Investigators with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office have already uncovered evidence of businesses taking advantage of the recent tornado’s devastation by price-gouging in the weather-ravaged region, including a grocery store accused of charging consumers $40 for a case of water.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt told ABC News that 30 investigators from his office started aggressively combing the region for fraud just hours after the tornado tore through it – and immediately found businesses violating the law.
“This is something we were putting in place and starting in motion as soon as we knew the threat existed,” Pruitt said. “We’re going to places where we think potential harm could occur.”
Using a law known as the Emergency Price Stabilization Act, consumer protection investigators are teaming with local law enforcement to catch fraud as it happens. The law was passed after a tornado leveled the same region in 1999 and prohibits price increases of more than 10 percent on goods and services such as water and hotel rooms for 30 days after a disaster. It extends to 180 days for construction-related complaints.
In addition to the $40 cases of bottled water, Pruitt said his team uncovered a hotel in the area that was allegedly overcharging in violation of the law.
“We’re looking at everything from work gloves to water to storage units, hotels and car rentals. And long term, we’ll be dealing with home construction and repair,” he said.
Despite repeated warnings to be on the lookout for scam artists after a disaster, Pruitt said many Oklahomans are still unaware that they can be ripped off.
“They would never anticipate or expect or guess that someone would take advantage of them right now, but this situation is what criminals prey upon,” he said.
Few will even notice major cuts in our nation’s food stamp program, according to Rep. Steve King (R-IA).
Speaking on the floor Tuesday, King argued that a $20 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program “spread out over ten years is not something that is going to be noticeable.”
KING: We do calculate our budget and spending in a 10-year window, so that means $800 billion is the universe of money we’re talking about. … Over the time period of 10 years, there would be $20 billion trimmed off of $800 billion. What comes to about a 2.5 percent decrease in the overall projected expenditures of the food stamp program known as SNAP. After all of that technical gibberish, the bottom line is a $20 billion cut is a $2.5 billion cut in the increase. $20 billion spread out over ten years is not something that is going to be noticeable.
New York - In the wake of yesterday’s devastating tornado in Oklahoma, a major kosher meat distributor is donating twelve pallets of meat products to disaster victims.
Agri Star Meat and Poultry has 20,000 pounds of meat and poultry ready to be shipped to Oklahoma City. Agri Star is working in conjunction with Masbia to raise the necessary funds to transport the meat to its intended destination, Chabad of Oklahoma City.
“We are sending a variety of foods as per the request of Rabbi Goldman, the local Chabad rabbi,” Jo-Ann Chadbourne of Agri Star told VIN News. “We are sending rapid prep foods including deli, chicken nuggets, beef patties, hot dogs and other items that can be distributed quickly to tornado victims. Providing some sort of relief is the least we can do and we are privileged to be able to help in any way we can.”
Masbia has undertaken the task of raising the $3,000 needed to transport the donated items from Agri Star’s Postville, Iowa plant to Oklahoma City and is urging the public to contribute funds to defray the cost of transportation. Donations can be made at wepay.com
“Food is most essential to victims of disaster,” explained Alexander Rapaport, Executive Director of Masbia. “We found during our on the ground Sandy relief work that the victims need food, the first responders need food and the volunteers need food. I cannot ever forget those smiles on their faces when we arrived with food.”
While the most urgently needed items at the moment in the tornado ravaged area are water, toiletries, baby items, cash and gift cards to stores such as Walmart, Target and Sam’s Club, the Agri Star donation will be a major boon to area residents, according to Rabbi Ovadia Goldman of Chabad of Oklahoma City, located approximately twenty miles from the devastation, who is working with local officials on the relief effort.
“Right now we are distributing ready to eat meals but down the road there will be a heavy need for protein and as soon as we can assess those needs, we will distribute the meat products,” said Rabbi Goldman. “As of now we are working with local food banks to make sure that we can house the meat properly when it comes in.”
Masbia is the soup kitchen that served meals to thousands of survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
Your Wonkette is a Very Influential Blog on the Internet, an enviable position that nonetheless carries with it certain afflictions. For example, we often attract the attention of the sorts of folks who probably don’t get invited to many parties, because they are no fun at all. So it came as no surprise that yesterday’s epic rant by your editrix re: the destructive Midwestern tornados drew a response from a website called junkscience.com (Also, these guys, who didn’t care that we were profane but called us “warmist vultures come to feed on the dead.” “Warmist,” haw haw, that’s a clever pejorative for dummies who believe in climate change! Your editrix has instructed us to ask how many of those smug Aussies have their whole family in Oklahoma, 10 miles from Moore, and also to tell them to commit a lewd sex act upon themselves.) (Also also, we got some head-shaking from fellow liberals who thought we were “flippant” instead of OUTRAGED!!!1! So that’s a true shame.)
The “junk science” that junkscience.com claims to “debunk” is what you think it is. No, it will not take long to read their entire post concerning your Wonkette, because it is about 20 words long. Here it is:
First Blood: Wonkette blog unleashes profanity-laden screed at Sen. Imhofe, skeptics over Oklahoma tornado.
Read the Wonkette screed.
That last part links to the “offending” article in the original, but you’ve probably already read it. Boy was it ever a stem-winder!
So, OK, let’s be COMPLETELY FAIR. There is no way to be certain that the Oklahoma tornado would not have killed a bunch of people had humans not been increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 for the last several hundred years.
That said, oh gosh, where to begin? Perhaps with junkscience.com’s central huckster, “Steve Milloy.” It will probably not surprise you to learn that Steve Milloy’s curriculum vitae indicates a man who likes money quite a bit! He has been a “securities lawyer” and an “investment fund manager” (no mention of dentistry, or any expertise in any field relevant to climate science, for that matter). As a man who seems to enjoy money, Steve Milloy has certainly chosen a lucrative hobby: he ministers to the many rubes in this great country who, for reasons of tribalism, contrarianism, personal gain, or/and religious fundamentalism refuse to believe that science is real. That’s the real beauty of the truly ignorant: once they’ve been taught a thing by a source they trust (God, Wal-Mart), they’ll spend their own hard-earned money on anything (such as Steve Milloy’s books) that confirms the thing, rather than consider, at no charge, the possibility that the thing they learned is wrong. We get it; learning’s hard — best to do as little of it as possible.
In a disgusting display, even by TEApublican standards, Stephen Fincher (R-TN) quoted the “Book of Thessalonians” from the New Testament to justify letting the poor starve. Fincher smugly stated on the House floor:
The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.
Of course, it’s a well-known attribute of conservatives to see things in black and white while often missing more nuanced aspects of real life. In Fincher’s warped mind, people that need help are just lazy moochers who should simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps, even though, as most liberals know, many of these people don’t even have boots–or functioning feet in the context of this analogy–for that matter.
We have three points to make to Mr. Fincher and anyone else who buys into this absurd and disturbing way of thinking.
1. Most people on SNAP are not “unwilling” to work. Food insecurity is a real problem in America, but indolence is not to blame. From a Center on Policy and Budget Priorities (cbpp.org) piece titled, Contrary to “Entitlement Society” Rhetoric, Over Nine-Tenths of Entitlement Benefits Go to Elderly, Disabled, or Working Household:
Some conservative critics of federal social programs, including leading presidential candidates, are sounding an alarm that the United States is rapidly becoming an “entitlement society” in which social programs are undermining the work ethic and creating a large class of Americans who prefer to depend on government benefits rather than work. A new CBPP analysis of budget and Census data, however, shows that more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work. This figure has changed little in the past few years.Share of entitlements benefits
Conservatives have also proven to be shameless lying hypocrites in many cases. Take Mark Sanford, who just won a congressional seat in South Carolina, for example. After much finger-wagging, Mr. Sanford voted to impeach President Clinton over the Lewinsky sex scandal, yet asked for forgiveness–without any sense of irony–after being caught romping with his mistress in South America on the tax payer’s dime. It would seem Rep. Fincher also fits this mold.
“Citizen Koch,” a documentary about money in politics focused on the Wisconsin uprising, was shunned by PBS for fear of offending billionaire industrialist David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television, according to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. The dispute highlights the increasing role of private money in “public” television and raises even further concerns about the Kochs potentially purchasing eight major daily newspapers.
The film from Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin documents how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision helped pave the way for secret political spending by players like the Kochs, who contributed directly and indirectly to the election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2010 and came to his aid again when the battle broke out over his effort to limit collective bargaining.
Originally slated to appear on PBS stations nationwide as part of the “Independent Lens” series, “Citizen Koch” had its funding pulled after David Koch was offended by another PBS documentary critical of the billionaire industrialists.
“People like the Kochs have worked for decades to undermine public funding for institutions like PBS,” Deal told the Center for Media and Democracy. “When public dollars dry up, private dollars come in to make up for the shortfall.”
And that private funding can conflict with PBS’ “public” mission and its editorial integrity. The PBS distributor “backed out of the partnership because they came to fear the reaction our film would provoke,” Deal and Lessin said in a statement. “David Koch, whose political activities are featured in the film, happens to be a public-television funder and a trustee of both [New York PBS member station] WNET and [Boston member station] WGBH. This wasn’t a failed negotiation or a divergence of visions; it was censorship, pure and simple.”
Cecelia Crocker’s body provides her with a constant reminder of the most traumatic event of her life - one that she doesn’t otherwise remember.
At only 4 years old, Crocker was the lone survivor of a 1987 plane crash that killed 154 people aboard and two on the ground near Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
In the new documentary film, Sole Survivor, Crocker breaks her silence, discussing how the crash of the Phoenix-bound jetliner has affected her.
‘I think about the accident every day. It’s kind of hard not to think about it when I look in the mirror,’ she said.
‘I have visual scars. My arms and my legs. And I have a scar on my forehead.’
Crocker, 30, also sports an airplane tattoo on her left wrist.
‘I got this tattoo as a reminder of where I’ve come from. I see it as - so many scars were put on my body against my will - and I decided to put this on my body for myself,’ she says in the film.
It’s been more than a quarter-century since Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashed in the Detroit suburb of Romulus.
The plane was just clearing the runway at 8:46pm on Aug. 16, 1987, when it tilted slightly. The left wing clipped a light pole, and the damaged airliner sheared the top off a rental car building.
The MD-80 left a half-mile trail of bodies, charred wreckage, magazines and trays of food along Middle Belt Road when it crashed.
Gun rights advocates are jumping at recent polls showing that gun violence has decreased, and the public is unaware of this phenomenon. Rush Limbaugh argues that, “as America arms up, gun violence goes down,” parroting the infamous book by Dr. John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime. Emily Miller argues in the Washington Times that, liberals have been “muzzled” by the news. But, in fact, research shows that those who oppose gun control ask the wrong questions.
Let’s begin with the question of declining violence and the public’s unawareness of this decline (which has been chalked up to the “liberal media”). It should be chalked up to “media.” As Steven Pinker notes in The Better Angels of Our Nature violence has been declining everywhere, and yet few people are aware because, as much as a despise cliché “if it bleeds, it leads.” People drastically overrate the possibility of their children being kidnapped, for example, because of prominent media coverage. They underrate their child’s chance of drowning in a pool. Sadly, since gun violence is still sexy, it will dwarf coverage of other deaths. All violence has declined, but gun violence still amounts to a good portion of it. And being an economist, it represents a sort of violence which is easy to decrease on the margin: something we can easily reduce without significant harm to society because nothing has addressed it as of yet.
But let’s dig deeper, into the assumption of the gun rights advocates. Do more guns mean less crime? Is the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun? As Jon Stewart brilliantly points out, identifying a bad guy is nearly impossible without gun control. Furthermore, much gun violence is committed by “normal guys” in a violent passion.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hello, Morehouse! Thank you Dr. Wilson, the Board of Trustees; Congressman Cedric Richmond and Sanford Bishop – both proud alumni of this school; Congressman Hank Johnson and the great John Lewis; Mayor Reed, and all the members of the Morehouse family. Most of all, congratulations to this distinguished group of Morehouse Men, the Class of 2013! Some of you are graduating summa cum laude, some of you are graduating magna cum laude, and I know some of you are just graduating, “thank you Lordy.”
I see some good looking hats on the moms and grandmas here today. Which is appropriate, since we’re here on Sunday, and folks are in their Sunday best. Congratulations to all of you – the parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, family and friends who supported these young men in so many ways. This is your day, too. Just think about it – your sons and brothers have spent the last four years far from home and close to Spelman. And they still made it here today. So you must be doing something right. Graduates, give them a round of applause.
I know some of you had to wait in long lines to get into today’s ceremony. I would apologize, but it didn’t actually have anything to do with security. These graduates just wanted you to know what it’s like to register for classes. And this time of year brings a different kind of stress, with every senior stopping by Gloster Hall over the past week making sure your name was on the list of students who’ve met all the graduation requirements. If it wasn’t, you had to figure out why. Was it the library book you let your roommate borrow freshman year? Was it Dr. Johnson’s policy class? Did you get enough Crown Forum credits?