Saturday, October 15, 2011
The President's thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of Laura Pollán, the founder of Las Damas de Blanco, who passed away Friday in Havana. Pollán and the quiet dignity of the Ladies in White have courageously voiced the core desire of the Cuban people and of people everywhere to live in liberty.
Through their brave actions, the Ladies in White draw attention to the plight of those who are unjustly held in Cuba's prisons and pushed Cuban authorities to release those political prisoners wrongly jailed in the Spring of 2003.
Since the beginning of the Administration we have worked to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their future and Cuba's future. We will continue that work in Pollán's memory.
Photo courtesy of http://lasdamasdeblanco.blogspot.com/.
"Rebuilding St. Nicholas Church, with a nondenominational bereavement center, is not just good news for the Greek Orthodox community, but for all New Yorkers. With this agreement, we are continuing New York's collective healing, restoration, and resurgence. Now we are finally returning this treasured place of reflection to where it belongs."
The four-month study was led by Peter Lehrer, a nationally renowned construction expert, who worked on the project on a pro bono basis with Director of World Trade Center Construction Steven Plate and independent engineers Gorton & Partners and McNamara/Salvia, Inc.
The study concluded that structural issues could be resolved to site the Church at 130 Liberty Street at significantly reduced cost compared to the original agreement and with no delay to construction at the World Trade Center site.
Friday, October 14, 2011
President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat, should be commended for their effective efforts to substantially revise the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which Congress overwhelmingly approved Wednesday night. The UAW fully supports this trade agreement because the automotive provisions, which are very different from those negotiated by President George W. Bush in 2007, will create significantly greater market access for American auto exports and include strong, auto-specific safeguards to protect our domestic markets from potentially harmful surges of Korean automotive imports.
Unlike the 2007 negotiations with South Korea, the labor movement, and particularly the UAW, had an opportunity to be part of the 2010 discussions on strengthening the trade deal. Working with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other members of the Obama administration, then-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Levin and top management from the auto companies, the UAW believes the new agreement will help protect current American auto jobs, contains meaningful trade law enforcement and makes stronger labor and environmental commitments.
Under the 2007 proposed agreement, almost 90% of Korea's auto exports to the U.S. would have received immediate duty-free access. Under the agreement passed this week, the 2.5% U.S. tariff on automobiles will stay in place until the fifth year after implementation of the agreement, and the 25% tariff on light trucks remains until the eighth year, when it starts to be phased out. Moreover, South Korea will immediately reduce its electric car tariffs from 8% to 4%, and will phase out the tariff by the fifth year of the agreement. The delay in tariff reductions will allow the domestic automakers time to strengthen their global competitive positions in both traditional and advanced energy efficient auto markets.
The agreement also includes standards for the protection of worker rights, including obligations for South Korea to respect core International Labor Organization labor rights and to effectively enforce labor laws designed to ensure a level playing field for American workers to compete.
Unlike China and many other Asian countries, South Korea has a robust trade-union movement that developed rapidly after the end of the military dictatorship. In fact, the UAW supported the organization of the Korean Metalworkers' Union, which now represents workers at Hyundai, Kia and the other Korean automakers. Combined with the labor provisions of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, our bilateral trading relationship will not be based on the exploitation of labor and the denial of trade union rights in either country.
President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will travel to Detroit today to highlight the deal's potential economic and employment benefits to the automotive sector and the overall American economy. The UAW strongly believes that the revised agreement, along with Obama's earlier financial assistance to the auto industry during the 2009 financial crisis, will not only support the nation's economic recovery, but will improve our economic relationship with South Korea and provide UAW members with the opportunity to make products for export to Asia.
Photo and copyright owned by http://www.uaw.org.
Link courtesy of Newsy.com
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Sergeant Nathan L. Wyrick died in Kandahar province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Wyrick was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Drum. Sergeant Wyrick was from Enumclaw, Washington.
"I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Sergeant Wyrick and I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow soldiers," Governor Cuomo said.
"We will honor his service and his dedication to our country."
Three beloved celebrities are lending their voices to Joining Forces, the initiative started by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr.Jill Biden to bring attention to the unique needs and strength of America’s military families.
Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg have each created public service announcements (PSAs) that tell real stories about America's military families and call on all Americans to give back to ensure service members and military families have the support they have earned.
"The entertainment community answered the Joining Forces call and has done what they do best -- bring to life stories that move us," said Mrs. Obama.
"Through this PSA campaign, Americans will learn more about the unique challenges and needs of our military families, see their strength, resilience and service, and find out how they can give back to these extraordinary troops and families who have given us so much."
The project was conceived by Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen, who leads the Inter-Guild Joining Forces Task Force, an entertainment industry coalition that provides creative and production support for Joining Forces.
Each of the PSAs tells the story of a military family as they endure the hardship of a deployment overseas. The PSAs will be airing on A + E, CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and WB networks.
Dr Biden, whose son served in Iraq, said, "As a military mom, I know just how much it means when people reach out to show their support for our service members and their families. The first lady and I hope that this campaign will inspire more Americans to take action and reach out to military families in their own communities around the country."
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Obama: 'Tonight's Vote, with Bipartisan Support, Will Significantly Boost Exports That Bear the Proud Label "Made in America"'
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee today voted in favor of free-trade agreements (FTA) between the United States and Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, and renewal of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) for those who may be displaced by trade.
“With passage of these agreements we leveled the playing field for American businesses so that they have access to the markets of these important allies and can then create more jobs here at home. These agreements will lead to billions in exports added to the United States economy. The Korea agreement alone is estimated to increase U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $10 billion once fully implemented, and that estimate does not take into full account the impact of the reduction of barriers to trade in services and to foreign investment flows and the impact of changes in regulations as a result of the KORUS FTA,” said Congressman Meeks.
Representative Meeks continued by stating, “Deepening our ties in our hemisphere and in Asia is not only the right thing to do; it is the strategically smart thing to do for our country’s economic prosperity and long-term security. I voted for these agreements with a sense of urgency because, while we have been waiting on passage of the agreements South Korea, has moved forward on trade with Europe, and Colombia and Panama are moving forward on several bilateral agreements of their own with Canada, China and others. The economic costs of not acting up to this point are astounding.”
Nearly 40 million jobs in the U.S. depend on trade, and thousands of those jobs are in New York’s Sixth Congressional District.
“As a representative of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), I also represent foreign freight forwarders and brokers that are responsible for the movement of goods throughout our region and nation, and many financial services sector workers who understand the linkage between their jobs and the global market place,” noted Meeks.
“Thousands of families in my district depend on increased trade of goods and services for their economic survival. Over 10,000 jobs in my district are directly supported by exports alone; many more depend on two way trade directly or indirectly. Not since the early 19th century have exports been more important to the U.S. as we look to recover from the financial crisis,” added Meeks.
The Obama Administration improved all three agreements by addressing critical issues. The Administration secured greater U.S. access to South Korea’s auto market; enhanced tax transparency in Panama; and advanced worker protections and labor rights in Colombia with an agreed upon action plan.
Significantly, enhancements by the administration facilitated broad support of the U.S.-South Korea agreement including support from United Auto workers, and the big three auto makers.
TAA is traditionally in tandem with trade agreement passage and is designed to help workers, firms and farmers transition to alternative employment by providing training and economic support for workers who are negatively affected by trade. A crucial aspect of the bill is the coverage of American workers in the services sector where most Americans are employed.
They also praised the work of intelligence and law enforcement agencies that led to the disruption of this plot, and reiterated the joint commitment on the part of the United States and Saudi Arabia to pursue a strong and unified international response that holds those responsible accountable for their actions.
Finally, the President and the King reaffirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Queens) has indicated that intends to work towards beginning the process of legalizing full casino gaming
A more recent Siena College poll found that 57 percent of New Yorkers surveyed would allow non-Indian-run casinos to be built around the state, compared with 36 percent opposed. All groups support casinos,
Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and most recently, Democrat Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, have all indicated their support as well.
"Rather than see the money keep going to Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indian casinos upstate, in this stagnant economy I believe we must start the process, including public input, for the expansion of VLT racinos into full casino gaming to increase our revenues and to boost education initiatives,” Addabbo stated.
The senator is working with the operators of Resorts World, the racino at Aqueduct, to ensure a partnership that benefits the surrounding communities exists for many years.
There are even programs in place in order to work with those in the community who believe they have a gambling addiction and need assistance.
“There is much more to offer at Resorts World than just gambling,” Addabbo added.
“People can go there to enjoy the restaurants, live entertainment, food court, buffet, and eventually, other amenities.”
Addabbo wants to initiate the discussion in Albany to advance the New York State Constitutional change to allow full gaming. That process requires the measure to be voted on by the State Legislature and once it is passed in two consecutive sessions, it is followed by a vote by the public in a referendum.
“The smart bets are that voters would want to amend the NYS Constitution and 'let the games begin' -- making it a win-win situation for the economy of our state and for our people," Addabbo said.
From The G-Man posed a series of questions on this issue, and Senator Addabbo offered the following comments.
G-Man: For those that may not be aware, what does the New York State Constitution state regarding casino gambling?
Senator Addabbo: Gambling is prohibited in New York State, unless on American-Indian reservation/land.
G-Man: Why have previous attempts to amend the regulation failed?
Senator Addabbo: Unsure, but, as previously noted, recent polls state most New Yorkers favor a Constitutional amendment to allow full gaming.
G-Man: Some say Atlantic City has proved to be a successful venture, while others cite the alarming and undeniable increase in crime, homelessness, poverty and unemployment in the area. Are you concerned that the same thing will happen if casinos are built in Queens?
Senator Addabbo: I am concerned about many related issues, and I intend to address them all, once the casino is operational.
G-Man: In the past, community activists have opposed bringing casinos to Queens because of the specter of organized crime. Will their concerns be taken into consideration as you move forward with efforts to amend the regulation?
Senator Addabbo: I intend to work with the NYS Lottery Division, Genting and other governmental agencies to ensure the legitimacy of Resorts World.
G-Man: If successful in your bid and casinos are allowed to be built in Queens, how many long-term jobs are likely to be created?
Senator Addabbo: An additional 500-1500 jobs, not including those created with future growth: for example, a convention center.
G-Man: Will those jobs be offered solely to people within your district?
Senator Addabbo: The open application process allows anyone regardless of residence to apply for jobs there.
G-Man: When you served in the City Council, you represented the Rockaways, which has been mentioned as a potential casino site for years. Would you be in favor of having casinos built in the Rockaways, too?
Senator Addabbo: I am in favor of an open and transparent process which includes public input with regard to future casino sites.
G-Man: Taking a rough guess, how much revenue would Queens casinos generate for the state and what do you suspect would be done with the money?
Senator Addabbo: Since Resorts World is the first of its kind in the city, revenues are difficult to predict. A certain portion of the monies from the casino get allocated to the education provisions in the state budget and also to its General Fund.
G-Man: What SHOULD be done with the money generated from Queens casinos?
Senator Addabbo: I will work toward funding going to the communities from Resorts World.
G-Man: With thousands of people losing jobs and other income sources, and no clear indication of when the economy will pick up, why do you believe this is a good time to push this initiative?
Senator Addabbo: At this single site, approximately 1500 construction jobs and 1500 post-construction jobs were created for Phase I of Resorts World, with additional job openings to follow.