Friday, May 22, 2015

White House Press Briefing

West Wing Week: 05/22/2015

'Flashback Friday': Iran Hostage Crisis (1979)

Hillary Clinton Emails Released

Flurry of Clinton emails now public; what they reveal about the days after the Benghazi attack.

The President Speaks On National Jewish American Heritage Month

Biden: 'Today, I Lend My Voice to Support the Solidarity Sabbath'


Statement by the Vice President in Support of the Solidarity Sabbath Initiative

My friend and mentor, Congressman Tom Lantos, often said that “the veneer of civilization is paper-thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.” Recent attacks targeting Jews in Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen – and even here at home – make clear that the danger of anti-Semitism is very much still with us. In too many places, outright anti-Semitism persists, and the denunciation of Jews has been excused as political critique. Too many leaders have lowered their voices or stood silent – or even chimed in – when confronted with bigotry and violence against Jewish communities in their midst. 

Today, I lend my voice to support the Solidarity Sabbath – an initiative to mobilize leaders around the world to demonstrate their opposition to anti-Semitic bigotry and commitment to the security and survival of Jewish communities. In more than twenty countries, leaders, ambassadors and other government officials are attending services at local synagogues. This simple gesture sends a profound message to Jews around the world: you are not alone. People of all faiths in nations around the world stand united against hatred and in solidarity with you. That was also the message President Obama delivered earlier today at Congregation Adas Israel.  

I learned the viciousness of anti-Semitism from two people, above all others: from my father, and from Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the United States Congress. I traveled with Tom and his wife, Annette, across their native Hungary. Their chilling stories made personal for me the inhumanity of anti-Semitism and made palpable the violence of its warped perspective. 

History teaches us that, left unchecked, anti-Semitism threatens not only the Jews it targets, but entire societies. “What a sad era,” Albert Einstein said, “when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.” To those observing Solidarity Sabbath in countries around the world: Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful Sabbath to you.

Politics in Action: H.R. 606, H.R. 651, H.R. 1075, H.R. 1191 and S. 1124

 Statement by the Press Secretary

On Friday, May 22, 2015, the President signed into law:

H.R. 606, the “Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act,”which excludes from gross income for Federal income tax purposes certain compensation from Federal or State programs received when a public safety officer has died or become permanently and totally disabled as a result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty;

H.R. 651, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 820 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, as the Sister Ann Keefe Post Office;

H.R. 1075, which designates the United States Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry located at First Street and Pan American Avenue in Douglas, Arizona, as the Raul Hector Castro Port of Entry;

H.R. 1191, the “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015,” which  amends the Atomic Energy Act to provide for congressional review and oversight of a potential comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran; and

S. 1124, the “WIOA Technical Amendments Act,” which makes technical corrections to several drafting errors in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that prevented aspects of that law from applying as intended.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The President Speaks Before Meeting with His Cabinet

President Obama delivers remarks before he meets with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House. May 21, 2015.

White House Press Briefing

President Obama Meets with the President of Tunisia

President Obama delivers remarks before he meets with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House. May 21, 2015.

British Probe into Child Sex Abuse Reveals 1400 Suspects, Politicians and TV Stars Among Them

British police, investigating allegations of historic child sex abuse, say more than 14-hundred people have been named as suspects.

They include dozens of politicians and TV stars.

‘Operation Hydrant’ has been set up to allow detectives to establish an over-arching investigation into historical crimes by those in powerful positions.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, Head of Child Protection at National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is leading ‘Operation Hydrant’:

“It means that victims more so that ever before are having the confidence to come forward and report abuse. And they can be reassured that when they come forward and report their abuse that we are now responding differently in the years gone by.”

Source: Euronews

Netanyahu Supports Call for a Two-State Solution with Palestinians

and the European Union have renewed calls for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It came during EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s first visit to the region.

The statement contradicts Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent election message of saying he would not permit a Palestinian state to be established on his watch.

Source: Euronews

EU Refusal to Accept Migrant Quotas ‘Unacceptable’

The debate over European Union migrant quotas has become more heated with the Commission deputy chief saying it is ‘unacceptable’ for EU states to reject the system.

Speaking in Strasbourg Frans Timmermans defended the Commission’s proposal to relocate 20,000 asylum seekers across the European Union.

“I know these are challenging proposals. I know they will prompt debates and controversy in member states but it is really not acceptable for people around the EU to say ‘stop the drowning’ and at the same time to say, ‘but don’t bring the people here’,” Timmermans said.

Source: Euronews

ISIL Controls More Than Half of Syria After Seizing Palmyra

By Alexander Aucott

More than 100 pro-Syrian government fighters have been reported killed as ISIL captured all of the historic city of Palmyra, according to the British-based Syrian observatory for Human rights.

Source: Euronews

Burundi: President Pushes Back Election into June

Bujumbura, Burundi (CNN) As protests and sporadic violence continue to roil his country, Burundi's President has pushed back the parliamentary and local council elections by one week, to June 6, a presidential spokesman said Wednesday.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is set to make a formal announcement about the delay later Wednesday at the African nation's State House. Presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe told CNN that Nkurunziza made the decision after getting sadvice from Burundi's Electoral Commission and East African leaders.

The President Delivers the US Coast Guard Academy Commencement Address

President Obama congratulates the United States Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2015 in New London, Connecticut. May 20, 2015.

Today in History: May 21

“Are You Confident in President Obama’s Strategy Against ISIS?”


Washington Journal opened its telephone lines for viewer comments on the question, “Are you confident in President Obama’s strategy against ISIS?”

Source: C-Span

Video link:

Sen. Bernie Sanders: The War on the Middle Class

In an epic speech, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders argues that the economic policies pursued by the current and previous administration are effectively a war on the American middle class and American workers – manufactured and enacted to benefit the 1% and "too big to fail" corporate interests.

Senator Rand Paul: Complete Remarks on NSA Surveillance

The Kentucky Republican and 2016 presidential candidate rose to his feet on the Senate floor Wednesday at 1:18 p.m. ET to speak in opposition to the NSA surveillance program provisions in the PATRIOT Act. He was joined by several other senators throughout the day until he finally yielded the floor ten and a half hours later at 11:48 p.m. ET. Here are those remarks in their entirety.

93-Year-Old Vet Graduates High School

Many Jobless (Still) Giving Up Looking For Work 

Police Warn Against 'Darth Vapor'

Omaha Cop Gunned Down Hours Before Maternity Leave


Roughly 34 Million Takata Airbags Recalled in US

 The reported defect could make the airbags prone to explode during a severe incident.

Could Your Pet Be in Danger at the Groomers?

Animal rights organization PETA wants more oversight of pet grooming, an unregulated industry.

FBI Investigating Possible Serial Shooter in Colorado

Investigators are looking for a possible link between a bicyclist's slaying and a shooting on a nearby highway.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thank You, Mr. Letterman!

From The G-Man salutes the extraordinary contributions of Mr. David Letterman and his landmark show, "Late Show with David Letterman". He is and will forever remain an icon in the world of comedy and television, and to say that he'll be sorely missed is truly an understatement. 

Mr. Letterman, may the next 33 years of your life be filled laughter, love ....and an occasional kiss from Julia Roberts. 

Thank you, sir.

"The G-Man" 

Cuomo Pays Tribute to Letterman....with 'Top 10' List

 Statement from Governor Cuomo on the Finale
of "Late Show with David Letterman"

"For more than 30 years, we’ve all stayed up later than we should to watch the comedic genius of David Michael Letterman. From his Stupid Pet Tricks and Top Ten lists to always keeping guests on their toes – New Yorkers and Americans alike have happily traded rest for reveling in the Late Show’s best moments. The Letterman approach to late night gave us something we could relate to and will always appreciate, as the stars of his show were often everyday New Yorkers. In the wake of 9/11, he helped us heal and brought us together with his strength, compassion and inspiration. Night in and night out, throughout thousands of tapings and guests from around the world, Dave made it clear that he felt lucky to be in the middle of New York City. Together with his stalwart sidekick Paul Shaffer, he ushered in a new generation of late night comedy that has both inspired and influenced countless comedians and hosts. After tonight, we will all feel a little lost without our late night legend – but also a little relieved that we no longer have to worry about objects flying off the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater.

"Last year, I was honored to appear on the Late Show to reveal the ‘Top Ten Ways New York State is Better Than Ever.' When Dave announced his retirement, we created our
own Top Ten list in his honor. Today, on behalf of all New Yorkers, we have a new No. 1: Thank you Dave – we’ll miss you."

WWJVD: Game of Drones

Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura sounds off on the use of drones.

New Study on Suicide by Children Sending Shockwaves

Mental Health Care in the U.S.

Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) talked about the state of the U.S. mental health system and legislation he introduced to improve availability of care, as well as efforts to help veterans access and pay for antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs.

Today in History: May 20th

Clinton Taps DREAMer As Latino Outreach Director


Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has named prominent DREAMer and immigration activist Lorella Praeli as Latino Outreach Director, a Clinton campaign official told NBC News. Praeli, who was undocumented for almost 13 years and became an outspoken advocate during that time, will be the Clinton campaign's main point person with Latino communities around the country. She will also be one of the campaign's surrogates with the press on Latino issues, including immigration.

Five Banks To Plead Guilty To Global Currency Manipulation


Hillary Clinton Finally Answers Questions on Campaign Trail

The presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner has been criticized for not taking questions for the past several weeks.

Substitute Teacher Takes Belt to Rowdy Students

A sub at Gwynn Park Middle School in Maryland has been caught on tape violently lashing students with his belt in an attempt to break up a fight.

Consumer Alert: Allegations of Charity Fraud

Americans contributing money to charities claiming to help cancer patients but instead charity operators allegedly pocketed $187 million.

Santa Barbara Oil Spill: Crews Race to Contain Estimated 21,000 Gallons


White House Report: The National Security Implications of a Changing Climate

The full report can be found HERE.

Today, President Obama will travel to New London, Connecticut to deliver the commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy. During his speech, the President will speak to the importance of acting on climate change and the risks to national security this global threat poses. The White House also released a new report on the national security implications of climate change and how the Federal government is rising to the challenge.

As the President has made very clear, no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change, as we are already seeing these threats in communities across the country. We know that climate change is contributing to extreme weather, wildfires, and drought, and that rising temperatures can lead to more smog and more allergens in the air we breathe, meaning more kids are exposed to the triggers that can cause asthma attacks.

But as the President will stress, climate change does not respect national borders and no one country can tackle climate change on its own. Climate change poses immediate risks to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters and resulting in humanitarian crises, and potentially increasing refugee flows and exacerbating conflicts over basic resources like food and water. It also aggravates issues at home and abroad including poverty, political instability and social tensions – conditions that can fuel instability and enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

The Department of Defense (DOD) is assessing the vulnerability of the military’s more than 7,000 bases, installations and other facilities to climate change, and studying the implications of increased demand for our National Guard in the aftermath of extreme weather events. Two years ago, DOD and DHS released Arctic Strategies, which addresses the potential security implications of increased human activity in the Arctic, a consequence of rapidly melting sea ice.
But we also need to decrease the harmful carbon pollution that causes climate change. That is why, this summer, the EPA will put in place commonsense standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source in the United States. Today, the U.S. harnesses three times as much electricity from the wind and twenty times as much from the sun as we did since President Obama took office. We are working with industry  and  have taken action to phase down HFCs and address methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. By the middle of the next decade, our cars will go twice as far on a gallon of gas, and we have made unprecedented investments to cut energy waste in our homes and buildings. And as the single largest user of energy in the United States, DOD is making progress to deploy 3 gigawatts of renewable energy on military installations by 2025. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

White House Press Briefing

The President Signs the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015

President Obama signs a bill creating a nationwide alert system that will warn officers if there is an active threat against law enforcement. May 19, 2015.

Politics in Action: H.R. 1335, H.R. 880, H.R. 2262 & H.R. 2353

H.R. 1335 — Strengthening Fishing Communities and
Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act
(Rep. Young, R-AK, and three cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1335, which would amend the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), because it would impose arbitrary and unnecessary requirements that would harm the environment and the economy.  The MSA currently provides the flexibility needed to effectively manage the Nation's marine commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries.  In contrast, H.R. 1335 would undermine the use of science-based actions to end and prevent overfishing.

The current requirements of MSA are working – the percentage of stocks that are subject to overfishing and the percentage that are in an overfished state are at historic lows.  H.R. 1335 would interfere with the tremendous success achieved in rebuilding overfished fisheries by setting rebuilding targets that are not based on sound, credible science, and that unnecessarily extend the time to rebuild fisheries.  In making these changes, H.R. 1335 introduces a series of ambiguous provisions that could improperly extend rebuilding periods, delaying the significant economic and environmental benefits of rebuilt fisheries to both fishermen and the Nation as a whole. 

H.R. 1335 would exempt fishery management actions from the requirements for environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act and replace them with a new set of standards.  This provision is unnecessary, as the regional fishery management councils have integrated environmental analyses into an overall framework that is both timely and effective.   For similar reasons, the provisions regarding the Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and the Antiquities Act are unnecessary and likely to give rise to confusion.  Rather than reducing burdens on the fishery management councils, these provisions of H.R. 1335 would interfere with a well-established and integrated system and would create confusion, delay, and the potential for litigation.

H.R. 1335 would also severely undermine the authority of the Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Council by extending State jurisdiction over the recreational red snapper fishery to nine miles in the Gulf of Mexico.  This proposed extension of jurisdiction would create an untenable situation where recreational and commercial fishermen fishing side-by-side would be subject to different regulatory regimes.  Absent an agreement among the States as to how to allocate recreationally-caught red snapper, the bill would encourage interstate conflict and jeopardize the sustainability of this Gulf-wide resource.

The Administration urges the Congress to support the Administration's efforts to fully utilize the flexibility in the current MSA.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a proposed rule in January updating key guidelines for implementing the MSA, which would ameliorate many of the concerns that H.R. 1335 seeks to address without undermining the fundamental, science-based requirements of the MSA.  H.R. 1335 would introduce uncertainty and delays in rebuilding fisheries, undermine science-based management, weaken the protections provided by other important environmental statutes, and generate sector and interstate conflicts. 

If the President were presented with H.R. 1335, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

H.R. 880 - American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015
(Rep. Brady, R-TX, and 32 cosponsors)
The Administration supports enhancing, simplifying, and making permanent the Research and Experimentation Credit ("R&D credit"), and offsetting the cost by closing tax loopholes.  The President’s Budget proposes to do so as part of pro-growth business tax reform that is revenue neutral over the long term.  Making the R&D credit permanent will increase its effectiveness, since it will allow businesses to make investments and create jobs today confident that they will continue to benefit from the credit in the future.  Moreover, four-fifths of the R&D credit is attributable to salaries of U.S. workers performing U.S.-based research—meaning that the credit helps create high-skilled jobs, as well as encouraging new innovations and future productivity.

However, the Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 880, which would permanently extend and expand the R&D credit without offsetting the cost, adding to long-run deficits.  By making the R&D credit permanent without offsets, H.R. 880 would add $180 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.  H.R. 880 violates the very standard that House and Senate Republicans approved less than a month ago in their concurrent budget resolution, which requires offsetting the cost of any tax extenders that are made permanent with other revenue measures.  If the House passes H.R. 880, it will have approved nearly $600 billion in deficit-increasing tax cuts mainly for corporations and wealthy estates this year – none of which are provided for in the Republicans’ own budget.

As with other similar proposals, Republicans are imposing a double standard by adding to the deficit to continue and expand costly tax breaks, while slashing investments and programs that serve middle-class and working Americans in the name of fiscal rectitude.  If this same approach of making major tax extenders permanent without offsets were followed for the other traditional tax extenders, it would add $500 billion or more to deficits, wiping out most of the deficit reduction achieved through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013.  House Republicans also are making clear their priorities by rushing to make business tax cuts permanent without offsets even as the Republican Budget Resolution calls for raising taxes on about 25 million working families and students by letting important improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and education tax credits expire.

The Administration wants to work with Congress to make progress on measures that strengthen the economy and help middle-class families, including pro-growth business tax reform.  However, H.R. 880 represents the wrong approach.

If the President were presented with H.R. 880, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill

H.R. 2262 - Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015
(Rep. McCarthy, R-CA, and 12 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports the development of a commercial space sector that pushes the boundaries of space exploration while creating jobs and strengthening the American economy.  The American commercial launch industry is the most competitive in the world.  Over the past several years, the industry has rapidly increased its share of the global market for sending satellites and other payloads into space.  The Administration agrees with the goal of H.R. 2262 to bring more stability and certainty to this growing market.  While the Administration does not oppose House passage of the bill, it has serious concerns with certain provisions of the bill.

For example, the Administration believes that the “learning period” restricting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation of spacecraft should be extended for a shorter period than the ten-year extension through 2025 included in the bill.  Over the next few years, several American companies are expected to bring commercial orbital and sub-orbital vehicles into service.  A safety framework that relies on performance-based regulations which could be satisfied by voluntary industry consensus standards would provide for a flexible approach that enhances the overall safety of the industry.  FAA rulemaking activity prior to 2025 may promote, rather than hinder, the development of the commercial spaceflight industry, depending on the pace at which the market for private spaceflight services grows.

With respect to space resource utilization, the Administration recognizes that steps have been taken to ensure that the bill itself is consistent with the United States' international obligations. While the Administration strongly supports the bill's efforts to facilitate innovative new space activities by U.S. companies, such as the commercial exploration and utilization of space resources to meet national needs, the Administration is concerned about the ability of U.S. companies to move forward with these initiatives absent additional authority to ensure continuing supervision of these initiatives by the U.S. Government as required by the Outer Space Treaty.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address these and other concerns as the bill moves through the legislative process.

H.R. 2353 - Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015
(Rep. Shuster, R-PA, and Rep. Ryan, R-WI)

With surface transportation funding authorization running out at the end of this month and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, the Administration does not oppose passage of H.R. 2353, recognizing that a short-term extension of these authorities will be necessary in order for the Congress to complete work on a long-term bill that increases investment to meet the Nation's infrastructure needs.  Unfortunately, H.R. 2353 represents yet one more short-term extension coming on top of the several short-term extensions that preceded it. This continuing pattern of uncertainty has already caused several States to cancel or defer projects during the height of summer construction season and has undermined the ability of States and localities to keep Americans at work building and repairing the Nation's roads, bridges, and transit systems.

The President and Congressional Democrats have been very clear that increasing investment in the Nation's infrastructure is a top priority.  That is why the President laid out a vision for a 21st century surface transportation infrastructure, the GROW AMERICA Act, which would provide robust funding for all modes of surface transportation.  The GROW AMERICA Act would also streamline project approval processes and implement innovative transportation policies that will make better use of taxpayer dollars while supporting millions of jobs, improving safety, and positioning the Nation's economy for lasting growth.  That proposal is fully paid for through existing revenues and by reforming the business tax system to help create jobs and spur investment while eliminating loopholes that reward companies for moving profits overseas.

The Administration is focused every day on what can be done to expand opportunity for every American.  In today's economy, that means building a first-class transportation system that attracts first-class jobs and takes American businesses' goods all across the world.  The Nation needs a multi-year authorization bill that makes significant and long-term investments in infrastructure.  It is time for the Congress to end the era of short-term patches and chronic underinvestment.  The Administration will not support continued failure in making the investments the Nation needs. The Administration expects that the Congress will use this two-month extension to make meaningful and demonstrable progress towards a significant bill in 2015. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress towards this end.

Obama: 'We Have Moved Aggressively to Protect American Workers and to Improve Labor Laws...'

 President's Statement on Trade and Enforcement

I have made rigorous trade enforcement a central pillar of U.S. trade policy, and we have moved aggressively to protect American workers and to improve labor laws and working conditions with trading partners across the globe. 

The nature of global trade continues to evolve, and in addition to setting high standards through new trade agreements, the Administration supports new tools that would strengthen the Administration's ability to level the playing field for U.S. workers, businesses, and farmers. 

I am pleased that Chairman Hatch, Senator Wyden, and Chairman Ryan have agreed to swift consideration of the bipartisan Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act by the end of June. Many of these new tools – such as Super 301, elements of the ENFORCE Act and the Level the Playing Field Act, and constructive tools to address unfair currency practices – would strengthen our ability to both facilitate trade and improve enforcement of the rules. We must also repeal the consumptive demand exception for child and forced labor. 

I look forward to working with both chambers to improve certain provisions and to ensure swift, strong and effective enforcement. These critical enforcement tools are complementary to new trade agreements. This legislation should be considered and reach my desk as quickly as possible.

Cuomo: 'We Remember Their Courage and Commitment to Protecting the Lives of New Yorkers..'


Gov Honors Fallen Emergency Medical Service Workers

Governor Andrew Cuomo today honored Ross Huffer and Andre Maurice - two Emergency Medical Services providers who died in the line of duty. Their names were added to the ‘Tree of Life’ Memorial, which recognizes EMS providers who lost their lives in the service of others, during a ceremony earlier today that was attended by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and EMS professionals and volunteers from across the state. Huffer and Maurice join 58 other EMS professionals represented on the memorial.

“EMS workers deserve our gratitude each and every day for putting their lives on the line to protect the health and safety of our communities,” Governor Cuomo said.

“As we add the names of Ross Huffer and Andre Maurice to the Tree of Life, we remember their courage and commitment to protecting the lives of New Yorkers and pay tribute to their hard work and sacrifice.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "The brave men and women of our EMS community,
along with their families, are in our thoughts and prayers ýas we honor their courageous actions. Ross Huffer and Andre Maurice were more than just heroes - they were devoted members and beloved by their communities. We commend their admirable service and New Yorkers are humbled to call them one of our own on this day."

The two EMS professionals who received special honors were:

    Ross Huffer
    , 66, ex-Chief of the Nesconset Fire Department. A 48-year member of the Department, Mr. Huffer served the Nesconset Fire Department as an Emergency Medical Technician and operated the department’s First Responder Unit for 21 years. During his career, he received several honors for his bravery, including the Medal of Valor for saving a resident during a house fire. While on duty, Mr. Huffer responded to two EMS calls and was later found unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital and later died of apparent cardiac arrest.

    Andre Maurice
    , 48, a driver/attendant with the Richmondville Volunteer Emergency Squad (RVES). Mr. Maurice, the 2012 Member of the Year, was a vital member of RVES who was an exemplary EMS volunteer and an inspiration to others. After responding to a domestic violence call, Mr. Maurice stated he was not feeling well, went home to bed. Mr. Maurice and was found the next morning unresponsive, taken to the hospital and later diagnosed with a major stroke. Mr. Maurice’s organs were donated, helping five people.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Today we honor the character and commitment of the men and women who provide EMS services throughout New York State. People like Ross Huffer and Andre Maurice are a testament to the bravery and selflessness that these heroes display every day as they work to protect New Yorkers in their greatest moments of need.”

There are more than 60,000 Emergency Medical Services professionals in New York State, including certified first responders, EMTs, advanced EMTs, and paramedics, who provide pre-hospital emergency patient care and transport.

New Yorkers are served by nearly 2,000 ambulance and emergency response agencies that provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) or Basic Life Support (BLS) services.

The ceremony is being held in conjunction with National EMS Week, which began on May 17.

President Obama Signs S. 665

Statement by the Press Secretary on S. 665

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the President signed into law:

S. 665, the "Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015," which requires the Department of Justice to establish a national Blue Alert communications network to disseminate information on:  the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty; an officer who is missing in connection with the officer's official duties; or an imminent and credible threat that an individual intends to cause the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer.

NY Congressional Delegation Joins Cuomo's 'Raise the Age' Campaign

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that 15 members of New York's Congressional Delegation are joining his Raise the Age campaign and will be calling on members of the public to support passage of the governor's proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years of age and remove all minors from adult prisons and jails. The governor’s proposal had previously won widespread support among members of the state’s law enforcement community and children’s and civil rights advocates.

“Raising the Age is key to both improving public safety and helping at-risk teenagers build safe and successful futures,” Governor Cuomo said.

“Without this reform, hundreds of young people each year will continue to be placed in adult prisons, where they face abuse and limited opportunities to rebuild their lives – which makes it more likely that they will commit criminal activity in the future. This is a common-sense proposal that will make our justice system stronger and fairer for all, and I am urging the state Legislature to stand with us and make it a reality this year.”

The following 15 members of the New York Congressional Delegation have joined the Raise the Age campaign:

• Congressman Charles B. Rangel

• Congressman Eliot Engel
• Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey
• Congressman José E. Serrano
• Congressman Jerrold Nadler
• Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney
• Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
• Congressman Gregory W. Meeks
• Congressman Joe Crowley
• Congresswoman Yvette Clarke
• Congressman Paul Tonko
• Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
• Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney
• Congresswoman Grace Meng
• Congresswoman Kathleen Rice

The Governor’s proposal includes raising the age of criminal responsibility to ensure that 16- and 17-year old youth who are convicted of non-violent offenses are not incarcerated with the adult prison population.

By raising the age of criminal responsibility and implementing common-sense measures that help young offenders get back on track through means other than imprisonment, New York can reduce crime, recidivism and costs to the state. By keeping the law as-is, public safety is compromised because youth processed as adults have a 26 percent greater likelihood of re-incarceration than youth processed as juveniles.

Further, New York spends significant resources confining youth not accused of committing any crime. More than $100 million is spent annually to house youth in detention and placement, even when they are not accused of committing any crime. Other states address the needs of these youth more effectively and at a reduced cost through robust community-based services, many of which are included in this proposal.

The Governor's Raise the Age proposal follows the final recommendations made by the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice and include: raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction for child and adult offenses; revising arrest and police custody procedure; revamping pre-trial diversion and court processing processes; removing youth from adult jails and facilities; expanding services to assist offender re-entry to communities; and addressing the collateral consequences of juvenile and youthful offenses.

The Commission was comprised of members of the law enforcement community, criminal justice system and children's and civil rights advocates; its recommendations would reduce the number of crimes against people by 1,500 to 2,400 every five years and save taxpayer dollars.

Members of the public wishing to state their support for Governor Cuomo's proposal can do so at They can also join the conversation online using #RaisetheAge.

Congressman Charles Rangel: "I applaud Governor Cuomo's commitment to making New York's criminal justice system more equitable and just. Raising the age of criminal responsibility is not only an important step towards improving public safety in our City, but also ensures that our teenagers get a second chance. Instead of prosecuting under-age youths like adults, we should focus on providing opportunities that will prevent them from committing these offenses in the first place."

Congressman Eliot Engel: "New York has the unenviable distinction of being one of only two states to automatically process and incarcerate 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, even for non-violent offenses. I believe it's time to end this excessive judicial practice. The sensible reforms Governor Cuomo has proposed in his 'Raise the Age' campaign will give our younger offenders of non-violent crimes a better chance to turn their lives around, while reducing state costs and recidivism rates."

Congresswoman Nita Lowey: “Children should not be treated as adults for non-violent offenses. It’s clear the status quo in New York isn’t working, and we need smart reforms that reduce juvenile recidivism and keep our communities safe. I support Governor Cuomo’s plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility and implement other reforms to the state’s juvenile justice system. I will continue working with the Governor and the New York Congressional Delegation to make New York a safer place for children and families.”

Congressman José E. Serrano: “This important reform to our juvenile justice system will help reduce the incidence of recidivism among convicted youth by giving our justice system the flexibility to treat 16- and 17-year olds convicted of non-violent offenses as juveniles, rather than adults. This change will help connect these young men and women to the services they need to reduce the likelihood of future criminal acts, enhance our community based services for at-risk youth, and help our state save money in the process. It will also make for a fairer justice system that attempts to treat each person as an individual, and that seeks to provide the resources to help each individual rehabilitate and succeed. With this proposal, Governor Cuomo is helping communities like mine in the Bronx, and I look forward to working with him to ensure this initiative is a success in our community and the rest of New York.”

PATRIOT Act and NSA Surveillance Programs

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) talked about House-passed legislation that would reform National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs under the PATRIOT Act.

Source: C-Span

Drought and the U.S. Economy

Jim Tankersley talked about how a lack of rain and high temperatures in Western states could affect the overall U.S. economy, including the agriculture industry and the technology and telecom sectors.

Source: C-Span

Hillary Clinton's Private Emails May Not Be Released Anytime Soon

Plans Emerge to Take Ramadi, Iraq Back From ISIS Control

FBI Investigating Deadly Motorcycle Shootout in Waco, Texas

FBI Rules Out Gunshot as Cause of Philadelphia Amtrak Crash

Monday, May 18, 2015

The First Lady Honors the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Sciences

Head Start Celebrates 50 Years

Statement by President Obama

For millions of families, Head Start has been a lifeline. And for millions of kids, it’s been the start of a better life. Over the past half century, 32 million children have benefited from its early learning and development programs. They’ve recited their numbers and ABCs, raced around playgrounds, and learned thousands of new words. On this 50th anniversary, our challenge is to make Head Start even stronger, and to help more children and family benefit from its good work. My Administration has increased access to Head Start programs, and we’ve launched a new partnership with child care centers to reach tens of thousands more infants and toddlers. Plus, a growing number of states and cities are taking steps to boost access to quality preschool. Now we need Congress to give Head Start the resources to reach more eligible kids. And we need leaders at every level – including in our states and communities – to support Head Start, because early childhood education is one of the smartest investments we can make to keep America strong and competitive in the 21st century. 
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the success of Head Start over the past 50 years.  Now, let’s make sure we keep serving families for the next 50 years – and beyond.  Because here in America, every child – no matter what they look like, where they come from, or who they are – deserves to get a head start in life.

The 'Mississippi Burning' and Clyde Kennard Cases

President’s Award Recipient and Acclaimed Historian Explains Why Every American Should Know About the Events 

Mr. Bradford is the recipient of the U.S. Presidential Award for Public Service, signed by President George W. Bush, in recognition of outstanding leadership in community service. He was also named Civil Rights Teacher of the Year by the Congress of Racial Equality in recognition of his work on the Mississippi Burning case. Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and civil rights legend Rosa Parks honored his efforts in promoting tolerance in his work with the Wall of Tolerance Recognition award.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, Former NAACP President, praised Mr. Bradford’s achievements by stating: “You are a dynamic reminder of the power of one individual to make a difference. You honor Medgar by your leadership and commitment to justice. He would be proud to know he continues to inspire a new generation of leaders.”

John Lewis, one of the most beloved and respected remembers of Congress, described him as....“A champion of the quest for justice, leading a new generation of students to believe they can be agents of change.”

Barry Bradford joins me to discuss the Mississippi Burning case, how he managed to reopen it, and the conviction of Edgar Ray Killen. He’ll also reveal the tragic story of Clyde Kennard, how he and his legal team cleared Kennard’s name, and why race is still an issue that must be addressed in America. 

The Skype interview was conducted on May 13, 2015.

Politics in Action: H.R. 1806

H.R. 1806 – America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015
(Rep. Smith, R-Texas, and 10 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, which would undermine critical investments in science, technology, and research.  The Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be damaging to the Administration's actions to move American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth forward through a world-leading science, technology, and innovation enterprise.

The Administration strongly opposes the bill's appropriation authorizations for the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that would establish maximum funding levels significantly below those provided in the President's FY 2016 Budget.  For example, H.R. 1806 would weaken investments in critical clean energy research and development and grid modernization by providing authorization levels at less than half of the funding levels proposed in the President's Budget for DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.  Additionally, the legislation would shortchange efforts to support fundamental research to address diverse and critical global challenges by providing an authorization level for the DOE Office of Science biological and environmental research program far short of the funding levels proposed in the President's Budget.  The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 would also establish NSF authorizations levels for geosciences, education and human resources, international and integrative activities, and administrative activities well below the funding levels proposed in the President's Budget, as well as an NSF authorization for social, behavioral, and economic sciences research that is 58 percent below the President's Budget.  Additionally, the legislation would undermine efforts to implement sound science and technology policies by providing an authorization level for OSTP nearly 20 percent below the President's Budget.

In addition to its strong opposition to the authorized funding levels in H.R. 1806, the Administration has serious concerns with several other provisions in the bill and looks forward to working with the Congress to address its concerns.  For example, the Administration opposes barring Federal regulatory authorities from relying on the results of certain Federally-supported research and development.  This provision would set an extremely harmful precedent of political interference in the scientific integrity of the regulation process, which would undermine the value of the Federal research and development enterprise as a whole.  The Administration also objects to the increased administrative burdens that the bill imposes on NSF and its awardees without commensurate benefit.  In addition, the Administration opposes reducing oversight at the DOE National Laboratories, which would increase the exposure of the Federal Government to risk and liabilities while also conflicting with the execution of the DOE mission.

H.R. 1806 undermines key investments in science, technology, and innovation and imposes unnecessary and damaging requirements on Federal support of research.  If the President were presented with H.R. 1806, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Former Governor Jeb Bush at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner

Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) delivers remarks at the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2015 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines. He talks about his conservative record, criticizes President Obama’s foreign policy, and the failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Hillary Clinton Remarks on Small Businesses

2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at a campaign event in Mason City, Iowa. She talked about jobs, the economy, and initiatives to help small businesses.

Source: C-Span

President Obama Discusses Military Equipment Rules for Local Police

ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

Nissan Self-Driving Car Ready by 2020, CEO Says

GOP Rivals Pounce on Jeb Bush's Iraq Comments

ISIS Makes Moves in Iraq, Captures City of Ramadi

Future Hope Column

FERC Showing Cracks, It’s Time to Act

By Ted Glick

“If someone is upset with fracking, they should probably talk to the states.” - Norman Bay, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), May 14, 2015

Why protest? Why demonstrate? Why nonviolent direct action? Part of the reason is to put pressure on those in power to smoke them out, to get them to say things publicly they might otherwise not say, to expose the truth about how and why things are working the way they are.

FERC has more to do with fracking than any other federal agency, and much more than any one state. They approve interstate pipelines to carry fracked gas, compressor stations to push the gas along, storage terminals to store it and, for the last two years, export terminals to ship it around the world. Without this infrastructure, fracking wouldn’t be happening.

Norman Bay is not stupid. He knows this. And yet, because FERC has been a target of nonviolent direct action for over 10 months, organized by Beyond Extreme Energy, and because BXE is planning a return to FERC from May 21-29, he has been thrown off, saying and doing things that have not been helpful to resolve “the situation” they are now in.

Bay made this ridiculous statement on the day that FERC had its monthly public meeting. But it was not held on the regular third Thursday of the month that it has been held for years and years. Bay and his fellow FERC Commissioners canceled it because of a disingenuous concern, they said, for “the safety of FERC staff and the public” in the face of BXE’s publicly-announced plans to take nonviolent action at FERC on that day.

To add insult to injury, on the May 14 day that this meeting was rescheduled for, dozens of members of the public were kept from the room where the “public” meeting was held, six were detained by Federal Protective Services police and three were arrested.

I was contacted by a reporter after this action, wanting to know why BXE was engaged in this campaign, where it came from. I proceeded to explain to him that it had emerged out of years of experience by lots of grassroots people trying to get a fair hearing from FERC concerning pipelines, compressors and storage and export terminals being proposed for their communities. These are people who played by FERC’s rules, going to the one public meeting attended by FERC staff to learn about the proposed project, becoming an official “intervenor,” presenting well-researched arguments against proposed infrastructure projects, filing large numbers of comments with FERC, appealing a FERC decision within the FERC administrative process, and the results were always the same: FERC approval of what the gas industry wanted.

Many of us who, several years ago, had never heard of FERC now understand that it is a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry.

A month ago a story, “Employees negotiate for industry jobs under agency’s eye,” published by E&E’s Greenwire and written by Hannah Northey and Kevin Bogardus, reported on the corrupt, internal FERC culture which explains FERC’s rubber-stamping ways:

“Employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings.

“Ethics records throughout 2014 show agency staff seeking employment with grid operators, law firms and utilities that the agency has jurisdiction over and often meets with as it sets new orders and rules. In addition, FERC employees have held stock in or remain part of pension plans from companies that can be affected by the agency's work. Greenwire obtained the 88 ethics documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The disclosures reflect how FERC, which oversees the interstate transmission of electricity and permitting of gas infrastructure, is regulating an industry that many of its staffers are well-suited for and often courted to work in.”

This corruption, this washing of hands of any responsibility for the massive harms of fracking and its threat to the climate, is why hundreds of people are planning to participate over the course of BXE’s May 21-29 Stop the #FERCus actions. FERC is rattled; it’s time to ratchet up the pressure!

Ted Glick is the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at, and he can be followed on Twitter at