Saturday, October 8, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Ten years ago today, in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, our nation went to war against al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors in Afghanistan. As we mark a decade of sacrifice, Michelle and I join all Americans in saluting the more than half a million men and women who have served bravely in Afghanistan to keep our country safe, including our resilient wounded warriors who carry the scars of war, seen and unseen.
We honor the memory of the nearly 1,800 American patriots, and many coalition and Afghan partners, who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan for our shared security and freedom. We pay tribute to our inspiring military families who have persevered at home with a loved one at war. And we are grateful to our tireless diplomats and intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement professionals who have worked these ten years to protect our country and save American lives.
Thanks to the extraordinary service of these Americans, our citizens are safer and our nation is more secure. In delivering justice to Osama bin Laden and many other al Qaeda leaders, we are closer than ever to defeating al Qaeda and its murderous network. Despite the enormous challenges that remain in Afghanistan, we’ve pushed the Taliban out of its key strongholds, Afghan security forces are growing stronger, and the Afghan people have a new chance to forge their own future.
We’ve fought alongside Afghans, and close friends and allies from dozens of nations who have joined us in common purpose. In Afghanistan and beyond, we have shown that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam and that we are a partner with those who seek justice, dignity and opportunity.
After a difficult decade, we are responsibly ending today’s wars from a position of strength. As the rest of our troops come home from Iraq this year, we have begun to draw down our forces in Afghanistan and transition security to the Afghan people, with whom we will forge an enduring partnership.
As our sons and daughters come home to their families, we will uphold our sacred trust with our 9/11 Generation veterans and work to provide the care, benefits and opportunities they deserve. And as we reflect on ten years of war and look ahead to a future of peace, Michelle and I call upon all Americans to show our gratitude and support for our fellow citizens who risk their lives so that we can enjoy the blessings of freedom and security.
Statement on the Employment Situation in September
WASHINGTON - Katherine Abraham, Member of the Council of Economic Advisors, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in September.
Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 137,000 and overall payroll employment rose by 103,000 in September. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent, a level that is unacceptably high.
Despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds experienced throughout the year, the economy has added private sector jobs for 19 straight months, for a total of 2.6 million jobs over that period.
Clearly, we need faster economic growth to put Americans back to work. Today’s report underscores the President’s call for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more money in the pockets of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to keep teachers in the classroom; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while not adding to the deficit over ten years.
Sectors with employment increases in September included professional and business services (+48,000), health care and social assistance (+40,800), information (+34,000, which includes about 45,000 returning Verizon strikers), and construction (+26,000). Sectors with employment declines included government (-34,000) and manufacturing (-13,000). Local government lost 35,000 jobs, and has shed 383,000 jobs since February 2010, including 225,000 jobs in educational services.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Through the magic of Skype, I met a real hero. And the fate of this man and his mission will inform us about the ultimate outcome of the Arab Spring in Libya and perhaps across the entire region.
Meet David Gerbi, a 50-something psychoanalyst from Rome. But David was born in Libya, a native of Tripoli, who, as a 12-year-old, was exiled, along with 38,000 other Jews who were forced to flee their native Libya in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day Israel-Arab War.
Over the years, David made numerous attempts to reconnect Jewish exiles with their native land. Initial promises for cooperation during the Gaddafi era led to a perilous arrest. In recent months he hooked up with the rebel forces of the National Transitional Council, the group which has earned critical NATO backing and financial support from key democracies with the promise of a moderate Muslim society that would respect the norms of human rights.
Now, Dr. Gerbi is challenging the NTC to "walk the walk," not just "talk the talk," and decided to spend the High Holy days at the Dar Bishi Synagogue. He spent a day clearing out mounds of garbage: "I cannot pray under the holy banner of Shema Yisrael [Judaism's most important declaration of faith] amidst the filth," he told me. When he returned a second day, locals warned him to flee. But David has not left Tripoli, instead he's decided to place his safety in the balance in order to test the "new" Libya's commitment to religious freedom and tolerance.
To date, authorities have told him "it's too early ... too sensitive a matter." It appears that the NTC hasn't decided whether to rescind the Gaddafi-era classification of the Jewish cemetery from a historic excavation site and restore it and the synagogue to Libyan Jews.
But clearly, David Gerbi's struggle reflects much larger issues.
From Tunis to Cairo to Bahrain, the world is left to wonder whether the heady optimism of the Arab Spring will, in the end, serve the cause of freedom and democracy. The outcome of one Jew's struggle to clean a synagogue in a neighborhood of Libya's capital city will speak volumes.
Here now in his own words: Dr. David Gerbi, one man who has drawn the line in the sand for the rights and dignity of Jews, dead and living.
The Woodhaven Library $50K Committee and the Friends of Queens Library at Woodhaven will host Brady, author of Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, on Monday, October 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Queens Library at Woodhaven is located in 85-41 Forest Parkway, Woodhaven, New York. Admission is free, and proceeds from the book sale will support renovations at the Carnegie building. The library is a short distance from the Forest Parkway station, on the J train, and is accessible via the Q56/Jamaica Avenue bus to Forest Parkway.A former Woodhaven resident and tenured journalism professor at St. John’s University, Dr. Brady is an avid chess player who played outdoors at the Forest Park chess tables as a teen.
Bobby Fischer, a chess prodigy with a genius IQ of 180 as a child, defeated competitors from all over the world, including Russia, which -- during Fischer's reign -- was considered to be an arch-rival. However, instead of becoming smarter and smarter as he aged, Fischer became mentally unstable.
Brady has been an Adjunct Professor of Journalism for the past 25 years at Barnard College of Columbia University. He has a B.S., SUNY (communications); MFA, Columbia University (film); and M.A., Ph.D., New York University (writing). As current chair of the Mass Communications department at St. John's, Brady oversees a multi-million dollar budget, a 60-member faculty, and 900 students.
Brady is an International Arbiter -- recognized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation -- and has directed many major chess tournaments. Brady was the tournament arbiter when Fischer completed his historic 11-0 run during the U.S. Championship in 1963—one of the greatest moments in American chess history. Many have described Fischer's feat as "one of the most incredible performances ever seen at the championship level."
Dr. Brady was Secretary of the United States Chess Federation from 2003 to 2005 and served as arbiter of international chess tournaments in 2001 and 2004 in New York. He has been elected to, and serves as an active voting member of, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and PEN, the international writers' organization.
Brady also wrote the best-selling book Profile of a Prodigy, a biography of his friend, Bobby Fischer. His new biography of Fischer, Endgame: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer, was published earlier this year.
For more information about the book sale and discussion, contact Maria Concolino, of the Woodhaven Library’s $50K Committee, at 718-849-1582.
The annual event features a cast of over 20 volunteer actors dressed in period costumes, all of whom will portray some of Maple Grove’s most illustrious and historical figures from various walks of life. This year, the event will introduce a number of newly-discovered historical figures, which include:
Elma Stebbins, the wife of famed hymnist composer George Stebbins.
Francis Marsh, a young telegraph operator who survived the Great Blizzard of 1888 and the Great Johnstown Flood.
Madame Helen Bakhmeteff, the wife of the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. in 1917, who was witness to the fall of Czar Nicholas and his wife, Alexandra.
Jane Heath, who was a direct descendant of the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams.
Elisabeth Japp, whose husband was the engineer who built the subway tunnels under the East River in the early 1900s.
A nurse from Ellis Island Hospital, who will tell the story of a woman in search of the resting place of her uncle who had died at the Ellis Island Hospital at age 4 in 1921 and was missing for decades.
John McKenney, a Civil War soldier who fought with the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery
LaVergne Bronk, whose ancestors where the first European settlers of the Bronx, which still bears their family name.
Alonzo Adams, a sea captain who became king of an island in the Caribbean; and many more.
Spirits Alive 2011 is the highlight event at Maple Grove during the Open House NY Weekend. On Sunday, October 16, two walking tours will be conducted at Maple Grove by historian Carl Ballenas at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The starting point will be the old entrance at 83-15 Kew Gardens Road (off Lefferts Boulevard), in Kew Gardens.
Based on census data, the services will be offered in Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Russian, French, and French Créole.
Approximately two and a half million New Yorkers do not speak English as their primary language and have limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. This presents potential barriers when trying to access important government benefits or services.
"Our state works for all people, regardless of where you were born or what language you speak," said Governor Cuomo.
The Governor's Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David will provide oversight and coordination to agencies to help them implement the provisions of the Executive Order. Agencies will fulfill the requirements of the Executive Order on a rolling basis and must fully comply within one year. The Governor's website will be translated as well.
To ensure that language access services are implemented in a cost effective and efficient manner, the New York State Office of General Services has already negotiated bulk discounts for interpretation and translation services for all state agencies. Additionally, the Spending and Government Efficiency ("SAGE") Commission has incorporated this plan in its streamlining of agencies.
"With this Executive Order, Governor Cuomo is opening the doors of government even wider and removing barriers to the state resources that encourage economic development. Those who do not speak English primarily have been at a disadvantage, and today is an important step toward greater fairness and equality." - Senator Adriano Espaillat, Chair of the Senate Latino Caucus
"Today's announcement represents the ongoing commitment Governor Cuomo has shown to improve the lives of all New Yorkers. We applaud the Governor for his understanding of the needs of this state's residents and for ensuring that government is better able to address them." - Senator José M. Serrano
"Far too many New Yorkers have been unaware of all of the services available to them due to a lack of English-language skills. With today's Executive Order, Governor Cuomo has provided an essential tool for these residents to benefit from the opportunities offered by our government. I represent what I like to call the United Nations of senate districts, home to immigrants from around the world. On behalf of my constituents, many thanks Governor Cuomo." - Senator José Peralta
"Today is a great day for all New Yorkers and is another example of our state leading the way on issues of major importance, especially as it relates to issues of civil rights. With over two million non-English speakers in New York, many residents have had limited access to the public services many of us take for granted, including crucial services related to health, safety, and criminal justice. I commend Governor Cuomo for signing this Executive Order." - Senator Gustavo Rivera
"With many government resources currently available only in English, millions of New Yorkers have been faced with additional hardships in accessing important services, especially those that help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow and create jobs. I thank Governor Cuomo for his efforts to ensure all residents understand what their state has to offer, and I look forward to continuing to work together on behalf of our diverse communities." - Assembly Member Karim Camara, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus
"With the Governor's Executive Order, millions of New Yorkers, regardless of their primary language, will be able to access state services and benefits and better participate in their state government. This is another example of Governor Cuomo fulfilling his promise to make his Administration the most transparent in New York's history." - Assembly Member Felix W. Ortiz, Chair of the Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force
"By issuing this Executive Order, Governor Cuomo has ensured that during this trying economic time all of those who need state assistance, including those who are not proficient in English, will be able to learn how they can access it. We applaud the Governor for providing this opportunity to millions of New Yorkers." - Assembly Member Alec Brook-Krasny, Chair of the Task Force for New Americans
"I thank Governor Cuomo for his efforts to improve access to vital state resources for non-English speaking New Yorkers, including the essential economic development resources that our state offers. Governor Cuomo clearly understands that as we rebuild the Empire State, we must ensure that all residents are able to understand the benefits and services available to them from their state government." - Assembly Member Grace Meng
"Too often, language barriers discourage non-English speaking New Yorkers from accessing the resources our state offers to spur our economy and create job opportunities. I thank Governor Cuomo for putting in place these important measures that will help residents contribute to our shared growth and development." - Assembly Member Peter Rivera
"Many people come to our state from throughout the world to pursue the American dream and the Governor's Executive Order helps them to accomplish that. Non-English speakers are often at a disadvantage, but today Governor Cuomo has given them a voice. I would also like to thank the coalition of organizations that have been working on this for years. This is a great day for us all." - Assembly Member Guillermo Linares
"New Yorkers hail from all corners of the world, but they call this state home and play vital roles in the state's economy and society. The Governor's Executive Order will improve accessibility to government resources for all New Yorkers, and it will help them build their families and businesses no matter what language they speak. Furthermore, by improving communication, this Executive Order can help state government deliver services more efficiently and effectively. I commend Governor Cuomo for this important action." - Lillian Rodríguez López, SAGE Commission member and President of the Hispanic Federation
"Non-English speaking New Yorkers are often the very residents who need public services the most, and this Executive Order will be an important step in advancing equality in our state. By offering government resources in additional languages, Governor Cuomo will allow millions more New Yorkers to access the opportunity and services that are available to all." - Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella group comprised of nearly 200 organizations that work with immigrant communities statewide.
The state agencies that will be affected by the Governor's Executive Order include, but are not limited to: Office for Aging; Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services; Office of Children & Family Services; Department of Correctional Services; Division of Criminal Justice Services; Department of Education; Board of Elections; Empire State Development Corporation; Department of Family Assistance; Department of Health; Division of Housing & Community Renewal; Division of Human Rights; Department of Financial Services; Department of Labor; Department of Motor Vehicles; Department of State; Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Division of Parole; Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives; Division of State Police; Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance; and Division of Veteran's Affairs.