Saturday, November 7, 2015

The White Remembers Victims of the Holodomor

The following statement was issued today by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Today we join Ukrainians here in America and around the world to remember the catastrophe of the Holodomor, and the millions of innocent Ukrainians who starved to death more than eight decades ago as a result of the brutal policies of Joseph Stalin’s regime. It was the Soviet regime’s deliberate seizure of Ukrainian crops and refusal to provide food relief that turned Europe’s breadbasket into a land of immeasurable human suffering.

Despite decades of totalitarian rule, Ukrainians refused to abandon their drive for freedom and independence.  And as the Ukrainian people face new threats to their territory and well-being, they have once again demonstrated their resolute commitment to human dignity.  Ukraine’s modern struggle for freedom and democracy is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of its people and honors the memory of the many who perished under Stalin’s brutal rule.

It is incumbent upon us to remember the horrors of the past as we renew our commitment to the prevention of future atrocities. Through the tireless efforts of the Ukrainian-American community and friends of the Ukrainian people, a memorial now stands in the heart of our nation’s capital, allowing Americans to share in the somber memory of the Holodomor and reflect upon our shared determination to build a better world.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Weekly Presidential Address: If You Haven’t Gotten Covered, Now’s Your Chance

In this week's address, the President discussed the importance of reducing the number of people without health insurance.

The Thugification of Ben Carson

By Goldie Taylor

How the Republican frontrunner hurt his brand by needlessly exaggerating his toughness.

Ben Carson might well be the “Rick Ross” of presidential politics.

In no small irony, the retired neurosurgeon—much like the chart-topping rapper— is under fire for allegedly misleading the public about parts of his life story. Ross, also known as “Teflon Da Don,” was never the thugged-out, gun-toting, cocaine-slanging street menace that so often shows up in his lyrics. Instead, he was a college-educated corrections officer before he turned to the music industry to make his millions.

Carson’s exaggerations don’t go that far—his tales are far more pedestrian. But in story after story the iconic physician appears to embellish his life growing up in inner city Detroit. He certainly did not need to spin wild tales about his years as a young, gifted black boy raised by a single mother in urban America. That’s a story millions know and can relate to.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Friday, November 6, 2015

White House Press Briefing

West Wing Week: 11/06/2015

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the White House transformed into an Enchanted Forest for Halloween. The President traveled to Newark to discuss criminal justice reform, and he spoke at the Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the First Lady traveled abroad to Qatar to support girls' education.

Understanding the Threat: The Rise of the Lone Wolf

Published on YouTube on Oct 27, 2015

In response to the Charleston church massacre this summer, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has produced a training video to help law enforcement officers combat “lone wolf” domestic terrorists.

Designed to be shown to officers during roll call, Understanding the Threat: The Rise of the Lone Wolf focuses on violent extremists who commit acts of terror entirely on their own, without the help, financing or guidance of other individuals or groups.

Earlier SPLC training videos have focused on “sovereign citizens,” people who believe most laws don’t apply to them; racist skinheads, known for their brutality and affinity for violence; and Aryan prison gangs, which have increasingly spilled from behind bars onto city streets.

Exhibition Honoring WW I Hero Sgt. Henry Johnson to Open Nov. 9

An exhibit posthumously honoring Sgt. Henry Johnson, an Albany resident whose World War I heroism was finally recognized with the award of the Medal of Honor this year, will be opened in the War Room of the State Capital Monday, Nov. 9 by Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York.

Major General Murphy will be joined at the 11 a.m. ceremony by Division of Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse and local officials. 

The Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Sgt. Henry Johnson by President Barack Obama on June 2, 2015. Major General Patrick Murphy will also present New York’s highest military award, The Medal for Valor, posthumously to Johnson. The medal will be received on his behalf by New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major Anthony McLean, the Command Sgt. Major of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, the unit which carries the lineage and honor of the 369th Infantry Regiment, the Harlem Hellfighters, in which Henry Johnson served in 1918.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

President Obama Statement on the Keystone XL Pipeline

President Obama announces he is rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline in a statement in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden join him.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

The President Speaks at the 2015 Tribal Nations Conference

Discussion on the 2016 Presidential Election

The American Enterprise Institute hosts a discussion with political scientists and commentators on the 2016 presidential race.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Garry Kasparov on U.S.-Russia Relations


Garry Kasparov discusses his book, Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, in which he argues the West has mismanaged Vladimir Putin and warns the Russian leader’s actions will become more aggressive.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Washington Journal: Roundtable on October Jobs Numbers

Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica Groshen and Wall Street Journal Economy Reporter Eric Morath discuss the October jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Statement on the Employment Situation in October

 Jason Furman

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in October. 

Note: Click on the graphs to increase their size.

Summary: The economy added 271,000 jobs in October, marking the strongest three years of job creation since 2000.

In October, the economy added jobs at the fastest pace so far this year as the unemployment rate declined to its lowest level since April 2008 and broader labor market indicators improved further. Wage growth picked up in October and wages have grown faster over the past twelve months than any other point in this recovery. Nevertheless, we need to take steps to contribute to further job creation and a faster pace of wage growth. Last week’s bipartisan budget agreement will take an important step toward making long-term investments that will add jobs and boost wages. But there is more work to do to extend these positive trends, including increasing investments in infrastructure, implementing high-standards free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and raising the minimum wage.


1. Today we learned that private-sector employment rose by 268,000 jobs in October. Our businesses have now added 13.5 million jobs over 68 straight months, extending the longest streak on record. The unemployment rate ticked down to 5.0 percent in October—its lowest level since April 2008—with stable labor force participation. Wages continued to rise; average hourly earnings for all private employees have now risen 2.5 percent over the past year, the fastest pace achieved since 2009. Moreover, broader labor market indicators improved as the “underemployment” (U-6) rate declined to its lowest level since May 2008 amid a substantial decline in part-time work for economic reasons. Private employment growth in August and September was also revised up by a total of 56,000 jobs. Overall, our economy has created 8.0 million jobs over the past thirty-six months, the fastest pace since 2000.

2. To keep the unemployment rate stable, the economy needs to add 77,000 jobs per month. As an aging population places downward pressure on the labor force participation rate, the economy needs to generate fewer jobs than in the past to keep the unemployment rate constant. CEA estimates the breakeven rate of employment growth—the rate needed to maintain a constant unemployment rate over the next year given a labor force participation rate in line with demographic trends—at 77,000 payroll jobs per month. (The exact number can vary substantially from month to month depending on measurement discrepancies in the separate surveys used to measurement unemployment and payroll job creation.) This breakeven rate is broadly comparable to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and Goldman Sachs.When the economy adds jobs faster than the breakeven rate, that is consistent with a declining unemployment rate and/or a cyclical rebound in participation. Over the past three years, the economy has added an average of 223,000 jobs per month and the unemployment rate has declined by 2.8 percentage points. There is still more room for the labor market to improve—especially with faster wage growth. But as the unemployment rate gets closer to normalizing, the pace of job growth would be expected to start normalizing as well—consistent with the pattern in past business cycles.

3.  Long-term unemployment has fallen rapidly over the past year but remains somewhat above its pre-recession average.The overall unemployment rate has declined 0.7 percentage point since last October, and about 70 percent of this decline is due to falling long-term unemployment. This is a disproportionately large share given that about one quarter of the jobless are long-term unemployed. After rising to an all-time high of 4.4 percent in April 2010, the long-term unemployment rate has been cut by more than two thirds to 1.4 percent in October,an important sign of the progress that is being made. Nevertheless, because the long-term unemployment rate more than quadrupled as a result of the recession, the declines seen recently are not yet sufficient to return long-term unemployment to pre-recession levels. Indeed, the return of the overall unemployment rate to pre-recession levels reflects the offsetting effects of higher long-term unemployment and lower short-term unemployment.

4. Broader indicators such as long-term unemployment and the number of workers employed part-time for economic reasons have grown increasingly sensitive to business cycles over recent decades. In the Great Recession, 56 percent of the increase in unemployment was in the form of long-term unemployment. Part-time work for economic reasons increased by 62 percent of the increase in the overall unemployment rate, indicating a broad deterioration in the labor market above and beyond what was captured by the headline unemployment rate. The cyclical response of each of these indicators in this recession has become larger for a given percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate over recent decades. There has been substantial recovery in these broader labor market measures, but the outsized deterioration in the Great Recession is still not fully healed.

5. The distribution of job growth across industries in October generally followed recent trends, with this month’s faster growth most apparent in services industries while manufacturing continued to face global headwinds. Above-average gains relative to the past year were seen in industries such as retail trade (+44,000) and construction (+31,000). At the same time, manufacturing employment—which is facing headwinds from global growth affecting exports—was flat. Mining and logging employment, which includes oil extraction, continued to decline (-4,000) as low oil prices have slowed investment. Across the 17 industries shown below, the correlation between the most recent one-month percent change and the average percent change over the last twelve months declined to 0.73 from a peak of 0.96 last month, remaining in line with the average correlation over the past two years.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data as they become available.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

The following statement was submitted to From The G-Man on November 5.

Today, President Obama signed into law H.R. 774, the “Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act.”  This bi-partisan legislation will advance U.S. efforts to prevent illegally harvested fish from entering our ports and market and achieve sustainable fisheries globally. It will also help address key priorities in the Administration’s action plan for combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud. The United States will now join a global effort to ratify and implement the Port State Measures Agreement, which will prevent vessels carrying fish caught illegally from entering our ports, keep illegal product out of the market and demonstrate our continued leadership in the global fight against IUU fishing. Twenty five countries are needed for the treaty to enter into force. We are more than halfway there and the U.S. will continue to work closely with our partners around the world to finalize this important treaty. These measures will benefit U.S. fishermen, seafood buyers, and consumers by protecting our domestic fishermen from unfair, illegal competition and ensure consumer confidence in the seafood supply. The signing of this bill will also enhance our ability to prevent IUU fish and fish product from entering U.S. commerce by strengthening domestic enforcement authorities. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to secure the necessary enforcement authorities to prevent illegally harvested or falsely labeled fish from being sold in the United States, and to level the playing field for the U.S. fishing industry.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'Flashback Friday': Hillary Clinton Lost the Nomination, Tim Russert Explains

Uploaded to YouTube on May 7, 2008
Senator Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. Tim Russert from Meet the Press, shows us that Clinton will not be able to catch Obama even with Florida and Michigan counted.

Trailblazers in Black History: Ronald Duncan, 'Father of American Ninjitsu'

Ronald Duncan (June 4, 1937 – November 19, 2012) was considered a martial arts pioneer and master, specifically of Shinobino-jitsu or Koga-ryu ninjitsu. Duncan was additionally one of the first Blacks to teach martial arts in America. He is considered by some to be the father of American ninjitsu.  

Uploaded to YouTube on February 6, 2012

More information on Mr. Duncan's extraordinary accomplishments and life is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Today in History: November 6th

'From The G-Man' Calls Out Tyshawn Lee's Killer

Chicagoans Reacts to Shooting Death of 9-Year-Old Boy

Police believe Tyshawn Lee was targeted and lured to the location where he was fatally shot.

Ben Carson's Past Under Fire

The GOP presidential front-runner is under new scrutiny about whether the stories about his violent childhood are true.

Espionage Charges for Asian-American Scientists Prompt Calls for Investigation

More than 40 members of Congress, including Reps. Ted Lieu, Judy Chu, and Keith Ellison, are calling on the U.S. Attorney General to investigate whether race or ethnicity played a role in the accusations of espionage faced by two Chinese-American scientists.

Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi were both accused in separate instances of obtaining and sharing sensitive information with China. Chen was accused last October, and the charges against her were dropped in March. The charges against Xi, who pleaded not guilty in June, were dropped in September. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Exxon Mobil Subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Over Climate

The New York attorney general has launched an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil Corp misled the public about the risks of climate change or its investors about how those risks may hurt the company's oil business.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the company on Wednesday evening, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents, the attorney general's spokesman Stephen Barton told Reuters. 

Click here for the full article and related video.

Source: NBC News

Budget Deal Gives Debt Collectors Authority to 'Robocall' Cellphones

Tired of those annoying robocalls from Rachel at Card Services?

Thanks to a tiny amendment in last week's budget bill, you may soon be getting a lot more of them on your cellphone from debt collectors — especially if you owe money on a student loan, mortgage or any other debt backed by the federal government.

And, based on a analysis of over 50,000 consumer complaints related to debt collection, your cellphone may be targeted even if you don't owe anyone a dime. 

Click here for the full article and related video.

Source: NBC News

Fallout from George H. W. Bush's New Book Builds

Pilot Pulled from Water off Queens Was Former Navy Captain

After Iran Feud, Obama and Netanyahu Turn to Israel’s Aid Wish List

Reuters, 06/11 15:06 CET

By Jeffrey Heller and Matt Spetalnick

JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Rare agreement between two long-bickering leaders may actually be in the cards when Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama meet on Monday for the first time since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal.

Their White House talks will be an important step towards a new U.S. military aid package that could burnish the right-wing prime minister’s security credentials, now challenged by a wave of Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks.

The meeting, the first between the two leaders in 13 months, could also underpin Obama’s assurances that he has Israel’s back and help deflect accusations from Republican presidential hopefuls that he and any Democrat successor are less pro-Israel.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Cholera Spreads from Iraq to Syria, Kuwait, Bahrain

A cholera outbreak in Iraq has spread to neighbouring Syria, Kuwait and Bahrain, and risks turning into a region-wide epidemic as millions of pilgrims prepare to visit the country, UNICEF’s Iraq director said.

The disease, which can lead to death by dehydration and kidney failure within hours if left untreated, was detected west of Baghdad in September and has since infected at least 2,200 people in Iraq and has killed six.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Sinai Crash: World Powers Disagree Over Whether Bomb Attack Was Likely Cause

Source: Euronews

Sharm al-Sheikh Rescue Flights ‘Limited by Airport Capacity’ says Egypt

Egypt says it is not blocking planes sent to rescue stranded tourists from Sharm al-Sheikh. The country’s civil aviation ministry said the number of flights was limited by airport capacity.

Airline easyJet earlier said Egyptian authorities had suspended UK airlines from flying into the Egyptian resort.

Click here for summary and video.

Source: Euronews

Campaigning Ends Ahead of Historic Parliamentary Elections in Myanmar

By Sarah Joanne Taylor | With REUTERS

Campaigning has ended ahead of Myanmar’s historic election. With the exception of some early voters, most people have two days of reflection ahead of Sunday’s ballot (November 8).

These are the country’s first openly-contested parliamentary elections in 25 years, after five decades of military dictatorship. They are being closely monitored by European Election observers.

Some 30 million of the 51 million population are registered to vote. No opinion polls are available, but Nobel laureate and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi, is very popular.

Click here for the full article and video.
Source: Euronews

Turkey: PKK Announces End of Ceasefire

Source: Euronews

Haiti: At Least 1 Person Killed in Post-Election Violence in Capital

Source: Euronews

'Blow Your Whistle!' (Brussels Protestors Defend Whisteblowers and Press Freedom)


One year after the Lux leaks scandal, what about the protection of whistleblowers? That is the question protesters asked on November 5 in Brussels.

With Antoine Deltour, former PriceWaterhousecoopers employee and French journalist Edouard Perrin facing hefty fines and prison sentences for their role in Lux leaks, NGOS like Oxfam and Eurodad are concerned. In what became known as the Lux Leaks, Deltour brought almost 26,000 pages of documents to light that showed how authorities in Luxembourg made secretive tax rulings with a number of big companies. Edouard Perrin – who received the information – is charged by Luxembourg for his alleged role in the second set of leaks. NGOs believe this is a direct threat against press freedom. 

Click here for the summary and video. 

Source: Euronews

Thursday, November 5, 2015

House Speaker Paul Ryan Weekly Briefing

Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan holds his first weekly news conference on Capitol Hill. Topics include the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, highway funding, and criminal justice reform.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Weekly Briefing

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill on the congressional agenda, including the appropriations process, governance of the House, and her relationship with newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

National Security Council Notes: Rice Meets with Yossi Cohen

The following statement was issued by Ned Price, National Security Council spokesperson. 

National Security Advisor Susan Rice met today with Israeli National Security Advisor Yossi Cohen at the White House in advance of President Obama’s meeting next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Ambassador Rice expressed her condolences over the deaths and injuries of Israelis in recent terrorist attacks, and reiterated the United States’ deep and enduring commitment to Israel’s security. The two discussed the range of threats that Israel faces, and the ways that the United States can continue to help ensure Israel’s ability to defend itself.  The two also previewed the President and the Prime Minister’s discussions on the region, Israel’s security, and steps to de-escalate current Israeli-Palestinian tensions and meaningfully advance the goal of a two-state solution.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

The Obama Nominees, November 5, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: 

Karen Brevard Stewart – Ambassador to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Department of State

Karen Brevard Stewart, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minster-Counselor, serves as Political Advisor to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, a position she has held since 2013.  Prior to that, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 2010 to 2013 and in the Department of State as Special Advisor to the Director General in the Bureau of Human Resources from 2009 to 2010.  Ms. Stewart also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2008 to 2009.  She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus from 2006 to 2008, and as Director of the Office of Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus Affairs from 2005 to 2006.  Before that, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, Belarus from 2002 to 2004 and at the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos from 1999 to 2001.  Her earlier assignments with the Department of State include postings in Pakistan, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.  Ms. Stewart received a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M.S. from the National War College.

Robert Riley – Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, Department of State  

Robert Riley, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, serves as Management Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, a position he has held since 2013.  Previously, he served as Management Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines from 2009 to 2013, at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam from 2007 to 2009, and at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan from 2006 to 2007.  Before that, Mr. Riley served as Senior Financial Management Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2005 to 2006 and at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France from 2002 to 2005.  His earlier assignments with the Department of State include postings in Spain, Cote d’Ivoire, and Malawi.  Mr. Riley earned a B.A. from Yale University.

President Obama also announced his intent to appoint the following individual to a key Administration post:

Jaime Castillo – Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development 

Jaime Castillo is Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a position he has held since July 2015.  Mr. Castillo has served as Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Secretary at HUD since July 2014.  Prior to this, he served as Chief of Staff in the Office of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro from 2013 to 2014.  From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Castillo served as Communications Director and Senior Policy Analyst for Mayor Castro.  From 2000 to 2009, he held various positions for the San Antonio Express-News, including Metro Columnist, Political Editor, and Senior Reporter.  He was Assistant City Editor at the El Paso Times from 1999 to 2000.  Prior to that, Mr. Castillo was the Capitol Bureau Reporter and Political Writer for the San Antonio Express-News from 1996 to 1999.  Mr. Castillo received a B.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso and an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

President Obama said, “I am confident that these experienced and hardworking individuals will help us tackle the important challenges facing America, and I am grateful for their service.  I look forward to working with them.”
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama Nominates Vik Edwin Stoll to the United States Tax Court

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Vik Edwin Stoll as a Judge to the United States Tax Court. 

“Vik has demonstrated unwavering integrity and dedication throughout his career,” said President Obama.  “I am proud to nominate him to serve on the United States Tax Court.”

Vik Edwin Stoll is the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Collections for Jackson County, Missouri, positions he has held since 2012 and 2014, respectively.  Mr. Stoll also served previously as Jackson County’s Director of Collections from 2009 to 2012.  From 1998 to 2009, Mr. Stoll was a Partner at Morrison & Hecker LLP, later known as Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, and he was a member of Hillix, Brewer, Hoffhaus, Whittaker & Wright LLC from 1990 to 1998.  He served at Morris & King P.C. as Shareholder and Director from 1984 to 1990 and as an Associate from 1979 to 1984.  Mr. Stoll received a B.S. and J.D. from the University of Missouri.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'Veep Talk': Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Vice President Joe Biden spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about implementation of the Minsk agreements, economic reforms, and anti-corruption initiatives.  The Vice President congratulated President Poroshenko on the conduct of Ukraine's local elections, which represent another milestone in the country's democratic development.  The two leaders also discussed the implementation of the Minsk agreements, and agreed that Russia and the separatists had to immediately fulfil President Putin's pledge from the October 2 Normandy leaders' meeting in Paris to grant full OSCE access to the entire territory of the Donbas.  Regarding economic reforms, the Vice President reiterated the U.S. willingness to provide a third $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine contingent on continued Ukrainian progress to investigate and prosecute corruption and ensure that Ukraine's tax reform is consistent with its IMF program.

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

Governor Cuomo Opens Trade and Tourism Office in Puerto Rico

November 5, 2015 , San Juan, PR - Governor Cuomo's remarks at the grand opening of the New York State Office of Trade and Tourism in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Problem with Puerto Rico is its Status

By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
District 32 Bronx County, New York  

You should know that my beautiful Island of Puerto Rico, where I was born and grew up, is going through a very difficult financial crisis with a historic deficit of $72 billion dollars.

You should also know that this week, on Thursday November 5th, there will be a huge March in Puerto Rico demanding for the United States of America’s Government headed by President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to help solve Puerto Rico’s problem.

Almost every elected official from New York, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr., State Assemblymen Marcos Crespo and Luis Sepulveda, and many, many others - Black, Hispanic and White legislators - who have traveled to Puerto Rico to join Puerto Rico's Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla in this March.

It is important for you to know that there are some who say that because Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States, that the problems of Puerto Rico will only be solved one out of two ways:  (1) The Federal Government issues financial help – which they have refused to do; OR (2) Puerto Rico declares itself bankrupt.

The problem with the second point is that because Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States, it is not allowed to declare bankruptcy and receive bankruptcy protection as 50 states and their municipalities are all allowed to do.

As you can see, this puts Puerto Rico in a huge predicament: the Federal Government refuses to help financially, and the Federal Government refuses to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy.  What else is there for Puerto Rico to do?

You should already know that as a colony, the Federal Government can dictate and impose all United States Federal Laws on the island and the people who live in Puerto Rico, and all are obliged to comply with those laws.

The United States Federal Government can take the Puerto Rican youth – men and women – and send them to fight in wars and shed their blood for the United States of America. The United States Federal Government can take the best piece of land in Puerto Rico. The biggest US defense satellite - to protect the United States of America, is located in the town of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.  And Puerto Rico is a very strategic place for the defense of the United States.

I, for one, believe that the problems of Puerto Rico will not be solved by the November 5th March, regardless of the well intentions and good will of the organizers and the participants which we Puerto Ricans will be forever indebted.  But the March will only put a bandage, if anything, on this big problem facing Puerto Rico.

I appreciate and feel in debt to all of the elected officials who will travel to Puerto Rico and defend my beloved island.  As a veteran who loves this United States of America to death, I believe that the only way to solve the fiscal problems of Puerto Rico, and many others, will be for Puerto Rico to become the 51st State of the United States.  This way, the problem will be solved forever.

If Puerto Rico becomes a State, it will have the opportunity to elect 7 Members to the US House of Representatives and 2 United States Senators who will have the opportunity to represent them and fight for the State of Puerto Rico, as every other Member of Congress does the United States does for their State.

You should know that the NY elected officials who travel to Puerto Rico will join Puerto Rico's Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla and more than 50,000  people who are expected during this day, but I am afraid that they will have to keep traveling back and forth to Puerto Rico and to keep marching as long as Puerto Rico continues to be a colony of the United States of America. This is because as long as Puerto Rico remains a colony, Puerto Ricans will continue to be denied all of the benefits and opportunities that everyone in the other States have.

While those 50 other states of the nation have their representatives to fight for them, Puerto Rico is at their mercy because it doesn't have anyone with a vote on the Floor of Congress.

So, ladies and gentlemen, therefore the problem of Puerto Rico will not be solved with this Youth March because the problem with Puerto Rico is its status of colony.

I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.