Friday, January 20, 2012

R.I.P: Bill Mardo, Sportswriter, Civil Rights Icon

Bill Mardo eventually became a close friend of Dodgers great Jackie Robinson.  

"The Mighty Mardo"

(October 24, 1923 - January 20, 2012) 

From The G-Man would like to take this opportunity to honor a man that the majority of the country completely forgot about during his final years, even though he played a significant role in the reconstruction of Major League Baseball by challenging the legendary Branch Rickey and helping the late, great Jackie Robinson break baseball's color barrier. 

Bill Mardo was a fan and supporter of this news and information site, and I'm extremely proud  of the fact that one of the greatest sportswriters and civil rights icons considered the article below to be nothing short of "brilliant" when it was read to him by his companion, Ruth. It was written with the fearlessness, passion, power and venom that became Mardo's trademark during his illustrious career -- a career that is worthy of the highest national accolades. 

Once again, From The G-Man respectfully requests that President Barack Obama, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg do everything possible to publicly acknowledge Bill Mardo for his remarkable literary achievements and the indelible mark he left on this great nation. 

Now, a final tribute - which was originally published January 3, 2011 -- to my friend, idol and mentor...."The Mighty Mardo". I love you, and I'll miss you, man. 

"The Mighty Mardo" 

Bill Mardo, pictured at age 18, joined the Daily Worker in 1942.

Politicians, Media Ignore Pleas to Honor Severely Ill Civil Rights Icon

Jackie…. Jackie…. puh-leeze …Jackie! Excited kids leaning over the Dodger dugout roof, imploring a smiling, ebony-skinned twenty-eight-year old athlete to scribble his name on a white baseball…. on an outstretched piece of paper…. on anything. The air so thick with excitement you could almost dip your fingers into it. Ebbets Field, Opening Day of a new baseball season – opening in a whole new way. Yes, yes, on this fifteenth day of April in 1947, Jackie Robinson picked up his bat and broke the chains that had imprisoned a great American game for more seasons than anyone wants to remember."
                                                                                                                     Bill Mardo

An excerpt from “Robinson – Robeson”, the twelfth chapter of “Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports and the American Dream” (Edited by Joseph Dorinson and Joram Warmund)

My relationship with Bill Mardo, whom I affectionately refer to as “The Mighty Mardo”, began back in April of 2010. At the time, I was volunteering at a Manhattan senior care facility. Every Wednesday, from 3pm to 4pm, I would serve as the deejay for “The Classics Café”, a dance mix program that I created for the facility to engage and entertain many of the wheelchair-bound residents. I would play anything from the Andrew Sisters to James Brown, and the seniors would get their groove on for the full hour.

The program became an enormous hit, and it wasn’t long before many of the residents approached me for requests. But there was one man who never did. I approached him -- as he sat close to his longtime companion, Ruth -- and asked if there was a specific artist or song he liked. With a slight smirk he responded, “Sinatra”. The smirk led me to believe that he didn’t think I could pull it off, but I promised him that I would play a classic or two from “Old Blue Eyes” every week. I kept that promise for eight consecutive months. The Creator rewarded me for my act of kindness by allowing me to discover this man’s amazing and breathtaking legacy.
One day, while in route to the facility, I ran into Ruth. “Everyone loves you and the Classics Café! We hope you’re not leaving anytime soon, especially Bill,” she exclaimed. “He was so thrilled when you played Sinatra, and I wanted to show my appreciation by giving you this,” she stated. She handed me a thick envelope and revealed that she Googled me. Your work as a journalist and writer is absolutely amazing, G-Man. You have a lot in common with Bill. Please read this and let me know what you think,” she concluded. We hugged in the middle of 86th Street and West End Avenue and parted company.

The envelope contained the complete version of the Robinson–Robeson excerpt I presented at the beginning of this article. The chapter features one of the greatest essays ever written on not just Robinson breaking the color barrier in professional baseball, but also on racism in America and the true relationship between Robinson and the legendary Paul Robeson. Mardo unleashes a blistering and merciless attack on the late, great Dodger general manager Branch Rickey and his original reluctance to sign Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Mardo brought these words to life during a speech at Long Island University, in 1997, marking the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s historic feat. Copyright restrictions prevent me from publishing the piece in its entirety, but I urge each of you to obtain a copy and share it with as many people, especially young people, as possible. Please!
To say that I was speechless after reading Mardo’s essay would be an understatement. I was determined to find out more about him and conducted Internet searches that went well past 3am. I was catapulted into a state of awe after learning Mardo, back in 1941, at the tender age of 18, became a member of the Young Communist League (YCL). Mardo took the editor of the “YCL Review” to task for not having a sports page – something Mardo felt was crucial in the fight against Jim Crow. The fiery, unrelenting and young sportswriter became the YCL Review’s first sports editor.

His powerful prose and scathing attacks on segregation and racism, in both society and professional sports, eventually caught the attention of another columnist named Lester Rodney. Rodney was the sports editor for the “
Daily Worker”, the Communist Party U.S.A.’s newspaper. In 1937, Rodney and the publication launched a personal crusade against segregation and racism in professional sports through a series of news stories and columns. Mardo brought his take-no-prisoners style of writing to the publication in 1942, and Robinson was signed to the Dodgers five years later. This "Dynamic Duo of Desegregation" helped change the course of history and sports journalism.

The Daily Worker Sitting Room, circa 1943.
Many historians and sports analysts have cited Rodney, Mardo and the Daily Worker as having an enormous impact on Branch Rickey’s decision to bring Jackie Robinson into the major leagues. While it is true that many Black organizations, newspapers and sportswriters were just as important in defeating segregation in major league baseball at that time, Mardo was one of the few sportswriters in the country that developed and maintained a very close relationship with Robinson on and off the field.

Mardo was there when people, Black and white, Jew and Protestant, praised and prayed for Robinson. Mardo was also there when people spit on Robinson and yelled, “Go back to the nigger leagues, boy!” or “Got that fried chicken and watermelon for you in the dugout, nigger!” Mardo battled the monsters with his conviction, sharp mind and love of words. Lester Rodney died in 2009 at the age of 98. Mardo, now 87, a knight who played a significant role in slaying the baseball segregation dragon, is all that’s left to remind us of this dynamic duo’s remarkable achievement and the Daily Worker’s unsung legacy.
Every person in America owes a huge debt of gratitude to Bill Mardo, Lester Rodney and the Daily Worker, and it is high time that something was done to honor them. Mardo and I have become extremely close, and not too long ago Ruth informed me that he is extremely ill. Needless to say, I was deeply affected by the news.
Realizing he may not have much time left with us, as he is battling Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, I refuse to simply stand by and watch this great man waste away or die in a Manhattan nursing home. Soon, these dreadful diseases will rob him of every wonderful memory he has of his beloved Ruth, his family, his friends, his historic achievement, Robinson and Robeson. The day will come when Mardo, a man that helped change the course of history, won’t remember any of it. Not only does this make me angry and sad, it makes me cry. That’s why something must be done now!

Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly introduce "The Mighty Mardo".
He is pictured with his long-time companion, Ruth.
I'm determined to see that this legendary man is honored. I’ve reached out to most of the major sports anchors and writers in New York City, and they haven’t even bothered to respond. I’ve reached out to the New York State Conference of Black Senators, and they haven’t bothered to respond. I love Bill Mardo and his legacy enough to tell them all, right here and now, in classic Mardo fashion, that they’re a disgrace to this nation for refusing to acknowledge his legacy! They aren’t fit to carry the trusty typewriter Mardo constantly banged away on, and they should be deeply, deeply ashamed of themselves!

That’s why I wrote this piece, and that’s why I’m calling on President Barack Obama, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Council, filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood, ESPN Magazine, and professional athletes from various sports to publicly acknowledge Bill Mardo and Lester Rodney. I’m also urging the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to launch an all-out effort to have them inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I will close with another excerpt from Mardo’s brilliant and critically acclaimed Robinson-Robeson.

Having had the real privilege of knowing both Jackie Robinson and Paul Robeson, I know in my gut that this is what Jackie and Paul would be addressing today. They might be saying, “Hey, Ebonics is a fact of Black life. But c’mon, let’s get real! Roots…street language…the vernacular…don’t have a damn thing to do with what is number one on the agenda. There’s a four-letter word that we all spell alike and pronounce alike. It’s called jobs…J-O-B-S! Jobs lead to another four-letter word that we all spell alike and pronounce alike. It’s called hope....H-O-P-E! Jobs and hope lead to something called..... 

Jackie Robinson photo courtesy of

Carney: 'The United States Will Not Waiver in Our Support for the Liberty of the Cuban People'

Wilmar Villar Mendoza

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Death of Cuban Activist Wilmar Villar

President Obama’s thoughts and prayers are with the wife, family, and friends of Wilmar Villar, a young and courageous defender of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba who launched a hunger strike to protest his incarceration and succumbed to pneumonia. 

Villar’s senseless death highlights the ongoing repression of the Cuban people and the plight faced by brave individuals standing up for the universal rights of all Cubans. The United States will not waiver in our support for the liberty of the Cuban people. 

We will remain steadfast in our outreach to the Cuban people through unlimited Cuban American family visits and remittances, purposeful travel, and humanitarian assistance to dissidents and their families in support of their legitimate desire to freely determine Cuba’s future.

Details on Villar's death are  available at the following: The Death of Wilmar Villar Mendoza

Photo courtesy of

Congress Puts SOPA, PIPA on Hold

On Friday Congress put the controversial legislation on hold after mounting pressure from critics.

By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

Gingrich Surges in South Carolina

New poll numbers show Gingrich ahead of Romney in South Carolina just one day before the primary.

By Allie Spillyards
Anchor: Allie Spillyards
Link courtesy of

Bangladesh: Alleged Coup Attempt Foiled

The Bangladesh army said it cracked down on a coup to overthrow PM Sheikh Hasina's government in December.

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of

Mom: Toddler Denied Transplant Over Mental Disorder

A doctor refuses to put Amelia Rivera on the kidney transplant list reportedly because she suffers from Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

By Meredith Baldwin
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Iranian Oil Exports Under Fire

Iranian oil exports are under fire because of a U.S. embargo on their central bank. Pundits and critics weigh in.

By Brian Lewis
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of 

Musharraf Delays Return to Pakistan

The former Pakistani leader has delayed his return to Pakistan because of an arrest warrant.

By Emoke Bebiak
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of

Newt Gingrich, Shut Your Damn Mouth!

"Nu-Nu" Dodged Hypocrite Question Posed by FOX News' Chris Wallace  

I'm going to get straight to the point. What I'm about to say will anger many in the country, especially if they're Republicans or so-called conservatives, and I really couldn't care less! I've reached a boiling point after watching 2012 presidential candidate Newt "Nu-Nu" Gingrich receive two standing ovations by supporters at debates in South Carolina. Enough is enough, damn it! 

The first ovation came after Nu-Nu laid into Fox News analyst Juan Williams for posing several questions involving the issue of race. It was bad enough that attendees booed Williams during his line of questioning, but the event took a turn for the worst when Nu-Nu proclaimed, yet again, that President Barack Obama is a "food stamp president" and that people on food stamps are lazy and lack ambition, integrity and a strong work ethic. If the mainstream media wasn't so cowardly and allowed me to tell my story, I would open up a can of whoop-ass on Gingrich on this subject. 

Critics stated that Juan Williams got his ass handed to him by Gingrich at the first South Carolina debate. I strongly disagree and give Williams a standing ovation for his courage. To use a biblical analogy, Williams was Daniel in the lion's den, and he knew this would be the case going into the debate because -- much to the chagrin of many white people in the audience -- he planned to address the issue of race. If Nu-Nu has a problem with certain questions being directed at presidential candidates, then his fat ass shouldn't be running for office. Period! He'd be better served spending his time stocking up on "Just for Men". 

Given that his comments are always targeted at people in the inner cities, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the former Speaker of the House is talking about people of color, namely Blacks. Hey, Nu-Nu? I'm in New York City. Did you know that even Russian and Hasidic Jews receive welfare benefits? Would the comments you made at the South Carolina debate apply to them as well? If so, The G-Man is calling you out in front of the nation. I dare you to publicly state that your comments apply to them, too. Come on, Nu-Nu! Dance with me! They're playing our song..."Ebony and Ivory". 

Nu-Nu pounded the podium like the "Great White Hope" that so many conservatives hope to have in the Oval Office in 2013: a man that will transform the country from a "welfare state" and get those no-good, rowdy, pants hangin' off their ass, shiftless, so-called welfare kings and queens (code name for Black people) and entitlement spending under control.

In my view, the people that gave Nu-Nu the standing ovation for his food stamp/lazy minorities comments share the same warped ideology, and they're all a bunch of fools because you can't understand the concept or hell that is welfare unless you've experienced it. 

Contrary to what Nu-Nu and his minions think, welfare is a nightmare from which hundreds of thousands are trying to awaken or escape. I guarantee you that if half the country was on welfare, people would have a greater level of respect for those that have to deal with a system that is completely out of control. Trust me on that.   

Like his peer Williams, John King, host of the CNN GOP debate that took place last night, showed that he had a pair the size of grapefruits and challenged Nu-Nu from the word go. King asked about an interview that Gingrich's ex-wife had done with ABC News and he was severely rebuked in the process. Nu-Nu proclaimed that he was "appalled" and that the question had no place in a presidential debate. This time, the conservative fools stood and applauded their "Great Moral Leader": a man that stood before them and the nation as a shining example of honor, integrity and truth. By the way, these are the same low-life conservatives that repeatedly and viciously attacked former President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  

Speaking of the Lewinsky scandal, Nu-Nu led the charge to have President Clinton removed from office. Remember that? Well, I decided to dig into the archives and ended up finding something that Nu-Nu will hate and Democrats will absolutely love. I found a video, and in the video FOX News anchor Chris Wallace poses a key question to Gingrich during an interview. Nu-Nu's response is very interesting....and telling.

America, check out the video tape. Conservatives, ask yourself this question: Is this the type of conservative that we want to not only take on President Barack Obama in 2012, but represent the GOP?

This commentary is from the heart and.....From The G-Man.  

Photo source: Own work
Author: Gage Skidmore

Video uploaded to YouTube by  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ABC Airing Interview with Gingrich’s Ex-Wife

Many pundits are questioning the timing of the interview, two days before the South Carolina primary.

By Zach Toombs
Anchor: Zach Toombs
Link courtesy of

News Corp Settles With Celebrity Accusers

Newspaper giant News Corp settles cases where celebrities, including actor Jude Law, accused the tabloid company of tapping their phones.

By Alyssa Cartee
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Dink Assassination: Court Verdict Sparks Protest

A Turkish court cleared 19 suspects in Hrant Dink's death of conspiracy charges. Thousands protested the decision.


By Kevin Dubouis
Anchor: Lauren Gores
Link courtesy of

The House Loses Another Prominent Democrat

Statement from the President on the Retirement of Congressman Maurice Hinchey

As a native New Yorker, Maurice Hinchey has served the people of the Empire State for over 35 years. Prior to his time in office, Maurice proudly served his country as a member of the United States Navy. He then went on to serve as a member in the state assembly for eighteen years, followed by ten consecutive terms as a U.S. Representative for the 22nd Congressional District of New York. Throughout his career Maurice has been a champion for the middle class, leading the charge for renewable energy and Wall Street reform and working tirelessly to get Americans back to work.  Michelle and I join the people of New York in thanking Congressman Hinchey for his service.

To learn more information about Congressman Hinchey and his legacy, visit the following link:

Author: U.S. House of Representatives
Permission: Public Domain

BOLD Nebraska Praises Obama Decision

Nebraskans Applaud President Obama's Decision on Keystone XL Pipeline

BOLD Nebraska (, a non-profit organization based in Lincoln, Nebraska, describes itself as progressive, independent, moderate, populist and everything in between.

According to the BOLD Nebraska website, its mission is to change the political landscape and restore political balance to the state.

A previous From The G-Man article quoted President Obama as saying, " I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied.  And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree."

The follow statement, as well as the comments of several noted Nebraskan representatives, was submitted by BOLD Nebraska in response to President Barack Obama's recent decision to hault the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project.
BOLD Nebraska stated, "President Obama announced the denial of TransCanada's permit request to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The President's bold decision will be celebrated for generations to come in our state. Nebraskans worked tirelessly over the past two years educating our neighbors on the risks of tarsands, researching land, wildlife and water impacts, protecting the livelihoods of family farms and ranches and standing up to elected officials who at times ignored the valid concerns of landowners and citizens."

"Republicans, including Nebraska's own Rep. Terry, have started to plot ways to mislead Americans on the pipeline in their efforts to defeat the President. Despite their pathetic attempts to protect Big Oil's profits instead of protecting Americans' land and water, citizens will never stop fighting TransCanada's risky export pipeline," the organization concluded.

"This is a hard fought victory for the citizens of Nebraska and this nation, and I can't thank President Obama enough for making the right call by denying the permit for the Keystone XL. It appears he is one politician who has placed the welfare of our citizens and natural resources ahead of big oil interests. The President has done the right thing and it is my hope that a foolhardy attempt by the Republicans to go around him can be headed off." Randy
 Thompson, landowner

“I want to thank President Obama for making this tough decision to deny the KXL permit. Standing strong in the Sand Hills of Nebraska against this foreign threat was the hardest task for us landowners while knowing eyes were watching us in D.C.  Thank you for watching and listening to the people of your country to make the right decision for the future of our children.”  Suz Luebbe, landowner 

"From day one of this fight, citizens and landowners had one goal in mind--stopping this risky and unnecessary export pipeline. The next time an oil company thinks they can bully their way through towns threatening landowners I am quite certain they will remember one word, Nebraska.  Our state stands very tall and proud today. We united our state to protect our land, water and the heritage of our family farms and ranches." Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska Director

“The President's decision protects America's land and water, which is vitally important to our future both strategically and economically. Our land and water will become increasingly valuable as the world's population grows and demands for food increase. TransCanada’s risky pipeline endangers these vital resources. Denying the permit also opens up opportunities for clean energy development like Nebraska's abundant wind and solar resources, which will create far more jobs. The tar sands pipeline being pushed by big oil interests represents the same kind of short-term profiteering and bad energy policies that led to $4 a gallon gasoline and near economic collapse under the previous administration. We do not want to go back down that road." Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club

“This proposed pipeline would carry us further down the dangerous path of our growing addiction to imported oil. The real solution to our energy needs is major new investments in clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, and solar energy. Those are the solutions that will create real and lasting jobs while protecting our air, land, water and wildlife.”  Duane Hovorka, Nebraska Wildlife Federation Executive Director

“President Obama’s decision appropriately respects the integrity of the decision-making process. Congress would do well to follow his lead. Since landowners will live with this pipeline for the next century, it is imperative that all possible care be taken to protect our landowners, water and land. Keystone XL proponents falsely claim this pipeline represents energy independence and meaningful job creation. The far better national energy and jobs policy that represents true energy independence and real ongoing job creation would be to develop wind resources in North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Congress seems more concerned about Big Oil’s profits than reducing our dependence on foreign oil in the first place.” John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union President

“As a lifelong resident of the state of Nebraska, I applaud President Obama for his courageous and far-sighted denial of the pipeline permit. I have renewed faith in his ability to put our country first and truly lead us into a better situation. I want to state clearly the governor and our legislators who support the Keystone XL do not speak for me. I want my grandchildren and all children to have a future and I want Nebraska and all of the United States to develop clean energy and public transportation. Please know that I will work in any way I can to support elected officials who act to build us a sustainable future. Thank you again, President Obama, for making such a wise choice.” Dr. Mary Pipher, citizen advocate and international author

“This was never about American jobs or about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, it was about lining the pockets of Big Oil and their cronies. We are thankful that President Obama saw through this scam and put the well-being of the people and the planet ahead of a foreign corporation's profits, and we hope that any attempts to circumvent this decision will fail miserably. If our nation is ever to be free from the "tyranny of oil," we have to start somewhere, and rejecting this permit is a good first step. The bottom line is, we can live just fine without this pipeline, but we can't live without clean air, clean water and healthy land.” Jane Wilson, citizen leader, Guardians of the Good Life

“Western Nebraska Resources Council welcomes this news as the only practical decision the President could make.  We are pleased that the threat of more habitat fragmentation of the American Burying Beetle and other sensitive species, is currently off the table.” Buffalo Bruce, Western Nebraska Resources Council

"This is a victory for our environment and for future generations that will look upon this decision as an important step toward reducing our addiction to oil and moving America and the world toward a cleaner, safer and healthier future with tremendous job-creating opportunities in the creation of renewable energy systems and public transportation for all." Steve Larrick, Elected official, Lower Platte South Natural Resource District

Image source: Own work
Author: TUBS
Permission:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Obama Aims to Increase Travel, Tourism in the U.S.

"The More Folks Who Visit America, the More Americans We Get Back to Work"

Today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order and announce new initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States. The U.S. tourism and travel industry is a substantial component of U.S. GDP and employment, representing 2.7% of GDP and 7.5 million jobs in 2010 – with international travel to the United States supporting 1.2 million jobs alone.

The travel and tourism industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increased its share of the international travel market.

Today’s announcement offers important steps to bolster job creation through a range of steps to better promote the United States as a tourism destination and improve secure visa processing. This is the most recent of a series of executive actions the President has announced to put Americans back to work and strengthen the U.S. economy.

“Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win. That’s how we’re going to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anyone can make it if they try,” said President Obama.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, i
nternational travel resulted in $134 billion in U.S. exports in 2010 and is the nation’s largest service export industry, with 7% of total exports and 24% of service exports.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that every additional 65 international visitors to the United States can generate enough exports to support an additional travel and tourism-related job.

According to the travel industry and Bureau of Economic Analysis, international travel is particularly important as overseas or “long-haul” travelers spend on average $4,000 on each visit.

Today’s announcement calls for a national strategy to make the United States the world’s top travel and tourism destination, as part of a comprehensive effort to spur job creation. The number of travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes – such as China, Brazil, and India – is projected to grow by 135%, 274%, and 50% respectively by 2016 when compared to 2010.

Nationals from these three countries contributed approximately $15 billion dollars and thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy in 2010.  In addition, Chinese and Brazilian tourists currently spend more than $6,000 and $5,000 respectively each, per trip, according to the Department of Commerce.

The Department of State has made tremendous progress in processing non-immigrant visas from these key markets, allowing them to issue more than 7.5 million visas in the last fiscal year, a 17% increase from the previous fiscal year.

In the 2011 fiscal year, consular officers adjudicated more than a million visa applications in China and more than 800,000 in Brazil, representing 34 % growth in China and 42% growth in Brazil. Improving visa processing capacity for China and Brazil is particularly important because of this growth.

Today’s Executive Order charges several agencies to take part in efforts to increase travel and tourism in the United States:

The Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior will be charged with: 
Co-leading an inter-agency task force to develop recommendations for a National Travel & Tourism Strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States, thereby expanding job creation.

This Task Force will coordinate with the Corporation for Travel Promotion (currently doing business as BrandUSA), a non-profit corporation established by Congress through the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 to promote travel to the United States, and the Tourism Policy Council to ensure private sector participation and cross-agency coordination.

A particular focus of the Task Force will be on strategies for increasing tourism and recreation jobs by promoting visits to our national treasures. The Department of the Interior manages iconic destinations in our national parks, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, monuments and other public lands that attract travelers from around the country and the globe.

In 2010, more than 400 million visits were made by American and international travelers to these lands, contributing nearly $50 billion in economic activity and 400,000 jobs. Eco-tourism and outdoor recreation also have an outsize impact on rural economies, particularly in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security will be charged with: 
   increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40% in 2012; ensuring that 80% of non-immigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application; increasing efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program and travel by nationals eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program, and expanding reciprocal trusted travel programs for expedited travel (such as the Global Entry program).

The Department of Commerce will be charged with: e
stablishing and maintaining a publicly available website with key information and statistics from across the Federal Government to assist industry and travelers in understanding visa processes in key travel and tourism markets, and entry times into the United States.

The Departments of State and Homeland Security announced a pilot program to simplify and speed up the non-immigrant visa process for certain applicants, including the ability to waive interviews for some very low-risk applicants, such as individuals from any country renewing non-immigrant visas, or, in Brazil, younger or older first-time applicants. Link to fact sheet 
HERE for more information.

Final Rule to Expand and Make the Global Entry Program Permanent: 
 Global Entry is a program within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was created as a pilot in 2008 to facilitate expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.

Through a final rule, the Administration will expand and make the Global Entry program permanent. Due in part to innovative public-private partnerships, the Global Entry program now has more than 246,000 members, more than one million trusted travelers have Global Entry benefits
, and efforts are underway to expand enrollment even further.

There are currently 131 Global Entry kiosks at 20 airports and since launching, members have used Global Entry kiosks over 1.7 million times, saving CBP officers over 36,450 inspection hours—staff hours that CBP has then re-allocated to expedite regular passenger queues.

This final rule will allow the program to be expanded to an additional 4 airports in Minneapolis, Charlotte, Denver and Phoenix, making the Global Entry program and expedited clearance available in airports that service approximately 97% of international travelers.

A new membership of 32 private sector CEOs have been appointed by Commerce Secretary Bryson to serve on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will build upon the work undertaken by the past Board addressing travel facilitation, visa policy, improving the international travel entry experience, aviation security, energy security, crisis communications and research and data, among other issues.

The Board consists of corporate executives across the nation, representing all aspects of the travel and tourism industry, who are appointed to a two-year term to advise the Secretary of Commerce on policies affecting the travel and tourism industry. See the full list of new members 

Nomination of Taiwan to Visa Waiver Program: currently, more than 60% of international tourists do not require a U.S. visa, in most cases because they travel under the Visa Waiver Program.  The Secretary of State has formally requested that the Secretary of Homeland Security consider Taiwan for the Visa Waiver Program.

Over the past year, Taiwan has undertaken significant efforts to improve its law enforcement and document security standards to meet the strict requirements for Visa Waiver Program eligibility. Under the Visa Waiver Program, participating nationals can travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

The program was established to promote travel and tourism with our foreign partners, stimulate the tourism industry, and permit the Department of State to focus consular resources in other areas. Since November 2008, the Department of Homeland Security has added nine countries to the Visa Waiver Program, bringing the program total to 36 countries.

Image courtesy of

Kodak Files for Bankruptcy

Governor Cuomo Urges Government to Come Together to Support Rochester's Growth

The Governor has issued the following statement: 

"The announcement that Kodak is filing for bankruptcy is difficult and disappointing news for the City and people of Rochester. Although Kodak will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process, the State has been in touch with the company and local officials and New York State stands ready to support the Rochester community. This is a time for all of us at all levels of government to come together and work with the private sector to support Rochester's growth. Rochester is known the world over as a place where businesses can come to thrive and grow and the State will continue to empower the Rochester community in order to build on that remarkable strength."

Goldman Takes a Punch in Profits

In the wake of right-sizing after the financial crisis, profits for the financial giant fall, but still beat analyst expectations.

By David Earl
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of