WASHINGTON - Only two weeks after Washington and the nation were debating a unilateral military strike on Syria that was also intended as a forceful warning to Iran about its nuclear program, President Obama finds himself at the opening stages of two unexpected diplomatic initiatives with America’s biggest adversaries in the Middle East, each fraught with opportunity and danger.

Without much warning, diplomacy is suddenly alive again after a decade of debilitating war in the region. After years of increasing tension with Iran, there is talk of finding a way for it to maintain a face-saving capacity to produce a very limited amount of nuclear fuel while allaying fears in the United States and Israel that it could race for a bomb.

Syria, given little room for maneuver, suddenly faces imminent deadlines to account for and surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles - or risk losing the support of its last ally, Russia.

For Mr. Obama, it is a shift of fortunes that one senior American diplomat described this week as “head spinning.”

In their more honest moments, White House officials concede they got here the messiest way possible - with a mix of luck in the case of Syria, years of sanctions on Iran and then some unpredicted chess moves executed by three players Mr. Obama deeply distrusts: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and Iran’s erratic mullahs. But, the officials say, these are the long-delayed fruits of the administration’s selective use of coercion in a part of the world where that is understood.

"The common thread is that you don’t achieve diplomatic progress in the Middle East without significant pressure," Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said Thursday. "In Syria, it was the serious threat of a military strike; in Iran it was a sanctions regime built up over five years."

Skeptics - and there are plenty in the National Security Council, the Pentagon, America’s intelligence agencies and Congress - are not so optimistic. They think Mr. Obama runs the risk of being dragged into long negotiations and constant games of hide-and-seek that, ultimately, will result in little change in the status quo. They argue that the president’s hesitance to pull the trigger on Tomahawk strikes on Syria nearly two weeks ago, and the public and Congressional rebellion at the idea of even limited military strikes, were unmistakable signals to the Syrian and Iranian elites that if diplomacy fails, the chances of military action ordered by the American president are slight.

"These two situations are deeply intertwined," said Dennis B. Ross, who served as Mr. Obama’s lead adviser on Iran for the first three years of his presidency, and who argued for attacking Syria after the Aug. 21 gas attacks that killed more than a thousand civilians. "If the Syrians are forced to give up their weapons, it will make a difference to the Iranian calculation," and would raise the prospects of some deal with Tehran.

"If the Syrians can drag this out and give up just a little, that will send a very different message to the supreme leader," he said.

Hovering over it all is a third negotiation: Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to jump-start talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a political minefield that Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, for the most part avoided.

All these possibilities could evaporate quickly; just ask the State Department diplomats who in the last years of the Bush administration thought they were on the way to keeping North Korea from adding to its nuclear arsenal, or the Clinton administration officials who thought they were on the verge of a Middle East peace deal.

Mr. Obama will most likely know whether the Syrian accord stands a chance of success long before he knows whether the sudden Iranian charm offensive is real or a mirage. The Syrians now face a series of deadlines. The first comes this weekend, when they must issue a declaration of their chemical stocks that “passes the laugh test,” as Gary Samore, Mr. Obama’s former top adviser on unconventional weapons, put it earlier in the week.

The State Department has hinted that the Saturday deadline is not hard and fast. And while Mr. Assad will presumably admit to quantities roughly in line with the amounts that the United States and Russia have estimated are in his hands, the harder question for the Syrian leader is whether to lead inspectors to every depot, every warehouse, every research and development facility. That is supposed to happen in November, with total disarmament by the middle of next year.

But enforcing that will be difficult. So much time will have passed since the Aug. 21 gas attack that Mr. Obama will no longer be able to threaten a strike as punishment for use of the weapons. Instead, he would have to justify any military action as an enforcement of a United Nations resolution that he does not yet have in hand, and that is unlikely to authorize the use of force. White House officials say they are not especially concerned: with the world watching and United Nations inspectors on the ground to supervise the elimination of stockpiles, “we would have an effective form of deterrence” against another use of the weapons, Mr. Rhodes argued.

Iran is trickier. The coming week will be about symbolism, including the possibility that Mr. Obama and the newly elected Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, will arrange to run into each other at the United Nations, where they will both be for the annual General Assembly session. But that would be the easy part. Iranians are desperate for relief from sanctions that have cut their oil revenue by more than half, crashed their currency and made international banking all but impossible, but they may not understand the price of relief. “I suspect they are heading for sticker shock,” one official deeply involved in developing the American negotiating strategy said recently.

If rumors prove true, the Iranians may offer to close Fordo, the nuclear facility whose existence was revealed in 2009. The site’s major value to Iran is that it is largely invulnerable to Israeli bombing, but it is so small that it may be more valuable to Mr. Rouhani as a bargaining chip.

American officials say they understand that Iran will need some kind of enrichment ability to assure its own people that it has retained its “nuclear rights,” as its negotiators say. The question is how much. Unless a good deal of the current infrastructure is dismantled, Iran will be able to maintain a threshold nuclear capability - that is, it will be just a few weeks, and a few screwdriver turns, from building a weapon. It is unclear whether Mr. Obama can live with that; the Israelis say they cannot.

But the big picture for Mr. Obama is that after weeks of appearing uncertain of his way, he now has a chance to pull off something big. “If he gets this right in the ninth inning, no one will remember what the fourth and fifth inning looked like,” David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s longtime political strategist, said Thursday. But the president is nowhere near the ninth inning; the game is only now getting interesting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 20, 2013

An earlier version of this article misidentified the type of weapons stocks that Syria must issue a declaration about this weekend, under a proposed accord. They are chemical stocks, not nuclear stocks.


Source: Nytimes

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Don’t you think Andy would have become a better captain? Tanisha seems like a school teacher ordering the inmates.

Within five days of the show, a lot seems to be happening in the house. Tanisha has been chosen as the first captain and bars her from doing any work. Well, she wasn’t doing much either. But Armaan Kohli is the guy to look out for. He won’t leave any chance to hog limelight. But interestingly says that Elli has learnt the TRP gimmicks in a few days.

The way Pratyusha reacted to Ratan shows how much importance she gives to herself. Similarly, Andy is likely to be misunderstood by others. I was just wondering whether they will be able to hold on to their stands till the end?

The environment inside the Bigg Boss is slowly heating up. The fights have started to take place. Some contestants are deliberately taking the backseats while people like Armaan Kohli and Gauhra Khan are not hiding their real emotions. Do you think it’s going to cost them in the longer run because traditionally the participants with relatively matured and calm heads have got the better support from the audience?

Isn’t Armaan experiencing Jahanum in Jannat (doesn’t share the bed with Rajat, sleeps on the floor instead)? What made him pass that derogatory remark? Elli should hit him for calling her ‘Chammak Challo’ and Armaan has to be the first contestant to be ousted from the show!

Gauhar finds the washroom in Jahannum unflattering! What was she expecting in hell? Bathroom with a shower, bath tub/whirlpool tub?

Anita Advani detests being called ‘doagle (hypocritical), ironical? Gauhar gets nominated for Jahannum, pays the price for standing for herself! Do you find the decision unfair? Bhalai ka zamana nahi hai, is all we can say. Shilpa is so serious about winning the show. She understands everyone’s move, sinister intentions and motives. Gets thumbs up!

Gauhar is unpredictable, Sangram is neutral. Is Shilpa plotting against inmates in a smart way? Or is she insecure about herself in the show? The fact that Shilpa and Tanisha, who had a stupid interaction about the latter wearing medium-size outfits, are getting along well is unbelievable! Just a put on, we think!

What’s this nonsensical fight between Pratyusha and Ratan all about? Pls, can we get better tiffs and bickering? For those who came in late, Pratyusha and Ratan got into a fight on relationships. Pratyusha accused Ratan of having taunted her for her failed relationship. Pratyusha thought this to be a sensitive issue and asked Ratan to back off.

wish the whole nation watched this show .. its very entertaining

I don’t think Gauhar was wrong on her part. She did over stretch it but she had valid points to get upset, no?

Okay, most of the stuff that Anita Advani is saying about Rajesh Khanna is already known. Not too many inside details so far. Disappointing.

Watch out for today’s episode as Anita Advani opens up about her relationship with late actor Rajesh Khanna.

I think Pratyusha is the biggest attention seeker in the house. However, she was always a bad actress.

Does anyone feel that Pratyusha Banerjee is Sana Khan and Rupali Ganguly wrapped into one? She whines too much, takes offense at the slightest of the things.

The promo of tomorrow’s episode suggests that Armaan Kohli is going to lose his temper again, but this time Gauhar seems to be in a mood to counter it. Stay tuned to our live blog as we will keep you updated about Bigg Boss 7.

Today’s episode of Bigg Boss ended at a sad note. Pratyusha got injured, however it didn’t become clear what exactly happened to her. I don’t think she is over-reacting. Kushal grabbed the opportunity and behaved like a hero when Pratyusha got injured but fellow house mates also showed a lot of calibre when they resumed the work in no time. In earlier seasons of Bigg Boss, participants started to lose their patience after 7-8 days but here this is happening from the second day only. It seems this season is going to be high on drama and emotional quotient.

The argument between Tanisha and Gauhar was about the people of the other side, which means they are not going to be affected by any development because they don’t need to do the physical labour. Armaan Kohli was rightly taking a stand but as a contestant, it would be a mistake to disclose all your cards in the beginning only. Pratyusha is likely to throw some tantrum around as she thinks that she is the most popular contestant on the show.

What Sangram was just doing with Elie was a disturbing thing. Is it a good thing to make fun of people just because they don’t know your language? But, there is someone more scattered than him, Armaan. Is he trying to control things by force? And, what do you think about this warden voice? I think it’s unnecessary. There is enough tension already.

The first task given by Bigg Boss is taking a toll on the contestants because these celebrities are not used to such type of physical pain. They might have been hitting the gym regularly but this time of condition is entirely new for them. Very soon, they will be seen fighting each other on petty issues. Armaan Kohli is currently taking the charge of the situation but others also need to step up and take responsibility. Pratyusha’s strategy is also pretty clear but this may hamper her good girl image.

Who do you think is going to be the first person to leave the Bigg Boss house? Also, tell us who is the strongest contender of this season? You can write the names in the comment box below this post.

Ok, don’t think I am biased towards Armaan Kohli. It’s just that the audience should know the participants well. Here is a song. Just check it out.

For those who are interested. Here is a brief profile of Armaan Kohli.

Armaan can do so because once he was a known actor. Many people still remember him for that song ‘Dil junglee kabootar’ from the movie ‘Qahar’.

I think Armaan Kohli is going to turn out to be the most bossy contestant of this season.

Hi everyone. Who do you think is going to steal the show in today’s episode of ‘Bigg Boss 7’? Don’t you think Andy is trying to go the Imam way?

Is Gauhar’s clarification convincing? Was Pratyusha overreacting? Well, we liked their petty quarrel. Day 1 offers what the show is all about - suspense, thrill, flare-ups, irritation, groupism.

Things are heating up in the Bigg Boss house. Pratyusha and Gauhar in a tiff? Does Gauhar have a condescending attitude towards TV artists? If so, she needs to be reminded of the fact that she has been part of two reality shows before she accepted Bigg Boss offer! And her sister Nigaar Khan too belongs to TV! So why that patronizing behaviour?

While Kushal is addicted to alochol, Tanisha is self-restraining. Discussions on nominations ‘prakriya’kick off.

Kushal (who tries to correct Bigg Boss’ pronunciation), Elle, Pratyusha, Hazel and Ratan get nominated for week 1. Andy performs to ‘Dil Cheez Kya Hai’ and it is torturous. He killed Rekha’s iconic song.

Gauhar nominates Ratan (finds her unhygienic) and Pratyusha (for not being amiable). Isn’t the teary breakdown of Anita Advani a bit too much? Do the makers need this drama for higher TRPs?

Life in Bigg Boss is never easy. While Pratyusha gets busy mopping and sweeping the floor, Rajat is more interested in electing the captain, and Andy comes across as the ‘dark angel’ as Tanisha says. Andy is a tad irritating!

A warden in Bigg Boss house? That’s a welcome change.

Didn’t Andy speak about cuddling and ‘khulne mei’ joke followed by a weird giggle? We hope this season isn’t about oh-so-crappy humor.

Looking for ways for a magically fit bod? Follow in the footsteps of Sangram Singh - power yoga, sit-ups, cycling.

It is all about giggles and fun on Day 1 in Bigg Boss house. This so-called camaraderie won’t last for long!

Lots of drama and controversies in store for the viewers in the coming days. Stay tuned for the updates o.

Bigg Boss 7 finally gets its 15 contestants.

Anita Advani, Rajesh Khanna’s ex, wants to start afresh. Joins

Pratyusha Banerjee could look a little more enthusiastic, no?

Jaanidushman! Yaad hai?! Armaan Kohli was the hero of that film.


Source: In

Update at 3:45 pm ET: The Cygnus cargo capsule successfully lifted off aboard an Antares rocket and later successfully deployed the solar cells that it needs for power, NASA reports. The cargo capsule next heads for a rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday. If it successfully berths at the station, the demonstration flight will deliver about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of food, clothing, and other cargo here to the station.

Like it’s swan constellation namesake, the commercial cargo spacecraft Cygnus will take flight in a historic launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 18.

Scheduled to blastoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility from Virginia’s shoreline at 10:50 am EDT ( International times), this will be private firm Orbital Sciences ’ first launch of their Antares commercial rocket carrying their new resupply ship on its maiden voyage to the ISS.

This cosmic delivery run will only be the second by a commercial venture-California-based SpaceX was the first to stock up the orbiting laboratory last year in the post-shuttle era. Unlike SpaceX’s Dragon, Cygnus cargo ship will not return to Earth but instead will be filled with trash and sent into a fiery kamikaze dive into the atmosphere to burn up.

Just like last week’s launch of the LADEE moon mission from the same facility, the Antares liftoff should be visible up and down the eastern coast of the U.S..

Despite it being a daytime launch the bright plume from the two-stage rocket may be witnessed from Maine to North Carolina. Here are a few artist renderings of what the rocket trajectory will look like from various locations.

NASA Television will begin their web broadcast of the Antares launch at 10:15 am EDT on Sept 18. Launch window lasts until 11:05 am EDT.

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

Source: Nationalgeographic

AT THE U.S. BORDER, Columbus, N.M. - The mothers, holding the here small hands of their children, can go only as far as the glass door, where Mexico ends and America begins. They lean down and send off their little ones with a kiss and a silent prayer.

The children file into the U.S. port of entry, chatting in Spanish as they pull U.S. birth certificates covered in protective plastic from Barbie and SpongeBob backpacks. Armed U.S. border officers wave them onto American soil and the yellow buses waiting to take them to school in Luna County, N.M.

This is the daily ritual of the American schoolchildren of Palomas, Mexico, a phenomenon that dates back six decades and has helped blur the international border here.

The tide of students washing over the border has drawn muted complaints from some local residents over the cost to U.S. taxpayers. But most accept the arrangement as a simple fact of life on the border, which feels like an artificial divide between communities laced together by bloodlines, marriage and commerce.

For all the contentious national debate about immigration reform and stalled efforts in Congress to find consensus, the communities here live cooperatively. Still, coexistence is complicated and more nuanced than the discourse in Washington allows.

Nearly three out of four students at Columbus Elementary, the school closest to the border, live in Palomas and were born to Mexican parents. The Palomas children are American because of a long-standing state and federal policy that allows Mexican women to deliver their babies at the nearest hospital, which happens to be 30 miles north of the border in Deming, N.M., the seat of Luna County.

"All this hysteria about migrants and immigrants, throwing the undocumented out and all these bills being passed - well, we live in this area and have a very different take on humanity," said Paul Dulin, director of the New Mexico Office of Border Health in Las Cruces. "We just know we have to work together."

For generations, the people of dusty Palomas have been toiling in the New Mexican fields, filling trucks with sweet onions and chili peppers bound for markets throughout the United States and elsewhere. At one point, the two communities shared a fire department. More than 60 percent of Luna County’s 25,000 residents are Hispanic, many of whom were once schoolchildren from Palomas.

In the 1950s, the Palomas children didn’t even have to be Americans to attend the Deming Public Schools. The principal of the elementary school simply admitted the children of one persistent Mexican father and the tradition began. Twenty years later, the county began requiring U.S. citizenship, but students don’t need to live in Luna County, said Harvielee Moore, the school superintendent.

"We’re here to teach children," Moore said. "They’re American citizens, and we want them to be literate. If they’re literate, they get jobs. And they pay taxes."

Children cross the border to attend school elsewhere along the sprawling U.S.-Mexico boundary, most notably in El Paso, across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Ju&;rez. But Luna County is rural and far smaller, and the daily influx of children has a greater impact on the schools.


Source: Washingtonpost

President Barack Obama will join members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other political heavyweights at the group’s annual Phoenix Awards Dinner during its legislative conference in Washington, DC on Saturday. Obama, the dinner’s keynote speaker, made waves during the same event in 2011 at the height of the CBC’s demands that Obama do more about the economic woes of African-Americans, when he told the group to “stop complaining” and get to work with him.

But those were the bad old days of Obama’s first term, when black members of Congress echoed the frustration and disappointment of their constituents, in districts that bore the brunt of the economic crisis. Obama’s second term has offered an opportunity for the president and the CBC to get back on the good foot.

The president’s responses to the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman-his articulation of African-Americans’ pain-recast the community’s perception of Obama as tone-deaf and absent on black cultural issues.

Still, the economic forecast for blacks remains dismal. And a range of other issues affecting many African-Americans-and millions of other Americans, for that matter-continues to fester. Here are eight key issues the president should address.

Unemployment/Wealth

This year marked the 50 th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. While much has changed for African-Americans, progress has remained slow. The black-white economic and employment gap has remained wide and largely unchanged over the last half-century. In 1963 the average annual unemployment rate for blacks was 10.9%, compared with 5% for whites. Today, the unemployment rate for blacks remains about double that of whites, at 12.6 for blacks and 6.6 for whites.

The unemployment rate is just one indicator of the challenges that black Americans face. The income and wealth gap also continues to expand.

Stand Your Ground laws

The acquittal of Zimmerman this summer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager sparked nationwide protests. Much of the anger was directed at Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground laws, which give wide discretion in the use of deadly force and initially gave Zimmerman legal cover from prosecution.

In the fallout of the verdict, both Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama came out against such laws. Days after Zimmerman’s acquittal, Obama suggested that it was time to further examine such laws.

"I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?" Obama said. “And do we actually think that he would have been here justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?”

Since then, protests around Stand Your Ground laws have grown. One group of activists, the Dream Defenders, occupied the Florida governor’s office for 31 days while demanding legislative hearings on the law.

Gun Violence /Gun Legislation

Curbing gun violence and gun deaths remains a top priority for many CBC members, particularly those who represent urban and inner city districts. Following a number of high profile killings, including that of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago honor student gunned down a week after she marched in Obama’s second inaugural parade, the president and First Lady Michelle Obama made public overtures for young people to put down the guns.

But activists and the parents of children lost to gun violence across the country want the Obama administration to keep pushing for tighter gun laws and additional resources to curb gun violence in the communities that suffer from it most. After a bloody Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, local congressional members called an emergency summit to develop practical ideas they might be able to offer up to Congress. Little came from the summit, but it did let voters know that their members of Congress were serious about keeping urban gun violence on Washington’s radar.

The administration’s push earlier this year for new federal gun control legislation was stalled by congressional Republicans and the gun lobby. But with yet another mass shooting-this time at the Washington Navy Yard earlier this week-and the shooting of 13 people including a 3-year-old boy in Chicago on Thursday, the momentum may be there to enact gun safety reform.

Education

In major cities across the country, including Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia, school districts are shuttering public schools in mostly African-American communities. Thousands of black and Latino youth are being forced from their neighborhood schools, often into unfamiliar or unwelcoming neighborhoods. Chicago closed 50 schools this year and 88% of the affected students were black. In Philadelphia, 23 schools were closed and 81% of those students affected were black. In both cities, 93% or more of the young people affected were low-income students. Opponents of the closures believe the school closings are an attack on public education, teachers unions and minority students. What ever happened to Obama’s Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans?

Health/Obamacare

A recent report by the Pew Research Center suggests that African-Americans support President Obama’s signature piece of health care legislation, the 2010 Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare, at a rate three times as that of whites.

This week, Republicans have threatened to shut down the government unless the Affordable Care Act is fully defunded.

"We’re going to continue to do everything we can to repeal the president’s failed health care law," said Republican House Speaker John Boehner. “The law is a train wreck.” As Republicans attack the law and support continues to slip among whites, the administration has doubled-down on touting its benefit to blacks.

During a meeting with African-American faith leaders in August, Obama said that an estimated 7.3 million African-Americans with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no additional costs. The ACA would also allow 7 million blacks without health insurance access to quality, affordable health insurance options beginning in 2014. An attack on Obamacare can be seen as a hostile disregard for the healthcare needs of millions of blacks.

Voting Rights

In June, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which in part required a number of states with a history of discriminatory election practices to get federal approval before changing their election laws. The Voting Rights Act was a victory for civil rights activists and African-Americans, disenfranchised for generations by southern Jim Crow laws.

Civil rights groups say the court’s ruling could undo decades of equality gains.

In response to the court’s decision, Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” and that the decision “upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.”

The same day the SCOTUS ruling came down, states started to advance previously prohibited voting laws. The Justice Department has said it will file a suit challenging such a move by Texas, which is moving to implement a redistricting plan and voter ID law the DOJ had deemed discriminatory.

In the 2012 election, fury at Republican voter suppression efforts helped engergize minorities, college students and other groups who turned out for Obama at high rates.

Food Stamps

This week conservative Republicans in the House passed a bill that would cut nearly $40 billion from the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), over the next decade. The cuts could mean hardship and further food insecurity for millions of impoverished women, children and families.

There are currently nearly 49 million Americans who receive benefits under the SNAP program. Next year alone some 3.8 million could be kicked out of the program. About 17 million of those benefiting from the program are children. Another 5 million are seniors. In all, 76% of the households receiving SNAP benefits included children, seniors or the disabled, according to the USDA.

One amendment to the bill would establish a lifetime ban for convicted felons from receiving SNAP benefits; another would require that participants receive mandatory drug testing.

"There is no rational reason for them attacking poor people and women as they have," CBC chair Marcia L. Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio, told MSNBC’s Rev. Al Sharpton earlier this week.

Pardon/Clemency

Opposition is growing to mandatory sentencing minimums, which have decimated African-American communities. In the meantime, though, President Obama has used his clemency powers at a historically low rate, as thousands and thousands of black men and women sit locked in American prisons via unfair drug laws and draconian sentencing rules.

According to the Department of Justice, Obama has received nearly 10,000 applications for clemency but has pardoned just 39 people and commuted one sentence.

Some African-American leaders hope Obama will be more generous in the final years of his second term. If there is any one issue in which the president could have an immediate impact, it is this one. With a wave of his pen, Obama could undo some of the mess caused by a lopsided criminal justice system.


Source: Msnbc

The Sea Spray Inn

Inns throughout New Jersey will observe the coming anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with discounts on rooms. Twenty-six member inns of the New Jersey Bed and Breakfast Association will offer 10 percent off weeknight rates during October in a campaign here called Back Inn Business.

Although not all the participating inns are coastal, several were damaged by the storm. The eight-room Sea Spray Inn in Ocean Grove sustained broken windows and water damage in upstairs bedrooms, and five feet of water in the owner’s ground-floor apartment. Restoring the latter is still a work in progress, but the guest rooms were repaired after a five-month closure, and business since has been solid.

"People came saying, ‘We want to support the Jersey Shore,’" said the innkeeper Mary Ellen Tellefsen. "It was a nice summer in terms of how people supported us."

The discount campaign, valid Sunday through Thursday nights with the exception of Columbus Day weekend, is meant to raise awareness among travelers during the off-season. “Folks do think the New Jersey Shore shuts down after Labor Day,” she noted.

Rooms at the inns start around $100 per night, before the discount.


Source: Nytimes

For Immediate Release: Sept. 20, 2013 
Media Inquiries: Juli Putnam, 240-402-0537,
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

U.S. Marshals seize food products at two Virginia food companies

FDA acts to prevent food distribution from rodent and insect-infested facility

U.S. Marshals seized food products at Gourmet Provisions, LLC and Royal Cup, Inc., after U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigators found widespread and active rodent and insect infestation on the premises.

The FDA initiated seizures of food products manufactured by Gourmet Provisions, LLC and stored by the two companies on September 16, here 2013, under warrants issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

During the most recent inspection, FDA investigators found widespread rodent and insect activity, unclean equipment, and structural defects. Effective measures had not been taken to exclude insects and rodents from the facility and to protect food products and food contact surfaces from contamination.

"These companies have a responsibility for the safety and quality of their products," said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "When firms do not uphold this responsibility, the FDA will take actions that demonstrate its commitment to assuring consumers that foods they buy are prepared, packaged, and held under sanitary conditions."

Some of the seized goods had been under an embargo by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The two businesses are located on the same premises in Waynesboro, Va. Gourmet Provisions manufactures and packages ice cream cones and stores other finished food products in its warehouse. Royal Cup stores coffee service items in a separate area within the Gourmet Provisions warehouse. Gourmet Provisions does business as Matt’s Supreme Cones.

To date, no illnesses have been associated with these products. Illnesses or adverse events related to use of these products should be reported to the FDA at caers@fda.hhs.gov or by calling 240-402-2405.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. FDA also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Visit the FDA on Facebook , Flickr , YouTube and Twitter


Source: Fda

JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has dismissed as “media spin” a flurry of statements by the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, about the goals of his nation’s nuclear program and his willingness to engage in diplomacy regarding it, saying, “There is no need to be fooled by the words.”

"The test is not in what Rouhani says, but in the deeds of the Iranian regime, which continues to advance its nuclear program with vigor while Rouhani is being interviewed," Mr. Netanyahu said in a lengthy statement issued late Thursday by his office. "The Iranians are engaged in a media spin in order to keep the centrifuges spinning."

Mr. Netanyahu, who has described Mr. Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” has stepped up his longstanding campaign against Iranian nuclear development in recent days, and plans to make it the focus of a Sept. 30 meeting with President Obama in Washington and an upcoming speech to the United Nations General Assembly. After a year in which Jerusalem and Washington appeared to be mostly in sync on how to handle the Iranian question, President Obama’s overtures to Mr. Rouhani in a private letter, and renewed discussion of diplomatic talks that could lift sanctions against Iran, could revive tensions between the allies.

The primary disagreement has been over how long to pursue diplomacy and sanctions before taking military action against Tehran, which maintains that its here nuclear development is for civilian purposes only.

"Netanyahu’s words were most likely meant for the ears of the members of Congress, so they will not let Obama get carried away by Rouhani’s overtures and urge the president to increase the economic pressure on Iran and impose additional, more severe sanctions," Ron Ben-Yishai, a respected journalist, wrote in an analysis published on Ynet, an Israeli news site. “The Israelis are also telling their American counterparts that just like in the case of the Syrian crisis, a credible military threat is needed in order to get results on the diplomatic track.”

The prime minister’s office statement, issued in response to Mr. Rouhani’s interview broadcast over the past two days on NBC, did not mention President Obama’s letter or the United States’ role. Reiterating a four-step formula Mr. Netanyahu laid out earlier in the week, it said, “The international community must increase the pressure on Iran” until Iran halts uranium enrichment, removes enriched uranium from the country, dismantles the Fordo nuclear plant, and stops the plutonium track.

"Rouhani has boasted in the past about how he deceived the international community in nuclear talks, while Iran continued with its nuclear program," the statement said. "The goal of the regime in Iran," it added, is a deal to "give up a secondary part of its nuclear program" but "preserve and fortify the principal element of its capabilities, which will allow it to race to obtain a nuclear weapon within a short time, the moment it chooses to do so."

The statement picked apart Mr. Rouhani’s comments on other matters as well.

"Rouhani claims in the interview that Israel is responsible for the instability in the region while Iran sends its people to massacre innocent civilians in Syria and encourages terrorism around the world," it said. "Rouhani claims in the interview that the citizens of Iran should be allowed free access to information, while his government blocks their access to Facebook and Twitter."

The prime minister’s office also addressed the Iranian president’s ducking of a question about whether he, like his predecessor, believes that the Holocaust was a myth. Mr. Rouhani answered, “I’m not a historian, I’m a politician.” Mr. Netanyahu’s statement declared, “It does not take a historian to recognize the existence of the Holocaust - it just requires being a human being.”

But while Mr. Netanyahu attacked Mr. Rouhani, Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, said Friday that there was a chance that the new president was promising real change and that a meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani would be positive for Israel.

"As a result of the sanctions the regime in Iran is under real pressure, and Rouhani comes to save the regime, and I think there is a chance," Mr. Javedanfar, the author of a book of Iran’s nuclear program, said in an interview on Israel Radio. "If Rouhani does the work, this is good for Israel. If the Iranians do the job, our pilots and soldiers don’t have to."

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting.


Source: Nytimes

House Republicans are considering substantial budget savings, curbs on the Obama administration’s environmental agenda and other items as the price for extending the government’s ability to borrow money.

GOP lawmakers here and aides say that what to put in the legislation has been discussed in private meetings.

Options include raising premiums for higher-income Medicare recipients, forcing construction of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, and blocking curbs on coal ash that the administration has proposed.

President Barack Obama has said he wants to simply extend the debt limit and will not negotiate on the legislation.

The government is expected to exhaust its ability to borrow money in mid- to late October. That would threaten a first-ever federal default, which many analysts believe would deal a severe blow to the economy.


Source: Go