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FCC: Sandy downed 25 percent of cell towers

Hurricane Sandy has pulled down around 25 percent of the U.S.’ wireless companies’ cell sites in the 10 states affected by the storm, federal regulators said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told reporters that most of the cell towers still operational are being powered by generators but could run out fuel before domestic electricity service is restored to the affected areas, reports the Associated Press news agency.

In spite of the downed trees and the massive power outages, the landline phone network has held up better in the affected 10 states hit by Sandy than the cell networks have. That said, more than a quarter of landline customers are affected by outages in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York City and state.

However, the FCC did not give an estimate to how many users were affected by the cell outages.
911 call centers have held up well, according to the regulator, but some are affected by the power outages and are re-routing calls to other centers outside of callers’ nearby locations.

“The storm is not over. And our assumption is that communications outages could get worse before they get better, particularly for mobile networks because of the flooding and loss of power,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a conference call late yesterday.

Out of the major U.S. cellular networks, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile all said they would continue to “assess the damage” left by Sandy, but did not have a time frame of when services might be up and running again. – ZD Net

Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record High

Unemployment in the eurozone has risen to a new high, with Spain recording the highest jobless rate with more than one in four out of work.

There are now 18.49 million people without jobs in the 17 countries sharing the euro, European statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday, with an extra 146,000 joining the ranks of the unemployed last month. The jobless rate increased to 11.6% in September, the highest on record, from a revised 11.5% in August.

“With surveys suggesting that firms are becoming more reluctant to hire, the eurozone unemployment rate looks set to rise further, placing more pressure on struggling households,” said Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics.

The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.4%), Luxembourg (5.2%), Germany and the Netherlands (both 5.4%), which are near full employment. Spain (25.8%) and Greece (25.1% in July) had the highest unemployment in the eurozone, while France looks much like Italy (both at 10.8%), with a steady rise in joblessness. August data for Greece will be published next week, although the true picture is probably worse, as a growing number of Greek workers remain nominally employed but have not been paid for some time.

Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight, said the jobless data was “dismal”, adding: “Eurozone labour markets remain under serious pressure from ongoing weakened economic activity and low business confidence.”

Youth unemployment also hit a new high in Spain with 54.2% of under-25-year-olds out of work, up from 53.8%.

Across the whole European Union, 25.751 million men and women were without jobs last month – an increase of 169,000 from August – while the unemployment rate stayed at 10.6%. – Guardian

Looters ‘swipe’ up the mess in chaos zones

Hurricane Sandy brought out the worst yesterday in some sleazy New Yorkers, who looted stores and homes across the city.

Some posed as Con Ed workers to dupe their victims.

Police arrested more than a dozen looters in the Rockaways and Coney Island, which had been evacuated, and stood guard outside ravaged stores at the South Street Seaport.

“This morning when they told us the water receded, I walked back to the house to feed [my pets],” said Eric Martine, 33, a cabby who lives in Brooklyn’s Gerritsen Beach. “Guys were looting, pretending they were Con Ed and holding people up. It was sick.”

Residents said police warned them to beware of crooks pretending to be utility workers.
Cops fanned out yesterday to deal with looters around the city.

“We will not tolerate these scumbags looting. We will arrest them on sight,” said a police source.

The storm knocked out the plate-glass windows of several Seaport stores, and piggish punks took full advantage of the unguarded merchandise.

“I saw two people walking by the Ann Taylor store and reach in and take some shirts that were just laying right there by the mannequin,” said one man. “It’s really messed up, man. They’re really taking advantage.” – NY Post

Superstorm Sandy Claims Atleast 50 Lives

The scale of the devastation left by Superstorm Sandy is mounting today as the death toll continues to rise – currently 50 people across the US and Canada have been reported dead, but the final figure is expected to be significantly higher.

President Obama declared a ‘major disaster’ in New York and Long Island as flooded streets were littered with cars, homes were razed to the ground and tankers washed up on shore.

The President warned that Sandy ‘is not yet over’ and announced that he would visit New Jersey on Wednesday to visit the scenes of the destruction.

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in New York and the transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway are all out of action after a 13ft wall of water caused by the storm surge and high tides brought severe flooding to subways and road tunnels.

Sandy, one of the biggest storms to ever descend on the country, hit the mainland at 6.30pm local time yesterday having laid waste to large parts of the coast during the day.

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80mph sustained winds, cut power to more than 7.4 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the death toll in the America’s most populous city is up to ten – two children, aged 11 and 13, were killed instantly in the city by a falling tree. Many of the total number of victims were said to have been killed by falling trees.

Nearly 200 firefighters spent the night battling to get a blaze under control in the Queens, but over 80 homes were flattened in the fire. – Photos @ DailyMail

Rep. Wolf: State Dept. ‘Unable or Unwilling’ to Address Concerns of Vulnerable Christians in Middle East

Contending that the “Arab spring” has made non-Muslim religious minorities in the Middle East more vulnerable than ever, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is voicing frustration over the State Department holding up a Senate bill to appoint a special envoy focusing on the issue.

“I am concerned that time is running out – both in terms of the legislative calendar for this year and in terms of the plight of these communities,” he wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last week.

“[D]espite the strategic imperative and the moral obligation to act, the State Department seems unable or unwilling to address the issue with the urgency it demands,” he wrote.

Wolf, who introduced a House bill creating the envoy post – it passed last year with strong bipartisan support – attributes the block to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and says Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) also has disregarded his requests for a hearing on the matter.

Webb’s spokesman declined to comment, but last July he told CNSNews.com the State Department had advised the senator that the appointment of a special envoy would be “unnecessary, duplicative, and likely counterproductive.”

In his letter to Clinton, Wolf wrote that Webb also had indicated he was uncomfortable about the legislation moving ahead without being subject to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Wolf had written to Kerry on July 23 requesting such a hearing, to no avail. – CNS News

Sen. Graham: Obama move on defense layoff notices ‘patently illegal’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says that he will do anything he can to block the Obama administration from reimbursing defense contractors for severance costs if the firms don’t send layoff notices to employees.

The Obama administration issued guidance Friday that said defense firms’ costs would be covered if they have to layoff workers due to canceled contracts under the across-the-board cuts set to take effect Jan. 2.
  The layoff notices have become a politically charged issue because they could have come just four days ahead of the election because of a 60-day notice required by federal law for mass layoffs.

Graham and other Republicans were livid after the Obama administration issued the guidance on Friday telling contractors that their legal costs would be covered due to canceled contracts under sequestration, but only if they did not issue layoff notices before sequestration occurs — and before the November election.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure not one taxpayer dollar is spent reimbursing companies for failure to comply with WARN Act,” Graham told The Hill in a phone interview Monday. “That is so beyond the pale — I think it’s patently illegal.” – The Hill

New York Paralyzed As Subways Shut Down Indefinitely: Subway Chief: “Worst Disaster Ever”

New York – As everyone who has been to New York City knows, without its underground arteries – the subway system – the city is if not dead, than certainly in an indefinite coma. By that logic, New York will not get out of the critical ward for many days, because hours ago the head of the New York City’s transit system just called Hurricane Sandy “the most devastating event to the city’s subway system ever.” At last check seven subway tunnels under the East River had flooded, as did the Queens Midtown Tunnel—and Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Joseph Lhota said there is “no firm timeline” for when the system would be back up and running. According to other MTA employees it would take between 14 hours and 4 days just to pump the water out of the subway system. We’ll take the over. And as long as there are no subways, there are no clerical and support workers, there is no Wall Street, there is no beating heart to the city. – Zerohedge

Obama Might Be Conducting ‘Massive Cover-Up’ With Libya Attack

Sen. John McCain claims the Obama administration might be conducting a “massive cover-up” with the deadly terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

On CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee said President Obama has been incompetent with the way he has been handling the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack.

“I don’t know if it’s either a cover-up or the worst kind of incompetence, which doesn’t qualify the president as commander in chief,” McCain said.

The Republican senator was primarily talking about statements the administration made early after the attack where U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said the Consulate attack was a “spontaneous” event caused by the anti-Mohammed film that caused massive protests across the Middle East.

Witnesses to the attack told The Associated Press that some 150 gunmen took part in the assault on the Benghazi compound.

“We now know there was no demonstration. There was no mob,” McCain told CBS News. “So for literally days and days, they told the American people something that had no basis in fact whatsoever.” – CBS

Superstorm: Hurricane Sandy 1000 miles wide, 17 dead, 7.4 million without power

NEW YORK – As Superstorm Sandy marched slowly inland, millions along the East Coast awoke Tuesday without power or mass transit, with huge swaths of the nation’s largest city unusually vacant and dark.
New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart in Lower Manhattan shuttered for a second day and seawater cascading into the still-gaping construction pit at the World Trade Center. President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in the city and Long Island.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph sustained winds killed at least 17 people in seven states, cut power to more than 7.4 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear power plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.
A levee broke in northern New Jersey and flooded the town of Moonachie, forcing authorities to evacuate as many as 1,000 people early Tuesday, Bergen County official Jeanne Baratta told The Record newspaper. Some people in a trailer park had to climb the roofs of their trailers to await rescue, she said.
The massive storm reached well into the Midwest: Chicago officials warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepares for winds of up to 60 mph and waves exceeding 24 feet well into Wednesday. – AP

Hurricane Sandy: “It is accelerating and making the turn toward the coast”

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The latest models have Sandy making landfall along the coast of South Jersey on Monday evening between 8 and 10 p.m.

“This storm is HISTORIC,” said CBS 3 meteorologist Katie Fehlinger on her Twitter page.
CBS 3 meteorologists say this is the “worst case scenario” as it will make landfall very close to high tide and say the storm pressure is currently stronger than the Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938. Pressure as of 11 a.m. was down to 943mb and the storm was located 205 miles southeast of Atlantic City. Maximum winds were at 90 mph and it is moving north – northwest.
“It is accelerating and making the turn toward the coast,” said CBS 3 meteorologist Kathy Orr.
The National Hurricane Center issued a powerful warning stating, “Sandy expected to bring life-threatening story surge and coastal hurricane winds plus heavy Appalachian snows.”
“This is the worst-case scenario,” said Louis Uccellini, NOAA. – CBS

Meteorologist: Storm Could Be Bigger Than Worst East Coast Storm On Record

SHIP BOTTOM, N.J. (AP) — Forget distinctions like tropical storm or hurricane. Don’t get fixated on a particular track. Wherever it hits, the rare behemoth storm inexorably gathering in the eastern U.S. will afflict a third of the country with sheets of rain, high winds and heavy snow, say officials who warned millions in coastal areas to get out of the way.
“We’re looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people,” said Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
As Hurricane Sandy barreled north from the Caribbean — where it left nearly five dozen dead — to meet two other powerful winter storms, experts said it didn’t matter how strong the storm was when it hit land: The rare hybrid storm that follows will cause havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. CBS

Hamas aims Grad at Dimona reactor – payback for Khartoum raid

Less than 24 hours after Sudanese President Omar Bashir pledged “decisive steps against Israeli interests which are now legitimate targets,” for the destruction of the Iranian missile plant in Khartoum, Palestinian rocket teams early Sunday, Oct. 28, fired Grad missiles as target finders against Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona. This is reported exclusively by debkafile. They exploded on open ground in the Ramat Negev district southwest of the town of Dimona.
The nuclear plant is only 42.5 kilometers as the crow flies from the southern Gaza Strip. Saturday night, the Israeli Air Force struck a Palestinian rocket team in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younes, killing one Hamas operative and injuring a second critically. Debka

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