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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    Hoboken, NJ still has thousands of customers without power and a strong National Guard presence. The marina, about a quarter mile from where this picture was taken is a mess, with docks ripped from their moorings and scattered about. Many homes are still underwater and the streets are lined with cars filled with water and driftwood.

    This sailboat was lifted from the water Monday night and heaved onto the riverwalk. It's one of the first things people here mention when they start talking about the storm. "Did you see the boat?" They ask and offer a loose set of directions.

    It's easy to find. The topside of the beached boat, which is what we saw as we approached from the town, is plenty dramatic, but it's the writing on the back that everyone is talking about.

    Someone had written: "GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL" on the side.

    The link between global warming and bigger storms has been made by plenty of scientists, as well as Bloomberg-Businessweek, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others.

    Hoboken Sailboat

    Hoboken Sailboat

    Don't Miss: Our full on the ground coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath >

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    Just a few miles from Manhattan, the residents of Moonachie, New Jersey thought they had escaped Sandy's wrath, until about 10:00 p.m. Monday night.

    It was then that half-a-dozen levies gave way on the Hackensack River and the waters began pouring in.

    Residents didn't stand a chance. They lost their vehicles, large portions of their homes, and cherished family heirlooms they never thought to secure.

    Now days later and still without power or any idea when it will return — and with their streets still filled with water — the people of Moonachie feel frustrated and abandoned. Still they're working together to rebuild their town.

    We drove out to Moonachie yesterday to take pictures and hear their stories.

    Right off this main road about five miles from Manhattan, 2,700 people live in the borough of Moonachie

    Moonachie is in the Hackensack River watershed and residents are accustomed to the occasional flood

    But lifelong residents say they've never seen anything like what happened Monday night

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Sandy wreaked havoc throughout New York and New Jersey. 

    When we visited New Jersey yesterday, gas lines stretched for miles, people were seeking electricity and Internet in malls, and one town was almost totally wiped out

    With estimates of property damage as high as $20 billion, the Hoboken waterfront was among the hardest hit. Some of its piers have been totally destroyed and a whole boat even ended up on top of a pier

    We spoke with one pier manager to see what happened and what will be done.


    Produced by Daniel Goodman

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    New Jersey Sandy

    Despite every official effort to get fuel back to the stations, drivers in the New York City area spent another day battling it out at the pumps.

    MyFoxNY reports when they were driving around early today they came upon one Hempstead, NY station charging $5.99 a gallon to people who had waited two hours in line.

    From MyFoxNY:

    In Elmsford, N.Y., lines also formed at the few gas stations that remain open. Yellow tape is pulled across driveways of stations that are closed. In Farmingdale, east of New York City on Long Island, at least four gas stations were closed or had yellow tape around the pumps because they were out of gas. In Hempstead, where some drivers were waiting up to two hours to refuel, a gallon of gas was being sold for $5.99 early Friday, reports ...

    The fight for fuel has already gone criminal with the arrest of a New York man who authorities say pulled a gun when another motorist complained that he cut a line at a gas station early Thursday. Sean Bailey, 35, of Queens, was charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

    Hoping to buy time the Obama administration ordered the military to haul 24 million gallons of gasoline to the area, but that will take time.

    And that waiting is part of the problem. “I’m not sure who to blame,” motorist Tony Ayala, of Queens, N.Y., told the New York Post regarding the widespread gas shortage. “Do you blame the oil plants, the government?”

    Don't Miss: Our full on the ground coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath >

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    We've been closely following the devastation Sandy has left throughout New Jersey and New York.

    One of the hardest hit towns in New Jersey is only minutes from Manhattan, and residents there lost it all.

    We spoke with them to find out how they are dealing with the loss and what they are going to do next. 


    Produced by Daniel Goodman

    DON'T MISS: Our full on the ground coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath >

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    Hoboken Sandy 2012

    Just across the river from Manhattan, Hoboken has become a residential retreat for New Yorkers looking for a bit of space and an easy commute.

    But it was no retreat when Sandy's storm surge pushed the Hudson River through the city taking boats, vehicles and power with it. Streets were still choked with drift wood and river debris, stores and restaurants boarded up, windows covered in tape.

    In a few apartment windows residents could be seen burning candles to fight the gloom as the sun set, but the small flames would do nothing to ward off the cold.

    When we were there, residents were still in shock and eagerly showed us video on their phones and told us what they'd seen when the storm swept through.

    People in Hoboken had already been through a lot, and still don't expect to have power for perhaps another week.

    All this while just across the river are bright lights and life returning to normal in Manhattan.

    Dropping into Hoboken there is no question conditions are extreme — roads are blocked and there's a heavy military presence

    Hoboken flooded badly and people here have seen a lot — facing another week without power has many people upset

    Down at the docks the Yankee's caretaker told us the 105-foot ship weathered Sandy here no problem

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Hoboken was hit hard by Sandy. 

    The pier was destroyed, electricity has been out for days, and many remain without hot water.

    While PSEG has said it may take 7-10 days for power to return, city officials are hoping it will be sooner. 

    In the meantime, the city, businesses and residents have come together to help themselves during this difficult time. 


    Produced by Robert Johnson and Daniel Goodman

    DON'T MISS: Our full on the ground coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath >

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    Drastic decisions are generally borne of drastic events. Alcoholics hit bottom, unregulated behavior runs rampant, and Mother Nature's force upon a place becomes too much to bear.

    For Louisiana, Katrina was the last straw, and "after the corps got approval to start work on the levees in 2006 ... [it] "fast-tracked about 30 or 40 years of work," completing the new system this year with "massive, Netherlands-style barriers erected on eastern and southern portions of the metropolis." 

    For NYC, the Netherlands and Britain have already set up the ideal design Their drastic event occurred nearly 60 years ago when the North Sea Flood of 1953 swept in with an 18-foot tidal surge.

    Twenty-five-hundred people were killed from January 31 to February 1 with more than 1,800 fatalities in the Netherlands alone. It was a horrific natural disaster that left residents' corpses strung up in street-side tree limbs, clothes ripped from their bodies by the wind.

    It was enough to prompt the governments of the U.K. and the Netherlands to build the two largest storm surge barriers in the world and talk of doing the same in New York has already begun.

    The principle behind both designs is simple: When bad weather comes, a string of barriers lift from the inland channels and essentially damn the coastal waters.

    Britain built their system with the help of Dutch company Royal BAM and has lifted the barriers 119 times since their construction in 1982.

    Farther north, a full two-thirds of the Netherlands would flood if not for its major efforts to keep the waters at bay. The low-lying country has become synonymous with cutting edge "hydraulic engineering" aimed at "climate adaptive construction" — basically building really good barriers to keep the angry whims of climate change from wiping out coastal cities in the face of rising tides, and shifting weather patterns.

    Holland has built an export industry on this technique and there is already talk of using their system, and the U.K.'s, in New York Harbor. It wouldn't keep New York City immune to the effects of a storm like Sandy, but it would help.

    As Matthew Yglesias from Slate points out:

    You could imagine something [like the Dutch system] at the Arthur Kill and across the Verazano Narrows or even between Sandy Hook and Rockaway. Projects like that wouldn't immunize Staten Island or the beachfront parts of Brooklyn and Queens from storm surges but they would defend Lower Manhattan, the badly flooded Red Hook part of Brooklyn, Long Island City, LaGuardia Airport, and a big swathe of New Jersey.

    Funding such a project and getting it built is another matter entirely, but if Sandy's wrath is to have any meaning at all perhaps it can be the event that helps the city prevent it from happening again.


    Thames Barrier

    Now: See a full on-the-ground display of Sandy's devastation > 

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    As the east side of Manhattan struggled without power, Victoria Secret serendipitously came to the aid of the National Guard when they showed up at the East Side Armory on 26th and Park with a whole bunch of HUGE generators for their upcoming fashion show.

    The lingerie company graciously allowed the National Guard to use the generators to get the armory up and running to aid in relief and recovery efforts. But now, as the show date approaches Victoria's Secret has taken back the generators, and taken over the armory, so that they can have their fashion extravaganza.

    The generators are impressive and we stopped by to check them out. While the National Guard based at the armory is heading to the Javits Center, many were still at and around the armory when we stopped by.

    The Armory entrance on Lexington Ave, near 26th St. stands quiet as many work inside.

    But troop presence weighs heavy around the building.

    Across the street, Humvees are lined up and loaded with supplies.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Russian Sierra-2 Submarine

    For the second time in three months Bill Gertz at The Washington Free Beacon claims to have sources confirming a Russian nuclear submarine was sailing near the U.S. coast.

    Gertz is a renowned Washington defense insider and says the most recent spotting of a Russian Sierra-2 class submarine, believed to be with Russia's Northern Fleet, happened as Hurricane Sandy swept up the East Coast.

    This would be the first time a Sierra-2 class attack submarine has been detected near a U.S. coastline and if the report is true, shows Russia is determined to regain its naval projection power. 

    The Russian vessel is said to have been conducting anti-submarine exercises near the U.S. submarine base Kings Bay in Georgia, but did not threaten a nearby U.S. aircraft carrier strike group.

    From The Washington Free Beacon:

    Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, north of Jacksonville, Fla., is homeport for two guided missile submarines and six nuclear missile submarines. The submarines are known to be a target of Russian attack submarines. Meanwhile, the officials also said that a Russian electronic intelligence-gathering vessel was granted safe harbor in the commercial port of Jacksonville, Fla., within listening range of Kings Bay.

    The Russian AGI ship, or Auxiliary-General Intelligence, was allowed to stay in the port to avoid the superstorm that battered the U.S. East Coast last week. A Jacksonville Port Authority spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the Russian AGI at the port.

    The last of its class, the titanium hulled Sierra's were advanced at the time of their launch in 1992, moreso than Western designs, but they were expensive and very few were produced. This would be only one of two active Sierra-2 subs still in active service, both with Russia's Northern Fleet.

    The Sierra carries two types of anti-submarine and torpedoes that it can replace with 42 naval mines.

    The Beacon reported in August that an Akula class Russian submarine sailed into the Gulf of Mexico. That story was widely circulated as proof of Obama's failure to reset Russian relations, and illustrate the crippling nature of looming U.S. defense cuts.

    Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert wrote of that incident to Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) saying  “based on all of the source information available to us, a Russian submarine did not enter the Gulf of Mexico.”

    The Washington Free Beacon is a nonprofit publication funded by the Center for American Freedom, which was profiled earlier this year as the conservative counterweight to the Center for American Progress by Politico’s Ben Smith.

    Now: Check out the DHS data fusion centers >

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    Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair

    The trial of Brigadier Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair began yesterday unleashing a torrent of details about the case that have been closely guarded since the charges were brought against him in May.

    ABC News reports Sinclair served as deputy commander in charge of logistics for the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan from 2012 until being delivered to Fort Bragg five months ago to face allegations of:

    • 26 violations of military law
    • Forcible sodomy
    • Wrongful sexual conduct
    • Possessing pornography while deployed
    • Conduct unbecoming an officer
    The incidents allegedly occurred from 2007 to 2012 in Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan involving four female military subordinates and one civilian staff member.

    NBC reports that Major General James Huggins testified on Monday against Sinclair saying he had one of the women, a captain, assigned to his unit in Afghanistan and that she carried out a three year affair with the general. 

    Huggins says that after discovering emails from him to other women Sinclair "forcibly sodomized her after grabbing her by the neck, and threatened her career if she backed out of the relationship."
    In addition prosecutors contend that Sinclair threatened to kill a subordinate, or her family, if she disclosed her affair with him.

    The way Sinclair spoke to women had raised questions from fellow officers in the past, and prosecutors report that in response Sinclair said: "I'm a general. I'll say whatever the f*ck I want."

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    Japanese Navy Ship

    Despite holding a live ammunition island capture drill of its own last month China has pressured the U.S. and Japan into scratching a similar maneuver from its large joint military exercise going on now near Okinawa.

    Martin Fackler at The New York Times reports 37,000 Japanese troops and 10,000 American servicemembers will take part in the drill, but are leaving out the island drill that could have angered China.

    From The New York Times:

    But the Japanese government canceled a joint amphibious landing on a remote island in what experts described as an effort not to provoke China, which is locked in an emotional dispute with Japan over control of uninhabited islands near Okinawa in the East China Sea.

    The friction has been intensifying for months. In a more direct challenge to Japanese control, Chinese patrol ships have for more than two weeks been entering waters around the disputed island group, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

    China Daily reports the portion of the drill that was supposed to reclaim the remote uninhabited island of Irisunajima has been called off, "to avoid further aggravating already soured ties with neighboring China."

    The drills, which began Monday and will continue for 12 days, are closed to the media and reportedly represent engagements with no specific country.

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    Soviet Bunker

    Urban explorer Darmon Richter was able to get inside the nuclear bunker and offered us these pictures from his site The Bohemian Blog.

    Richter titled the following slides himself to take BI Military & Defense readers on a personal tour of what he saw.

    In Richter's own words:

    Skip To The Pictures >

    My guide Svilen Slavov is a keen photographer and filmmaker. He had already paid numerous visits to the site, and had explored extensively in the bunker beneath. 

    On previous visits I had followed the flight of austere stone steps that form the main approach up to the imposing monument above; instead Svilen led me around the side of the hill, following a footpath that skirted a circumference beneath the dappled shade of thick green canopies. Pausing at a clearing in the bushes roughly a quarter of the way around, he gestured towards the mound itself - and there, set deep into the vegetation that bordered our path, I spied the rocky opening.

    The main doorway to the nuclear bunker, located deep beneath the monument, was welded shut and impossible to pass. However, we found a secondary entrance hidden in bushes halfway up the hill.

    The text painted onto the iron door reads: "СТРОГО ЗАБРАНЕНО": Bulgarian for "ENTRY STRICTLY PROHIBITED". We took it more as a recommendation, than an instruction.

    Making our way into the tunnels, we passed through a series of cylindrical passages separated by concrete bulkheads.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    As people begin to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy, the big question on most people's minds is whether insurance will kick in or if they will be ignored.

    When we spoke to residents of Little Ferry on Thursday after the storm, they were not optimistic about their insurance. When we returned on Sunday, some had gotten through to insurance but were still not sure what would and wouldn't be covered.

    Residents eligible for FEMA aid have a more complicated claims process, and may even need to factor in some sort of tax relief options as well.

    The people we spoke to seemed optimistic about car insurance covering vehicle damage, but they weren't so sure about their homeowners coverage. Nearly all of them said they resent the flood insurance they have to purchase if you have a mortgage in their town, because it only covers structural damage unless you want to pay signigicantly extra for protection of contents (only structural is mandatory, not contents).

    If you are a Sandy victim and are making insurance claims or seeking federal assistance please contact us to share your story and experiences (good or bad):,



    Produced by Daniel Goodman

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    The United States military goes through a lot of gear. A unit might deploy with one type of protective gear, and have a new model issued while in theater.

    An artillery unit might have their mission changed to one that involves guarding a prison, requiring completely different equipment. In short, anything can happen, and a ton of materiel gets scrapped before it's even broken in.

    To get back some of the money that would otherwise be wasted, the military's been turning to Government Liquidation, and has put more than $500 million back in the government coffers.

    Some of the site's offerings are a bit odd. If you have Food and Drug Administration certification, you can buy a sterilizer, currently going for $50. You can buy a 1988 Navistar truck, currently going for $150, if you fill out an End User Agreement and describe how you plan to use the vehicle. The agreement is intended to keep countries like Iran or North Korea from acquiring sensitive gear.

    The site doesn't currently offer any live animals, but according to Stars and Stripes, it's previously sold everything from hovercraft to a nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser. 

    Liquidity Services, a contractor, runs the auction site. It also stores the equipment and disposes of whatever doesn't sell. Buyers can go to physical locations to check out the available lots—at Fort Dix in New Jersey, a training stop for a number of reserve troops before they head overseas, they have a number of ammunition cans, air compressors, and a stationary bike.

    Scrap metal is a huge draw to the site, with lots of anywhere between 4,000 to 100,000 pounds of metal currently going for $150. The metal comes from sources such as spent ammunition casings, office equipment, and power supplies.

    And, of course, buyers can get uniforms and field gear, a.k.a., camping equipment. A lot of 15 cozy, 3-piece, modular sleeping bags is going for $330. Another lot with an assortment of cold weather clothing is up to $170 from an opening bid of $150.

    For people who don't quite need 15 sleeping bags, Government Liquidation links to Uncle Sam's Retail Outlet. It isn't an auction site, but it does sell issued gear, like goggles and duffel bags, close to or below the list price.

    Now check the most expensive piece of military equipment ever built >

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    China Aviation Industry Corporation has been trotting out videos and pictures of their cloned prototype U.S. MQ-1 Predator drone called the Wing Loong (Pterodactyl) for years, but this UAV is on display for an upcoming air show.

    From Strategy Page:

    While Wing Loong is similar in shape to the larger American MQ-9 Reaper, in size it's almost identical to the 1.2 ton Predator. Wing Loong weighs 1.1 tons, has a 14 meter (46 feet) wingspan, and is 9 meters (28 feet) long. It has max altitude of 5,300 meters (16,400 feet) and an endurance of over 20 hours.

    Already believed to be marketed abroad, the Wing Loong has been seen carrying at least two unidentified missiles.

    The following photo was taken at the Zhuhai Airshow running in China from November 13 to 18.

    China Drone

    MQ-9 Predator

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    attached image

    The Marine Scout Sniper school is the most elite military sniper school on earth, and one of the toughest special operations courses in the U.S. Military.

    See the Scout Snipers >

    Not only do the Army, Navy, and the Air Force, send troops to this here, but foreign services like the Israelis and the British, often trade students for the opportunity to earn the Marine Sniper designation.

    One of the profiled students in this Discovery video was actually attached the the unit I recently covered in Afghanistan. Not only did he supply the company with absurdly accurate intelligence on the enemy, but he also took a couple of them out when we needed it most.

    Those are the two primary missions of Marine Scout Snipers: Recon and targeted strikes on enemy personnel and equipment. They can be more devastating on enemy forces than a plane full of bombs.

    There are less than 300 active snipers in the U.S. Marine Corps — and only four schools including this one in Camp Pendleton, California

    The 32 elite students who enter the course need almost perfect physical fitness (PT) scores, expert rifle qualifications, and superior intelligence test scores

    Here is where Professionally Instructed Gunmen (PIG), become Hunters Of Gunmen (HOG)

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Secret Service

    They're the guys in suits surrounding the President of the United States, ready to take a bullet to protect the leader of the free world.

    See the Secret Service >

    But that wasn't always their main role. President Abraham Lincoln created the United States Secret Service (USSS) to deal with the mad influx of counterfeit money after the Civil War. A move ironically made just hours before he was assassinated April 14,1865. Four months later the Service was fully operational.

    In the 2004 run up to the presidential election George W. Bush spoke at Louisiana State University (LSU), where National Geographic took a closer look at the Secret Service for a documentary titled "Inside the US Secret Service." The film follows the president's advance team as it works with local law enforcement making sure every threat is addressed before the president arrives. 

    National Geographic doesn't spill all the secrets, but what they let us in in is pretty cool.

    Much of the country's top intelligence work takes place in this unmarked Washington, D.C. building

    The United States Secret Service can't afford to underestimate the enemy in their mandate to protect the man, protect the symbol and protect the office.

    Within the Washington HQ is the National Threat Assessment Team, Intelligence Division, Counterfeit Research Unit, Electronic Crime Branch, and Tracking Center

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The central risk of a CIA agent disclosing sensitive information to someone with whom he was maintaining an illicit extra-marital affair is minor compared with the possibility the affair could be used against him as blackmail.

    The moment General Petraeus put himself into a position where his private behavior became something he needed to hide from the public — as stated in his resignation letter— he essentially put national security at risk. It's exactly the type of compromise which would put any government worker at immediate risk of losing a Top Secret clearance.

    In fact, anyone applying for a Top Secret for Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TSSCI) clearance would be denied for simply having any outstanding debt. Something as simple as a DUI or alcohol problem can endanger passing a Secret Clearance review, which is one lower than TSSCI (also referred to as a 'need-to-know').

    Petraeus, as the head of the CIA, certainly had the type of Top Secret clearance which allowed him comprehensive access to the most sensitive pieces of National Security information.

    Had a foreign agent found out Petraeus was involved in an extramarital affair, the resulting leverage could have been astounding.

    That the CIA itself didn't know of Petraeus's activities is itself astounding as well.

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    loading platform dock ship lpd

    Able to carry 800 Marines and their gear anyplace they need to go — the San Antonio Class Amphibious Transport Dock is vital for projecting U.S. forces abroad: but they don't come cheap.

    See the San Antonio >

    The newest vessel will cost American taxpayers about $1.5 billion and is designed to be the the most survivable amphibious assault ship ever designed.

    While the Defense Department's director of evaluations doesn't agree, and thinks the ship's critical systems aren't reliable, and the ship will crumble against an attack — it didn't stop the Pentagon from purchasing one more — last week.

    Given the ship's weighty cost and its debatable abilities we thought we'd take a look at what the Pentagon's getting for the taxpayers' dollars.

    The Navy's six active San Antonio-class amphibious Landing Platform Dock ships are an integral part of the Navy's future

    The flight deck holds up to four Sea Knight helicopters that together can transport 100 troops or 28,000 pounds of cargo

    The second LPD to hit the seas was christened the USS Green Bay and its flight deck is called "Lambeau Field" after the Packers stadium

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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