Saturday, October 31, 2015

Weekly Address: It’s Time To Reform our Criminal Justice System

White House Press Briefing

Trick-or-Treat with the President and First Lady

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome area students and the children of military families to the White House for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

West Wing Week 10/30/15

This week, the President welcomed President Widodo of Indonesia, Prince Harry of Wales, and the World Cup-winning U.S. Women's Soccer Team to the White House. He also traveled to Chicago to talk with law enforcement leaders on criminal justice reform and watch the Chicago Bulls game.

Friday, October 30, 2015

White House Press Briefing

Oval Office Chat: Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi of Iraq


President Obama today spoke by phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to discuss the political and security situation in Iraq and underscore the United States' enduring support for Iraq in its fight against ISIL.  The President commended the recent progress that Iraqi forces have made against ISIL in Bayji and welcomed the ongoing campaign to isolate ISIL in Ramadi, noting that the United States in partnership with the Iraqi Government will intensify support for the Iraqi Security Forces in these efforts.  The President also voiced support for Prime Minister al-Abadi's leadership in his efforts to combat corruption and implement governance reforms critical to promoting Iraq's political stability and economic prosperity.  The two leaders noted their full support for the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, emphasizing that both the United States and Iraq are fully committed to partnering with the international community to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  They also reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Candidate Ben Carson in Lakewood, Colorado

Republican 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson delivered remarks and responded to audience questions at a campaign event at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Senator Bernie Sanders on Criminal Justice Reform

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks on the Senate floor about the need to address criminal justice reform by allowing states to legalize marijuana without federal impediment and bringing an end to the death penalty.

Created by jeremyart on October 29, 2015

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Discussion on Federal Reserve Interest Rate Policy


A panel of experts participate in a Brookings Institution forum on the economy and what the Federal Reserve might do with interest rates in the coming weeks. They also assess the economic impact of any rate increases by the Fed.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Breedlove News Conference

NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Philip Breedlove speaks with reporters at the Pentagon and responds to questions on a range of security-related issues.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Working Women and Low-Wage Jobs

Elizabeth Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, talked about an AFL-CIO initiative to address issues facing women in low-wage jobs.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Republican Party and Latino Voters


Daniel Garza, Executive Director of the Libre Initiative, talked about efforts by the Libre Initiative and other conservative Latino groups to guide the tone of the Republican party regarding Latinos and immigration issues ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

RNC Chairman Submits Letter to NBC News Suspending Debate Partnership

Mr. Andrew Lack
Chairman, NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112

Dear Mr. Lack,

I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future. We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns.

The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.

CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.” That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case. Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.

While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.

I have tremendous respect for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. However, I also expect the media to host a substantive debate on consequential issues important to Americans. CNBC did not.

While we are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties, we still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it.

I will be working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward and will be in touch.


Reince Priebus
Chairman, Republican National Committee

Source: Reince Priebus

Advocating for the Elderly: Claudine Halpern Talks About Her Passion


Mom has been in the hospital for a few days. The doctor has advised that we place her in a nursing home. How do I find a place that will take good care of her?

Dad’s nursing home wants to kick him out. I feel like the facility is being unfair, but I don’t know how to intervene.

 Mom keeps the oven on too long. She does her own cooking even though she shouldn’t, and I don’t know what to do?

Caring for your aging parents is often a difficult endeavor—one full of challenges, questions and sometimes unpleasant surprises. As someone who has lost their father to dementia, I can relate to the stress and burden—both emotional and financial—of caring for an elderly parent.

I have known Jack Halpern for years through the Orion Resource Group, an organization I’m actively involved in. Orion is made up of professionals dedicated to bringing world class practices to the elder care universe. Jack is CEO, and his wife is COO of MyElderAdvocate (MEA), a unique organization that supports the elderly and their families. Be it a bad fall or stroke, nursing home evictions, hospital discharge placement, or long-term care planning, MEA advocates on behalf of the elderly and their family, protecting them, providing peace of mind, and ensuring proper care in every situation.

What is MyElderAdvocate?

“When there’s a crisis that needs intervention, we do that intervention,” says Claudine Halpern, COO of MyElderAdvocate. As we sat down to talk, I immediately noticed the passion she had for elder advocacy. Claudine  and Jack Halpern, are experts at solving elder care crisis and providing elder advocate services.

Click here for the full article. 

Obama Praises Both Parties on Budget Agreement

Statement by the President

I applaud the Democrats and Republicans who came together this morning to pass a responsible, long-term budget agreement that reflects our values, grows our economy and creates jobs.

This agreement will strengthen the middle class by investing in education, job training, and basic research. It will keep us safe by investing in our national security. It protects our seniors by avoiding harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security. It is paid for in a responsible, balanced way – in part with a measure to ensure that partnerships like hedge funds pay what they owe in taxes just like everybody else. It locks in two years of funding and should help break the cycle of shutdowns and manufactured crises that have harmed our economy.

This agreement is a reminder that Washington can still choose to help, rather than hinder, America’s progress, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it reaches my desk. After that, Congress should build on this by getting to work on spending bills that invest in America’s priorities without getting sidetracked by ideological provisions that have no place in America’s budget process. If we can do that, we’ll help our workers and businesses keep growing the economy and building an America full of opportunity for all. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

"Flashback Friday": The Assassination of Malcolm X

Published on YouTube on Jun 26, 2014

Unedited news footage taken at the time of the assassination of Malcolm X, includes short clip of Malcolm X discussing the attempts made on his life by the Nation of Islam and reactions to the death of Malcolm X.


Trailblazers in Black History: Nat Turner

Today in History: October 30th

Experts Reveal Key Tip to Finding Missing Children

A child advocate advises parents to take a photograph of their child anytime they go out to a busy venue.

Southern Methodist University Sororities Still Preach Segregation


By Charles D. Ellison

Sorority members allegedly claimed that black students are too ugly and lazy to get bids.

Layla Evette is a black student just trying to get by at a predominantly white school in the middle of Texas.

According to TV shows like Scream Queens, mixed-race sorority life is no problem in 2015. When Evette found a different landscape at Southern Methodist University, she decided to share her sorority-recruitment thoughts online.

Can a black girl get a break with white sororities?

Apparently not.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

RushCard Vows to Compensate Prepaid Debit Card Users For Losses

The issuer of prepaid RushCard debit cards said Thursday that it would compensate thousands of customers for losses caused by a technical glitch left many cardholders unable to pay bills, get cash or make purchases for weeks.

Consumer advocates say the ordeal highlights the need for greater regulation of prepaid debit cards, which are mainly used by people who don't have bank accounts and lack many of the protections of credit and debit cards. 

Click here for the full article and related video.

Source: NBC News

FDA Acts to Shut Down Tobacco Sales at Stores That Sell to Minors

The Food and Drug Administration says it started action to shut down tobacco sales at eight shops that have repeatedly sold products to kids under 18.

The stores — in New Jersey, Michigan, Missouri, Maryland and Illinois — have 30 days to stop selling tobacco products or appeal, the FDA said. 

"The FDA plans to conduct unannounced compliance check inspections during that period to check whether the establishment is complying with the terms of the order," the agency said in a statement.  

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Unhappy with Debates, GOP Campaigns to Meet Without RNC

Republican presidential campaigns are planning to meet Sunday in Washington D.C. to discuss their frustrations with the primary debate process, NBC News has confirmed.

But the meeting will not include the Republican National Committee, which has worked with media organizations to help plan the debates.

The weekend gathering was first reported by POLITICO.

Click here for the full article and related video.

First Read: As Rubio Ascends, Scrutiny Increases

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Marco Rubio takes center stage -- as the attacks and scrutiny increase

When the Republican presidential race first started (and before Donald Trump and later Ben Carson took off), there were three co-frontrunners -- Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker. Well, Walker dropped out of the contest in September. Bush now finds his campaign on the ropes. And that now leaves us with Rubio, who campaigns today in Iowa and who very well might be your sole "establishment" frontrunner in the 2016 race. But, of course, with that new spotlight and designation come more scrutiny and attacks. US News got its hands on a 112-page report from the Bush campaign that's largely an oppo dump on Rubio. One slide is entitled "Marco Is A Risky Bet," and "it bullet-points Rubio's 'misuse of state party credit cards, taxpayer funds and ties to scandal-tarred former Congressman David Rivera.'… Another bullet point says Rubio's 'closeness with Norman Braman, who doubles as personal benefactor[,] raises major ethical questions.'… The most cryptic slight is left for last: 'Those who have looked into Marco's background in the past have been concerned with what they have found.'" Yet Beth Myers, who led Mitt Romney's VP vetting process, emailed Politico that Rubio "passed" the campaign's vetting (but Rubio ultimately wasn't a top finalist to be Romney's VP pick). Our take: With this report to U.S. News, is the Bush campaign doing ANOTHER favor for Rubio -- by telegraphing the attacks coming his way? After all, we saw how that played out in Wednesday's debate. 

Click here for the full article.

Arrested For Kissing

A lesbian couple's lawsuit claims an off-duty Hawaii police officer arrested them because of their public displays of affection in a grocery store. KHNL's Allyson Blair reports.

Oregon Girl is 16th U.S. Plague Case This Year

A teenaged girl in Oregon is being treated for plague, state health officials say. She's the 16th U.S. case this year.

The highest annual number of plague cases in the U.S. this century was 17 cases in 2006.

"The girl is believed to have acquired the disease from a flea bite during a hunting trip near Heppner in Morrow County that started on Oct. 16," the health department said in a statement on its website.

"She reportedly fell ill on Oct. 21 and was hospitalized in Bend on Oct. 24. She is recovering in the hospital's intensive care unit." 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Benedict Cumberbatch Backs Refugees: 'F*** the Politicians'

LONDON — Benedict Cumberbatch surprised theater-goers by saying "f*** the politicians" during an impassioned on-stage speech about Europe's refugee crisis, audience members told NBC News Friday.

The Oscar-nominated star had just finished a performance of "Hamlet" at London's Barbican Centre when he criticized the British government. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

U.S. to Deploy Special Operations Forces in Syria: Official

Greece Says 22 Migrants Drown off Aegean Islands, 144 Rescued


Reuters, 30/10 14:43 CET

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece rescued 144 refugees and recovered the bodies of 22, including four infants and nine children, after their boats sank in two separate incidents in the Aegean sea, the coastguard said on Friday.

The death toll from drownings at sea has mounted recently as weather in the Aegean has taken a turn for the worse, turning wind-whipped sea corridors into deadly passages for thousands of refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece.

Click here for summary. 

Source: Euronews

U.N. Urged to Investigate ‘Strong Evidence’ of Rohingya Genocide in Myanmar

Reuters, 30/10 14:41 CET

By Alisa Tang

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – There is “strong evidence” that Myanmar has committed genocide against Rohingya Muslims, according to a Yale law school report that called for a United Nations commission of inquiry to focus world leaders’ attention on abuses in western Rakhine state.

The Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim minority that lives in apartheid-like conditions in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, have faced worsening persecution and violence that has displaced 140,000 and spurred an exodus from the country by boat.

Fortify Rights, a campaign group focussing on the Rohingya, said there are about 1 million Rohingya in Rakhine state and at least 160,000 have fled since 2012.

Yale’s Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic analysed research conducted by Fortify Rights and Al Jazeera, to see if genocide had been committed as defined by the 1948 U.N. genocide convention.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Euronews 

Air Strikes Pound Areas of Northwest and South Syria

Source: Euronews

Tanzania Ruling Party’s Magufuli Wins Presidential Vote, Officials Say

Source: Euronews

Syria Talks in Vienna: World and Regional Powers Present, but No Syrians

Source: Euronews

Amer Shaker Released from Guantanamo Bay

Source: Euronews

Turkey Snap Election: AK Party in Front but Overall Majority Uncertain

Source: Euronews

Prominent German ISIL Propagandist Killed in Syria – US Officials

Source: Euronews

Russian Police Raid Ukrainian Library in Moscow

Source: Euronews

Putin’s Approval Rating Climbs to 88%

Source: Euronews

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The President Meets with His Royal Highness Prince Harry of the United Kingdom

President Obama welcomes His Royal Highness Prince Harry to the Oval Office at the White House. October 28, 2015

Representative Paul Ryan Remarks on his Election as House Speaker

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivers remarks on his vision for the House under his leadership as speaker. Members elected him to replace Representative John Boehner (R-OH) as the 54th speaker of the House in a 236-196 vote.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Remarks on Paul Ryan's Election as House Speaker

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) welcomes Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the 54th speaker of the House. She talks about his congressional career and says, "A page has been turned; a new chapter has begun." The chamber elected him to the position in a 236-196 vote.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Speaker John Boehner Farewell Address

Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his final remarks on the floor before the chamber votes to select his successor. He speaks about his background and his accomplishments as speaker. Representative Boehner is also stepping down from his House seat October 31. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Superstorm Sandy: Governor Cuomo Reflects, Issues Report Detaling State Efforts

Governor Andrew Cuomo today commemorated the three-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy and released a report detailing the continued progress made by New York State. It underscores the advancements made in rebuilding homes, businesses, and large-scale infrastructure projects in communities and neighborhoods, as spearheaded by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. View the report here.

The Governor also called for a moment of silence this evening in honor of the 61 men and women who lost their lives to the storm’s impact in New York State. This moment of silence will occur at 8:00 p.m. on Oct. 29, marking the approximate time when the storm surge first began in New York City.

“As we approach the three-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, I ask all New Yorkers to remember those who were lost and those whose lives were forever changed by this terrible storm,” said Governor Cuomo. “As a state, we are not just rebuilding what was before – we are making our communities safer and smarter, and rising to meet the challenges posed by climate change and extreme weather. We are seizing every opportunity to reimagine New York to be stronger and more resilient for generations to come.”

Since its creation by the Governor in June 2013, the Office of Storm Recovery has assisted more than 10,000 New Yorkers to rebuild and repair their homes, awarded $41.3 million in grants to small businesses, and facilitated the proposal of approximately 700 projects through the grassroots NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program. 

The report released today also highlights several large-scale infrastructure projects, including Living with the Bay in Nassau County and Living Breakwaters in Staten Island− being implemented through the federal Rebuild By Design Competition.

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy struck the New York metropolitan region, causing unprecedented damage to as many as 300,000 housing units, disrupting power for two million utility customers, and affecting various methods of transportation (including roads and public transportation systems). A total of 61 individuals died throughout the state as a result of the storm, which came less than a year after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

Governor Cuomo tasked the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery to drive statewide recovery and invest into the communities hit hardest the $4.4 billion made available after Superstorm Sandy through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program.

“From the earliest days of the State’s recovery, we recognized that we could not make every decision from Albany,” said Interim Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, Lisa Bova-Hiatt. “Setting out to balance top-down strategies with a range of grassroots, bottom-up approaches, we have sought to empower New Yorkers− and the communities in which they live and work− to participate in this important process. Today we remember all those affected by Superstorm Sandy, and reiterate our commitment to yielding a stronger, more resilient future.”

While the report is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of each and every recovery effort, it serves to emphasize key actions and programmatic accomplishments that have been realized in the last year. It also aims to stress the State’s main ongoing themes, which have been to 1) Address immediate needs while focusing on the future; 2) Cut red tape; 3) Come back stronger than before; 4) Take a community-wide and regional perspective; and 5) Use a ground-up approach.

More information can be found at

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

$6.5 Million Awarded for Crime Victims Programs Across New York State

$6.5 million in additional funding has been awarded to programs that assist crime victims across the state. The federal funding will support 172 providers administering 226 programs that provide counseling, crisis intervention, advocacy and legal assistance, among other services. In total, victim assistance programs are receiving $43.8 million in federal funding for 2015-16.

“This funding helps ensure that people who are the victims of a crime can receive the support and assistance they need to recover,” said Governor Cuomo. “The organizations that receive this funding provide critically important services in communities across our state, and I am proud that our administration, with the help of our Congressional delegation, is supporting their missions.”

The state Office of Victim Services administers the grant funding for the programs, which are operated by non-profit organizations, hospitals and law enforcement agencies. Victim assistance programs typically receive a modest funding increase during their three-year contracts, but as a result of congressional action, they each received 15 percent more than anticipated in funding.

Governor Cuomo announced the funding as the Office of Victim Services is hosting a three-day conference in Syracuse for professionals from victim assistance programs funded by the agency. More than 400 professionals from across the state are attending the conference, which includes presentations by survivors of crime, workshops and panel discussions with an emphasis on trauma-related services for victims, caregivers and providers. There also will be a screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary on the problematic handling of sexual assault cases on college campuses.

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “Whether it is providing temporary housing for a domestic violence survivor or counseling for an abused child, these programs provide a critical role in helping crime victims negotiate the road to recovery. As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen first-hand the challenges crime victims face and the struggle they endure on a daily basis. This funding will further enhance the vital services they depend on as they try to get their lives back on track.”

A complete list of the organizations and agencies that provide services to crime victims in each of the state’s 62 counties can be found here. In 2014, crime victim assistance programs funded by the Office of Victim Services served nearly 265,000 people across New York.

The funding cycle for the $43.8 million in grants aligns with the federal budget year (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30). The majority of the funding comes from the federal Victims of Crime Act and the New York Victim and Witness Assistance Grant Program's Criminal Justice Improvement Account, where all of the funding is the result of fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders convicted in federal or state courts. State funds comprise the remaining 5 percent.  

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said, “While we must do all we can to prevent crimes and domestic violence from happening in the first place, we also must do what we can to take care of those who have been victimized. Fortunately, there are organizations across New York that provide invaluable services to those who have been victims of crime and violence. This $6.5 million in federal funding will help make sure these victims have access to legal assistance, counseling and other programs, and I will continue to fight to ensure organizations like these have the resources they need to continue their important work.”

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said, “No one ever plans to be the victim of a crime. When such tragedy occurs, a helping hand can be absolutely critical to helping survivors to recover and communities to heal. As the original co-author of the Violence Against Women Act and a longtime advocate for those who have fallen victim to crime, I have seen how these services provide a vital lifeline to individuals and families. That’s why I’m so proud to support these critical programs and the lives they transform.” 

The Office of Victim Services provides a safety net for individuals and/or their family members who have been victimized through no fault of their own and have no other means of assistance. It is a payer of last resort: all other sources of assistance, such as medical insurance and workers compensation, must be exhausted before the agency can pay a victim or their family members for any out-of-pocket losses related to the crime. Last year, the Office of Victim Services provided more than $20 million in compensation to assist crime victims and their families.

For more information about services offered by OVS, including eligibility guidelines and a list of crime victims assistance programs that currently receive funding, visit or call 1-800-247-8035.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo  

Cuomo Announces Halloween Crackdown on Impaired Drivers

The New York State Police, as well as local and county law enforcement agencies, will increase patrols to crack down on drunk driving and underage drinking this Halloween weekend. The special traffic enforcement detail will begin on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 and continue through Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2009 to 2013, 43 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1) were in crashes involving a drunk driver. Trick-or-treaters, their friends and loved ones are also at risk on Halloween night, with 19 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes (2009-2013) involving drunk drivers. As Halloween falls on a Saturday night this year, state and local law enforcement will be out in full force and extra vigilant in their efforts to protect families and their loved ones on New York’s roads.

“This weekend, we are ramping up our enforcement efforts in order to prevent needless tragedies and keep people safe,” said Governor Cuomo. “It’s simple: if you’re planning to drink, use public transportation or a designated driver. I urge New Yorkers to make the right choice this weekend so that everyone can have a safe and happy Halloween.” 

Motorists that are traveling this weekend can expect to see a number of sobriety checkpoints and additional patrols. Troopers will also conduct a special enforcement detail to crack down on the sale of alcohol to minors.

State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “Halloween can be fun, but it can also turn tragic if people get behind the wheel after drinking. Children will be out walking after dark and drivers need to exercise extreme caution. Never drink and drive. Troopers will be out in force making sure this Halloween is a safe one on the roads."

Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of this crackdown in order to more easily identify motorists who are violating the law. CITE vehicles allow the Trooper to better observe driving violations. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated. The initiative is funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

“We want this and every Halloween to be a fun time that creates happy memories, and not see it marred by needless tragedy,” said Chuck DeWeese, Assistant Commissioner for the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee. “Drive safely if you are going out, as there will be children trick or treating into the evening. If you’re going to a Halloween party and plan to drink, have a designated driver or make other arrangements for getting home safely. Let’s make this a safe and happy Halloween for everyone.”

During last year’s Halloween initiative there were more than 720 crashes that killed three people and injured more than 150 others. Troopers arrested 195 people for DWI and issued more than 9,700 tickets for speeding, distracted driving and other traffic violations. Choosing to drive drunk can ruin or end your life or someone else’s. This Halloween, if you drink and drive, you may face jail time, the loss of your license, higher insurance rates, and many other unanticipated expenses. An impaired driving charge carries a maximum fine of $10,000.

The New York State Police and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee ask that you to follow these easy steps to enjoy a safe Halloween without jeopardizing lives on the road.  

1. Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night. 

2. Before you start drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home. 

3. If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public  transportation so you are sure to get home safely.

4. If available, use your community’s sober ride program. 

5. Walking impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home. 

6. If you see a drunk driver on the road, call local law enforcement. You could save a life.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo  

'Meetings with Monaco': Human Rights and Civil Liberties Advocates

  Lisa Monaco

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa O. Monaco and Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor Avril D. Haines met yesterday with human rights and civil liberties advocates as well as legal experts to discuss issues related to transparency regarding counterterrorism operations and the use of force by the United States. They discussed advocates’ and legal experts’ ideas to provide more public awareness about the policies, legal justifications, and results of U.S. counterterrorism operations.  Ms. Monaco and Ms. Haines expressed the Administration’s continued commitment to making available to the public as much information as possible about U.S. counterterrorism operations and the use of force overseas.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary  

Advance Estimate of GDP for the Third Quarter of 2015

  Jason Furman
WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the advance estimate of GDP for the third quarter of 2015. 

Economic growth in the third quarter reflected the combination of solid domestic demand and volatile transitory factors. Personal consumption continued to grow at a solid pace, while inventory investment slowed sharply and net exports were largely neutral for overall growth. Over the past year, slowing global demand has been a headwind for the U.S. economy, and unnecessary austerity and fiscal brinkmanship have posed unnecessary risks for consumer spending and business investment. That’s why this week’s budget agreement is a particularly important step—adding an estimated 340,000 jobs in 2016, reducing uncertainty, and enabling productivity-enhancing investments. But there is more work to do to foster long-term growth, including increasing investments in infrastructure, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, and opening new markets for our exporters through high-standards free-trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to make progress on these important priorities.


1. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 1.5 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter, according to the BEA’s advance estimate. In the third quarter, GDP grew at a slower pace than in the second, with much of the difference attributable to a large decline in inventory investment—one of the most volatile components of economic output—which subtracted 1.4 percentage points from overall growth. Personal consumption spending continued to grow at a robust pace, rising 3.2 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter. Reduced oil drilling continued to weigh on business investment, subtracting from overall growth. Exports grew in the third quarter but at a subdued pace, likely reflecting weaker foreign demand. Export growth remains considerably slower than the pace observed earlier in the recovery. Overall, GDP rose 2.0 percent over the past four quarters. 

(Click on graphs to increase their size.)

2. The “fiscal drag” that subtracted from GDP growth from 2011 to 2013 has eased in recent years, a positive development that will be further supported by this week’s federal budget deal. From 2011 through 2013, declining government spending subtracted an average of 0.5 percentage point per year from GDP growth. Most of that drag is attributable to lower federal spending. At the same time, increased uncertainty as a result of fiscal brinkmanship may have further hurt consumer spending and business investment. Since the Murray-Ryan budget agreement in 2013 relieved a portion of the sequester over 2014 and 2015, this fiscal drag has diminished. Government spending has been a positive contributor on average since then, and fiscal brinkmanship has been reduced. The two-year budget agreement announced this week totals 0.2 percent of GDP or nearly 90 percent of the discretionary sequester relief proposed by the President for FY 2016, and it will help continue to avoid unnecessary fiscal drag in the years to come while also increasing certainty for businesses and consumers.

3. Net exports have subtracted 0.7 percentage point from GDP growth over the past four quarters, reflecting the continued headwinds from slowing foreign growth on U.S. exports. The volume of U.S. exports to foreign countries is heavily sensitive to foreign GDP growth. Indeed, year-over-year foreign GDP growth—when weighting countries by the volume of their annual trade with the United States—explains much of the variance in U.S. export growth. To the extent that the global slowdown persists, it will likely continue to weigh on U.S. export growth, as it has over the past year. In the third quarter, export growth continued to slow and remains lower than the pace observed earlier in the recovery; net exports did not contribute to overall growth in this quarter. The sensitivity of our exports to foreign demand—especially in an environment where foreign demand is slowing—underscores the importance of reducing trade barriers and opening foreign markets to our exports. 

4. The recent strength in personal consumption growth reflects a disproportionate contribution from spending on durable goods. Goods consumption accounts for only about one third of total consumer spending. But goods have contributed disproportionately to spending growth in this recovery, contributing half of consumption growth since mid-2009. As in many recoveries, durable goods consumption has been particularly strong—accounting for only 12 percent of total consumption but 30 percent of consumption growth throughout this recovery. The disproportionate strength of durable goods consumption was apparent in this third quarter, as durable goods consumption accounted for more than 20 percent of consumption growth. The strength in durable goods consumption reflects an especially fast pace of purchases of big-ticket items like automobiles, and is consistent with the current high levels of consumer confidence and improved consumer balance sheets.  

5. Real private domestic final purchases (PDFP)—the sum of consumption and fixed investment—rose 3.2 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter and is growing at a faster year-over-year pace than overall GDP. Real PDFP—which excludes noisier components like net exports, inventories, and government spending—is generally a more reliable indicator of next-quarter GDP growth than current GDP. PDFP aims to measure signals of future economic growth by eliminating some of the noisy components in GDP. However, to the extent that systematic patterns emerge in global growth, for example, the information contained in net exports may contain an important signal about the headwinds we face from abroad (see point 3). The especially large gap between PDFP growth and GDP growth over the past four quarters is attributable to both net exports and inventory investment, an especially volatile category of spending. 

As the Administration stresses every quarter, GDP figures can be volatile and are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any single report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 

Lamestream GOP Moderators’ Total Debate Fail

By Lloyd Grove

From silly and inaccurate questions to just plain awkward interruptions, Team CNBC stumbled in Boulder—and was absolutely clobbered by the Republican presidential field for it.

People will argue about which Republican presidential candidate came out on top in Wednesday night’s CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado, but it was pretty clear who lost.

The mainstream media—as represented by the business cable network’s principal moderators, Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and especially John Harwood—took it on the chin as candidate after candidate, to hearty applause from the partisan audience at the University of Colorado, pointed out that their questions were inaccurate, unfair, or otherwise plain silly.

“Are we truly talking about fantasy football?” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie demanded after Quintanilla asked former Florida governor Jeb Bush whether the online sports industry should be regulated as a gambling enterprise by the federal government.

“Seriously,” Christie continued, noting that the topic was hardly worthy of a presidential debate, where issues of war and peace, the runaway deficit, and the economy should be center stage. It was difficult to disagree with him.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast 

Bernie Sanders’ ‘Democratic Socialism’


A lot is being made, both pro and con, of Bernie Sanders’ most honest declaration that he is a “Democratic Socialist.”   To his credit he has not backed away from that statement in the face of the totally expected red-baiting coming from the Repubs., led at this time by Trump.  Among the best responses would be: “Some people say I’m old (I don’t). But nothing’s older than that one, nor as meaningless,” or “Is that all you’ve got, Don? Try again.”
But let’s dissect Bernie’s “socialism,” to see what it really is. At the bedrock of the historical definition of socialism stand “collective ownership of the means of production,” “production for use, not for profit,” and in the Leninist sense, “concentration of state power in the hands of the working class and their representatives.” Not making any value judgments here, but Bernie’s “democratic socialism” simply does not qualify as “socialism” in terms of its historical definition. (I have further defined “socialism” in its historical sense elsewhere.) Further, Bernie has made it clear that if he does not get the nomination he will not challenge the Democratic Party’s candidate, who will surely have the ruling class’ imprimatur. So he is committed to staying within that boundary.   Nor does he advocate the nationalization of any industries currently held in private hands.  Nor will he challenge any of the major elements of the current ruling class’ foreign policy (although he might tinker with it a bit, here and there).
Bernie’ “socialism” focuses primarily on domestic policy and is nothing more nor less than the New Deal on steroids. (And sorry, Don T.. that just ain’t really very Red.) Indeed under various forms of “Democratic Socialism” in Western Europe, going back 100 years to Karl Kautsky of the German Socialist Party (SPD) and beyond, it serves/is-a-form-of capitalism, one in which the government plays an important role in the political economy. In fact, in all of the capitalist countries in Western Europe, in some of them going back more than a century, under democratic socialism the government indeed has a major role to play in the economy and in providing the underpinning for capitalist enterprise.   But the capitalist ruling class has never given up its ownership of the central elements of the means of production. Nor has it turned over its control of the state apparatus to the working class or its representatives.

Otto von Bismarck (without the Prussian Army’s spiked helmet): Already in the late 19th century, a rancid feudalist like Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor, granted health benefits to the working class that Americans can only dream about. He did it because the German workers didn’t beg, they fought.

Under working class pressure in Europe the ruling classes have provided certain benefits to the workers, going as far back as the 1880s. For example, at that time the Prussian Empire instituted what became the first national health insurance program in history. In his speech introducing his program to the Reichstag (Prussian parliament), Chancellor von Bismarck said words to the effect of: “the workers are revolting; we had better give them something.”
“Bernie’ “socialism” focuses primarily on domestic policy and is nothing more nor less than the New Deal on steroids…”

Thus Bernie is certainly not a socialist in the Marxist/Engelsian sense and he makes no claims to be. He is a “social democrat” in the (underlying capitalist) European sense, and also has a strong interest in certain issues of social justice that are peculiarly U.S.
Over time, central and western European governments, especially those subject to major trade union, and at one time Communist and Socialist Party, pressure have taken major roles in such realms as: transportation, environmental protection, infrastructure, social insurance, social supports, regulation of working conditions, national health insurance, and regulation of the finance sector. But that did not make those countries socialist, even though the term “social democratic” has been applied to them. Indeed, the more correct term would be something like “social capitalist” or “national interest capitalist.”
Indeed, for the most part, the social democrats in Western Europe have served the underlying interests of their own capitalist ruling classes ever since Kautsky led the SPD to support war credits for the Kaiser at the beginning of the First World War in 1914. In our own time, Bernie was certainly strongly against the Wars on Viet Nam and Iraq, but other aspects of his current foreign policy positions, whether driven by ideology or political expediency/necessity (depending upon your point of view), are hardly “socialist” in any sense of the word.   Socialists (rather than social democrats) in the United States of course have had a very different history.
But I don’t think that we should judge Bernie on something that he is clearly not and does not claim to be. We can criticize him on a variety of grounds, perhaps most importantly for prompting, inadvertently or not, the myth that achieving his program(s) is something that is actually achievable in the present United Sates with its present ruling class.
Finally, the Sanders candidacy can be of great use to the true Left in the United States. He puts forth a whole set of policies and programs that he could never get through the Congress, even with “Democratic” majorities. Of course through Repub. manipulation of the electoral process and the underlying non-democratic nature of the U.S. federalist government (see the disproportionate make-up of the Senate, originally designed to protect the interests of the slaveholding states for openers) we are hardly likely to see those anytime soon, certainly in the House. In one way or another the U.S. ruling class would make sure of that. But the true Left in the United States could use Bernie’s platform to say to the workers and their allies, “we are going to need something quite different from the present form of state/government if we are ever going to catch up even with the still-capitalist countries of Europe.”   More on these matters anon.
JonasSteve-BOND1 copy 
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. Dr. Jonas’ latest book is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel, Brewster, NY, Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, and available on Amazon .