Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in NY (34 images)

The effect of the Sandy left large parts of New York City with out power and mass transit and officials at Consolidated Edison said it could be up to a week before power is fully restored.
People board a bus which will bring them to a shelter after Hurricane Sandy inundated the Rockaway Peninsular in the borough of Queens on October 30, 2012 in New York City. The super storm which devastated parts of the eastern seaboard has prompted officials to shut down all public transportation systems and schools and order the evacuation of thousands who live in coastal areas. UPI /Monika Graff

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy's US toll climbs to 39; 8.2 million without power

5 hr ago By MSN News with wire reports

Residents and businesses began a massive clean-up effort Tuesday, even as large parts of the region remained without power, and transportation in the New York metropolitan area was at a standstill.

NEW YORK — The misery of superstorm Sandy's devastation grew Tuesday as millions along the U.S. East Coast faced life without power or mass transit for days, and huge swaths of New York City remained eerily quiet. The U.S. death toll climbed to 39, many of the victims killed by falling trees, and rescue work continued.

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with hurricane force cut power to more than 8.2 million across the East and put the presidential campaign on hold just one week before Election Day.

New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of the city's subway system, and there was no indication of when the largest U.S. transit system would be rolling again.

But the full extent of the damage in New Jersey was being revealed as morning arrived. Emergency crews fanned out to rescue hundreds.

A hoarse-voiced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave bleak news at a morning news conference: Seaside rail lines washed away. No safe place on the state's barrier islands for him to land. Parts of the coast still under water.

"It is beyond anything I thought I'd ever see," he said. "It is a devastating sight right now."

President Obama will travel to New Jersey on Wednesday to view damage caused by the massive storm, the White House said in a statement.

Obama canceled campaign appearances planned for Ohio on Wednesday because of the storm.

Millions of people from Maine to the Carolinas awoke Tuesday without electricity, and an eerily quiet New York City was all but closed off by car, train and air as superstorm Sandy steamed inland, still delivering punishing wind and rain.

Jersey City was closed to cars because traffic lights were out, and Hoboken, just over the Hudson River from Manhattan, was hit with major flooding.

A huge swell of water swept over the small New Jersey town of Moonachie, near the Hackensack River, and authorities struggled to rescue about 800 people, some living in a trailer park. And in neighboring Little Ferry, water suddenly started gushing out of storm drains overnight, submerging a road under 4 feet of water and swamping houses.

Police and fire officials used boats and trucks to reach the stranded.

"I looked out and the next thing you know, the water just came up through the grates. It came up so quickly you couldn't do anything about it. If you wanted to move your car to higher ground you didn't have enough time," said Little Ferry resident Leo Quigley, who with his wife was taken to higher ground by boat.

The death toll from Sandy in the U.S. included several killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Eastern Seaboard.

Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights. New York City's three major airports remained closed.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

more hurricane sandy coverage
Slideshow: Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast
President Obama on storm
Slideshow: Sandy slams New Jersey
Lower Manhattan faces up to four days without power
Update: NYSE to test plan to resume trading
Sandy grounds more than 18,000 flights worldwide
Amtrak to resume some service in Northeast
Sandy disrupts telecommunication networks
Floods hit New Jersey refineries
One nuclear plant shut down
NYC Marathon expected to go on
How to stay connected during Hurricane Sandy
Small businesses take hit from storm
Sandy unlikely to hurt US economy
Storm effect on sports world
Sandy forces pause in presidential campaign
Coast Guard to continue search for missing captain

Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was canceled again Tuesday after the storm sent a nearly 14-foot surge of seawater, a record, coursing over its seawalls and highways and into low-lying streets. The water inundated tunnels, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street and sent hospital patients and tourists scrambling for safety. Skyscrapers swayed and creaked in winds that partially toppled a crane 74 stories above Midtown. A large tanker ship ran aground on the city's Staten Island.

"This will be one for the record books," said John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Consolidated Edison, which had more than 670,000 customers without power in and around New York City.

In New Jersey, where the superstorm came ashore, a huge swell of water swept over the small town of Moonachie, and authorities struggled to rescue about 800 people, some of them living in a trailer park. Police and fire officials used boats to try to reach the stranded.

"I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground. I watched a tree crush a guy's house like a wet sponge," mobile home park resident Juan Allen said.

The massive storm reached well into the Midwest with heavy rain and snow. Chicago officials warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepared for winds of up to 60 mph (96 kph) and waves exceeding 24 feet (7.2 meters) well into Wednesday.

Curiosity turned to concern overnight as New York City residents watched whole neighborhoods disappear into darkness as power was cut. The World Trade Center site was a glowing ghost near the tip of Lower Manhattan. Residents reported seeing no lights but the strobes of emergency vehicles and the glimpses of flashlights in nearby apartments. Lobbies were flooded, cars floated and people started to worry about food.

As Hurricane Sandy closed in on the Northeast, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned it into a monstrous hybrid of rain and high winds — even bringing snow in West Virginia and other mountainous areas inland.

Just before it made landfall, forecasters stripped Sandy of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force winds.

While the hurricane's 90 mph (144 kph) winds registered as only a Category 1 on a scale of five, it packed "astoundingly low" barometric pressure, giving it terrific energy to push water inland, said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at MIT.

"We are looking at the highest storm surges ever recorded" in the Northeast, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director for Weather Underground, a private forecasting service.

Tunnels and bridges to Manhattan were shut down, and some flooded.

"We have no idea how long it's going to take" to restore the transit system, MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said Tuesday.

New York University's Tisch Hospital was forced to evacuate 200 patients after its backup generator failed. NYU Medical Dean Robert Grossman said patients — among them 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit who were on battery-powered respirators — had to be carried down staircases and to dozens of ambulances waiting to take them to other hospitals.

A construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise overlooking Central Park collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously. Thousands of people were ordered to leave several nearby buildings as a precaution.

Reggie Thomas emerged Tuesday morning from his job as a maintenance supervisor at a prison near the overflowing Hudson River, a toothbrush in his front pocket, to find his 2011 Honda with its windows down and a foot (304 millimeters) of water inside.

"It's totaled," Thomas said, with a shrug. "You would have needed a boat last night."

In the storm's wake, President Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that "major disasters" existed in both states. One disaster-forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion, only half insured. Add an additional $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.

In the long run, the devastation the storm inflicted on New York City and other parts of the Northeast will barely nick the U.S. economy. That's the view of economists who say higher gas prices and a slightly slower economy in coming weeks will likely be matched by reconstruction and repairs that will contribute to growth over time.

The short-term blow to the economy, though, could subtract about 0.6 percentage point from U.S. economic growth in the October-December quarter, IHS says. Retailers, airlines and home construction firms will likely lose some business.

The New York City Marathon is scheduled for Saturday. But there are many questions about whether transportation not just to and from the city, but also in and around the city, will be ready in time. The marathon pours an estimated $350 million into the city each year. But it also requires major support from city departments that are being strained by the storm.

New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Monday they had a long list of contingency plans already in place to deal with any obstacles that might arise. The biggest concerns centered on getting runners to the start on Staten Island.

The 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs mostly avoids areas considered at highest risk for flooding.


All along the East Coast, residents and business owners awoke to scenes of destruction.

"There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean," said evacuee Peter Sandomeno, one of the owners of the Broadway Court Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. "That's the worst storm I've ever seen, and I've been there for 11 years."

Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record storm surge of almost 14 feet to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

Water poured into the subway tunnels that course under the city, the country's financial capital, and Bloomberg said the subway system would likely be closed for four or five days.

"Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time," said Jeffrey Tongue, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York.

Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) were recorded, he said. "Hopefully it's a once-in-a-lifetime storm," Tongue said.

As residents and business owners began a massive clean-up effort and faced a long and costly recovery, large parts of the region remained without power, and transportation in the New York metropolitan area was at a standstill.

The U.S. Department of Energy said more than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity due to the storm, which crashed ashore late on Monday near the gambling resort of Atlantic City, New Jersey.


The unprecedented flooding hampered efforts to fight a massive fire that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point, a private beach community on the Rockaway barrier island in the New York City borough of Queens.

New York University's Tisch hospital was forced to evacuate more than 200 patients, among them babies on respirators in the neonatal intensive care unit, when the backup generator failed. Four of the newborns had to be carried down nine flights of stairs while nurses manually squeezed bags to deliver air to the babies' lungs, CNN reported.

The death toll continued to climb.

"Sadly the storm claimed lives throughout the region, including at least 10 in our city ... and we expect that number to go up," Bloomberg said.

Other storm-related deaths were reported elsewhere in New York state in addition to Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Toronto police also recorded one death - a woman hit by flying debris.

Sandy killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week before pounding U.S. coastal areas.

Federal government offices in Washington, which was spared the full force of the storm, were closed for a second day on Tuesday, and schools were shut up and down the East Coast.

The storm weakened as it plowed slowly west across southern Pennsylvania, its remnants situated between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with maximum winds down to 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

As Sandy converged with a cold weather system, blizzard warnings were in effect for West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina.

Wind gusts, rain and flooding were likely to extend well into Tuesday, but without the storm's earlier devastating power, said AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Dickey.

At its peak, the storm's wind field stretched from North Carolina north to the Canadian border and from West Virginia to a point in the Atlantic Ocean halfway to Bermuda, easily one of the largest ever seen, the hurricane center said.

Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney put campaigning on hold for a second day instead of launching their final push for votes ahead of the November 6 election.

Obama, who has made every effort to show himself staying on top of the storm situation, faces political danger if the federal government fails to respond well in the storm's aftermath, as was the case with predecessor George W. Bush's botched handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But Obama also has a chance to look presidential in a national crisis.

With politics cast aside for the moment, Republican Christie heaped praise on the Democratic incumbent for the government's initial storm response.

"The federal government response has been great," Christie, a staunch Romney supporter, told NBC's "Today" show. "I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president personally ... and the president has been outstanding in this."

In New York, a crane partially collapsed and dangled precariously from a 90-story luxury apartment building under construction in Midtown Manhattan.

Much of the city was deserted, as its subways, buses, commuter trains, bridges and airports were closed. Power outages darkened most of downtown Manhattan as well as Westchester County, affecting more than 650,000 customers, power company Consolidated Edison said.

Neighborhoods along the East and Hudson rivers in Manhattan were underwater, as were low-lying streets in Battery Park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center once stood.

U.S. stock markets were closed on Tuesday but would likely reopen on Wednesday. They closed on Monday for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Most areas in downtown Manhattan were without power on Monday morning. As the sun rose, most of the water in Manhattan's low-lying Battery Park City appeared to have receded.

A security guard at 7 World Trade Center, Gregory Baldwin, was catching some rest in his car after laboring overnight against floodwater that engulfed a nearby office building.

"The water went inside up to here," he said, pointing to his chest. "The water came shooting down from Battery Park with the gusting wind."

In Lower Manhattan, firefighters used inflatable orange boats to rescue utility workers stranded for three hours by rising floodwaters inside a power substation.

One of the Con Ed workers pulled from the floodwater, Angelo Amato, said he was part of a crew who had offered to work through the storm.

"This is what happens when you volunteer," he said.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Bases, Edward Krudy and Scott DiSavino in New York and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington. Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Eric Beech)


Hays reported from New York and Breed reported from Raleigh, North Carolina; AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Washington. Associated Press writers David Dishneau in Delaware City, Delaware, Katie Zezima in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Emery P. Dalesio in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, also contributed


It is time to move out of the Cities!

Time to Move out of the Cities!

Dear Friends,

It is time for those who want to shun the dangers of city living, especially the large cities near the ocean or other large bodies of water, to move into the rural and especially the mountainous regions.

Timely Prophecies 

Those who are followers of Christ should take heed to His prophecies and warnings that are coming to pass today.

The warning that particularly impresses my mind is this:

"And there shall be signs...upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear,..." Luke 21:25-26

Did you catch that? Jesus said that "the sea and the waves" would be "roaring."

In light of the recent disasters around the world, especially the Tsunamis that have killed hundreds of thousands of people in recent years, how can those who claim to be Christians ignore Christ's words and warnings. According to the Bible these events are going to keep increasing in frequency and intensity. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:3)

Obey Jesus and Live! 

An amazing example of the importance of heeding the instructions of Jesus is found in the historical account of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

Not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ had given his disciples warning, and all who believed his words watched for the promised sign. “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies,” said Jesus, “then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out.”Luke 21:20, 21

After the Romans under Cestius had surrounded the city, they unexpectedly abandoned the siege when everything seemed favorable for an immediate attack. The besieged, despairing of successful resistance, were on the point of surrender, when the Roman general withdrew his forces, without the least apparent reason. But God's merciful providence was directing events for the good of his own people. The promised sign had been given to the waiting Christians, and now an opportunity was afforded for all who would to obey the Saviour's warning. Events were so overruled that neither Jews nor Romans should hinder the flight of the Christians. Upon the retreat of Cestius, the Jews, sallying from Jerusalem, pursued after his retiring army, and while both forces were thus fully engaged, the Christians had an opportunity to leave the city. (Watch a Video Here)

Friends, today may be your last opportunity to get out of the cities, do you hear God's voice speaking to you through His Word? We encourage you to prepare for the coming disasters, judgments, and the great crisis that is soon to take the world by overwhelming suprise.

Pray about the matter, counsel with brethren, make wise plans, and move step by step as God opens the way.


Was Sandy an October Surprise or an Act of God?

Remember this CRISIS in 2008?  About 4 years ago, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain suspended his Presidential campaign to return to DC to address the Financial Crisis, and to vote on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (Too Big to Fail), Bail-Out.

Yesterday, October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New Jersey Coast, its 80 mph winds severely assaulted the Northeast Corridor (Washington D.C. - Boston), flooding streets and tunnels and knocking out power to several million residents.

Now it seems as if the current Presidential Election (2012) is in jeopardy.  With only 7 days until ELECTION DAY, President Obama has temporary suspended his re-election campaign to better command the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Last week, President Obama campaigned 48 hours non-stop (shuttling from one city to another repeatedly) and was also able to (vote for himself, of course) cast his early ballot on Thursday October 25, 2012, right before the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy.  What timing?  How opportune?

Today, the 2012 Presidential Campaign, to borrow a word from the prevailing religion in Americais in Limbo.  With New York City, the financial nerve center of the United States partially bogged down in darkness, and its mass transportation system paralyzed by floods and inoperable traffic signals;  This can only warrant a delay of the current Presidential Election, and postponement of election day which is scheduled on Novemember 6.  We thought something like this would never happen?  Some thought it was only an urban myth.  Now, there you have it! 
It's quite possible that it will happen as many feared, and it is very urban indeed.

This peculiar situation begs the question: Was this crisis manufactured or was it an act of God?  Is this what they call an October Surprise?  Or is it just an omen, a sign of the times?


Monday, October 29, 2012

Astounding images of New York City plunged into darkness

Photo of the Empire State Building (© sharonfeder via Instagram

Its own generator kept the lights in the Empire State Building on.

Astounding images of New York City plunged into darkness

1 hr ago1871
The city that never sleeps has been forced to have a lie down with much of the city now in darkness as Sandy holds New York in its grip. Some amazing images are being shared on social networks which show just how tenuous humanity's dominance over nature really is. Streets and subways are flooded and blackouts are affecting much of the city as the deluge continues.
Click to see more on msnNOW.comupdated 24 hours a day.


Sandy comes ashore with flooding, power outages

1 hr ago By MSN News with wire reports

Massive flooding, high winds and widespread power outages hit the East Coast as Sandy moves inland.

NEW YORK — Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline with 80 mph winds Monday night and hurled an unprecedented 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City, threatening its subways and the electrical system that powers Wall Street. At least four deaths were blamed on the storm, and the presidential campaign ground to a halt a week before Election Day.

Sandy knocked out power to at least 3.1 million people, and New York's main utility said large sections of Manhattan had been plunged into darkness by the storm. Water pressed into the island from three sides.

At least four deaths were blamed on the storm in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York. Among them were two people killed by falling trees.

As the storm closed in, it smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor — Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston — with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph. It also converged with a cold-weather system that turned it into a superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but snow.

Sandy made landfall at 8 p.m. near Atlantic City, which was already mostly under water and saw a piece of its world-famous Boardwalk washed away earlier in the day.

Authorities reported a record surge more than 13 feet high at the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan, from the storm and high tide combined.

In an attempt to lessen damage from saltwater to the subway system and the underground electrical network that underlies the city's financial district, New York City's main utility cut power to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan. But a far wider swath was hit with blackouts caused by flooding and transformer explosions.

Rising floodwaters forced the closing of LaGuardia and JFK airports, according to media reports. All MTA bridges and tunnels, including the Battery Tunnel and Queens Midtown Tunnel, were closed to traffic the Metropolitan Transit Authority said. Authorities say it could take a week for the tunnels and subway to reopen. The MTA reported up to four feet of seawater at a Lower Manhattan subway station.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirms cars are floating down streets in Lower Manhattan.

Between 8 million and 10 million people could lose power over the next few days as the storm moves through New England, according to a Johns Hopkins University study.

Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights, disrupting the plans of travelers all over the world, and storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

Because of Sandy's vast reach, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 500 miles from its center, other major cities across the Northeast - Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston - also prepared to for the worst.

"The days ahead are going to be very difficult," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said. "There will be people who die and are killed in this storm."

Federal government offices in Washington, D.C., will be closed to the public on Tuesday, as Hurricane Sandy threatens to cause extensive damage to the area. Amtrak also said it has canceled all Tuesday service in the Northeast due to high winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Sandy.

more hurricane sandy coverage
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NYC Marathon expected to go on
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Snow plows out in West Virginia
Small businesses take hit from storm
Sandy unlikely to hurt US economy
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Sheila Gladden evacuated her home in Philadelphia's flood-prone Eastwick neighborhood and headed to a hotel.

"I'm not going through this again," said Gladden, who had 5 1/2 feet of water in her home after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

The storm washed away an old section of the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and left most of the city's emptied-out streets under water. All 12 casinos in the city were closed, and some 30,000 people were under orders to evacuate.

"When I think about how much water is already in the streets, and how much more is going to come with high tide tonight, this is going to be devastating. I think this is going to be a really bad situation tonight," said Bob McDevitt, president of the main Atlantic City casino workers union.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, addressing those who were told to evacuate the state's barrier islands, said in his usual blunt way: "This is not a time to be a show-off. This is not a time to be stupid. This is the time to save yourself and your family."

In New York City, where 375,000 people were ordered to clear out, authorities closed the Holland Tunnel, which connects New York and New Jersey, and a tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Street grates above the subway were boarded up, but officials still worried that seawater would seep in and damage the electrical switches.

The major American stock exchanges closed for the day, the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Wall Street expected to remain closed Tuesday. The United Nations canceled all meetings at its New York headquarters. New York called off school for the city's 1.1 million students Monday and Tuesday.

Cuomo deployed National Guard troops to the city and Long Island.Broadway shows were canceled for Sunday and Monday. One small hospital was being evacuated, while several others were moving patients to higher floors.

Amtrak said passenger service between Boston and Raleigh, N.C., and between the East Coast and Chicago, New Orleans and Florida will be suspended Tuesday for the second day in a row.

This is the second time in 14 months that New York City has faced a scenario forecasters have long feared: a big hurricane hitting the city or a bit south, such that the cyclone's counterclockwise winds drive water into miles of densely populated shoreline.

Hurricane Irene ultimately came ashore as a tropical storm in Coney Island, with a 4-foot storm surge that washed over parts of the southern tip of Manhattan but didn't wreak the havoc that officials had feared, although it caused tremendous damage elsewhere. Some experts have said that a surge 3 feet higher could have caused huge damage.

The storm bore down barely a week before the presidential election. Wary of being seen as putting political pursuits ahead of public safety, Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney reshuffled their campaign plans.

In Virginia, one of the most competitive states, election officials eased absentee voting requirements for those affected by the storm. Three other closely contested states, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio, were within Sandy's reach. Early voting was canceled Monday in Maryland and Washington, D.C., both reliably Democratic.

Craig Fugate, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA teams were deployed from North Carolina to Maine and as far inland as West Virginia, bringing generators and basic supplies that will be needed in the storm's aftermath.

"I have not been around long enough to see a hurricane forecast with a snow advisory in it," Fugate told NBC's "Today" show.

Pennsylvania's largest utilities brought in hundreds of line-repair and tree-trimming crews. In New Jersey, where utilities were widely criticized last year for slow responses after the remnants of storms Irene and Lee, authorities promised a better performance. Hundreds of homes and businesses were already without electricity early Monday.


Crane dangles from apartment tower as storm approaches

Crane boom dangles in midtown New York City
Crane boom dangles in midtown New York City

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

LIVE VIDEO — NBC's camera atop of Rockefeller Plaza shows a crane boom dangling from a high-rise construction site in midtown Manhattan.
By Patrick Rizzo, NBC News

Emergency crews were responding Monday to a crane hanging from the side of a luxury high-rise under construction in the heart of midtown Manhattan as New York began feeling the effects of approaching Hurricane Sandy.

Police have shut down traffic and evacuated the upper floors of buildings in the area around the 90-story building, One57, although there were no immediate plans to remove the crane because of the danger, WNBC reported. Officials were studying the situation and trying to decide how to deal with it.

The building, at 157 W. 57th St., has gained a reputation as a new haven for billionaires who have been paying up to $90 million for choice apartments.

The crane swayed at the top of the building as the city was largely shut down ahead of the expected arrival of the massive hurricane slamming the East Coast and affecting up to 60 million people in nine states. The storm was expected to make landfall in New Jersey Monday evening.

The Associated Press reported that New York City suspended all construction work in the city at 5 p.m. Saturday in anticipation of the storm. As of Monday afternoon, Manhattan was being lashed with winds of 20 mph with gusts double that.


Sandy flooding begins, 'only going to get worse'

Hurricane's winds strengthen to 90 mph; 400,000 lose power across Northeast

Image: Flooding in Battery Park
Andrew Kelly  /  Reuters
This stretch of New York City's Battery Park saw flooding Monday morning. In the background is the Statue of Liberty.


Europe's Crisis Spawns Calls for a Breakup—of Spain

Updated October 28, 2012, 9:46 p.m. ET


Many people in Catalonia, a province known as "the factory of Spain," feel that the rest of the country has become an economic millstone. They're pushing for an independent Catalonia. WSJ's Matt Moffett reports from Barcelona.

BARCELONA, Spain—This vibrant northern region of Catalonia has long been known as the "factory of Spain" for generating wealth that helped sustain the entire nation. Now Catalonia, beaten down by years of recession, has become the battleground in what threatens to become an economic civil war.

Bloomberg News

Protesters in Catalonia last month marched for independence in Barcelona.

In protests large and small, hundreds of thousands of Catalans are embracing a stark proposition: Only by breaking ties with Spain and becoming an independent country can Catalonia free itself from economic malaise.

Catalans go to the polls Nov. 25 for a regional parliamentary election, and polls show pro-independence parties in front.

"Madrid has been draining us dry for too long," says Josep Casadella, a corporate human-resources administrator. He became an Internet sensation not long ago after posting a video of himself refusing to pay the fare at a toll booth and complaining that Spain should build free roads for all the taxes it collects.

European Pressphoto Agency

The region's president, Artur Mas, has called the marriage between Catalonia and Spain's capital one of "mutual fatigue." He has pledged to place an independence referendum before voters.

Appalled at the separatist sentiment, a military veterans' association said that politicians pushing for Catalonian independence should be tried for "high treason." In recent days, pro-Spanish-unity protesters held a smaller demonstration of their own. Marchers held a sign reading: "Help, Europe. Nacionalists are crazy."

Spain's internal struggle echoes a larger debate convulsing the euro zone itself, as wealthier northern nations complain about supporting poorer southern ones. But now, as Europe enters its fifth year of crisis, the economic strains are deepening the fractures within some nations.

In Spain and Belgium, and to a degree Italy, local and national governments are battling over how to allocate scarce resources. Even within Germany, which is economically stronger and politically stable, richer areas are grumbling about the cost of subsidizing the poorer areas.

Catalonia's president, Artur Mas, called the marriage between his region and the Spanish capital one of "mutual fatigue" in a speech, likening it to the way "northern and southern Europe have grown weary of one another."

Live: Europe's Debt Crisis Stream

Cultural and linguistic variances within many EU countries only make matters worse. Catalonia itself is a prime example: Its own language is widely spoken and instilled in younger generations as the main language in most elementary schools.

Throughout the continent "there are some very long-standing strains and tensions of unequal regional economic development that are now being brought to the surface," says Adrian Smith, editor of the journal European Urban and Regional Studies.

Catalonia's turmoil represents a major threat to European leaders' hope of containing Europe's crisis by stabilizing Spain, which is home to the euro zone's fourth-largest economy but is also vying with Greece for the highest unemployment rate in the euro zone, around 25%. Policy makers had hoped that EU aid would keep Spain afloat while investors digest losses in Greece, which is even more troubled.

Spain's financial markets are quivering at the mere talk of secession of Catalonia, which produces almost 19% of Spain's economic output and 21% of its taxes. Investors fear the revolt will undermine Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's plan to get a grip on spending, particularly in the 17 regional governments that have been a big source of Spain's deficit.

If pro-independence parties triumph at the ballot box in next month's regional election, Catalonia's leader, Mr. Mas, will face pressure to make good on a vow to place an independence referendum before voters. National authorities say that would be illegal.

Mr. Mas studiously avoids the word "independence" to define his goal. Some analysts believe he would satisfied simply with a more favorable revenue-sharing deal. Meanwhile, impelled by swelling support for secession, he has become bolder, asserting publicly several times that "Catalans demand the instruments of State."

"We are convinced that an independent Catalonia is perfectly viable economically," says Albert Carreras, Catalonia's finance secretary. "Rather, we question whether Spain is viable if Catalonia were independent."

Further muddying the Spanish political picture, pro-independence groups in Basque Country—another region where separatist sentiment is strong—won control of parliament there in elections Oct. 21.

Outside of Spain, Belgium faces the biggest separatist strain. There, a vibrant separatist movement in the wealthier, Dutch-speaking Flanders wants to cut ties with poorer, French-speaking Wallonia. For the moment, a political impasse has been avoided by formation of a coalition government that excludes the separatist N-VA party, even though it won the most votes.

Still, local elections this month only heightened tensions. The N-VA's leader, Bart de Wever, won the mayoral race in Antwerp, the country's second-largest city, and used his acceptance speech to call for more independence. "Your government does not have the support of Flanders," he told Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who hails from Wallonia.

In Italy, as in Spain, the regional spats are partly rooted in precrisis deals that gave regional governments more spending authority, but without more responsibility to raise revenue, says Alberto Alesina, a Harvard University economist. "All that people are talking about are enormous scandals and wasting of money at the regional level," says Mr. Alesina. In Italy, he says, the south is the bigger culprit but says the north is hardly blameless.

When the southern island of Sicily recently needed a €400 million transfer, or about $520 million, from the central government to continue paying its bills, Northern Italians grumbled about claims of payroll-padding there. They cited as an example the island's 27,000-strong corps of forest rangers hired during the fire season. Sicily is roughly the size of Massachusetts.

In Spain, financial woes are putting the union on the rocks. In August, Catalonia said it would seek a €5 billion bailout from the national government to make debt payments. Catalan officials say they would have no need for budget-cutting or bailouts if the central government were distributing tax revenue fairly. Some 43 cents of every euro Catalonia pays in taxes doesn't come home, according to data compiled by the Catalonia government.

Underlying the grievances is Catalans' image of themselves as a hardworking, thrifty people, "the Germans or Lutherans of Spain," says sociologist Enrique Gil Calvo, who was born in a neighboring northern region. Residents of Catalonia, about three-quarters of whom speak Catalan, are openly scornful of what they consider to be the indolence of southern Spaniards.

People from Madrid, for their part, poke fun at what they perceive to be Catalans' workaholic, stingy nature. The discovery of copper wire, one joke goes, came about as a result of two Catalans engaging in a tug of war over a penny.

The debate is no laughing matter to Catalan independentistas, as the secession supporters are known. They view themselves as patriots "just like George Washington," says Jaume Vallcorba, a businessman who heads a pro-independence group, Fundacio Catalunya Estat.

As an independent nation, Catalonia would have GDP per capita of €30,500, which would rank it seventh in the European Union, just behind Denmark and ahead of Germany, Mr. Vallcorba's group says in its presentation. He adds that Catalonia's exports to the rest of the world recently surpassed its sales to the rest of Spain.

Spain's prime minister, Mr. Rajoy, termed the Catalan independence push "madness of colossal proportions" in a speech this month.

In a briefing, a senior official in Madrid said that Catalans conveniently overlook help they get from the national government, such as the billions of euros being used to bail out a locally run savings bank.

Even some Catalans think the independentistas "are painting a picture that is prettier than the reality would be," says José María Gay de Liébana, an economist at the University of Barcelona who can trace his Catalan lineage to the Middle Ages. How, he asks, would Catalonia's already indebted and deficit-ridden government shoulder the added economic burden of opening embassies all over the world, creating its own police and customs agencies, and possibly an army?

Mr. Gay de Liébana adds that Catalonia would have to assume a reasonable share of Spain's national debt, perhaps as much as €200 billion. And he wonders whether the breakaway nation would ever be accepted into the EU, particularly in the face of certain opposition from Spain. "People would say we abandoned the ship when things got tough, instead of rowing together," he says.

As Spain's economy sinks further into recession, however, more people seem willing to take the plunge to independence. "There are many people who didn't favor independence a couple of years ago, who now view it as our only hope," says Laia Serrano, an economist who last year formed a nonprofit group, BarcelonActua, to help the growing number of recession victims.

On a recent Thursday night, she had set up a soup kitchen on a downtown Barcelona street where about 60 people lined up for meal boxes. One 78-year-old retiree said the situation reminded him of waiting for ration tickets in the hard years after the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

"Everyone says that independence will mean more jobs, so we have to support it," said another man, who said he was 35 years old and unemployed for four years.

Clashes with central authority are a recurring theme in Catalan history. In the 18th-century War of Spanish Succession, Spain's Bourbon king, Philip V, crushed Catalan forces who had cast their lot with his Austrian rival. Later, during the Civil War, Catalonia was a stronghold of resistance to another strongman, Gen. Francisco Franco, who would harshly suppress Catalan culture during his four-decade dictatorship.

Perhaps because Catalonia couldn't count on much support from central authorities, an aggressive spirit of entrepreneurship flourished. "Catalonia was globalized before anyone knew what that meant," says Salvador Cardús i Ros, a political writer. Even in the 19th century, he notes, a distinctively Catalan product, the tangy sausagebutifarra, was marketed abroad and manufactured with machinery from Germany, meat from Northern Europe and spices from Asia. Today Barcelona is home to international heavyweights such as Mango MNG Holding SL, the women's fashion retailer, and Grupo Planeta, the dominant publisher in Spain and Latin America.

Catalonia is a big tax contributor to the central government. But officials in Barcelona complain the money isn't redistributed fairly. The annual deficit between what Catalonia pays in taxes and what it gets back from Madrid represents about 8% of Catalonia's total output, roughly €16 billion, Catalonian officials calculate.

Catalans complain that, as a consequence of underinvestment, their local roads and infrastructure is inferior to that in poorer parts of Spain. "We have to choose between using public roads that are dangerous, or toll roads that are expensive," says Manel Xifra, president of Comexi, a packaging-machinery company with €100 million in revenue. In Catalonia, toll roads make up almost three times the proportion of the regional highway system as they do in the region of Madrid—a smaller geographical area, but one that is roughly similar in GDP and population.

He also complains that national officials have dallied for years in making a logistically important investment to connect Barcelona's port to its train line. And that Barcelona's airport provides too few international flights, forcing transfers when he travels for business.

Some Catalan executives, though, are worried about the impact of the independentistas on business. Jose Manuel Lara, the chief of Grupo Planeta, recently told a radio interviewer that much of the company's operations would need to be transferred out of Catalonia if it seceded, because it wouldn't make sense for a Spanish language publisher to be based in a region where Catalan was the official language.

To cover its expenses, Catalonia's government has ratcheted up the top marginal income-tax rate to 56%. That is the highest in Spain, and only a hair below Sweden, at 56.6%.

"You can't tolerate a Swedish level of taxes and African level highways," says Xavier Sala-i-Martín, a Catalan economist who teaches at Columbia University and who says he is "pro choice," supporting the Catalans' effort to determine their future democratically.

Catalonia's frustrations surged to the forefront during a Sept. 11 independence rally that drew more than one million demonstrators. Rosa Maria Sastre, an 81-year-old retiree, was too infirm to join the independentistas, so her granddaughter marched carrying a poster-size photograph of Mrs. Sastre. "We'd been waiting a long time to send a message," Mrs. Sastre says.

On both sides, ardor is rising. The mayor of the Catalan city of Vic recently draped the red-and-yellow striped Catalan banner on the balcony of the historic municipal hall there. A few nights later, vandals climbed up and burned the flag to cinders.—Frances Robinson and David Román contributed to this article.

Write to Matt Moffett at

A version of this article appeared October 29, 2012, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Europe's Crisis Spawns Calls For a Breakup—Of Spain.


Voters say ballot cast for Romney came up Obama on machine

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Much Of Atlantic City Under Water

October 29, 2012 9:59 AM

Reporting Jim Melwert

By Jim Melwert

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (CBS) - Some parts of Atlantic City were already becoming impassable because of flooding, this morning, and the concern is if the Atlantic City Expressway goes under water. It is already closed, but at least now, emergency crews can get in and out.

Police say the high tide will say a lot about how bad today will be.

Atlantic City resident Steve Walsh, 35, says it’s been a while since he’s seen the ocean this angry, and this is only the start.

“I was just up on the boardwalk and seeing the ocean, I haven’t seen it that high in a long time, and it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it like this, and if it’s going to get worse, it’s going to get worse.”

Of course, it is mostly a ghost town here as the casinos closed yesterday, up on the boardwalk it’s all sandbags and plywood, as the waves are up to the dunes.


Powerful storm kills at least 30 in Philippines, Vietnam

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon October 29, 2012

The skyline of downtown Manila is shrouded in cloud and haze, brought on by Tropical storm Son-Tinh on Thursday.

More than a thousand rescue workers have been deployed in Vietnam
Helicopters are on standby to search for an oil rig adrift from its towboats
Tropical Storm Son-Tinh had already killed at least 27 people in the Philippines

Have you been affected by Tropical Storm Son-Tinh? If so, share your images and footage with CNN iReport, but please stay safe.

Hong Kong (CNN) -- As Hurricane Sandy lashes the East Coast of the United States with wind and rain, Southeast Asia is dealing with the trail of death and damage from a powerful storm that has killed at least 30 people in the region over the past few days.

Superstorm Sandy threatens 'catastrophe' of a lifetime

Tropical Storm Son-Tinh was moving northeast along the northern Vietnamese coast on Monday after tearing the roofs off hundreds of houses and breaching flood defenses overnight, the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

Son-Tinh was at typhoon level when it thumped into northern Vietnam late Sunday with winds as strong as 133 kilometers per hour (83 mph). It left three people dead and two injured, according to an initial estimate from the Office of the National Search and Rescue Committee reported by (VNA).

More than a 1,300 rescue workers and soldiers have been deployed to work with local authorities on search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of the storm, VNA said.

Helicopters were on standby for a search and rescue mission for an oil rig with 35 people on board that became disconnected from its towboats miles out at sea amid strong waves generated by the storm, according to VNA.

And five people were missing Sunday after winds from Son-Tinh sank an engineering vessel near a cargo terminal in Sanya, a city on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Son-Tinh is expected to gradually weaken over the course of Monday, regional weather agencies said. At least 260,000 people in Vietnam had been relocated to safer areas as it approached Sunday.

The storm had already killed 27 people when it swept across the central Philippines during the second half of last week, causing flash floods and landslides, according to the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Nine people remain missing, the council said Monday.

East Asia is buffeted for several months a year by heavy storms that roll in from the western Pacific Ocean. In August, a big typhoon, named Bolaven, killed more than 60 people on the Korean peninsula.


Church a growing young congregation committed to living Christian faith

Originally Published: 10/27/2012 Share

Bruce Posten
Reading Eagle

On the second Saturday of every month, they wear jeans and T-shirts to worship not in a church but at the GoggleWorks.

They then proceed to volunteer at social service agencies or go out on Reading's streets and serve food and drinks and talk about Jesus.

They are mostly quite young: 20s, 30s and 40s.

This is the heart of their Saturday, their day of worship at the city's 4-year-old Grace Outlet Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The soul of their mission: "Connect the Disconnect."

"We know that there are so many people in Berks who desire to help Reading, and we want them to know that we have that desire, too," said Amy Newman, 30, of Shillington, a nurse and mother of two children, whose husband, Roland, 34, is a family physician with St. Joseph Medical Center at its Sixth and Walnut streets campus, the former Community General Hospital.

The Newmans are among a growing young congregation of Seventh-day Adventists who have made a commitment to worship in the city and serve those in need in a way they believe allows them to live their Christian faith.

"We live in a time when there is a deconstruction of religion, almost to the point that some people have difficulty even saying the name of Jesus," said Roland Newman. "But the truth of Jesus is boiled down to the practicality of Jesus, who taught: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"We are theologically conservative, but we are not traditional," said Jason Foster, 34, one of two church pastors, the other being Kris Eckenroth, 35, both of Hamburg.

Eckenroth said since the church started in November 2008 with about 20 to 30 weekly worshipers, the attendance numbers have grown to more than 100.

"Our age range is pretty widespread, from infant to 80, but mostly we are attracting a lot of young adults," Eckenroth said.

In fact, Eckenroth estimated that about 65 percent of the membership, before they came to Grace Outlet, no longer had been attending a church or were among the unchurched.

To what does he attribute the attraction of this relatively new congregation, renting space at the GoggleWorks?

"Jesus never becomes more real than when you are serving people and you do something intentional and make the effort to become part of a community," he said.

"The way I would describe it is that all of us, and that includes many denominations and not just ours, are susceptible to being in a rut," Foster said. "We are not moving away from the roots of what we believe, but, unfortunately, we sometimes get used to doing something a certain way and then attach a value to it, which really doesn't have anything to do with our core beliefs. An element of stagnation then sets in."

To avoid that stagnation, Grace Outlet steers clear of fixed formats for worship and mixes musical selections that range from traditional to contemporary.

"We don't necessarily want people to know what's coming next," Eckenroth said. "We will even change the direction of our seating for service. It's not that we're so committed to change for the sake of change, it's just that we want people to remain open and be interactive."

In that vein, church members embrace social action and variety: They conduct a Jeans Sabbath where congregation members dress down and hit the streets and provide food or deliver flowers; serve breakfasts at the Opportunity House shelter; and visit such places as the Olivet Boys and Girls Club, the Children's Home of Reading, the Animal Rescue League and the Villa St. Elizabeth, a city senior housing facility.

"What attracted us to the church is its energy, vibrancy and the willingness expressed to serve," said substitute teacher Lauren Penkala, 25, of Exeter Township, married to her state trooper husband, Stephen.

"We are both public servants and believe it's important to be active in your community," she said.

Heather Wlasniewski, 28, of Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County, a full-time mother, and her husband, Andy, also 28, an insurance adjuster, said they had a history of jumping around to several Seventh-day Adventist churches.

"We first came here one time in September 2009, and then my dad passed away in October," Wlasniewski said. "Upon learning of his death, Grace Outlet sent us a huge bouquet of roses. I just knew here is where we needed to be."

Another elementary school teacher, Meggan Shobe, 27, of Mount Penn, pointed out two features that drew her to Grace Outlet: "My husband and I came here and immediately felt a strong sense of family and belonging.

"We also wanted to come to a place where we felt needed and we could make a difference."

"For me personally, I'm not as interested in religion (as an institution), as I am in Jesus and having a meaningful relationship with him," said Erich Mace, 30, of Wyomissing, a chemical engineer, who attends Grace Outlet with his wife, Erin, 26, a second-grade teacher.

"Good acts are fine, but it is knowing Jesus and having a relationship with him that gives the greater meaning on the way to discovering that a practical Jesus is real in people's lives," he said.

"I grew up in a more traditional Catholic family and then moved to a nondenominational church, but I always had a lot of questions about God that just weren't being answered," Erin said. "Religion was more about rules and fears than it was about having a relationship."

Contact Bruce R. Posten: 610-371-5059 or


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is Ellen White a Prophet?

  1. Did Ellen White call herself a prophet?
  2. Dairy products to become unsafe food  (Happening RIGHT NOW!)
  3. Preachers to claim lack of Sunday keeping reason for disastors
  4. Two wars separated with a gap of peace
  5. Balls of fire to fall upon homes
  6. Scientists will lie about calamities
  7. Sunday laws will be enforced
  8. Church & State combined
  9. The Vatican will claim Sunday Sabbath as their "mark"
  10. The open space in Orion
  11. Rome will undo Protestantism
  12. Slavery in the end days
  13. Pope will apologize and be accepted world wide
  14. Protestant churches will join with Rome
  15. Protestants will help spread Vatican dogma
  16. The USA will do away with the Constitution  (Happening RIGHT NOW!)
  17. Blacks and whites will eventually come together
  18. Old controversies will be revived
  19. Preachers of today will repeat doctrinal lies of the Pharisees from 2000 years ago 
  20. The Church will seek help from the State
  21. Satan will poison the atmosphere
  22. Satan will perform miracles in the sight of men
  23. Unions will form causing problems for the poor as well as the Christian
  24. The churches will join with the State (501c3) 
  25. Sabbath keepers will be blaimed for calamities
  26. Disasters by the sea to increase in frequency
  27. Cancer is a germ
  28. She predicted today's world perfectly 09-16-12

What amazed me on all this was, Ellen White never claimed to be a prophet, yet all her enemies say she is one. They claimed her to be false, yes, but a prophet nonetheless. Still, many did say she claimed to be a prophet, but did she?
"During the discourse, I said that I did not claim to be a prophetess. Some were surprised at this statement, and as much is being said in regard to it, I will make an explanation. Others have called me a prophetess, but I have never assumed that title. I have not felt that it was my duty thus to designate myself. Those who boldly assume that they are prophets in this our day are often a reproach to the cause of Christ. "My work includes much more than this name signifies. I regard myself as a messenger, entrusted by the Lord with messages for His people" (Letter 55, 1905; quoted in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 35, 36).

A true prophet of God would never claim such a title as in so doing glorifes self and not the Lord. If one is a prophet, this is a title only God can bestow. Case in point, John the Baptist never claimed this title either, yet it was obvious he was a prophet. In fact, Jesus Himself said of the man the following...


Hurricane injects uncertainty into presidential campaign

By Michael O'Brien, NBC News

An impending hurricane injected a new degree of uncertainty into the 2012 presidential campaign, impacting candidates' schedules and early voting opportunities just nine days before Election Day.

President Barack Obama called the storm "serious and big" following a briefing at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA), warning residents in the storm's path "to take this very seriously."

The president also canceled campaign trips to Virginia and Colorado scheduled for early this week, the last full week of campaigning this election, in order to monitor Hurricane Sandy. The storm's impending landfall was poised to add a new variable to a presidential contest that has tightened considerably in its closing days, along with scores of downballot races up and down the East Coast.

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President Barack Obama addresses the nation on Hurricane Sandy as the storm prepares to hit the East Coast.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney canceled planned stops in Virginia — one of the most hotly-contested battleground states this fall — on Sunday and headed to Ohio instead.

Obama spent Sunday in Washington, where he traveled to FEMA headquarters following church services early this afternoon. The administration authorized several emergency declarations for states sitting in Sandy's path, and Obama convened a conference call with administration officials and governors in the storm's path to receive an update on preparations.

The storm put some of Obama's campaigning on hold, as he canceled a northern Virginia event for that afternoon, along with an event in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. Obama was still set, though, to travel to Youngtown, Ohio on Monday morning. The president appears — for now — intent upon returning to the campaign trail on Tuesday evening in Green Bay, Wis. His campaign also advised on Sunday afternoon that two stops on Wednesday in Ohio would go forward.

The storm might have rearranged Romney's own campaign itinerary, though it's unclear whether the GOP presidential hopeful will be able to return to Virginia soon. Romney didn't address the storm in his remarks in Celine, Ohio, but his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, urged voters in the Buckeye State to keep East Coasters in their thoughts and prayers.

Nonetheless, the hurricane could prove to be the proverbial "October Surprise" of this campaign as it upended other elements of the election well before it had even made landfall.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) canceled early voting in his state for Monday, a decision other east coast governors could mirror. That could have an especially pronounced impact on a state like Virginia, a battleground state in the presidential election and home to a competitive Senate race.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, said on Sunday's TODAY show that he didn't worry about power outages or other complications from the storm diminishing voting in the state.

"It's going to be, probably, seven days from the time the storm passes 'til Election Day," he said. "We've already taken precautions to move up polling places to a higher spot for restoration. The power companies are well aware of that. So I don't think it's going to interfere with voting."

But Democrats are counting on robust turnout — both through early voting and on Nov. 6 — to propel Obama to a second term. While Sandy's projected path is uncertain, its rain and wind could discourage voters in the key swing state of Ohio from voting early, a practice employed by both campaigns to bank votes ahead of Election Day.

"Obviously we want unfettered access to the polls, because we believe that the more people come out, the better we’re going to do,” David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama's re-election campaign, said Sunday on CNN. “And so, to the extent that it makes it harder, that’s a source of concern.”

The president himself downplayed worries about the storm's impact on voting.

"We don't anticipate that at this point but we're obviously going to have to take a look," he said in Washington following his FEMA briefing.


Obama to compromise on cybersecurity executive order

President attempts to pacify hardliners and privacy advocates, report says

By Taylor Armerding

October 24, 2012— CSO— President Obama is reported to be willing to compromise on cybersecurity.

There have been continuing reports since early September that the president is preparing an executive order to implement some of the provisions of the 2012 Cyber Security Act (CSA), after it failed to come to a vote in the Senate in early August.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, in testimony before a Senate committee on Sept. 19, said while the order was still being vetted by various departments, that it would be issued as soon as a "few issues" were resolved.

Now, more than a month later, there are reports that a final draft is circulating that includes a major compromise to settle differences between those who want government to have free access to networks under attack, and those concerned about violations of privacy.

The Huffington Post's Richard Lardner reported that Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft order and released it last Saturday.

It includes a concession sought by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to include provisions proposed in the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and private sector companies, but only those involving critical infrastructure such as transportation and the electrical grid. Other private firms, including social media, would not be under the same mandate.

Another provision sought by privacy advocates would put the DHS, not the National Security Agency, in charge of the information-sharing network to distribute and "sanitized summaries of top-secret intelligence reports about known cyberthreats that identify a specific target," Lardner wrote.

"With these warnings, known as tear lines, the owners and operators of essential U.S. businesses would be better able to block potential attackers from gaining access to their computer systems," he wrote.

[Bill Brenner in Salted Hash: Third presidential debate - Both candidates flunk cybersecurity]

The reaction to the impending order has been mixed. Most Republicans oppose it, saying the president should not be bypassing Congress. Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a co-sponsor of the CSA, said she did not think an executive order was appropriate.

However, Democratic Sens. Christopher Coons, of Delaware, and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, sent a letter late last week to the White House calling on the president to issue an executive order "directing the promulgation of voluntary standards [by DHS.]"

It doesn't appear to be at the top of the agenda of either Obama or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, however. At Monday night's debate on foreign policy, the president said the word "cybersecurity" only once, in passing, and Romney mentioned "hacking" just once.

That was fine with Jason Healey, of the Atlantic Council, and a former White House security official. "First, cyber is not as pressing an international issue as most of the crises pressing on the president's time. No one has yet died from a cyberattack," he said. "Second, Romney did speak directly about pressuring China on intellectual property theft, which is the main cyber problem today."

The reaction from Healey and other security experts to the order itself is also mixed. Some argue that cybersecurity risks, while real, are not at the level of other threats to the nation. Bruce Schneier, on his blog Schneier on Security, criticized Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's recent speech warning of a "Cyber Pearl Harbor."

"It's difficult to have any serious policy discussion amongst the fear mongering," he wrote, adding that while there are real risks, addressing them does not require "heavy-handed regulation."

Good Harbor Consulting's Jacob Olcott agrees. "Targeted information sharing with a small number of companies has proven to be a useful exercise," he said. "But these efforts are very difficult to scale. It's a worthy initiative, but it's also hard to imagine that this will be a success in the short term."

"Heavy-handed regulation is absolutely unnecessary," he said. "In fact, the government would significantly improve private sector cybersecurity simply by enforcing existing securities laws that require companies to disclose material cyber risks and events to their shareholders."

Healey doesn't oppose an executive order. "This is all about such small items on the margins that getting too worried either way isn't really worth the trouble," he said.

"To fix cyber issues we need to make it so that it is easier to defend than to attack, globally," Healey said. "Sending a few tear line reports isn't going to solve that, but it's a start. Then again, if all we needed to make this happen was the say-so of the President, I wish we'd have done it 10 years ago."

But he is not entirely opposed to fear mongering. "If you're trying to convince people that they are insufficiently worried. I think Panetta can be right," Healey said. "But I still think that heavy-handed regulation isn't the right solution."

Read more about malware/cybercrime in CSOonline's Malware/Cybercrime section.