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Hurricane center top job wide open; deputy director decides not to apply - February 6, 2012 by dharkanjhel

The top job at the National Hurricane Center is wide open.
Ken Kaye’s Storm Center – South Florida

Futures signal higher Wall Street open - December 5, 2011 by dharkanjhel

(Reuters) – Stock index futures pointed to a higher open for equities on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the SP 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 up 0.8-0.9 percent.

The Institute for Supply Management releases at 10 a.m. ET its November non-manufacturing index. Economists forecast a reading of 53.5 versus 52.9 in October.

Germany’s SAP (SAPG.DE) announced a .4 billion cash deal to buy U.S. Web-based software company SuccessFactors (NYSE:SFSF), joining the scramble among technology firms to offer cloud-computing services to businesses.

The Commerce Department releases at 10 a.m. October factory orders. Economists expect a drop of 0.3 percent compared with a 0.3 percent rise in September.

The Conference Board releases at 10 a.m. its employment trend index for November. In the previous report, the index read 101.9.

Shares in Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) rose more than 2 percent on Monday after Apple Inc’s (NasdaqGS:AAPL) bid to halt U.S. sales of its Galaxy line of products was rejected, easing concern of slowing growth in its telecom business, which generates revenue of billion per quarter.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) has declared its strategy for turning around its European carmaking unit Opel a failure, Financial Times Deutschland reported on Monday, citing GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.

Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) is discussing a plan to shuffle Asian managers to reassure Japanese regulators as they prepare to sanction the bank for alleged lapses in disclosure related to the sale of financial products, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Payment processing company Visa Inc (NYSE:V), which plans to generate half of its revenue from markets outside the United States, signed an agreement with the government of Rwanda to expand its electronic payments services in the African country.

U.S. metals recycler Commercial Metals Co (NYSE:CMC) rejected billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s buyout bid, saying the offer substantially undervalues the company and is “opportunistic.

China’s services sector cooled in November to its weakest growth in three months, an HSBC purchasing managers’ index showed on Monday, the latest data portraying an economy slowing quickly and in need of policy support.

European stocks (.FTEU3) rose 0.6 percent early on Monday, adding to last week’s 8.5 percent jump, on growing hopes of a sweeping solution to the euro zone debt crisis as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet ahead of a key summit.

The Nikkei stock average (.N225) rose 0.6 percent on Monday to build on last week’s hefty gains, helped by improved sentiment towards the European debt crisis.

U.S. stocks ended flat on Friday but capped the best week for Wall Street bulls in almost three years after data showed the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to a 2-1/2 year low.

The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI:^DJI) dipped 0.61 point, or 0.01 percent, to 12,019.42 on Friday. The SP 500 (SNP:^GSPC) shed 0.30 point, or 0.02 percent, to 1,244.28. The Nasdaq Composite (Nasdaq:^IXIC) edged up 0.73 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,626.93.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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Open Letter: Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test - November 4, 2011 by dharkanjhel

Posted by: Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

The first ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System will occur on Wednesday, November 9, at 2:00 p.m. EST. As part of our public education campaign, we wrote this open letter to ensure that all Americans are aware of the test and know what to expect.

Please share this information with your friends, family, and coworkers:

Dear Partner,

As part of our nation’s ongoing efforts to strengthen our resilience against all hazards, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in close coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), will conduct the first ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on Wednesday, November 9, at 2:00 p.m. EST. The test will occur simultaneously across the United States and the U.S. territories and will last approximately 30 seconds, after which regular programming will resume. The test will appear on all broadcast radio and television stations, cable television systems, satellite radio and television systems, and wireline video service systems. The test will not involve landline or mobile phones or other infrastructure such as power grids.

The various disasters our country has faced this year underscore the need for effective and well-tested emergency alert and warning systems that could be used in a time of real national emergency, at a moment’s notice. Now, with the test less than a week away, we ask that you join us in efforts to educate your entire community about this important event.

Although the Emergency Alert System and its predecessors have been in existence for more than 50 years and are often tested at the local level, there has never been a nationwide test of these capabilities. The purpose of the test is to allow FEMA and the FCC to assess how well the Emergency Alert System would perform its primary function: alerting the public about a national emergency.

The first step toward building a modernized Emergency Alert System means testing the existing technology. Through preparations for the test, we have already identified areas that need improvement to ensure our entire population has full access to alerts and warnings. This nationwide test will help us identify any additional changes to the system that may be beneficial as we work to complete a modernized and fully accessible system.

A shortcoming of the system that we identified early in the process is that the fifty-year old system was not built to support open or closed captioning, translations, or other tools to supplement the audio portion of the test for broader accessibility. Consequently, many viewers, particularly cable television subscribers, will see the emergency alert on the screen that is accompanied by an audio explanation that “this is only a test,” but may not see a corresponding visual message that “this is only a test.” Knowing these limitations, FEMA and the FCC have targeted our outreach efforts to help ensure that the public knows what to expect when the test occurs. And, in these past weeks leading up to the test, the broadcast community, cable operators and programmers, and other communications service providers have conscientiously assisted in this effort by alerting their viewers and subscribers about the test—through visual and written communications.

Over the past year, our agencies have also been working extensively with our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, and other critical stakeholders to help inform all members of the public regarding the nationwide Emergency Alert System test. In particular, we have conducted extensive outreach to the deaf and hard of hearing community to alert them about the test, including the technical limitations with the visual message, particularly with respect to cable television. To ensure that everyone is aware that the nationwide test on November 9 is only a test, we are also requesting your assistance with outreach. We particularly request that you provide information to people who are deaf and hard of hearing, people with cognitive or intellectual disabilities or mental health concerns, senior citizens, and people with limited English proficiency to build awareness and understanding about the test.

Specifically, we ask that you help us educate your communities regarding some important facts about the test:

  • The test will be approximately 30 seconds long and will look and sound very similar to the frequent local tests of the Emergency Alert System;
  • It will be transmitted via television and radio stations within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa;
  • An audio message will interrupt television and radio programming indicating: “This is only a test,” though text may not indicate this same message on the screen on every television channel;
  • Organizations that serve people with disabilities or people with limited English proficiency should be aware that they may receive requests for information or assistance from broadcasters or other communications service providers and emergency managers in the days leading up to, during, and after the test; and
  • When the test is over, regular programming will resume. In the coming days, our agencies will be releasing additional information to help inform the public about this test. Resources, including videos in accessible formats, can be found at

As with all of our work, we know that the support of our state, local, tribal and territorial partners, along with the private sector, our faith-based and disability communities, and other key stakeholders, will be vital to effectively raising the public’s awareness of the test and minimizing undue public concern. We greatly appreciate your continued partnership as we prepare for this unique event and important public service. Your efforts to help us get the message out will be invaluable.


W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission

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An additional way you can help us spread the word is to embed this widget on your website or post a message on your social media sites to let your followers know.


French ex-PM appeal trial to open - September 25, 2010 by dharkanjhel

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, 28 January 2011Dominique de Villepin was cleared on four counts in the original trial

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is due to face an appeal trial over charges that he plotted to discredit President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr de Villepin was cleared in the case, but the state prosecutor appealed.

He had been accused of failing to stop the Clearstream corruption inquiry into Mr Sarkozy in 2004.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield reports from Paris that the outcome of the case could have a major impact on next year’s presidential election.

In 2004, when both men were preparing for presidential bids, Mr Sarkozy’s name appeared on a list of top politicians and businessmen who were wrongly linked to an illegal bank account in Luxembourg.

It was alleged those named on the list had received bribes from international arms sales.

The list was sent to people including Mr de Villepin, who was accused of failing to stop the conspiracy.

‘Technical trial’

Last year a judge cleared Mr de Villepin on all four counts of complicity to slander, to use forgeries, dealing in stolen property and breach of trust.

Several other defendants in the case were found guilty on various charges.

Our correspondent says that today the rivalry between Mr de Villepin and Mr Sarkozy has a new significance because of a presidential election now less than a year away.

Mr de Villepin has created his own political movement and is widely expected to announce a presidential bid.

With polls suggesting he could get 5% of the first-round vote, he could do real damage to Mr Sarkozy.

Our correspondent adds that complicating the picture are signs that the two men may have had something of a reconciliation in recent weeks – though how sincere that can be, given the mutual loathing that has so long existed between the two, must be a mater of doubt.

“We’re going to move from a trial that was almost dramatic art to a more technical trial,” Olivier Metzner, one of Mr de Villepin’s lawyers, said ahead of the appeal case.

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