To date, Hurricane Irene has killed at least 40 people. The victims, 29 men and 11 women, span eleven states, and their ages range from 11, a boy, to 89, a woman. The state of New York lost the most, eight, and Maryland and Massachusetts each lost one. Among the fatalities are 20 involving floods and/or drowning, 21 involving downed trees, and three involving downed power lines.
â€” In Prospect, 89-year-old Charlotte Levine was killed early Sunday when a falling tree limb pulled power lines onto her house and started a fire.
â€” In Bristol, 46-year-old Shane Seaver died after he and another man went canoeing down a flooded street and the canoe capsized. Seaver’s body washed ashore late Sunday in Plainville.
â€” In Hockessin, police found the bodies of two men who had sent a text message to a friend saying they were running through Irene during the height of the storm.
â€” In Volusia County, 55-year-old Frederick Fernandez died Saturday off New Smyrna Beach after he was tossed off his board by massive waves caused by Irene.
â€” In Flagler County, 55-year-old tourist James Palmer of New Jersey died Saturday in rough surf.
â€” In Queen Anne’s County, Md., 85-year-old Anne Bell was killed when a tree knocked a chimney through the glass roof of the sunroom where she was sitting.
â€” In Southbridge, 52-year-old public works employee Richard Gorgone was electrocuted Monday when he touched a railing on his front porch that was electrified by downed power lines.
NEW JERSEY: 6
â€” Michael Kenwood, an emergency medical technician, died of injuries after being knocked over by floodwaters in Princeton.
â€” Celena Sylvestri, 20, of Quinton called her boyfriend and then 911 early Sunday seeking help getting out of her flooded car in Pilesgrove. Her body was found eight hours later in the vehicle, about 150 feet off the road.
â€” The body of Ronald Dawkins, a 47-year-old postal worker, was found after he abandoned his partially submerged vehicle Sunday and stepped into a hidden drainage creek.
â€” Scott Palecek, 39, was walking in Wanaque when a pipe broke loose and swept him away in floodwaters Sunday.
â€” The body of Jorge Hernandez, 25, of Point Pleasant Beach was found Monday in a Manasquan River inlet jetty.
â€” The body of another man was found in Manasquan River inlet in Point Pleasant Beach on Monday. His identity was not immediately determined.
NEW YORK: 8
â€” Rozalia Gluck, 82, of Brooklyn drowned in a cottage in the Catskills community of Fleischmanns that was swamped by floodwaters.
â€” A man in his 50s was electrocuted in Spring Valley when he tried to help a child who had gone into a flooded street with downed wires.
â€” Sharon Stein, 68, drowned in a creek as she and her husband were evacuating their New Scotland home Sunday.
â€” 68-year-old Joseph Rocco of East Islip drowned while windsurfing in Bellport Bay.
â€” A man died after his inflatable boat capsized on the Croton River.
â€” The body of 68-year-old Jose Sierra of the Bronx was pulled out of the water at a marina Sunday afternoon.
â€” The bodies of 23-year-old Mikita Fox and Danine Swamp were pulled from a river in Altona after their vehicle plunged into the water while crossing a storm-damaged bridge.
NORTH CAROLINA: 6
â€” Katherine Morales Cruz, 15, of Manassas Park, Va., died Saturday in a two-car collision at an intersection where Hurricane Irene had knocked out power to the traffic lights.
â€” Ricky Webb, 63, who lived on a farm near Nashville, was killed after a tree limb fell on him when he went outside to feed his horse Saturday.
â€” Tim Avery, 50, was found sitting in a chair facing the television after strong winds toppled a tree onto his Ayden home.
â€” Jose Manuel Farabia Corona, 21, of Dover died in a Pitt County traffic accident after his SUV went off a road and twice slammed into trees Saturday as Irene’s began to make landfall.
â€” Sabrina Anne Jones, 26, of Clinton died when a tree fell on a car carrying her, her husband and their young daughter Saturday in Sampson County.
â€” Deputies recovered the body of Melton Robinson Jr., who had been missing since falling or jumping into the Cape Fear River as storms reached North Carolina.
â€” Michael Scerarko, 44, was killed Sunday when a tree fell on him in his yard.
â€” A 58-year-old Harrisburg man was killed Sunday when a tree toppled onto his tent.
â€” A man in a camper was crushed by a tree in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County.
â€” A motorist was killed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when he lost control of his car during the storm in Carbon County, skidded over an embankment and hit a tree.
â€” The body of 64-year-old Patricia O’Neill of East Norriton was discovered Sunday in the Wissahickon Creek, about a half-mile from where her car was found in the flooded waterway.
â€” The body of Rutland Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Michael Joseph Garofano was recovered Monday, a day after he was checking on a water system intake in Mendon. His 24-year-old son, Michael Gregory Garofano, was still missing.
â€” A body recovered from the Deerfield River is believed to be that of a woman who fell in while watching flooding in Wilmington.
â€” Police said another man was found dead in Lake Rescue in Ludlow.
â€” 11-year-old Zahir Robinson was killed when a tree crashed through his apartment.
â€” 67-year-old James Blackwell of Brodnax was killed when a tree fell across a car Saturday in Brunswick County.
â€” A man died at a Hopewell hospital Saturday after a tree fell on a house he was in.
â€” 57-year-old William P. Washington of King William County was killed when a tree fell on him as he was cutting another tree Saturday night.
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‘Hardball? You Bet’: Dems ‘Need to Be Prepared’ After McCarthy Exit Urges Top Political Scholar
The American voters sent 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats to the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections, the exact same margin, but flipped, as the 2020 election. But today, with the announcement that ousted, former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is not only not running for re-election but is quitting Congress at the end off the year, Republicans have a big majority crisis — because of their now tiny majority.
It’s no longer 222 to 213.
After McCarthy’s exit, and with the recent expulsion of now-former Congressman George Santos (R-NY) Republican Speaker Mike Johnson will have a very slim majority.
“The party’s margin in the House fell to three seats from four with the expulsion of Representative George Santos of New York last week,” The New York Times explains. “That leaves almost no wiggle room for Mr. Johnson, who is already dealing with a revolt from the far right for working with Democrats to keep the government funded and faces another pair of shutdown deadlines in mid-January and early February.”
“When the House returns in January,” The Washington Post adds, “Republicans can lose only two votes from their ranks to pass any legislation at a time when the chamber faces major decisions on government spending and foreign aid. That dynamic could force Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the post after a tumultuous three weeks following McCarthy’s ouster, to work with Democrats to avert a partial government shutdown as soon as mid-January.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) has announced he will retire and exit Congress early next year.
But possibly even before that, Speaker Johnson’s tiny majority could at some point become an opening for Democrats, according to a top political scientist and scholar, Dr. Norman Ornstein.
“Democrats need to be prepared to act swiftly and decisively if the numbers drop below 218– even if only for a day. Quick motion to vacate, [Hakeem] Jeffries as Speaker, immediate agenda,” writes Dr. Ornstein, a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “where he has been studying politics, elections, and the US Congress for more than four decades.”
Ornstein offers more opportunities should Democrats be able to take the majority back soon.
“Reconciliation bill to secure robust spending, eliminate debt limit permanently, taxes on rich to pay for permanent child tax credit.”
He adds, the number of Republican members “would need to get down to 213. But any set of problems– a Covid outbreak, for example– could bring those numbers down, if only for a day or two. Have a plan ready! Hardball? You bet.”
David Rothkopf, the noted foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator, responding to Ornstein’s remarks appeared to urge Republicans to join with Democrats to elect a Democratic Speaker, or even to switch parties:
“This. C’mon you GOPers from purple districts. Trump will have you purged and sent to Siberia. We just need 2 of you. You can be unloved by the GOP or heroes to the rest of America! Make your move now.”
Of course, special elections will be held to replace both Santos (scheduled for February 13, 2024) and McCarthy (likely summer, according to The Post), and at some point Johnson.
But with the extremely large number of members of Congress who have exited or will be, as Ornstein says, Democrats need to be ready.
Comer Threatens ‘Contempt’ Despite Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Quoting Chairman’s Media Appearances
Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer is now threatening Hunter Biden with “contempt” of Congress if he refuses to testify behind closed doors. The President’s son has repeatedly offered to testify in public.
Abbe Lowell, the attorney with “close ties inside the Trump White House” who is now representing Hunter Biden, Wednesday morning again reiterated his demand that any testimony before the House Oversight Committee be in a public hearing, and he used Chairman Comer’s own words to make his point.
But Comer, who is moving toward impeaching President Joe Biden despite having offered no actual proof of any impeachable offense, was quick to tell Politico: “He’s been subpoenaed. We expect him to show up. They don’t get to make the rules.”
“I would expect Congress to hold the president’s son in contempt,” Comer said, if Hunter Biden refuses to testify in a closed-door session.
“As indicated in my November 28, 2023, letter,” Lowell wrote to Chairman Comer earlier on Wednesday, in a letter published by The Washington Examiner, “Mr. Biden has offered to appear at a hearing on the December 13, 2023, date you have reserved, or another date this month, to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter stated in your November 8, 2023, letter.”
Lowell made clear his motivation for a public hearing before cameras.
“He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings.”
But Lowell cited Comer’s own words from a few of his numerous media appearances to demonstrate how the Chairman welcomed an open-door public hearing. The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona noted that Lowell, in his letter, “again cites Comer practically daring Hunter to publicly testify.”
Lowell cited Comer’s remarks on October 31 on “The Benny Show.”
“We’re in the downhill phase of this investigation now because we have so many documents, and we can bring these people in for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose , . . . .”
Also, his September 13 statement on Newsmax.
“Hunter Biden is more than welcome to come in front of the committee . . . he’s invited today. We will drop everything.”
He also cited Comer’s “November 8, 2023, statement in your cover letter addressed to me: ‘Given your client’s willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”
(Emphasis included in Lowell’s letter.)
“We look forward to working out the schedule,” Lowell concluded.
Jim Comer Decimated by NBC Reporter in ‘Under Two Minutes’
Republican House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer melted down in an interview with NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles on Tuesday as he once again appeared unable to prove President Joe Biden engaged in money laundering or other illicit acts.
“So sir, there were the two checks,” Nobles told Comer (video below), “the $40,000 check and the $200,000 check that came from the president’s son and into the President’s bank account. There was also subsequent bank records, which were provided through the [Oversight] Committee, that demonstrate that there were also subsequent pieces of information that went from the President to the president’s son.”
Comer repeatedly denied Nobles account.
“That is not true,” Comer claimed.
“So that you’re saying that that information has been made up then?” Nobles tried to confirm. “Where did that information come from? That came from the Committee.”
“I don’t know,” Comer claimed. “We haven’t seen that information.”
“That is Committee information that is collected from the bank records that your committee has obtained,” Nobles, in something of a “Perry Mason” moment, informed Chairman Comer.
“Just show the check,” Comer insisted.
“Do you have a canceled check for every wire transfer that’s ever come into your account?” Nobles asked.
“Yes,” Comer declared.
“And that’s what has been shown, there is bank records that demonstrate an exact same amount of money,” Nobles explained, as Comer talked over him.
“Are you saying, okay, sir, are you saying those bank records do not exist?” Nobles pressed, “That show the money leaving the President’s account and into his son’s?”
“They were money laundering. You see wires going all over the –” Comer charged.
“Sir, answer this specific question: Is there a bank record that demonstrates the exact amount of money that came from the President’s account into his son’s account that matches the checks that then went back to him? Does that exist? Yes or no?”
“No, no!” Comer blared. “There’s money coming from a law firm.”
“That doesn’t exist? That doesn’t exist, sir?” Nobles asked.
“It does not exist. It’s coming from a law firm. Who put who put the money in the law firm? How do you know the money came from Joe Biden? It could have come from one of Hunter shell companies. You have no idea,” Comer replied.
“Okay. So you are saying that that money that that money exists?” Nobles, making his case, concluded. “That transfer does exist there in the bank records that you and your committee –”
“No!” Comer then declared. “You don’t know what that transfer is.”
Tim Mulvey, the former communications director for the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack responded to the clip, writing: “In my experience, when a chairman goes on tv and can’t answer even the most basic questions about ‘blockbuster’ evidence without utterly unraveling, it might not be the strongest case.”
“In under two minutes,” wrote Adam Cohen of Lawyers for Good Government, “James Comer goes from checks that confirm harmless transactions between Joe and Hunter Biden ‘do not exist’ To ‘they exist, but we claim they might be suspicious.'”
White House spokesman Ian Sams posted the clip on social media late Tuesday night, with a snarky comment.
Watch the video below or at this link.
— Ian Sams (@IanSams46) December 6, 2023
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