Saturday, May 5, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

West Wing Week: 5/4/12

This week, the President traveled to Afghanistan to sign an historic Strategic Partnership Agreement, visit with our troops and address the American people about responsibly ending the war. The President also traveled to Fort Stewart to sign an Executive Order to protect service members and their families from deceptive marketing practices, spoke at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, welcomed the Prime Minister of Japan, and spoke at the Building and Construction Trades conference.

Krueger: 'We Need to Do More'

Statement on the Employment Situation in April

WASHINGTON, DC – Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in April.

Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but much more remains to be done to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and the deep recession.  It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began at the end of 2007.  President Obama has said that prosperity in America has always come from a strong and growing middle class.  He has made clear that getting back to where we were is not enough. We need to do more, which is why the President has laid out his blueprint for an American economy that is built to last and will continue to urge Congress to act to do more to grow the economy and create jobs.

Private employer payrolls increased by 130,000 jobs in April, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 115,000.  The unemployment rate dipped from 8.2% in March to 8.1% in April, according to the household survey.  Though labor force participation fell over the month according to the household survey, since August the unemployment rate has fallen by 1.0 percentage point, from 9.1% to 8.1%, and nearly three-quarters of that drop is attributable to increased employment.

Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth the economy has added private sector jobs for 26 straight months, for a total of 4.25 million payroll jobs over that period.  With upward revisions of 65,000 jobs to the past two months’ employment reports, in the first quarter of 2012 private employment expanded by 697,000 jobs, the largest quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2006.  So far this year, 827,000 private sector jobs have been added, on net.

Manufacturing continues to be a bright spot and added 16,000 jobs in April.  After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 489,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010.  To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs and encourage the growing trend of insourcing.

Other sectors with net job increases included wholesale and retail trade (+36,700), professional and business services (+62,000), and education and health services (+23,000).  Transportation and warehousing lost 16,600 jobs, and construction lost 2,000 jobs.  Local governments shed 12,000 jobs, mostly in education.   

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available. 

(Click graph to enlarge) 

Top Newsy Headlines: Dissident Can Apply to Study Abroad


By Nathan Byrne and Harumendhah Helmy

Anchor: Nathan Byrne
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Unemployment Rate Down, Job Creation Misses Mark


By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Megan Murphy
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Ikea Accused of Using Prisoners to Manufacture Furniture

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By Gillian Stedman

Anchor: Jim Flink
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Dozens Killed in Nigerian Market Attack


By Kevin Donnellan

Anchor: Christian Bryant
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Feds Crack Down on Medicare Fraud


By Stacey Welsh

Anchor: Christian Bryant
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

White House Briefs

President Obama at a Cinco de Mayo Reception

President Obama Invites African Leaders to Camp David Summit

Statement by the Press Secretary Jay Carney

President Obama has invited African leaders to join leaders at the G-8 Summit at Camp David on May 19 for a discussion session on accelerating progress towards food security in Africa.  

The African leaders who have been invited to participate in the Summit are: Chairperson of the African Union and President of Benin Yayi Boni, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, President John Mills of Ghana, and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania. 

In Memoriam....Captain Bruce K. Clark

Died While Supporting "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Monday, May 7 in honor of a New York soldier who died on May 1.

Captain Bruce K. Clark died in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He was assigned to A Company, Troop Command, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, in El Paso, Texas. Captain Clark was from Spencerport.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I express my condolences to the family, friends, and fellow soldiers of Captain Clark," said Governor Cuomo. 

"We mourn the loss of this New York soldier and we will honor his service and dedication to our nation."

From The G-Man would like to take this opportunity to honor 
Captain Bruce K. Clark, his love of country, and his service with the following video tribute. May he forever rest in peace. 

Video uploaded to YouTube by moderatepopulist

Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense

FreshConnect Grants to Provide Low-Income Communities with NY Farm Products

34 Projects Feature Creative, Local Solutions to Improve Access to Fresh, Healthy Food

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced FreshConnect grants to 34 projects around the state that will increase access to New York farm products for residents in low-income and underserved areas.

"This is really a win-win situation for farmers and for families across the state as we try to provide more access and easier access to locally grown, fresh farm products," Governor Cuomo said.

"These FreshConnect grants will support creative solutions to get New York farm products to underserved areas of the state, creating new economic opportunities for our farmers while, at the same time, providing healthy options for more New Yorkers."

Almost 1.5 million New Yorkers live in areas with limited supermarket access. Expanding access to fresh food in underserved communities has been shown to both improve nutrition and lower costs related to obesity and diet-related disease, while also fostering community and economic development.

Governor Cuomo launched the FreshConnect program last year to create new farmers' markets and support existing markets that provided fresh produce to high-need areas.

With this round of funding, the program will have helped a total of 48 projects throughout the state bring New York farm products to communities in need. 

The governor expanded the FreshConnect Program this year to support not only farmers’ markets, but other creative solutions to improve access to fresh, locally produced food by low-income or underserved communities.

As a result, the program received over 121 proposals and is providing funding to the top projects that exhibit local innovative solutions to connect communities in need with New York farm products.

Examples of funded projects include: Farmers’ markets and youth-operated farm stands that will be created or expanded to better serve low-income residents in food deserts; subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares or low-income CSA programs that will introduce over 100 new families to weekly deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables; the introduction of EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) services for the first time at 13 farmers’ markets to allow these farmers markets to accept food stamps, along with plans to increase Food Stamp purchases through promotion and incentives; free transportation services to help increase traffic at existing markets and allow those with limited resources an opportunity to attend and shop at a farmers’ market; and improving distribution of locally grown, fresh food to food pantries and congregate feeding programs

Applicants received extra points in the competitive ranking process for including a food donation program in their proposed project. As a result, nearly all recipients of FreshConnect funding will be coordinating a local food donation program to connect food pantries or food banks with New York farm products, as part of their funded project. All FreshConnect projects will accept Food Stamps, if applicable, and are encouraged to accept Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Fruit & Vegetable Checks, Farmers' Market Nutrition Program coupons, and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition coupons, to ensure that all citizens have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, regardless of income.

The FreshConnect program will also support the continuation of its flagship market, the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers’ Market, located at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. New York State Office Building in Central Harlem.

Slated to open in mid-June and to be managed by the Harlem Memorial Community Development Corporation, the market will feature a wide assortment of New York farm products, as well as family activities and community outreach that will support the FreshConnect program’s mission to increase access to fresh food in low-income and underserved neighborhoods. 

The FreshConnect program will also again offer FreshConnect Checks, a nutrition incentive to encourage food stamp recipients to use their benefits at participating farmers’ markets by providing $2 rebate checks for every $5 in Food Stamps spent at participating markets.

“Like the crops we harvest, the FreshConnect projects Governor Cuomo is awarding today are born from the ground up and are a true reflection of the need and interest at the local level to help better connect fresh and healthy food from New York farmers with those in rural and urban areas that lack access," said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, noted, "This is great news for so many families across New York. Millions of New Yorkers do not have access to fresh, healthy food. This program will help ensure that more families are able to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which gives people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, saves billions in health care costs, and creates good-paying jobs right here at home."

"The projects promoted by the FreshConnect program represent one giant leap towards a healthier New York. I applaud Gov. Cuomo for continuing to find new and exciting ways to provide access to fresh food to underserved New Yorkers while giving a much needed boost to the State's agriculture. I am confident that the program will be a huge success and look forward to visiting the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers’ Market, located right by my district office," added U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel.

U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez stated, "Making nutritious food available to underserved areas can help New Yorkers lead longer and healthier lives."

The FreshConnect program is administered through a partnership between the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Development, and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

You can review additional comments and the list of the 2012 FreshConnect grant recipients by visiting

Meeks Introduces Resolution to Commend Government of Turkey

Congressman Lauds Efforts to Facilitate, Host and Care for Refugees Fleeing Assad Regime and Syrian Violence

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) announced that he introduced a resolution this week to commend the government of Turkey for its efforts to facilitate, host and care for refugees fleeing the Assad regime’s escalating violence in Syria.

“The ongoing brutality of the Syrian government against its own citizenry has resulted in the loss of nearly 9,000 Syrians, including women and children, destroying communities and livelihoods, triggering massive population displacement within Syria and throughout the region, and creating a deepening humanitarian crisis,” said Meeks.

“In response to this humanitarian crisis the Government of Turkey has hosted, as of mid-April 2012, nearly 25,000 Syrian refugees in camps in eastern provinces and has allowed visa-free entry of tens of thousands of Syrians who have fled Syria but not sought refuge in the camps. Despite significant increases in the number of Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey, the Turkish Government has continued to demonstrate generous hospitality, accepting full responsibility for assisting displaced Syrians within its borders, maintaining an open border to fleeing Syrians, and is responding robustly to their humanitarian needs.”

For these reasons, Congressman Meeks adopted the resolution, which recognizes the significant efforts undertaken by the Turkish government to adequately respond to this regional crisis by hosting and caring for the Syrian refugees within its borders.

The resolution also recognizes Turkey as an emerging global humanitarian actor that has played important roles in various international relief efforts, including in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan.

Occupy Wall Street Lives!

A Special Guest Commentary by Renowned Political and Social Activist Ted Glick

Future Hope column, May 2, 2012

Occupy Wall Street Lives!
By Ted Glick

As I walked around Union Square in NYC yesterday between 4 and 5:30, waiting for the march down Broadway to begin, memories of occupiedZuccotti Park came to mind. Handmade signs about a very wide range of issues were everywhere. There were drumming and musical groups doing their rhythmic things and people dancing as they did so. There was Reverend Billy performing, and an incredibly well done colored chalk piece of artwork on the sidewalk near 17th and Broadway. People everywhere, mainly white folks but diverse, lots of young people but with a significant number of non-young people.

And a spirit of hope, a spirit which declared: “we are here, we are organized, we have not been defeated and we are not going away.”

And so many of us! During the march down Broadway my wife and I stood to the side of the march for a while, holding our own handmade signs (opposing nuclear power and the Keystone pipeline) for marchers to see and watching happily as block after block of people walked past us.

At one point I climbed up on a railing and looked down and up Broadway to get a sense of how long the march was, which looked like between 12 and 15 blocks. Then I did some rough counting of how many people were in half of one of those blocks to come up with my personal estimate that there were probably 30-40,000 people taking part in this action yesterday.

I’m pretty sure this is the largest demonstration Occupy Wall Street has ever done.

Then again, this was not just Occupy Wall Street. About 100 organizations endorsed the May Day action, many of them labor union locals, as well as student, immigrant rights, peace, left, Green and local occupy groups. This was a broad and important coalitional effort, and Occupy Wall Street should be commended for its understanding of the strategic importance of such an effort and the work it and others did to produce such an inspiring result.

It was noteworthy that if there were any signs in support of Obama, or against Romney, I didn’t see them, and I saw a lot of signs as I stood watching the march go by. This was a march that was issue-oriented and very independent in politics and tone.

As the lead headline of the Spring, 2012 issue of “The Occupied Wall Street Journal” put it, this was about the need to “Vote Every Day.”

The closing lines of that article were right on point: “Democracy is not simply speaking truth to power. It’s something we do, that we can’t ask for. Something like a rebellion. The idea is simple and yet it seems far off, like a dream. But this is not a dream. And it’s not far off.”

It is good, it is oh so good, to feel again the way I felt last fall when the occupy movement burst onto the political scene. It’s been a long winter, but it has clearly been put to good use. Let’s keep building, let’s keep acting, let’s uplift the people and defend our deeply wounded Mother Earth. Power * to * the * people.

Ted Glick’s previous articles and other information can be found at, and he can be followed on twitter at

Photo courtesy of Ted Glick.

Top Newsy Headlines: U.S.-Russia Missile Talks Near Dead End

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By Nathan Byrne and Harumendhah Helmy

Anchor: Nathan Byrne
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Norwegian Professor Links Mossad To Norway Massacre


By Niels Schack Norgaard

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
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Harvard and MIT Join to Offer Free Online Courses 

By Breana Jones

Anchor: Carissa Loethen
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Media Companies Among Q1 Best Performers

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By David Earl

Anchor: David Earl
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Details Murky as Blind Chinese Activist Leaves U.S. Embassy

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By Una Lue and Christina Hartman

With contributions  from Newsy's Nan Wang
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Former NFL Star Junior Seau Dead at 43; Suspected Suicide


By Erin Dismeier

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NFL Legend Junior Seau Dies of Gunshot Wound

Police Investigating Case as a Possible Suicide

Former San Diego Chargers superstar Junior Seau was found dead in his Oceanside, California, home on Wednesday. He was 43.

According to Police Chief Frank McCoy, Seau's body was discovered by his girlfriend. He was unconscious and suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. McCoy also indicated that a gun was found in close proximity to the body and that the possible cause of death was suicide.

Seau was selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times and spent most of his career with the Chargers. He was eventually traded to the Miami Dolphins and ended his career with an appearance in the 2007 Super Bowl between the  New England Patriots and the New York Giants. 

From The G-Man and will provide more information on the death of Junior Seau as it becomes available. 

Photo source:  file:2008 NE Patriots players.jpg
Author: JJ Hall

Is Black Radio Under Attack?

Michael Baisden, Tom Joyner Pulled in New York, While Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones Gain Stations in National Markets

In the last two weeks, four of the country’s most popular Black radio hosts were pulled from two significant radio markets: New York City and San Francisco. In New York City, “The Michael Baisden Show” and “The Tom Joyner Morning Show”, both of which are nationally syndicated, were yanked after their host station, WRKS (98.7 KISS FM), merged with its long-time rival WBLS (107.5 FM) as part of a restructuring effort.

The merger was part of a $96 million deal between Disney and WRKS owner Emmis Communications to launch ESPN Sports Radio on an FM station. WRKS officially began operating under WBLS on April 30, and WBLS’s “The Steve Harvey Morning Show”, which was unaffected by the merger, serves as a replacement for Joyner’s wildly popular show.
Needless to say, many Blacks in New York City are very upset about the merger and loss of two of the most prominent voices for political and social justice in Black radio.

Baisden was so incensed that he launched a petition to be placed on WBLS and issued a public statement about the situation and the circumstances surrounding it. The statement reads as follows:

Buffoonery Over Activism: Do we really prefer music and jokes over content?

After I received the devastating news on Thursday that 98.7 Kiss FM in New York was taking my show off and going to an all-sports format, I thought to myself: who is going to sound the alarm in New York when the next Jena 6 happens–or Trayvon Martin–or Presidential election? And who’s going to promote mentoring to save our children, and talk about domestic violence, and child molestation? When you come up with a radio personality’s name who can be trusted to consistently and passionately address these issues on mainstream FM radio, please let me know.

I don’t know about you, but I think we’re going down a dangerous path as African Americans, and as Americans in general, when we allow our voices to be silenced on FM radio while personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others continue to spew racist, divisive, and sexist language over hundreds of radio stations across the country. The public cannot be expected to act if they don’t know there is an emergency, they cannot march if they don’t know whose rights have been violated, and they cannot fight if they have been put to sleep by buffoonery and the repetitive recycling of what is often bad music.

Now, let me be clear, I have no problem with a radio station turning a profit; this is the advertising business after all. Our sponsors buy commercial time based on the ratings, but The Michael Baisden Show was the highest-rated afternoon urban adult program in New York at the time of this change. That’s a fact! And the show has been competitive in every book…or winning its time slot ever since I arrived at the station in 2003. How then do you explain every other show being moved to WBLS except this one? Is it personal or is there something more disturbing going on, a conscious effort to dumb down and silence any voice that uplifts and informs “The People?”

I have no desire to be the sore loser in this. If people prefer one programming to another, then you accept the outcome and keep it moving. But in these times of Republican policies that rob us of our voting rights and the legal system that is locking up more people of color than ever before, we cannot afford to have jokes and slow jams be at the center of our information outlets. Isn’t it funny that during one of the most critical times in our nation’s history, there are fewer African-American AM and FM shows giving information than ever before? What’s really going on, and more importantly, what can we do about it? Well, believe it or not, “The People” do have the power! Source: Radio Facts

Incidentally, Baisden may not have a home at WBLS, either, based on the following excerpt from an Emmis Communications press release posted on April 26, 2012:

Emmis also entered into a transaction to sell the intellectual property rights of Kiss FM, the current format Emmis programs on 98.7FM, to YMF Media, who is in the process of acquiring New York radio stations WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM. What is YMF Media, and what do they intend to do with these landmark stations of the Black community? I’m just asking.  

The entire press release can be read here: Emmis Press Release

Calls were placed to Emmis Communications for comment on the growing outrage over the Baisden/Joyner situation. The company has not responded. Calls were also placed to WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Levingston for comment on Baisden’s claim that the station engages in “buffoonery” and to find out more about YMF Media. The station has not responded.

Former program director Kevin Brown, as well as on-air personality Antoine Davis, both of whom worked at San Francisco’s KBLX, knows exactly what Baisden and Joyner are going through. The long-time morning show hosts were also unceremoniously dumped by the station after KBLX was sold to Entercom.

As was the case with Tom Joyner’s show, Brown and Davis’ time slot will be filled by The Steve Harvey Show beginning May 7. Brown is considered to be a legend in Bay-area radio, and many residents were outraged after learning Brown and his morning show team had been replaced.

One could argue that yanking Baisden, Joyner, Brown, and Davis from major markets is simply a matter of business. That may very well be the case, but it doesn’t make much sense if the shows were generating good ratings and substantial advertising revenue. Such was the case with Baisden and Joyner’s shows, so one has to wonder if they were targeted because of their extremely powerful roles and voices in the Black community. Both men played a pivotal role in addressing issues such as police brutality, the Trayvon Martin shooting, the Tea Party, voter I.D. laws, and blatant acts of racism that have been directed at President Obama and the First Lady, just to name a few.

Given the tremendous importance of the next presidential election, and the fact that the GOP, Tea Party, and the far-right have launched an all-hands-on-deck effort to thwart President Obama’s re-election, one could be persuaded to believe that Baisden and the others were abruptly cut in an effort to “keep the niggers, information sources, and the  situation under control.”

Baisden and Joyner have awakened a large sector of Black America that has been sleepwalking for a very long time, and there is no doubt that they’ll continue in their quest as the 2012 presidential election draws near… and the roots of injustice remain firmly planted in America. The question is, will they and other prominent, Black voices continue to be systematically drowned out or silenced as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Alex Jones gain a stronghold on radio and Internet stations over the next several months?

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

Photo courtesy of

Obama, Karzai Sign Strategic Partnership Agreement

President Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement that marks the beginning of the end of the war in Afghanistan and a commitment to continuing strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Oval Office Chat Session: Obama and Netanyahu

President Offers Condolences on the Death of Prime Minister's Father

President Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel today from Air Force One to express his personal condolences on the death of his father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu.  

In the call the President noted Ben-Zion Netanyahu’s remarkable legacy of service to the Jewish people and deep friendship with the United States.

FTG: Details on Ben-Zion Netanyahu's life are available here: 
Los Angeles Times Obit

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Top Newsy Headlines: Chen Guangcheng Reunites with Family


By Nathan Byrne

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