A two alarm fire broke out in the historic Brooklyn, New York church, the Church of St Luke and St Matthew, yesterday morning. The church, which is 124 years old, made of stone and terra cotta, is designated a city landmark. One hundred firefighters fought the blaze for over 90 minutes, according to the Wall St Journal. The fire started in the entrance way of the Episcopal church. The Rev. Christopher Ballard, the church’s curate, said the flames had caused “significant damage,” burning the wooden doors of two entrances and charring the foyer. The sanctuary, he said, remained largely unscathed. Two historic chairs that were in the lobby were destroyed. No one was injured.
The church had been operating as a hub storing supplies for Hurricane Sandy relief for “Occupy Sandy”, a relief effort associated with Occupy Wall Street. Though the police said the cause remained under investigation, they were on scene investigating, and labelled it “suspicious”, according to local ABC News. Rev. Ballard said the fire had been fueled by a pair of gasoline containers donated to Occupy Sandy volunteers. He said he was told by police that it “appeared someone had taken the gas and poured it on the entrance and all along the facade and lit it on fire.” The gasoline was intended for generators for a Christmas party yesterday in the Rockaways, an area heavily hit by Hurricane Sandy. Ballard also noted, regarding the gas, “You’d have to know it was there”.
Three Occupy Sandy volunteers were sleeping in the church at the time the fire started. According to an Occupy site coordinator, they were there as a security precaution after a spate of thefts that included donated materials and Rev. Ballard’s bicycle. The volunteers made it out safely. The fire did not appear to have affected the donated supplies, despite earlier reports that they were destroyed. The Occupy Sandy coordinator noted they would likely now be helping to clean out the church. Their twitter account associated with the location also called for people to bring and donate poinsettias to help decorate the church today.
Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the area, expressed outrage at what she called a hateful arson. “We will find the sick individual who committed this crime,” she said, standing outside the church.
Rev Ballard said the church would be back open this evening for services.
The never ending saga of Barrett Brown continues. Brown, 31, who was a self-styled “spokesperson” for the group Anonymous faces new charges in relation to the hacking a year ago of the intelligence firm, Stratfor.
According to federal prosecutors, Brown was indicted this week in Texas on a dozen charges including aggravated identity theft and device fraud. He is accused of making public an Internet link providing access to credit card information stolen from Stratfor, which had emails taken during that same hack released by WikiLeaks. The full indictment against Brown can be seen here.
Brown had already been arrested and charged in October with threatening FBI agent, Robert Smith. Like much of Brown’s recent life, even the October arrest played out in the media, as he was arrested while on a live Tinychat session. One can hear him apparently trying to get away from the FBI and sounds that may have been taser bursts at 1:30.
The Stratfor breach led to the disclosure of thousands of credit card numbers and other information. Jeremy Hammond was also arrested, but charged with participating in the actual hacking of the company.
The planned ‘Black Friday” protests at Walmarts across the country appear to have flopped.
“OUR Walmart”, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, said it expected employees in 100 cities to walk off the job on “Black Friday,” the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season that accounts for up to one-half of retailers’ profits.
In response to the UFCW’s planned protests, Walmart US Chief Executive Bill Simon stated, “Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates.” In addition, the company did not experience the walk-offs that were promised by the UFCW. “We estimate that less than 50 associates(the term Walmart uses for employees) participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year,” Simon said. Indeed, according to Reuters, only 1 person walked out of among the 500 employees at a Walmart in Chicago’s South Side. There are reportedly 1.3 million Walmart employees nationwide.
It appears to be in the main a “carpetbagger protest”. Many of the “protesters” appeared to be people bused in and not actual employees. Reuters referenced 4 busloads of people being bused in to the Southside location where there was only the one employee protesting . Here is a picture of Occupy Wall Street members being bused into a protest in New Jersey and outside in front of a Walmart:
Occupy has started wepay donation pages to donate for “Walmart strike organizers” and “Walmart strikers”, including asking for donations to pay for their food and feminine hygeine products.
In the face of the “protests”, Walmart reports that it had its best Black Friday ever. Those employees that worked Black Friday got an additional 10% of on an entire basket of goods and were rewarded with holiday pay.
Between the two donation pages, Occupy has accumulated a tidy sum for “Walmart strikers” and “strike organizers”, allegedly over $18,000. One wonders who this money will actually be going to, since it seems that Occupiers are the “strikers” and “organizers”.
Remember this iconic picture?
This was Donna Vanzant, two days after Hurricane Sandy, being hugged by President Obama. This picture was beamed around the country and the internet, showing Obama’s care for hurricane victims. It may have factored in helping him get re-elected after trailing in polls to Mitt Romney.
Donna owned North Point Marina in Brigantine, New Jersey which suffered over $500,000 in damage from the storm. President Obama flew in for about an hour, hugged her, made promises, got pictures taken with Gov. Christie and left.
But before he left he had the following exchange- “we are going to make sure that she immediately gets help”:
Well, Donna received many kindnesses and heard from countless people as a result of the picture. But is it any shock that she still hasn’t heard from the government?
According to the Bergen Record, Donna says it was an honor to meet the President, but she is frustrated that she has yet to receive any help from either her insurance company or the government.
“The President told me I would get immediate help”, she said. “Looking back on it, it wasted a lot of people’s time”, she said of the visit. The future of North Point Marina remains uncertain. “I am just moving minute by minute, because the insurance companies are telling me, no, no, no!” she said.
Not only was the photo op used, the picture of Donna is still up on the White House site, proclaiming “We are here for you”.
Donna has finally heard from President Obama. He responded to her email with a form letter, thanking her for supporting the troops. See more here.
Socialists, Occupiers in New Zealand assault US Consulate with shoes, remove US flag and replace with Palestinian flag
The Socialist Aotearoa group organized a march, including members of Occupy Auckland & Occupy New Zealand, and moved on the US Consulate in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday. Claiming to be part of a “Global Peace and Justice Solidarity with Gaza March”, they shouted such chants as “Free Palestine” and threw shoes at the Consulate, a sign of disrespect in the Arab world.
They also replaced the US flag that flew over the Consulate with a Palestinian flag.
See picture of US flag normally there (partially obscured by tree):
The American flag replaced:
Video of protester rejoicing at raising of Palestinian flag:
Video of protesters throwing shoes at the Consulate:
Speeches and signs indicated a desire to tear up the Camp David accords and move the Egyptian army into Gaza to fight Israel.
One might ask where police and US security at the Consulate were in all this? Apparently, we are still not adequately protecting our embassies and consulates, even after the Benghazi scandal and terrorist attack which resulted in the death of four Americans including the American ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens.
HT: Foolish Reporter
Police have arrested a 60 year old unemployed doctor, Roberto Rivera, after finding a large quantity of chemicals used in bomb making after they conducted a raid on his home in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The search of Rivera’s home on Friday night also revealed a number of assault rifles and other weapons
Rivera was charged with second degree recklessly creating a risk of widespread injury or damage; fourth degree failure to mitigate against recklessly creating a risk of widespread injury or damage; third degree unlawful possession of a destructive device; fourth degree unlawful possession of a stun gun; fourth degree unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine; and second degree unlawful possession of an assault firearm. His bail has been set at $1 million dollars.
Ridgewood police had initially responded to the home after receiving a report that potentially hazardous materials might be at the residence. The Bergen County Prosecutor, John Molinelli, called at least one of the chemicals “highly volatile,” but authorities did not disclose the names of the chemicals found in the house.
Bergen County Hazmat and the FBI were involved in the search of the house. Saturday afternoon FBI Special Agent Barbara Woodruff said it was an ongoing investigation but “the scene is definitely secured so there’s no reason for concern”. Agencies investigating include the Ridgewood Police Department; Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office; Bergen County Police Department Bomb Squad; FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force; and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Prosecutors say Rivera is unemployed but has a license to practice medicine in New York.
Rivera was an active member of Occupy Wall Street. He was quoted in Bloomberg News in October of last year, commenting on the movement:
Fox News Channel’s Grapevine reported here on the following post from the Syrian Army News.
There’s a new explanation for why superstorm Sandy happened coming from Syria.
Syrian Army News posted this. Quote — “Sources confirm that Hurricane Sandy, now buffeting the U.S., was carried out by highly advanced technology developed by the heroic Iranian regime, in coordination with our resistant regime. This is a consequence of attacking Assad’s Syria and threatening its security.”
Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the West for destroying his country’s rain clouds to force a drought.