Hurricane watches are now in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Indian Pass, Fla. It’s not yet clear how strong the storm, Hurricane Karen, will become as it moves toward the Gulf Coast. But even though the federal government is shut down, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is getting ready to respond.
In a statement Thursday morning, FEMA said it has begun to recall furloughed employees “necessary to serve functions of the agency that protect life and property.” This is happening in accordance with the agency’s shutdown contingency plan. FEMA’s Hurricane Liaison Team in Miami’s National Hurricane Center was reactivated Thursday morning.
But not every weather agency is up and running. Here is where we would typically give you some information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But its website, NOAA.gov, is currently down due to the shutdown. Ready.gov, a site that helps Americans set up plans for disasters, is not updating during the shutdown.
Despite the shutdown, FEMA is doing more than just getting ready to respond to a possible hurricane. The agency has enough employees on hand to continue its flood-relief efforts in Colorado and its work helping areas of Oklahoma hit by a tornado in May. Part of the reason is that funding for these efforts comes from the Disaster Relief Fund, which isn’t currently affected by the federal government funding lapse.
But FEMA can’t just do everything during a shutdown. On Wednesday, a congressional hearing about the agency’s emergency alert system took place. No one from FEMA was able to attend.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.