Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekly Address: Congress Must Act on Transportation Bill and Student Loans

President Obama at the NALEO Annual Conference

West Wing Week: 06/21/12

Top Newsy Headlines: Sandusky Guilty on 45 of 48 Counts


Sources:CNNSkyNewseuronewsBBC 

By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Syrian Army Defector Talks to Al Jazeera


One of the defectors, Colonel Abdal Fareed Zakaria, spoke excusively to Al Jazeera. He says President Bashar al-Assad's forces are in disarray. He also says more soldiers want to defect, but there are serious risks, and the international community isn't helping.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English. 

Syria Military Shoots Down Turkish Warplane


The Syrian military says it has shot down a Turkish fighter jet "over its territorial waters", risking a new crisis between Middle Eastern neighbours already at bitter odds over a 16-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "Our air defences confronted a target that penetrated our air space over our territorial waters pre-afternoon on Friday and shot it down. It turned out to be a Turkish military plane," a statement by the military circulated on state media said. Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reports from Istanbul.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Turbulent Pakistan Has New Prime Minister


Pakistan has a new prime minister after a week of political turbulence. The army, the courts and the government have been locked in a battle over corruption in politics. And it may not end with the selection of Raja Pervez Ashraf as PM. Imtiaz Tyab has more from Islamabad.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Migrant Workers Exploited in Thailand


Thailand's government has pledged to crack down on human trafficking after the US criticised the Southeast Asian country for doing little to address the problem. Many migrant workers, who mostly come from neighbouring Myanmar, end up in Thai factories where they are forced to work under appalling conditions and suffer from serious abuse. Some of them are victims of debt bondage, meaning they are bought and sold and forced to work to pay police fees and debts to the companies that traffick them. Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay reports from Kanchanaburi in Thailand.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English. 

US Holds Joint Military Drill with South Korea


South Korean and US troops have held their biggest single-day live-fire drill to test responses to a potential North Korean attack. Around 2,000 soldiers took part in the exercise at Pocheon, near the border between the two Koreas. It comes days ahead of the 62nd anniversary of the Korean war, as Al Jazeera's Florence Looi reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Unrest Escalates in Ivory Coast


Aid workers say Western Ivory Coast is becoming more dangerous and unstable. The president is blaming a series of cross-border raids on fighters loyal to former leader Laurent Gbagbo. They're based in neighbouring Liberia. Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa has this exclusive report. 

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Top Newsy Headlines: Sandusky's Son Says He Was Also Abused


Sources:WINK-TVBBCSkyNewsWVIT 

By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

White House Briefs

President Obama Speaks on Student Loan Interest Rates

Vice President Biden Launches Dating Violence PSA

President Obama Holds a Press Conference at the G20 Summit

Politics in Action: H.R. 5973 and H.R. 5972


S
TATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

H.R. 5973 – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5973, making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. 

Last summer, the Congress and the President came to a bipartisan agreement to put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal course in enacting the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA).  The BCA created a framework for more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction and provided tight spending caps that would bring discretionary spending to a minimum level needed to preserve critical national priorities.  Departing from the bipartisan agreement reached in the BCA and departing from these caps, the House of Representatives put forward a topline discretionary funding level for FY 2013 that, for example, would cost jobs and hurt average Americans, especially seniors, veterans, and children – as well as degrade many of the basic Government services on which the American people rely such as air traffic control and law enforcement.  In addition, these cuts were made in the context of a budget that fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility by giving millionaires and billionaires a tax cut and paying for it through deep cuts, including to discretionary programs.

In addition to the concern outlined above, the Administration strongly opposes the bill as reported by the Committee.  The bill severely undermines key investments in financial oversight in a manner that would cripple Wall Street reform.  It also imposes harmful cuts in rural economic development, renewable energy development, nutrition programs, food safety, and international food aid.  Investing in these areas is critical to the Nation's economic growth, security, and global competitiveness. The Administration also strongly objects to the inclusion of any ideological and political provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.

If the President were presented with H.R. 5973, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Rural Development.  The Administration appreciates that several Rural Development programs are funded at the FY 2013 Budget requested levels.  However, funding for the Rental Assistance Grants falls $18 million short of the amount needed for expiring rental assistance contract renewals expected in FY 2013, eliminating nearly 4,600 units of rental assistance for rural America.  The Administration urges the House to provide the requested $907 million, which would continue the support of rents for USDA financed properties on behalf of the tenants who receive subsidized rent.  In addition, the funding for Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Broadband programs is $20 million below the FY 2013 Budget request, and the bill also proposes to rescind balances that would otherwise support broadband deployment in rural America.  The Administration urges the House to provide the requested $47 million in the FY 2013 Budget for the programs to advance economic recovery, foster job growth, and improve health care and education in rural America. 

Grants Funding.  The Administration is concerned that the $277 million provided for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grant program, a significant reduction from the $325 million requested in the FY 2013 Budget, would prevent USDA from fully responding to the serious challenges of climate change, world food hunger, food safety, human nutrition, and sustainable bioenergy.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  The Administration is concerned with the funding level for WIC in the bill and encourages the House to provide the $7 billion level requested in the FY 2013 Budget.  WIC program costs are highly variable.  The Committee's low funding level creates a risk that the contingency reserve, which is normally used to cover unexpected changes in food prices or participation, would be needed to cover anticipated costs, thus threatening the program's ability to manage shortfalls.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).  The Administration urges the House to fund CSFP at the FY 2013 Budget request.  The Committee bill level could result in as many as 55,000 participants – the majority of whom are vulnerable seniors – losing eligibility.  CSFP provides a supplementary food package with the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of its target population.

International Food Aid.  The Administration strongly opposes the $250 million reduction in funding from the FY 2013 Budget request for Food for Peace Title II international food aid.  The funding level would severely reduce the United States' ability to respond to food crises abroad and to make investments that both save lives and help prevent future crises.  Title II programs help to stabilize conditions for vulnerable groups in the face of drought, conflict, and other shocks.

Clean and Renewable Energy.  The Administration urges the House to include the proposal in the FY 2013 Budget that moves the Rural Electric Loan Program away from fossil fuels and encourages the construction, acquisition, or improvement of renewable energy plants in rural America.

Service Center Salaries and Expenses.  The Administration urges the House to restore funding for USDA's Service Center Agencies (Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development) to the level requested in the President's Budget.  Each of these agencies has seen significant decreases in its administrative budget since 2010, which they have met through permanent staffing reductions using voluntary early retirement and separation authorities, delaying or eliminating the acquisition of important information technologies upgrades, office closures, and reductions for most other administrative expenses.  An additional three percent reduction could harm program delivery, delay rural economic development, and lead to longer waits for farm and home loans as well as assistance for farmers and ranchers.

Building Operations and Maintenance (O&M).  The Administration opposes the elimination of funding for the building O&M portion of the Agriculture Buildings and Facilities account, and the 35 percent reduction for the departmental administration staff offices, a $55 million and $9 million reduction, respectively, from the FY 2013 Budget request.  Consistent with the Administration's efforts to reduce administrative costs, the Department is streamlining services and cutting expenses by closing unnecessary offices, reducing travel and printing, and consolidating information technology contracts.  The Committee proposal to eliminate O&M funding entirely and the deep cut in the USDA-wide staff offices would put an unrealistic burden on agencies. 

Program Cuts, Consolidations, and Savings.  The Administration urges the House to accept additional cuts, consolidations, and savings proposed in the FY 2013 Budget for USDA, including an estimated $75 million in savings from blocking spending of the Good Performance Rebate and $15 million in savings from termination of the Watershed Rehabilitation Program.

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The Administration strongly supports robust funding for FDA to continue implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, improve oversight of imports, and invest in the development of medical products, including medical countermeasures.  The Administration requested $4.5 billion in total resources for FDA and the bill provides $3.8 billion, does not include new proposed user fees, and rescinds previous appropriations.  The Administration urges the House to adopt the new user fees proposed in the FY 2013 Budget and restore FDA's budget authority.  These new user fees, targeted in areas where the industry derives a direct benefit from FDA's regulatory oversight, provide additional resources that are essential to support FDA's critical mission to make food and medical products safer, and increase access to safe and effective generic drugs and biologics.  The reductions in budget authority also jeopardize FDA's ability to complete its Life Sciences/Biodefense laboratory, an integral part of FDA's regulatory science capacity that will support national and global preparedness for annual and pandemic influenza and other emerging threats.

Other Independent Agencies
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).  The Administration strongly opposes the $128 million reduction in funding from the FY 2013 Budget request for CFTC.  Moreover, the $25 million cut from the FY 2012 enacted level would result in furloughs across the Agency, and would also severely undermine CFTC's ability to carry out its market oversight and enforcement functions.  The funding level would significantly curtail the Administration's priority of timely, effective implementation of Wall Street Reform, which includes CFTC's new responsibilities to regulate the $300 trillion swaps market.  Reducing CFTC's capacity to effectively police the futures and swaps marketplaces would imperil investors' funds and pose a threat to U.S. financial stability.  In addition, the Administration urges the Congress to consider the Budget proposal to implement a CFTC user fee, which would fully offset the FY 2013 Budget request for CFTC.  CFTC is the only Federal financial regulator not funded in whole or in part through fees paid by its regulated community.
Riders

The Administration strongly opposes problematic policy and language riders that have no place in funding legislation, including, but not limited to, the following provisions in this bill:

GIPSA Marketing Rule.  Section 719 of the bill effectively prevents USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration from further implementing the remaining portions of a rule on conduct violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.  The provision's proposal to rescind many components of the rule that was finalized in December 2011, would prevent full implementation of this rule, which is needed to clarify conditions for industry compliance with the Packers and Stockyards Act and provide for a fairer marketplace.

Changes to the WIC Food Benefit.  Section 743 would prohibit the exclusion of certain foods from the WIC food package, which undermines the science-based approach used in the program.  WIC provides supplemental foods that nutrition research has found to be critical for healthy child development that are otherwise lacking in the diets of pregnant women, infants, and children.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the FY 2013 appropriations process moves forward.

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

H.R. 5972 – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Appropriations Act, 2013
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5972, making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes.

Last summer, the Congress and the President came to a bipartisan agreement to put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal course in enacting the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA).  The BCA created a framework for more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction and provided tight spending caps that would bring discretionary spending to a minimum level needed to preserve critical national priorities.  Departing from the bipartisan agreement reached in the BCA and departing from these caps, the House of Representatives put forward a topline discretionary funding level for FY 2013 that, for example, would cost jobs and hurt average Americans, especially seniors, veterans, and children – as well as degrade many of the basic Government services on which the American people rely, such as air traffic control and law enforcement.  In addition, these cuts were made in the context of a budget that fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility by giving millionaires and billionaires a tax cut and paying for it through deep cuts, including to discretionary programs.

Taking this into account, passing H.R. 5972 at its current funding level would mean that when the Congress constructs other appropriations bills, it would necessitate significant and harmful cuts to critical national priorities, such as education, research and development, job training, and health care.  Furthermore, the bill undermines key investments in economic and community development programs that drive local innovations, while also weakening the safety net for Americans facing significant hardship in these challenging economic times.  The Administration also strongly objects to the inclusion of ideological and political provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.

If the President were presented with H.R. 5972, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

The Administration is committed to working with the Congress to produce a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill devoid of controversial policy riders, to put Americans to work building the Nation's roads, bridges, railways, and transit systems. 

TIGER Grants.  The Administration is disappointed with the lack of funding for TIGER Grants and urges the House to provide $500 million for the TIGER program, as requested in the FY 2013 Budget.  The program relies on a competitive, merit-based approach to help communities build innovative, multi-modal transportation projects – often with substantial State and local co-investment.

Intercity Passenger Rail.  While the Administration appreciates the robust funding level for Amtrak, the Administration strongly objects to the bill's failure to provide additional funding for High Speed Rail grants, which would help continue progress toward developing new and improved rail services for the Nation's most congested metropolitan regions.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Choice Neighborhoods.  The Administration strongly objects to the bill's failure to fund the FY 2013 Budget request of $150 million for Choice Neighborhoods.  Absent this funding, public housing authorities and other local entities would have no resources to support the revitalization of distressed HUD-assisted housing or improve economic development and job opportunities in the surrounding neighborhoods for low-income families.

Sustainable Communities.  The Administration strongly objects to the bill's failure to fund the FY 2013 Budget request of $100 million for Sustainable Communities.  This competitive grant program supports an interagency effort between HUD, DOT, and the Environmental Protection Agency that integrates Federal, State, and local investment activities in housing, land use, economic and workforce development, and transportation.  At a time of budget constraints, it is critical that support for regional and local planning is available to help localities invest limited resources strategically to achieve the greatest short and long-term benefit for citizens. 

Homeless Assistance Grants.  The Administration urges the House to provide the FY 2013 Budget request for Homeless Assistance Grants, which fund a variety of intervention programs that serve homeless and at-risk individuals and families.  The Committee provides $2 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, which is $231 million below the FY 2013 Budget request.  At this level, HUD would be unable to fund all renewals of existing grants, jeopardizing assistance to approximately 25,000 people.

Rental and Other Assistance.  The Administration urges the House to adopt rental assistance proposals along the lines in the FY 2013 Budget that would yield savings across HUD rental assistance programs.  At present, the funding level in the bill for Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing would result in about 30,000 families losing their assistance.  In addition, the Administration urges the House to fund the Jobs-Plus pilot program at the $50 million requested in the FY 2013 Budget.  This is an evidence-based proposal proven to improve employment outcomes for public housing residents and help lift them toward self-sufficiency.

Housing Counseling.  The Administration urges the House to provide the requested funding for HUD's Housing Counseling program and for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation's National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program.  These funds provide much needed counseling assistance to families facing foreclosure and others that are struggling to find or maintain adequate housing.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).  The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the CDBG program, which provides critical funding to State and local governments to address infrastructure, affordable housing, and economic development needs in their communities.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the FY 2013 appropriations process moves forward.

NYS Senate, Assembly to Vote on Teacher Evaluation Disclosure Bill


Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo

"I applaud the Senate and Assembly for taking up the teacher evaluation disclosure bill. I believe it strikes the right balance between protecting teacher privacy and a parent's right to know. I also appreciate all those who participated in this important dialogue over the past few months. The teachers' unions made important points and the bill respects their members' legitimate right to privacy. I also appreciate the opinion of Mayor Bloomberg and I believe the final bill reflects much of his perspective. I know this was a difficult issue for the Legislature and I applaud their courage and leadership. This bill is the metaphorical cherry on the cake to the end of what I believe is one of the most successful and broad ranging legislative sessions in modern political history. From transformative economic reforms to historic social progress, this session was a magnificent accomplishment for the people of New York State."

'There is a Lot of Fear When it Comes to HIV/AIDS'


Bishop Terry Angel Mason Urges Participation on National HIV Testing Day

San Diego, CA - It is estimated that 1.2 million people in the United States are HIV positive. One in five people don’t realize they are infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As part of his dedication to saving lives, full-blown AIDS survivor and speaker Terry Angel Mason is urging individuals to be tested for HIV on June 27, for National HIV Testing Day.

To promote HIV Testing Day, Mason will be the guest speaker for the ‘I Speak Life’ event at Christ Church of San Diego.

The event will take place on Saturday, June 23, 2012, from 10:00 am-12:00 pm at 1355 Fern Street, San Diego, CA. Mason will be discussing what African-American seniors, teens and young adults need to know about HIV/AIDS and how they can protect themselves.

The program will also include: "A Call to Action" by Bishop Ikenna Anyanwu Kokayi, the presiding Prelate of Christ Church Ministries in San Diego. A book signing and lunch will follow the program.

Mason has been raising national awareness of the importance of HIV testing and prevention strategies and has been the guest speaker at numerous events, including The San Diego Urban League, San Diego Neighborhood House Association, The Black Women’s Network Organization, Harold Washington College, and many others.

A Pulitzer-nominated author and HIV/AIDS activist, Mason is available to discuss numerous topics about HIV/AIDS including: how to stay HIV negative, how to live a long and productive life with HIV/AIDS, and how to protect loved ones, and what to do if you test positive for HIV.

According to Mason, “HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that won’t end until we arm ourselves with the right knowledge and smart actions. Knowing your HIV status is key to stopping the spread of this preventable disease. There is a lot of fear when it comes to HIV/AIDS, so people are often afraid to get tested. The reality is that not knowing you are infected could potentially kill you and anyone you are sexually involved with. With today’s advancements in treatments, people infected with HIV can live long, productive lives. Early detection is key to stopping the spread of the virus, so getting tested is crucial.”

A highly sought after guest speaker, Mason has been featured in numerous radio, print and television interviews including San Diego’s Fox Channel 5’s morning show. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and has received commendations from California mayors Jerry Sanders, and John J. Duran for his achievements, in addition to receiving a commendation from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and San Diego City Council for his global endeavors to prevent HIV/AIDS.

Visit www.TerryAngelMason.com to purchase Mason’s books, read breaking news stories, feature articles, interviews, or obtain more information about the author. 

Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care Imminent


Sources:FoxBusinessWRGBMSNBCForbes 

By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Sanford Police Chief Fired


Sources:FoxNewsHLNLosAngelesTimes
OrlandoSentinelWFTV 

By Emily Allen

Anchor: Emily Allen
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

U.S, Israel Allegedly Behind Iran Cyber Attacks: Report


Sources:WashingtonPostCNNVanityFair
NewYorkTimesForbesCBSTheAtlantic 

By Ferdous Al-Faruque

Anchor: Anthony Martinez
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Aljazeera's Top News Stories

UK Police Say WikiLeaks Founder Faces Arrest


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is facing arrest for a breach of his bail conditions after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange is been battling against attempts by Sweden to extradite him on allegations of sex assault since the end of 2010. He appeared at the embassy on Tuesday seeking asylum.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Pakistan Plagued by Economic Problems


Pakistan's president has asked parliament to meet on Friday to elect a new prime minister. The dismissal of Yusuf Raza Gilani by the Supreme Court on Tuesday has added to the political instability in Pakistan. And as Imtiaz Tyab reports, it's already saddled with massive economic and security problems.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Malians Flee to Burkina Faso Amid Drought


The UN refugee agency says that a record 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders last year. Many of them were displaced by conflicts in their home countries. Mali is one example. More than 320,000 people have been forced from their homes since January because of fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels. Many are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries - which are struggling to cope with the influx. The situation is particularly precarious as the Sahel region is going through a major drought. Al Jazeera's Laura Kyle reports from Burkina Faso's Mintao camp and May Welsh reports from Mali's Timbuktu.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fed Extends 'Operation Twist': What it Means


Sources:C-SPANCNBCCNNMoney
FoxBusinessBloomberg 

By Matthew Picht

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Eric Holder Found in Contempt of Congress by House Panel


Sources:C-SPANWRC-TVMSNBCTheGuardian 

By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Mexican Students Organize Presidential Debate


It is less than two weeks before the elections in Mexico and young voters are making their voices heard. They managed to organize a third presidential debate, which they themselves moderated and led. The event, streamed live on the web, came after tens of thousands of university students took to the streets last month, demanding that ordinary people be more involved in the elections and fairer coverage of the campaigns. Three out of the four candidates took part - noticibly absent was front runner candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who refused to participate saying that he felt that the students were biased against his campaign. The fact that three presidential candidates chose to take part in the debate shows politicians are beginning to recognize the importance of Mexico's future generation. Al-Jazeera's Rachel Levin reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Catholic Nuns Protest US Budget Cuts


A group of Roman Catholic nuns are taking an unusual bus ride across America. They are protesting against government budget cuts, which they say are harming low income families. A recent Vatican report criticized some nuns for focusing too much on economic injustice Even though the nuns were stung by the criticism from Rome, they decided to stay the course and say the firestorm has given them a platform. In their latest trip, the nuns are in Janesville Wisconsin to deliver an alternative budget to Rep. Paul Ryan, in which they propose a plan that favors a safety net for the worst off instead of tax cuts for the rich. There is every sign they'll continue to take their gospel on the road, with or without the Vatican's blessing. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from Janesville, Wisconsin.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Politics in Action: H.R. 4480


S
TATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

H.R. 4480 – Domestic Energy and Jobs Act
(Rep. Gardner, R-CO, and 21 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 4480, which would undermine the Nation's energy security, roll back policies that support the continued growth of safe and responsible energy production in the United States, discourage environmental analysis and civic engagement in Federal decision-making, and impede progress on important Clean Air Act (CAA) rules to protect the health of American families.

H.R. 4480 would threaten energy security and broader national security by attaching conditions to the drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) that could hinder the President's ability to respond appropriately and lawfully to a disruption in the Nation's energy supply.  Linking a drawdown of the SPR with the leasing of Federal lands for energy production is entirely without rational basis, either temporally, spatially, or in terms of the Nation's energy needs.

H.R. 4480 also would reverse Administration oil and gas leasing reforms that have established orderly, open, efficient, and environmentally sound processes for energy development on public lands.  Specifically, this bill would favor an arbitrary standard for leasing in open areas over leasing on the basis of greatest resource potential; limit the public's opportunity to engage in decisions about the use of public lands as well as protests of oil and gas leases; raise the potential for costly litigation, protests, and delays; curtail the use of public lands for other uses like hunting, fishing, and recreation; and remove the environmental safeguards that ensure sound Federal leasing decision-making by eliminating appropriate reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act.

H.R. 4480 also would impede progress on important protections for the health of American families.  The bill would undermine the longstanding principle of the CAA that air quality standards must be set at levels requisite to protect public health, based first and foremost on sound science.  The bill also would impose an unnecessary and redundant requirement for analysis of certain regulations, including some that have never been proposed.  The Administration supports careful consideration of the full benefits and costs of regulation, which is why executive agencies already conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for economically significant regulations and, to the extent practicable, consider the cumulative effects of the regulations, as required by Executive Orders (E.O.) 12866 and 13563, as well as preparing a Statement of Energy Effects, as required by E.O. 13211.  By requiring that this duplicative analysis be submitted to the Congress, and imposing unnecessary delays before those rules could be finalized, this legislation would impede the Executive branch's ability to implement effectively laws passed by the Congress.

If the President were presented with H.R. 4480, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Fracking, Climate Action and July 28

 
A Special Guest Commentary by Renowned Activist Ted Glick

Future Hope column, June 19, 2012

Fracking, Climate Action and July 28
By Ted Glick

“To address the huge threat posed by global warming, I believe it is essential to move as quickly as possible away from natural gas towards renewable energy resources, and to not further develop shale gas unless major (and expensive) steps are taken to greatly reduce methane emissions.” - Cornell U. professor Robert Howarth, May 31, 2012, testifying before the House of Representatives

“On July 28th, 2012, we invite community members and organizations everywhere to join us in Washington, D.C. for a rally at the Capitol to demand no more drilling that harms public health, water, and air. . . Elected officials and public agencies must insist that the industry stop all drilling that is dirty and dangerous, and put communities and the environment first, starting by removing special exemptions and subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Join community leaders, celebrities and policymakers and add your voice to the call for a clean, fossil fuel free energy future.” - Call to Action at www.stopthefrackattack.org

There are two energy-related issues that have generated significant popular movement over the past year: the movement in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands oil extraction, and the movement against hydraulic fracturing of deep-underground shale to extract natural gas.

The stop-the-pipeline movement won an historic temporary victory, with the final decision still to be made. The stop-fracking movement has also won victories, among them many-months-long fracking moratoriums still in place, but not permanent, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and the Delaware River basin area. However, fracking is taking place in 20 or so other states.

The stop-the-pipeline movement organized two major actions in Washington, D.C. last August and November that had everything to do with the temporary victory. In the first action, 1253 people were arrested at the White House over a two week period. In the second, on November 6th, over 10,000 people encircled the White House, with plans announced for demonstrations at a number of Obama re-election offices three weeks later. Not by coincidence, on November 10th the White House announced that a decision on the pipeline would not be made until sometime in 2013.

The stop-fracking movement, up until recently, has been much more local and state-oriented as far as its efforts. It is truly a people’s movement, made up long-time activists but also a large number of people who have never before been activists. They have become active because of the impact of fracking on their water or air quality, sickness and illness caused by nearby gas wells, the death of farm animals, or other direct impacts of the industry on their daily lives.

There are also a growing number of environmental groups who are joining the stop-fracking movement. Some of them formerly supported natural gas as a “bridge fuel” between our present fossil fuel industry-dominated energy system and the clean jobs-creating, renewable energy-based system which we absolutely must transition to as quickly as possible. More and more groups which used to take that “bridge fuel” position are backing away from it as they see the environmental damage caused by the gas industry’s fracking operations.

But it’s more than that. It is becoming abundantly clear that when you do a life-cycle comparison of fracked natural gas to coal, generally seen as the dirtiest and most harmful fossil fuel, as far as its effect on the climate, fracked natural gas is likely as bad as and probably worse than coal. This is the case because of significant leakage of gas into the atmosphere, at the drilling site and elsewhere before it is burned, and because, over a 20 year period, vented natural gas, composed primarily of methane, is between 72 and 105 as powerful a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

Can the US and other countries dramatically expand gas production, strengthen regulation and, as a result, correct the serious environmental and climate impacts of fracking? I doubt it. You can have the best regulations in the world, but if you don’t have people on the ground to enforce those regulations, does anyone think that ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Chesapeake Energy and all of the other companies doing fracking are going to follow the law if it means additional costs or inconveniences? And how likely is it that, any time soon, new regulations on fracking, if passed, would provide for a sufficient number of enforcement agents given the strength of the pro-fossil fuel lobby and we-love-fossil-fuels conservative ideology?

Fortunately, right now there’s a glut of natural gas because of the fracking “gold rush” of the last several years. There’s a slowdown in the number of wells the industry is drilling. But they have a solution: build pipelines and export terminals and ship gas overseas where the prices are higher. That will eventually decrease the US supply and drive up prices here, but, hey, that’s the way capitalism works, right?

Getting off fossil fuels, all of them, as soon as possible, is an absolutely essential, immediate requirement. It is on the agenda of history. It is an idea whose time has come. Let’s make July 28th so big, so powerful, that its political impact reverberates for months and years.

July 28th should be a priority for all groups and people who support human decency and justice.

Ted Glick is the National Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at www.tedgick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.

Fed Chair Could Announce Measures to Boost Economy


Sources:Benzinga.comPBSNightlyBusinessReport
FinancialTimesAtlantaJournal-Constitution 

By Ferdous Al-Faruque

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

House GOP Move Forward on Holder ‘Contempt’ Vote


Sources:CNNC-SpanBusinessWeekFoxNews
PoliticoTheWeek 

By Zach Toombs

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Romney: Rubio Being Vetted for Possible VP


Sources:WHTMCNNBusinessWeekMSNBC 

By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Senator Criticizes Google, Apple For 'Spy Plane' Mapping


Sources:WTKRTechCrunchFox
TalkingPointsMemoCNN 

By Matthew Picht

Anchor: Jasmine Bailey
Video courtesy of Newsy.com

Aljazeera's Top News Stories

Sherine Tadros Reports on Mubarak's Health


UN Mission 'Morally Obliged' to Stay in Syria


The head of the suspended United Nations' observer mission to Syria has told the Security Council his monitors were repeatedly targeted by hostile crowds, but that the mission is morally obliged to stay in the country. Major General Robert Mood told the 15-nation security council on Tuesday that his 300-strong unarmed observer force was targeted with gunfire at least 10 times last week and nine vehicles were damaged, according to a UN diplomat who attended the closed- door breifing. Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Insecurity in Mali Worsens Food Crisis


The turmoil in Northern Mali's Timbuktu region is making it difficult to manage a severe food shortage. Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters have declared an independent Islamic State in the area. Many residents have moved to refugee camps leaving the poorest to fend for themselves. May Welsh reports from the city of Timbuktu. 

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with President Calderón of Mexico

'Juneteenth is Recognized by Americans Everywhere as a Symbolic Milestone in Our Journey Toward a More Perfect Union'


Statement by the President on the Observance of Juneteenth

On this day in 1865, two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, word finally reached the people of Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over.  All enslaved men, women and children were now free.

Though it would take decades of struggle and collective effort before African Americans were granted equal treatment and protection under the law, Juneteenth is recognized by Americans everywhere as a symbolic milestone in our journey toward a more perfect union.

With the recent ground breaking of the first Smithsonian Museum dedicated to African American History and Culture, and the dedication of a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall, this Juneteenth offers another opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation.  And it’s also a chance to recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of guaranteeing liberty and equal rights for all Americans.

Saba Kennedy-Washington: Gone Too Soon


Former Huffington Post Contributor, Activist and Community Leader

Saba Kennedy-Washington was a writer, blogger, promotional marketing/sales professional and entrepreneur. Having the privilege of being raised in several continents, Africa, Europe and North America, she was the daughter of an African ambassador and mother -- married 52 years -- who led nurses at John F. Kennedy Hospital while fighting for equal opportunities in their native land of Liberia.

Her family migrated to America as result of a coup in her family's homeland. Thus, Kennedy-Washington understood the importance of democracy in the United States of America and the immigrant dream.

As a working mother, wife, daughter, sister, she involved herself with projects and causes that celebrated diversity, equality and family values. She was featured in "The Entrepreneurial Parent" (How to Earn Your Living from Home and Still Enjoy Your Family, Your Work and Your Life) and was also an active Board Member of "The Actor's Theatre of Charlotte" as well as "The Juneteenth Festival of the Carolinas", which celebrates universal freedom.

After the passing of her father, approximately six years ago, she once again picked up her pen and began sharing her insight with the world as Saba, Ink, using the tagline "The Pen Is Still Mightier than the Sword."

The creation of Saba, Ink was a direct result of the one-sided views often espoused through mainstream media. Her links were posted on popular websites like the Yahoo Contributors Network, The Huffington Post/OfftheBus Project (Citizen journalist/political project), GreasyGuide Charlotte (Urban Blog) and Jamati.com (Africa's Premiere Entertainment Portal), which aims to showcase the continent of Africa in unique and positive ways while combating classic stereotypes.

Kennedy-Washington was a graduate of Queens College of the City University of New York, where she majored in Communications and Media Arts. She worked under New York City's first African-American mayor, David Dinkins, and then New York City NAACP President Hazel Dukes.

Saba Kennedy-Washington died on May 31, 2012.

From The G-Man exists because Saba, who was one of my dearest friends, urged me to create an independent source for news and information back in 2009. I followed her advice, and amazing things have happened as a result.

In 2008, I conducted a no-holds-barred interview with this dynamic, outspoken and phenomenal woman, which focused on the selection of Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's running mate on the Republican ticket. I would like to honor her memory and work by republishing the controversial, hard-hitting, one-on-one that showcased the brilliance and political savvy of Saba Kennedy-Washington.


‘Sarah Palin Can’t Compare to Hillary Clinton!’
Saba, Ink Blasts McCain’s Veep Choice

G-Man: Republican presidential candidate John McCain has selected Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. If you could use one word to describe her, what would it be and what is it about Palin that validates your description?

Saba: Well, when you look at the music used by the McCain campaign, Palin's external presentation, the response of the crowd, the fact that the announcement occurred one day after Barack's historic speech and that it took place on John McCain's 72nd birthday, I'd use two words: "Lois Lane". The announcement made it abundantly clear that Lois Lane came to save Superman.

G-Man: I would like to continue with this line of questioning because you don't appear to be happy with the selection. Are you saying that Palin would not be capable of serving as a Vice-President in any capacity?

Saba: It's not that I'm not happy with Palin's selection. Far be it from me to hate on a fellow "sistah" who's accomplishing big things and smashing through glass ceilings. She should be applauded and respected for all of her professional accomplishments while maintaining a family and marriage. Lord knows, it's not an easy task. I've been doing it for 17 years. With that said, once the initial shock subsided over McCain's selection of a virtual unknown, who on paper is even younger and has less experience than Barack Obama, I begin to break down the reasons as to why he chose Palin. Initially, I thought it was the fact that there is oil in Alaska that they might want to tap. I then considered the fact that it simply may have been another example of a man using a woman to reign in other women; those women being Hillary Clinton supporters.

G-Man: Which scenario seems more plausible to you, at this point?

Saba: I'm becoming convinced it's the latter. If that is in fact the case, then it is not only an insult to Palin, it would be an insult to women in general. It's as if McCain is implying, "Y'all want a woman, well here she is." This was very reminiscent of the Alan Keyes situation in Illinois when they placed him against Obama. "If y'all want a black guy, here's one." Furthermore, the selection just didn't come across as an honest and true effort to support women and their issues, and if Hillary Clinton had not gotten as far as she had as a candidate, Republicans might not have even considered a woman! That is what bothers me and other sisters about the selection.

G-Man: Published reports indicate Palin was elected governor in 2006 and was the youngest person, and the first woman, to be elected governor of Alaska. Before becoming governor, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla, Alaska, City Council from 1992 to 1996, was elected and re-elected mayor of Wasilla for two three-year terms in 1996 and 1999. McCain's selection makes her the first female vice presidential candidate of the Republican Party and only the second female vice presidential candidate representing a major political party. Given her remarkable rise to power, Republicans could make the argument that Palin is more qualified to be in White House than Senator Barack Obama? What is your response?

Saba: The Republicans are essentially going to make any argument that Barack Obama is less qualified to run the White House than their candidate. That is just the way debates go. At the convention, Bill Clinton indicated Republicans said the same thing about him when he ran, and his legacy speaks volumes in comparison to the last eight years. However, I do thank George Bush and Dick Cheney for their work because without it the current movement for change, whether it's Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin, would not be possible.

G-Man: (Smiling) I'm sure the President and Vice-President would take exception to that.

Saba: Finally, it is my belief that many worry McCain's age and seemingly failing health could place Palin a heartbeat away from presidency, and her lack of experience with global affairs could be something that we might have to contend with as a nation. If Senator Obama has been able to mobilize and energize both a national and international movement for democracy and change, I'd have to say that is the indication of a true leader. Moreover, shouldn't we be comparing her record to Joe Biden's and not Obama's? Is Biden not her cross-reference in this campaign?

G-Man: According to government reports posted online, Palin pushed for an ethics bill and got it passed. She killed numerous projects supported by fellow Republicans. She expressed support for the Gravina Island Bridge project, also known as "The Bridge to Nowhere", but as soon as it was touted as symbol of wasteful spending and federal funding was lost, Palin refused to close the $320 million gap with state money. She's also stood up and challenged some of the biggest oil companies in the country, while amassing an impressive track record of legislation involving the production of natural gas pipelines in Alaska. Palin appears to revel in the role of maverick. She's challenged her own party and stood up to big oil companies, which are reaping billions in profit, and is focusing on alternative solutions. Isn't that what America needs at this time?

Saba: I certainly agree that America cannot keep doing business as usual if we are to succeed as a nation. We are definitely at a crossroad and need to change course. The question is who can do this without alienating entire groups and demographics. Palin's work in Alaska appears exceptional. However, I don't believe Alaska is reflective of the many demographic groups in America, and around the world, that we currently need to work with to initiate change. Obama, based on his own heritage and upbringing, has been able to mobilize, inspire and speak to a larger demographic. He is a maverick in his own right. I'm not sure Sarah Palin can make that claim.

G-Man: Your point is well taken, but as they say numbers don't lie. A recent poll indicated Palin frequently had an approval rating above 90 percent in 2007. A poll published by Hays Research on July 28, 2008 showed Palin's approval rating at 80 percent. The former governor must have been doing something right in the state of Alaska to get such high ratings. If the good people of Alaska approve of her, what makes you think voters would be reluctant to embrace her or her policies?

Saba: Again, I refer to my previous response. No disrespect to Alaska, but with a population of just under 1 million and a global sense of urgency that will involve billions, with regard to trade, national security and a host of other issues, Palin's a bit of a hard sell for me this late in the campaign season.

G-Man: This election will present two firsts in American politics: the first African-American with a real chance to win the presidency and the first female vice-presidential nominee from the Republican Party. As a strong, independent and successful woman, much like Sarah Palin, don't you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment over the fact that a woman was selected instead of someone from the "old boys network"....even if it is Palin?

Saba: I have nothing but respect for the former governor. Still, I know there are women whose resumes rival Palin's and, quite frankly, to compare her work to that of Hillary Clinton is a bit of a stretch. Yes, women want to be represented. There is no question about that, but when we have someone represent us we want it to be a strong representative, not someone that will make people say "even if it is Palin". Similarly, I was proud when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton ran for President. Nonetheless, I could not see myself voting for either simply because I didn't believe they were ready to lead the United States of America. The same holds true for Palin.

G-Man: Ever since McCain made the stunning announcement, political pundits and operatives, pollsters and news anchors from CNN to MSNBC have reported that many voters, and members of the Republican Party, are not happy with the veep choice. They cite the fact that Palin has virtually no experience in foreign policy and has only completed two years in her first term as governor. The same case was made earlier on against Barack Obama as a member of the Senate, by voters and those within the Democratic Party, but voters have since embraced him and now have the potential to put him in the White House. If you, or any member of the Democratic Party, believe Palin's lack of experience is an issue, isn't that a double-standard?

Saba: As Barack Obama has proven, it is the will of the people and theirs only that will determine the outcome. I am a strong believer in manifest destiny. If it is Palin's time and she can mobilize and rally her base, she will be a success. My father often said, "Man plans and God displans!" So, I guess in the next two months we'll see history in the making, one way or the other, right?

G-Man: What is your number one concern about having a Vice-President Palin in the White House?

Saba: The fact that she got to the White House as a result of Affirmative Action and a need for symbolism, as opposed to truly earning the right. She is a default selection. In other words, once she's gotten there, she will not truly be an empowered or powerful leader. Sarah Palin will be nothing more than a figure-head manufactured and controlled by the "old boys club" because of a professional deal she might have cut. By the way, Affirmative Action has not only benefitted African-Americans, as many in and outside of the mainstream media would have us believe? I'll say no more because that's a whole other issue entirely, G-Man. I thank you for your time and the insightful questions. May God bless America and its people, as we take on the challenge of restoring our nation one vote at a time! Hey? Isn't it the Republicans that have been saying that things are just fine in America? If they believe that, then why would McCain want to bring change to the country? Isn't that a sign of inexperience?! Just thinking out loud.

Rest in peace, Saba. Rest in peace