Saturday, April 23, 2016

Weekly Address: Building a Fairer and More Effective Criminal Justice System

President Obama Holds a Town Hall

West Wing Week 4/22/16

The Police Data Initiative: One Year In

The White House and the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services are collaborating to host a meeting with Senior Administration and White House officials to discuss progress made by law enforcement agencies under the Police Data Initiative (PDI), with a specific focus on ways that leading law enforcement agencies have worked with technologists, researchers, and community members to leverage technology and data innovation to increase trust between police and citizens.

National Security Council Notes: Lisa Monaco's Meetings in the United Kingdom

Today, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco concluded a series of meetings with Home Secretary Theresa May, Deputy National Security Advisor Paddy McGuinness, and other senior British security and intelligence officials on a range of security and counterterrorism issues, focused on our shared efforts to prevent and disrupt ISIL-directed and inspired attacks in the West. Noting that the United Kingdom is one of our strongest counterterrorism partners, Ms. Monaco discussed a number of ways we can continue to enhance our whole-of-government efforts to protect our nations from ISIL and other threats, including intensifying intelligence cooperation and information sharing with our European partners, working together to strengthen European counterterrorism capabilities, and enhancing our engagement with private sector partners to counter ISIL’s destructive propaganda.

While in London, Ms. Monaco also co-led a session on “Counterterrorism in the Age of ISIL” at the Aspen Security Forum: Global with Deputy National Security Advisor McGuinness. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Paid Family Leave Policies

Independent Women’s Forum Executive Director Sabrina Schaeffer discusses her organization’s policy proposals on paid family leave programs. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Minority Entrepreneurship

Center for Global Policy Solutions President and CEO Maya Rockeymoore discusses her organization’s report on minority entrepreneurship, which projects that closing the racial gap would add nine million jobs to the U.S. economy. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Civility in Politics

University of Arizona National Institute for Civil Discourse Executive Director Carolyn Lukensmeyer discusses her organization’s work to increase civility in U.S. politics. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Communicators with Ted Koppel: Electrical Grid Security

Ted Koppel talked about his book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, which examines the possibility of a cyberattack on the U.S. electrical grid. He discussed what could happen, vulnerabilities, and the degree to which government agencies, electric companies, and individuals were prepared to respond to an attack. He said that leaders within those groups were not in agreement on what measures were necessary. Topics included what steps could be taken to prepare more adequately. 

The segment was originally broadcast on February 29, 2016. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

How One Small Religion Changed Prince

By Candida Moss

His music still dripped with lust, but in his personal life Prince’s conversion to a Jehovah’s Witness was a dramatic one.

The world is shocked by the sudden death of Prince at the young age of 57. As we come to terms with his passing we also face a new realization: that the artist responsible for some of the most powerfully seductive songs of the 20th century died a deeply religious man. One of his generation’s greatest artists—the man responsible for songs like “Sexy MF” and “Jack U Off”—died a fervent member of a marginalized and often derided sect.

In some ways Prince was always religious. He was raised a Seventh-day Adventist and frequently attended an African-American congregation in Glendale City. He claimed as a child, and maintained until his death, that an angel had cured him of epilepsy. It was only in 2001, though, that he became a Jehovah’s Witness.

His conversion was inspired by a two-year conversation with songwriter-bassist Larry Graham (of Sly and the Family Stone fame). Prince described it more as an awakening than a conversion, likening his experience to that of Neo in The Matrix. But Prince surely behaved like a convert: his religion permeated every aspect of his life. He not only attended meetings at a local Kingdom Hall, he occasionally knocked on doors proselytizing to others. A Jewish couple in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, once reported that they found Prince on their doorstep clutching a Bible.

It was a moment that revolutionized his worldview. He gave up drugs and became vegan. Even his notorious sexuality appeared to have been subtly augmented by his conversion. He was a famous ladies’ man with a penchant for beautiful women but since separating from his wife Manuela Testolini in 2006 he was—in keeping with the beliefs of his church—a bachelor. If he engaged in the sexual conquests typical of people in his professional position, he no longer flaunted. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Friday, April 22, 2016

President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron News Conference

The duo responded to reporters' questions in London.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Passover Greetings from the President

Michelle and I send our best wishes to everyone celebrating Pesach in the United States, in the State of Israel, and around the world. 

One of Passover’s most powerful rituals is its tradition of storytelling – millions of Jewish families, friends, and even strangers sitting together and sharing the inspirational tale of the Exodus.  Led by a prophet and chased by an army, sustained by a faith in God and rewarded with deliverance, the Israelites’ journey from bondage to the Promised Land remains one of history’s greatest examples of emancipation.  This story of redemption and hope, told and retold over thousands of years, has comforted countless Jewish families during times of oppression, echoing in rallying cries for civil rights around the world.

Mah nishtana halailah hazeh?  For Michelle and me, this Passover is different from all other Passovers because it will mark our last Seder in the White House – a tradition we have looked forward to each year since hosting the first-ever White House Seder in 2009.  We will join millions around the world to celebrate redemption at God’s mighty hand and pray for those who still are denied their freedom.  We dip the greens of renewal in saltwater to recall the tears of those imprisoned unjustly.  As we count the 10 Plagues, we spill wine from our glasses to remember those who suffered and those who still do.  And as we humbly sing “Dayenu,” we are mindful that even the smallest blessings and slowest progress deserve our gratitude.

Passover gives us all a special opportunity to renew our belief in things unseen even as the future remains uncertain.  May this season inspire us all to rededicate ourselves to peace and freedom for all of God’s children.  From our family to yours, chag sameach

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Díaz and Sepúlveda to Announce Push for Key Voter Registration and Elections Reforms

On April 26 at 11 a.m., on the steps of City Hall in New York City, Assembly Member Luis Sepúlveda and Senator Rubén Diaz will hold a news conference to introduce legislation to make it a felony for boards of elections to dump or archive voters from registration rolls, requiring that such removals only be made upon confirmation either of the death of a voter or the out-of-state relocation of a voter, and to require boards of elections to notify voters by email, whenever possible, of changes in in polling sites. 

Sepúlveda and Diaz will also announce their support of legislation to provide for automatic registration of voters when they apply for or renew their driver’s license or non-driver ID (with the option for persons to opt out of becoming registered) and to allow voters to change party registration as easily and under the identical criteria applicable for new voter registration. 

Source: The Offices of Senator Rubén Diaz and Assembly Member Luis Sepúlveda

Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day

Today we solemnly reflect on the first mass atrocity of the 20th century—the Armenian Meds Yeghern—when one and a half million Armenian people were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman empire.

As we honor the memory of those who suffered during the dark days beginning in 1915—and commit to learn from this tragedy so it may never be repeated—we also pay tribute to those who sought to come to their aid.  One such individual was U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who voiced alarm both within the U.S. government and with Ottoman leaders in an attempt to halt the violence.  Voices like Morgenthau’s continue to be essential to the mission of atrocity prevention, and his legacy shaped the later work of human rights champions such as Raphael Lemkin, who helped bring about the first United Nations human rights treaty.

This is also a moment to acknowledge the remarkable resiliency of the Armenian people and their tremendous contributions both to the international community as well as to American society. We recall the thousands of Armenian refugees who decades ago began new lives in the United States, forming a community that has enormously advanced the vitality of this nation and risen to prominence and distinction across a wide range of endeavors.   At a moment of regional turmoil to Armenia’s south, we also thank the people of Armenia for opening their arms to Syrian refugees, welcoming nearly 17,000 into their country.

As we look from the past to the future, we continue to underscore the importance of historical remembrance as a tool of prevention, as we call for a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts, which would serve the interests of all concerned.  I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. I have also seen that peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past.  We continue to welcome the expression of views by those who have sought to shed new light into the darkness of the past, from Turkish and Armenian historians to Pope Francis.‎

Today we stand with the Armenian people throughout the world in recalling the horror of the Meds Yeghern and reaffirm our ongoing commitment to a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Armenia. 
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 

Dr. Jill Biden to Deliver Commencement Address at Northern Virginia Community College

On Saturday, May 14, Dr. Jill Biden will deliver the commencement address to graduates of Northern Virginia Community College. Dr. Biden, an educator for more than 30 years, has continued to teach as a full-time English professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009 while serving as Second Lady of the United States. Northern Virginia Community College is the largest public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and one of America’s largest community colleges, with more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through its Extended Learning Institute. 
Source: The White House, Office  of the Vice President

Confederate Monuments in New Orleans

The New Orleans Advocate's Jeff Adelson joins by phone to discuss the ongoing debate over the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Religious Liberty and the Contraceptive Mandate

Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Legal Counsel Hannah Smith discusses recent Supreme Court oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, which deals with the Little Sisters of the Poor’s objections to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.

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Source: C-SPAN

State Department Briefing

Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the State Department’s Office of Press Relations, briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of international topics, including the U.S. purchase of heavy water from Iran. 

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Source: C-SPAN

Republican National Committee Rules Committee Meeting

The Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Standing Committee on Rules held a meeting during the RNC’s spring meeting at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida. Members engaged in debate and ultimately defeated attempts to change the rules governing the convention during which the party’s nominee for president would be officially chosen. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

FPWA Distributes $120,000 in Program Grants to Local Nonprofit Organizations

(New York, NY) – This morning FPWA awarded six of its member agencies with a $20,000 grant at its annual Program Grants Breakfast at its office in Lower Manhattan.  The grants support programs that are aligned with the FPWA mission and help to enhance the lives of New York’s most vulnerable.

Grants were awarded to fund programs from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 that align with at least one of FPWA’s three strategic pillars – reducing poverty, advancing upward mobility, and creating shared prosperity. FPWA awards program grants on an annual basis to its member agencies to support new direct service projects that are linked to FPWA’s advocacy agenda. Grants must address emerging social service issues or needs that the agency has identified.

This year’s awardees are the Asian Americans for Equality, Edwin Gould, Exodus Transitional Community, Inc., New Alternatives for Children, Inc., New York Asian Women’s Center, Inc. and New York Therapeutic Communities, Inc. Programs funded by the awards included an integrated job referral and placement platform for Flushing, Queens; a faith-based program to support formerly incarcerated fathers; and an entrepreneurship program to increase the vocational prospects of women in substance abuse treatment. This year’s grants include:

Asian Americans for Equality – Flushing Employment Network – Flushing, Queens
Edwin Gould – College Success – Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Exodus Transitional Community, Inc. – Faith in Fatherhood – East Harlem
New Alternatives for Children, Inc. – Career Initiative 
New York Asian Women’s Center, Inc. – Economic Empowerment Workshop
New York Therapeutic Communities, Inc. – Recovery Through Entrepreneurship for Women – Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

At the ceremony, Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, one of last year’s program grant awardees, also returned to discuss their 2015 project, helping immigrants establish worker cooperative businesses.

“One of the many ways that we address the needs of New York’s most vulnerable is through FPWA's annual program grant awards,” said CEO and Executive Director of FPWA Jennifer Jones Austin. “These grants provide community-based organizations with an opportunity to address specific needs in their respective communities—things to improve economic well-being, workforce readiness and social services that will ultimately lead to poverty reduction. We are especially thrilled to be able to double the amount of money in grants this year, which means that more individuals and communities will be served. "

“We are grateful to FPWA for the opportunity to receive this grant,” said Julio Medina, Founder and Executive Director of Exodus Transitional Community.  “Made possible with this funding, Exodus is thrilled to provide a faith-based fatherhood program to our participants that support family restoration after incarceration. The Faith in Fatherhood program strives to increase a father’s emotional, physical and financial presence in the lives of their children to increase individual earning power and household income, as well as impact the economic and emotional health of generations to come.  Everyone who walks through our doors is part of the Exodus family, and we are excited to bring this value out into the community. ”

Source: Mercury

Chinese-American Planning Council Promotes Safe Sex in Chinatown

Logo for the Chinese-American Planning Council

“The CPC has been fighting to bring HIV/AIDS services to Chinatown since 1990, during the height of the citywide AIDS crisis, when it received a $5,000 grant from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. The council used the money to create and distribute a bilingual pamphlet educating the community about HIV prevention.

Since then, the CPC has gone on to receive grants from several agencies, including the state Department of Health’s AIDS Institute, that have allowed it to expand its services — the council conducts education outreach programs while providing services for HIV-positive clients to ensure access to medication and support.”

Full story  DNA Info: Group Hopes to Break Taboo Around Safe-Sex Talk in Chinatown With New Film

Source: Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA)

Passover Message from Governor Cuomo

Tonight, members of the Jewish faith all across New York will begin the celebration of Passover. The message of this joyous holiday is that through hope, strength and faith in God, we can come together to overcome slavery and oppression to achieve peace and freedom for all people. New York’s strength is in our diversity. This Passover, as we join together, let us resolve to further this timely lesson and work to create a fairer, more just and secure state for all New Yorkers. Chag Sameach.” 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Ruth Hassell-Thompson Appointed Special Advisor for Policy and Community Affairs of NYSHCR

Governor Andrew Cuomo today appointed Ruth Hassell-Thompson as Special Advisor for Policy and Community Affairs of New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Hassell-Thompson currently serves as Senator for New York’s 36th Senate District, representing parts of the Bronx and Westchester County. 

She will begin her new role in July.

“As a nurse, an advocate and a member of the New York State Legislature, Senator Hassell-Thompson has spent her entire career fighting to improve lives and build communities,” said Governor Cuomo. “I am proud to have her continue this work as a member of my administration and look forward to working with her to build a stronger, fairer and more prosperous New York for all.”

“I am thrilled to be joining Governor Cuomo’s administration within New York State Homes and Community Renewal,” said Senator Hassell-Thompson. “Under Governor Cuomo, HCR has a tremendous impact on advancing housing policy state-wide, including the Governor's efforts in developing and protecting affordable housing and protecting vulnerable communities. I am excited to lend my expertise to those efforts.”

Hassell-Thompson has served in the New York State Senate since 2000. She is also a former City Council President and Acting Mayor of Mount Vernon, having been first elected to the City Council in 1993. She is also a retired nurse for Mount Vernon Hospital, specializing in pediatrics and substance abuse counseling. She is the founding President and CEO of “The Gathering,” a volunteer-staffed women’s center in Mount Vernon that provides counseling and support services, and has also worked extensively with individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Prior to holding an elected office, she was President/CEO of Whart Development Company, Inc., a real estate development company that also provided consultant services to small and developing businesses. She was also the Executive Director of the Westchester Minority Contractors Association, helping to bring opportunities for growth and economic development to minority- and women-owned businesses in the region. Previously, she led the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, which provided medical, social and related support services to local residents in need.

Hassell-Thompson is the recipient of two Honorary Doctorate degrees; Mercy College, Doctor of Humane Letters; and Eastern Theological Consortium, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Christ Theological Seminary, Doctor of Humanities. She is an alumna of Bronx Community College. 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

'Flashback Friday': Malcolm X on Police Brutality

Video courtesy of Morsultima.

Trailblazers in Black History: Prince

From The G-Man offers its condolences to the family, friends, fans and colleagues of Prince. 

May he forever rest in peace.

Today in History: April 22nd

Meet The Delegate Candidates Who Could Decide the GOP Nominee

Pennsylvania is taking its turn in the 2016 presidential spotlight this week and the campaigns are in an all-out push for votes in next Tuesday's crucial primary - votes that could determine who will be the next Republican presidential nominee.

And the most important of those ballots will be cast for 54 of the state's delegates to this summer's Republican convention, not one for the one of the three well-known candidates - Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich - remaining in the GOP contest. Instead, voters must chose people whom they might not ever have heard of.

They aren't household names, although they may be known to some voters locally. Like the rank-and-file voters who will elect them, these candidates are regular people with regular jobs, they are party enthusiasts who want to go to the Party's big party in Cleveland this summer.

Most importantly, these delegates are independent, not bound to support any one candidate in Cleveland this summer. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News