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$600 Million Dilemma: NYC Subway-Station-Turned-Fish-Tank

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© Metropolitan Transportation Authority/AP Photo
The South Ferry subway station after it was flooded by seawater during superstorm Sandy is shown on Oct. 30, 2012.
In March 2009, Elliot Sander stood in Lower Manhattan outside South Ferry, New York's newest subway station. Addressing a crowd, the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hailed it as the first major transit project to open downtown since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"This artistically beautiful and highly functional station is a tangible reminder that when the MTA is provided with adequate capital funding, we build monumental works that will benefit generations of New Yorkers for many decades to come," Sander said that day.

Three-and-a-half years later, the station lies in ruins. A tidal surge from Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29 turned it into what current MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota called a "large fish tank." Dispatch equipment was destroyed, tiles ripped from the wall and surfaces coated with East River muck. The state agency pegs the rebuilding cost at $600 million, making it one of the most expensive items on its $5 billion damage list. The price tag doesn't include fortifying against future flooding.

What to do about South Ferry, eight stories underground and only 400 feet (122 meters) from the river, is at the center of a debate over the prudence of rebuilding in a flood zone. For some mass-transit advocates, the destruction shows the importance of investing in new flood protection now in order to save money down the road. Others question if the MTA, the biggest U.S. transit agency, should rebuild at all.

Dollar

Palestine's next step

palestine sign
© roitov.com
Sign in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem
December 9, 2012
Donors Reverse Netanyahu's Financial Attack

Predicting things in the Middle East is dangerous and foolish. A zillion parameters clutter the equations transforming any such an attempt into an exercise in futility. Yet, the day after the acceptance of Palestine as an observer state by the UN, I predicted in Israel and Palestine go to War that this time Palestine will circumvent the fiscal blockade imposed by Netanyahu. I dared to publish that, not because of having received a new supercomputer capable of analyzing the event, but because of the sheer stupidity of Netanyahu's decision. The day after the UN vote, Netanyahu stopped the transfer of $100 million, the tax revenues of the previous month; at the same opportunity, he declared that the Palestinian statehood campaign was "a gross violation of the agreements signed with the state of Israel," adding "the government of Israel rejects the U.N General Assembly decision." Moreover, he announced the construction of 3,000 houses in E1, a terrain between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, an attempt to bisect the West Bank and transform Palestine into a non-viable state. A few days later, on December 9, 2012, Arab states agreed to provide Palestine with $100 million monthly as a "financial safety net." Palestine got a bit more independent; Israel got a lot more irrelevant.

Black Cat

'Fen Tiger' is back - and this time there are two of them

Fen Tiger
© Cambridge News
Fen Tiger sighting in Girton, 1998
The mysterious "Fen Tiger" has been reported prowling the Cambridgeshire countryside again - but this time it had a friend.

A cyclist claims to have spotted two large black "panther-like creatures" in the snow, on his way to work at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Gavin Elliott-Turner was cycling down Fowlmere Road towards Melbourn at about 5.45am on Wednesday when he saw two pairs of eyes glaring at him.

He said: "They were as clear as day, just 30m away, I thought 'Jesus, there are two huge black cats in front of me'.

"They were very clear because of the contrast with the bright snow.

"They looked at me for a couple of seconds, then they ran off across the fields.

"They then stopped, looked around, then took off at a tremendous pace. I saw the footprints they had left.

"I didn't want to hang around as I felt very uncomfortable, and taking a picture would have meant lingering.

"My instincts said get the hell out of here. I thought they may want me as breakfast."

Heart - Black

The Sexxxtons, mother and daughter duo, create porn together

A mother and daughter from Florida were recently stuck in a financial rut that had them thinking of ways to make money. The daughter then suggested they create porn together.

According to the Daily Mail, The Sexxxtons, which includes mother Jessica Sexxxton and daughter Monica Sexxxton, have been creating porn videos for their website since last year. They also recently released a DVD.

They were prompted to create and sell their own porn when Jessica's family, which includes a younger son and daughter Monica, were about to be evicted from their home three years ago.

At first, Monica worked as a bartender and dancer before she suggested to her mother that they give porn a try.

It seemed like the perfect fit for Monica as she had "always been an exhibitionist" and "sex just oozed out" of her.

"It was my idea. The money was part of the reason, but so was fun, and having sex with hot guys," Monica, 22, explained.

The mother-daughter duo do not actually touch each other during sex scenes due to legal reasons, but they usually have sex at the same time on camera and have the same sexual partners.

Jessica, 56, said they have "no problem doing two-on-one" but they are careful to "not interact with each other."

Clock

Doomsayers await the end of the world - in 12 days' time

But governments try to reassure their citizens not to panic.
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Last count: Cubans at a Mayan ritual last week
The end of the world is nigh, or so apocalypse observers would have you believe. The Mayan and Hopi Mesoamerican Long Count calendar may have begun in 3114BC and continued unerringly ever since, but it comes to an abrupt halt on 21 December 2012. Hence, the belief gaining ground among those who fall for this kind of thing that the cosmos will cease to exist in 12 days' time.

Although it may not yet have taken root in Britain's Acacia Avenues, the idea of an approaching cataclysm is troubling folk from Moscow to France, and the US to Brazil. The New York Times has reported that some spooked Russians have been panic-buying matches, fuel and sugar to prepare for the post-apocalypse. And they are not alone. A poll by Ipsos recently found that one in seven people believe the world will end during their lifetime (or, presumably, just after it). The same poll suggests that one in 10 people have experienced fear and/or anxiety about the eschatological implications of Friday week.

But reassurance is at hand. Governments around the world are taking the prophesied threat seriously enough to inform their citizens that they are not taking it seriously at all. Here in the United States, for example, an official government blog entry was posted on Monday, reassuring Americans that "Scary rumors about the world ending in 2012 are just rumors".

Nasa itself has waged a campaign of facts to combat the fear-mongering, releasing a 6.5-minute YouTube video, in which David Morrison, astronomer and Nasa scientist, personally debunked the Doomsday theories. Last month, the space agency published detailed rebuttals of five separate apocalyptic scenarios on its website, including a meteor strike, a solar flare and the so-called polar shift, whereby the Earth's magnetic and rotational poles would reverse, with devastating consequences. While magnetic reversals do take place approximately every 400,000 years, admits Nasa, "As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn't cause any harm to life on Earth. Scientists believe a magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia."

Comment:
The 2012 Collective Shift & the Secret History of End-Times Prophecies
John Major Jenkins, the Mayans, 2012 and All That Jazz
2012 - On The Eve Of Destruction?
How is the World Going to End in 2012?
Chaos and Consent: The Logistics of the One World Government


Christmas Lights

San Jose teen stabbed at Christmas in the Park event

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© CBS News
Christmas in the Park at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose
A 14-year-old boy was injured in a stabbing at San Jose's Christmas in the Park event on Saturday night, a police spokesman said. Officers responded to reports of a stabbing at Plaza de Cesar Chavez near Almaden Boulevard and Park Avenue at about 8:50 p.m., San Jose police Officer Albert Morales said.

Arriving officers found a teenage boy who had been stabbed at least once, Morales said.

The victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not expected to be life threatening, he said.

Witnesses told police that three suspects in their teens or early 20s were seen fleeing the area.

No one was arrested.

The incident is being investigated as gang related, Morales said. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the San Jose Police Department gang investigation unit at (408) 277-4165.

People

Hundreds of fishermen missing in Philippine storm

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© The Associated Press/Bullit Marquez
Residents affected by typhoon Bopha crowd as relief goods are distributed at New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines Sunday Dec. 9, 2012.
New Bataan - The number of people missing after a typhoon devastated the Philippines jumped to nearly 900 after families and fishing companies reported losing contact with more than 300 fishermen at sea, officials said.

The fishermen from southern General Santos city and nearby Sarangani province left a few days before Typhoon Bopha hit the main southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday, Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos said. The death toll has already surpassed 600, mostly from flash floods that wiped away precarious communities in the southern region unaccustomed to typhoons.

Ramos said the fishermen were headed to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and to the Pacific Ocean. Coast guard, navy and fishing vessels are searching for them, and some may have sought shelter on the many small islands in the area.

"Maybe they are still alive," Ramos said Sunday.

Bopha was dissipating finally in the South China Sea after briefly veering back toward the country's northwest on Saturday, prompting worries of more devastation.

Rescuers were searching for bodies or signs of life under tons of fallen trees and boulders in the worst-hit town of New Bataan, where rocks, mud and other rubble destroyed landmarks, making it doubly difficult to search places where houses once stood.

Hundreds of refugees, rescuers and aid workers took a break Sunday to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on a big TV screen, only to be dismayed by their hero's sixth-round knockout.

Sheriff

Columbus police Mace several people when crowd signing up for housing list gets 'out of control'


Columbus, Ohio - Columbus Police sprayed Mace on several people in a crowd that had gathered to sign up for a list to get subsidized housing at a northwest Columbus apartment complex.

Police said the crowd started to gather Friday night for the Saturday morning event at The Heritage apartment complex on Gatewood Road near Sunbury Road in northeast Columbus.

Authorities said that its highest number, the crowd reached 2,000 people.

Residents in the area called police overnight and complained about the noise and number of cars in the neighborhood.

According to police, a melee broke out when the manager of the complex started to set up for the event just before 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

Several individuals were sprayed with Mace by police and treated at the scene by emergency crews.

Police did not report making any arrests.

Stock Down

Crumbs for the masses: Food banks help Britons satisfy hunger

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The number of food banks or soup kitchens opening up in Britain has grown at an alarming rate due to the economic crisis claiming more victims living below the poverty line.

This comes as the number of people, who cannot afford to eat, has doubled in the last year and new food banks are being set up every three days to help the British people cope with financial needs.

According to Euronews, up to 13 million people in Britain are now living below the poverty line.

The coalition government's harsh benefit cuts, low wages, rising energy and costs for transport, add weight to the uneasiness of the lives of not so fortunate people in Britain.

Food bank network director Adrian Curtis said, "We are currently growing a new foodbank project somewhere in the UK every three days, which I think demonstrates the scale of what we are dealing with and we are still only touching the tip of the iceberg."

Pistol

Two killed at alleged Washington pot house on first day of legal weed

Marijuana Leaf
© Live Science
Two suspected robbers believed to be targeting an alleged home-based marijuana growing operation were killed in a shootout on the first day of legal marijuana in Washington state, authorities said.

The 35-year-old homeowner told detectives he shot the masked intruders Thursday after they broke into his home near Puyallup, Pierce County Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer said, according Komonews.com. Troyer told the news outlet that the masked men most likely sought to grab the pot and maybe cash.

The Associated Press reported the secluded, luxury home had a security system, a private driveway and that the homeowner had motorcycles, boats and nice cars.

The homeowner and his 9-year-old son were not hurt. The homeowner, whose name was not released, was detained, at least pertaining to an illegal growing operation, Troyer told the wire service. He has since been released.