Saturday, October 24, 2015

Weekly Address: Protecting our Planet for Future Generations

In this week's address, the President laid out the importance of serving as good stewards of the environment and maintaining the planet for generations to come.

Donald Trump Campaign Rally in Miami

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers remarks at a campaign event in Miami.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Senator Ted Cruz Town Hall in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) holds a town hall meeting in Council Bluffs, Iowa, followed by public calls with the candidate.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Mike Lillis on Congressional Agenda

Mike Lillis, Senior Reporter for The Hill,  speaks by phone about the week ahead in Congress, including the House Speaker’s election, highway funding, and the debt limit.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Top Judge Joked About Raping, Tasing Women

By Kenneth Lipp
Hundreds of emails circulated between officials included sexist, racist, violent jokes and nude photos of women.

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice sent and received hundreds of emails containing racist, pornographic, and misogynistic material in correspondence with public officials.

Justice J. Michael Eakin used a private email account with the pseudonym “John Smith” to communicate with state and federal officials, including prosecutors, judges, and attorneys. One email from Eakin among many obtained by The Daily Beast suggests a battered wife treat her wounds by “keeping her mouth shut.”

An email Eakin received from defense attorney Terry McGowan links to a video titled “Craziest White Man,” which shows a man picking up Latino day-laborers, who he then takes to immigration services. Afterward, the man in the video comments on the need to “cull the herd, make sure they don’t overpopulate.”

Another email from Eakin contains a joke about a man using a Taser to rape a woman.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast 

Friday, October 23, 2015

White House Press Briefing

West Wing Week: 10/23/2015

This week, the President welcomed to the White House the President of South Korea and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, hosted CEOs who are tackling climate change, traveled to West Virginia for a community discussion on drug abuse, and spent an evening stargazing with space-lovers at the second White House Astronomy Night. That's October 16th to October 22nd or "I Love Astronomy Night!"

The President Hosts a Panel Discussion on Criminal Justice Reform

President Obama hosts a panel discussion on criminal justice reform in South Court Auditorium at the White House.

Native American Suicides: A National Crisis


Member of the Oglala Lakota Nation Discusses the Issue,
Schools Donald Trump on “The Real Immigrants” of America

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Young American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) have much higher rates of suicide than those of other racial and ethnic groups, according to findings of a new federal report.

The findings, published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Health Statistics, found that young AIAN men were more than twice as likely to commit suicide as other gender or racial groups studied. Among AIAN young adults, there were an estimated 34.3 suicides per 100,000 population for males and 9.9 suicides for females.

The report noted that suicide rates for AIAN young adults are likely to be underestimated as a previous study found that deaths for the AIAN population were under-reported by 30%.

When researchers combined data from 2009 through 2013 for non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white young adults who committed suicide, firearms were the most common method used, followed by suffocation. For Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and AIAN young adults who committed suicide, suffocation was the most common method used, followed by the use of firearms.

Joining me to discuss the crisis in greater detail is Pastor Leon "Blunt Horn" Matthews, author of "Rez Ramblings: Living on the Pine Ridge as a 21st Century Injun". The book is a collection of the pastor’s newspaper columns and personal blogs spanning the past several years and provides an in-depth look at the stark realities of poverty, oppression, racism, and cultural struggles of Native Americans.

Pastor Matthews has appeared on the show on two occasions to reveal how alcoholism, suicides, and unemployment have decimated the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

The interview was conducted on October 8, 2015.

Information pertaining to this episode is available through the following links:

CDC Report Details Suicide Rate in Native Americans

Native Americans Left Behind in the Economic Recovery

Tribes Battle High Teen Suicide Rates on Native American Reservations

Native American Youth Suicide Rates Are At Crisis Levels

Cuomo Commits $42 Million to Fight Violent Crime in NYCHA Developments

A total of $42 million in state funding will be committed to bolstering safety and security at New York City Housing Authority developments. The allocation will pay for security cameras, interior and exterior lighting and gunfire detection technology, among other enhancements.

“The brave officers of the NYPD have done great work in lowering crime to historic levels in New York City,” Governor Cuomo said. “But many public housing residents are worried by the violence they’ve seen where they live. We have heard that concern and will be funding critical safety and security upgrades at NYCHA developments in the five boroughs. Every New Yorker deserves a safe place to call home.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said: “The Assembly Majority believes that a safe and affordable home is one of the most basic necessities for families. More than 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA developments across the City of New York and that is why we have fought for this critical funding, to ensure their safety and well-being.”

Senator Andrew Lanza said: “New York City Housing Authority developments will be safer places to live as a result of this new security grant that will help address safety and security threats that pose a risk to the well-being of public housing residents.”

New York Police Department data for the period from January 1 through October 11 show that shootings and robberies at NYCHA developments have increased this year compared to last. Some developments have seen especially sharp increases in violent crime, including several of those that will be receiving funding for safety and security hardware and technology.

The $41.7 million of safety and security upgrades announced today were developed by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal in consultation with local stakeholders, including NYCHA tenants, who identified developments that have seen spikes in violence, or have had ongoing, longer-term problems with crime.

The 2015-16 enacted State Budget invests $477 million for a multitude of housing programs, including $248 million from the JP Morgan settlement proceeds to support various affordable housing and community development programs, such as the $100 million for upgrades to NYCHA facilities. The $100 million allocation was intended to enable NYCHA to make needed, short-term, quality-of-life improvements to its developments.

A list of the developments and the enhancements they will receive is available here. A plan for investing the balance of the $100 million will be announced soon.  

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Democratic National Committee Women's Leadership Forum

Democratic presidential candidates Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke at the Democratic National Committee Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. Former Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) announced he would end his campaign for president. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

John Shaw on Budget Reconciliation and the Debt Limit

Market News International Senior Congressional Correspondent John Shaw discusses the budget reconciliation bill being debated in the House, as well upcoming votes on raising the debt ceiling prior to the November 3 deadline.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Democrats on the Debt Limit

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Representatives James Clyburn (D-SC) and Peter Welch (D-VT) hold a news conference on legislation to raise the debt limit.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

"Flashback Friday": 'Nightline' Examines the Impact of a Nuclear Attack on the US

The Obama Administration: 'Comings and Goings'

Statement by the President on the Departure of Special
Presidential Envoy John Allen and Appointment of Brett McGurk

I offer my profound gratitude to General John Allen as he prepares to depart his role of Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL next month. Thirteen months ago, I asked General Allen once again to postpone his well-earned retirement from government service, including nearly 38 years in the Marines, where he served our country in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond. I gave him an enormously complex assignment: to build from conception a robust international coalition that would undertake a wide range of political, diplomatic, military, economic and other efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

General Allen has met that challenge with tremendous ability and courage. Thanks in large part to General Allen’s tireless work, today the United States is leading a 65-member global coalition that is rolling back ISIL’s territorial gains in Iraq and Syria, advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces, constricting ISIL’s financing, interdicting the flow of foreign fighters, helping stabilize liberated communities, and countering ISIL’s heinous message. American leadership of this coalition is making the world a safer place, and we have been fortunate to have a great patriot like John Allen leading our efforts. I have very much relied on his counsel and leadership and am deeply grateful that he once again answered his nation’s call to serve. 

As I thank General Allen for his service, I am pleased to welcome his Deputy, Brett McGurk, as my new Special Presidential Envoy for the Counter ISIL campaign. Brett has been with General Allen at every key moment in this campaign and has long been one of my most trusted advisers on Iraq. Brett has my full support as he continues broadening and deepening our Coalition efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. I have also asked him to work closely with my national security team to strengthen our partnership with Iraq and work intensively with regional partners to bring an end to t‎he civil war in Syria, which continues to fuel ISIL and other extremist groups. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary  

Govenor Cuomo Introduces Regulations to Protect Transgender New Yorkers

On October 22, 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo introduced regulations through the New York State Human Rights Law that unequivocally bans harassment and discrimination against transgender people. These regulations affirm that all transgender individuals are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, and all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the State of New York.

The Truth About Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti, Hitler and the Holocaust

 Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting
with Adolf Hitler in Dec. 1941. Photo by Bild Bundesarchiv

By Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Dr, Harold Brackman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went too far in recent comments that Nazi collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem before and during World War II, played a “central role in fomenting the Final Solution” by trying to convince Hitler to destroy the Jews during a 1941 meeting in Berlin. But Netanyahu was right on when he emphasized the Mufti’s Holocaust complicity and activities before, during, and after the war when the Mufti lied about alleged Jewish intentions to expel Muslim and Islam from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount—the same lie that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas repeats today in support of the current “knife Intifada.”

Netanyahu said: “Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. "And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they'll all come here.' 'So what should I do with them?' he asked. He said, 'Burn them’.”

Netanyahu’s quotation of the Grand Mufti is word-for-word accurate, but it is not true that the Fuhrer needed the advice of Islam’s leading anti-Jewish fanatic to implement the Final Solution. That was his dream as far back as 1919 as a letter that he authored and signed now on display at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance documents.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has been accused of “a dangerous historical distortion” and even “Holocaust Denial” from the predictable political quarters who even dismiss the Grand Mufti as “a lightweight” inconsequential in the history of the Holocaust. This claim wrongly mitigates the Mufti’s mindset and crimes as one of the Hitler era’s leading anti-Jewish haters.

Who was Haj Amin al-Husseini and what was his historical significance? A relative of Yasser Arafat as well as ally of Hassan al-Banna, originator of Hamas’ parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Grand Mufti was a moving force behind Palestinian Jew hatred, from the riots of 1920 and 1929 through the 1936-1939 bloody Arab Uprising against the Holy Land’s Jewish community, long before his WWII support of Nazi Germany.

According to Historian Robert Wistrich’s Hitler and the Holocaust (2001), the Mufti escaped British scrutiny in Jerusalem after the war’s outbreak for the more friendly confines of Berlin, where, in November, 1941, he had tea with Hitler who asked him “to lock in the innermost depths of his heart” that he (Hitler) “would carry on the battle to the total destruction of the Judeo-Communist Empire in Europe.” In 1942, Fred Grobba wrote approvingly of the Mufti’s visit with members of the Nazi elite to “the concentration camp Oranienburg . . . . The visit lasted about two hours with very satisfying results . . . . the Jews aroused particular interest among the Arabs. . . . It [the visit] . . . made a very favorable impression on the Arabs.”

In 1943, the Mufti extended his relations with the German Foreign Office and Abwehr directly to the SS Main Office. Gottlob Berger arranged a meeting between al-Husayni and SS chief Heinrich Himmler on July 3, 1943. Al-Husayni sent Himmler birthday greetings on October 6, and expressed the hope that “the coming year would make our cooperation even closer and bring us closer to our common goals.” The Grand Mufti also helped organize a Muslim Waffen SS Battalion, known as the Hanjars, that slaughtered ninety percent of Bosnia’s Jews, and were dispatched to Croatia and Hungary. The Mufti also made broadcasts to the Middle East urging Arabs and Muslims to honor Allah by implementing their own Final Solution.

After the War, Great Britain, the U.S., and Yugoslavia indicted the Mufti as a war criminal, but Yugoslavia dropped its extradition request to France, and legal proceedings were abandoned so as not to upset the Arab world. Escaping back to the Middle East, Al-Husseini continued his genocidal exhortations and rejectionist demands that the Jewish presence be erased from Palestine continued unabated before and during the 1948 War by five Arab states against Israel. Only then, did his influence gradually decline. He died in 1974, not long after Arab armies almost succeeded in destroying Israel in an attack launched on Judaism’s holiest day, Yom Kippur.
Far from “a light weight,” the Grand Mufti will be remembered as one the twentieth century’s most virulent Jew haters and a key cheerleader for Hitler’s genocidal Final Solution. 

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian is a consultant for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The GOP’s Benghazi Weak Sauce

By Michael Tomasky

After all that buildup, was that really the best the Republicans could do? Seriously?

I watched several minutes of Fox during the breaks in the Clinton Benghazi testimony, just to see how they were going to spin things, and all day it seemed matters weren’t proceeding all that swimmingly from the Fox perspective. But the capper came at 4 p.m., when Shep Smith said that his big gripe of the day was that he and his staff had ordered wings at 3 p.m. and they were supposed to be there at 3:20 and hadn’t arrived yet. Smith is known for his occasional departures from orthodoxy over the years, but I somehow doubt that if some of Hillary Clinton’s blood had been in the water at four o’clock, he’d have been joking about lunch.

It says all that needs to be said that Fox, alone among the cable nets, pulled the plug on its live coverage in the 5 p.m. hour. But this is not to say that Clinton scorched the committee. I actually thought that in his morning questioning, Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo was reasonably effective. He established what you might call an interrogatory narrative: His questions led somewhere, had a point to them. He showed that Clinton and others at the State Department didn’t respond to requests from Chris Stevens for more security, and this was the only moment when I thought, ah, there’s something the Republicans can maybe take away from this—this line of questioning can produce an attack ad down the road that will question her competence and ask voters if this is really the person they want to put in the Oval Office.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast

NAN Radio Broadcast, Rally and Prayer Vigil Will Honor Slain NYPD Officer

On October 24 at 9:30 a.m., the National Action Network (NAN) will dedicate its radio broadcast and subsequent rally to slain New York City police officer Randolph Holder. 

The broadcast will be conducted from NAN headquarters in Harlem, 106 West 145th Street, and streamed live at It will also be broadcast on WLIB 1190 AM.

After the broadcast and rally, a prayer vigil will be held at 11:30 a.m. in front of the New Police Service Area #5, located at 221 E. 123rd Street (between 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave). 

According to NAN officials, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the organization are taking action to show solidarity with the fallen officer and make it clear that the fight for justice includes supporting the family and friends of officers murdered in the line of duty.

Source: The National Action Network  

Trailblazers in Black History: Hubert Harrison

Today in History: October 23rd

Carly Fiorina Responds to Clinton's Benghazi Testimony

The GOP presidential candidate says the Democratic presidential front-runner did "reasonably well."

New Evidence in Corey Jones Death

The slain musician's family claims he never fired his gun when confronted by an undercover police officer on the side of a Florida road.

Father of Drummer Killed By Cop: 'I Need to Know Why'

The family of Corey Jones, along with their legal team, make an emotional plea for answers regarding his death at the hands of a plainclothes Florida police officer.

British Broadband Provider Gets Ransom Demand After Hit by Hack

British broadband provider TalkTalk said on Friday it had received a ransom demand from an unidentified party claiming responsibility for a cyber attack that could have led to the theft of personal data from its more than 4 million customers.

The data could include credit card and bank details, and if the theft is confirmed by a police investigation it would be one of Britain's biggest online security breaches

Click here for the full article and video.

Source: NBC News

Texas Officials Demand Records From Planned Parenthood Health Centers

Texas officials showed up at Planned Parenthood offices in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio on Thursday with subpoenas to demand records and other materials.

The visits followed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision this week to drop Planned Parenthood from the state's Medicaid program and cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics.

Ken Lambrecht, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas president and CEO, said in a statement the Texas Office of Inspector General showed up at Planned Parenthood's office in Dallas "and requested hundreds of pages of detailed documents from at least 10 different health centers ranging back to 2010." 

Click here for the full article and video.

Source: NBC News

Did ISIS Sympathizers Create Fake Facebook Page for U.S. Cop?

An unknown individual used a retired Colorado state trooper's identity to set up a fake Facebook account and friend both real cops and apparent ISIS sympathizers, officials revealed in a recent internal bulletin.

"[We assess] with high confidence that it was designed under false pretenses to gather information regarding law enforcement members," said the bulletin from the Colorado Information Analysis Center, a division of the state's Department of Public Safety.

Authorities said the account was created Oct. 12, and CIAC contacted the retired trooper the next day. He said he was unaware of the account. 

Click here for the full article and related video.

Killings, Fraud and Shady Finance Mar Colombia’s Local Elections – Watchdogs

Reuters, 23/10 16:12 CET

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Murders on the campaign trail, reports of votes being bought for $14 each and murky campaign financing threaten to undermine the credibility of Colombia’s local elections, researchers say.

Colombians go to the polls on Sunday to elect 32 provincial governors, 1,101 city and town mayors, and councillors.

So far this year 20 people have been killed in campaigning, mostly candidates running for mayor and councillor posts, according to the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), an independent monitoring group based in the capital Bogota.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

France in Mourning After Pensioners Killed in Horror Bus Crash

At least 43 people, most of them pensioners on a hiking trip, have been killed after the bus they were travelling in collided with a truck.

Click here for article, photos and video.

Source: Euronews

Palestinian Groups Call for Mass Protests Against Israel

Both Hamas and Fatah have called for mass rallies against Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Just after the announcement, a Palestinian teenager stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier here in the West Bank before being shot and wounded himself.

World and regional powers are holding talks to try and end the ongoing bloodshed which has claimed around 60 lives so far. 

Click here for the summary and video. 

Source: Euronews

Assad Would Welcome Russian Support for anti-ISIL Rebels – Putin

Source: Euronews

First Casualty for US Forces in Ground Combat with ISIL

Source: Euronews

Portugal: Passos Coelho Named Prime Minister But Left Threatens to Rebel

Source: Euronews

Middle East Peace Mediators Move to Defuse Israeli-Palestinian Violence

Source: Euronews

Hurricane Patricia: Mexico Braced for ‘Most Intense’ Storm

Source: Euronews

Erdogan: Ankara Attacks Were a “Collective” Effort

Source: Euronews

South Africa: Arrests Made But Students Say Protests Will Go On

Source: Euronews

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hillary Clinton Testimony at House Select Committee on Benghazi, Pt 1

Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate there, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others died.

Click here for video. 

Note: This is the first of four parts. The other videos are also available through C-Span.

President Obama Vetoes Defense Authorization Bill

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Politics in Action: S. 754

S. 754 – Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015
(Sen. Burr, R-NC)

An important building block for improving the Nation’s cybersecurity is ensuring that private entities can collaborate to share timely cyber threat information with each other and the Federal Government.  In January, the President submitted a legislative proposal to the Congress with the goal of, among other things, facilitating greater information sharing amongst the private sector and with the Federal Government.  The Administration’s proposal provides a focused approach to incentivize more cybersecurity information sharing while ensuring the protection of privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties.  As the Administration has previously stated, information sharing legislation must carefully safeguard privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties, preserve the long-standing respective roles and missions of civilian and intelligence agencies, and provide for appropriate sharing with targeted liability protections.  The Administration is encouraged by the strong bipartisan support for cybersecurity information sharing legislation in the Congress. 

The Administration appreciates that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence adopted several amendments to S. 754 to address some of the Administration's most significant concerns and is further encouraged that the bill’s sponsor has proposed additional changes on the Senate floor.  This work has strengthened the legislation and incorporated important modifications to better protect privacy.  As such, the Administration supports Senate passage of S. 754, while continuing to work with the Congress as S.754 moves through the legislative process to ensure further important changes are made to the bill, including, but not limited to, preserving the leadership of civilian agencies in domestic cybersecurity. 

The Administration supports S. 754’s requirement that an entity sharing information with the Federal Government must share that information through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to receive liability protections.  Moreover, S. 754 requires that such sharing be governed by privacy protection guidelines and that DHS must further disseminate such information in real-time with other Federal agencies.  The Administration supports real-time sharing amongst Federal agencies with appropriate privacy protections, and is currently developing such a capability at DHS.  Focusing real-time sharing through one center at DHS enhances situational awareness, facilitates robust privacy controls, and helps to ensure oversight of such sharing.  In addition, centralizing this sharing mechanism through DHS will facilitate more effective real-time sharing with other agencies in the most efficient manner. 

Therefore, in order to ensure a focused approach and to facilitate streamlined information sharing while ensuring robust privacy protections, the Administration will strongly oppose any amendments that would provide additional liability-protected sharing channels, including expanding any exceptions to the DHS portal.  In addition, the Administration remains concerned that the bill’s authorization to share with any Federal entity, notwithstanding any other provision of law, weakens the bill’s requirement that information be shared with a civilian entity.  This remains a significant concern, and the Administration is eager to work with the Congress to seek a workable solution. 

S. 754 authorizes the use of certain potentially disruptive defensive measures in response to network incidents, provisions that were not included in the Administration’s proposal.  The use of defensive measures raises significant legal, policy, and diplomatic concerns and, without appropriate safeguards, can have a direct deleterious impact on foreign policy, the integrity of information systems, and cybersecurity.  The Administration is encouraged, however, that the bill’s sponsor has proposed changes that would limit an entity from employing a defensive measure that would provide it unauthorized access to another entity’s network.  Though the Administration remains concerned that the bill’s authorization to operate defensive measures may prevent the application of other laws such as State common-law tort remedies, it is encouraged that the additional changes will help to appropriately constrain the use of defensive measures.  The Administration is committed to continue working with stakeholders to address remaining concerns.

The Administration commends the Committee for recognizing that cybersecurity requires a whole-of-government approach and that information must be appropriately shared within the Federal Government.  This sharing must be consistent with certain narrow cybersecurity use restrictions, as well as privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties protections and transparent oversight.  The Administration commends the Committee for requiring that intra-governmental sharing be governed by a set of policies and procedures developed by the Federal Government to protect privacy and civil liberties.  The Administration is encouraged that the bill’s sponsor has proposed changes that would preserve the Federal Government’s ability to implement privacy protective policies and procedures.  The Administration is encouraged by changes the bill’s sponsor has proposed to ensure that information sharing provided for in the bill is narrowly focused on the important purpose of this bill, the protection of information systems and information from cybersecurity threats and security vulnerabilities.  Finally, the Administration is pleased that S.754 includes provisions that will improve the cybersecurity of Federal networks and systems.  Consistent with the bill’s requirements, the Administration will implement this authority in a manner that both enhances cybersecurity and continues to protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of Federal agencies’ data.

Information sharing is one piece of a larger suite of legislation needed to provide the private sector, the Federal Government, and law enforcement with the necessary tools to combat cyber threats, and create for consumers and businesses a strong and consistent notification standard for breaches of personal data.  In addition to updating information sharing statutes, the Congress should incorporate privacy, confidentiality protection, and civil liberties safeguards into all aspects of cybersecurity legislation. 

Source: Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget

Cuomo Grants Clemency to Four Individuals, Launches Pro Bono Clemency Program


Today Governor Cuomo granted two sentence commutations and two pardons to four individuals who have demonstrated rehabilitation and made positive strides in their lives since their criminal convictions. These individuals, selected after a review of all applicants for clemency, were granted sentence commutations in the interests of justice and rehabilitation and issued pardons to address the immigration and reentry consequences of their convictions.

“Today we are taking a critical step toward a more just, more fair, and more compassionate New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this new initiative, we are seeking to identify those deserving of a second chance and to help ensure that clemency is a more accessible and tangible reality.”

Governor Cuomo today issued the following sentence commutations:

Lydia Ortiz, 70, of Rochester, is currently serving an aggregate sentence of 20 to 25 years in prison with five years of post-release supervision after being convicted in 1989 of Conspiracy, First-degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Third-degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in Monroe County. Ms. Ortiz has severe mobility issues and is unable to walk without assistance. Ms. Ortiz has an excellent prison disciplinary history and, despite her physical limitations and difficulty moving about the facility, has completed several programs to prepare her for re-entry, including the Alternative to Violence Program. She has maintained ties with family and friends during her incarceration and plans to reside with her family upon release.

Michael Correa, 43, of the Bronx, was convicted in 2010 of two counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree in New York County. Mr. Correa was battling substance abuse and sold drugs to an undercover officer to further support his addiction. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in prison and five years post-release supervision. Over the past five years in custody, Mr. Correa successfully achieved his high school equivalency and completed a program to prepare him for re-entry. Since 2014, he has participated in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s temporary work release program and gained employment as a messenger for a New York City-based company. He is the father of three children and grandfather of three grandchildren.

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision officials are expeditiously processing both inmates for an actual release date of Oct. 27, 2015.

Governor Cuomo today issued the following pardons:

Joseph Wilson, 66, of New York City, was convicted after a jury trial in 2006 in New York County of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, Attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence, Resisting Arrest, and Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree. He successfully completed four days of community service and one year of conditional discharge, and received a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities on December 15, 2009. Mr. Wilson is a native of Liberia who has resided in New York City for over 40 years and these convictions have hampered his efforts to regain his legal residency and obtain viable employment. Mr. Wilson has two grown sons and four grandchildren. He has no other criminal history.

Patrick Olivier, 43, of Jersey City, NJ, was convicted in 1993 of Third-degree Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in Suffolk County. Olivier was sentenced to 60 days in the Suffolk County Jail and five years of probation after pleading guilty. This was Mr. Olivier’s first and only criminal offense. Mr. Olivier has since obtained his general equivalency diploma, obtained his security guard’s license, and completed legal assistant training. Mr. Olivier is a lawful permanent resident from Haiti and seeks to become a U.S. citizen.

To assist individuals in applying for clemency, Governor Cuomo is partnering with several organizations from the legal community including, the New York County Lawyers Association, the New York City Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to provide pro bono clemency petition services to individuals incarcerated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Although individuals may apply for clemency without the assistance of an attorney, assistance from a pro bono attorney will enhance the quality of an inmate’s application and present his or her best case to the Governor. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has agreed to assist in the implementation of the program by providing technical assistance and training of the pro bono attorneys. The Bronx Defenders will provide post-petition legal services with respect to benefits, housing, and employment, for successful petitioners.

The Governor has the authority to grant commutations and pardons under the New York Constitution and State law. Together with the pardons announced in 2013 and 2014, the Governor has pardoned seven individuals and commuted two sentences since taking office.

The Governor engages a careful, holistic review of clemency applications with officials from the Executive Chamber, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Board of Parole, and the Office of Victims Services. Qualified candidates for commutations may include those who do not have a significant criminal history, have served at least half of their minimum sentences, and have demonstrated evidence of good conduct in prison as well as significant rehabilitation. Qualified candidates for pardons may include individuals whose rights or legal status are hindered by their past criminal convictions.

Individuals interested in applying for clemency should visit Governor Cuomo’s clemency website, recently launched within the last year, The website is a central resource for those seeking to learn more about clemency, eligibility requirements, and the application process, including submitting application materials electronically. Family members and friends of individuals serving prison sentences are encouraged to visit the website and apply for clemency on behalf of their family member or friend.  

Congressman Charles Rangel said: "I commend Governor Cuomo for initiating this great effort with the Bar Associations to help inmates obtain a commutation and provide a second chance to those who have demonstrated their capability to become productive members of society. The Governor has shown great compassion in granting clemency to these qualified individuals, including Mr. Joseph Wilson who is from my community. I thank the Governor for pardoning a hard-working grandfather who I know will continue to make a great contribution to his community and nation." 

Carol A. Sigmond, President of the New York County Lawyers Association said: “We are pleased to be working with the Governor and with firms Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP to create this pro bono program. Too many New Yorkers are incarcerated for too long. We hope this program is one step in the long road to reduce over-incarceration in New York State.”

David P. Miranda, President of the New York State Bar Association said: "We are a merciful and just society that values true rehabilitation over mass incarceration. The decision to grant clemency never is taken lightly. We appreciate that Governor Cuomo has asked the legal profession to help identify cases worthy of consideration. The New York State Bar Association is pleased to participate.”

John Savarese, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, a member of the New York City Bar Association's Executive Committee, and Chair of the City Bar's Task Force on Mass Incarceration, said: “We see this work as an important component of our efforts to do what we can to ameliorate the significant negative consequences of mass incarceration policies in this country. The City Bar looks forward to working with our pro bono lawyers and the Governor's office to make sure that more eligible individuals receive sentence commutations or pardons so that they can go on to lead productive lives.” 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo  

President Obama Hosts a Community Forum in Charleston, WV

How Republicans Blew It on Benghazi

By Rick Wilson

As Hillary Clinton goes before the House Benghazi committee, Republicans have already lost the narrative—because they still don’t understand Hillary Rules.

The news cycle that will follow Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Capitol Hill is entirely predictable.

Instead of getting any closer to the truths about Benghazi or Clinton’s homebrew spy-friendly email system or the obvious conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation, we’ll be treated to tiresome and politically ineffective theater from the Clinton cheer squad and hapless Republicans who don’t understand Hillary Rules.

The coming wave of conventional-wisdom stories reflects the GOP’s many mistakes. And her inevitable escape from legal and political jeopardy will have been aided and abetted by Capitol Hill Republicans who wouldn’t know a media strategy if it bit them on their well-fed asses.

It’s not because Chairman Trey Gowdy hasn’t done yeoman’s work trying to build a careful, non-political case of the handling of Benghazi and in Clinton’s subsequent email scandal. It’s because members of Congress not directly involved in the process ran their mouths without a plan, without a message, and without the discipline that many of us begged them to exercise.

Click here for the full article.

Rick Wilson is a national Republican political strategist and media consultant based in Florida who has produced television for governors, U.S. Senate candidates, super PACS, and corporations. He’s on Twitter at @therickwilson.

Source: The Daily Beast

Senator Cardin on the Clean Water Act and the Clean Water Rule

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) speaks on the 43rd Anniversary of the Clean Water Act and the importance of the Clean Water Rule. #ProtectCleanWater

Created by Michael Kelly on October 21, 2015
Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Maria Bartiromo and the 'Moral Imperative' of Capitalism, Again

 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

Lavishly paid celebrity journo Bartiromo at cheerfully spreads ignorance and misinformation about social and economic realities. Her gender —and looks—in a milieu overpopulated by geeky, frat-boy mentality Wall Street honchos certainly didn’t hurt her career.  Then came Fox.

Maria Bartiromo was a long-time financial market analyst for CNBC [if we can call what she did “analysis”] who left that channel and transferred over to the more consistently right-wing Fox Business Network. She appeared occasionally on CNBC’s pre-market-opening show, “Squawk Box.” On one of those occasions, she was engaged in a discussion about the problems that capitalism is facing. I believe that it was in the context of what one of Squawk Box’s co-hosts, Andrew Ross Sorkin (also of The New York Times, and not so right-wing), was saying about the subject. In the course of it, Bartiromo uttered a quite remarkable phrase, hailing what she termed “the moral imperative of capitalism.”  In that context I wrote a column about the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, and their “moral imperatives.

Several items came over the wires recently that made me think about the topic once again.  First, there was the Times article on Thomas Donohue, President of the US Chamber of Commerce, who acts as a flunky (oops, I mean lobbyist) for the US tobacco industry in their attempts to prevent foreign governments of countries that are their export targets from enacting strong anti-smoking regulations against the world’s number one drug-habit killer.  Then of course there was Volkswagen and the diesel-emissions cheating scandal (which seems to be getting bigger almost by the day).  Coming right along, were a number of drug companies — Valeant comes to mind — that somehow corner the market on the supposedly cheaper generic versions of pharmaceuticals that are oldies but goodies and then jack up the prices.  Finally, there’s Exxon, which knew back in the 1970s (!!!) that global warming was coming and that the burning of fossil fuels had a lot to do with it.  It still funds PR companies and etc. that sow the winds of confusion on the subject, the whirlwinds of which all humanity will eventually reap.

Now of course all of these moves were in search of profits, greater ones if possible, which of course is the number one focus of capitalism.  However, given the “side effects” (or major effects, one might say) of each of these moves, all of which happen to affect health from the individual to the global level in one way or another, some would question the morality of all of them.  Yet Ms. Bartiromo tells us that there is a “moral imperative” underlying capitalism, especially in contrast to “socialism,” even Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialism” (otherwise known as The New Deal on Steroids, but that subject is one for another time). 

Golly gee, Ms. Bartiromo (and every other similar apologist for capitalism and its destructive forces), I just wonder how you square that circle.

Senior Editor, Politics, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books.  In addition to being Senior Editor, Politics, for The Greanville Post, he is: a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement (; a “Trusted Author” for Op-Ed; a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man. He is the Editorial Director and a Contributing Author for  Further, he is an occasional Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, BuzzFlash Commentary, and Dandelion Salad.