Press conference

The mayor is now talking about the storm, telling people how to prepare and calling for voluntary evacuation of flood prone areas. The problem is, my area has never flooded before — but neither has there been a major storm surge up the river. What to do, what to do…

UPDATE: Jesus. As soon as the head of emergency management starts speaking, they stopped covering it.

Bob Casey under the gun

This means we’d not only have shithead Republican Tom Corbett in the governor’s mansion, we’d have two wingnut Senators? Man, I hope they don’t pull this off:

In yet another reminder that Republicans are smelling blood in the water in the race between U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Republican Tom Smith, a GOP-friendly super PAC will start airing a TV ad hitting Casey for his support for the Wall Street bailout in 2008.

The new group, Fight for the Dream, is run by Lehigh County Republican Chairman Wayne Woodman. And it received a $240,000 infusion of cash from the company that bought Smith’s coal mining company., our Washington colleague Colby Itkowitz reports this morning.

Woodman’s PAC initially supported Smith’s GOP primary challenger, Steve Welch, and even aired some anti-Smith ads during the spring canvass. But with new polls showing Smith within striking distance of CaseyWoodman’sgroup  (courtesy of the donation from Rosebud Mining Co.) has circled the wagons and will start airing the ads in “select markets”

The ad, Itkowitz reports, features a line not often heard in attack advertisements on Democrats: “We need someone who will fight for Pennsylvania families, not Wall Street millionaires,” a narrator says in the spot. It’s made all the more ironic given the fact that Smith is a gazillionaire.

God, they’re predictable

These very moral people:

Documents unsealed by a court in Massachusetts today show that Mitt Romney created a special share of stock to help a friend give his ex-wife less money during a nasty divorce, and then testified that she got a fair price, even though she made a fraction of what the shares were worth just a year later.

Romney testified that Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, had properly appraised the value of the company’s shares at $2.25 during the divorce. But a year later the share price closed at exactly 10 times that amount on the first day of its IPO.

As we noted yesterday, the divorce testimony was the “October Surprise” with the most potential to actually be surprising. It seems like it may not disappoint. While initial rumors that Romney lied about Staples’ value under oath appear overblown, the story is not particularly flattering at a time when both candidates are desperately trying to attract female voters.


Can we talk about global warming yet?

“It really is a worst-case scenario,” one of the Weather Channel anchors said late last night. I have battery-operated lights, but I wish I had a propane heater, because the storm is going to bring cold weather in its wake, and I’m not happy about the possibility of sitting in the cold and the dark for days. (And not incidentally, without a phone or computer.) Plus, I live about a half-mile or so from the Delaware River. If there’s a strong enough storm surge up the Delaware Bay, I’m pretty sure my neighborhood will be flooded. How much, I don’t know — because this kind of storm has never happened before.

A friend of a friend who works in emergency services said in a call with the feds yesterday, they were told to prepare for two-week power outages along the East Coast. As I’ve written before, this is because power companies are understaffed to keep the stock prices up. I have a feeling they won’t want to brag about that in the aftermath of this monstrous storm. Please, if you’re in its path, make preparations:

Hurricane Sandy, having blown through Haiti and Cuba on Thursday, continues to barrel north. A wintry storm is chugging across from the West. And frigid air is streaming south from Canada.

And if they meet Tuesday morning around New York or New Jersey, as forecasters predict, they could create a big wet mess that settles over the nation’s most heavily populated corridor and reaches as far inland as Ohio.

With experts expecting at least $1 billion in damage, the people who will have to clean it up aren’t waiting.

Utilities are lining up out-of-state work crews and canceling employees’ days off to deal with the power outages. From county disaster chiefs to the federal government, emergency officials are warning the public to be prepared. And President Barack Obama was briefed aboard Air Force One.

“It’s looking like a very serious storm that could be historic,” said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground. “Mother Nature is not saying `trick-or-treat.’ It’s just going to give tricks.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecaster Jim Cisco, who coined the nickname Frankenstorm, said: “We don’t have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting.”

Government forecasters said there is a 90 percent chance – up from 60 percent two days earlier – that the East will get pounded starting Sunday and stretching past Halloween on Wednesday. Things are expected to get messier once Sandy, a very late hurricane in what has been a remarkably quiet season, comes ashore, probably in New Jersey.

Coastal areas from Florida to Maine will feel some effects, but the storm is expected to vent the worst of its fury on New Jersey and the New York City area, which could see around 5 inches of rain and gale-force winds close to 40 mph. Eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, western Virginia and the Shenandoah Mountains could get snow.

And the storm will take its time leaving. The weather may not start clearing in the mid-Atlantic until the day after Halloween and Nov. 2 in the upper Northeast, Cisco said.

“It’s almost a weeklong, five-day, six-day event,” he said from a NOAA forecast center in College Park, Md. “It’s going to be a widespread, serious storm.”

It is likely to hit during a full moon, when tides are near their highest, increasing the risk of coastal flooding. And because many trees still have their leaves, they are more likely to topple in the event of wind and snow, meaning there could be widespread power outages lasting to Election Day.

Eastern states that saw blackouts that lasted for days after last year’s freak Halloween snowstorm and Hurricane Irene in late August 2011 are already pressuring power companies to be more ready this time.

Asked if he expected utilities to be more prepared, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick responded: “They’d better be.”

Jersey Central Power & Light, which was criticized for its response to Irene, notified employees to be ready for extended shifts. In Pennsylvania, PPL Corp. spokesman Michael Wood said, “We’re in a much better place this year.”

Some have compared the tempest to the so-called Perfect Storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but that one didn’t hit as populated an area. Nor is this one like last year’s Halloween storm, which was merely an early snowfall.

“The Perfect Storm only did $200 million of damage and I’m thinking a billion,” Masters said. “Yeah, it will be worse.”

He should have chosen a better father

Robert Gibbs blames the death of a teenage American boy on his not choosing a better father.

I’m surprised at how many people I know who don’t have a problem with the U.S. relying on armed drones. “Hey, they save American lives,” one friend said. “If they kill a few other people, that’s too bad. So do regular bombs.” Would I be exaggerating to say that Americans are now largely desensitized to our video-game wars?

To me, this issue is no less than a fight for the heart and soul of America. Now, we certainly have gotten used to the erosion of due process and civil rights since 9/11, but it strikes me that we have largely ignored it for far too long, and that this is something worth fighting for.

I’m often accused by his fans of “hating” President Obama and attacking his policies out of some imagined spite. Really, it’s just that I remember the alarms raised by the progressive blogosphere when George W. Bush started the war on terror, and I simply can’t bring myself to excuse the same excesses of power and empire just because it’s a Democrat in the White House. We’ve switched from torture to assassination — is that supposed to be moral progress?

I am deeply and profoundly disturbed by the story of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone two weeks after his jihadist father was killed. It seems clear to me that this attack was meant as a symbolic warning. Why else would the United States of America blow up a 16-year-old American boy and then announce his death to the world as that of a military combatant? Why else was he targeted?

For the sins of his father?

Glenn Greenwald is right when he describes moral indifference toward drone attacks as sociopathic. And sadly, we won’t really cry out full-force against such depravity until it is a Republican president who’s ordering those deaths. And that Republican president will say, “But President Obama did it, and no one said a thing.”

A U.N. investigative group is set to examine whether the civilian casualties caused by America’s covert targeted killing campaign are violating international law, according to an official at the organization reported by the Guardian.
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Crash the economy, don’t go to jail

Pass Go, collect million-dollar bonuses:

Nine more banks have received subpoenas in connection with a probe into alleged widespread interest-rate manipulation by banks, a person familiar with the investigation said.

The probe, a joint effort by the offices of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, could lead to civil enforcement action related to breaches of antitrust and fraud laws.

The subpoenas, which were issued in August and September but haven’t been previously reported, bring the total number of subpoenas in the case to 16. The banks involved in the probe include most members of the panel that helps set the dollar London interbank offered rate.

The investigation by the state prosecutors is part of a global probe, in which more than a dozen federal and other regulators across three continents are looking into allegations that several banks rigged Libor.

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