Friday, April 1, 2016

President Obama Remarks at National Security Summit

 
President Obama delivered remarks at the at the opening session of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit. He talked about international efforts to secure nuclear material. He also discussed efforts by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS to acquire nuclear materials in order to produce nuclear devices, such as so-called “dirty bombs.” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who hosted the previous summit in 2014, also spoke.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

President Obama Meeting on the Iran Nuclear Agreement

 
President Obama speaks ahead of a meeting with delegates from the P5+1 Iran nuclear negotiations about implementation of the agreement. This is part of the Nuclear Security Summit held at the Washington Convention Center. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

President Obama Meets with President Xi Jinping of China

 
The President met yesterday with Chinese President Xi Jinping.  The two leaders committed to continue narrowing differences and expanding practical cooperation on regional and global challenges.  Both leaders agreed to sign the Paris climate agreement on April 22, to join the agreement as soon as possible this year, and to work together and with other parties to bring the Paris Agreement into force as early as possible.  The leaders also agreed to galvanize global action to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol and to work to secure an accord on a global market-based measure for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation.

The President commended our strengthening bilateral cooperation on nuclear security issues, including the establishment of China’s nuclear security Center of Excellence and its commitment to reactor conversions.  Both leaders committed to advance cooperation on development and public health initiatives, and to strengthen coordination in addressing the shared threat presented by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile systems.  Both leaders affirmed their commitment to achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2270.

The President reiterated America’s unwavering support for upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms in China.  On cyber issues, both leaders reaffirmed the cyber commitments announced during President Xi's September 2015 State Visit and agreed to ensure their full implementation.  The President reiterated that we will continue to monitor whether Chinese actions demonstrate their adherence to the commitments.  The President further emphasized the importance of establishing a level playing field for all firms to compete fairly in China.  The President urged China to address differences with its neighbors on maritime issues peacefully and in accordance with international law and emphasized the United States global interest in upholding freedom of navigation and overflight. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Veep Talk: Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi of Iraq



The Vice President spoke today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to discuss the latest political and security developments in Iraq. The Vice President welcomed the Prime Minister's political reform efforts and reaffirmed continued U.S. support for steps, in concert with Iraqi political leaders, to strengthen transparency, national unity, and accountability.  The Vice President also underscored the critical importance of sustaining  momentum in the fight against ISIL and reviewed ongoing U.S. efforts to support Iraqi Security Forces.  The Vice President commended the Prime Minister for engaging constructively with the IMF to address fiscal challenges and unlock access to international financial assistance. 


Veep Meet and Greet: President Michelle Bachelet

The Vice President met with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet today at the Naval Observatory, where the two leaders underscored the strong bilateral partnership between the United States and Chile on issues related to trade, economic development, and democracy and human rights.  The Vice President praised Chile's constructive role in addressing a number of regional challenges in the Americas, including its support for the development of the Northern Triangle countries of Central America and its vital role as a facilitator of the Colombian peace process.  The two leaders also discussed the status of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the need for the international community to support a free and fair election process in Haiti in order to advance the country's political stability and economic recovery.  The Vice President and President Bachelet agreed that deeper cooperation on critical issues in the region will be essential to building a stable and prosperous hemisphere.

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

Statement on the Employment Situation in March

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

Summary: The economy added 215,000 jobs in March, extending the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record, as labor force participation rose.
 
The robust pace of job creation continued in March as labor force participation rose for the fourth consecutive month and hourly wages increased. The private sector has now added 14.4 million jobs over 73 straight months of job growth, the longest streak on record, and wage growth has accelerated over the past year. While these trends speak to the strength of the labor market recovery, more work remains to drive even faster wage growth, including investing in infrastructure and job training, implementing high-standards free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and raising the minimum wage. 

You can view the complete statement here

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'Flashback Friday': The Death of Marvin Gaye


Trailblazers in Black History: Stevie Wonder


Today in History: April 1st


First Read: Trump's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week


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.
 
Donald Trump's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

This was Donald Trump's worst week of his campaign since he lost Iowa to Ted Cruz exactly two months ago. To recap: On Tuesday, his campaign manager was charged with misdemeanor battery. Also on Tuesday, he backed away from his pledge to support the whomever becomes the GOP nominee, giving his Republican critics extra ammunition against him. On Wednesday, he suggested on MSNBC that he would advocate punishing women who seek an abortion, angering both abortion-rights supporters and opponents. (He later backtracked from that abortion statement.) And on top of it all, he finds himself trailing in Wisconsin, which holds its primary on Tuesday. Make no mistake: After Wisconsin, the primary calendar looks much more favorable for Trump, with the map turning to New York (April 19), Connecticut (April 26), Delaware (April 26), Maryland (April 26), Pennsylvania (April 26), and Rhode Island (April 26). But there's a reason why Trump was meeting with Republican National Committee officials in Washington yesterday -- he's got to start getting a better handle on the delegate rules, especially if the nomination is going to come down to a handful of delegates. 

Click here for the full article.

DC Madam’s Attorney Vows to Release Info That Could Affect 2016 Election

 
Could the 2016 race be rocked by a decade-old scandal? That's the question this morning as Montgomery Sibley, one of the attorneys in the 2008 “DC madam” scandal, vows to release records that could have a ripple effect on politicians today, and he's gone all the way to the Supreme Court. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports for TODAY. 

Click here for video.

Source: NBC News

Ferguson, Missouri, Names 32-Year Veteran Miami Cop Delrish Moss to Lead Force



Ferguson, Missouri, named veteran Florida cop Delrish Moss to lead its troubled police department Thursday, more than a year and a half after the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. 

Moss, 51, a major with the Miami police, will bring years of experience as a media-savvy information specialist to the task of helping to repair the overwhelmingly white force's reputation after the killing of Brown in August 2014 exposed severe racial tensions in the Ferguson department and community. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

I-Team: More NYPD Officers Say There's Proof of Quota-Driven Arrests


Quotas in the NYPD still exist for arrests and summonses in violation of a 2010 state ban on the practice, current on-the-job officers tell the I-Team, despite Police Commissioner Bill Bratton's repeated insistence that there are no quotas.

Bratton has said that the police department responds to conditions in communities to reduce crime. But Julio Diaz, New York chapter president of the Latino Officers Association, said, "I can tell you I’m a police officer, and there are quotas in the NYPD."

The 10 officers who spoke to the I-Team are plaintiffs, along with two other officers, in a federal class-action lawsuit that claims the NYPD is continuing to pursue illegal quotas and is punishing officers who don’t meet numerical goals. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 

U.S., Japan Finalize Nuclear Material Transfer

 
Reuters, 01/04 17:55 CET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Japan have completed the removal of all highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium fuels from Japan’s Fast Critical Assembly research project, the two countries said on Friday.

Announced alongside the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, the transfer makes good on a 2014 agreement at a previous non-proliferation summit to move the material from the site in Tokai Mura, Japan to the United States, the countries said.

“It furthers our mutual goal of minimizing stocks of (highly enriched uranium) HEU and separated plutonium worldwide, which will help prevent unauthorized actors, criminals, or terrorists from acquiring such materials,” the United States and Japan said in a joint statement released during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Tension Erupts as Greece Prepares Migrant Returns to Turkey


After a night of violence at a holding center on the Greek island of Chios, hundreds of migrants and refugees have forced their way out, reportedly tearing down part of a razor wire fence.

Tensions are boiling over as Greece prepares to start returning migrants to Turkey under the EU’s deal with Ankara.

Reception centers on the Aegean islands have become detention centers for those arriving after March 20, who face being sent back if their asylum applications are not accepted. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Euronews

UN ‘Shocked to the Core’ Over New Child Sex Abuse Allegations in CAR


By Joanna Gill | With AFP, UN, AIDS-FREE WORLD, REUTERS

Source: Euronews

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Top Black Staffers Leave The Republican National Committee


The RNC, which has made broadening its base a prioritym just lost its head of Black outreach.

By Tyler Tynes

The Republican National Committee is losing the person who leads the GOP’s outreach to black communities, as first reported by NBC News and confirmed by The Huffington Post.

Kristal Quarker-Hartsfield, the national director of African-American Initiatives at the RNC, is leaving the organization to work for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) as his director of intergovernmental affairs. Her last day is set to be Friday, and she is the second black top staffer to depart the RNC this month.

Quarker-Hartsfield and the RNC did not return repeated requests for comment on her reasons for leaving.

Quarker-Hartsfield joins several other staffers of color who have departed the RNC recently. Orlando Watson, communications director for black media, left earlier this month. Tara Wall and Raffi Williams, son of Fox News political analyst Juan Williams, both left their press positions at the RNC late last year.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Huffington Post

Mississippi Senate Passes Sweeping 'Religious Liberty' Bill


The Mississippi Senate voted Wednesday evening to pass a religious freedom bill which some say could have sweeping anti-LGBT repercussions for the United States.

The Republican-dominated Senate voted 31-17 to pass the controversial bill, called the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act."

The legislation says that businesses, social workers and public employees cannot be punished for denying services based on the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman or that "sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage." It also protects individuals who believe gender is determined at birth. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

White House Briefing

 
Deputy Spokesperson Eric Schultz and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes briefed reporters and responded to their questions in a briefing from the Nuclear Security Summit. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Republican National Convention and Unbound Delegates

 
Alex Rogers, National Journal Staff Correspondent, talked about Republican presidential candidates' efforts to woo unbound delegates, a process that could determine whether the party will need to go past a first ballot at the presidential nominating convention. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

State Religious Objection Laws



Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director, and Tim Schultz, 1st Amendment Partnership President, talked about laws passed in North Carolina and Georgia to allow businesses to deny services on the basis of religious objection, as well as pushback from those who view such laws as discriminatory. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Exclusive: Texas Forced This Woman to Deliver a Stillborn Baby

 
By Brandy Zadrozny
 
Twenty weeks into Taylor Mahaffey’s pregnancy, her baby started emerging from her womb, with doctors powerless to stop it—and because of Texas’s fetal-pain law, all the hospital could do was send her home.

Daniel and Taylor Mahaffey were 20 weeks pregnant and desperately wanted their child, but when doctors informed them a complication meant the fetus had no chance of survival, they just wanted their baby’s suffering to end. Yet because of their state’s “fetal pain” law, the married Texans say they were forced to endure a stillbirth and wait as their baby slowly died in utero.

The Mahaffeys had begun decorating the nursery in anticipation for the little boy they planned to name Fox, after one of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan.

On Wednesday night, Taylor, 23, felt something abnormal and since their last pregnancy ended in miscarriage, they rushed to the hospital. By the time they got there, Fox’s feet were already pushing through his mother’s cervix. Doctors tried several emergency measures to stop the preterm labor, including putting Taylor on an incline in the hopes that they could perform a cervical cerclage—a procedure in which doctors stitch shut the cervix. Nothing worked. Nothing could save him. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

 
On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, the President signed into law:

H.R. 1831, the “Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016,” which establishes a Commission to study and make recommendations on the Federal Government's collection, storage, and use of administrative data for "evidence-building" research purposes;

H.R. 4721, the “Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2016,” which extends authorization for Federal Aviation Administration programs and related revenue authorities through July 15, 2016

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

NAN 25th Anniversary Convention to Feature Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

 
New York, NY – National Action Network, will host its annual convention in New York from April 13-16 at the Sheraton Hotel. The convention is free and open to the public, but registration is required and isolated events are ticketed.
 
This year's national convention will feature the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, Secretary Hillary Clinton (April 13) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (April 15) will both address the convention. 

The annual “Keepers of the Dream Awards” will highlight the program on April 14. Also attending will be members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet and leaders from a wide range of areas including civil rights, government and business. 

Delegates will hear about a range of issues impacting civil rights including the 2016 presidential election, police and community relations, education, housing, employment, health care, immigration, and much more.
 
The full schedule (which will continue to be updated) can be found here: http://nationalactionnetwork.net/wp-content

Source: The National Action Network

Saving Our Youth: The New York Gang Investigators Association




The New York Gang Investigators Association was established in 2006 by criminal justice professionals who recognized the importance of sharing information and working with social service agencies, community-based organizations and the education system to impact the spread of gangs. By bringing together those that are actively involved in the investigation, prosecution, suppression, intervention and prevention of criminal street gangs, prison gangs and extremist groups and their affiliations, they provide a venue for collaboration and communication across disciplines. 

Click here for more information.

Source: The New York Gang Investigators Association

Trailblazers in Black History: Bill "Bojangles" Robinson



Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was an American tap dancer and actor, the best known and most highly paid African American entertainer in the first half of the twentieth century. 

Additional information on Mr. Robinson's legacy and life is available here.  

Source: Biography.com

Today in History: March 31st


Terrorism and North Korea Dominate Nuclear Talks in Washington



The annual Nuclear Security Summit, aimed at reducing the world's nuclear weapons, gets underway Thursday in Washington with President Obama hosting a series of meetings with the leaders of several Asian nations to talk about efforts to prevent North Korea from becoming a bigger threat.

But the gathering of more than 50 world leaders will focus primarily on keeping terrorists from obtaining the ingredients for a dirty bomb, a concern heightened by last week's terror attacks in Belgium.

"Given the continued threat posed by organizations such as the terrorist group we call ISIL, or ISIS, we'll also join allies and partners in reviewing our counterterrorism efforts, to prevent the world's most dangerous networks from obtaining the world's most dangerous weapons," Obama wrote in a Washington Post op-ed

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

First Read: Why Trump's Controversies Matter for All Republicans


 
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.
 
Why Trump's flip-flops matter: In the space of hours yesterday, Donald Trump made a complete  walk-back of his controversial comments on MSNBC suggesting that he would advocate punishment for women seeking abortions. He went from saying "there has to be some form of punishment, yeah" to "the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman." Throughout the campaign, instances of Trump changing or amending a statement - or at least enduring withering criticism from within his own party for something he said -- have become routine. On nearly a weekly basis now, downballot Republicans are facing maddening political choices as they're asked to comment on Trump's constantly-changing policy positions and shocking pronouncements. And the constant whiplash makes for a compelling case for those inside the party who say it's worth risking the backlash with Trump voters by doing whatever it takes to stop him. By the fall, can Republicans running downballot really afford to respond almost daily to something Trump said? It's been tough enough this spring, and it's only going to get more complicated. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

White House Summit Focuses on Women in Prison

 
Valerie Jarrett, left, addresses a convening on Women and the Criminal Justice System at The White House.


Carol Adams was a 17-year-old high school senior when her father shot and killed her mother in their home.

"I heard five shots in the next room," recalled Adams of the tragic incident some 35 years ago. "He had promised to kill her. …he was sentenced to seven years and served 18 months."

Today, Adams is a Richmond, Va., police sergeant who founded an eponymous foundation that aids women and children victimized by domestic violence. She was among those who shared their stories at an event convened by the White House focused on `Women and the Criminal Justice System.'

The Wednesday afternoon program not only coincided with Women's History month, but fell on a day in which President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 61 men and women convicted of non-violent drug offenses. To date, Obama has pardoned 268 individuals—more than the past six presidents combined. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Feds Announce Settlement in Probe of Illegal Policing in Newark


The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it had settled its investigation into an array of illegal police tactics focused on minorities in Newark with a series of reforms aimed at remaking the force in New Jersey's largest city. 

The deal marks another notch in the Justice Department's growing effort to compel local police agencies to change by threatening court action. The department is currently juggling 15 such consent degrees with forces small and large, from Ferguson, Missouri to Seattle and New Orleans. Police in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. have successfully completed the terms and returned from the federal government's oversight. Another five departments, including Chicago and Baltimore, are under investigation for possible action. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 

When Mobsters Meet Hackers: The New, Improved Bank Heist



No need for stocking masks and sawn-off shotguns. The unprecedented heist of $81 million from the U.S. account of Bangladesh's central bank is the latest among increasingly large thefts by criminals who have leveraged the speed and anonymity of hacking to revolutionize burgling banks. 

Hundreds of millions of dollars, and perhaps much more, have been stolen from banks and financial services companies in recent years because of this alliance of traditional and digital criminals, with many victims not reporting the thefts for fear of reputational damage.

Typically, security and cyber-crime experts say, hackers break into the computer systems of financial institutions and make, or incite others to make, fraudulent transactions to pliant accounts. Organized crime then uses techniques developed over decades to launder the money, giving the alliance much higher rewards than a hold-up or bank vault robbery, with much less risk. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Vatican Investigates Claim Hospital Funds Used to Refurbish Cardinal’s Flat


Reuters, 31/03 16:31 CET

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican said on Thursday it is investigating two former officials over claims money meant for a children’s hospital was used to refurbish a cardinal’s luxury apartment.

Costly work at former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s flat — seeming to clash with Pope Francis’s recommendations that church officials live as modestly as he — caused a scandal when allegations emerged that the Bambino Gesu Hospital foundation had helped foot the bill.

Giuseppe Profiti, former manager at the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu, and its ex-treasurer Massimo Spina are being investigated, Vatican press officer Greg Burke said, confirming a report in Italian magazine L’Espresso.

Efforts to track down the two men, who no longer work at the hospital, were not immediately successful.

A lawyer for Bertone, who is not being investigated, said in a statement on Thursday the cardinal had never asked for or authorized any payment from the hospital foundation relating to his apartment. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Serbian Nationalist Seselj Acquitted of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity


By Catherine Hardy | With REUTERS

Source: Euronews

Payback Time for Jacob Zuma as Court Rules on Home Improvement Row


Source: Euronews

Battling ISIL and Their Chemical Weapons on the Frontline in Iraq


Produced by Sophie Desjardin

Source: Euronews

Ice Age Given Green Light: Fukushima Activates Barrier for Radioactive Water


Source: Euronews

More US Troops for Eastern Europe


By Catherine Hardy | With AP

Source: Euronews

Athens Protesters Chant ‘Open the Borders’ Ahead of Migrant Returns


Source: Euronews

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Disturbing Discovery at the Indian Point Nuclear Facility

 
The following statement by Governor Andrew Cuomo was submitted on March 29, 2016. 

“This afternoon, the state learned that hundreds of faulty bolts were discovered within the reactor at the Indian Point Unit 2 Plant. This is the latest in a long series of incidents that raise deep concerns about the management, maintenance and equipment standards at this plant. While there is no immediate danger to public health and safety, this troubling news further validates the State’s ongoing investigation into the operations of this aging power plant and our position that it should not be relicensed. New York State will continue to investigate every facet of the plant’s operations and safety preparedness while ensuring that these critical defects are addressed immediately.” 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Oval Office Chat: Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan

 
President Obama today spoke by phone today with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan to express condolences over the recent terrorist attack in Lahore. This callous and appalling attack against innocent civilians, many of them women and children, underscores the critical danger that terrorism poses inside Pakistan, throughout the region, and around the globe. President Obama expressed his understanding of Prime Minister Sharif's decision to cancel his visit to the United States and remain in Pakistan following this terrorist attack. The President reiterated the U.S. commitment to partner with Pakistan to counter terrorism. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

National Security Council Notes: Meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval of India

 
National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice met yesterday with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at the White House.  Ambassador Rice and NSA Doval exchanged views on the terrorist threat posed by ISIL in the region and the importance of combatting the ideology that fuels such groups.  They also discussed U.S.-India counterterrorism cooperation, including against Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.  Additionally, they exchanged views on the prospects for commercial progress this year under U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation, and Ambassador Rice reiterated U.S. support for India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Missile Technology Control Regime. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 

White House Briefing

 
Spokesman Josh Earnest briefs reporters and responds to questions on a variety of international topics, including North Carolina’s passage of a law allowing businesses to refuse service based on religious objection.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Hillary Clinton Campaign Event, Trump Town Hall

 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Harlem. She’s introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also speaks. New York’s presidential primary will be held on April 19.

Click here for video.


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to supporters at a town hall meeting in Janesville, Wisconsin. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN 

Nuclear Security and Terrorism

 
Ploughshare Fund President Joseph Cirincione previewed President Obama’s nuclear summit later in the week with leaders from more than 50 nations, and U.S. and global efforts to prevent nuclear material from falling into terrorist groups' possession. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Free Trade and the U.S. Economy

 
Scott Lincicome talked about his cover story in National Review, in which he argues that free trade policies have revealed weaknesses in the U.S. economy, but are not the cause of these weaknesses. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN