Bob Litan — Director of Research, Bloomberg Government
As the estimated price-tag on Superstorm Sandy passes $20 billion, it’s still unclear where the money will come from. The Congressional Research Service released a report in August stating that an average of 19 disasters per year in the 1960s has risen to 56 annually in the 21st Century, with a record of 99 in 2011.
“The office is open.” Many New York City-based feds still cannot say those four words. In fact, some federal workers in lower Manhattan are being urged to stay away from their offices because of storm damage. But across the river, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch is welcoming her employees back to work. Lynch’s office is based in Brooklyn.
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A 50-year-old veteran of maritime conflict pulled into home port yesterday for the last time. USS Enterprise docked at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia amid cheering service members and families. Soon after, sailors began shutting down the ship’s eight nuclear reactors. The Enterprise will never travel on its own power again. It’s destined for a scrap yard in Washington state. The Enterprise is the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. It has participated in every major conflict since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. This last mission was an eight-month stint supporting ground troops in Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy)
From drying out Manhattan to turning the lights on in New Jersey, the military continues to support emergency relief efforts along the East Coast. The Pentagon says priorities include pumping water out of the city, restoring power and delivering fuel. But they are also delivering meals, blankets and cots to both victims and first responders. While much of the focus remains on New York City and New Jersey, the military is also replenishing emergency supplies in West Virginia. A monster snowstorm ravaged the state. But elsewhere along the East Coast, as states rebound, the National Guard is picking up and moving to harder hit areas. Delaware guardsmen have gone to New York to help that state. (Defense Department)
Expect TV cameras outside military courts today as preliminary hearings start in two controversial cases. In North Carolina, Brig Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair could face a court-martial for sex crimes. The Army has tried to keep the case under wraps since it recalled Sinclair from Afghanistan earlier this year. The Associated Press says the Pentagon is not revealing even routine information, such as the name of his defense lawyer. Across the country in Washington state, proceedings begin in the case of a soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children. Prosecutors say Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went off on his own one March morning with a rifle and grenade launcher. The Article-32 hearing could go as long as two weeks. At the end, a military investigative officer will recommend whether the case should proceed to a court martial. (Associated Press)
VMware is warning customers to make sure their security patches are up-to-date. The warning comes after a chunk of source code was posted publicly by a hacker. Computerworld reports, the source code is for VMWare’s ESX hypervisor, and dates to 2004. The hacker, who goes by the handle Stun, released the code using a link in a Twitter message. VMWare is widely used in the federal government for server virtualization and reducing data center costs. (Computer World)