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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Video of Fire Destroying New Jersey Boardwalk Rebuilt After Sandy

A six-alarm fire that started in a frozen custard shop in Seaside Park, N.J., Thursday afternoon quickly spread up sections of the boardwalk built after Hurricane Sandy, engulfing multiple businesses, a condominium complex and amusements.

Fueled by strong winds, the fire stretched six blocks, bringing down the Funtown Pier, the home of Seaside’s famed roller coaster before it ended up in the ocean last October. Here is live video from the scene.

Video and images were posted soon after the fire began at 2:30 p.m. on the Jersey Shore Hurricane News Facebook page. The page was started after Hurricane Sandy to give local residents a place to exchange information and keep up with news about cleanup efforts.

Gov. Chris Christie arrived on the scene around 6 p.m. to meet with firefighters and survey the damage.

At a 7 p.m. briefing, Governor Christie said that firefighters and trucks from around the state were assisting emergency personnel in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights, and that the fire had damaged about 20 businesses. “There have been several minor injuries to firefighters,” he said.

Mr. Christie said he felt sick to his stomach when he learned the boardwalk was on fire after “all the time and effort we put in to help Seaside Heights and Seaside Park rebuild.”

Crews were digging up portions of the boardwalk so the fire would not spread farther into Seaside Heights, he said, and firefighters were drawing water from Barnegat Bay to hose down the flames. “There have been some challenges to water supply because of damage to the system from Sandy,” he said. “To get around this, we are drawing water from Barnegat Bay. Lines are being run from the bay all the way here to the boardwalk.”

Mr. Christie asked that people not come to the scene. “As soon as this is over,” he said, “we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back to work.”

Reaction on Twitter to Twitter’s I.P.O. Plans

Twitter said Thursday that it filed the initial paperwork for its long-awaited initial public offering of stock. It made the announcement on Twitter, naturally:

The company filed its preliminary prospectus, known as an S-1, with securities regulators using a provision of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS Act, that allows a company to keep its initial filings confidential if it has less than $1 billion in annual revenue.

And immediately, reaction came pouring out on Twitter, including about how the announcement was made.

The percentage of Internet users on Twitter has more than doubled since November 2010, according to the Pew Research Center, and many of the service’s approximately 200 million users worldwide turned to its platform to react to the news, sometimes expressing excitement, other times leveling criticism.

Om Malik, a technologist and founder of the technology blog GigaOm, wrote in 2006 about Twitter’s increasing popularity in Silicon Valley, something he referred to as a side project that was addicting in its simplicity.

Some Twitter users commented on the timing of the announcement, noting that it came a day after Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, said during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference that the process of an initial offering was daunting but that he now thinks that he might have waited too long to take Facebook public.

Because so much information about the public offering is confidential, it was hard to judge how successful the effort might be. But that didn’t stop Twitter users from wondering how the I.P.O. would play out on Twitter itself.

Italy’s Far Right Salutes Putin for Anti-Gay Law and Support for Assad

As the Reuters Rome correspondent Naomi O’Leary reported, “I’m With Putin” posters have appeared around the Italian capital in the past week, saluting the Russian president for his opposition to homosexuality, the Syrian rebels and the European Union.

The posters direct viewers to the Facebook page of the National Front, a far-right, fringe party led by Adriano Tilgher. In a statement posted there, Mr. Tilgher hailed President Vladimir V. Putin’s “courageous positions against the powerful gay lobby” and “the world’s financial centers, which want war in Syria.” The Italian rightists, he explained, wanted to express their complete agreement with Mr. Putin on three points: ” ‘no’ to military intervention in Syria, ‘no’ to homosexual propaganda and adoptions by gay couples, and ‘no’ to the European Union.”

“Putin is one of the few European leaders with a clear idea of ​​what would be best for Europe,” Mr. Tilgher told Agenzia Stampa Italia. He went on to praise President Bashar al-Assad of Syria for remaining true to the ideology of Arab nationalism “that has always been a bastion of defense against Islamic fundamentalism.”

As the Roman daily La Repubblica reported, a lesbian activist and politician, Imma Battaglia, responded with a call to tear down the posters and “free Rome from the fascists and Russia from Putin.”

Readers Debate Colorado Recall Vote

After the recall of two Colorado Democrats who supported new restrictions on firearms, New York Times readers posted more than 1,600 comments, which encompassed spirited debates between those celebrating the recalls and others dismayed by the backlash against what many called “common-sense” gun regulations. The ousted Democrats, Angela Giron of Pueblo and John Morse of Colorado Springs, will be replaced by Republican state senators.

The comment most recommended by readers was written by Robert Haufrecht in New York City, who said, “This is an embarrassment … an exposure of our gun culture and its big money influence that cares not for people’s safety, but uses a smokescreen of ‘conservatism’ and ‘patriotism’ to further unabated sales of arms.”

Many readers pointed to two mass shootings in Colorado, the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 and the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, and commended the recalled senators for taking a tough vote that led to such backlash.

“Both of these legislators knew the political risks when they voted for sensible restrictions on firearms in a largely rural state in the West,” wrote NJB in Seattle. “Rather than do what was easy, they did what was right.”

In a comment that garnered more than 400 reader recommendations, David Roy in Fort Collins, Colo., echoed NJB’s sentiment, pointing to what he saw as a rarity in modern politics.

“Courage amongst our leadership is already in short supply â€" the threat of losing power by promulgating a divisive issue will only threaten the likelihood that we will have even less leadership, and only followers,” he wrote. “We live by the ballot box, thankfully, and not the bullet â€" but this conversation yesterday across the state of Colorado only makes more possible that the rules of society will more and more become kindergarten rules, with the loudest bullies holding the most sway.”

Those pleased by the outcome applauded the democratic process in Colorado, which is one of 19 states where voters can recall state officials with no specific grounds required.

“While it may be a sad day for those supporting more gun control regulations, our democratic process worked in favor of local wishes,” Dave in New Jersey wrote. “Perhaps there is hope for our nation when big money and outside influences do not always dictate the outcome of an election.”

Dave, like many others, expressed derision toward pro-gun-control groups that worked to support the recalled senators. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York gave $350,000 to support the Democrats, while the National Rifle Association spent nearly $362,000 on the recall effort.

“Much of the disgust heaped on Senators Morse and Giron was based on their dismissive attitudes towards constituents who opposed these new laws,” Jeff M. in Colorado Springs commented. “Both cared more about their liberal ideology and the praise being heaped on them from liberals like Obama, Bloomberg and Maddow than they cared about their own voters.”

“I think the message is pretty clear,” Brian in Tampa, Fla., wrote. “If you chip away at our basic rights like the second amendment, you will be voted out of office.”

Ricky Barnacle in Seaside quickly rebutted, “Yep, tell that to the families of the 31,000 people who die each year in the U.S. due to gun deaths and your ‘right’ to bear arms.”

Twitter Confidentially Submits Plans for Public Offering

Updated, 5:46 p.m. |
Twitter filed the initial paperwork on Thursday for its long-awaited initial public offering of stock.

Unlike with typical I.P.O.’s, however, potential investors and the public will not yet get a look at the company’s finances.

The microblogging service, which has about 200 million users worldwide, filed its preliminary prospectus, known as an S-1, with securities regulators using a provision of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS Act, that allows the company to keep its initial filings confidential if it has less than $1 billion in annual revenue.

Goldman Sachs is leading the underwriting for the offering, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Flooding in Colorado Leaves at Least 3 Dead

Video from KCNC-TV in Colorado of rescue crews saving a motorist near Jamestown.

At least three people in Colorado have been killed in flash floods that began Tuesday night during heavy rain along the Front Range. The flooding trapped motorists, cut off mountain towns, washed away homes and made roads impassable in and around the cities of Boulder, Estes Park and Lyons.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service warned of an “extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation” throughout the region. Colorado’s governor, John W. Hickenlooper, declared an emergency, and the University of Colorado, Boulder, shut down its main campus. Officials in Boulder and Larimer Counties warned residents to stay inside, or in some towns, asked residents to evacuate, as floodwaters continued to rise in some areas, making it impossible for emergency vehicles to reach those in need of help.

“This is not your ordinary disaster,” said Joe Pelle, the Boulder County sheriff, at a briefing on Thursday. “All the preparation in the world can’t put people up those canyons with walls of water coming down.”

Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County delivered a briefing on what he described as a “devastating storm.”

In a video from the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, students were seen playing in the rising floodwaters late Tuesday night, with a few students using inner tubes after an underpass turned into a fast-moving stream.

Video of students at the University of Colorado, Boulder, using inner tubes in an underpass.

While Boulder County was hit the hardest, flooding was reported from Colorado Springs to north of Fort Collins, officials said, and the threat of flash floods remained throughout the day.

In Jamestown, northwest of Boulder, which was also hit hard by flooding, residents took to a message board to communicate information.

Other photos of the flooding were shared on Twitter by emergency officials, including images that showed parts of Highway 34 that washed away.

Senator Asks Cellphone Carriers: What Exactly Do You Share with Government?

Last year, Edward Markey, then a member of the House of Representatives, asked the country’s major cellphone carriers to disclose how many data requests they received from federal and local law enforcement agencies. More than one million in 2011 alone, they said, revealing for the first time how ubiquitous cellphone records had become in criminal investigations.

Now a member of the Senate, Mr. Markey is asking for this year’s numbers and with more details. What exactly does the government seek from the carriers, he wants to know. How often do they ask for cellphone tower dumps, location data, content of text messages, browsing history and so on. How many of those requests did the companies comply with and how many did they deny and why?

The letter to eight companies, including the largest carriers, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, was sent Thursday. It comes against the backdrop of mounting revelations about secret surveillance of Americans communications.

Senator Markey’s original request last year documented the fast-growing business of cellphone surveillance. Law enforcement sought a variety of records of cellphone subscribers in the course of routine street crime investigations, emergencies and counter-terrorism operations.

At the time, carriers said they generally sought a search warrant or court order to comply with an law enforcement agency’s request for data. But on certain categories of information, like location data, the law remains vague on whether a search warrant is required.

This time around, in his letter, Senator Markey also sought to know how many times federal officials invoked Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act, which carries a gag order prohibiting recipients to discuss its details.

Daily Report: F.T.C. Raises Questions About Facebook’s New Privacy Policy

Facebook, which has repeatedly tripped over its own feet when changing its privacy practices, has stumbled yet again, Vindu Goel and Edward Wyatt report.

The Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday that it had begun an inquiry into whether the social network’s proposed new privacy policies, unveiled two weeks ago, violated a 2011 agreement with regulators. Under that agreement, Facebook is required to get the explicit consent of its users before exposing their private information to new audiences.

Facebook’s new policies make clear that users are required to grant the company wide permission to use their personal information in advertising as a condition of using the service.

Facebook says the language was in part required by a federal court. In August, a judge approved some of the wording as part of a settlement in a class-action suit brought by users upset at seeing their names and photos used to endorse products in Facebook ads sent to their friends.