U.S. Troops Headed to Australia, Irking China

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How about sending troops to Australia?  As the powers that be rethink Washington’s global commitments, at a time when the White House is attempting to draw down troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and when budget cuts threaten to curtail defense spending, President Obama announced plans Wednesday to establish a permanent military presence in Australia, part of the president’s high-profile foreign policy shift toward Asia that is intended to counterbalance China’s growing power.

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The move to send 250 Marines to bases here for six-month tours starting next summer, eventually rotating 2,500 troops through the country, is the first step toward the administration’s larger goal of repositioning the United States as a leader on economics and security in the fast-developing Asia-Pacific region.
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Congresswoman Hochul Votes In Favor Of Veterans Job Legislation

Congresswoman Kathy Hochul issued the following statement after voting for the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which will help put veterans back to work and strengthen our nation’s economy:

“Today, I was proud to support and help pass the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which will help put veterans back to work across our country, while helping small businesses grow.

“This legislation will ensure our veterans, as well as our active military returning home from battle, have the proper training, in addition to the opportunities, to get back to work and help grow the American economy.

“Our nation is currently struggling with unprecedented unemployment.  With veterans returning from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan facing even higher unemployment, we must do everything we can to ensure our troops have an honest job to come home to after bravely serving our country.

“Once signed into law, this bill will provide tax credits to small businesses that hire long-term, unemployed veterans, as well as provide incentives to businesses that hire wounded veterans. 

“The men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces have done everything in their power to protect our freedom and democracy, and now it is our turn to protect them.”

Among other features, this Veterans Jobs Bill will:

  • Enact the “Returning Heroes” Tax Credit, which will supply employers who hire veterans out of work for six months with a $5,600 tax credit. 
  • Enact the “Wounded Warriors” Tax Credit, which will supply employers who hire veterans out of work for six months and who have a service-connected disability with a $9,600 tax credit.
  • Expand education and training opportunities for older veterans by providing 100,000 unemployed veterans with up to 1 year of additional Montgomery GI benefits to go towards education or training programs at community colleges or technical schools.
  • Provide disabled veterans with up to 1 year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits.

Last month, Congresswoman Hochul called on Congress to quickly pass legislation that would help create more jobs for veterans, while providing tax breaks to small businesses.

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News From Monday Afternoon’s Work Session – 11/14/11

There were two items discussed at Monday’s afternoon work session.

1.  The Town of Amherst signed a one year contract with Independent Health to be the health provider for town employees. 

2.  Supervisor Weinstein said he is thinking about of offering an incentive plan for those employees who are planning to retire.

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Hip Procedure Grows Popular Despite Doubt

Hip impingement or bone shaving surgery is becoming more and more popular despite uncertainies. 

Some sports medicine researchers are asking: where is the evidence that shaving bone helps? Might the bumps or irregular shapes they call impingement be just normal variations? Does the shaved bone grow back?

And it is not just professional athletes who are having the operation. Now some surgeons are even operating on teenage athletes with hip pain.

The idea is that bone that has rough edges or an irregular shape in the hip is rubbing against soft tissue in the joint, causing tendons to fray or muscles to tear. The hope is that by shaving and smoothing the bone, surgeons can protect patients from further injury and also protect them from developing arthritis. The amount of bone removed varies but can be significant — sometimes, as much as a third of the thigh bone’s top.
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Retailers See a Split in Behavior of Shoppers

Profits at Wal-Mart stores, like this one in Chicago, declined.

October retail sales exceeded analysts’ expectations.  Affluent shoppers looked to the stock market and poor ones watched gas prices.

At Wal-Mart, shoppers cut back on staples like milk and meat that had price increases of a few cents. At Saks Fifth Avenue, they paid full price for shoes and designer fashions at a rate higher than before the recession. 

As several big chains reported third-quarter results on Tuesday, the divide between hard-pressed and prosperous Americans remained a defining characteristic of the retail economy.

“Clearly it’s a bifurcated market,” said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks, in an interview. “The high-end consumer is much more tied to the stock market and the Dow and how they’re feeling about their personal situation, more so than the lower end of the market,” where concerns about gas prices and unemployment were more prevalent.

Over all, retail sales last month were higher than analysts had expected, rising 0.5 percent.
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Congressman Higgins Notes Jackson’s Achievements Ahead of Courthouse Grand Opening

Brian Higgins

Only WNY Native Who Served on Supreme Court Recognized on House Floor

In a speech on the Floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) told the story of Robert H. Jackson, the only Western New Yorker to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and one of the most prominent legal minds of all time.  While there are several outstanding Western New Yorkers contributing throughout history to our community and nation, Higgins says naming the new U.S. Federal Courthouse in Buffalo for Jackson is most fitting.

(For video click HERE)

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Town Of Amehrst Seeks Candidates For Appointment To Arts & Culture In Public Places Board

The Town of Amherst is seeking candidates who are representative of the performing and fine arts and with cultural endeavors and experience to serve on the Arts & Culture in Public Places Board.  Consideration will be given to the recommendations made by recognized and representative local civic, educational, arts and cultural associations, organizations, and groups that are concerned with or engaged in the production and/or presentation of the various and diverse forms of art and culture.

Letters of interest including resumes should be sent to Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, Amherst Town Hall, 5583 Main Street, Williamsville, NY  14221 or bweinstein@amherst.ny.us

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Pentagon: Cyber Offense Part Of U.S. Strategy

With the latest cyber attack on Facebook we are once again reminded of how vulnerable we are to powers beyond our comprehension, but our government is always on the alert for us.

A report, obtained by The Washington Post, is the most detailed document so far from the government on its emerging cyberwarfare program, and it warns that adversaries attempting cyberattacks against the United States “would be taking a grave risk.”

Yet it remains silent on a number of important issues, such as rules of engagement outside designated battle zones and whether neutral countries would be consulted before their systems were used to carry out counterattacks in cyberspace. The report does not discuss the advisability of demonstrating cybercapabilities.
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Facebook Security Breach Raises Concerns



It’s no secret that groups of hackers have threatened to put out a virus to “take down Facebook” over their concerns with the way it handles user privacy.  It appears they have made a significant progress to that end.

A widespread spam attack on Facebook has caused violent and pornographic images to be posted on some users’ profile pages, representing one of the worst security breaches in the young Web site’s history and raising concerns about its vulnerability to hackers.

According to Facebook, users were somehow tricked into copying and pasting malicious code into their browser bars. Hackers then gained access to their profiles and could post whatever they wished, and any of the user’s Facebook friends could see the images.
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Secret Service Says Bullet Hit Exterior Window of White House

At 9:30 p.m. Friday, police received reports of shots fired in the bustling area of 16th street and Constitution Ave.  

Authorities would later find a car in the area. The suspect had fled, but what police discovered inside the vehicle left them deeply concerned: an assault style rifle and empty shell casings.

Police believe the suspect, 21-year-old Oscar Ramiro Ortega of Idaho, is mentally ill. Ortega has an extensive record, ranging from domestic violence to drug charges. Sources say a police investigation has uncovered evidence suggesting Ortega has a fixation on the White House.

Police linked the car to Ortega and have been hunting him ever since.
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