Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Washington Wednesday to appeal to top lawmakers for funding to help the city recover from Hurricane Sandy.He thanked the federal government for help provided so far, but said the city will need help going forward. The mayor estimates the city sustained about $19 billion in private and public damage in the storm. He is trying to convince congressional leaders to allow the federal government to reimburse 100 percent of the funds spent on Hurricane Sandy recovery for damage in New York City not covered by private insurance, which amounts to about $15 billion in funding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to cover about $5.5 billion so far. New York State will need a total of $42 billion overall to recover from the damage. The mayor pointed out that New York City provides more than 4 percent of gross domestic product for the whole country, and said that’s plenty of reason for Congress to help the city. ”We’re all in this together,” Bloomberg said. “We’re not Republicans or Democrats. We’re Americans, and we have to help each other when natural disasters take place.” New York’s congressional delegation has been working with the Obama administration to craft a supplemental bill for more disaster relief aid, which they expect to be ready by next week. However, it is unclear if the bill will have enough support in Congress to pass.
Today the Senate Judiciary Committee debates major changes to federal agencies’ and law enforcement’s ability to access the content of digital communications by updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a law written before anyone dreamed that Americans would send, receive and store so much private information over third-party services such as Gmail or would draft documents using cloud computing that they intend to keep confidential. The Washington Post reports Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the 1986 law’s original author, wants to amend it into the 21st century. Mr. Leahy is set to press his committee Thursday to adopt a series of changes that would establish the confidentiality of e-mail and other electronic communications. Service providers would be prohibited from handing over e-mail, and Mr. Leahy would get rid of the strange 180-day rule that the government can now use to compel disclosure. To access any e-mail content, law enforcement officers would be required to obtain a search warrant from a judge after demonstrating probable cause. The amendments would also oblige officials to give those whose e-mail they are reading a copy of the search warrant. This would bring the law in line with the reality that Americans are using electronic communications services to exchange and store all sorts of sensitive data.
A prosecutor declined to bring criminal charges against the mother of a 2-year-old boy who was killed after falling into a pit of wild dogs and mauled at the Pittsburgh Zoo, but he said on Wednesday he was still determining whether the zoo was at fault, Reuters reports. Maddox Derkosh was killed almost immediately after he fell over the railing of an exhibit of African painted dogs and was attacked by 11 of the animals. His mother, Elizabeth Derkosh, 34, had lifted him on top of the railing to give the boy with poor eyesight a better view. Holding him by the waist, she lost control, Zappala said. The child may have believed there was a Plexiglas barrier as he appeared to lunge forward, the prosecutor said. llegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala aid he was still investigating whether the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium might be culpable of negligence, manslaughter or endangering welfare of children because of the design of the exhibit.
The big news in the Big Apple this week may be what didn’t happen. There was not a single reported slaying, stabbing, shooting or knifing in any of the five boroughs on Monday, according to the New York Police Department, reports CNN. ”It is unusual in a city of 8 million people, but we never read that much into one day,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne, who said it was the “first time in memory” that the city had had such a lull in violent crime. The violence-free stretch spanned 36 hours, starting Sunday evening when a man was shot in the head and lasted until Tuesday morning with another shooting, police said. For a city that once suffered from high crime rates, Monday’s feat fits into a broader trend of dropping homicide rates, police say. In October, the FBI said violent crime across the nation fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2011 with murder, rape and robbery all declining, but it noted that violent crime remains a serious problem in many urban areas.
Fast-food restaurant employees protested in New York City on Thursday, demanding higher pay and the right to form a union – the latest attempt by lower-wage workers in the United States to increase their compensation, Reuters reports. The campaign, called “Fast Food Forward,” seeks to roughly double hourly pay to $15 an hour and is being billed as the largest attempt to unionize U.S. fast-food workers. Leading the effort is New York Communities for Change, a group that has helped unionize low-wage carwash and grocery workers in New York. Strikes were scheduled at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and Domino’s restaurants around the city throughout the day. Representatives from those companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The U.S. fast-food industry has long been known for its low-paying jobs. What has changed since the last U.S. recession is that many adults now are competing with high school students for those positions – which often do not provide a living wage to full-time workers.