a $500,000 bail is paid for each of them, the two men's attorney said Tuesday.
The lawyer said he has spoken to the two men's family and the are trying to get the money quickly.
If the two men walk free this would be the end of an international tug-of-war between Iran and the United States that has stretched on for over two years.
More than two years ago, the two men along with Sarah Shourd - Bauer's fiancee - were hiking in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region along the Iranian border.
Iranian police arrested the three Americans, saying they illegally entered Iran. They were also charged with spying.

Bryan Stow's medical bills to top $50M

Updated: September 12, 2011, 11:09 PM ET

Bryan Stow's medical bills to top $50M

Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- Medical care for the San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten outside Dodger Stadium is expected to cost more than $50 million, according to his lawyers.
The figure was part of a damage estimate included in papers filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to City News Service.
The filings come in a lawsuit Bryan Stow and his children have brought against Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and 13 others in the baseball team's organization.
Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was attacked March 31 following the Dodgers' home opener against the Giants in Los Angeles.
Stow's health has been up and down in the months since the near-fatal beating. His doctor, San Francisco General Hospital neurosurgery chief Geoff Manley, has said it's unclear how long his recovery will take.
After the attack, Stow underwent a life-saving procedure in Los Angeles and was put in a coma for several weeks before being transported to San Francisco to be closer to his family in May.
Two months ago doctors performed emergency surgery on the father of two to remove fluid buildup in his head that caused a seizure.
Last month, Stow's family said on their website that he is responding with slight movements to some directions, for example raising his left arm when asked if someone could hold his hand.
Manley also said then that Stow was awake and breathing on his own.
After hours calls to Stow's lawyers were not returned Monday.
Two men have been charged in the attack, and both pleaded not guilty last month.

Republicans object to Obama's plan to pay for jobs package

Republicans object to Obama's plan to pay for jobs package

He would cover the $447-billion cost by ending tax loopholes and deductions for wealthier families and certain industries.

Obama jobs plan
President Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, left, appears in the
White House Rose Garden to challenge Republicans to pass
his jobs plan. (Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images / September 13, 2011)

President Obama would pay for his $447-billion jobs package by closing tax loopholes and wiping out deductions for wealthier families and specific industries, White House officials said, drawing immediate blowback from Republican leaders.

The exchange Monday echoed the bitter debt ceiling debate that brought the country to the brink of default. Obama largely resurrected ideas that he failed to achieve over the summer when he sought to cut the nation's deficit through a "grand bargain.'' Republicans insisted they would not support what they characterized as tax increases.

Because little has happened to alter the political dynamics in Washington since those negotiations, Obama appears to be following a political strategy that does not rely on Republicans having a change of heart. Rather, the idea is to portray GOP leaders as facing a choice in an election season: Pass a plan that boosts the economy and promotes job growth, or protect oil companies, hedge fund managers and the most well-off households.

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Yet the quest for new revenue also shows the White House has few other options to pay for its jobs package, particularly amid repeated calls from Republicans in Congress to reduce the size of government. Economists have warned that abruptly cutting spending could stall the fragile economy, and they instead prefer a mix of short-term stimulus paired with longer-term deficit reduction.

Obama supports that approach and believes a majority of Americans agree, and he has launched a road show to sell his plan to the public and enlist its help in persuading Republicans to give in on new revenue. Obama is asking taxpayers make their views known in calls and emails to Congress.

"Use one of those airplane skywriters. Dust off the fax machine. Or you can just, like, write a letter," Obama said in a Rose Garden appearance.

"The bottom line is, when it comes to strengthening the economy and balancing our books, we've got to decide what our priorities are. Do we keep tax loopholes for oil companies — or do we put teachers back to work?''

Since Obama rolled out his jobs package Thursday, Republicans have suggested that they are open to compromise. But as the White House revealed more specifics about how it would attack the 9.1% unemployment rate, Republican objections bubbled up, even as they chose their words carefully to avoid the public perception that they are blocking Obama's every move.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader who skirmished with the president during the debt ceiling fight, told reporters Monday that House Republicans stand ready to work with Obama.

"Why don't we just sit down and talk?" Cantor said. "We've had enough of this posturing."

But in the same breath, Cantor dismissed key elements of Obama's proposal.

Neither side shows any sign of moving off its positions. The two parties may find common ground on ideas such as cuts to payroll taxes — popular among politicians and consumers alike. But Republicans are wary of other key components of Obama's program.

Obama's proposal for putting Americans back to work rebuilding roads and bridges is a non-starter to Republicans: Cantor called it another round of "stimulus" spending. GOP leaders also want no part of Obama's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) remains "eager" to work with the president, but "this proposal doesn't appear to have been offered in that bipartisan spirit," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Another sign of a bruising fight ahead is the legislative path forward. The president has prodded Congress to "pass this bill" and called for a quick up-or-down vote. Boehner suggested it would be better to take a piecemeal approach.

"[We] assume that your ideas were not presented as an all-or-nothing proposition, but rather in anticipation that the Congress may also have equally as effective proposals to offer for consideration," Boehner wrote in a letter to Obama.

What seems probable is that the Senate will take up the bill in the weeks ahead. But it is unlikely to garner the 60-vote super-majority needed for passage and, at that point, it would be carved into smaller pieces.

Obama would pay for his plan by limiting deductions and some exemptions for families earning more than $250,000 a year and individuals making at least $200,000 — raising $400 billion over the next decade.

He also would end tax breaks for oil and gas companies, raising $40 billion. Investment fund managers would face a higher tax rate on interest earned, bringing in $18 billion. Eliminating a tax break for corporate jet owners would net $3 billion.

Taken together, the proposals would more than cover the cost of the jobs package, White House officials said.

In the debt ceiling talks, Obama was often stuck in closed-door negotiations with Republican leaders, a forum that did not play to his strengths. This time, he's making full use of the bully pulpit, visiting key swing states to encourage grass-roots pressure on GOP lawmakers. He'll visit Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday, and Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday.

By focusing solely on tax increases to pay for the jobs package, Obama signaled a change in strategy that should hearten Democrats who have clamored for the president to be a tougher negotiator. They want to establish clear lines between Democrats and Republicans, believing Americans will be on their side.

To pay for his jobs package, the president declined to propose revenue that could be gained by making changes to Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are dear to Democrats.

Instead, the White House indicated that changes to those entitlement programs will be part of the debt reduction package Obama will put forward later this month as he makes his recommendations to the new congressional "super-committee." The committee is charged with recommending how to trim $1.5 trillion from the nation's deficits over the next 10 years.

Another change in tactics is Obama's decision to send Congress the proposed bill. On past issues, he has been criticized for letting Congress shape legislation while he stood back and offered guidance. At his Rose Garden appearance, he held up a copy of the American Jobs Act' for all to see.

Polls show that Americans are largely on Obama's side in asking upper-income households to pay more. The higher-income families that would be snared in the tax increases account for fewer than 2% of all taxpayers, or roughly 3 million households.

For Debate Partners, an Unusual Pairing

September 12, 2011

For Debate Partners, an Unusual Pairing

TAMPA, Fla. — In the pantheon of strange political bedfellows, CNN and the Tea Party could go down as one of the oddest pairings since James Carville and Mary Matalin.
CNN, the 24/7 cable news pioneer long derided by conservatives as a mouthpiece of the political left, and Tea Party activists, who pride themselves on bucking the establishment, came together here Monday evening for a presidential debate — an unusual display of cooperation between the news media and some of its most hostile critics.
Each stands to benefit from reaching the other’s following, raising questions about whether the arrangement was a shrewd political transaction masquerading as public service.
Sal Russo, a co-founder of the Tea Party Express, said he expected the partnership to help dispel misperceptions about the Tea Party as a fringe movement.
“The fact that they’re broadcasting and partnering with us shows that they understand it’s a broad-based political movement and that it isn’t fractured and narrow,” Mr. Russo said.
CNN, which has sought to establish itself as an island of cable news centrism between MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right, went to great lengths to make the event as authentically Tea Party as possible. The network planned the debate for Sept. 12, a symbolic date for Tea Party activists.
The venue CNN selected, the Florida State Fairgrounds, was chosen for its grass-roots appeal and its ability to easily accommodate thousands of Tea Party spectators. And the partner it sought out, the Tea Party Express, used its ties to hundreds of Tea Party groups across the country to recruit attendees.
“After the 2010 elections, it was undeniable that the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party was a force, and that it was likely to help determine the outcome of the nomination,” said Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief. “We decided that it makes sense for one of the debates to have a Tea Party connection, and that we were the right network to do it.”
Networks regularly partner with established political organizations to host debates during primary season. Fox News, CNBC and ABC News, for example, are all sponsoring debates later this year with state Republican groups in several states.
Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Tim Pawlenty presidential campaign until Mr. Pawlenty dropped out last month, said news organizations partnered with political entities to make sure that candidates showed up for debates — and to make sure that viewers tuned in.
“There are so many debates; the networks look for ways to partner with groups that would help the debate stand out,” Mr. Conant said.
But the CNN debate on Monday was the first event hosted jointly by a major news organization and a Tea Party group. And their partnership left some questioning whether the network had gone too far in reaching for centrist credibility.
“Is there really a need for another national cable news channel devoted to promoting far-right elements within the Republican Party?” the liberal media watchdog group FAIR said Monday in an e-mail alert to its members in which it labeled the Tea Party “a controversial political group.”
CNN, which said it maintained complete control over what would be asked during the debate and which candidates could participate, coordinated with Tea Party activists from across the country to solicit questions. It arranged for live satellite feeds for Tea Party activists to ask questions from gatherings in Arizona, Virginia and Ohio. And the Tea Party Express identified almost 1,000 people from 31 states and the District of Columbia to sit in the audience.
Even the graphics on the video screens behind the stage flashed flags that are often seen at Tea Party rallies.
Here in Tampa, there were signs the network was sensitive to perceptions that it was being too cozy with Tea Party activists. During a tour of the debate hall, Mr. Feist referred to the gatherings in Arizona, Virginia and Ohio, saying, “We’ll have watch parties.” He was swiftly corrected by CNN’s special events producer, Kate Lunger, who interjected, “Well, we won’t have watch parties.”
CNN is not the first network to be associated with the Tea Party. Rick Santelli, a reporter for CNBC, is credited with galvanizing the movement in early 2009 with his “Chicago Tea Party” rant that attacked government bailouts. Fox News swiftly gravitated to the Tea Party movement, broadcasting whole shows from several rallies and even taking out an advertisement lambasting its competitors for missing one such event that year. (The competitors had, in fact, covered it.)
When CNN has covered Tea Party rallies in the past, it was met more than once by hostile crowds. During a Capitol Hill demonstration in September 2009, protesters shouted “Tell the Truth!” at the correspondent Lisa Desjardins before breaking into a chant for Glenn Beck, the former Fox News host.
Since then, CNN has moved aggressively to cover the Tea Party as a political phenomenon; last year it showed an hourlong documentary about the movement, and earlier this year it hired a Tea Party leader and radio host as a contributor.
Jeremy W. Peters reported from Tampa, and Brian Stelter from New York.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Court Case Asks if ‘Big Brother’ Is Spelled GPS

September 10, 2011

Court Case Asks if ‘Big Brother’ Is Spelled GPS

WASHINGTON — The precedent is novel. More precisely, the precedent is a novel.
In a series of rulings on the use of satellites and cellphones to track criminal suspects, judges around the country have been citing George Orwell’s “1984” to sound an alarm. They say the Fourth Amendment’s promise of protection from government invasion of privacy is in danger of being replaced by the futuristic surveillance state Orwell described.
In April, Judge Diane P. Wood of the federal appeals court in Chicago wrote that surveillance using global positioning system devices would “make the system that George Orwell depicted in his famous novel, ‘1984,’ seem clumsy.” In a similar case last year, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal appeals court in San Francisco wrote that “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.”
Last month, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn turned down a government request for 113 days of location data from cellphone towers, citing “Orwellian intrusion” and saying the courts must “begin to address whether revolutionary changes in technology require changes to existing Fourth Amendment doctrine.”
The Supreme Court is about to do just that. In November, it will hear arguments in United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259, the most important Fourth Amendment case in a decade. The justices will address a question that has divided the lower courts: Do the police need a warrant to attach a GPS device to a suspect’s car and track its movements for weeks at a time?
Their answer will bring Fourth Amendment law into the digital age, addressing how its 18th-century prohibition of “unreasonable searches and seizures” applies to a world in which people’s movements are continuously recorded by devices in their cars, pockets and purses, by toll plazas and by transit systems.
The Jones case will address not only whether the placement of a space-age tracking device on the outside of a vehicle without a warrant qualifies as a search, but also whether the intensive monitoring it allows is different in kind from conventional surveillance by police officers who stake out suspects and tail their cars.
“The Jones case requires the Supreme Court to decide whether modern technology has turned law enforcement into Big Brother, able to monitor and record every move we make outside our homes,” said Susan Freiwald, a law professor at the University of San Francisco.
The case is an appeal from a unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said last year that the government was simply seeking too much information.
“Repeated visits to a church, a gym, a bar or a bookie tell a story not told by any single visit, as does one’s not visiting any of those places in the course of a month,” wrote Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg.
He added: “A person who knows all of another’s travel can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”
Federal appeals courts in Chicago and San Francisco, on the other hand, have allowed the police to use GPS tracking devices without a warrant. The police are already allowed to tail cars and observe their movements without warrants, those courts said, and the devices merely allow them to do so more efficiently.
Judge Richard A. Posner, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel in the Chicago case, did caution that institutionalized mass surveillance might present a different issue.
Some judges say that world is fast approaching.
“Technology has progressed to the point where a person who wishes to partake in the social, cultural and political affairs of our society has no realistic choice but to expose to others, if not to the public as a whole, a broad range of conduct and communications that would previously have been deemed unquestionably private,” Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn wrote last year.
The case to be heard by the Supreme Court arose from the investigation of the owner of a Washington nightclub, Antoine Jones, who was suspected of being part of a cocaine-selling operation. Apparently out of caution, given the unsettled state of the law, prosecutors obtained a warrant allowing the police to place a tracking device on Mr. Jones’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. The warrant required them to do so within 10 days and within the District of Columbia. The police did not install the device until 11 days later, and they did it in Maryland. Now contending that no warrant was required, the authorities tracked Mr. Jones’s travels for a month and used the evidence they gathered to convict him of conspiring to sell cocaine. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The main Supreme Court precedent in the area, United States v. Knotts, is almost 30 years old. It allowed the use of a much more primitive technology, a beeper that sent a signal that grew stronger as the police drew closer and so helped them follow a car over a single 100-mile trip from Minnesota to Wisconsin.
The Supreme Court ruled that no warrant was required but warned that “twenty-four hour surveillance of any citizen of the country” using “dragnet-type law enforcement practices” may violate the Fourth Amendment.
Much of the argument in the Jones case concerns what that passage meant. Did it indicate discomfort with intense and extended scrutiny of a single suspect’s every move? Or did it apply only to mass surveillance?
In the Jones case, the government argued in a brief to the Supreme Court that the Knotts case disapproved of only “widespread searches or seizures that are conducted without individualized suspicion.”
The brief added: “Law enforcement has not abused GPS technology. No evidence exists of widespread, suspicionless GPS monitoring.” On the other hand, the brief said, requiring a warrant to attach a GPS device to a suspect’s car “would seriously impede the government’s ability to investigate leads and tips on drug trafficking, terrorism and other crimes.”
A decade ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the police needed a warrant to use thermal imaging technology to measure heat emanating from a home. The sanctity of the home is at the core of what the Fourth Amendment protects, Justice Antonin Scalia explained, and the technology was not in widespread use.
In general, though, Justice Scalia observed, “it would be foolish to contend that the degree of privacy secured to citizens by the Fourth Amendment has been entirely unaffected by the advance of technology.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Naked Man Escapes from Hospital, Leads Police on Pursuit

Kathy Griffin
Well I lost to "Deadliest Catch"...which is another name for my vagina.

Naked Man Escapes from Hospital, Leads Police on Pursuit

MARINA DEL REY (KTLA) -- Police chased a naked man through the docks of Marina del Rey for several hours Saturday after he managed to escape from a hospital - with a bit of equipment in tow.

The naked man, who was not identified, escaped from a nearby hospital Saturday afternoon while he was being evaluated for mental illness, according to Sgt. Jeffrey Olander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Then, while still attached to a catheter and an I.V. tube, he led sheriff's deputies and LAPD officers down Lincoln Boulevard to Admiralty Way, where he jumped a fence behind a restaurant and into the bay.
After trying to coax the man out from between the boats, he eventually became cold and tired and turned himself in to authorities, according.

He is currently in police custody after undergoing an evaluation by paramedics.

Drought blamed for donkey abandonment in Texas

Meghan McCain

"You know, I'm just doing the lords work in the city of satan."

Drought blamed for donkey abandonment in Texas

Updated at 05:20 PM today

Donkeys in Texas are being turned loose in growing numbers because the state's worst drought since the 1950s has made them too costly to keep and their owners can't sell them, according to sheriffs' departments and animal rescue operations.

The San Antonio Express-News reported Saturday that cash-strapped owners are freeing them on the sides of roads and leaving the animals' fate up to law enforcement agencies and a determined group of donkey rescue operations.
"Donkey rescues have gone through the roof," said Mark Meyers, executive director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, a California-based nonprofit with a 260-acre rescue ranch near San Angelo. The ranch is now housing about 500 donkeys, its largest number ever.
Texas alone has brought 500 donkeys into the group's care since March, Meyers said. That's 100 more donkeys than the organization rescued nationally last year.
"There are so many coming in, we're having a hard time keeping up," Meyers said.
Donkeys probably are being abandoned at a faster rate than horses, but rising feed costs associated with the drought are behind both trends, said Darla Cherry, president of Meadow Haven Horse Rescue in Nixon, near San Antonio.
"You can't sell them or give them away, and you can't feed them, so you're stuck," Meyers said. "They're just releasing them on someone else's property."
Sheriffs' departments in Texas are responsible for picking up abandoned livestock and trying to reunite the animals with their owners. Charles Paul, a Navarro County deputy sheriff who handles abandoned animals, said horse owners at times reclaim their animals but donkey owners rarely do.
Instead of euthanizing the animals, departments have looked to groups such as Peaceful Valley to care for the donkeys.
Meyers said long-term care of each donkey runs about $1,000, so his group's resources are being stretched thin. The group puts rescued donkeys up for adoption, but in Texas, few people have been interested, he said.
Both Meyers and Cherry said they need donations to keep up with the growing problem. Peaceful Valley receives less than 5 percent of its donations from Texas, while 95 percent of its rescue budget is being applied to Texas this year, Meyers said.

Firearm transportation in a vehicle on school property

Friday, September 9, 2011

Firearm transportation in a vehicle on school property

One of the seemingly more confusing areas of Florida firearm laws is whether you can transport a firearm in a vehicle on school property -- from a standpoint of picking up a student -- or campus parking.  Federal law is also involved in this situation.  Here's how it works:

1.   Florida law does not allow anyone to display a firearm or weapon in a rude, angry, careless, or threatening manner within 1000 feet of any school property from elementary thru and including high school, public and private during school hours.  Likewise -- can't display on a school bus, school bus stop, or school sponsored event.  The exception is when you're on private property with permission, license, or invitation of the owner -- within 1000 feet of school grounds.  F.S. 790.115(1).  That covers "display" under Florida law.  Federal law adds you can't even possess within 1000 feet of a school  -- unless you have a valid CWP, or the firearm is unloaded and in a locked container or rack on the vehicle.  18 USC 922(q).  (A few other exceptions apply that I have omitted for clarity sake)(read the book for that).

2.  Florida law generally does not allow anyone to even POSSESS a firearm or weapon (except a common pocketknife) "on" school property, a school bus, school bus stop, or school sponsored event -- and adds to the definition of "school" -- "post secondary" schools -- meaning colleges, universities, and career centers.

However . . .  despite the overall prohibition on "possession" -- you may lawfully possess in your vehicle, per F.S. 790.25(5) -- so long as the firearm is "securely encased".

But,  what  if a "school district" adopts a written and published policy that waives this exception for "purposes of student and campus parking privileges"?   Well then,  according to the subsection in 790.115 we're talking about  -- you no longer can possess in your vehicle -- even securely encased -- where it involves "campus parking privileges".

Now -- whoever wrote this last subsection of the statute -- should be shot, horse-whipped, and drawn-and- quartered.  It's God-awful drafting, confusing, and stupid, besides!  But -- it's there.  What does it mean?

Well -- it means that nobody is really sure what it means!

For instance:    does "purposes of student and campus parking privileges" only apply to students, faculty, administration, and other school employees who "regularly" park there -- or -- does it apply to everyone, all the time, even for a one shot,  five minute or one hour stop at the school?  That  first one seems the most probable interpretation as far as I'm concerned -- and the one I vote for.  But, truthfully -- I could be wrong. It's just too vaguely written to really know.

So -- the next question would be:  Does it also apply to even moms and dads picking up their kid while passing just a few minutes waiting in the parking lot, or even going thru the drive-thru for your kid?  What about parking the car for a few minutes while you're still in the driver's seat with the motor running?  What about parking the car for a few minutes -- still behind the drivers seat -- but this time with the engine turned off?  What if you get out of the car?

In other words -- where is the line between "parking" and "just waiting" . . .  or is there a difference, at all?

Well -- the way it's worded -- and assuming it's constitutional  --   my guess is that if the school district writes and publishes such a policy that forbids parking  -- it  should certainly be effective to forbid any such parking by students, faculty, administration, and school employees -- because that logically is a "campus parking privilege issue".  Why that makes any sense to require -- is beyond me -- but that seems an obvious interpretation of this the law!  Likewise,  you should be aware that the law only allows a  "school district" to pass this absurd prohibition.  It can't be the principal of the school, or anyone else.  It's actually gotta be the entire School Board that votes on it,  passes it,  and has it published.

Of course  -- still  just plain stupid!   But, back to the important question:  Does it apply to everyone else?

Again  -- my response is that that's a total grey area!  Nobody really knows -- and probably never will until there's a "test case" where an appellate court issues an opinion we can all then rely upon.

But there is one ray of hope in the "possession" area.  The ray of hope is that -- assuming there's really such a written and published prohibition by the school district  --  unless you know about the regulation, and deliberately ignore it (ie:  "knowingly and willfully") -- you haven't violated the statute for having a firearm securely encased in your vehicle on school grounds.  F.S. 790.115(2)(b) & (c).   That should mean that  unless such a prohibition is clearly posted as you drive on campus -- or you are stupid enough to admit you know about a published rule that forbids your parking -- you have a very good defense under the statute.   Plus,  if there's no "written and published policy" forbidding it -- then obviously,  it's totally legal for anyone 18 years of age or older to possess securely encased in a vehicle while on school grounds, per 790.25(5).

Still -- you may have a problem with federal law -- because that says if you're within 1000 feet of a school zone (that includes the school grounds) and you know or should know you're within a 1000 feet of such -- you either must have a CWP, or have the firearm unloaded, and in a locked container or rack.  So -- like I tell everyone -- better get that CWP!!!

Of course -- any of that can be an issue of proof at a trial if someone finds out you have a firearm, and the school police officer decides he or she is gonna arrest you no matter what you say  -- but, it is a very good defense.  Still -- it's a felony charge under both Florida and federal law -- although the feds could care less unless you're a terrorist, or selling drugs.

What about colleges and universities?   Can they waive the exception, and prohibit parking for guests and parents the same as a "school district"?  (federal law does not apply here - it only applies thru high school).

Well -- when you get to colleges and universities -- there's a case that says they probably can't -- because they're not considered part of a "school district".  If they're not part of  a "school district" -- there's no way to legally pass such a prohibition.    But, unfortunately,  that portion of the case opinion is not binding law because it's something called "dicta".  So -- it's still a grey area on colleges and universities as to "guest" parking -- and even grayer as to students, faculty, etc.   Plus -- my guess is that if a college student has a firearm in their vehicle parked on campus -- and the administration finds out about it -- and such is forbidden by a student manual or rule -- you're still gonna have big problems with the school, and possible expulsion,  even if you have a valid defense to a criminal case.  And -- the parking lot law doesn't help you or anyone else on that issue because schools are exempted from the parking lot law.

So -- what's the answer?

Well . . .  obviously:    Tell your legislators you want the stupid provision in F.S. 790.115(2)(a)(3), that allows a "school district" to prohibit parking on campus -- to be modified and deleted.  Or . . .  maybe,  just prohibit it to "students" at secondary schools,  and those under 18 years of age?   (a "secondary school" is 6th grade thru 12th grade).

And yeah . . .  I understand your frustration on trying to understand this ridiculous stuff  . . . because now you may be more confused than when you started.  You're certainly gonna have to read this a few times to understand it.  Plus,  you don't want to disobey the law -- but you don't want to leave your firearm at home, and be unprotected -- either.    A truly rotten choice -- and you gotta wonder how the Legislature figures the Second Amendment and your Florida constitutional right to self defense can allow that?   Me, too!   That's exactly why we need to trash this stupid law!

Whatever -- hope I've helped you more than confused you!

copyright 2011 by jon gutmacher

The New 2011 Florida Pro-Gun Laws summarized

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The New 2011 Florida Pro-Gun Laws summarized

         Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, on Friday, June 17, 2011, signed the last of the three pro-firearm bills passed by the Legislature in 2011. These new laws vary, but understanding them are of critical importance to the entire firearms community. Here’s the short, but concise explanation:

SB 234: This modifies Florida Statute 790.053 (prohibitions on open carry) to allow a CWP holder to "briefly and openly display" their firearm to another person(s) so long as it is not done in an angry or threatening manner – unless in necessary self defense. The bill started as an attempt to allow total "open carry" of firearms by all CWP holders, but the majority of Floridians both within and outside the firearms community – weren’t in favor of that. Likewise, an alleged purpose of the revision was to protect CWP holders from unintentional and inadvertent exposure of their firearm. However, that was already protected under case law (ie: "lack of scienter").

      However,  this new law goes far beyond inadvertent disclosure – and allows a brief -- but intentional exposure. Important in the wording was the obvious elimination of the two "trouble words" found in Florida Statute 790.10 (Improper Exhibition), by eliminating the words "rude" and "careless" from the new subsection in 790.053. Important things to remember in this revision – it only applies to firearms. Thus, the horribly worded "improper exhibition" law (790.10) may still cause problems with other weapons. A different section of this new law repealed Florida Statute 790.28 – so that it is now legal to purchase a rifle or shotgun in a non-contiguous state pursuant to federal law.

HB155: This law provides a certain amount of "medical privacy" to prevent medical and emergency personnel from inquiring about firearms ownership unless they have a "good faith" belief it is necessary in treatment, and also prevents an insurance company from raising rates or denying coverage because of an insured’s ownership of firearms or ammunition.

HB45: This law revised Florida Statute 790.33  (ie:  the "preemption" statute), big time, however,  the effective date is October 1, 2011 -- so there are a few months to go before it takes effect:

       The background was that the Legislature was faced with a myriad of complaints about local governments and administrative agencies writing ordinances and rules that restricted firearms and ammunition use and possession – and substantially interfered and conflicted with the Legislature’s sole power to make laws concerning this area. So,  while the previous version did hold that all ordinances dealing with firearms or ammunition were void and unlawful, the revision extended this to all administrative agencies and all rules and regulations of any type, including state agencies with the exception of regulations by the FFWCC affecting the taking of wildlife, and any ranges it manages; and also allowing governments to set regulations for employees while on duty.    Moreover,  another big change is that any citizen or organization that is affected by such an allegedly unlawful rule, regulation, or ordinance may sue in a court of law for injunctive and declaratory relief and/or damages – and if they win – not only do they get the ordinance or rule tossed out – they also get their court costs, attorney fees, and legal interest. If they lose – it appears the statute will likely bar attorney fees for the defendant unless the suit was utterly frivolous! Major stuff!

      Again -- this statute only applies to firearms and ammunition -- not other weapons.  However,  local governments are still restricted from passing laws that conflict with Florida Statutes -- although those other local laws will be presumed constitutional unless overturned in a court of law.

copyright 2011 by jon gutmacher


Anonymous said...
Am I reading you blog about SB234 corectly and allows a brief -- but intentional exposure so the law now allows intentional exposure? can you give a scenario as to when this applys. Thanks as always you keep us all safe.
Jon H. Gutmacher said...
The blog states the correct law. I will decline on scenarios.
Anonymous said...
Jon, I'm still confused by the new law and the legal meaning of "briefly". Is there any case law defining it or any other legal definition? I'm looking forward to your next edition which will hopefully explain this better.
Anonymous said...
Since the law is so very new - don't expect any appellate decisions for quite some time. "Briefly" should be interpreted as just that -- a quick, momentary showing of the firearm for a lawful purpose. Since the term is obviously vague - the courts will likely use an objectively reasonable period of time. I would therefore be cautious on not trying to push the limit on this. A true "grey" area.
Anonymous said...
How about you are standing outside the local star mega bucks coffee shop and your friend shows up, he asks "hey did you get that awesome new mega defense 9mm you were looking at?" You say "yep, wearing it right now", pulling your jacket back to briefly show your new pride and joy to your friend... legal? Seems like yes to me
Anonymous said...
While the law seems clear on this point, and the answer to me is a definite "yes" - I urge caution as exposure in public places where a non-gunowning onlooker sees the action - can lead to issues with police who do not know, understand, or care about the law - or are just being cautious. jhg
Anonymous said...
What happened with the portion of the bill regarding carrying on college campuses?

Florida Forces Towns to Pull Local Laws Limiting Guns

September 10, 2011

Florida Forces Towns to Pull Local Laws Limiting Guns

MIAMI — The signs — “No Guns Allowed” — are being stripped from many Florida parks, government buildings, libraries and airports. And local ordinances that bar people from shooting weapons in their yards, firing up into the air (think New Year’s Eve) or taking a gun into an airport are coming off the books.
The state has spoken, again, on the matter of guns, and this time it does not want to be ignored: Since 1987, local governments in Florida have been barred from creating and enforcing their own gun ordinances. Few cities and counties paid attention, though, believing that gun laws in places like Miami might need to be more restrictive than the state laws applicable in rural Apalachicola, for example.
But this year the State Legislature passed a new law that forces counties and municipalities to do away with, and stop enforcing, their own firearms and ammunition ordinances by Oct. 1. Mayors, council and commission members will risk a $5,000 fine and removal from office if they “knowingly and willfully violate” the law. Towns that enforce their ordinances risk a $100,000 fine.
To comply with the law, cities and counties are poring over their gun ordinances, repealing laws and removing gun-related signs. In Palm Beach County that means removing ordinances that ban people from taking guns into county government buildings and local parks and from firing guns in some of its most urban areas. In Groveland, that means they can fire their guns into the air to celebrate. And in Lake County, firearms will soon be allowed in libraries.
“Now you can have a shooting gallery in your backyard,” said Shelley Vana, a Palm Beach County commissioner. “We are really urban areas here. I come from a rural area in Pennsylvania. I understand that guns are appropriate in a lot of places with no problems. But in an urban area, it’s different.”
State lawmakers who supported the bill, which was backed by the National Rifle Association, said local governments were overreacting, particularly since the original law that pre-empted local gun ordinances was passed in 1987.
“The notion that a city ordinance stops violence is patently absurd,” said State Representative Matt Gaetz, the Fort Walton Beach Republican who sponsored the bill. “People lawfully carrying weapons with permits are rarely part of the problem.”
The law aims to protect licensed gun owners who travel from county to county and may not be familiar with the patchwork of rules that dictate where they can carry and shoot a gun.
Florida gun laws are broader than local ordinances. They restrict guns, for example, at legislative and city council meetings but not inside the buildings proper. It permits target shooting under “safe” conditions and in “safe” places and makes it illegal to carry a firearm, if you are being rude or threatening, unless it is in self-defense. Floridians also cannot knowingly fire a gun in a public place, occupied building or on a paved street. But those who support stronger laws said words like “knowingly” and “safe” often make it difficult to enforce.
Local gun ordinances first caused consternation among gun rights advocates in 2000 when South Miami passed an ordinance that required trigger locks for guns stored there. The National Rifle Association took the town to court, and the town lost. But counties and cities across Florida continued to vote on or enforce their own gun ordinances.
“The bill provides a remedy, if somebody chooses to be irrationally stubborn,” Mr. Gaetz said.
Some cities and counties, though, say they will lobby for a change so they can have more flexibility. Officials say that none of their ordinances violate the Second Amendment; they just give them added power to tamp down crime.
“It’s a disregard for public safety,” said Shirley Gibson, the mayor of Miami Gardens, where signs that bar guns in parks were taken down. “It’s not a good message to send.”
Kraig Conn, the legislative counsel for the Florida League of Cities, said fining individual mayors and council members for their legislative actions set a “horrible precedent.” Lawmakers hold immunity that protects them from liability in civil lawsuits for duties they perform. “It pierces legislative immunity,” he said. “This is part of our common law system.”
It also runs counter to the Republican principle that local control is best.
“The State Legislature doesn’t know where it makes sense to restrict guns” in Florida’s most urban areas, Mr. Conn said, “and not restrict them in other areas, rural areas, where there is a lot of open land.”

Japan Investigates Online Posting of Obama Flight Plans

September 10, 2011

Japan Investigates Online Posting of Obama Flight Plans

TOKYO — Japanese officials moved to control the diplomatic damage after an air traffic controller was questioned here for posting secret American flight information on his blog that included the detailed flight plans of Air Force One last November.
The Transportation Ministry said Saturday that the controller, who works at the Tokyo International Airport at Haneda, could face charges of leaking national secrets. Japanese officials appeared embarrassed by the breach, which also included flight data of an unmanned United States military reconnaissance drone.
Tokyo is apparently worried that the incident could raise new doubts in Washington about Japan’s ability to handle sensitive information, following a scandal four years ago over the leak of American naval radar secrets. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper, reported that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda may personally apologize to President Obama for the current breach during a summit meeting later this month in New York.
The ministry said the controller, who was identified only as a male in his 50s, posted the flight plan of Air Force One during President Obama’s visit to Asia last November. It said the blog contained two pages of detailed information about the flight, including both numerical data and also a map showing Air Force One’s route.
The flight details of Air Force One are usually kept secret to protect the president from terrorists or other attacks. The ministry said the blog contained no explanation of the numbers or images, which would have been largely incomprehensible to a layman.
The ministry said the controller was being questioned by authorities, after an anonymous caller tipped off the ministry last Monday. The ministry said the controller did not appear to act with ill intent, but had told authorities that he posted the information in order to show his friends. It said the sensitive information had been removed from the blog.
The ministry said the controller posted a total of 12 pages of sensitive information on his blog. The leaked information also included the flight plans of a United States military Global Hawk drone that was gathering radiation readings near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the ministry said.
For Japan, the incident is uncomfortably similar to the leak in 2007 of classified information about the United States Navy’s advanced Aegis radar system, which is also installed on Japanese warships. A Japanese navy officer was arrested for copying sensitive data about the radar onto CD-ROM disks and distributing them to classmates at a Japanese naval school.
That earlier leak raised doubts about Japan’s management of military secrets, prompting Washington to temporarily suspend shipment of parts for upgrading the radars.


They do that and every bond held by a German bank is an instant zero
in response.

EVERY single large European bank blows if they do that. All of them.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is preparing plans to shore up German banks in the event that Greece fails to meet the terms of its aid package and defaults, three coalition officials said. The emergency plan involves measures to help banks and insurers that face a possible 50 percent loss on their Greek bonds if the next tranche of Greece’s bailout is withheld, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are being held in private


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Germany could be printing Deutsche Mark bank notes in preparation for dropping the euro
Sunday May 23,2010

GERMANY is rumoured to be printing Deutschemark banknotes again in preparation for ditching the euro and distancing itself from Greece and the other ailing states that started the sovereign debt crisis.

As fears mount about the survival of the euro, it is said Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, has been ordered to print new marks as part of contingency plans to leave Europe’s single currency.
This would be an extraordinary step for Germany and would deepen the growing divide between Europe’s leading states. Since its introduction in 1999, the euro has had a tough time trying to win over a sceptical German public, who saw the mark as a symbol of their post-war prosperity. Regarded as one of the world’s most stable currencies, it was second only to the US dollar as the reserve currency of choice for investors and governments.
Despite the joint €750billion euro European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout package unveiled this month, there are growing fears that it will not be enough to save Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other states from financial collapse.
If the bailout package fails to stabilise Europe and the euro, analysts fear the global economy could plunge back into recession.
UBS analysts Paul Reynolds and Joelle Anamootoo said: “If the rescue programme fails altogether, we are looking at a potentially much more negative picture.”

Deutsche Mark set for comeback instead of Euro in Germany
Updated: June 27, 2011 15:00 IST

Rumours are rife that Deutsche Mark may be re-introduced in Germany and the Euro shelved as the country's currency, a media report said.

There is speculation that Deutsche Mark bank notes are being printed again in preparation for ditching the euro; it's said that Germany's Central bank, Bundesbank, has been ordered to print marks as part of contingency plans to leave Europe's single currency, the Daily Express reported.

Since its introduction in 1999, the euro has had a tough time trying to win over a sceptical German public, who saw the mark - one of the world's most stable currencies - as a symbol of post-World War II prosperity, second only to the US dollar as the reserve option for investors.

In fact, according to a survey, almost three-quarters of Germans now doubt that the euro has a future. They also believe rescue attempts are futile as billions more euros will be paid to bail out Greece which is almost bankrupt.

The poll by German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, found 71 per cent had "doubt", "no trust" or thought there is "no future" for the euro. Only 19 per cent expressed "confidence" in it. Sixty eight per cent said they did not think the emergency bail-out of Greece would work.

A separate poll last week showed more than half of Germans thought that Greece should be thrown out of the euro.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/deutsche-mark-set-for-comeback-instead-of-euro-in-germany-115046&cp

Deal reached to avert transportation shutdown


House and Senate leaders have reached a deal that averts a looming shutdown of federal highway and aviation programs, a key GOP lawmaker said Friday.
The agreement clears the way for passage next week of a single bill that extends operating authority for the Federal Aviation Administration through the end of January and highway and transit assistance programs through the end of March, Rep. John Mica of Florida, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said in an interview.
Republicans have agreed not to include any spending cuts or contentious policy provisions in the bill, Mica said.
In exchange, Senate Democrats have made concessions involving some of the more difficult issues that been holding up passage of a long-term funding bill for the FAA, Mica said. He declined to elaborate on what those concessions entail.
"This wouldn't be done if there weren't terms that satisfied both sides," Mica said. "It's a positive step."
Republicans plan to bring a bipartisan bill extending both programs to the House floor for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, a House GOP leadership said. The aide, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, asked not to be named.
The last long-term FAA funding bill expired in 2007. The agency has been limping along since then under a series of 21 short-term extensions because the House and Senate have been unable to reach agreement on half dozen or so contentious issues.
The FAA was forced to partially shut down for two weeks this summer because Senate Democrats balked at passing a short-term extension bill. House Republicans had added a provision to the bill eliminating air service subsidies for 13 rural communities. Democrats said they didn't want to set a precedent allowing the House steamroll policy changes that hadn't been negotiated with the Senate by attaching them to a must-pass bill.
Mica acknowledged at the time that he had attached the spending cuts in part to get Senate Democrats to negotiate a deal on a GOP provision in the long-term bill that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize.
The standoff forced FAA to furlough nearly 4,000 employees and issue stop-work orders on more than 200 airport construction projects, putting tens of thousands of construction workers out of work. More than $350 million airline ticket taxes went uncollected.
Eventually Senate Democrats gave way and passed the House bill, but the episode raised concern that a similar impasse could occur this month involving not just the FAA, but highway and transit programs as well.
The current short-term FAA extension expires on Sept. 16. Highway and transit programs are in a similar situation. The last long-term transportation bill expired in 2009. The programs have continued to operate under seven short-term extensions, but the most recent extension is due to expire on Sept. 30.
The main issue holding up a long-term transportation bill is money. Revenue from the federal gas and diesel taxes that fund the program are declining, but lawmakers have been reluctant to either raise taxes or cut spending.
Mica said he initially planned to introduce a short-term extension bill on Friday that would have cut FAA's budget by 5 percent and rural air service subsidies by 25 percent.
However, when he circulated a draft of the bill, it prodded House and Senate leaders to open discussions that led to the deal to pass a single transportation extension bill next week, he said.

Gov. Perry Announces Emergency Hotel Voucher Program for Victims of Bastrop County Fire

Gov. Perry Announces Emergency Hotel Voucher Program for Victims of Bastrop County Fire

Texas Disaster Relief Fund, TDHCA providing assistance to individuals and families
Friday, September 09, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry today announced that up to $250,000 from the Texas Disaster Relief Fund will be distributed through Combined Community Action Inc. to provide seven-day emergency hotel vouchers for individuals and families whose homes have been destroyed in the Bastrop County fire. Combined Community Action will also administer flexible assistance cards using up to $350,000 from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to cover essential expenses for these individuals and families.
"Thanks to generous donations to the Texas Disaster Relief Fund, we can provide some basic necessities to Texans whose homes have been destroyed due to these merciless fires in the absence of federal aid," Gov. Perry said. "We continue to be hopeful that President Obama will approve the state's request for an extension of our Major Disaster Declaration, and provide housing and other assistance to help those who have lost so much so quickly in these devastating fires."
Volunteers from Combined Community Action will be at each Bastrop County shelter beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday to take applications for hotel vouchers from those who are currently living in the shelters. These vouchers will allow those whose homes were destroyed to move from makeshift shelters into motels while the state awaits President Obama's approval of an extension of the state's Major Disaster Declaration.
Gov. Perry spoke to President Barack Obama on Wednesday and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday to request an extension of the president's partial Major Disaster Declaration to include fires from the last week. The governor also requested the addition of Individual Assistance to the Major Disaster Declaration for all damages from wildfires beginning on or after the Labor Day weekend, and the deployment of federal resources, including Department of Defense assets, to support ongoing wildfire response and recovery efforts in Texas. In cooperation with Gov. Perry and at his request, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst today sent a letter to President Obama with supporting information for these requests.
The Texas Disaster Relief Fund is a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, created to compliment, not duplicate, existing relief resources provided by FEMA and other insurance and non-profit organizations. The fund gives Texans the opportunity to donate money that will go directly to Texas communities whose resources have been strained by disasters. Gov. Perry established the Texas Disaster Relief Fund in September 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita to help individuals and businesses get back on their feet. To donate to the fund, please call 1-866-463-7982.
In the past seven days, Texas Forest Service has responded to 140 fires that have scorched more than 154,300 acres, including new large fires in Red River, Rusk, Camp and Hill counties. More than 1,300 homes and 20 businesses have been destroyed in Bastrop County alone.
Gov. Perry has reissued his disaster proclamation nine times this wildfire season; it was originally issued on Dec. 21, 2010. In addition to the state proclamations in April, the governor sent a letter to President Obama requesting a Major Disaster Declaration, which would have made the state eligible for Direct Federal Assistance and Emergency Protective Measures from the federal government. The Obama Administration denied this request on May 3. Gov. Perry appealed the president's decision on May 26, and received partial approval of relief on July 1. A request to expand the scope of federal relief is still pending in addition to the request made this week.
For more information on preparing for wildfire threats, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/wildfires.

Floods worsen in eastern US after Tropical Storm Lee

Floods worsen in eastern US after Tropical Storm Lee

National Guard rescue stranded residents in West Pittston, Pennsylvania Flash flood warnings have been issued from Maryland to southern New England

Related Stories

The Susquehanna River has reached record levels in Pennsylvania and New York, swollen by torrential rainfall from Tropical Storm Lee.
The president declared a state of emergency in both states, bringing federal aid to affected areas.
The river rose a record 42.6 feet (13m) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Friday but later receded to 41.4 feet.
Flash flood warnings are still in effect for south-central Pennsylvania and have been issued for Maryland.
Tropical Storm Lee made landfall near New Orleans a week ago. It brought torrential rain to many areas as it swept north-east, killing at least seven people.
The storm prompted hundreds of thousands to leave their homes.
The Wilkes-Barre levee system withstood the cresting Susquhanna river, although much of the damage was concentrated in the surrounding areas.
A bridge partially collapsed, interstate highways were closed and water submerged low-lying homes in the wider area.
In Binghamton, New York, the river broke a record by spilling over retaining walls. Flooding closed a major highway near the city.
Some 20,000 people remain under evacuation orders in Binghamton.
Near Wilkes-Barre more than 75,000 people were told to leave.
Evacuation orders are expected to stay in place until Sunday or Monday.
Ninety miles down the river, crews put sandbags around the governor's mansion in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania.