Saturday, December 12, 2015

Weekly Address: Standing Strong in the Face of Terrorism

In this week's address, the President praised our country’s resilience in the face of terrorism, and discussed how we will keep America safe.

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary

On Friday, December 11, 2015, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2250 – Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016; (thru 12/16/2015)

S. 599, the “Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act,” which extends and expands a demonstration program that tests Medicaid reimbursement for certain psychiatric services provided by psychiatric institutions to enrollees aged 21 to 64;

S. 611, the “Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act,” which reauthorizes a Safe Drinking Water Act program that provides technical assistance for small public water systems; and

S. 1170, the “Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2015,” which allows patrons to continue to contribute to funding for breast cancer research through the voluntary purchase of specially-issued U.S. postage stamps for an additional four years through December 31, 2019

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Cuomo Signs Executive Order Expediting Freedom of Information Law Appeals Process

Governor Calls on Legislature to Begin Real
Reform by Passing FOIL for Senate and Assembly

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an executive order to expedite the freedom of information law appeals process. The order fast-tracks FOIL appeals by requiring that all state agencies file notice of an appeal, settle the record on appeal, and file a brief within 60 days, absent extraordinary circumstances outside agency control. The Governor will introduce legislation in the upcoming session that encompasses the order, while also correcting the serious flaws of Assembly Bill 114 and Assembly Bill 1438-B. 

“This executive order is a strong, sensible step to increase transparency in state government,” said Governor Cuomo. “It expedites the FOIL appeals process, but does so without incentivizing irresponsible litigation by ensuring state agencies are not forced to pay attorney fees regardless of a case’s outcome. My administration is proud to lead by example in making government more open and transparent, and we will introduce a bill early next year to bring the same, necessary high standards of transparency to the legislature.” 

The signed executive order can be viewed here.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rapist Cop Used Whiteness as His Weapon to Rape Black Women

By Goldie Taylor

A former Oklahoma City cop thought his badge and his race would protect him as he sexually assaulted woman after woman. An all-white, mostly male jury proved him wrong.

“Is this the first time you sucked a white cock?” Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw asked as he bent over his victim. “You’re gonna have to give me head or ass or go to jail.”

Holtzclaw was found guilty Thursday night on 18 of 36 counts, including first-degree sexual assault. He now faces up to 263 years in prison.

What’s more remarkable than a police officer being convicted of crimes on duty is that Holtzclaw is “white” and all but one of his 13 known victims were black, including a 17-year-old runaway and a fiftysomething grandmother.

Technically, Holtzclaw is biracial: born to a white veteran police officer and a Japanese mother—but, make no mistake, Holtzclaw claimed to be white.

Don’t take my word for it. Holtzclaw is the most reliable witness to his own life. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

White House Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest briefs reporters and responds to questions on a variety of topics, including ongoing climate negotiations in Paris and congressional debate over funding the federal government. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) briefed reporters and responded to questions on her party’s legislative agenda. Topics included gun control legislation and the federal spending deadline.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Hillary Clinton on Police Brutality


Hillary Clinton speaks on police brutality, mass incarceration, and economic inequality. 

Created by VideoProduction1 on December 11, 2015

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Presidential Candidate Martin O'Malley on Countering Islamophobia


Former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) visits the ADAMS Center, the largest mosque in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and delivers remarks condemning Islamophobia. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

'Flashback Friday': 'The Fonz' vs. 'Whites Only' Sign

This video was selected for this installment of "Flashback Friday" because of the current atmosphere in the U.S. regarding race relations. We all need to be more like "The Fonz".  

May you and your loved ones be safe. 


Trailblazers in Black History: Gamble and Huff (The Sound of Philadelphia)

Today in History: December 11th

Judge Blocks FanDuel, DraftKings From Operating in NY Amid Court Case

A judge on Friday barred daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel from doing business in New York, ordering the country's two biggest fantasy sports companies to stop taking bets after the state's attorney general argued their operations were illegal gambling.

State Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez's order siding with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman comes amid increasing debate about whether customers who participate in the popular online fantasy sports games are competitors or bettors. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Florida Deputy Indicted for Killing Jermaine McBean

A Florida deputy has been indicted for manslaughter in the shooting death of Jermaine McBean, who was killed while walking home with an unloaded pellet gun he had just bought a pawn shop.

Broward County Sheriff Peter Peraza — who was given a bravery award for the shooting by his bosses while it was still under investigation — surrendered early Friday, prosecutors said. He was suspended without pay and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. 

Click here for the full article and related video.

Source: NBC News

Former South African Minister Says Zuma Should Go Over Nene Sacking

Barbara Hogan

Reuters, 11/12 17:08 CET

By Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Former South African health minister and leading anti-apartheid activist Barbara Hogan called on Friday for President Jacob Zuma to quit after his decision to fire Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene sent markets and the rand into a tailspin.

Besides Hogan, South Africans furious at the 9 percent decline in their currency since Nene’s departure have launched a #ZumaMustFall Twitter campaign, echoing ones earlier this year demanding the removal of colonial-era statues.

The highest-profile member of the African National Congress (ANC) to come out against the sacking of Nene, Hogan said Zuma had crossed a line and needed to be held to account for the dismissal of a respected long-term finance ministry official. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Merkel-Led Austerity Helps National Front, German SPD Leader Says

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Reuters, 11/12 16:51 CET

By Paul Carrel

BERLIN (Reuters) – The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) accused Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday of fuelling support for France’s far-right National Front by insisting on tighter budgets during the euro zone crisis.

Sigmar Gabriel, struggling to impose his leadership credentials before the next federal election in 2017, scored just 74 percent in a party delegates’ vote, the lowest for an SPD leader in 20 years.

The SPD shares power in a ‘grand coalition’ with Merkel’s conservatives but has failed to gain from infighting in the larger partner, notably over Europe’s migrant crisis. Trying to distinguish his party, Gabriel attacked Merkel’s handling of the euro zone debt crisis. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Says Military Caught Up in Succession Rift

  President Robert Mugabe

Reuters, 11/12 16:05 CET

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Friday his country’s military and other security services were supporting different candidates to succeed him, warning that this could ruin the ruling party.

Speaking at an annual conference of his ruling ZANU-PF party in the resort town of Victoria Falls, Mugabe, 91, said one of the major problems confronting the party was ambitious officials angling for positions, which was destabilising the organisation.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Euronews

Taliban Claims Car Bomb Attack Near Spanish Embassy in Kabul

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a guest house near the Spanish embassy in Kabul on Friday, and said fighting was still going on at the scene.

Gunfire was reported immediately following the explosion, in a heavily protected area of the capital close to many foreign embassies and government buildings. Officials said police were on the scene. 

Click here for summary. 

Source: Reuters

China's Fosun Billionaire Founder Guo Assisting Authorities with Investigation

 Guo Guangchang

Fosun International (0656.HK) said on Friday its Chairman Guo Guangchang, one of China's best-known entrepreneurs, is assisting authorities with an investigation, after an earlier report said the group lost contact with its billionaire founder.

Guo, the self-styled student of investor Warren Buffett, will still be able to take part in major company decisions through appropriate means, Fosun said, without elaborating.

"The directors of the company are of the view that this investigation has not posed any material adverse impact on the (finances) or operation of the group. The operations of the company remain normal," Fosun International said.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Reuters

King Abdullah: Give Palestinians Their Rights

Source: Euronews

Putin Orders Tough Action on Syria Threats

Source: Euronews

ISIL Syrian Opposition to Meet Government for Peace Talks in January

Source: Euronews

Jubilation and Anger as Mauricio Macri Becomes Argentina’s New President

Source: Euronews

Geneva Raises Alert Level as Police Reportedly Hunt Terror Suspects

Source: Euronews

US: Muslim Advocacy Group Offices Evacuated Amid Security Alerts

A Muslim advocacy group has evacuated its headquarters in Washington and an office in California after a letter containing powder was received at each of them.

The letter received by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington is said to have also had a note that read “Die a painful death, Muslims.” 

Click here for summary and video.

Source: Euronews

First Time Asylum Applications on the Rise in the EU

The number of people claiming asylum in the EU has risen by 150 percent year-on-year, officials figures show.

It will put further pressure on policymakers who have been struggling to come up with coherent plan to deal with the influx.

The number of first-asylum applications stood at 413,800 in the three month period ending September.

That’s up by 250 400 more than in the same quarter of 2014. 

Click here for summary, the graph and video.

Source: Euronews

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Obama Nominations: December 10th, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Andrew Mayock – Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget

Edith Ramirez – Commissioner and Chair, Federal Trade Commission

Alan J. Kreczko – Member, Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board

James R. White – Member, Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board

President Obama also announced his intent to appoint the following individual to a key Administration post:    

John F. Kirby – Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of State 

President Obama said, “It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals will serve the American people as part of this Administration. I look forward to working with them.”

Andrew Mayock is a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Director at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position he has held since November 2015.  Prior to this role, Mr. Mayock served as the Associate Director for General Government Programs at OMB, a position he held since 2013.  Mr. Mayock was Deputy Vice President for Compact Implementation at the Millennium Challenge Corporation from 2010 to 2013.  From 2009 to 2010, he was the Executive Secretary at the Department of Treasury.  Mr. Mayock was a Senior Associate for Development and International Diplomacy at Booz Allen Hamilton from 2003 to 2008 and served as an International Trade Consultant at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard University from 2001 to 2002.  Mr. Mayock worked at the White House from 1997 to 2000, first as Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff and then Senior Advisor to the Director of Public Liaison.  Mr. Mayock served as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff at the Department of the Treasury from 1995 to 1996.  He received a B.A. from the University of Illinois, an M.P.A from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School.

Edith Ramirez is Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, a position she has held since 2013.  She has also served as a Commissioner since 2010. From 1997 to 2010, Ms. Ramirez was a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.  Previously, Ms. Ramirez was an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP in Los Angeles from 1993 to 1996.  She clerked for Judge Alfred T. Goodwin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1992 to 1993.  Ms. Ramirez has served as a Member (Government Official) on the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States since 2013. Ms. Ramirez received a B.A. from Harvard-Radcliffe College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. 

Alan J. Kreczko is a Special Advisor to the CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group.  Mr. Kreczko has held the positions of General Counsel and Executive Vice President from 2007 to 2015 and Deputy General Counsel from 2003 to 2007 at The Hartford Financial Services Group.  From 1976 to 2003, Mr. Kreczko held a variety of roles at the Department of State and the National Security Council, including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration from 1997 to 2002.  Mr. Kreczko also served as Special Assistant to the President and Legal Advisor to the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997 and Deputy Legal Advisor at the Department of State from 1988 to 1993.  Mr. Kreczko received an A.B. from Boston College and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. 

Dr. James R. White served as Director for Tax Policy and Administration at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) from 1998 to February 2015.  Since then, he has advised the Tax Policy Center at American University’s Kogod School of Business and served as an independent consultant.  Dr. White’s tenure at the GAO includes serving as Associate Director from 1995 to 1998, Acting Chief Economist from 1993 to 1995, Assistant Director from 1991 to 1993, and Senior Economist from 1990 to 1991.  From 2000 to 2015, Dr. White was also an adjunct instructor in the Graduate Public Administration Program at George Mason University.  Dr. White worked at Hamilton College as an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics from 1989 to 1990 and as an Assistant Professor from 1982 to 1989.  During his time at Hamilton College, Dr. White was named a Senior Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.  He previously was a Visiting Professor at Williams College from 1981 to 1982 and an Instructor at New York University from 1978 to 1980.  Dr. White received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. 

John F. Kirby is the Spokesperson at the Department of State, a position he has held since May 2015.  Mr. Kirby retired from the U.S. Navy as a Rear Admiral in 2015.  He served as Pentagon Press Secretary from 2013 to 2015, Chief of Information for the Department of the Navy from 2012 to 2013, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations from 2011 to 2012.  Prior to that, Mr. Kirby was Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 and Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chief of Naval Operations from 2005 to 2007.  He was commissioned as an officer in the Navy in 1986.  Mr. Kirby received a B.A. from the University of South Florida, an M.S. from Troy State University, and an M.A. from the Naval War College. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary