Saturday, February 27, 2016

Clinton Thunders to Big Win in South Carolina

Hillary Clinton won a landslide victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary Saturday, giving the Democratic frontrunner a decisive boost of momentum heading into the Super Tuesday contests in just three days.

Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by double digits, dominating the minority vote in the diverse southern state and showcasing a broad coalition that's expected to deliver another series of victories for her when Democrats in 11 more states head to the polls on Tuesday. 

Weekly Address: Degrading and Destroying ISIL

White House Champions of Change: Summer Opportunity

On Friday, February 26, the White House recognized nine individuals from across the country who are dedicating their time, talent, and resources to strengthen and expand summer learning, meals, and jobs opportunities for young people.

February 24, 2016 - The White House highlights HBCU alumni who are doing exceptional work in diverse fields including entertainment, fashion, business, and technology, in South Court Auditorium.

The President Speaks on the Progress in Our Efforts to Degrade and Destroy ISIL

Introducing Open eBooks

Open eBooks is now live and ready to open a world of knowledge to students. It offers unprecedented access to quality digital content, including a catalog of thousands of eBooks valued at more than $250 million. You can download the app today.

The First Lady Hosts Student Workshop on Musical Legacy of Ray Charles

The First Lady welcomed more than 130 middle school, high school, and college students from across the country for "The Musical Legacy of Ray Charles: Student Workshop" at the White House on February 24, 2016. She was joined by Robert "Bob" Santelli, Executive Director of The GRAMMY Museum, Yolanda Adams, Leon Bridges, Andra Day, Demi Lovato and Jussie Smollett. The workshop was held in advance of "Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House."

Friday, February 26, 2016

President Obama Remarks on Jobs and the Economy

President Obama delivers remarks in Jacksonville, Florida on jobs and the economy following a tour of Saft, a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Statement on the Second Estimate of GDP for the Fourth Quarter of 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Jay Shambaugh, Member of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the second estimate of GDP for the fourth quarter of 2015. 

Fourth-quarter economic growth was revised up and domestic demand continued to grow. Overall, the most stable and persistent components of output—consumption and fixed investment—rose a solid 2.7 percent over the four quarters of 2015. Weaker foreign growth continued to weigh on domestic output in the fourth quarter, underscoring the importance of policies that open our exports to new markets while promoting strong domestic demand. There is more work to do, and the President is committed to policies that will boost our long-run growth, including high-standards free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and raising the minimum wage.
You can view the full statement HERE.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

New Videos Aim to Educate and Inform New Yorkers About Addiction Treatment Services

A new video series has been launched to educate New Yorkers on the types of addiction treatment services available across the state, and assisting individuals and families with accessing care. The ten new videos are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to provide New Yorkers with the tools they need to navigate the substance use disorder system of care.

“Addiction impacts more than one million New Yorkers across the state, and connecting individuals with the care and support they need during these times and getting them help is critically important,” Governor Cuomo said. “These new videos will direct substance users on a path to recovery and work to create a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

The videos feature addiction treatment professionals, insurance experts, parents of young people who were treated for a substance use disorder, and NYS OASAS staff. Topics discussed include: how to get help for a family member or loved one in need, explanations of the different levels of addiction treatment, understanding your insurance coverage, and how to recognize the signs of addiction and the need for treatment.

“These new videos will help individuals and families know where to start when they need to get help,” said NYS OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “These videos offer easy-to-understand information so New Yorkers can better connect with the resources they, or a loved one, may need. Recovery is possible and these resources will help more New Yorkers take that first step to get treatment and set their sights on the reality of recovery.” 

The video series was developed by the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Insurance Workgroup which was formed as part of Governor Cuomo’s historic legislation in 2014. The workgroup members include addiction treatment providers, insurance companies, and parents who have experienced the addiction treatment system while guiding their loved one through obtaining care.

New Yorkers can also find available addiction treatment beds by searching the OASAS Bed Availability Dashboard, another recently released web-based application that shows treatment availability at OASAS-certified substance use disorder treatment providers in real-time.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the State’s HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369). New Yorkers can also find an OASAS-certified substance use disorder treatment provider by visiting the NYS OASAS Find Help web page. Visit for more information on addressing heroin and prescription opioid abuse, including a Kitchen Table Tool Kit to help start the conversation about the warning signs of addiction and where to get help. For additional tools to use in talking to a young person about preventing underage drinking or drug use, visit the State’s Talk2Prevent addiction website. 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

'Flashback Friday': The 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Center

Trailblazers in Black History: Reginald F. Lewis

Today in History: February 26th

Chris Christie Endorses Donald Trump for President

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered up the latest twist of the Republican presidential primary when he endorsed Donald Trump on Friday, saying the GOP frontrunner is "rewriting the playbook of American politics."

The backing from his vanquished primary opponent came the day after Trump found himself under fierce attack from Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in the final debate before next week's critical Super Tuesday nominating contests. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Marco Rubio Got Tough but State Wins on Super Tuesday Must Follow

HOUSTON - The tough swings that Marco Rubio took at Donald Trump put him in better position for Super Tuesday, but they may not be enough for him to displace the frontrunner just yet.

Several Hispanic Republicans who have been turned off by the immigration rhetoric and positions of Trump and Ted Cruz have backed Rubio as the best chance of a GOP candidate to capture enough of the Latino vote to win in November, despite his own tough views on immigration.

Going into the CNN/Telemundo debate Thursday night, Cruz and Rubio were under pressure to more aggressively take on Trump or watch him walk away with the nomination on Super Tuesday. 

Click here for the full article.

Microsoft, Google, Twitter Plan to File in Support of Apple

America's biggest tech names will rally to Apple's side in the high-profile court case that would compel the company to help access an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino massacre shooters.

Microsoft, Google and Twitter all have plans to file in court in support of Apple's position not to comply with the court order issued on Feb. 16. It was not immediately clear whether the companies would file a joint amicus brief or whether some would file individually. 

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said that the company would file an amicus brief in support of Apple next week in the California case. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 

FBI Director: iPhone Case Could Set Troubling Tone for Activists

FBI Director James Comey acknowledged Thursday that forcing Apple to give the federal government access to one of the San Bernardino attacker's phones would set a legal precedent that privacy activists might find troubling.

"This is the hardest problem I've seen in government," Comey told the House Appropriations Committee. 

But, Comey added, they owe it to the victims to find out what happened during the "missing 19 minutes" between when the radicalized Islamic couple killed 14 people in a government building in December and when the couple was killed by cops. 

Click here for the full article.

U.S. to Boost South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Moves, Admiral Says

 Click on the image to increase its size.

Reuters, 26/02 19:22 CET

By Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – (This February 24, 2016 story was refiled to remove the reference to the Navy in the second paragraph to make clear Pacific Command is not a Navy component).

The United States, which is worried by China’s military buildup to assert dominance in the South China Sea, will increase freedom-of-navigation operations there, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

“We will be doing them more, and we’ll be doing them with greater complexity in the future and … we’ll fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, told a hearing of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

“We must continue to operate in the South China Sea to demonstrate that water space and the air above it is international,” Harris said.

On Tuesday, Harris said in comments coinciding with a visit to Washington by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that China was “changing the operational landscape” in the South China Sea by deploying missiles and radar as part of an effort to militarily dominate East Asia. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

New Fighting Ahead of Planned Syria Ceasefire

Source: Euronews

Zuma Condemns Unrest at South African Universities

Source: Euronews

Local ISIL Chief Captured in Libyan City of Sabratha

Source: Euronews

Lesbos: Humanity in the Midst of a Tragedy

Source: Euronews

Turkey: Freed Journalists’ Rallying Call for Press Freedom

By Sarah Chappell

Source: Euronews

EU Parliament Urges Saudi Arms Embargo

Source: Euronews

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Obama Nominations: Judge Lucy Haeran Koh, Justice Donald W. Beatty and Donald C. Coggins, Jr.

Today, President Obama nominated Judge Lucy Haeran Koh to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Judge Lucy Haeran Koh has distinguished herself as a first-rate jurist with unflagging integrity and evenhandedness," President Obama said. "I am grateful for her service to the state of California and look forward to adding her considerable wisdom and experience to the Ninth Circuit Court."

Judge Lucy Haeran Koh has served as a United States District Judge for the Northern District of California since 2010 and previously served as a California Superior Court Judge for Santa Clara County from 2008 to 2010.

Judge Koh was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Columbia, Maryland, Lorman and Vicksburg, Mississippi and Norman, Oklahoma.  She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1990, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1993.  Judge Koh began her legal career as a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee from 1993 to 1994.  Following her fellowship, she worked for the United States Department of Justice, serving first as Special Counsel in the Office of Legislative Affairs, from 1994 to 1996, and then as Special Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General, from 1996 to 1997.  From 1997 to 2000, Judge Koh served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.  There, she was awarded, among several recognitions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis J. Freeh Award for Demonstrated Excellence in Prosecuting a Major Criminal Case.  From 2000 to 2002, she worked as a senior associate in the Palo Alto, California office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.  From 2002 to 2008, she worked as a partner in the Palo Alto, California office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, specializing in patent, trade secret, and commercial civil litigation.  In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the California Superior Court for Santa Clara County, where she served until she was appointed to the federal bench in 2010.

Judge Koh has served on a number of bar and professional organizations throughout her legal career, including the American Law Institute, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley.

In addition, President Obama today nominated Donald W. Beatty and Donald C. Coggins, Jr. to serve on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

“I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench,” President Obama said.  “They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court.”

Justice Donald W. Beatty has served as an Associate Justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court since 2007.  He served as an Associate Judge on the South Carolina Court of Appeals from 2003 to 2007 and as a Circuit Court Judge on the South Carolina Seventh Judicial Circuit from 1995 to 2003.  Prior to his judicial service, from 1991 to 1995, Justice Beatty was elected to serve as a Member of the House of Representatives in the South Carolina General Assembly.  From 1981 to 1995, he worked as a solo practitioner, with the exception of a two-year period from 1989 to 1990, during which he was a partner at the law firm of Beatty, Vick and Tullis in Spartanburg, South Carolina (no longer operational).  Also during this time, he served as a council member for the Spartanburg City Council from 1988 to 1991.  Justice Beatty began his legal career working as an associate for the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Program in Conway, South Carolina (no longer operational) from 1979 to 1981.  He received his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1979 and his B.A. cum laude from South Carolina State University in 1974.

Donald C. Coggins, Jr. has been a shareholder at the law firm of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C. (formerly Harrison, White, Smith, Hayes & Coggins, P.C.) in Spartanburg, South Carolina since 2000, where his practice focuses on civil litigation.  For three years, from 2010 to 2013, he was the firm’s managing shareholder.  Coggins also serves as a member of the South Carolina Commission on Lawyer Conduct, a position to which he was appointed in 2003.  Previously, from 1986 to 2000, Coggins was a partner at two Spartanburg, South Carolina law firms:  Smith and Coggins from 1993 to 2000 and Cummings, Smith and Coggins from 1986 to 1993 (both no longer operational).  He began his legal career working as an associate at Cummings and Smith from 1984 to 1986, before being elevated to partner.  Coggins received his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1984 and his B.A. from Clemson University in 1981. 

Source: The Office of the Press Secretary

White House Daily Briefing

Josh Earnest responded to questions from reporters on a variety of subjects.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

National Security Hearing on World Wide Threats

CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart testify on world wide threats. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span 

House Speaker Weekly Briefing

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) briefed reporters and responded to questions on his party’s legislative agenda. Topics included the fiscal year 2017 budget and the potential for Republicans gaining control over all three branches of government. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) briefed reporters on her party’s legislative agenda. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Trump Can Still Be Beaten - Here's How

By Stuart Stevens

The Republican frontrunner is anything but unstoppable—assuming one of the other candidates decides to finally knock him out.

I’ve worked in a lot of campaigns and been fortunate enough to be on the winning side far more than losing.  Every race is unique but from Florida governor’s races to the first elections in the Congo, there has been one constant: you could be ten points ahead or twenty behind, but there will always be a group of critics who are convinced they could do it better.

So it’s with apologies I offer up suggestions on how the non-Trump campaigns should take on Donald Trump and win. But the reality is that Trump is on a winning streak and if the dynamic continues, Trump will win the Republican nomination. That’s more than just a political disaster for Republicans; it’s a moral failure and a danger to the country.  In all likelihood either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will crush Trump but strange things happen in politics and life. If nothing else, Clinton is under three separate federal investigations and, well, she’s just an awful candidate. She could lose to anyone….even Donald Trump. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Biden Leads U.S. Delegation for Third Meeting with the High-Level Economic Dialogue

Today, Vice President Biden led the U.S. delegation for the third meeting of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) in Mexico City.  Since 2013, the HLED has served as the premier economic forum for the United States and Mexico to advance bilateral and multilateral economic priorities, foster entrepreneurship, create jobs, strengthen competitiveness, and drive growth and innovation.  Co-chaired for the United States by the Departments of Commerce and State and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and for Mexico by the Ministries of Economy, Finance, and Foreign Relations, the HLED meets annually at the Cabinet level and throughout the year at the sub-Cabinet level.

At today’s meeting, both sides underscored the significant achievements reached throughout the past year within the six priority areas:  modern borders, energy, workforce development, regulatory cooperation, regional and global leadership, and stakeholder engagement.   Both sides recognized the need to build on the previous year’s momentum in 2016 and ensure the sustainability of the HLED.  Recognizing potential opportunities to increase coordination and harmonization, the United States and Mexico agreed to integrate activities on sustainability and telecommunications into the HLED discussions, as well as to develop a mechanism for binational border infrastructure prioritization.

On the U.S. side, the Vice President was joined today by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, as well as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Under Secretary of State Catherine Novelli, and other senior representatives from Departments of State, Transportation, Treasury, and Agriculture and the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  On the Mexican side, representatives included Minister-level participation by the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Relations, Economy, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, Communications and Transport, Agriculture, Labor, and Tourism, together with the Office of the President, the investment promotion agency ProMexico, the National Institute for Entrepreneurship, and others. 

From the beginning, the HLED has benefitted from the input of an active stakeholder community in guiding the two governments.   Prior to start of the government-to-government HLED meeting, the Vice President joined a roundtable with representatives from the U.S. and Mexican private sector, think tanks, and civil society organizations to hear their views and recommendations for the HLED.  The Vice President commended the stakeholders for their contributions to making the U.S.-Mexico relationship one of the most consequential in the world and encouraged the community to maintain active dialogue with the two governments. 

Source: The Office of the Vice President

National Security Council Notes: Susan Rice Meets with Wang Yi of China

On February 24, National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the White House. Ambassador Rice and Foreign Minister Wang affirmed their commitment to expanding practical bilateral cooperation while also addressing and, where possible, narrowing differences.  

They highlighted important areas of ongoing bilateral cooperation, including on climate change and implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.  

They also agreed on the importance of a strong and united international response to North Korea’s provocations, including through a UN Security Council Resolution that goes beyond previous resolutions.

They agreed that they will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.  Ambassador Rice and Foreign Minister Wang candidly discussed maritime issues, with Ambassador Rice urging China to take concrete steps to address U.S. and regional concerns.  She emphasized strong U.S. support for upholding the principles of respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce, freedom of navigation and overflight, and peaceful resolution of disputes. 

Ambassador Rice also raised U.S. concerns about human rights developments in China.
President Obama joined the meeting to underscore his interest in building a durable, constructive, and productive U.S.-China relationship.  He expressed the importance of the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, on March 31-April 1, 2016.  He noted he looked forward to welcoming President Xi and China’s delegation to the Summit and to working together towards its success. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, the President signed into law:

H.R. 644, the “Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015,” which reauthorizes and amends existing authorities as well as establishes new authorities related to various trade facilitation, trade enforcement, and trade policy matters; and

H.R. 1428, the “Judicial Redress Act of 2015,” which allows the citizens of certain foreign countries to bring forth civil actions against Federal agencies for violations of the Privacy Act of 1974 related to the unlawful disclosure of records. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Politics in Action: H.R. 2406

H.R. 2406 – Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act
(Rep. Wittman, R-VA, and 37 cosponsors)

While the Administration strongly supports the goal of promoting recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting opportunities, and recognizes the economic and community benefits associated with hunting and fishing, it strongly opposes H.R. 2406 in its current form.  These important recreational opportunities abound on public lands are valued by millions of Americans who hunt and fish on public lands, forests, parks, and refuges.  Accordingly, the Administration supports certain titles of H.R. 2406 that protect and further those opportunities, but opposes others which include harmful provisions that impair Federal management of federally-owned lands and undermine important existing public land and environmental laws, rules, and processes.

The Administration supports Title II, which would amend funding requirements under current law for target range construction and maintenance, thus reducing the financial burden on State and local governments for public target ranges.  The Administration also supports reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, but has concerns about the use of funds from the Federal Land Disposal Account included in Title IX.  While the Administration also supports Title XII, which would extend an important provision in the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), this authority has already been extended through 2026 in P.L. 114-113, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2016.

However, the Administration strongly opposes Title VI, which would:  (1) exclude management decisions from the National Environmental Policy Act, the cornerstone law guiding environmental protection and public involvement in Federal actions; (2) supersede longstanding statutory planning discretion; and (3) undermine the Wilderness Act of 1964.  The Administration also strongly opposes the following:  (1) Title I, which could prevent the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service from limiting the use of lead shot or tackle where it is threatening populations of native migratory birds and other wildlife, including on national wildlife refuges; (2) Title IV, which would prohibit the Secretary of the Army from promulgating or enforcing any regulations that would prohibit the possession of firearms at water resources development projects with limited exceptions; (3) Title VII, which would create confusion regarding the enforcement of laws on baiting of migratory birds; (4) Title X, which would interfere with the Administration's ongoing efforts to combat poaching and trafficked ivory; (5) Title XIV, which would restrict the ability of the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to regulate certain recreational or commercial fishing access to certain waters; (6) Title XV, which would potentially create public safety issues by restricting the ability of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forest Service Chief to regulate certain hunting and fishing activities within the National Forest System; and (7) Title XVI, which would disrupt an ongoing planning effort for managing bison at Grand Canyon National Park and may cause confusion about the National Park Service's existing authorities to manage wildlife populations. 

Furthermore, the Administration objects to Title VIII, which would prohibit the Director of the National Park Service from promulgating or enforcing any regulation that prohibits an individual from transporting certain inoperable bows and crossbows across any unit of the National Park System.  Finally, the Administration has concerns with:  (1) Title V, which would abolish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and replace it with a council that is exempt from the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and the framework and transparency that FACA ensures; and (2) Title XIII, which rescinds authority to manage certain commercial filming activities on Federal lands and waterways managed by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture.

The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with the Congress to enact sportsmen and recreation legislation that addresses the concerns raised with certain provisions of H.R. 2406. 

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

Rev. Al Sharpton to Lead Rally Before Oscars, Will Call for Nationwide TV Tune-Out

On Sunday February 28, Rev. Al Sharpton will preach at two historic Los Angeles churches and then lead a rally and demonstration near Dolby Theater.

Similar rallies with National Action Network members across the country will call for greater diversity and real change in the film industry.

The demonstrations are responding to the failure of the Academy Awards to recognize actors of color in the leading categories for the second straight year. 

Rev. Sharpton Sunday Morning Schedule:

8:00am            Second Baptist Church                                                               
2412 Griffith Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90011

10:00am          First AME Church
                        2270 S. Harvard Blvd
                        Los Angeles, CA 90018

Los Angeles Rally and Demonstration Information:

Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network
Members of the Hollywood community
Members of the Los Angeles Chapter of National Action Network

Sunday, February 28, 2016
2:00 p.m. PST/ 5:00 p.m. EST

Highland and Sunset Blvd.
In Front of Hollywood High School
1521 Highland Ave,
Hollywood, CA 90028

Rallies will be taking place across the country in the following locations at 5pm EST

New York
7 Lincoln Square
New York, NY 10023

Washington, D.C.
1100 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22209

2077 W. Ten Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

1601 W. Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30309

3001 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115 

Source: The National Action Network