Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekly Address: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling

According to President Obama, we should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important. The President is calling on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1,000 to their debt.

Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride

President Obama speaks before the start of the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride, a cycling event that raises awareness for our nation's wounded warriors who battle the physical and psychological damages of war.

President Obama to Speak at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jews captured during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Poland, April 19-May 16, 1943.

President Will Tour Museum and Be Introduced by Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, April 23, at a time when Americans are engaging in Holocaust Days of Remembrance, President Obama will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

The President will give remarks commemorating the Holocaust and discuss how the United States is honoring the pledge of “never again” by developing a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities. 

President Obama will also tour the museum with and be introduced by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Photo copyright owned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

'Operation Hang Up' to Target Distracted Drivers

Cuomo: "Using a Cell Phone While Driving is Illegal and Puts Other Motorists in Danger"

New York State Police will conduct a second Operation Hang Up enhanced enforcement campaign to target motorists that use their cell phone and other electronic devices while driving.

The first Operation Hang Up campaign took place over last year's Thanksgiving Holiday, during which State Police ticketed more than 800 drivers. The second enhanced enforcement campaign will begin Monday, April 23, 2012 and continue through Sunday, April 29, 2012.

"Using a cell phone while driving is illegal and puts other motorists in danger," Governor Cuomo said.

"After the huge success of the first Operation Hang Up – when more than 800 distracted drivers were ticketed – this second campaign will enable State Police to step up enforcement measures to send a clear message to drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. I thank the State Police and local law enforcement officers for their hard work to keep New Yorkers safe."

The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee funds "Operation Hang Up" campaigns through a Distracted Driving Enforcement Grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The grant enables the State Police to focus patrol resources on the issue of distracted driving and supplements their conventional traffic safety and enforcement efforts. Similar enhanced enforcement periods will be conducted in the future.

"If you use a hand-held cell phone or are texting while driving, you should expect to receive a ticket from a New York State Trooper. Electronic devices have become commonplace in our lives, but they have no place in the hands of a driver. Operation Hang Up is a focused enforcement effort that will reinforce to the motoring public that these violations are taken seriously and will not be permitted," said Superintendent of the New York State Police Joseph A. D'Amico.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Barbara J. Fiala stated, "Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has been in the forefront of combating distracted driving. With new texting laws in effect, and increased enforcement efforts like this one, we are taking additional positive actions that will help educate the public and change extremely dangerous distracted driving behaviors."

"Over the seven-day period, the State Police will step up enforcement measures making sure drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The Thruway Authority will continue to reinforce the fact that hand-held cell phone use is a dangerous distraction and a real safety risk on the road," added Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison.

Governor Cuomo signed a new law to strengthen enforcement of texting-while-driving violations in July 2011.

The law makes using a handheld electronic device for activities such as texting while driving a primary traffic offense, giving law enforcement the power to stop motorists solely for engaging in this activity. Additionally, the penalty for using a handheld device while driving has been increased from two to three points.

Recent research has shown that drivers talking on phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. The behavior of such drivers can be equivalent to the behavior of drunk drivers at the threshold of the legal limit of .08 BAC.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed more than 3,000 deaths last year to distracted driving, calling it a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.

White House Briefs

Friday, April 20, 2012

George Zimmerman Granted Bail

Bond Set at $150,000 

A Florida judge has granted bail to George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman facing life in prison for allegedly shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The judge set bond at $150,000 and provided a list of requirments by the court to ensure that Zimmerman does not pose a flight risk, including tracking Zimmerman with a GPS device.

Zimmerman was taken into custody as the hearing concluded, and no indication was given of when he would be released.

Click on the following for more information on today's ruling: MSNBC report

From The G-Man and will provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

Image courtesy of

West Wing Week: 4/20/12

This week, the President visited one of the Sunshine State's largest ports, attended the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, announced new steps to strengthen oversight of energy markets, welcomed champion NASCAR drivers and the Alabama Crimson Tide football team to the White House, and traveled to Ohio to speak with unemployed workers about the importance of job training program.

Secret Service Pays Ted Nugent a Visit

Media groups weigh in on the Secret Service's meeting with Nugent on Thursday following anti-Obama comments he made over the weekend.

By Emily Allen
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Sudan Declares War on South Sudan

Sudan’s President declares war against South Sudan after border disputes. South Sudan says its not at war.

Sources: euronews  Washington Post  CNN  RT 

By Emoke Bebiak
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Unconscious Pilot Crashes Into The Gulf of Mexico

A pilot traveling to Florida may have lost consciousness and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Sources: WWSB  MSNBC  Fox  CNN  CBS

By Christine Karsten
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Body of Marine's Missing Wife Found

The body of missing Marine wife Brittany Killgore was found in a lake in Southern California.

Sources: CNN  KABC  KSDK  MSNBC  KCAL  Ten News

By Emoke Bebiak
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

Thursday, April 19, 2012

White House Briefs

'On This Day, and All Days, We Must Do More Than Remember'

Statement by the President on Yom HaShoah

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I join people of all faiths across the United States, in Israel and around the world in paying tribute to all who suffered in the Shoah—a horrific crime without parallel in human history.  We honor the memory of six million innocent men, women and children who were sent to their deaths simply because of their Jewish faith.  We stand in awe of those who fought back, in the ghettos and in the camps, against overwhelming odds.  And in the year of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, we are humbled by the rescuers who refused to be bystanders to evil.

On this day, and all days, we must do more than remember.  We must resolve that “never again” is more than an empty slogan.  As individuals, we must guard against indifference in our hearts and recognize ourselves in our fellow human beings.  As societies, we must stand against ignorance and anti-Semitism, including those who try to deny the Holocaust.  As nations, we must do everything we can to prevent and end atrocities in our time.  This is the work I will advance when I join survivors and their families at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday.  This must be the work of us all, as nations and peoples who cherish the dignity of every human being.    

Patricia “Pat” Summitt to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Patricia "Pat" Summitt

President Obama: "Coach Summitt is an Inspiration..."

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced Patricia “Pat” Summitt, former head coach and current head coach emeritus of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team, as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. 

“Coach Summitt is an inspiration – both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer’s," said President Obama. 

"Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched. Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished.  I look forward to awarding her this honor.”

In addition to accomplishing an outstanding career as the all-time winningest leader among all NCAA basketball coaches, Coach Summitt has taken Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball. 

She has received numerous awards, including being named Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century.  As we approach the 40th anniversary of the signing of Title IX,  Summitt’s remarkable career reflects her rightful place in history as an unparalleled figure in women’s team sports. 

Off the court, Pat’s work as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund is truly inspirational.  The Pat Summitt Foundation will make grants to nonprofits to provide education and awareness, support to patients and families, and research to prevent, cure and ultimately eradicate early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Coach Summitt was notified last week of the President’s decision to award her with the Nation’s highest civilian honor for her contributions both on and off the court. 

The remainder of the honorees selected by the President will be announced over the coming weeks and the awards will be presented at a White House ceremony later this year.

Photo source: Wikipedia
Permission: Public Domain

Travels with the First Lady: Joining Forces Anniversary

Welcome On Board with the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. The First Lady hit the road to mark the one year anniversary of Joining Forces, the nationwide initiative that she started with Second Lady and military mom Dr. Jill Biden.
During the trip to highlight the progress the Joining Forces initiative has made in mobilizing communities to come together and provide Business, Education, and Health and Wellness opportunities to veterans and military families, The First Lady honored the Joining Forces Community Challenge winners, announced a new partnership to train 3 million nurses, stopped by The Colbert Report, celebrated the Joining Forces 50,000th hire and was joined by Ellen DeGeneres at an event honoring and recognizing the high school children of service members.

'NY-Sun Initiative' Aims to Expand Solar Development

NYSERDA, LIPA, NYPA Collaboration Expected to Create Green Jobs and Increase Solar Capacity

The "NY-Sun Initiative" has been launched in effort to double the amount of customer-sited solar power installed annually in New York, and quadruple that amount by 2013.

The NY-Sun Initiative was first outlined by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2012 State of the State Address.

The NY-Sun Initiative brings together and expands existing programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and the New York Power Authority (NYPA), to ensure a coordinated and well-funded solar energy expansion plan.

“The NY-Sun Initiative puts New York at the forefront of solar development and research, creating green jobs while containing energy costs for consumers,” Governor Cuomo said.

“This clean energy investment will help protect the environment, expand our solar capacity, and lead to a longterm reduction of the cost of solar in New York.”

Today, the Public Service Commission approved NYSERDA’s request to double funding for customer-sited solar electric systems, known as a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems, to $432 million over the next four years.

The expanded solar program will increase financial incentives for large, commercial-sized PV projects and expand incentive programs for small-to-medium residential and commercial systems.

NYSERDA will also provide additional funding for its competitively bid solar program for larger-scale and aggregated systems that currently focuses on businesses, colleges and universities, and other large buildings located in New York City, Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley. 

The program, which is now offering $30 million and accepting applications, provides another important strategy to deal with the demand for electricity in the Downstate metropolitan area and will be expanded to other areas of the state.

As part of NY-Sun, NYSERDA and NYPA are collaborating in a NY-Sun balance-of-system (BOS) initiative, working with private and public partners across New York State, and building on the BOS advancements made by the City University of New York (CUNY) and the efforts underway in the PV Manufacturing Consortium.

The NY-Sun BOS initiative will focus on statewide standardization and streamlining of the procedures for permitting and interconnection, and development and training.

A broad range of demonstration projects will be conducted that represent residential, commercial and industrial applications.  NYSERDA and NYPA will partner with other public and private entities in this effort, including utilities, equipment vendors, solar installers, and localities across New York State.
In support of NY-Sun BOS, NYPA’s new efforts include expanding its current solar research and demonstration programs through its recently announced Solar Market Acceleration Program (Solar MAP), which will make competitive funding available for innovative solar technology research, training and demonstration projects and cost reduction strategies.
To make solar affordable for residents and businesses, NYSERDA and NYPA are providing at least $40 million dollars to promote research into reducing the overall equipment and installation costs so that in the future solar energy is competitive with other forms of electricity and will require no government subsidies.

In addition, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is implementing a first-of-its-kind program in New York State to purchase up to 50 megawatts of solar power that is generated on its customers’ premises. Under this plan, the owner of the PV system is paid a fixed rate by LIPA for every solar kilowatt hour generated over a 20-year term.

“NY-Sun will be the major driving force in New York for the continued growth and success of our important solar electric industry,” said PSC Commission Chairman Garry Brown.

“NY-Sun will encourage residential and business customers to install non-polluting solar systems, and it will create significant job opportunities for the solar industry.”

“NYSERDA applauds the PSC for its decision, which will allow for continued and measured growth in New York’s PV market as part of a balanced renewable energy policy,” noted Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, NYSERDA, working in collaboration with NYPA and LIPA, will stimulate the growth and deployment of affordable solar technology for all New Yorkers through the NY-Sun initiative.”

“Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative provides for the exponential growth of clean renewable solar power in New York State, at economical prices," stated Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer.

"Along with the Power Authority’s newly introduced Solar Market Acceleration Program, the collaboration by NYSERDA and the PSC reflects a full-court press by New York State to expand the use of solar technology to create jobs and protect the environment.”

“LIPA’s CLEAN Solar Initiative is designed to advance the development of solar energy and the growth of clean energy jobs on Long Island and is consistent with the clarion call by Governor Cuomo to quadruple customer-sited solar energy in New York State by 2013,” added LIPA’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey.

“LIPA’s CSI supplements existing purchases from the utility-scale solar facilities that were completed last year and under development this year, as well as LIPA’s nationally recognized Solar Pioneer and Solar Entrepreneur Programs.”

The targets announced by the Governor – to install in 2012 twice the customer-sited solar capacity that was added during 2011 and to quadruple that amount in 2013 – equate to a 300 percent growth in annual installed customer-sited capacity in New York State in two years.  

Top Newsy Headlines: India Reports Successful Missile Test

More headlines: Bombs kill 30+ in Iraq; Ban Ki-moon accuses Syria of breaking truce; Secret Service to interview Ted Nugent.

By Nathan Byrne
Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Link courtesy of

Blood Test Helps Diagnose Teen Depression

Northwestern University researchers say they found depression indicators in blood tests of teens.

Sources: KOVR  WebMD  Health Canal  TIME  ABC  Fox News

By Christine Karsten
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

'The Bachelor' Producers Accused of Racial Discrimination

A class action lawsuit may be filed against the producers of "The Bachelor" after plaintiffs claim they weren't given a spot because of their race.

By Meredith Baldwin
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

SpaceX Shuttle Aims to Launch April 30th

SpaceX, a private space exploration company, wants to launch a shuttle on April 30th. Its goal is to dock with the International Space Station.

By Luke Leonard
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

American Bandstand Host Dick Clark Dies at 82

Legendary TV icon Dick Clark passed away after a massive heart attack.

Sources: MSNBC  TMZ  Fox News  YouTube 

By Samantha Kubota
Anchor: David Earl
Link courtesy of

Zimmerman Trial Judge Replaced

Judge Jessica Recksiedler has been replaced in the trial of George Zimmerman because of her ties to the media.

By Breana Jones
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

'He Introduced Decades' Worth of Viewers to the Music of Our Time'

Statement by the President on the Passing of Dick Clark

Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Dick Clark.  With “American Bandstand,” he introduced decades’ worth of viewers to the music of our times.  He reshaped the television landscape forever as a creative and innovative producer.  And, of course, for 40 years, we welcomed him into our homes to ring in the New Year.  But more important than his groundbreaking achievements was the way he made us feel – as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was.  As we say a final “so long” to Dick Clark, America’s oldest teenager, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends – which number far more than he knew.

Vice President Biden on Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act

Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the importance of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which expired last year, the Administration’s ongoing coordination across the federal government to combat violence against women, and new steps the Administration is taking to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault.

'We Will Remember His Energy, Youthful Spirit, and Passion for His Work'

Statement from Governor Cuomo on the Passing of Dick Clark

"Today, we mourn the passing of Dick Clark, an American icon and a true New Yorker who was born in Mount Vernon, graduated from Syracuse University, and began his legendary career in Utica. Dick Clark became a household name as host of the iconic show American Bandstand, and for more than three decades the world joined him to usher in the New Year from New York City’s Times Square. We will remember his energy, youthful spirit, and passion for his work."

RIP: Dick Clark, TV Producer and Host

Dick Clark in 1963 hosting "Dick Clark Reports"

"New Year's Rockin' Eve" and "American Bandstand" Host Died of Cardiac Arrest

Television host and producer Dick Clark died today after suffering a massive heart attack after undergoing a medical procedure. He was 82.

Clark became a television icon after hosting the long-running "American Bandstand" and the "$10,000 Pyramid", of which several versions were produced.

More information on Clark and his legacy is available by clicking here: USA Today article

From The G-Man and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Rocker Ted Nugent Stands By Obama Threat

Guitarist Ted Nugent made some controversial comments about the Obama administration and the media, and critics are still reeling from them.

By Emily Allen
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

U.S. Troops Pictured Posing With Afghan Suicide Bombers

An American soldier released the photos to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper says it published the photos despite requests from the U.S. military.

By Nathan Byrne
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of

Investors Worry on News of Buffett Cancer Announcement

CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett announced he has stage one prostate cancer. But he says he has no plans to retire any time soon.

By Victoria Craig
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

Obama Pressures Oil Speculators on Market Manipulation

The Obama administration calls on Congress to increase monitoring and penalties for illegal market manipulation by oil speculators.

By Zach Toombs
Anchor: Zach Toombs
Link courtesy of

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

White House Briefs

BREAKING NEWS: Warren Buffett Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer

Buffett: "My Condition is Not Remotely Life-Threatening...."

Details of the billionaire investor's annoucement available here: MSNBC report

From The G-Man and will continue to monitor this story and provide details as they become available.

Photo source: Mark Hirschey
Author: Mark Hirschey
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

President Obama on Increasing Oversight on Manipulation in the Oil Market

President Obama discusses steps his Administration has taken to increase oversight of oil markets and close dangerous loopholes that allow a small numbers of irresponsible traders to hurt consumers by illegally manipulating or rigging the energy markets for their own gain, and calls on Congress to establish additional protections.

Politics in Action: H.R. 4348 and H.R. 9


H.R. 4348 – Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II
(Rep. Mica, R-FL, and 2 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 4348.  The Administration is committed to working on a bipartisan basis on a comprehensive surface transportation reauthorization bill.  The reauthorization of the programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund is critical to the safety of the traveling public and the Nation’s ability to facilitate commerce and trade. Since the expiration of the last multi-year authorization bill in 2009, surface transportation and highway safety programs have operated under a series of short-term extensions, varying from one to nine months.   By simply extending current authority through the end of the fiscal year, this legislation would miss a critical opportunity to provide more certainty to States and localities as they undertake the long-term planning and execution of projects and programs that are essential to creating and keeping American workers in good paying jobs, improving the Nation’s surface transportation infrastructure, and ensuring roadway safety.

Further, the Administration is strongly opposed to this bill because it seeks to circumvent a longstanding and proven process for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest and for assessing the environmental impacts by mandating the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline project, despite the fact that the pipeline route has yet to be identified and there is no complete assessment of its potential impacts, including impacts on health and safety, the economy, foreign policy, energy security, and the environment.

The Administration continues to support dedicating a significant amount of the Clean Water Act civil penalties resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for Gulf Coast recovery in a manner that best serves the people and environment of the Gulf Coast.  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to achieve this goal.

Because this bill circumvents a longstanding and proven process for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest by mandating the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline before a new route has been submitted and assessed, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto this legislation.


H.R. 9 – Small Business Tax Cut Act
 (Rep. Cantor, R-VA, and 42 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 9.  The President believes that small business tax relief can promote hiring workers and increasing investment here at home.  H.R. 9, however, is not focused on cutting taxes for small businesses, but instead would provide tax cuts to the most fortunate.  Under the bill’s definition of income, many of the “small businesses” that would receive the largest tax breaks are law partners, consultants, and other wealthy individuals and corporations with the biggest profits.  The proposal is a giveaway that will cost $46 billion and could, in fact, lead to delays and reductions in investment and hiring.

While H.R. 9 has been described as a way to help small businesses, independent non-partisan analyses confirm that 49 percent of the bill’s benefits would go to taxpayers making more than $1 million per year.  Individuals in higher tax brackets would be able to take the bill’s deduction against higher tax rates, making it more valuable for higher earners and more profitable firms.  For the one percent of individuals with small business income in the top tax bracket and for profitable corporations, the deduction is worth more than double what it is worth to the two-thirds of small business owners in the 15 percent bracket or lower.  Moreover, because “small business” is broadly defined and the tax relief is conditioned only on the size of payroll, many very large and highly profitable firms will be eligible for the tax break.  The Administration believes that this bill is not an effective way to incentivize small business investment and job creation.

Furthermore, under H.R. 9, small businesses that invested or hired more this year would, in many instances, get a smaller tax cut than those that did not, because the bill would have the deduction taken against the amount of a company’s net income from which wages for new workers or long-term investments in equipment are actually subtracted.  With the deduction only available for one year, it is likely that some firms would reduce or delay new hiring or new investment as a result.  The bill also opens up avenues for potential abuse, allowing a deduction for payments to family members who have been “hired” for the year as well as creating an incentive for firms to try to re-characterize current activities to earn the deduction. 

Congress should act to help American small businesses hire and grow with targeted tax relief designed to boost jobs, rather than tax cuts for the most fortunate that actually discourage investment.  In both his Budget and his business tax reform framework, the President put forward an ambitious plan to simplify small business tax returns and provide tax relief — including targeted employer tax relief that conditions its benefit on actual new hiring, directly encouraging job growth.  Those proposals build on the 17 small business tax cuts that the President has already signed into law, ranging from the small business health tax credit to more generous depreciation.  The Administration believes that this legislation fails to accomplish these goals.  If the President is presented with H.R. 9, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.