President Barack Obama’s proposal for $60.4 billion in federal aid for states hit by Superstorm Sandy adds a huge new item to an end-of-year congressional agenda already packed with controversy.
The president’s request to Congress on Friday followed weeks of discussions with lawmakers and officials from New York, New Jersey and other affected states who requested significantly more money, but generally praised the president’s request as they urged Congress to adopt it without delay…
Pushing the request through Congress in the few weeks left before lawmakers adjourn at the end of the year will be no easy task. Washington’s attention is focused on the looming fiscal cliff of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs set to begin at the end of the year. And tea party House Republicans are likely to press for budget cuts elsewhere to offset some or even all disaster costs…
It’s only been a century or so since our government concluded nationwide taxation is required for a whole nation to function safely and appropriately in time of disaster or war. How far back into the bowels of self-deceit will the Kool Aid Party crawl?
The massive request blends aid for homeowners, businesses, and state and local governments walloped by Sandy, a disaster whose cost is rivaled only by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005.
The aid will help states rebuild public infrastructure like roads and tunnels and help thousands of people displaced from their homes. Most of the money — $47.4 billion — is for immediate help for victims and other recovery and rebuilding efforts. Another $13 billion would be used for mitigation efforts to protect against future storms…
Obama’s request was met with praise from two governors who had traveled to Washington last week to press for as much help as possible: New York’s Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey’s Chris Christie. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut together are seeking about $83 billion in aid.
As is traditional in natural disasters, the request was not accompanied by offsetting spending cuts to defray its cost…
Tradition means little or nothing to demagogues stuck into the presumption that disaster, death and despair is good for the soul. Still, in the history of modern nations, educated, with developed infrastructures, the economic and social benefit of coming to the aid of those whose lives and livelihood has been destroyed by natural disaster is considered to be in the national interest.
One can only hope that piss-ant beancounters who resist government being anything other than a manager of wars and a dispenser of subsidies to corporate managers – represent districts where citizens remember such behavior. Especially at election time.
I remember my dearest friend – gone, now, a number of years – who was the most decorated soldier from our home state in World War 2.
Returning home, he had sixteen months or so in hospital to reflect on war. And when both political parties asked him to run for office after he got back on his feet – he told them he only required one plank in his platform. Corporations would be limited to no profits from their support of any war.
They withdrew the request.
Superintendent: “…find an alternative to a weapon.”
Christan Morales said her son just wanted to honor American troops when he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and small plastic Army figures.
But the school banned the hat because it ran afoul of the district’s zero-tolerance weapons policy. Why? The toy soldiers were carrying tiny guns…
Morales’ 8-year-old son, David, had been assigned to make a hat for the day when his second-grade class would meet their pen pals from another school. She and her son came up with an idea to add patriotic decorations to a camouflage hat.
“Nothing was being done to limit patriotism, creativity, other than find an alternative to a weapon,” [Superintendent Kenneth R. Di Pietro] said.
[Retired commander of the Rhode Island National Guard] Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio said he disagreed with the decision to ban the hat…
“The American soldier is armed. That’s why they’re called the armed forces,” he said. “If you’re going to portray it any other way, you miss the point.”
I remember as a kid buying little green army men by the bagfull. I guess that would be considered stashing weapons nowadays.
Let’s face it. Americans don’t get fed up with anything any more.
Efforts are afoot to bolster the U.S. Peace Corps, which has shrunk to just about half its 1966 peak of 15,000 volunteers, officials say.
The Boston Globe reports that the organization has fallen victim to budget cuts, which have forced it to slice another 400 volunteers amid the dropping value of the dollar and increased security costs.
“There really needs to be a top-down examination of the Peace Corps. I’m not for fundamentally altering the concept behind it, but you need to give it its own 21st century mandate,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who is considered among the organization’s chief congressional supporters…
For his part, U.S. President Barack Obama has called for doubling the size of the Peace Corps. He is expected to sign the Edward M. Kennedy National Service Act, which includes a Peace Corps expansion.
“We spend more on the military marching bands,” said Mark Gearan, who was director of the Peace Corps under former U.S. President Bill Clinton. “This is 1 percent of 1 percent (of the federal budget). There’s no question that there’s a wellspring of interest around the country. We just have to broaden the awareness of it and then fund it.”
We might just be in the beginning of a time characterized by the ideals that built the Peace Corps in the first place. It’s a different world for the volunteers to enter. It’s a different administration, too.
Here’s the more detailed story referred to – in the Boston Sunday GLOBE.
Thousands of people have rallied in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, in support of their President, Omar al-Bashir. The protests followed reports that Mr Bashir is about to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in Darfur…
Meanwhile, Sudanese government spokesman Mahjoub Fadul Badry said the indictment of Mr Bashir would violate Sudan’s sovereignty.
“If an international organisation or the organisations working in the humanitarian field are behind such an indictment of the head of state, our symbol of national sovereignty, then no-one should expect us to turn our left cheek,” Mr Badry told al-Arabiya television.
The UN estimates that some 300,000 people have died because of the conflict but Sudan’s government says the scale of the violence has been exaggerated.
Can you imagine living in a nation so politically backward that overwhelming world opinion considers their president a criminal who should be brought to justice – and the citizens react by turning out in hordes to support him in the name of patriotism.