Friday, April 27, 2012

Improving Educational Opportunities for Service Members, Veterans and Their Families

First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama speak at Fort Stewart about a new executive order that will help ensure all of America’s service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members have the information they need to make informed educational decisions and are protected from aggressive and deceptive targeting by educational institutions.

'Restraint is a Good Idea for All Parties Concerned'


Expert on Korean Region Breaks Down Latest Conflict and Expresses Serious Concern


The tense situation between the two Koreas has reached a new level, with North Korea threatening to take "special action" against South Korea and "reduce them to ashes".

The latest war of words has many wondering if it's only a matter of time before tensions boil over and a full-scale war erupts. 

In order to better assess the conflict and the seriousness of North Korea's latest threats, From The G-Man contacted Charles K. Armstrong, the Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences at Columbia University in New York City.

 Dr. Charles K. Armstrong

Dr. Armstrong specializes in modern Korean, East Asian and international history. He has served as a special guest commentator for this news and information site on two previous occasions, and From The G-Man proudly welcomes him back for an analysis of the current crisis and a discussion on how the United States and its allies could be impacted.  

G-Man: Recent news reports have indicated that the international community believes the threats by the North Korean government are nothing more than an attempt to save face in the wake of its missile launch fiasco. Do you agree, or should the threats be taken more seriously?

Armstrong:  Saving face is part of it, but the regime seems to feel it needs more than ever to show the world it won't be trifled with and can defend itself. North Korea is not likely to attack anyone unprovoked, but it has a very low threshold for what it considers "provocation", such as military exercises conducted by the U.S. and South Korean. We need to be very careful that tensions don't escalate, which requires restraint on all sides.

G-Man: United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has urged the North Korean government to avoid doing anything that might cause further tension in the region. Do you suspect his request will not be heeded, especially when you consider the fact that the North Korean regime and military are undergoing a transition in power? 

Armstrong: It should be clear by now that North Korea does what it wants and isn't likely to pay much attention to an American Secretary of Defense. That doesn't mean North Korea is going to act irrationally or suicidally, but it can lash out if it feels cornered. Again, restraint is a good idea for all parties concerned, not just North Korea.

G-Man: Who is primarily responsible for the threats being made against South Korea -- and most recently the United States and its allies? Is it Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un or "hawkish" officials within the North Korean government? 

Armstrong: Hard to say. It's not clear that there are strong divisions within the North Korean leadership, but Kim Jong Un has to keep the army happy above all, and when push comes to shove, the Supreme Leader will side with the military -- which tends to be more "hawkish" than other parts of the government.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

G-Man: Kim Jong Un, is only 28. He's the youngest head of state in the world. Will his impressive educational and military background be enough to keep many world leaders from viewing him as "a snot-nosed kid that has no business leading a country"?

Armstrong: It's going to take some time for Kim Jong Un to build up his credentials and be taken seriously.  If he's like his father, he won't take much to the public spotlight anyway. Interestingly, when former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's family came for Kim Jong Il's funeral, Kim Jong Un made of point of shaking hands and trading words with Kim Dae Jung's grandson, who's about his age. His youth might actually make him more appealing to younger South Koreans.

G-Man: Based on what you know about the Supreme Leader, what concerns you most -- regarding his role as a leader and as a person? 

Armstrong: I do worry that he's in over his head and could make rash decisions, but so far he's being protected and guided by close relatives and members of his father's inner circle. Eventually, he'll break out of that cocoon and we'll see what kind of leader he really is.

G-Man: Consider the following: You're an advisor to the President, and North Korea successfully launches another long-ranged missile. What other options, since sanctions clearly aren't working, would you present to President Obama to deal with North Korea's acts of defiance?

Armstrong: This is why I'm happy not to be in politics. All the U.S. can really do is close ranks with our allies and wait until things calm down, then try negotiation again. Eventually, this problem has to be solved, and neither sanctions nor military action are the answer.

G-Man: North Korea has conducted nuclear tests and launched missiles for years, much to the chagrin of the U.S. and other countries. The Obama Administration has basically "stood down" when it comes to North Korea, but they've made it abundantly clear that similar actions by the Iranian government would not be tolerated and that every option would be considered to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Why has North Korea been allowed to get away with so much for so long?

Armstrong: Iran is a special case, given the volatile nature of the Middle East and the U.S. relationship with Israel. North Korea seems like something easier to "contain."

Flag of North Korea

G-Man: If North Korea attacks its neighbors in the south, what do you suspect the Obama Administration will do, first and foremost?

Armstrong: I can't imagine any scenario under which North Korea would launch a major attack on South Korea, unless it was attacked first. A new war on the peninsula could be catastrophic for the South and North alike. But if war did break out, the American response would have to be quick and powerful -- hopefully without the use of nuclear weapons. If North Korea itself decides to use nukes, all bets are off. I wouldn't even want to think about it.

G-Man: I've asked you this before, Dr. Armstrong, and I'm going to ask you again. If South Korea is attacked, on a scale of one to ten, how likely is it that the attack could launch World War III?

Armstrong: I don't think it would lead to WORLD War III, since the Russians and others would not be involved, but the Chinese probably would, along with the Japanese. The result would be a catastrophic REGIONAL (East Asian) war. Millions could die. Bottom line is: war is NOT an option, and we should be doing everything possible to avoid it.

North Korean soldiers photo courtesy of:

Dr. Charles Armstrong photo courtesy of:

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un photo courtesy of:

North Korean flag image courtesy of Wikipedia

West Wing Week: 4/27/12

Krueger: 'The Economy Posted Its 11th Straight Quarter of Positive Growth'

Advance Estimate of GDP for the First Quarter of 2012

The following statement was provided by Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. 

Today’s advance estimate indicates that the economy posted its 11th straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 2.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year (see first graph below). While the continued expansion of the economy is encouraging, additional growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the deep recession that began at the end of 2007. 

It is important to recognize that GDP is made up of various components.  Several of the private sector components of GDP grew solidly in the first quarter. For example, personal consumption expenditures increased by 2.9 percent at an annual rate in 2012Q1, as compared with 2.1 percent in the previous quarter. Auto production increased robustly, accounting for fully half of overall GDP growth in the first quarter. Residential construction increased by 19 percent, marking the first time since 2005 that residential construction has increased four quarters in a row. These are encouraging signs that the private sector is continuing to heal from the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

Overall GDP growth was weighed down by reduced spending in the government sector, however. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, national defense expenditures fell by 8.1 percent in the first quarter. Government spending across all levels subtracted 0.6 percentage point from overall GDP growth.  The latest report continues a pattern of moderate growth in the private sector components of GDP and contraction of the government components of GDP. The second graph below displays the four-quarter percent change in the private components of real GDP and of government spending. 

If only the private sector components of GDP are considered, GDP grew by 3.5 percent in 2012Q1.

Click on graphs to enlarge.

Top Newsy Headlines: Zimmerman Raised $200K Online

More headlines: Spain's unemployment hits 18-year high; Four explosions in Ukraine; Chinese dissident escapes house arrest.

By Nathan Byrne
Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Link courtesy of

Shadow Shogun Survives Scandal

Japan’s Ichiro Ozawa has been found not guilty of fraud. The political powerhouse could now torpedo plans for a tax increase.

By Kevin Donnellan
Anchor: Christian Bryant
Link courtesy of

China Tightens Belt on Illegal Foreigners

For the first time, China publicly addresses the issue of problems surrounding the increasing number of illegal workers.

By Regina Wang
Anchor: Christian Bryant
Link courtesy of

Taylor Convicted of Human Rights Abuse

Liberian warlord and former president Charles Taylor was found guilty of aiding war crimes in Sierra Leone.


By Emoke Bebiak 
Anchor: Christian Bryant
Link courtesy of

New Secret Service Prostitution Scandal in El Salvador?

The Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia has been snagging headlines for weeks, but new reports suggest the same happened in El Salvador.

By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Thursday, April 26, 2012

White House Briefs

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes young people to the White House on "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day". 

Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients Named

President Obama: "I Look Forward to Recognizing Them with This Award"

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama named thirteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.  The awards will be presented at the White House in late spring.

“These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation.  They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place.  I look forward to recognizing them with this award,” said President Obama.

The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Madeleine Albright

From 1997 to 2001, under President William J. Clinton, Albright served as the 64th United States Secretary of State, the first woman to hold that position.  During her tenure, she worked to enlarge NATO and helped lead the Alliance’s campaign against terror and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, pursued peace in the Middle East and Africa, sought to reduce the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons, and was a champion of democracy, human rights, and good governance across the globe.  From 1993 to 1997, she was America’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  Since leaving office, she founded the Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management, returned to teaching at Georgetown University, and authored five books.  Albright chairs the National Democratic Institute and is President of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

John Doar

Doar was a legendary public servant and leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s.  He served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  In that capacity, he was instrumental during many major civil rights crises, including singlehandedly preventing a riot in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963.  Doar brought notable civil rights cases, including obtaining convictions for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and leading the effort to enforce the right to vote and implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  He later served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as it investigated the Watergate scandal and considered articles of impeachment against President Nixon.  Doar continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.
Bob Dylan

One of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century, Dylan released his first album in 1962.  Known for his rich and poetic lyrics, his work had considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades.  He has won 11 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award.  He was named Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Art et des Lettres and has received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.  Dylan was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts.  He has written more than 600 songs, and his songs have been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists.  He continues recording and touring around the world today.

William Foege

A physician and epidemiologist, Foege helped lead the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.  He was appointed Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1977 and, with colleagues, founded the Task Force for Child Survival in 1984.  Foege became Executive Director of The Carter Center in 1986 and continues to serve the organization as a Senior Fellow.  He helped shape the global health work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and remains a champion of a wide array of issues, including child survival and development, injury prevention, and preventative medicine.  Foege’s leadership has contributed significantly to increased awareness and action on global health issues, and his enthusiasm, energy, and effectiveness in these endeavors have inspired a generation of leaders in public health.

John Glenn

Glenn is a former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator.  In 1962, he was the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth.  After retiring from the Marine Corps, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate in Ohio in 1974.  He was an architect and sponsor of the 1978 Nonproliferation Act and served as Chairman of the Senate Government Affairs committee from 1978 until 1995.  In 1998, Glenn became the oldest person to visit space at the age of 77.  He retired from the Senate in 1999.  Glenn is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Gordon Hirabayashi

Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he refused the order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory.   Consequently, he was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle of defying the exclusion order and violating curfew.  Hirabayashi appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1943.  Following World War II and his time in prison, Hirabayashi obtained his doctoral degree in sociology and became a professor.  In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Hirabayashi died on January 2, 2012.

Dolores Huerta

Huerta is a civil rights, workers, and women’s advocate. With Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.  Huerta has served as a community activist and a political organizer, and was influential in securing the passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, and disability insurance for farmworkers in California.  In 2002, she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, an organization dedicated to developing community organizers and national leaders.  In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.

Jan Karski

Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world.  He worked as a courier, entering the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, where he saw first-hand the atrocities occurring under Nazi occupation.  Karski later traveled to London to meet with the Polish government-in-exile and with British government officials.  He subsequently traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt.  Karski published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D. at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.  Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.

Juliette Gordon Low

Born in 1860, Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912.  The organization strives to teach girls self-reliance and resourcefulness.  It also encourages girls to seek fulfillment in the professional world and to become active citizens in their communities.  Since 1912, the Girl Scouts has grown into the largest educational organization for girls and has had over 50 million members.  Low died in 1927.  This year, the Girl Scouts celebrate their 100th Anniversary, calling 2012 “The Year of the Girl.”

Toni Morrison

One of our nation’s most celebrated novelists, Morrison is renowned for works such as Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Beloved, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988.  When she became the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1993, Morrison’s citation captured her as an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”  She created the Princeton Atelier at Princeton University to convene artists and students.  Morrison continues to write today. 
Shimon Peres

An ardent advocate for Israel's security and for peace, Shimon Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007.  First elected to the Knesset in 1959, he has served in a variety of positions throughout the Israeli government, including in twelve Cabinets as Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Transport and Communications.  Peres served as Prime Minister from 1984-1986 and 1995-1996.  Along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Foreign Minister during the Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords. Through his life and work, he has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.

John Paul Stevens

Stevens served as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010, when he retired as the third longest-serving Justice in the Court’s history.  Known for his independent, pragmatic and rigorous approach to judging, Justice Stevens and his work have left a lasting imprint on the law in areas such as civil rights, the First Amendment, the death penalty, administrative law, and the separation of powers.  He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, and previously served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Stevens is a veteran of World War II, in which he served as a naval intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Pat Summitt

In addition to accomplishing an outstanding career as the all-time winningest leader among all NCAA basketball coaches, Summitt has taken the University of Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball.  She has received numerous awards, including being named Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century.  Off the court, she has been a spokesperson against Alzheimer's.  The Pat Summitt Foundation will make grants to nonprofits to provide education and awareness, support to patients and families, and research to prevent, cure and ultimately eradicate early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. 

ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX News and MSNBC Executives and News Directors....Watch This!

The Real Reason Why Network Owners and News Outlets are Losing Audiences and Ratings to the Internet

Note: In what has now become an annual tradition, From The G-Man is re-publishing this very special commentary on the eve of Edward R. Murrow's death. 

This powerful scene is from the film "Good Night and Good Luck", a film that I consider to be one of the greatest ever made.

Here, legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow, played to perfection by David Strathairn, ends up serving a dish of cold, hard truth to attendees at a gala in his honor.

Murrow, fearlessly and tactfully, warns the network owners and media drones about the consequences of abusing the true nature journalism and using television as a mechanism to distort reality and truth.

April 27 marks the anniversary of Murrow's death, and I'm posting the scene to honor him, his brilliant and unforgettable legacy, and to inform everyone involved with network news -- from owners to commentators -- that Murrow's dire prediction has come to pass.

You failed to heed his warning, and now it's only a matter of time before you all are replaced by independent, reliable and viable Internet news sources.

Having said that, good night....and good luck.

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

'The Special Bond of Friendship Between the United States and Israel Has Grown Stronger'

Statement by the President on Israeli 
Independence Day

Sixty-four years ago, the United States became the first country in the world to recognize the State of Israel--the realization of a modern day state in the historic homeland of the Jewish People.  Since that momentous day, the special bond of friendship between the United States and Israel has grown stronger. Ours is a unique relationship founded on an unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security, and anchored by our common interests and deeply held values.  These values continue to enlighten and guide our efforts as we work with Israel, as well as with others in the region, to confront shared challenges and to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution that will usher in a future of peace, security, and dignity for the people of Israel and its neighbors.

Today, as Israelis celebrate their 64th Independence Day and their remarkable achievements over the past six decades, it gives me great pleasure to extend my best wishes, and the best wishes of the American people, to President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the people of Israel. 

Top Newsy Headlines: Pakistan PM Convicted of Contempt

Syrian explosion kills at least 70; Liberian president convicted of war crimes; Murdoch admits phone-hacking cover-up.

By Harumendhah Helmy
Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Link courtesy of

North Korea Makes Threats Against US and South Korea

A North Korean military official has threatened the U.S. and South Korea as it prepares for nuclear test.

By Luke Leonard
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

MTV Hopes New Online Game Will Energize Youth Vote

MTV's new online 'Fantasy Election' game aims to encourage young people to get involved in the 2012 elections.

By Gillian Stedman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

UK In Double-Dip Recession

Q1 figures show the UK has fallen back into recession, the first double-dip recession there since the 1970s.

By Tatiana Darie
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Germany Re-releases Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' With Counter-Notes

The German state of Bavaria will re-release Hitler’s autobiographical work to prevent neo-Nazis spreading it as propaganda.

By Niels Schack Norgaard
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Pot Vending Machine Shows Up in California

Santa Ana California is home to the first thumbprint-operated pot vending machine.

By David Earl
Anchor: David Earl 
Link courtesy of

U.S Finds First Case of Mad Cow in Six Years

Officials find mad cow disease in a California dairy cow halting some beef sales.

By Christine Karsten
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Politics in Action: H.R. 3523


H.R. 3523 - Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act
(Rep. Rogers, R-MI, and 112 cosponsors)

The Administration is committed to increasing public-private sharing of information about cybersecurity threats as an essential part of comprehensive legislation to protect the Nation's vital information systems and critical infrastructure. The sharing of information must be conducted in a manner that preserves Americans' privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace. Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation's core critical infrastructure from cyber threats.  Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, in its current form.

H.R. 3523 fails to provide authorities to ensure that the Nation's core critical infrastructure is protected while repealing important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards. For example, the bill would allow broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the Government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information. Moreover, such sharing should be accomplished in a way that permits appropriate sharing within the Government without undue restrictions imposed by private sector companies that share information.

The bill also lacks sufficient limitations on the sharing of personally identifiable information between private entities and does not contain adequate oversight or accountability measures necessary to ensure that the data is used only for appropriate purposes. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held legally accountable for failing to safeguard personal information adequately.  The Government, rather than establishing a new antitrust exemption under this bill, should ensure that information is not shared for anti-competitive purposes.

In addition, H.R. 3523 would inappropriately shield companies from any suits where a company's actions are based on cyber threat information identified, obtained, or shared under this bill, regardless of whether that action otherwise violated Federal criminal law or results in damage or loss of life. This broad liability protection not only removes a strong incentive to improving cybersecurity, it also potentially undermines our Nation's economic, national security, and public safety interests.

H.R. 3523 effectively treats domestic cybersecurity as an intelligence activity and thus, significantly departs from longstanding efforts to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres.  The Administration believes that a civilian agency – the Department of Homeland Security – must have a central role in domestic cybersecurity, including for conducting and overseeing the exchange of cybersecurity information with the private sector and with sector-specific Federal agencies.

The American people expect their Government to enhance security without undermining their privacy and civil liberties. Without clear legal protections and independent oversight, information sharing legislation will undermine the public's trust in the Government as well as in the Internet by undermining fundamental privacy, confidentiality, civil liberties, and consumer protections.  The Administration's draft legislation, submitted last May, provided for information sharing with clear privacy protections and strong oversight by the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. 

The Administration's proposal also provided authority for the Federal Government to ensure that the Nation's critical infrastructure operators are taking the steps necessary to protect the American people.  The Congress must also include authorities to ensure our Nation's most vital critical infrastructure assets are properly protected by meeting minimum cybersecurity performance standards.  Industry would develop these standards collaboratively with the Department of Homeland Security.  Voluntary measures alone are insufficient responses to the growing danger of cyber threats. 

Legislation should address core critical infrastructure vulnerabilities without sacrificing the fundamental values of privacy and civil liberties for our citizens, especially at a time our Nation is facing challenges to our economic well-being and national security.  The Administration looks forward to continuing to engage with the Congress in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to enact cybersecurity legislation to address these critical issues. However, for the reasons stated herein, if H.R. 3523 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Top Newsy Headlines: Foreign Markets Respond to Mad Cow Claim

John Edwards' defense to question former aide; Romney sweeps primaries; Obama on Jimmy Fallon.

By Nathan Byrne and Harumendhah Helmy
Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Link courtesy of