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Top Ten Hurricane Tips…Batten down the hatches! August 29, 2011

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1. First, get important papers and special photos in order and secured in plastic. Identification is difficult and time-consuming to replace: so be sure to include social security cards, birth certificates, high school diplomas or GED certificates, titles or deeds to property, as well as your hurricane insurance policy. Photos of special occasions or loved ones cannot be replaced, so including these is important as well.

2. Think ahead and take video or photos of your property before you leave. This will help later on with any insurance checklist claims for damage that may need to be filed.

3. If staying with relatives is not an option, consider booking a room in a hotel or motel in another nearby town or state. Make sure to get directions and put them in the car ahead of time. It is easy to forget that piece of paper in the rush out the door. A cheaper route might be to find temporary hurricane shelters. Usually nearby towns not in the direct path of the hurricane will provide these for people in need.

4. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that your pet will have a place in a motel or hotel. Keep this in mind, and try to find alternate housing like pet-friendly hotels and motels or dog boarding kennels in areas out of the path of the storm until it is safe to return home.

5. Designate a spot, in the hall closet, to keep a bag of clothes for each person in the household. Make sure to include sleeping gear if you plan on going to a temporary shelter.

6. Along with overnight clothes, consider stocking your Hurricane Kit with the following: extra cash, generator, batteries, flash lights, battery operated radio/television, bottled water, toilet paper, non-perishable foods such as cereal or crackers, canned goods, a can opener, a small cooler, candles, prescription medicines and any over-the-counter remedies you use regularly; and if you have small children – diapers, baby wipes, formula, baby food.
 

7. Count on the power being out for at least a day or two. Remember that ATM’s will be non-operating, so have at least some hard cash in your Hurricane Kit (see no. 6, above) to see you through the storm.

When TV and computer games no longer operate, board games or a deck of cards come in handy! Arts and crafts, crayons and downloadable coloring pages are always great distractions for the kids – so make sure you’ve stored some of these supplies in a tote bag or in the car trunk.

8. If you decide to tough out the storm, stay downwind in your home. This means if the wind is hitting the living room windows, go to the room opposite the living room.

9. Plywood is a ‘hot’ commodity for those of who decide to stay. Boarding up windows that will take the brunt of the wind and rain is a wise decision. If board is not available, protect your windows from the wind by criss-crossing them with layers of duct or packing tape. This will be enough protection for light-to-medium winds, but learning how to build and install plywood hurricane shutters is your safest bet. If you can afford it, have them installed by a professional.

10. Finally, STAY INSIDE. However tempting it may be to videotape or take photos of the storm, be sure to shoot from indoors – where it’s safe, and dry!

Hurricanes are serious business. Weather forecasters can only predict so much. Educate yourself and stay on top of hurricane updates in your area.

There is no harm in being overly cautious. In most cases where a hurricane is concerned, it truly is better to be safe than sorry.

Irene Throws Obama Another Curveball Amid Push to Refocus on Economy August 28, 2011

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President Obama’s been blaming “bad luck” lately for the state of the economy. Then along comes Hurricane Irene. 

The storm that already has lashed the Bahamas was making its way toward the North Carolina coast Friday. Thousands of people were under evacuation orders as governors all along the East Coast declared a state of emergency. 

The potential effect from natural disasters like this is a mixed bag. They can cause billions in property damage, sap up government resources, trigger a rise in gas prices and cut down on productivity in the near-term. Irene’s bill may be inflated by its presumed landfall along the East Coast, where property values are high. 

At the same time, the effects of hurricanes tend to be localized and not big enough to choke the national economy. Any drop-off from the immediate damage can also be offset later by the burst of spending on construction and relief efforts. Plus Irene has been downgraded to a Category 2 and is tracking a bit east of New York City — a good sign. 

Nevertheless, the storm and its aftermath pose another mess for Obama and Congress to deal with at a time when the administration is looking to roll out a new jobs plan for the nation. Money and time spent on storm recovery is money and time the federal government doesn’t have for new economic proposals. 

Obama, delivering a brief statement on the hurricane from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing, made clear Friday that Washington would bring “all federal resources to bear.” 

He also urged residents to take all possible precautions and evacuate if instructed, taking care not to downplay the potential impact. 

“We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst,” Obama said. “All indications point to this being a historic hurricane.” 

The administration has lamented the toll natural disasters and other events have had on the economy. Ahead of the hurricane’s landfall, outgoing Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee cautioned on Fox News that the economy remains vulnerable. 

“At the beginning of this year, we get earthquakes, tsunamis, revolutions in the Middle East, European financial crises — now they even got earthquakes outside of Washington, D.C.,” he said. “I mean we’ve had a series of things that have … slowed the economy back down again.” 

Pat Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, said the storm will likely inflict significant damage on the North Carolina coast and Jersey shore. But he said the current track should not result in economic calamity. 

“If this were Bangladesh you would notice it, but in economic numbers this thing is going to be worth a couple of tenths of something,” he said. 

Michaels said that even though the hurricane will cost homeowners, the subsequent repairs are a sort of “shovel-ready” project that can help the economy. 

The impact depends in large part on where the storm goes and whether it intensifies. 

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that while the storm was downgraded, those in its path “won’t be able to tell much difference.” 

Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center, warned that heavy rains will not only increase the risk of flash flooding, but make trees more susceptible to high winds, bringing them down “more readily” than if the ground were dry. 

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate warned that power outages could last a week or longer in some spots. 

Max Mayfield, former director of The Hurricane Center, also told The Associated Press that a major hurricane going up the Northeast coast is “one of my greatest nightmares,” predicting billions of dollars in damage and an impact on the U.S. economy. 

According to analysis conducted by the company CoreLogic, nearly 1.9 million properties are at “potential risk” of storm-surge flooding in the major metro areas in the storm’s path. 

The costliest storm in recent history was Katrina, which did $125 billion in damage in 2011 dollars. Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused $31 billion in damage, while Andrew in 1992 caused $43 billion. 

One Labor Department study found that in the aftermath of Katrina, New Orleans recorded nearly $3 billion in lost wages in the 10 months following the storm — though Katrina was unique in that the associated flooding caused far more damage than the storm. 

A Congressional Research Service report from 2005 that examined the economic impact of that and other storms noted that the assumption is hurricanes have a “limited and temporary” effect on growth.

Hope ‘n’ Change: Another Court Defeat for ObamaCare August 27, 2011

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently ruled as unconstitutional ObamaCare’s mandate for all Americans to carry health insurance. This is the biggest defeat for the law so far, and it affirms a January ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson of Florida in a case brought by 26 state attorneys general. The Obama administration’s appeal of Vinson’s ruling maintained that the government can compel everyone to purchase health insurance because of its power to regulate interstate commerce. This view was soundly rejected by 11th Circuit Court Judges Joel Dubina and Frank Hall, appointed by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, respectively. Dubina and Hall wrote in their 207-page opinion that such reasoning suggests the government has the power to regulate every part of a person’s life because all persons influence interstate commerce by virtue of their existence.

The decision conflicts with the Sixth Circuit’s complete affirmation of ObamaCare in June, further assuring that the Supreme Court will make the final call. It won’t be a matter of just ruling ObamaCare constitutional or striking it down in total. The 11th Circuit decision introduced the concept of “severability.” While they agreed with Vinson on the mandate, Dubina and Hall decided that the mandate could be removed from the law while leaving the rest of its provisions intact. Vinson ruled the entire ObamaCare law as unconstitutional, believing that the mandate is too integral to the law to be removed and still leave the remaining provisions functional. Insurance companies would be compelled to accept all potential new customers, but people would have no incentive to buy insurance until they’re sick. The market would be turned upside down, and costs would necessarily skyrocket.

Despite this latest legal setback, ObamaCare continues to chug along with the Department of Health and Human Services granting another 106 waivers in July. Many of the 1,472 waivers will now last until 2014, whereas they were originally set to expire a year from their issuance. The latest batch will last three years. There is still no explanation forthcoming of the process of accepting or rejecting applicants, although the disproportionate number of unions and public sector groups already in the pool does suggest one important criterion.

Source – The Patriot Post

Social Degeneration: Part III August 26, 2011

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By Thomas Sowell

The orgies of violent attacks against strangers on the streets — in both England and the United States — are not necessarily just passing episodes. They should be wake-up calls, warning of the continuing degeneration of Western society.As British doctor and author Theodore Dalrymple said, long before these riots broke out, “the good are afraid of the bad and the bad are afraid of nothing.”

Not only the trends over the years leading up to these riots but also the squeamish responses to them by officials — on both sides of the Atlantic — reveal the moral dry rot that has spread deep into Western societies.

Even when black youth gangs target white strangers on the streets and spew out racial hatred as they batter them and rob them, mayors, police chiefs and the media tiptoe around their racism and many in the media either don’t cover these stories or leave out the race and racism involved.

In England, the government did not call out the troops to squash their riots at the outset. The net result was that young hoodlums got to rampage and loot for hours, while the police struggled to try to contain the violence. Hoodlums returned home with loot from stores with impunity, as well as bringing home with them a contempt for the law and for the rights of other people.

With all the damage that was done by these rioters, both to cities and to the whole fabric of British society, it is very unlikely that most of the people who were arrested will be sentenced to jail. Only 7 percent of people convicted of crime in England are actually put behind bars.

“Alternatives to incarceration” are in vogue among the politically correct elites in England, just as in the United States. But in Britain those elites have had much more clout for a much longer time. And they have done much more damage.

Nevertheless, our own politically correct elites are pointing us in the same direction. A headline in the New York Times shows the same politically correct mindset in the United States: “London Riots Put Spotlight on Troubled, Unemployed Youths in Britain.” There is not a speck of evidence that the rioters and looters are troubled — unless you engage in circular reasoning and say that they must have been troubled to do the things they did.

In reality, like other rioters on both sides of the Atlantic they are often exultant in their violence and happy to be returning home with stolen designer clothes and upscale electronic devices.

In both England and in the United States, whole generations have been fed a steady diet of grievances and resentment against society, and especially against others who are more prosperous than they are. They get this in their schools, on television, on campuses and in the movies. Nothing is their own fault. It is all “society’s” fault.

One of the young Britons interviewed in the New York Times reported that he had learned to read only three years ago. He is not unique. In Theodore Dalrymple’s book, “Life at the Bottom,” he referred to many British youths who are unashamedly illiterate. The lyrics of a popular song in Britain said, “We don’t need no education” and another song was titled “Poor, White and Stupid.”

Dr. Dalrymple says, “I cannot recall meeting a sixteen-year-old white from the public housing estates that are near my hospital who could multiple nine by seven.”

In the United States, the color may be different but the attitudes among the hoodlum element are very similar. In both countries, classmates who try to learn can find themselves targeted by bullies.

Here those who want to study in ghetto schools are often accused of “acting white.” But whites in Britain show the same pattern. Some conscientious students are beaten up badly enough to end up at Dr. Dalrymple’s hospital.

Our elites often advise us to learn from other countries. They usually mean that we should imitate other countries. But it may be far more important to learn from their mistakes — the biggest of which may be listening to fashionable nonsense from the smug intelligentsia.

These countries show us where that smug nonsense leads. It may be a sneak preview of our own future.

“Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

Social Degeneration: Part II August 24, 2011

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By Thomas Sowell

Although much of the media have their antennae out to pick up anything that might be construed as racism against blacks, they resolutely ignore even the most blatant racism by blacks against others.That includes a pattern of violent attacks on whites in public places in Chicago, Denver, New York, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Kansas City, as well as blacks in schools beating up Asian classmates — for years — in New York and Philadelphia.

These attacks have been accompanied by explicitly racist statements by the attackers, so it is not a question of having to figure out what the motivation is. There has also been rioting and looting by these young hoodlums.

Yet blacks have no monopoly on these ugly and malicious episodes. Remarkably similar things are being done by lower-class whites in England. Anybody reading “Life at the Bottom” by Theodore Dalrymple will recognize the same barbaric and self-destructive patterns among people with the same attitudes, even though their skin color is different.

Anyone reading today’s headline stories about young hoodlums turning the streets of London into scenes of shattered and burning chaos, complete with violence, will discover the down side of the brotherhood of man.

While the history and the races are different, what is the same in both countries are the social policies and social attitudes long promoted by the intelligentsia and welfare state politicians.

A recent study in England found 352,000 households in which nobody had ever worked. Moreover, two-thirds of the adults in those households said that they didn’t want to work. As in America, such people feel both “entitled” and aggrieved.

In both countries, those who have achieved less have been taught by the educational system, by the media and by politicians on the left that they have a grievance against those who have achieved more. As in the United States, they feel a fierce sense of resentment against strangers who have done nothing to them, and lash out violently against those strangers.

During the riots, looting and violence in England, a young woman was quoted as saying that this showed “the rich” and the police that “we can do whatever we want.” Among the things done during these riots was forcing apparently prosperous looking people to strip naked in the streets.

The need to bring people down in humiliation that marked the mass violence against the Armenians in Turkey nearly a century ago, and that later marked the Nazi persecutions of the Jews in Germany, is still alive and well in people who resent those who have achieved more than they have.

A milder but revealing episode in England some time back involved burglars who were not content to simply steal things but also vented their hostility by scrawling on the wall: “RICH BASTARDS.”

In the United States, young black thugs attacked whites with baseball bats and took their belongings in Denver, while voicing their hatred of whites. But it is all a very similar attitude to what has been found in other countries and other times.

Today’s politically correct intelligentsia will tell you that the reason for this alienation and lashing out is that there are great disparities and inequities that need to be addressed.

But such barbarism was not nearly as widespread two generations ago, in the middle of the 20th century. Were there no disparities or inequities then? Actually there were more.

What is different today is that there has been — for decades — a steady drumbeat of media and political hype about differences in income, education and other outcomes, blaming these differences on oppression against those with fewer achievements or lesser prosperity.

Moreover, there has been a growing tolerance of lawlessness and a growing intolerance toward the idea that people who are lagging need to take steps to raise themselves up, instead of trying to pull others down.

All this exalts those who talk such lofty talk. But others pay the price — and ultimately that includes even those who take the road toward barbarism.