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Army commanders order removal of 'God and country' recruiting sign
Unauthorized poster at Arizona recruiting office
January 17, 2015
An Army recruiting station has been ordered by higher ups to shelve a sidewalk sandwich board with the wording "On a mission for both God and country.”
The order went out Friday to a recruiting station in Phoenix that had been displaying the outdoor sign since at least October. The sign board also shows an image of a Special Forces patch and Ranger, Airborne and Special Forces tabs.
An inquiry from Army Times to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command prompted the sandwich board’s immediate removal.
The command’s spokesman told the paper the sign’s text was changed by “local recruiting personnel” but without clearance from command headquarters.
“Had the process been followed, the copy shown would not have been approved,” spokesman Brian Lepley said.
On Thursday, the head of the atheist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation called the sign the “Poster of Shame.”
In an online post, the group’s Mikey Weinstein called the display a “stunning, unconstitutional disgrace,” Army Times reported.
“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is delighted the Constitution has been adhered to by the U.S. Army Recruiting Command,” Weinstein said after the sign’s removal.
It appears that prior to being changed the sandwich board read: “We don’t call for reinforcements. We make them.”
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first
about the basics of survival: fresh water,
food, clean air and
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at
least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone
alert and extra batteries for both.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help.
Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic
sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
- Local maps
Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:
- Prescription medications and glasses.
- Infant formula and diapers.
- Pet food and extra water for your pet.
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies,
identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
- Cash or traveler's checks and change.
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding
if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and
sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper ï¿½ When diluted nine parts
water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an
emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular
household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or
bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher.
- Matches in a waterproof container.
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels.
- Paper and pencil.
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children.
source: Ready.gov, Dept. of
'There's a whole new sub-class of part-time residents that flow back and forth'
January 9 2015
(South Florida Sun-Sentinel) U.S. policy created for humanitarian reasons 50 years ago has fueled a criminal pipeline from Cuba to Florida, enabling crooks from the island to rob American businesses and taxpayers of more than $2 billion over two decades.
A yearlong Sun Sentinel investigation found money stolen in the United States streaming back to Cuba, and a revolving door that allows thieves to come here, make a quick buck and return.
Cuba has become a bedroom community for criminals who exploit America’s good will.
“There’s a whole new sub-class of part-time residents that flow back and forth,” said Rene Suarez, a Fort Myers attorney who represents Cubans charged in criminal schemes. “They tell me stories and live very comfortably in Cuba with the illegitimate money that they’re able to obtain here in the United States.”
The Sun Sentinel traveled to Cuba, examined hundreds of court documents, and obtained federal data never before made public to provide the first comprehensive look at a criminal network facilitated by U.S. law.
The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, a remarkable act of Congress passed at the height of the Cold War, gives Cubans advantages over every other immigrant group.
Cubans are allowed to enter the United States without visas or background checks of their criminal histories in Cuba. Unlike other immigrants seeking political asylum, Cubans can return home without jeopardizing their status, aiding crime rings that recruit accomplices and hide stolen money in Cuba.
The law has remained largely unchanged while financial and travel restrictions between the two countries have loosened, priming the system for abuse.
Strained relations between the countries make it nearly impossible to capture criminals who flee to the island. They also make it nearly impossible to deport criminals to Cuba after they serve their sentences in the U.S., as would be the case with criminals from most other countries. The crooks can stay here, free to steal again.
Cuban crime rings are staging car accidents for insurance fraud, hijacking trucks, and selling their Medicare numbers to provide for their families in Cuba. They’re smuggling money from these illegal enterprises on charter flights to Cuba, paying mules to take cash back and wiring dollars through Western Union.
“Some of these folks are basically funding life in Cuba for their families,” said Miami-Dade Police Lt. Jose Gonzalez, whose detectives dismantle marijuana grow houses run mostly by Cuban nationals. “These people are going to Cuba weekly or monthly. These are citizens of Cuba commuting here to work.”
This free flow of criminals and cash has made a mockery of the two pillars of U.S. policy toward Cuba: the trade embargo designed to financially choke the Castro government and the special immigration rules that envisioned a one-way path for Cubans to escape communism.
Cuba’s state-controlled economy benefits from the illicit money. In one South Florida insurance scam alone, ringleaders sent millions back to the island and the Cuban government seized $200,000.
Long known as a safe haven for fugitives from America and other countries, Cuba now is harboring scores of its own citizens wanted for economic crimes in the U.S.
The Sun Sentinel found and interviewed fugitives living openly on the island, including one wanted on charges he stole a semi-trailer loaded with $180,000 in nickels from the Federal Reserve. Another, charged in a $1 million credit-card fraud ring, had boasted that he went to the U.S. to steal and taunted authorities to “come to Cuba to look for me.”
In unveiling his initiative to “promote greater openness with Cuba” last month, President Obama did not address whether immigration rules should be tightened, or whether the U.S. will be able to deport some 34,500 convicted Cuban criminals and force Cuba to return fugitives never brought to justice here.
Members of Congress interviewed about the Sun Sentinel’s findings say the ease with which Cuban criminal networks can operate in the U.S. must be part of a wide-ranging discussion on increased engagement with the country that has stood as America’s nearest enemy for five decades.
Criminals are corrupting the intent of the Cuban Adjustment Act: to provide refuge to those fleeing Fidel Castro and communism.
Cubans need only touch U.S. soil to be admitted to the country. They’re automatically considered political refugees and are immediately eligible for welfare, food stamps and other assistance. After a year and a day, they can obtain permanent residency, known as a green card.
Immigrants from other countries can wait years for visas just to be admitted to the U.S., and then wait years more for government benefits. Those fleeing persecution risk losing their asylum if they return to their home countries before becoming U.S. citizens.
More than 1 million Cubans have come to the U.S. since the 1959 Communist revolution, creating one of America’s most prosperous immigrant communities. While the overwhelming majority are law-abiding, a small faction has come to specialize in certain, mostly economic, crimes.
The federal government has long pointed to the prevalence of Cuban immigrants in Medicare fraud, as first reported in the Miami Herald, but authorities never quantified it. The Sun Sentinel analyzed court bookings data and found that Cuba natives, operating primarily in South Florida, are so prolific they account for less than one percent of the U.S. population but are responsible for 41 percent of arrests nationwide for health-care fraud.
The reach of Cuban crime rings extends far beyond ripping off the U.S. government health program for the elderly and disabled, the Sun Sentinel found.
In Miami-Dade County, where 24 percent of the population was born in Cuba, immigrants from the island account for 73 percent of arrests for health-care fraud; 72 percent of arrests for cargo theft; 59 percent of arrests for marijuana trafficking; and half the arrests for credit-card and insurance fraud.
Among Cuban-born defendants sentenced to federal prison for these crimes, two out of three are still Cuban citizens.
Their take: more than $2 billion since 1994, a conservative tally based on restitution ordered in federal cases and a Sun Sentinel sampling of state cases in Florida.
Alex Acosta, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said Medicare thieves alone steal more than $2 billion each year in South Florida.
“The United States has opened its doors to Cuban refugees under the Cuban Adjustment Act,” said Acosta, the son of Cuban immigrants who is now dean of the Florida International University law school. “That is an extraordinary immigration offer that the United States has done for political and humanitarian reasons, and it is offensive that these individuals are abusing that.
“It’s equally offensive that the Castro regime is allowing them to do so and profiting from crime in the United States.”
The close ties that the criminals have to Cuba and the involvement of many new arrivals has spurred speculation among investigators, prosecutors and even members of Congress about whether the Cuban government is behind the fraud. Cuba denies it.
The Sun Sentinel’s review of hundreds of court cases found many of those charged had arrived without visas and would have been refused entry and sent home had they not been Cuban. Others were convicted repeatedly of ripping off businesses and the government, but could not be deported.
A Cuban national convicted twice for theft before he joined a Palm Beach County credit-card fraud ring that stole $750,000.
Another who allowed his name to appear as owner of a North Miami Beach pharmacy that stole $695,000 from Medicare in two months; he was paid $10,000 for his signature and $40,000 to go back to Cuba.
Two Miami Cuban citizens with multiple convictions who are charged as leaders in a 48-person, multi-state ring that stole $500 million in prescription drugs from Medicaid.
U.S. policy toward Cuba has made America an easy mark for criminals coming from an impoverished nation, said Scott Stewart, vice president of analysis at Stratfor, a global intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas, and author of a report on organized crime in Cuba.
“We’re so rich, and we’re so close,” he said. “It’s a very good environment for them to operate in.”
Cash to Cuba
A massive South Florida fraud ring that stole millions from auto insurers in recent years shows how U.S. policy benefits the criminals and allows them to easily return with ill-gotten cash, a possibility policymakers never intended.
The $18 million fraud involved 21 clinics in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties and more than 100 mostly-Cuban participants. They staged accidents, smashing cars with a sledgehammer, and billed insurers for treatment of nonexistent injuries.
The masterminds were Cuban immigrants, Lazaro Vigoa Mauri, then 45, and Vladimir Lopez, 38, who traveled back to the island as often as every month during the scam, according to a 2013 indictment charging them with fraud and money laundering.
Lopez spent most of his time in Cuba, former employee Carmen Venegas testified. “He was here, then he would go back to Cuba, but he was traveling constantly — every 15 days, on the weekend, every 20 days.”
The leaders employed new arrivals who came without visas and were allowed entry into the United States under the Cuban Adjustment Act. At least three other participants had been ordered removed for previous crimes but were still here because Cuba refuses to take back most deportees.
The criminals took advantage of U.S. policy intended to help Cubans resettle and occasionally return for visits, using those trips home to smuggle millions from their illegal ventures back to the island.
“Individuals were buying properties and taking money to Cuba, and they were also having other individuals smuggle it to Cuba for them,” South Florida IRS agent Pamela Martin testified at a 2013 court hearing.
One had three houses in Cuba — a notable achievement on an island that legalized private property sales only three years ago.
The owner of one clinic scammed insurers out of more than $400,000, smuggling much of it to Cuba on commercial charter flights, a former employee admitted in a plea agreement.
Another left Cuba on a raft, became a massage therapist at one of the clinics and then started his own. He withdrew thousands from his clinic’s bank account and sent it in $500 increments to relatives in Cuba “via friends who were traveling there,” he told agents.
The leaders escaped. Vigoa, Lopez and three others fled to Cuba, where U.S. authorities can’t touch them. Vigoa returned to his hometown of Pinar del Rio, his ex-girlfriend told agents, and had a cousin send his furniture from West Palm Beach.
Cuba’s safe harbor had a price, records show. One fugitive, Martin testified, “had a couple hundred thousand dollars seized by the Cuban government” for unjust enrichment, a charge Cuba levies against people with too much unexplained money.
Criminal defense lawyers told the Sun Sentinel they know of other fugitives who returned to Cuba and had to give the government a cut of their money.
“If people are not in a position to pay off public officials to the amount and degree they demand, they sometimes wind up in jail until they come up with the amount,” said Samuel Rabin Jr., a Miami defense lawyer. “Some of them pay a significant amount of money and are never jailed.”
These criminal enterprises also generate millions of dollars that find their way into the government-run Cuban economy.
The million-dollar credit-card fraud ring in Texas paid for trips to Cuba and sent Western Union money orders back to relatives. A Tampa ring bought gift cards and electronics with counterfeit credit cards and shipped goods to the island. And a South Florida marijuana cultivation ring funded major renovations to homes in Cuba with luxuries ordinary Cubans could not afford: new appliances, tile, custom crown moldings.
“There’s a tremendous amount that I’ve seen in my cases of underground money that goes there,” said Humberto Dominguez, a Miami criminal defense lawyer. “It’s huge.”
Pre-9/11 NYC Skyline
Twin towers of the World Trade Center burning
Post 9/11 NYC Skyline - Freedom Tower Being Built
At the site of unimaginable death and devastation, a memorial of breathtaking beauty has emerged.
The National September 11 Memorial opens today on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks and is a dazzling tribute to the lives lost, and to a city and nation that will never forget. It is the largest made man made waterfall in the world. They are bordered by bronze panels inscribed with the names of those who died there, at the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania.
In the footprints of the old Twin Towers are now two square, below-ground reflecting pools, each nearly an acre, fed from all sides by waterfalls that begin just above ground.
Lower Manhattan will be in lockdown mode today as massive crowds and a host of dignitaries descend on the area for the solemn observance of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Throughout the morning, the names of the more than 2,600 people who died in the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks will be read aloud.
Ten years on from the day the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed so much for so many people, the world's leaders and millions of citizens are pausing to reflect.
From Sydney to Atlanta, formal ceremonies are planned or already under way to remember the nearly 3,000 who perished from more than 90 countries. And, in a reminder that threats remain, authorities in Washington and New York are beefing up security in response to intelligence about possible plans for a car bomb attack.
For some people, the pain never stops. In Malaysia, Pathmawathy Navaratnam woke up Sunday in her suburban Kuala Lumpur home and did what she's done every day for the past decade: wish her son "Good morning." But Vijayashanker Paramsothy, a 23-year-old financial analyst, was killed in the attacks on New York.
"He is my sunshine. He has lived life to the fullest, but I can't accept that he is not here anymore," said Navaratnam. "I am still living, but I am dead inside."
In Manila, dozens of former shanty dwellers offered roses, balloons and prayers for another 9/11 victim, American citizen Marie Rose Abad. The neighborhood used to be a shantytown that reeked of garbage. But in 2004, Abad's Filipino-American husband built 50 brightly colored homes, fulfilling his late wife's wish to help impoverished Filipinos.
The village has since been named after her.
"It's like a new life sprang from the death of Marie Rose and so many others," said villager Nancy Waminal.
HISTORY of NEW YORK
New Yorkers are rightfully proud of their state's many achievements and contributions. This synopsis is adapted from a brief history previously printed in the Legislative Manual.
Duke of York
New York harbor was visited by Verrazano in 1524, and the Hudson River was first explored by Henry Hudson in 1609. The Dutch settled here permanently in 1624 and for 40 years they ruled over the colony of New Netherland. It was conquered by the English in 1664 and was then named New York in honor of the Duke of York.
Existing as a colony of Great Britain for over a century, New York declared its independence on July 9, 1776, becoming one of the original 13 states of the Federal Union. The next year, on April 20, 1777, New York's first constitution was adopted.
In many ways, New York State was the principal battleground of the Revolutionary War. Approximately one-third of the skirmishes and engagements of the war were fought on New York soil. The Battle of Saratoga, one of the decisive battles of the world, was the turning point of the Revolution leading to the French alliance and thus to eventual victory. New York City, long occupied by British troops, was evacuated on November 25, 1783. There, on December 4 at Fraunces Tavern, General George Washington bade farewell to his officers.
The First Government of New York State
The first government of New York State grew out of the Revolution. The State Convention that drew up the Constitution created a Council of Safety which governed for a time and set the new government in motion. In June 1777, while the war was going on, an election for the first governor took place. Two of the candidates, Philip Schuyler and George Clinton, were generals in the field. Two others, Colonel John Jay and General John Morin Scott, were respectively leaders of the aristocratic and democratic groups in the Convention. On July 9, George Clinton was declared elected and he was inaugurated as Governor at Kingston, July 30, 1777. Albany became the capital of the State in January 1797.
The First Capital of the New Nation
Alexander Hamilton was a leader in the movement which ended in the development of the Federal Constitution, and he was active in its ratification. New York City became the first capital of the new nation, where President George Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789.
The Empire State
In following years, New York's economic and industrial growth made appropriate the title "The Empire State," an expression possibly originated by George Washington in 1784. In 1809, Robert Fulton's "North River Steamboat," the first successful steam-propelled vessel, began a new era in transportation.
The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, greatly enhanced the importance of the port of New York and caused populous towns and cities to spring up across the state. The Erie Canal was replaced by the Barge Canal in 1918; and the system of waterways was further expanded by the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Overland transportation grew rapidly from a system of turnpikes established in the early 1880s to the modern day Governor Thomas E. Dewey New York State Thruway. By 1853, railroads, that had started as short lines in 1831, crossed the state in systems like the Erie and New York Central.
Statue of Liberty
Located in New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty was formally presented to the U.S. Minister to France, Levi Parsons on July 4, 1884 by Ferdinand Lesseps, representing the Franco-American Union.
The cornerstone was laid in August 1884 and the Statue of Liberty arrived in June 1885, in 214 packing crates. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty on October 28, 1886, when the last rivet was put into place.
During the nineteenth century, America became a haven for many of the oppressed people of Europe, and New York City became the "melting pot." The Statue of Liberty (dedicated in 1886 in the harbor), with its famous inscription, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," was the first symbol of America's mission
The international character of New York City, the principal port for overseas commerce, and later for transcontinental and international airways, has been further enhanced by becoming the home of the United Nations, capital of the free world. Here the people of all nations and races come to discuss and try to solve the world's problems in a free and democratic climate.
New York Stock Exchange
As one of the wealthiest states, New York made tremendous strides in industry and commerce. The New York Stock Exchange, founded in 1792, has become the center of world finance. Diversified and rich natural resources, together with unmatched facilities for transport, produced a phenomenal growth in manufacture and industry. Research and inventive genius have been extensive, especially in the field of electronics, power and the peaceful and productive use of atomic energy.
Center for Art, Music, and Literature
New York City also became a leading national center for art, music and literature, as exemplified by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Opera Company, and large publishing houses.
The state has supplied more than its share of national leaders, beginning with Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury; and John Jay, the first chief justice. Aaron Burr and George Clinton served as vice presidents. Martin Van Buren, Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland went from New York politics to the presidency. In the 1900s, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt achieved the presidency; and Nelson Rockefeller served as vice president. Governors Charles E. Hughes, Alfred E. Smith and Thomas E. Dewey all were candidates for the presidency.
September 11 attacks
The September 11 attacks (often referred to as 9/11, pronounced nine-eleven) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by Al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. There were no survivors from any of the flights.
2,974 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 90 different countries. In addition, the death of at least one person from lung disease was ruled by a medical examiner to be a result of exposure to dust from the World Trade Center's collapse.
The 9/11 attacks had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the American people. Many police officers and rescue workers elsewhere in the country took leaves of absence to travel to New York City to assist in the process of recovering bodies from the twisted remnants of the Twin Towers. Blood donations across the U.S. also saw a surge in the weeks after 9/11. Not only were New Yorkers united during this horrific tragedy but all of America and the entire world shared their pain.
OSAMA BIN LADEN KILLED!!
On May 2, 2011, US Special Forces killed Bin Laden in Pakistan. A small US team had conducted the raid in about 40 minutes.
Three other men were killed in the raid - one of Bin Laden's sons and two couriers - the official said, adding that one woman was also killed when she was used as "a shield" and two other women were injured.
Americans Celebrate this great feat. "America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done. -
George W Bush
Former US president
The Navy Yard was created by US President John Adams - at its peak, it employed 70,000 people during wartime.
US manufacturing: A factory grows in Brooklyn
When Situ Fabrication moved into Building 132 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2013, they were so busy constructing work for clients that included Harvard University, the Brooklyn Museum, and some of the country's biggest artists that it took them awhile to catch their breath and look around.
But when they did, they noticed that the crumbling building - which had recently been used for cold storage and was covered in layers of insulation - was actually something much grander than its decaying exterior would suggest.
"There was a little opening on the south façade and we thought we should really put a gate in here," recalls Bradley Samuels, one of the four founding partners of the architecture and fabrication firm, which was started in 2005.
"We started removing material and we just kept removing more and more until we realised, oh my god, there's this enormous door that steam engines used to come through," he says.
Built in 1905, it turned out that Building 132 was once a steam engine repair shop - and that its "bones", in Mr Samuels words, were perfect for the cutting-edge 21st century manufacturing that the firm was planning to do
That a building which was purpose built for late 19th century technology could still be useful - even ideal - for an innovation-focused firm like Situ might seem surprising, but it makes perfect sense to Mr Samuels and others like him who have moved into the Navy Yard.
Today, the Navy Yard has gone from a Brooklyn eyesore that once symbolised the decline of urban manufacturing to a model for keeping production in urban centres.
At the Navy Yard's peak during the boom years of World War II, the site employed more than 70,000 people.
Even during peacetime, the premises had around 15,000 full-time employees working in the "classic manufacturing jobs that made the American middle class," says Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) president David Ehrenberg.
But when the Navy decided to move out in 1966, almost 12,000 people lost their jobs overnight. By the 1970s, when Mr Ehrenberg was growing up in Brooklyn, only 100 people worked at the 300 acre (121 hectare) site.
"It was really symptomatic and [an] example of the industrial flight from New York," says Mr Ehrenberg.
"You could see all up and down the Brooklyn waterfront—formerly very active, dynamic manufacturing facilities going completely dormant.
"You know, I grew up hearing stories of the Dodgers moving out of Brooklyn, and that being a terrible blow to Brooklyn, but losing 20,000 middle class jobs was really a devastating hit to the borough."
Building a web
To revitalise the site, the BNYDC, the non-profit which now runs the property, sought to move away from big tenants - like the shipbuilders that once loomed over its piers - to a more diversified manufacturing base.
The BNYDC brought in older companies - like Cumberland, which has been packaging artificial sweeteners like Sweet 'n Low and Splenda for half a decade - as well as more cutting edge firms, which include everything from space suit designers to a robotics builder to a motorcycle manufacturer.
In doing so, they created a web of interconnected manufacturers who could lean on each other for design knowledge or fabrication help.
For instance, Mr Samuels of Situ says the firm will often go to a welder nearby when it can't keep up with demand or when the firm has a particularly tricky bit of metal work that it needs to finish.
"We're constantly collaborating with other tenants," he says.
Today, the Yard employs over 7,000 people and generates nearly $2.35bn (£1.53bn) in economic output.
It has been successful in attracting a range of tenants by promising them long-term leases - a rarity in New York City - as well as by continuing to invest all profits from the operation of the site into redeveloping its railways, docks, and power generating infrastructure.
■1801 - The Brooklyn Navy Yard is established by US President John Adams
■1939-1945 - The Yard reached peak employment, when women are drafted to work there to help out with the war effort. Nearly 70,000 people work in the Yard.
■1960 - The USS Constellation is severely damaged when a forklift pierces a fuel tank and lights a fire. 50 workers die, and the reputation of the Yard is tarnished.
■1966 - The Brooklyn Navy Yard closes
■1969-1981 - The Brooklyn Navy Yard is run by the Commerce Labor and Industry in the County of Kings (CLICK). However, when the largest tenant, Seatrain Shipbuilding, lays off 3,250 workers in 1975, the non-profit struggles to retain jobs.
■1988 - The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation takes over, and begins to diversify the Yard's manufacturers
■1998 - The Yard is at 98% occupancy
■2004 - Steiner Studios, a major television and film production facility, opens in the Navy Yard
Since the mid-2000s, the Navy Yards have been at full-occupancy - and Mr Ehrenberg says the site is on track to employ 12,000 people in the next five years.
Now, the Navy Yard model is being copied by other cities across the US who are looking to revitalise their manufacturing centres, with San Francisco, Philadelphia and Detroit all pushing forward with plans to create manufacturing hubs.
These efforts have led to a resurgence in urban manufacturing jobs - by some measures, Los Angeles county employs nearly as many people in manufacturing as the entire state of Michigan, for instance. And New York and Philadelphia have also seen growth after years of declines.
This resurgence has benefitted from trends in the industry that have once more made production in smaller spaces efficient, such as the rise of 3D printing
Furthermore, changing consumer habits - young urban consumers often want to know how and where their products are made - combined with the rise of social media and e-commerce have allowed niche manufacturers to flourish in urban centres, where they can easily show off both their wares and their processes.
"Modern manufacturing includes a broader overlay of sectors," says Andrew Kimball, who used to run the Navy Yard before moving on to the helm of Industry City, one of New York City's first privately-run manufacturing sites in the Sunset Park neighbourhood of Brooklyn.
The future, he says, "will be an intersection between design, technology, [and] art, with a focus on small, niche, tech-driven manufacturing."
No more smokestacks
But there are of course challenges - for instance, space is an issue in New York City, where rising rents have often squeezed manufacturers.
Furthermore, investing in sites like the Navy Yard is often difficult, as years of disuse have left former industrial sites in states of extreme disrepair.
"The single biggest challenge is deferred maintenance - there was just no money put in for 50 years," says Mr Kimball.
That concern is echoed by Situ's Mr Samuels, who said the firm initially had difficulty getting Building 132 hooked up to enough energy to power their more advanced machines.
And costs, of course, are also higher in urban centres.
John Grady runs the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which is, like Brooklyn's version, a mixed use site that is primarily devoted to manufacturing.
"It's always cheaper in the suburbs and that's hindered our industrial economy for its entire decline from the [1950s] to today," he says.
"For cities like Philadelphia or Brooklyn, it is about finding sectors where there's value added - where the cost of being in the urban environment can be supported by the product," he says.
While experts remain optimistic about the future of urban manufacturing, what no one doubts is that both its size and scale will remain small for the foreseeable future, with sites like the Navy Yards functioning as a sort of large-scale factory with many smaller enterprises within its walls.
"The days of the smokestacks are gone," says Mr Kimball.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1919
"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...
There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
--Theodore Roosevelt, 1919
To this day, the westbound crossing record of the SS United States stands unbroken
The SS United States - America's Flagship faces an unknown future
She broke the transatlantic speed record in both directions on her maiden voyage from New York to Europe by the greatest margin in history. (That record still stands, 59 years later.) The top political, military and entertainment figures of the day regularly sailed aboard her, along with everyday Americans and immigrants to our shores. She became the living embodiment of America's post-World War II industrial might
So significant were the accomplishments of the firm Gibbs & Cox, that founder William Francis Gibbs remains the only individual ever to be awarded both the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers' gold medal for both his naval architecture and marine engineering accomplishments.
Gibbs passed away in 1967, but his enormous legacy lives on in the design firm of Gibbs & Cox, which continues to supply marine engineering for government contracts, though it has long been out of the passenger ship business. Of the numerous passenger ships designed by Gibbs & Cox, only the SS United States remains extant, stripped of all interior fittings, with the exception of heavy machinery.
Interior fittings and furniture, auctioned off in 1984, have found their way into museums and private collections around the world. So significant was the interior design of the SS United States, it is still lauded over 50 years after the ship's maiden voyage. In summer 2004, Modernism Magazine celebrated the forward thinking 1950s female design firm of Smyth, Urquhart & Marckwald. The magnificent interiors and custom furniture they created are displayed in museums and still evoke a sense of the classic elegance of mid-20th century design.
The significance of the SS United States to the American Merchant Marine cannot be overstated. The ship remains the largest passenger vessel constructed in the United States and the fastest ocean liner to ever cross the North Atlantic (both eastbound and westbound). As the nation's flagship for over 17 years, the ship's service was exemplary and it was never plagued by mechanical difficulty.
For over 35 years the ship has been spared from the worst humiliation a vessel can endure: the breaker's torch. It is not only unusual that a ship, out of service for well over three decades, remains intact, it is extraordinary. In the past decade, a tremendous awareness has emerged of the liner's plight, and former builders, passengers and crew have come forward in large numbers determined to ensure that the SS United States is preserved as an amazing technological and engineering triumph, and American cultural icon.
The tremendous red, white and blue funnels, while somewhat faded, still stand strong and are a testament to the ingenuity, vision, determination and pride that represent the American dream. As the stewards of her historical legacy, the SS United States Conservancy remains committed to the vision of a revitalized United States that can serve as a brilliant example of American industrial might for generations to come.
Save Our Ship
After the ship had been listed for sale for a year, in early 2010 NCL announced that it would be accepting bids from scrappers. After this announcement the SS United States Conservancy launched a major campaign, "Save Our Ship", to raise funds and awareness in support of the vessel.
In July of 2010, the Conservancy announced that it had received a $5.8 million pledge from Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, allowing the Conservancy to buy the ship outright and maintain her at her current berth for 20 months while redevelopment plans are made and funds for her restoration are raised. This marks the first time in the history of the SS United States that a group concerned primarily with the vessel's historical significance and preservation has owned her.
While this great ship is safe for now, she has not yet been "saved". Funds must yet be raised for her restoration and redevelopment. Once this significant task is completed, the Conservancy envisions a future where the SS United States is a sustainable waterfront attraction, providing jobs and important public amenities, while educating and inspiring future generations.
The SS United States Conservancy began as an initiative of the SS United States Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1992. For more info on Donating,
June. 30, 2015 - CBS NEWS
HOW ACCURATE ARE WALMART'S "Made in the USA" LABELS?
Americans love to buy items that are made in the USA, but can consumers always trust the labels are accurate?
One watchdog group says retailing giant Walmart (WMT) has a number of mistakes on its website, with items listed as "Made in the USA" that actually have packages indicating they were "Made in China." A Walmart spokesman told CBS MoneyWatch that "a small percentage of items" were mislabeled because of coding errors. The problem arose because some items that had been manufactured in foreign countries are now being made in the U.S., but not all of the labeling had been updated, the company said.
The accusation comes amid a $250 billion push from Walmart to buy products that support American jobs. That business effort is supported by an economic incentive, given that eight out of 10 American consumers told Consumer Reports recently that they'd rather buy a U.S.-made product than a foreign one.
Yet with manufacturing becoming more complicated, it's not always clear what products are 100 percent American. Fakes also make it on the market, Consumer Reports noted.
The watchdog group, Truth in Advertising, said in a letter sent to Walmart on Monday that it had found more than 100 labeling errors on its website.
"False made in USA labeling on Walmart's website has misled consumers looking to purchase American-made products,'' Truth in Advertising executive director Bonnie Patten said in a statement. "The largest retailer in the world should have made sure its American-made claims were accurate before affixing made in USA labels on the products. Until Walmart cleans up this mess, consumers cannot rely on Walmart with regard to where a product is really made when shopping on the site."
Patten added in an email to CBS MoneyWatch: "It is disingenuous for Walmart to attempt to deflect blame by saying that it simply jumped the gun on placing Made in the USA labels on certain products that were transferring operations to the U.S. Our investigation revealed dozens of examples where Walmart simply got it wrong and in so doing violated the federal law on Made in USA labeling."
The issues, according to Truth in Advertising, include products with USA labels that misrepresent the origin of the products, USA labels that conflict with the information contained on the product specifications and USA labels that don't clearly state that only a percentage of the product is made in the U.S.
"[Our] findings make it clear that Walmart's website is mired in USA labeling errors," wrote legal director Laura Smith in the letter. "Walmart's use of its USA labels and specifications is false and deceptive, and therefore in violation of the Federal Trade Commission's standards for making U.S.-origin claims."
Walmart said it was confident in the "overall integrity of the information on our website." It added, "We ... are seeing some great results. For example, in Chicago, Ferrara Candy has re-shored some of its production from Mexico, creating more than 100 jobs in the community, and Korona Candles, which re-shored tea light production from Poland, is creating more than 150 jobs in the Dublin, Virginia, area."
The retailer said it's currently removing its "Made in the U.S." badges from its website because of a search-engine glitch (the products weren't showing up in search results) but is working on adding that and other badges, such as products that are labeled as supporting women-owned business, back on the site.
One way to figure out if a product is really "Made in the USA" is to check its "country of origin" mark, which is required by Customs and Border Protections of all imported goods, according to Consumer Reports. Such a mark, which is usually found on a sticker, isn't required of items made in the U.S.
Iraq War Vet Outraged After Being Told He Can’t Fly American Flag at Home.
Iraq War Vet Outraged After Being Told He Can’t Fly American Flag at Home
An Iraq War veteran says he has no plans to remove the American flag from his front porch after his homeowners association told him it has to come down.
Daniel Toner, who rents a home in the Belmont Park community of Suffolk, Virginia, said he was first told the flag was OK, but then was informed that it had to be approved and Toner would have to wait to put it up.
Toner told WAVY-TV he knew the homeowners association had certain regulations, so he contacted the property manager at Chesapeake Bay Management Inc. before he brought out the flag to make sure everything was above board.
He received an email back saying it was acceptable to fly a flag from his house as long as he followed the guidelines. But not long after, he received another message telling him to take it down.
Property manager Kimberly Katz admitted to speaking too early in the previous email, and said a resolution that would have made it acceptable to fly a flag had not yet been approved.
Toner was outraged.
“This is something that shouldn’t be happening here in Hampton Roads,” Toner said.
Management company president Dana Shotts-Neff said the association has “no intention of denying anyone the right to fly the American flag,” but because it’s considered an alteration to a home, residents need to apply for permission first.
Toner said that’s “absolutely ridiculous.”
“You shouldn’t even have to ask permission to have an American flag on your property,” Toner told WAVY.
He pointed out that the right to fly an American flag is one that Congress has specifically addressed.
According to the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005:
A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.
The law does, however, limit an individual’s right to fly the flag for “any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner” to protect the interests of condominiums associations, cooperative associations and residential real estate associations.
While the homeowners association sorts out its regulations, Toner said he has no plans to take down Old Glory.
“That flag is staying right where it is,” Toner said.
Buy American This Season
Birth of a New Tradition
As the different holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide
Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been
produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year
Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer
an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American
hands. Yes there is!
It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box,
wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your
local American hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health
Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops
and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamin's
on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway
sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your
intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast
joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your
home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop
run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady
for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling
to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and
knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.
And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house?
When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have
those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another
glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses
to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care
about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.
THIS is the new American Christmas tradition!
Petco Pulls Pet Treats Suspected of Killing, Sickening Thousands
Petco Pulls Chinese Treats.
January 7, 2015
Petco says it has removed all remaining Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its website and stores nationwide because of concerns they have sickened thousands of pets and killed 1,000 dogs in the U.S. since 2007.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says initial tests have not connected the Chinese jerky and rawhide treats to the illnesses, but the San Diego-based company and its rival PetSmart vowed in May to ban the snacks.
Petco is the first national pet retailer to pull the treats from its 1,300 stores. Phoenix-based PetSmart Inc. said Monday that it plans to have them off shelves at its roughly 1,300 stores by March.
The FDA targeted the treats after receiving more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses, including the deaths, after pets ate chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats from China. Tests have not confirmed any connection, but the agency is still investigating.
An FDA spokeswoman on Monday pointed to a news release from May about its investigation and declined further comment.
Petco Vice President John Sturm said all treats are now made in the U.S. or places such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and South America. The company risked tens of millions of dollars by changing treat vendors, he said.
American Jobs are being lost to China, Mexico and South America
AP - April 13, 2014
Where Have All The Good Jobs Gone?
Countries like China, Mexico and Colombia now produce what used to be produced here in the United States. We have given away our best jobs through so-called “free trade” agreements and most-favored nation status, which accompanies our membership in the WTO. We have lowered or eliminated our protective tariffs, leaving our companies vulnerable.
“Free trade” means uncontrolled, unrestricted access to our economy for foreign-made goods, tariff- and duty-free. These goods are made at wages of $4 per hour or less. We cannot compete with these wages, so we are forced to outsource nearly all of our manufacturing, sell-out to foreign interests, or simply go bankrupt.
We have sabotaged ourselves through our “free trade” agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). NAFTA alone has sucked over 682,000 jobs out of our country since its inception. Not only have these agreements destroyed jobs, they have destroyed our ability to manufacture.
We are losing the institutional knowledge that comes with being a manufacturing powerhouse, and we may never get it back if we allow this trend to continue.
The WTO has also facilitated the transfer of our manufacturing and wealth to overseas nations. In order to be a WTO member, the United States must grant most-favored nation status to all member countries. This means that if we offer a low tariff rate to a country such as France or Germany, we must offer that same low rate to China.
We can no longer pick and choose which countries it is in our best interest to trade certain goods with. As a result, China now accounts for the largest portion of our balance-of-trade deficit, and many of our manufacturers have moved their operations there in search of lower costs, selling back to the United States at no penalty.
This is clearly an unsustainable model. We cannot continue to live on imports and debt. We need good jobs, and our politicians are doing everything they can to prevent them from developing. It is time to replace any politician who has proven they don’t understand this dire situation. The cost of inaction is too great.