Saturday, June 13, 2015

Clinton: 'It's Time' for all Americans to Share in Country's Success

Hillary Clinton on Saturday told struggling Americans "it's time" for them to share in the country's economic recovery and recalled a personal history she said inspired a lifetime of service for the disenfranchised in her first major speech since launching her presidential campaign.

"You brought our country back, now it's time, your time, to secure the gains and move ahead," Clinton said at the rally held on New York City's Roosevelt Island. "And you know what? American can't succeed unless you succeed. That is why I am running for president of the United States."

Clinton, who announced her candidacy in an online video in April, used the rally to detail a progressive platform focused on working-class Americans who continue to struggle, even as the country's economic outlook has improved.

Jeb Bush Says Before 2016 Campaign Launch: 'It's Going to Be Fun'

TALLINN, Estonia — After a long week of briefings and visits with foreign leaders, businessmen, and reporters abroad, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush comforted himself with thoughts of the brief respite that awaited him back home before Monday's long-anticipated campaign launch.

"I need to sharpen the saw, I need to go to mass, I need to be with my grandkids," Bush told NBC News' Chris Jansing in a one-on-one interview after an information session with Estonian tech officials and entrepreneurs. "I just need to decompress a little bit. On Sunday, I get to do that and I've always found that to be important, and then Monday, just have fun — It's going to be an exciting time. I'm really excited about this." 

Full article and related videos available here:

CDC Reminds Doctors to Watch Out for MERS

Doctors, hospitals and emergency rooms need to keep a look out for MERS, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus, which is causing a fresh outbreak in South Korea right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Patients showing up with respiratory symptoms need to be questioned carefully about where they have traveled and who they have been in contact with, CDC says.

CDC issued a health alert about MERS, which has infected more than 1,200 people globally since it was first identified in 2012 and which has killed about 450 of them. That's an alarming death rate of 37 percent. 

Kicking Off The National 'Week of Making'

Watch as we kick off the “Week of Making” — taking place from June 12-18, 2015 — with an event at the White House. Participating from across the country are Makers, organizations that support them, and senior Obama Administration officials, all discussing announcements and progress on President Obama's call to action to create a "Nation of Makers."

Participate online using #NationOfMakers & #WeekOfMaking

White House Press Briefing

Diversity in the News Industry

DeWayne Wickham, Dean of Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication, joined me for a discussion on this pivotal issue.

Dean Wickham began his journalism career in 1973, during the Watergate scandal that forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon. That introduction to the rough and tumble interplay between journalism and American politics has shaped his career.

In nearly four decades as a journalist, Wickham has reported on eight U.S. presidents, dined with Fidel Castro in Havana, accompanied Jean Bertrand Aristide on his return to Haiti from exile, traveled with Nelson Mandela on his eight-city tour of the United States following his release from a South Africa prison, and followed then presidential candidate Barack Obama to Paris for his historic campaign trip to the French capital.

During his journalism career, Wickham has worked for US News & World Report, The (Baltimore) Sun, WBAL-TV, CBS News, BET and USA Today, where he has written a syndicated column since 1985.

The author of four books, Wickham is a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Prior to coming to Morgan State University, he was Scholar-in-Residence and Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Delaware State University, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Distinguished Professor of Journalism and chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at North Carolina A&T State University.

The episode premiered on YouTube on October 23, 2013. 

Supreme Court, Constitution, and Politics

Attorneys and legal scholars talked about the politicization of the U.S. Supreme Court nomination process and controversial constitutional issues before the court.

 Source: C-Span

Race and Criminal Justice

Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) talked about race and the American criminal justice system. Following his remarks, panelists discussed the issue.

Source: C-Span

U.S. House Rejects TAA Bill, Passes TPA Bill

The House has rejected the Trade Adjustment Assistance measure on a two-to-one margin (126-302). The measure will be reconsidered. It then approved Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) (219-211) and customs trade enforcement legislation (240-190).

Today in History: June 13th

House Democrats Deliver Major Blow to Obama's Trade Agenda

Russian Aircraft Comes Within Feet of US Military Aircraft

Suspect Believed to Be Dead in Dallas Police Attack

A suspected gunman who ambushed Dallas police headquarters Saturday morning was shot and is believed to be dead, the city's police chief said.

SWAT snipers shot at the suspect through the windshield of his van after a standoff with him, Police Chief David Brown said. But because officers found bags with explosives that had been "spread out all over police headquarters," police were not approaching the van, he said.

"The suspect, during negotiations, expressed that the van he was traveling in was rigged with explosives," Brown said. "Our officers are not approaching that vehicle, but instead, our bomb technicians are deploying the robot and plan to detonate specific areas around the van to ensure that it's not rigged to explode." 

This is a breaking news story, so check the NBC News website for updates.

Source: NBC News

Hillary Has Struggled But She's Lapping The Dem Field

Hillary Clinton's first two months as a presidential candidate haven't been exactly a smooth ride.

Just consider these story lines since she officially announced her candidacy:

But here is the good news for Clinton as she holds her first big campaign-style rally Saturday on New York's Roosevelt Island: She still has maybe the clearest path of any non-incumbent in modern times to winning a party's presidential nomination.

"At this stage, Hillary Clinton is one of the most dominant - if not the most dominant - non-incumbent candidates in presidential primaries since 1980," said John Sides, a political scientist at George Washington University. 

Source: NBC News

What We Know: David Sweat and Richard Matt, Escaped Inmates, Still on the Run

It's been a week since two killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, sawed through steel to escape their cells at a New York prison, then crept through a pipe, poked through a manhole — and vanished.

Authorities have filled in some details on the investigation, but much remains unanswered as hundreds of law enforcement officers comb the woods of upstate New York looking for the men.

Here's a look at what's known and unknown.

Where are they?

The most urgent question. Matt and Sweat have killed before, and authorities have warned that they should be considered extremely dangerous — and increasingly desperate to maintain their freedom. 

Supreme Court Gerrymandering Decision Could Doom Political Reform

Militants Attack Government Forces Near Iraq’s Baiji Refinery

Reuters, 13/06 15:04 CET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Islamic State militants attacked government forces and their Shi’ite militia allies on Saturday, killing 11 near the city of Baiji as part of the battle for control of Iraq’s biggest refinery, army and police sources said.

Four suicide bombers in vehicles packed with explosives hit security forces and the local headquarters of the Shi’ite militias in the area of al-Hijjaj, 10 km (6 miles) to the south of Baiji town, near the refinery, sources at the nearby Tikrit security operations command said.

Iraqi government forces and powerful Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias face Islamic State on several fronts in Iraq, a major oil producer and OPEC member.

Source: Euronews

Iran Won’t Allow Nuclear Inspections to Jeopardise State Secrets – Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

Reuters, 13/06 14:58 CET

Article link:

Source: Euronews

Aid-Dependent Nepal Says Needs $6.6 Billion for Post-Quake Rebuilding

Reuters, 13/06 13:58 CET

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Earthquake-battered Nepal will ask international donors to support a reconstruction plans that is expected to cost $6.6 billion (4.2 billion pounds) over five years, the government said on Saturday.

Two quakes on April 25 and May 12 killed 8,787 people and destroyed more than 500,000 homes, affecting 2.8 million of the Himalayan nation’s 28 million people.

Losses to the economy from Nepal’s worst disaster on record stand at $7 billion, including from tourism, the government said in a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report.
Suman Prasad Sharma, a senior finance ministry official, said 36 countries and 24 donor agencies had been invited to a conference on June 25 to pledge support for reconstruction.

“We have expectations of a very handsome and good support from our donors during the conference,” Sharma said at a function in Kathmandu. Currently, Nepal gets two-thirds of the cost of its economic development in international aid.

Source: Euronews

Tunisian Embassy Staff Kidnapped in Tripoli

More Cases of MERS Likely in South Korea Says WHO

Greece: New Round of Debt Talks as Default Looms

Source: Euronews

Kurdish Opposition Leader: Turkey ‘State Figures’ Linked to Attacks

By Alasdair Sandford | With REUTERS, HURRIYET, TODAY'S ZAMAN

Source: Euronews

Six Yemeni Prisoners Transferred from Guantanamo to Oman

Source: Euronews

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Senator Jeff Flake's “Jurassic Pork” Floor Speech

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) delivers a floor speech on questionable earmarks.

Source: C-Span (YouTube)

White House Press Briefing

Union Says Hackers Have Data on Every Federal Employee

U.S. officials say they are still trying to assess the damage caused by a massive cyberattack on the federal government, while a union representing federal workers on Thursday claimed that the information of every current and retired federal employee was exposed.

"We believe that Social Security numbers were not encrypted, a cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous," J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a letter to the Office of Professional Management.

The breach of OPM data is considered to be the largest cyberattack in U.S. history, and the office has said around four million current and former federal workers may have had their personal information compromised. 

Source: NBC News

Judge Backs Charges Against Cleveland Officers in Killing of Tamir Rice

Acting under a rarely used provision of Ohio state law, a judge found probable cause Thursday to charge Cleveland police Officer Timothy Loehmann with murder in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year.

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine also found cause to support negligent homicide charges against Officer Frank Garmback, Loehmann's partner, who is accused of standing by after Loehmann shot Tamir in November at a recreation center, where Tamir was playing with a pellet gun.

Adrine agreed with local activists known as the "Cleveland 8" who took the unusual step of independently seeking charges because, they said, they'd lost confidence in the grand jury investigation

Source: NBC News

WWE Star 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes Dies at 69

Wrestling star "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes — whose real name is Virgil Runnels — died Thursday, reported. He was 69.

The WWE said in a statement that it is "deeply saddened" by Runnels' death, and as a WWE Hall of Famer and three-time NWA Champion he was "one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history."

Full article available here:

Source: NBC News 

The following video of Dusty Rhodes's WWE Hall of Fame Induction speech was obtained through


Cuomo, Jon Bon Jovi Attend 'Fight for Fair Pay' Campaign Rally

New York - Governor Andrew Cuomo and Jon Bon Jovi attended the Fight for Fair Pay Campaign Rally at the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council.

Governor Cuomo Holds Briefing on Escaped Inmates

Governor Cuomo holds a briefing at Clinton Correctional Facility with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.

New Course Aims to Help LEOS Enhance Investigations of Child Abuse

Training for First Responders Developed in Partnership with New York State Children’s Alliance

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the launch of an online training course for law enforcement officials (LEOS) designed to improve the initial response to child abuse allegations. The training is aimed to help officers better identity, understand and investigate child abuse causes to enhance prosecution and reduce trauma to victims. The free online training is developed by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services in conjunction with the New York State Children’s Alliance, and is being offered to reach as many officers as possible across the state.

“By equipping first responders with the training necessary to better identify and investigate suspected cases of child abuse, we are building on our commitment to protect New York’s children," Governor Cuomo said. "This administration will continue to do everything it can to help victims of this heinous crime and keep our children out of harm’s way.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "Child abuse cases are some of the most complex and challenging incidents that law enforcement investigate. Often, there is no physical evidence to corroborate a child's disclosure and the perpetrator is someone the child knows. These and other unique circumstances illustrate why this training is so important. I encourage law enforcement agencies across the state to take advantage of this new resource."

In 2013, more than 150,000 child maltreatment investigations were launched during the same year. And last year, the state’s 40 Child Advocacy Centers provided services to more than 18,500 children. The vast majority of those children – 95 percent – were victimized by someone they knew.

The Children’s Alliance is a statewide organization representing 40 Child Advocacy Centers across New York State. Child Advocacy Centers are child-friendly settings where multidisciplinary teams composed of law enforcement and child protective services professionals, prosecutors, medical and mental health providers and victim advocates work in partnership with center staff to respond to allegations of child abuse. The collaborative approach is designed to reduce the trauma experienced by child victims.

Joined by law enforcement professionals from Western New York, Lieutenant Governor Hochul, Michael C. Green, executive deputy commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Renee Smith-Rotondo, chair of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Alliance, highlighted the training during a press conference at the Erie County Central Police Services Public Safety Training Academy in Williamsville. Details about how to access the online training were sent to all law enforcement agencies across the state; it is available to officers for the first time today.

Executive Deputy Commissioner of DCJS Mike Green said, “The ability to successfully investigate reports of child abuse, ultimately learn the truth and hold those who abuse children accountable is directly affected by the actions of the officers who have the first contact with a child. This course is designed to train officers in best practices for handling these difficult situations from the very beginning, which will play a key role in reducing any additional trauma to the child and provide for more positive outcomes to these investigations.”

Board of Directors of the Children’s Alliance and Director of the Madison County Children’s Advocacy Center Renee Smith-Rotondo said, “Child Advocacy Centers provide a child-focused, multi-disciplinary system response to child physical and sexual abuse cases. One of our essential team partners is law enforcement. Without them, we could not do the hard work of getting to the truth and ferretting out cases of abuse. This training is another step in our ongoing efforts to ensure that the system response to child abuse is the best that it can be.”

The approximately one-hour long training, titled Understanding and Responding to Child Abuse Allegations for Law Enforcement, focuses on the steps necessary to effectively gather preliminary information in a case, while taking into consideration the best interest of the child involved. The video lecture includes a segment providing an overview of Child Advocacy Centers and an example of how to speak with a child victim and conduct a minimal facts interview at the outset of a case.

The course covers the following topics: scope of the child abuse problem, the relationship between child maltreatment and child well-being, understanding the stages of child sexual abuse, how to speak with a child and conduct a minimal facts interview, forms of child abuse, the Child Advocacy Center Multidisciplinary Team response, gathering information from the source and managing the alleged perpetrator and non-offending caregiver.

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III, president of the District Attorneys’ Association of New York State, said, “I’d like to thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Green for their commitment to providing law enforcement agencies across the state with additional resources and support that allow them to enhance the services they provide to their communities. This training will especially benefit the officers in many of the small police departments in Erie County and across the state that don’t have the resources to staff a full-time special victims unit.”

Added Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour, president of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, “When a crime against a child is first reported, law enforcement must be prepared to properly recognize and begin a criminal investigation while protecting the victim or victims. This online training will give law enforcement across the state easy access to valuable information and training so that we can protect the children that fall victim to predators.”

Glenville Police Chief Michael D. Ranalli, president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said, “Child abuse cases can profoundly and traumatically impact the victims, their families and the law enforcement officers who investigate them. The victimization of helpless children makes it all the more critical that these cases are investigated properly, ultimately leading to an arrest and successful prosecution. This is what helps to motivate law enforcement officers: knowledge that their actions can help prevent the suspect from continuing to prey on innocent children. These types of investigations are complex and difficult, and the addition of child abuse investigation training is a welcome addition to the Division of Criminal Justice Services growing list of online courses.”

Staff from the Division of Criminal Justice Service’s Office of Public Safety, which develops and coordinates training for police officers and other law enforcement professionals, created the online course after partnering with the Children’s Alliance to develop a two-day, in-person training for first responders.

The Office of Public Safety began offering online training for police in February 2013 and since that time, approximately 5,000 officers have attended the courses. With this new training, the Office of Public Safety now offers 12 courses on variety of topics, including investigative strategies and skills for the recorded interview, identification procedures, distracted driver training, human trafficking, and approaching Alzheimer’s for first responders, among others.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services ( is a multifunction criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA Databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; administration of federal and state criminal justice grant funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

The New York State Children’s Alliance ( promotes the development, growth and continuation of multidisciplinary teams and child advocacy centers throughout New York State in order to better serve abused and neglected children and their families. The alliance is the unified voice of New York’s centers and advocates for their best interest on a state and federal level.

The First Lady Speaks at King College Prep High School's Commencement

King College Prep High School participated in First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion challenge by submitting a video showcasing their school-wide efforts to achieve a high FAFSA completion rate. To reward their hard work and 100% college acceptance rate, the First Lady spoke at their graduation.

A Meeting of the President’s Export Council

The President’s Export Council meets to discuss the President’s trade deal, the TPP, and other economic matters.

Representative Hank Johnson on McKinney, Texas Pool Party Incident

Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) calls for more thorough vetting of law enforcement personnel following an incident at a Texas pool party in which a police officer drew a gun and manhandled an unarmed 15-year-old black girl. A cell phone video of the altercation went viral and the officer has since resigned.

Created by Caitlin Hillyard

Politics and Eggs Breakfast with Governor Chris Christie

Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) spoke at a “Politics & Eggs” breakfast at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Source: C-Span

Hearing on Retaliation Against Federal Whistleblowers

Special Forces officer Jason Amerine, who has been under investigation by the U.S. Army for questioning U.S. hostage policy, testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on reprisals against federal whistleblowers.

Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

In her weekly press briefing, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discusses several trade bills, a measure included in that legislation to repeal a Medicare sequester, and the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Affordable Care Act subsidies.

Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid on Defense Authorization Bill

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks about at a Washington Post article about Democrats' strategy to filibuster all appropriations bills this summer, calling it a "hypocrisy". Following his remarks, Minority Speaker Harry Reid (R-NV) responds, stating this is a "cynical ploy to pass a bill that's destined to be vetoed." He also talks about the Ex-Im Bank.

Compensation for September 11 Victims

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Director John Howard testified at a hearing on the bill to reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001.

Source: C-Span

Housing and Urban Development Oversight


Secretary Julian Castro testifies at a hearing on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s priorities, budget, operations, and programs.

Source: C-Span

Today in History: June 11

CDC Reportedly Ready to Issue Warning on MERS

Bill Clinton: I Won't Give Paid Speeches if Hillary Wins

Man Indicted in Death of 25-Year-Old NYPD Officer

A 35-year-old Queens man was indicted on murder charges in the death of an NYPD officer who died two days after being shot in an unmarked car while attempting to stop the suspect last month on suspicion of having a handgun, prosecutors said Thursday. 

The 12-count indictment handed down by the grand jury charges Demetrius Blackwell with aggravated murder and second- and first-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Brian Moore, the son, nephew and cousin of police officers who was shot May 2 in his squad car.

Source: NBC News

Hunt for 2 Escaped Killers Expands to Vermont

Swiss and Austrians Probe Possible Cyberattack on Iran Nuclear Talks

GENEVA/VIENNA (Reuters) – Swiss authorities have searched a house in Geneva and seized computer material in connection with a possible cyberattack on nuclear negotiations between Iran and major powers in the city, Switzerland’s attorney-general said on Thursday.

Austria is also investigating the case, which came to light when Russian computer security company Kaspersky Lab said on Wednesday a computer virus was used to hack into locations including three luxury hotels that had hosted negotiations between Iran and six world powers.

“On 12 May, 2015, a house search took place in Geneva and IT hardware as well as software was seized. The aim of the aforementioned house search was to seize respective information as well as the malware,” the Swiss attorney-general’s office in Berne said.

“It was of particular interest to investigate whether the malware infected the respective IT systems.” 

Source: Euronews

US to Send 450 More Troops to Train Iraqi Forces Fighting ISIL

Source: Euronews

14 New Cases of MERS Confirmed in South Korea

By Catherine Hardy | With REUTERS, APTN

Source: Euronews

International Monitors Deplore Rising Ceasefire Violations in Eastern Ukraine

Cuba and Colombia on EU-CELAC Agenda

Source: Euronews

British Actor Sir Christopher Lee Dies

By Catherine Hardy | With THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

Source: Euronews

Any Partner But the AKP, Says Turkey’s Pro-Kurdish HDP Party

By Sarah Joanne Taylor | With GIZEM ADAL, ILTER TURAN, OSCE

Source: Euronews

Greek Debt Talks to Intensify as June Deadline Looms

Source: Euronews

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

White House Daily Briefing

Hearing on Unwanted Telephone Calls and Scams (Senior Phone Scams)

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on the explosion in the number of unwanted and often pressure-laden phone scams aimed at U.S. seniors. These types of calls had increased, despite the enactment of laws allowing consumers to opt out of unsolicited telephone marketing calls. Witnesses included a telephone scam victim, one of the Federal Trade Commission’s top marketing regulators, and a computer science and networking expert.

Veteran Mental Health

Witnesses testified at a hearing on the heavy reliance on medication by veterans and the possible adverse effects of opioid therapy, including the risk of suicide.

Pope Calls on Putin to Make “Sincere, Great Effort” for Ukraine Peace

By Tokunbo Salako | With REUTERS

Source: Euronews

Turkey’s AK Party Pursues Talks on Coalition Options

Source: Euronews

Polish Ministers Forced to Resign Over Secret Recordings Scandal

 Eva Kopacz, Prime Minister of Poland

By Alasdair Sandford | With REUTERS

Poland’s prime minister has forced several government ministers embarrassed by secret recordings to quit their posts four months ahead of a general election.

Three ministers, three junior ministers, the speaker of the country’s parliament and two other senior officials have resigned.

The move by Eva Kopacz is being seen as a bid to reverse her ruling party’s slide in the opinion polls.

Source: Euronews

FPWA Launches Awareness Drive

Urges New York City Council to Fund Budget Initiatives That Provide Resources for Low-Wage Workers

New York, NY (June 10, 2015)---The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) and its network of coalition members are engaging in an effort to urge the New York City Council to fund budget initiatives that help low-wage workers and other underserved communities. Led by Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of FPWA, the effort is taking place to amplify the needs of New Yorkers in low-wage career paths and provide them with support to help even the playing field.  Kicking off the effort, today coalition members are phone banking at FPWA offices as well launching a social media campaign to raise awareness of the three budget priorities.

Among the programs that FPWA is seeking is $2.34 million in funding for the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative. The Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative offers low-wage workers the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and control their working conditions by becoming worker-owners. This type of business model is proven to provide higher wages, more benefits, and better job stability. FWPA and the Worker Cooperative Coalition more than doubled the worker cooperative ecosystem in New York City from 20 existing businesses to almost 50 through a first of its kind citywide investment made in the final city budget for FY 2015. The Initiative will focus on three areas: Creation of cooperatives in low income areas, Business assistance to grow jobs in existing cooperatives, Education and outreach to entrepreneurs and communities.

Access Health NYC Initiative is another priority designed to address the lack of resources for culturally and linguistically appropriate education, and outreach efforts within our health care system. Access Health NYC is a grassroots advocacy campaign of the People’s Budget Coalition for Public Health. The $5 million initiative will support training, monitoring, evaluation and providing technical assistance to immigrant serving community-based organizations (CBOs). Nearly 80% of the funds will be re-granted to CBOs to conduct at least 30 education and outreach events targeting people who are uninsured, newly insured, speak English as a second language, are disabled or homeless, were formerly incarcerated and identified as LGBTQ. 

The third priority is the Day Laborer Workforce Initiative. FPWA and the Day Laborer Workforce Coalition are seeking $365,000 from the NYC Council to support the expansion of the existing four day laborer centers to provide services in all five boroughs. The Coalition estimates that there are currently 8,000-10,000 day laborers in New York City. Services provided by the day laborer centers include dignified physical space for day laborers to meet, referrals to jobs or support services, legal services to address issues such as wage theft, as well as workforce training and development. According to a New York day laborer named Jesus Bueno, he was motivated to go to a worker center for a type of organized sense of security and structure. By going to a center, it helped him feel a sense of belonging and protection that was not available on the streets. Wage robbery is a commonality and there is more protection granted to workers when they have the support of day laborer centers behind them.

According to FPWA CEO & Executive Director, Jennifer Jones Austin: “In order to create shared prosperity, we must encourage the City Council to support measures that will lead to the reduction of poverty and create opportunities for low-wage earners. These three initiatives total around $7.7 million, which would be close to 0.001% of the City budget.  This is a modest investment to improve the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.”

U.S. Middle East Policy

Philip Gordon, senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, talked about his piece in Politico Magazine, in which he suggested the Middle East is “falling apart” and that there “is no easy fix” to the region’s problems.
This program was part of a “Washington Journal” series highlighting recent magazine articles. 
Source: C-Span

Today in History: June 10th

Federal Regulators Call for Safety Changes on Nation's Railways

Patient With Drug-Resistant TB Traveled Through Several Airports in the United States

Authorities are working to find people that may have come in contact with this patient.

Community Support Gets a Paralympic Hopeful Back on Track

After his running blades were stolen, the community came to the rescue and raised money to get Paul Peterson a new set of blades, and back on track.

Cop in Texas Pool Party Video Resigns

Nation's 1st Latino Poet Laureate Announced: Juan Felipe Herrera


A son of California migrant farm workers who spoke Spanish in his early years said he is humbled to be named the first Latino and the nation's 21st poet laureate.

"My voice is made by everyone's voices," said Juan Felipe Herrera, 66, who begins his appointment as the nation's "poet" in September. The author of several highly acclaimed poetry collections, Herrera said he wants to urge more young Latino students to write, read and benefit from the Library of Congress' resources, as well as help "close the gap of knowing about and hearing about our Latino communities in terms of literature, in terms of writing." 

Full article and related stories available here: 

Source: NBC News and the Associated Press

Bratton Demands Retraction After Interview on Hiring Black Cops: Report

 NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton

New York City's top cop is reportedly demanding a retraction after he was quoted by a news article saying the NYPD has a hard time hiring black officers because "so many of them have spent time in jail."

The Daily News reports
that Commissioner Bill Bratton has called on the Guardian to retract the story -- which bears the headline "NYPD chief Bratton says hiring black officers is difficult: ‘So many have spent time in jail,’ -- because his comments were taken out of context from another story published by the British news outlet about the difficulties of being a black police officer.

Source: NBC News

Missing Wall Street Journal Reporter's Death Ruled Drowning

 David Bird

Source: NBC News

White House Secret Service Agents Haven't Completed Security Checks

Newly-hired Secret Service officers have been posted to sensitive roles — including at the White House — without completing national security background checks.

Amid a backlog in the wake of recent security lapses, up to five dozen agents were placed in such positions before recruiters had finished the entire verification process, officials told NBC News. 

Full article available here:

Source: NBC News

Dennis Hastert Pleads Not Guilty

Escaped Murderer Richard Matt Could Seek Revenge, Accomplice Says

Escaped murderer Richard Matt is "psychotic," a former accomplice told NBC News, expressing fears the fugitive could seek revenge while on the lam.

Matt and fellow inmate David Sweat have been on the run for five days after busting out of a maximum-security prison in upstate New York. Investigators have been chasing down hundreds of tips and mobilizing search teams across the region to scour the area — but so far the trail has been cold.

A convicted murderer and former accomplice who testified against Matt in court told NBC News he fears for his safety as long as Matt is out there. 

Turkish PM Davutoglu Formally Resigns Ahead of New Government

Source: Euronews

Syrian Rebels Capture Government Army Base in South

Source: Euronews

South Korea’s President Cancels Planned US Visit as More Deaths from MERS Are Announced

By Catherine Hardy | With BBC, APTN

Source: Euronews

Lufthansa Plane Delivers Tragic Cargo to Grieving Families in Düsseldorf

Source: Euronews

Egypt: At Least 4 Wounded in Luxor Suicide Bombing

Source: Euronews

Euro 2016: Tickets on Sale, With One Year to Go

By Sarah Joanne Taylor | With UEFA, REUTERS

Source: Euronews

Russian Hackers Blamed for TV5 Cyber Attack

By Catherine Hardy | With APTN

Source: Euronews

African Free Trade Agreement to Be Signed in Egypt

By Alexander Aucott

Source: Euronews

Britain EU Membership Comes into Shape

Source: Euronews

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

White House Press Briefing

The President Speaks on Health Care Reform at the Catholic Health Association Conference

Politics in Action: H.R. 2685

H.R. 2685 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2016
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2685, making appropriations for the Department of Defense (DOD) for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes.  The Administration supports investments essential to execute the President's national security and defense strategies, and appreciates the Committee's recognition that the President's Budget level is needed for DOD, as well as its support of the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, which is a vital partnership-focused approach to counterterrorism.  However, the bill drastically underfunds critical investments in DOD's base budget and instead uses Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding in ways that leaders in both parties have made clear are inappropriate.  Base budget sequestration levels will damage our ability to restore readiness, advance badly-needed technological modernization, and keep faith with our troops and their families.  Meanwhile, shifting base budget resources into OCO risks undermining a mechanism meant to fund incremental costs of overseas conflicts and fails to provide a stable, multi-year budget on which defense planning and fiscal policy are based.  The use of OCO funding to circumvent budget caps in defense spending also ignores the long-term connection between national security and economic security and fails to account for vital national security functions carried out at non-defense agencies. 

In addition, the bill fails to support many of the needed force structure and weapons system reforms included in the President's Budget, and undermines a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round that would allow DOD to properly align the military's infrastructure with the needs of its evolving force.  The President's defense strategy depends on investing every dollar where it will have the greatest effect, which the Administration's FY 2016 proposals will accomplish through critical reforms that divest unneeded force structure, slow growth in compensation, and reduce wasteful overhead.  The Committee's changes would constrain the ability of DOD to align military capability and force structure with the President's defense strategy, and would require the Department to retain unnecessary force structure and weapons systems that cannot be adequately resourced in today's fiscal environment, contributing to a military that will be less capable of responding effectively to future challenges.  The bill also continues unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  If the President were presented with H.R. 2685, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Enacting H.R. 2685 and adhering to the congressional Republican budget's overall spending limits for FY 2016 would hurt our economy and shortchange investments in middle-class priorities.  Sequestration was never intended to take effect:  rather, it was supposed to threaten such drastic cuts to both defense and non-defense funding that policymakers would be motivated to come to the table and reduce the deficit through smart, balanced reforms.  The Republican framework would bring base discretionary funding for both non-defense and defense for FY 2016 to the lowest real levels in a decade.  Compared to the President's Budget, the cuts would result in tens of thousands of the Nation's most vulnerable children losing access to Head Start, more than two million fewer workers receiving job training and employment services, and thousands fewer scientific and medical research awards and grants, along with other impacts that would hurt the economy, the middle class, and Americans working hard to reach the middle class.

Sequestration funding levels would also put our national security at unnecessary risk, not only through pressures on defense spending, but also through pressures on State, USAID, Homeland Security, and other non-defense programs that help keep us safe.  More broadly, the strength of our economy and the security of our Nation are linked.  That is why the President has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense.

The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2685 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future.  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reverse sequestration for defense and non-defense priorities and offset the cost with commonsense spending and tax expenditure cuts, as Members of Congress from both parties have urged.

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

Department of Defense

Sequestration and Misuse of OCO Funds.  The Administration strongly objects to the sequestration level appropriations in the bill for items that were requested in and belong in the base budget, as well as the use of OCO—a funding mechanism intended to pay for wars and not subject to the budget caps—to pay for $37.5 billion in base requirements.  Sequestration adds risk to our national security by threatening the size, readiness, presence, and capability of our military, and threatens the economic security on which our national security depends.  The Committee clearly recognizes that the President's Budget level for defense is needed, but proposes to fund it by circumventing instead of increasing the budget caps.  This approach fails to provide the stable, multi-year budget on which defense planning is based; undermines a mechanism meant to fund incremental costs of overseas conflicts; locks in unacceptable funding cuts for national security activities at non-defense agencies like the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs; and also undermines national security by undermining the Nation's economic security. 

Guantanamo Detainee Restrictions.  The Administration strongly objects to sections 8100, 8101, and 8102 of the bill, which would restrict the Executive Branch's ability to manage the detainee population at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility.  Sections 8100 and 8101 would prohibit the use of funds for the transfer of detainees to the United States and for the construction, acquisition, or modification of any facility to house Guantanamo detainees in the United States.  Section 8102 would continue restrictions relating to transfers of detainees abroad.  The President has repeatedly objected to the inclusion of these and similar provisions in prior legislation and has called upon the Congress to lift the restrictions.  Operating the detention facility at Guantanamo weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists.  These provisions are unwarranted and threaten to interfere with the Executive Branch's ability to determine the appropriate disposition of detainees and its flexibility to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests.  Sections 8100 and 8102 would, moreover, violate constitutional separation-of-powers principles in certain circumstances.

Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC).  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress and MCRMC to improve our military compensation and retirement systems, and encourages the Congress to support the additional recommendations for which the Administration has transmitted legislation.  The Administration continues to evaluate how the more complex recommendations of a Blended Retirement System would affect the All-Volunteer Force, and expects to provide the Committee with further views on this proposal in the near future.  The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with the Congress and MCRMC on other provisions, to meet our solemn responsibility to ensure that any changes protect the long-term viability of the All-Volunteer Force, improve quality-of-life for service members and their families, and safeguard the fiscal sustainability of the military compensation and retirement systems.

Compensation Reform.  The FY 2016 Budget request provides the funding and common-sense reforms that will ensure that service members receive competitive pay and benefits and critical training and equipment.  The Administration believes it is imperative to slow the growth of basic pay and housing allowances, modernize military healthcare, and reform how commissaries operate, and strongly encourages members of the Congress to support these reforms, which would save $1.7 billion in FY 2016 and $18 billion through FY 2020.

Prohibition on Conducting Additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Round.  The Administration strongly objects to the proposed $10.5 million reduction to funds that would support a 2017 BRAC round.  This impairs the ability of the Executive Branch to plan for contingencies or make other needed adjustments that would improve military effectiveness and efficiency.  The Administration strongly urges the Congress to provide the BRAC authorization as requested, which would allow DOD to right-size its infrastructure while providing important assistance to affected communities, freeing resources currently consumed by maintaining unneeded facilities.  In the absence of authorization of a new round of BRAC, the Administration will pursue alternative options to reduce this wasteful spending and ensure that DOD's limited resources are available for the highest priorities of the warfighter and national security.

A-10 Aircraft.  The Administration strongly objects to section 8120 of the bill, which is inconsistent with DOD's fiscal constraints and current priorities.  Section 8120 would restrict DOD from obligating or expending funds to retire A-10 aircraft.  This restriction would eliminate about $350 million in savings for FY 2016 and $4.7 billion in savings through FY 2019.  Further, it puts at risk needed recapitalization efforts adversely impacting the acquisition and manning of the Air Force fighter enterprise.  DOD needs to focus its resources on the Joint Strike Fighter and other multi-mission aircraft, which will replace the A-10's singular mission of close air support while also providing other critical capabilities.

Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI)The Administration strongly objects to section 8116 of the bill, which does not allow the transfer of any AH-64 Apache helicopters in FY 2016 and will negatively affect the Army's readiness and ability to prepare and deploy forces to meet ongoing operations.  The FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) established limitations on the ARI, but provided for the transfer of certain numbers of aircraft in time for congressional review of the report of the Commission on the Future of the Army before transfer of additional aircraft.  Delaying the transfer until the passage of the FY 2016 NDAA will damage the readiness of Army units in the 1st Infantry Division whose 24 AH-64s must transfer in October 2015, the 25th Infantry Division whose 24 AH-64s must transfer in February 2016, and the 10th Mountain Division whose 24 AH-64s must transfer in June 2016.  The National Guard Bureau has concurred with the transfers and has plans in place with the States involved for the first 48 Apache aircraft.  DOD's plan for the transfer of select numbers of aircraft between the components in FY 2016 is in compliance with the FY 2015 NDAA and is the same as the number of Apache aircraft (72) that the National Guard Bureau agreed to transfer in its aviation proposal.  The Administration urges the Congress to remain consistent with the FY 2015 NDAA and permit the transfer of 72 Apache aircraft in FY 2016.

Missile Defense Programs.  The Administration strongly objects to funding reductions to several ballistic missile defense programs, specifically, the proposed reduction of $61.4 million to Improved Homeland Defense Interceptors (also known as the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program), which is needed to improve the reliability, producibility, and sustainability of the Ground-Based Interceptor.  This reduction will delay the program beyond the required 2020 timeline to protect the United States.  In addition, the Administration opposes the $25 million reduction to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications program and the $13 million reduction to the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor program.  Funding for both efforts is critical to meet the President's European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase III.  Finally, the Administration objects to the Committee-proposed reductions of $38.2 million to Technology Maturation Initiatives and $26.2 million to Special Programs.  These efforts are critical to ensuring the United States stays ahead of future ballistic missile threats.

Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.  The Administration strongly objects to the elimination of all funding for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)-20 and its launch.  By 2017, only one DMSP satellite will be within its design life.  DOD has certified that this fully-built and recently-refurbished satellite is a cost-effective solution to the expected shortfall in polar-orbiting weather satellites, which the Government Accountability Office has chronicled in its High Risk List.  Because weather satellite data are shared among defense, intelligence, civil, and international users, eliminating this satellite would have broad implications, including reduced accuracy of weather prediction models and degraded efficiency of surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.  Launching DMSP-20 also provides a competitive launch opportunity, which is a cornerstone of the Department's strategy to maintain assured access to space.

Funding Restriction on the Enforcement of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  The Administration strongly objects to the prohibition of funding for the enforcement of section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  This provision undercuts a law that provides an environmentally sound framework for the development of future alternative fuels, which contribute to a diverse, cost-competitive energy supply that enhances American energy security.

Unrequested Funding.  In this fiscally constrained environment, the Administration strongly objects to the billions of dollars provided for items that were not in the FY 2016 Budget request, offset by equal reductions to higher priority items that the military needs.  Unrequested items include $1 billion for extra Joint Strike Fighters, $1 billion for additional F-18 aircraft, $1.1 billion to reverse planned savings associated with compensation reform proposals, $1.5 billion for National Guard and Reserve Equipment, $1 billion for additional Army vehicles and weapons systems, $635 million to fund an Afloat Forward Staging Base, and $65 million for an additional CV-22 Osprey aircraft.  The Administration has made extensive efforts to assess, prioritize, and balance force capacity, capability, and readiness in developing the FY 2016 Budget.  The Administration also objects to section 8006 of the bill, which places spending on unrequested items into statute.

DDG-51 Destroyers.  The Administration strongly objects to the reduction of $136.8 million in DDG-51 shipbuilding funds.  This reduction would make the DDG-51 program unexecutable, and preclude award of the second FY 2016 DDG as the initial Flight III ship.  This reduction would prevent the Navy from fielding the Flight III variant as planned, resulting in a delay of critically needed Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability to the Fleet.

Defense Health Program.  The Administration strongly objects to the bill's $1.4 billion reduction to the Defense Health Program within Operation and Maintenance.  Military medicine has had dramatic cost increases in FY 2015, and these costs are projected to continue to rise.  DOD has taken aggressive action to address increases in costs where possible and has strategies in place to continue these efforts.  However, we must ensure the health of the force and their families, along with upholding the promise to our retirees.  This will be increasingly difficult to achieve absent sufficient funding at the level established in the President's Budget request.  Without funding at the level requested, the Department will be forced to eliminate needed medical support programs and initiatives.

Aircraft Carrier Replacement Program.  The Administration objects to the bill's $74.7 million reduction to the Department of the Navy's Aircraft Carrier Replacement Program, ship construction account.  This funding reduction impacts five systems critical to the ship's required capability, presenting unacceptable risk to CVN 79 being delivered as a fully usable military warfighting asset.  The Department of the Navy, in conjunction with industry, has implemented oversight and funding proposals that will yield cost reductions in CVN 79 as compared to CVN 78.  Any further reduction would place additional risk to delivering integral warfighting systems and would likely inhibit the Aircraft Carrier Replacement Program's ability to meet the FY 2014 NDAA cost limitations for CVN 79 procurement.

Space Modernization Initiative (SMI).  The Administration objects to the $191 million reduction in SMI funding for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) and Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) System.  The Department's 2014 Space Strategic Portfolio review recommended significant changes to our space-based capabilities in the face of dramatically increasing threats.  The SMI is the critical resource to enable the evolution of the current SBIRS and AEHF systems to assured architectures, consistent with the DOD analyses.  Full funding of SMI allows the Department to dramatically reduce the technical, programmatic, and operational risks of these required architecture changes in advance of the major acquisition contract award, and assure that we will not suffer a capability gap in our most important mission areas.  Failing to invest in SMI technology maturation now will limit these systems to 1995 sensor technology and the associated obsolescence in our next satellite acquisition.

Limitation on Authorization for Certain FY 2016 Projects.  The Administration objects to section 8111 of the bill, which would limit expending funds associated with the construction of the Joint Intelligence Analysis Complex Consolidation (JIAC), Phase 2, at Royal Air Force Croughton, United Kingdom, and would limit action to realign forces at Lajes Field, Azores, until the Department conveys specific information to the Committee.  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on this issue in order to avoid the potential for significant financial costs during a period of constrained resources, uncertainty among our allies that share equities in the JIAC, and disruption in intelligence support to the warfighter.

Operation and Maintenance, Procurement, and Military Personnel Reductions.  The Administration objects to the billions of dollars of undistributed reductions in the bill across the Operation and Maintenance, Procurement, and Military Personnel accounts.  The Operation and Maintenance reductions would be applied to specific programs, which include facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization line items.  These reductions will delay the Department's full-spectrum readiness recovery efforts.

Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act).  The Administration appreciates the support the Committee provided for the DATA Act by fully funding the FY 2016 Budget request for the Department of Defense to implement the Act.

Classified Programs.  The Administration looks forward to providing its views on the adjustments contained in the Classified Annex to the bill once it becomes available.

Additional Constitutional ConcernsSeveral other provisions in the bill raise constitutional concerns.  For instance, section 8117 may interfere with the President's authority as Commander in Chief and section 8009 could interfere with the President's authority with regard to sensitive national security information.  

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the FY 2016 appropriations process moves forward.