Saturday, October 10, 2015

Millions for Justice March

Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, delivers remarks on civil rights and race relations at the Millions for Justice March, which is being held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.

Click here for complete video coverage of the event.

Source: C-Span

Washington Journal: Viveca Novak on Gun Control

Viveca Novak, with the Center for Responsive Politics, discusses the debate on Capitol Hill on gun violence prevention, as well as how spending by gun control groups compares to that by gun rights groups.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Washington Journal: Ronald Kessler on Secret Service Conduct

Author Ronald Kessler discusses recent allegations against the Secretary Service, including one official’s decision to release unflattering information on Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who was leading an investigation into the service.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

'Such Horrific Acts of Violence Will Only Strengthen Our Resolve'

National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price stated the following regarding today's terrorist attack in Ankara, Turkey

The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s horrific terrorist attack in Ankara, Turkey. The fact that this attack occurred ahead of a planned rally for peace underscores the depravity of those behind it and serves as another reminder of the need to confront shared security challenges in the region. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and other loved ones of the victims, just as our thoughts remain with those injured in this senseless violence. The United States will continue to stand side-by-side with the Turkish Government and people as together we take on the scourge of terrorism. Far from deterring these efforts, such horrific acts of violence will only strengthen our resolve.

Details on the attack are available here

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Cuomo, De Blasio and Prendergast Announce Agreement on Funding for MTA Capital Program


Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast today announced that an agreement has been reached on the remaining funding for the MTA Capital Program. New York State has committed to provide $8.3 billion, and New York City has committed to provide $2.5 billion. The Program, which totals $26.1 billion, outlines the next five years’ worth of vital investments to renew, enhance and expand the MTA network. This marks the largest investment in MTA infrastructure in history.

Governor Cuomo said: “The MTA is the lifeblood of New York, helping millions of people travel throughout the city and the surrounding suburbs, and fueling one of the largest economies on the globe. Our challenge is not only to help the system continue to fuel the region’s growth, but to keep up with and respond to that growth as it happens. This MTA Capital Plan is what we need to make the system smarter and more resilient, facilitating major upgrades, expansions and building crucial pieces of equipment so that riders are not forced to accept the failures of outdated infrastructure. This plan will mean a safer, stronger, more reliable transit system for people all over New York, and is crucial in supporting our growing economy. And this program would not have been possible without everyone stepping up to pay their fair share. Today with this agreement, we are making an historic investment not only in the MTA, but in the future of New York.”​

Mayor de Blasio said: "Our transit system is the backbone of New York City's, and our entire region's, economy. That is why we're making an historic investment – the City's largest ever general capital contribution – while ensuring that NYC dollars stay in NYC transit, and giving NYC riders and taxpayers a stronger voice. I look forward to continuing to partner with the Governor and the MTA to ensure a transit system that reliably, effectively, and safely serves all of its riders."

Chairman Prendergast said: “Almost three years ago, as the floods of Superstorm Sandy receded, the MTA’s system sprang back to life, and so did New York City and the entire region. That storm dramatically demonstrated two important truths: the absolutely essential role that the MTA’s integrated transit system plays in the regional economy, and the challenges of keeping the assets of such a trillion-dollar system running safely and reliably. Today, with agreement on the largest Capital Program ever committed to the future of the MTA, we take a giant step toward making sure that this one-of-a-kind jewel of a system will continue doing what it must – keeping New York and the region moving, and moving ahead. We are grateful to the State and City for making possible the largest MTA Capital Program in its history. The MTA’s challenges have never been greater. We have plenty of work to do and we’re eager to get started.” 

At the State’s direction, the MTA recently reduced the Capital Program Review Board component of the Capital Program from $29 billion to $26.8 billion by utilizing alternative delivery methods such as design-build and public-private partnerships, as well as streamlined and negotiated procurement processes. The remaining $700 million (difference between the program scope of $26.8 billion and the agreed to $26.1 billion) will be closed by MTA efforts to seek further efficiencies or necessary program reductions.

Under the agreement reached by the State and City, parties agree to the following:

1. The State guarantees $8.3 billion to the MTA Capital Program to be provided by State sources. The City guarantees $2.5 billion to be provided to the MTA by city sources. City sources include a guarantee of $1.9 billion from direct city sources and a guarantee of $600 million through alternative non tax levy revenue sources. This agreement is dependent upon all of the conditions below.

2. The City and State will fund on the same schedule on a proportionate basis.

3. Projects in the City which are funded by the $2.5 billion committed by the City (including projects funded through non tax levy sources agreed to with the MTA) will be planned by the MTA Board in collaboration with the City representatives on the MTA Board, with priority consideration given for projects and timing based on input from the City.ý Likewise suburban projects which are funded by the suburbs will be planned by the MTA Board in collaboration with suburban representatives on the MTA Board and with priority consideration given for projects and timing based on input from the those suburban communities. ý

4. The State will not divert any funds or fail to provide any funding committed to this Capital Program or due and owing to the MTA for any other expenses unless in accordance with the provisions of Executive Law 182 passed in 2011. Likewise, the City will not divert any funds or fail to provide any funding committed to this Capital Program or due and owing to the MTA for any other expenses. 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Weekly Address: Writing the Rules for a Global Economy

In this week's address, the President spoke to the merits of the high-standards trade agreement reached this past week. The Trans-Pacific Partnership helps level the playing field for American workers and businesses, so we can export more Made-in-America products all over the world, supporting higher-paying American jobs here at home. Learn more at:

President Obama Speaks After Meeting with Shooting Victims' Families in Roseburg, OR

The President Speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala

Friday, October 9, 2015

SUNY SA Passes Resolution Calling on SUNY to Divest from Fossil Fuels

New York – The Executive Committee of the Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA) passed a resolution calling on SUNY to fully divest from companies and interests that manufacture fossil fuels.  The resolution was put forth to the Assembly’s Executive Committee and successfully passed during the Committee’s business meeting on Saturday, September 26.

The resolution calls upon SUNY and its universities to freeze new investments in fossil-fuel companies immediately and to divest completely from any direct ownership in these companies or in funds that include fossil-fuel equities and corporate bonds, and instead invest in alternative energies and technologies.  The Assembly believes that this action is paramount in maintaining SUNY’s role at the forefront of sustainable economic progress.

This mandate comes in response to a number of factors including the $950 billion that has been divested from fossil-fuels worldwide, the exponential growth of the solar industry and other alternative industries that has occurred inside the U.S. over the past five years and will continue to occur far into the future, and the World Health Organization’s statistics on the 4.2 million yearly global deaths linked to climate change. 

Multiple SUNY universities currently have divestment campaigns in place, and in passing this resolution, the Assembly formally states that it is time for SUNY to begin the process of divestment.   

Zachary Beaudoin, Chair of SUNY SA’s Sustainability Committee, stated, "As divestment becomes a recognized and heralded global financial decision, I am thrilled that the Assembly has called upon SUNY to fully divest from fossil fuels. This action speaks to the ongoing measures in which SUNY SA actively participates that continue to shape SUNY's status as a world leader on such important topics.”

SUNY Student Assembly President Thomas Mastro believes that the Assembly made a strong, productive decision in the passing of this resolution. His remarks were as follows:“Passing this resolution and calling upon SUNY to divest from fossil fuels were progressive steps for SUNY SA to take. From Plattsburgh to Geneseo, our students have asked their home campuses and SUNY itself to divest, and as student representatives, our organization formally agrees. By removing fossil fuels and potentially harmful technologies from its list of investments and instead involving itself with alternative technologies and clean energy, SUNY will take the lead on this important initiative and continue to be a beacon of progress for our nation and our world.”

Source: The Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA)

First Lady Michelle Obama Honors the 2015 Class of the National Student Poets Program

The First Lady honored the 2015 class of the National Student Poets Program (NSPP), the nation’s highest honor for youth poets. This award celebrates the exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise of this generation of leaders.

The President Moderates a Conversation On Worker Voice

The President Delivers Remarks at the White House Summit on Worker Voice

Speaking to a group of workers, advocates, union leaders, and business owners, the President delivered remarks on how we empower workers' voices in our 21st Century economy.

The Vice President Delivers Remarks at the White House Summit on Worker Voice

State Department Daily Briefing

Spokesman John Kirby briefs reporters and responds to questions on a range of issues, including Russian military involvement in Syria and allegations that Russian strikes are targeting opposition groups instead of Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) targets.

The briefing was conducted on October 8, 2015. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Representative Daniel Webster on House Speaker Election

Representative Daniel Wesbter (R-FL) spoke with reporters following a Republican House Conference meeting held to discuss how to proceed after Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) withdrew from the House Speaker’s race.

Click here for video. 

Source: C-Span

Representatives Boehner and Ryan on House Speaker Election

Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) leaves a Republican House Conference meeting on choosing his successor. 

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), who many Republicans are urging to run for Speaker, follows shortly after.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Budget Committee Markup

The House Budget Committee meets to mark up fiscal year 2016 budget reconciliation legislation. Representative Tom Price (R-GA) chairs the committee.

Click here for video. 

Source: C-Span

NYS OASAS Expands 'Talk2Prevent' Campaign

New Radio Campaign Targets Parents, Helps Them Talk
to Their Children About Underage Drinking and Drugs

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services today announced a new phase of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Talk2Prevent addiction campaign. Two new public service announcements (PSAs) are now airing on radio stations across the state in an effort to reach parents and offer them guidance on how to talk to their children about underage alcohol use and substance abuse. The PSAs also will air on popular music streaming services. A corresponding Talk2Prevent digital campaign will help spread the prevention message.

“The school year is underway and teenagers and young people across the state can face peer pressure to drink or use drugs,” NYS OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. “That’s why it is crucial for parents to keep the conversation going year-round to help prevent underage drinking and drug use. Parents must encourage their children to make safe and responsible decisions. They can use the Talk2Prevent website to learn more about keeping their kids safe.”

In one new PSA, titled Exit Strategy, a mother explains how she and her daughter planned a secret code text that will signal mom to come pick her daughter up if she is in a challenging situation that involves drinking or drugs.

The second PSA, titled Speedway, talks about the importance of talking to your children about the risks of underage drinking and drug use to help keep them safe and guide them toward making responsible choices.
The campaign aims to turn the tide on these stats:

Nearly 52 percent of New York State students in grades 7 through 12 reported their parents never spoke with them about the dangers of underage drinking. (NIDA, 2010) 

49 percent of high school students in New York have consumed alcohol within the past 30 days. 
(NYS YDS, 2008) 

For more information, visit the Talk2Prevent website: Talk2Prevent.NY.GOV. Resources include a toolkit for parents including conversation starters, texting ideas and a list of warning signs. It also includes resources for community prevention coalitions across the state. Parents and community members can also visit the Talk2Prevent Facebook page for ongoing resources and information on how to keep the conversations going about underage drinking and drug use.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can call the State’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or text the HOPEline Short Code at 467369. The HOPEline is staffed by trained clinicians who are ready to answer questions and offer treatment referrals. Visit the NYS OASAS website for additional resources, including a list of addiction treatment providers.
Source: New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

NYS Department of Motor Vehicles Website Wins National Award

Website Had 5.5 Million Transactions Last
 Year and Dramatically Cut DMV Wait Times 

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website,, has won the 2015 Pinnacle Award from the National Association of Government Web Professionals, the second national accolade it has received this year for its design, ease of use, and scope of services. The Department of Motor Vehicles won in the state and non-governmental organization category, and also picked up a Members’ Choice distinction.

“New York is proud to continue making our DMV website better and more convenient than ever before, saving drivers both time and trips to the DMV,"
Governor Cuomo said. "I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of the easy-to-use services available to them on this award-winning website."

The Pinnacle Awards are judged by a group of web professionals from inside and outside of government web development. Each site is judged using eight scoring criteria for a total of 100 points: team size, content, organization, design, performance and flexibility, accessibility, standards, and interactivity.

Additionally, DMV’s website, which was
redesigned in February 2014, was named one of the nation’s best DMV websites earlier this year by, a portal for driver and motor vehicle information. Available services include ordering replacement driver licenses, renewing registrations on mobile devices, signing up to receive license and registration renewal reminders via email and text, and carrying out more than 35 other transactions. 

Customers completed more than 5.5 million transactions on the website last year, up from about 5 million in 2013 and 3.4 million in 2010. Use of the website has also helped decrease average wait times in DMV offices statewide. If customers must make a trip to state-run DMV offices, they can visit to make a reservation. In fact, New Yorkers have made more than 700,000 reservations to visit DMV offices since the service launched in 2013.

In March 2013, the average wait time at state-run DMV offices was 72 minutes. Governor Cuomo announced that in September 2014 the average wait time was reduced to 30 minutes. Wait times have remained stable at around 30 minutes since then. In addition, self-serve kiosks in DMV offices allow customers to complete transactions and bypass lines, saving them time. DMV averages more than 300,000 transactions at these kiosks per year.

New Yorkers have more opportunities than ever before to save a trip to DMV offices and complete transactions online. In July 2015, the Governor announced that New Yorkers can print a temporary license from the DMV website when they renew or replace their driver licenses, learner permits, or non-driver identification cards online. The ability to download a temporary document is also offered to customers renewing or replacing their registrations.

“DMV understands how convenient it is for New Yorkers to complete all of their important business online. Our team has stepped up its web presence and continuously improved the services we provide so motorists can get things done quickly and easily,”
said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “This well-deserved award gives us the opportunity to recognize all staff members who have gone above and beyond to serve the public’s needs. I urge all New Yorkers to use our site and save a trip to the office.”

For more information about DMV,
visit its website and see a list of available online services.  

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Cuomo, Al Gore Announce Actions to Lead Nation on Climate Change

October 8, 2015, New York City - Governor Cuomo, joined by Vice President Gore, today announced four major actions to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across New York State. These nation-leading environmental and clean energy initiatives will help New York homes, businesses and universities invest in clean energy, drive economic growth across the state, and protect the environment.

Dr. Umar Johnson: Why There Is So Much Killing In Chicago and How To Stop It

Trailblazers in Black History: Frederick McKinley Jones, Inventor

Today in History: October 9th

Dr. Ben Carson Discusses His Comments on Gun Control and the Holocaust

The GOP candidate is under fire for saying gun control is partly to blame for the Holocaust.

House Republicans Gather To Figure Out Speaker Debacle

House Republicans gathered for a party meeting Friday morning to discuss who will fill the role of speaker and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin appears to be the consensus candidate but he hasn't decided that he wants the job.

Less than 24 hours after leading contender Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California abruptly withdrew his name from the election as tea party-aligned members are demanding one of their own, members are scrambling to determine a path forward. 


Chuck Todd: 'Nobody Wants' to Be Speaker of the House

Celebrity Chef Had Sex With Boy, Made Child Porn: Feds

 Matthew Tivy

Federal prosecutors are accusing a celebrity chef of producing and sharing child pornography after meeting a boy on a dating app and allegedly enticing him to engage in sex acts.

The 53-year-old Matthew Tivy, who owns Cafe du Soleil in New York City's Upper West Side and has appeared on the Food Network, was arrested after authorities found videos of him having sex with a Bronx teenager, prosecutors said. 

Click here for the full article and video.

Source: NBC News

Obama Weighs White House Moves on Gun Control


As President Obama heads to Roseburg, Oregon for closed-door visits with families of the victims of last week's shootings at Umpqua Community College, the White House is considering wading once more into the politically-fraught issue of gun control.

The administration is reconsidering a major gun control proposal that would establish new guidelines for who is legally defined as a licensed gun dealer and therefore required to conduct background checks on potential buyers, administration officials tell NBC News. The proposal would define anyone that sells more a certain number of guns each year "in the business" of selling guns and therefore subject to laws for gun dealers. 

Click here for the full article and videos.

Source: NBC News

Student Kills 1, Injures 3 at Northern Arizona University Shooting

Pentagon Ending Program to Train, Equip Syria Rebels

By , and

LONDON — The Pentagon on Friday will announce the official end of its failed $500 million program to "train and equip" Syrian rebels and replace it with a far less ambitious plan, defense officials said.

The "training" part of the program — which managed to field only "four or five" Syrian rebels into the battle against ISIS at a cost of about $50 million — will be halted, according to senior defense officials.

Instead of combat training for the rebels, they will now be used as "enablers" to identify ISIS targets on the ground for U.S. and coalition airstrikes. They will also be advised on how to interact with U.S. military "at a distance," and there will be no American forces on the ground in Syria.

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 

Afghan Aid Workers, Civilians Will Bear the Brunt After MSF Hospital Bombing – Experts

Reuters, 09/10 16:14 CET

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Afghan aid workers and civilians will suffer the most after the deadly U.S. bombing of a hospital run by the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the northern city of Kunduz, experts said on Friday.

At least 22 patients and MSF staff were killed on Saturday when a U.S. aircraft attacked the hospital during fighting between Afghan government troops and Taliban forces.

MSF, which wants an independent international probe into the airstrike, says it has withdrawn its staff from Kunduz and is reviewing all its operations in Afghanistan “to carefully weigh the safety and security of staff and patients.”

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Euronews

Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Killed in Syria – IRGC

 General Hossein Hamedani

Reuters, 09/10 14:37 CET

By Parisa Hafezi

ANKARA (Reuters) – An Iranian Revolutionary Guards general has been killed near Aleppo while advising the Syrian army on their battle against Islamic State fighters, the guards said in a statement on Friday.

The Guards said General Hossein Hamedani was killed on Thursday night and that he had “played an important role … reinforcing the front of Islamic resistance against the terrorists”.

Iran is the main regional ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has provided military and economic support during Syria’s four-year-old civil war.

Hamedani, a veteran of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, was made deputy chief commander of the elite forces in 2005. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Euronews

Ebola-Infected Scottish Nurse Readmitted to Hospital

Source: Euronews

Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet Wins 2015 Nobel Peace Prize

Source: Euronews

‘Revenge Stabbings’ as Israeli-Palestinian Violence Escalates

Source: Euronews

Syrian Army Claims Major Anti-IS Campaign Has Begun

Source: Euronews

UN Proposes Unity Government in Libya

Source: Euronews

Spain Says High-Speed Rail Line in Catalonia Was Sabotaged

Source: Euronews

Migrant Crisis: EU Ministers Agree to Step Up Deportations and Beef Up Borders

EU governments have agreed to step up deportations of migrants deemed to be illegal.

Creating a border guard force has also been on the agenda at a meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg.

It comes amid a surge in refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.

“Guarding the external borders of the European Union is priority number one. That’s the most important recognition for today. And of course the activities to support Frontex (EU border agency) to increase its person (staff), this is most important too.”

Ministers also agreed to exert more “leverage” on African and other states to make them accept citizens who are refused entry to Europe.

Click here for the full article and video.

Source: Euronews

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hearing on Threats Facing the U.S.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Weekly Briefing

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly briefing with reporters at the Capitol and answers questions on a range of issues, including the legislative agenda and the Republican leadership elections.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Politics in Action: H.R. 2028

H.R. 2028 – Energy and Water Development
and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016
(Sen. Cochran, R-MS)

The Administration strongly opposes Senate passage of H.R. 2028, making appropriations for energy and water development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes.  Although the bill supports key national security items, the bill drastically underfunds critical investments that develop American energy sources to build a clean and secure energy future; develop and commercialize the emerging technologies that create high-quality jobs and enhance the Nation's economic competitiveness; and improve resilience against current and ongoing climate impacts that threaten our economy, public health, and natural resources.  As a result, it would put at risk U.S. competitiveness in new markets for clean energy industries such as advanced vehicles, advanced manufacturing, energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and domestic renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biomass.  If the President were presented with H.R. 2028, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Enacting H.R. 2028 and adhering to the congressional Republican budget's overall spending limits for fiscal year (FY) 2016 would hurt our economy and shortchange investments in middle-class priorities.  Sequestration was never intended to take effect:  rather, it was supposed to threaten such drastic cuts to both defense and non-defense funding that policymakers would be motivated to come to the table and reduce the deficit through smart, balanced reforms.  The Republican framework would bring base discretionary funding for both non-defense and defense for FY 2016 to the lowest real levels in a decade.  Compared to the President's Budget, the cuts would result in tens of thousands of the Nation's most vulnerable children losing access to Head Start, millions fewer workers receiving job training and employment services, and drastic cuts to scientific research awards and grants, along with other impacts that would hurt the economy, the middle class, and Americans working hard to reach the middle class.  

Sequestration funding levels would also put our national security at unnecessary risk, not only through pressures on defense spending, but also through pressures on State, USAID, Homeland Security, and other non-defense programs that help keep us safe.  More broadly, the strength of our economy and the security of our Nation are linked.  That is why the President has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense.

The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2028 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future.  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reverse sequestration for defense and non-defense priorities and offset the cost with commonsense spending and tax expenditure cuts, as Members of Congress from both parties have urged.

The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.

Department of Energy (DOE)

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable EnergyThe Administration strongly objects to the $1.9 billion provided in the bill for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  Overall, this level is $790 million below the FY 2016 Budget request.  Relative to the FY 2016 Budget request, the bill reduces funding for renewable energy by 34 percent, sustainable transportation by 23 percent, and energy efficiency by 35 percent.  These reductions would significantly underfund critical activities that support the development and commercialization of clean energy technologies including wind energy and advanced manufacturing capabilities.  At this funding level, the number of research, development, and demonstration projects supported in cooperation with industry, universities, and the national labs would be reduced, limiting innovation and technological advancement, curtailing solutions to reduce U.S. dependence on oil and reduce energy waste, and undermining the Nation's industrial competitiveness in the future global clean energy economy.  The Congress is urged to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request of $2.7 billion.

Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).  The Administration objects to the $291 million provided in the bill for ARPA-E, which is $34 million or 10 percent below the FY 2016 Budget request.  This funding reduction would impact investments in transformational technologies that reduce energy-related emissions, increase energy efficiency across multiple economic sectors, and reduce energy imports.

Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.  The Administration objects to the $151 million provided in the bill for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which is $119 million or 44 percent below the FY 2016 Budget request.  At the funding levels provided in the bill, critical activities supporting a secure, reliable, and modernized electricity grid as well as energy assurance, would go unfunded.  Investments in a modernized grid are necessary to move the Nation to a cleaner more secure energy future.

Fossil Energy and Nuclear Energy.  The Administration notes that the bill includes funding above the FY 2016 Budget request in some areas that are already well established in the market, including for nuclear ($948 million, $41 million or 4.5 percent above the FY 2016 Budget request) and for Fossil Energy Research and Development ($598 million, $38 million or 6.8 percent above the FY 2016 Budget request), yet makes drastic reductions in those areas that are most crucial to the Nation's clean energy future and continued U.S. technology leadership.  The Administration encourages the Congress to fund DOE's energy programs at the requested level, as this balances the portfolio among items of short-, medium-, and long-term progress and accounts for the potential contributions to U.S. leadership in these technology areas.

Office of Science.  The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Office of Science, in particular the support for capable exascale computing.  However, the level of funding provided, which is $0.2 billion below the FY 2016 Budget request of $5.3 billion, would reduce research and development programs throughout the agency and the Administration encourages the Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request.

Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).  The Administration opposes the $200 million level provided for the SPR, which is $57 million or 22 percent below the FY 2016 Budget request of $257 million.  At this funding level, the bill fails to fund activities supporting timely replacement of equipment and physical systems that are necessary to begin to address the backlog of deferred maintenance activities, and to enhance distribution flexibility and reliability.  Absent this funding, the SPR's energy security mission might be at risk.

Energy Information Administration (EIA).  The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request of $131 million for EIA to address critical energy data gaps, expand domestic energy data and analysis, and increase energy data integration with Canada and Mexico.

Nuclear Waste.  The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for implementing a workable solution for the management and disposal of the Nation's nuclear waste.

Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.  The Administration strongly objects to section 312 of the bill, which excludes information technology (IT) spending at DOE labs from the management improvements and accountability introduced by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.  This exclusion would constrain the ability of the Secretary and Chief Information Officer to ensure the Department's mission is effectively and efficiently executed by reducing duplicative IT systems, implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity solution, and addressing other IT management issues, which support the President's goal to deliver a Government that is more effective, efficient, and accountable.

Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act).  The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request for DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to implement the DATA Act.  This funding would support efforts to provide more transparent Federal spending for data activities, updating IT systems, changing business processes, and employing a uniform procurement instrument identifier.

U.S. Digital Service Team.  The Administration urges the Congress to fund the FY 2016 Budget request for DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop a U.S. Digital Service team.  This funding would support efforts to manage digital services that have the greatest impact to citizens and businesses.

Corps of Engineers – Civil Works (Corps)

Overall Funding.  The bill funds the Corps civil works program at a net level of $5.4 billion.  The Administration believes the more appropriate overall funding levels proposed in the FY 2016 Budget request would limit spending on projects that provide a low return to the Nation.

Office of the Assistant Secretary.  The bill funds the Office of the Assistant Secretary at $3 million, a roughly $2 million, or 35 percent, decrease from the FY 2016 Budget request.  This reduction would not support the staffing necessary to provide oversight of the civil works program.

Corps Regulatory Program.  The Administration encourages the Congress to fund the Corps' regulatory program at the requested level.  A $5 million reduction in funding would inhibit the Corps' ability to issue permits in a timely manner, which could negatively affect business and development, and to protect important aquatic resources, while undertaking needed programmatic improvements, including implementation of the Clean Water rulemaking.

Fill Material under the Clean Water Act.  The Administration believes it is essential to retain Federal Agency discretion to pursue rulemakings they deem necessary to protect America's clean water resources, which are critical to American families and businesses.  The Administration strongly opposes section 104 of the bill, which could hamstring future regulatory work.

Federal Flood Risk Management Standard.  The Administration objects to section 503 of the bill, which prohibits funds from being used to implement, administer, carry out, modify, revise, or enforce Executive Order 13690 entitled "Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input."  If enacted, this provision would undermine Federal agencies' ability to protect Federal investments and could make our communities more vulnerable to flood risks.

Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, and Central Utah Project

Overall Funding.  The bill provides $1.1 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation and $10 million for the Central Utah Project.  The Administration appreciates the Committee's support of the Bureau and the Central Utah Project.

Indian Water Rights Settlements.  The Administration objects to the $23 million or 23 percent reduction to the FY 2016 Budget request for the Bureau of Reclamation for implementing enacted Indian Water Rights Settlements, including reductions in funding for the Crow settlement of over 80 percent, the Aamodt settlement by more than half, and the Navajo-Gallup settlement by over 10 percent.  The funding requested for these settlements carefully considered funding levels necessary in FY 2016 and future years to meet the dates mandated in the settlement acts.  This reduction would make it difficult to meet Congress' own statutorily-defined deadlines.  Indian water settlement agreements can provide water supply certainty for tribal communities, boost economic growth, and end expensive and protracted litigation.  The Administration urges the Congress to restore funding for this important program to the levels in the FY 2016 Budget request.

San Joaquin River Restoration.  The Administration appreciates the Committee's support of this important program to restore and maintain fish populations and reduce or avoid water supply impacts.  This restoration program is a multi-year effort that is integral to the implementation of Federal legislation that settled 18 years of litigation.

California Storage Projects.  The Administration strongly supports efforts to help alleviate the effects of drought in the West; however, the Administration is concerned with section 207, which establishes deadlines for completing feasibility studies for certain water storage projects.  The provision is unnecessary and the dates provided in the bill could prevent the participation of non-Federal partners in certain of the studies and may inhibit the Administration's ability to consider a full range of options for addressing these issues.

Dam Safety Authorization.  Section 205 of the bill amends the Reclamation Safety of Dams Act to allow new or supplementary non-safety-related project construction in conjunction with Safety of Dams work, provided that the additional costs are allocated to the authorized project purposes.  Any such authorization should ensure that the beneficiaries of the non-safety-related project construction pay their full share of the costs as a condition of construction and that there be no repayment contract for that portion of the project.

Constitutional Concerns

Certain provisions in the bill, including sections 101 and 201, raise separation of powers concerns.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the FY 2016 appropriations process moves forward. 

Source: Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget

America’s Mass-Shooting Capital Is Chicago

By Justin Glawe

People living in Chiraq’s worst neighborhoods are more likely to be killed than citizens of the world’s leading countries for murder.

CHICAGO — Four men and two women were shot on April 5 last year, then five weeks later a 15-year-old boy and two men were shot.

Another 15-year-old boy and two men were shot in July. Three men were shot on Aug. 21. Three men and a 73-year-old woman were shot in September. Again in September, two boys ages 12 and 16 were shot along with an 18-year-old man. Two women and one man were shot on that same block on Nov. 19.

These mass shootings didn’t happen in Roseburg, Lafayette, Charleston, or Chattanooga but in Chicago’s worst neighborhoods, where—by one measure—it is more dangerous to live than the world’s most-murderous countries.

West Garfield Park, population 18,000, had 21 murders last year, which makes for a homicide rate of 116 per 100,000 people. The world’s leader in murders, Honduras, has a homicide rate of 90, according to the United Nations.

Following West Garfield Park in lethality was West Englewood and its 73.3 murder rate, more than second-place Venezuela with its 53.7 rate. Chicago’s Chatham (58) beats Belize (44.7); Englewood (52.6) outdoes El Salvador (41.2); South Chicago (48) tops Guatemala (39.9). The United States as a whole has 4.5 murders per 100,000.

Click here for the full article, supporting graph and videos. 

Source: The Daily Beast 

NY Secretary of State Announces 2015-2017 Class of Empire State Fellows


State Welcomes New and Diverse Class 

New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales today announced the 2015-2017 class of Empire State Fellows. The program, now in its fourth year, recruits mid-career professionals from the public and private sectors to serve as the new generation of New York State government leaders. The 10 new Empire State Fellows were chosen from a competitive pool of outstanding candidates for their professional experience, leadership potential, creativity and commitment to public service.

“The diverse backgrounds of these Empire State Fellows are an asset to the challenges faced by our State government,” said Secretary Perales, who oversees the program for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “We welcome the new class and look forward to their service and contributions to the people of New York.”

Governor Cuomo appoints each Empire State Fellow to work closely with senior administration officials and participate in the policy-making process. During their Fellowship, the Fellows also engage in educational and professional development programs, including completion of a unique, interactive curriculum developed specifically for the program by the Rockefeller Institute at SUNY Albany in consultation with Cabinet-level officials.

The Empire State Fellows program continues its tradition of selecting outstanding leaders from diverse backgrounds to enter public service. Members of the new class bring expertise from various professional fields, including law enforcement, not-for-profit management, the armed forces, education, and the legal profession.

“We are proud to welcome this new group of leaders into the ranks of State government,” said Jorge I. Montalvo, Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity. “The Empire State Fellows program has proven to be a successful vehicle to recruit the best and brightest to serve at the highest levels of New York State government and we look forward to another stellar class.” 

The 2015-2017 Class of Empire State Fellows

Amir Bassiri Amir Bassiri comes to the Empire State Fellows program after four years at Urban Upbound, a not-for-profit organization committed to breaking cycles of poverty in New York City. As Director of Development, Amir oversaw a variety of the organization’s financial, strategic and operational matters. During his time at Urban Upbound, Amir developed several public/private partnerships, including one that led to the creation of a worker-owned cooperative. Additionally, Amir led and managed the creation of a living financial model to assess program and contract profitability and to guide strategic decision making. A California native, Amir graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Economics and Psychology (Double Major), before earning a Master’s in Social Enterprise Administration (M.S.W) from Columbia University. Amir is also fluent in Farsi. Placement: Executive Chamber

Luana Y. Ferreira Luana Y. Ferreira joins the Empire State Fellows program with a background in education and professional development in diversity affairs. She began her career as a New York City Teaching Fellow, working with school districts as a teacher, staff developer and data specialist. An advocate for closing the achievement gap, Luana has also worked for Summer on the Hill, the I Have a Dream Foundation and Alianza Dominicana’s Summer Youth Employment programs, all not-for-profit entities that support student success. Luana was a research assistant for the Research Institute for the Study of Languages in Urban Settings (RISLUS) in New York, where she helped develop and administer diagnostic tools to assess English proficiency levels of immigrant Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE). Additionally, she served as a lead for strategic planning and implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives, presenting at the National Association for Independent Schools (NAIS) and the National Dominican Student Conference at Wharton. Luana received her B.A. from SUNY New Paltz, her M.S. Ed. from the City College of New York and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics from the CUNY Graduate Center. Recently, Luana taught at CUNY Lehman and Teachers College. She speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese and was born and raised in Washington Heights, New York. Placement: Department of State

Dora Fisher Dora Fisher brings a decade of experience in aging and public health to the Empire State Fellows program. She joins us following her role as the Director of Older Adult Programs for Oral Health America, overseeing the aging strategies for this national organization and conceptualizing community-based public health aging programs implemented across the country. Prior to that, she held a research position as a gerontologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, writing and researching peer-reviewed publications on aging and disability health promotion. Before her role as a gerontological researcher, she oversaw health programming for older adults at a community health center in Chicago, worked in advocacy for senior centers in New York City, and was a policy analyst for the Office of the NYC Public Advocate. She has a Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College. Dora originally hails from Connecticut and the Boston area, and she is excited to return closer to home after many years in Chicago. Placement: Office for the Aging

Daniel Friedman Daniel Friedman joins the Empire State Fellows program following a career in political consulting and communications around the country. Daniel was a campaign manager and communications director for candidates for public office and institutions in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Southwest. As a campaign manager, Daniel helped candidates build winning organizations from the ground up, including fundraising, organizing and communications strategy. As an advisor to policymakers and political candidates, Daniel wrestled with politically sensitive policy matters in a variety of high-stakes settings, including health care, transportation and immigration law. Daniel earned his Bachelor's in Political Science at American University and his Master's in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University where he studied management and public finance. Placement: Empire State Development

Aaron Gladd Aaron Gladd comes to the Empire State Fellows program as a former Active Duty United States Army Officer and combat Veteran whose service included Operation Enduring Freedom. Assigned to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Aaron served as a Sapper Platoon Leader where he led 41 Soldiers in Counter Improvised Explosive Device Operations throughout Eastern Afghanistan. Aaron also served as his Battalion’s dismounted tactics Master Trainer, with training oversight of over 400 Soldiers. Before enlisting in the service, Aaron ran legislative and budget operations in the New York State Senate under the Deputy Leader and was a New York State Senate Graduate Fellow. Aaron also worked for U.S. Congressman Michael McNulty. A native of Saranac Lake, Aaron holds a B.A. in Public Law from the University at Albany, an M.P.A. in Local Government Management and Finance from the Nelson Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and is a graduate of the United States Army Infantry School and the United States Army Engineer School. Placement: Department of State

Omar J. Herrera Omar J. Herrera comes to the Empire State Fellows program from his role as Trustee & Deputy Mayor of the Village of Ossining, NY, in Westchester County. As Trustee, he and his colleagues adopted a “Complete Streets Policy” which ensured that all future roadways are strategically designed to consider pedestrian safety, access and equitable mobility for all. Omar also voted on a successful resolution supporting Governor Cuomo’s “Raise the Age” initiative to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18; restored the previously censored video recording and airing of public comment section during board meetings making the actions of the Board more transparent; and, launched virtual and mobile office hours for community outreach. Prior to his work in public office, Omar was a legislative assistant at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, where he worked on constituent affairs, case management, legislative research and community outreach. In addition, he served as the Public Relations Director for the Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce and was a small business owner of an event management firm. Omar received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media from Pace University Dyson College of Arts & Sciences. Placement: Executive Chamber

Giancarlo Pellegrini Giancarlo Pellegrini comes to the Empire State Fellows program from Sidley Austin LLP, where he served as an Associate in the firm’s Litigation practice. During his five years in private practice, Giancarlo primarily represented financial institutions in federal investigations related to the trading of equities and fixed-income products. Giancarlo also has handled pro bono cases in an array of areas including tenants’ rights, voter fraud protection, immigration asylum claims, veterans’ benefits, and advocacy at the United Nations related to alleged war crimes. Giancarlo holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Lehigh University where he graduated magna cum laude with departmental honors, and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. Giancarlo is admitted to practice law in New York, the District of Columbia, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Giancarlo is also a member of the American Bar Association and is proficient in Italian. Placement: Executive Chamber

Michael-Sean Spence Michael-Sean Spence joins the Empire State Fellows program after a career as an Assistant District Attorney for the Queens County District Attorney's Office in Queens, New York. As a criminal prosecutor, Michael-Sean led various inter-agency investigations into organized tax evasion, organized commercial theft, identity theft and related crimes. During Michael-Sean's tenure, the Crimes Against Revenue Unit collected more than $3 million in restitution for State and local governments, as well as seized evidence valued in excess of $4.5 million. Michael-Sean is a regular speaker to youth and community organizations to help the community better understand their rights and the criminal justice system. Michael-Sean received his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Maryland-College Park and his law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Placement: Division of Criminal Justice

Allison Weingarten Allison Weingarten served as program director of the Queens Community House (QCH). In the face of severe financial challenges to the organization and after school program, Allison skillfully kept the program open and led an effort to successfully restore government funding in 2015. Prior to working for QCH, Allison served as Legislative Director of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety under its Chair Assembly Member Rory Lancman (now, a New York City Councilman).  Allison earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a master’s degree in Social Work at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Allison has spent the last ten years of her life in Ithaca and Queens, New York and she is excited to return to her hometown of Niskayuna, New York. Placement: Division of the Budget

Ron Zacchi Ron Zacchi joins the Empire State Fellows from a position as the Assistant Director of Communications and Development for the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS). Before joining CUCS, he worked at the Center for Social Inclusion on initiatives designed to dismantle structural racism.  Ron served as Executive Director for Marriage Equality New York (MENY) where he led a successful statewide grassroots campaign for equal marriage rights in New York State. Before moving into the not-for-profit sector, Ron worked for nearly a decade in the private sector as a marketing executive. Ron received his Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from Baruch’s Executive Program in the School of Public Affairs and his Bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University School of Communications. Placement: Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance

The Empire State Fellows program is one of the three parts of Governor Cuomo’s New NY Leaders Initiative that prepares a new generation of leaders to serve in State government. The Excelsior Service Fellowship Program brings highly talented recent graduates to serve throughout the State government, and the New NY Leaders Internship Program offers hundreds of college students an opportunity to work in State government. Information regarding the Empire State Fellows program is available here.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo