Saturday, February 13, 2016

The President and Vice President Comment on the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

President Obama: 

Good evening, everybody.  For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench -- a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions.

He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape.  He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court.  Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy:  The rule of law.  Tonight, we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.

Antonin Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey to an Italian immigrant family.  After graduating from Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, he worked at a law firm and taught law before entering a life of public service.  He rose from Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel to Judge on the D.C. Circuit Court, to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

A devout Catholic, he was the proud father of nine children and grandfather to many loving grandchildren.  Justice Scalia was both an avid hunter and an opera lover -- a passion for music that he shared with his dear colleague and friend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Michelle and I were proud to welcome him to the White House, including in 2012 for a State Dinner for Prime Minister David Cameron.  And tonight, we join his fellow justices in mourning this remarkable man.

Obviously, today is a time to remember Justice Scalia’s legacy.  I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party.  They are about our democracy. They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our Founders envisioned.

But at this moment, we most of all want to think about his family, and Michelle and I join the nation in sending our deepest sympathies to Justice Scalia’s wife, Maureen, and their loving family -- a beautiful symbol of a life well lived.  We thank them for sharing Justice Scalia with our country.

God bless them all, and God bless the United States of America.  

Vice President Biden: 

Jill and I send our deepest condolences to Maureen and the entire Scalia family on the loss of their beloved husband, father, and grandfather. Justice Scalia and I had fundamental disagreements about how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, but we shared a belief that sharp debates, tough questions, and deep respect for the adversarial process was an essential part of our judicial system and our democracy. That’s how our rule of law—forged with the deep principles and convictions of justices, and laid out in majority decisions and minority dissents—becomes the model for the world. For the country, Justice Scalia will be remembered as one of our most influential justices, who inspired and challenged generations of students, clerks, lawyers, and judges. And for so many, he will be remembered as a mentor, dear friend, and a man devoted to his faith and his family, who will miss him most of all, and who we will keep in our prayers.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary and Vice President

Influential Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dead at 79

Weekly Address: The State of American Politics

West Wing Week: 02/12/2016

Feb 12, 2016 - This week, the President was all over the White House -- and the country. He discussed the economy in the Briefing Room, tossed a football with Stephen Colbert in the East Room, sat down with the First Lady for an interview in the Blue Room, met with the President of Italy in the Oval Office, rolled out the 2017 Budget in the Roosevelt Room, then headed west -- first to Illinois, then California.

Springfield: Where It All Began for President Obama

Alternate Water Supply Planned in the Village of Hoosick Falls

New York State has begun planning for a possible alternate water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls – ensuring that the community has a new, permanent supply of clean water. This would be in addition to the long-term carbon filtration system Saint-Gobain has agreed to install. The state will work to ensure the planning is completed expeditiously in an open and transparent manner and will engage the public on how contamination is addressed and remediated throughout the Superfund process.

Potentials for the alternate water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls include: installing new or deeper wells within the Town and Village area determined to be free of PFOA contamination; securing and treating alternative sources such as from the Hoosic River or other clean water sources in areas outside of the Town or Village. The state will also be conducting a thorough investigation to ensure the water source is free of PFOA contamination.

In addition to the free water sampling tests and free blood testing offered by the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will purchase and install water filtration systems for approximately 1,500 homes in the Town of Hoosick, if a homeowner wishes to have such a system installed. These particular carbon-based filtration systems have been shown to reduce PFOA levels in water to below two parts per trillion. This action is made possible by an emergency allocation of $10 million from the state Superfund. The state will later pursue total cost recovery from the parties deemed responsible for the PFOA contamination, including Saint-Gobain and Honeywell. This will be in addition to the long-term water filtration system that Saint-Gobain has agreed to install for the current water source for the Village of Hoosick Falls.

“Protecting the health of New Yorkers is paramount,” said Governor Cuomo. “My administration is taking aggressive action in Hoosick Falls because no one should have to question the safety of their water. We are working closely with our local partners, and will continue to take all necessary steps to safeguard the public health.”

To ensure the health and safety of residents in Hoosick Falls, the state Department of Health has begun offering free blood testing for community members who wish to be tested. That process will begin today. At the Governor’s direction, DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos will be onsite to answer questions from residents. For more information on this testing service, and to make an appointment for a blood test, residents should call (800) 801-8092, email, or visit the DOH website here.

The Village’s temporary treatment system is now installed and undergoing disinfection and testing. Once all testing is complete in the coming weeks, this system will provide drinking water for the Village until the planning is finished and permanent water system is in place.

While no PFOA has been detected in the Hoosick Valley Central School District school’s water, the state has already committed to install a water filtration system at the school as the Superintendent requested. This project should be completed within the next two weeks.

These announcements build on last month’s actions taken by the state to address contamination in the Hoosick Falls water supply. More information on those actions is available here

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Friday, February 12, 2016

George Pataki is Unhappy

What You Should Know
By Senator Rev Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District 

You should know that former New York State Governor George Pataki has joined the voices of those elected officials who are demanding for the name of Donald Trump to be removed from the parkland that Mr. Trump donated to the State of New York.

It is important for you to know that during an interview on February 11, 2016 with Reporter Nick Reisman on Time Warner Cable New Program “Capital Tonight,” former Governor Pataki stated that he was unhappy that Donald Trump’s name appears on the parkland that Donald Trump donated.

It is disappointing to learn that 10 years ago, when Donald Trump donated the Park, it was former Governor George Pataki who accepted the donation and made the deal with Donald Trump to keep his name on the Park.

In fact, back on April 19, 2006, former Governor George Pataki released a press release celebrating this donation:
"With spring upon us and Earth Day right around the corner, today marks the perfect time for New Yorkers to receive such a generous and meaningful gift - the protection of valuable open space and beautiful parklands in the Hudson Valley," Governor Pataki said. "The establishment of Donald J. Trump State Park will increase public access to scenic landscapes and provide additional recreational opportunities for families and visitors to the region. On behalf of the people of the Empire State, I express our gratitude to Donald Trump for his vision and commitment to preserve the natural resource of this property for the benefit of future generations."  

Now, my dear reader, it seems that because Donald Trump destroyed George Pataki in the Republican Presidential Primary, George Pataki is joining the crusade to have Donald Trump’s name removed from the Park that Trump donated, and that Pataki accepted with the conditions they both agreed upon.

It is also important for you to know that back on January 15, 2016, I wrote a What You Should Know column titled “A Deal Is A Deal” in which among other things, I stated the following:
“I don't think it is moral to accept land from Donald Trump - or from anyone - with an agreed upon deal for the donor's name to remain on the 435 acres of parkland that he gave, and then to reject and erase the name of the person who gave it.”

I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.

The President Speaks at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

February 10, 2016 - Nine years after he announced his candidacy for the presidency, President Obama returned to Springfield, IL to discuss the state of American politics.

White House Announces 2016 Easter Egg Roll

WASHINGTON – The President and First Lady announced today that the South Lawn of the White House will be opened up for children 13 years and younger and their families on Monday, March 28th for the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll. This will be the final Easter Egg Roll of the Obama Administration, and will feature live music, sport courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling. In honor of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, this year’s event will also include the first-ever White House Fun Run.

White House Easter Egg Roll tickets can be requested through an online lottery which opens today, Friday, February 12, at 12:00 PM EST and closes on Wednesday, February 17, at 12:00 PM EST. Winners will be notified at a later date; tickets are free of charge and cannot be sold. To enter the lottery, please visit
To honor the final Easter Egg Roll of the Obama Administration, this year’s theme will be “Let’s Celebrate,” and will feature aspects of First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiatives, as well as the contributions the Obama Administration has made to the Easter Egg Roll.

In honor of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, this year’s event will also include the first-ever White House Fun Run.      

This year’s White House Easter Egg Roll features five souvenir eggs, designed by graphic designer and blogger Joy Cho. The collection features four colored eggs with stamped signatures of the President and First Lady on the back, and one gold “Bo and Sunny” egg, with stamped “signatures” and “paw prints” of Bo and Sunny on the back.

The National Park Foundation (NPF), the official charity of America’s national parks, produces and sells the commemorative White House Easter eggs. Each child 13 years and younger who attends the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, which sits on President’s Park, will also receive a souvenir egg.

To place your order for the full collection of 2016 White House Easter Egg (all 5 eggs), please visit


The White House invites all elementary and middle school students to submit original artwork related to this year’s theme for the 2016 Easter Egg Roll Design Contest. The First Lady will select the winning designs, which will be used as a part of the White House 2016 Easter Egg Roll program and souvenir poster.

Submissions for the contest will be accepted starting today, Friday February 12th, and will close on Monday, February 22nd, at 12:00 PM EST. Designs should be uploaded to Artwork should reflect this year’s theme. Please note submissions may be made public during the selection process.


For the most up-to-date information on the Easter Egg Roll and other public events at the White House, please visit  Media details will be released in the coming weeks. 

Source: The White House, Visitors Office

Veep Talk: President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine

Vice President Biden spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to follow up on their February 11 phone call. The two leaders agreed on the importance of unity among Ukrainian political forces to quickly pass reforms in line with the commitments in its IMF program, including measures focused on rooting out corruption. The leaders also reiterated the importance of making progress on Minsk implementation through close coordination with the Normandy Format countries on sequencing and implementation.  

The following was submitted to From The G-Man today at 3:17 p.m.

Earlier today, the Vice President spoke with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. The two leaders discussed events in the region, including our cooperation to counter ISIL and ongoing efforts to negotiate a political solution to the conflict in Syria. During the conversation, the Vice President also reaffirmed the United States enduring commitment to Jordan's security and stability.

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

Hearing on Biodefense Preparedness

Witnesses, including members of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, testified at a hearing on how to prepare and respond to biological threats. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

'Flashback Friday': Evel Knievel Retires After Near-Fatal Jump

Trailblazers in Black History: Maritza Correia

In 2002, Maritza Correia made history when she became the first black woman to break an American record. She later became the first black woman to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic swim team.

Click here for more information. 


Today in History: February 12th

Has the Democratic Race Become a Referendum on Bernie Sanders, Not Hillary Clinton?

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter. 

A referendum on Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton? 

A remarkable turn of events is now taking place in the Democratic presidential race: The contest has turned into a referendum on Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton — or at least that's what the Clinton campaign is attempting. That's our takeaway from last night's debate, where Clinton tried to poke holes in Sanders' plans ("The numbers don't add up"), his grasp of foreign policy ("I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is"), his relationship with the president ("This is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama"), and his ability to be more than a one-dimensional president ("I do not believe we live in a single-issue country").

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

First Read's Morning Clips: Clinton Tries to Cool the Bern


OFF TO THE RACES: Hillary tries to cool the Bern

What we learned from the Democratic debate in Milwaukee, from Alex Seitz-Wald: "Hillary Clinton sought to douse Bernie Sanders' perceived passion with a cool dose of realism in Thursday night's debate featuring lengthy exchanges on foreign policy, race and Barack Obama's legacy. Clinton has struggled to find a clear and inspiring message on the stump as Sanders makes uplifting promises. But during the PBS debate Thursday night in Milwaukee, Clinton adopted a new more measured tone to reflect her message, and honed her rhetoric." 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

South Carolina GOP Voters Size Up Donald Trump, Rest of 2016 Field

As the GOP primary field turns its attention to South Carolina, Donald Trump is still what he's been throughout almost all of the 2016 cycle: An irrepressible and dominant force, even as many mainstream Republican voters remain deeply conflicted about what his rise means for the party and for political discourse in America.

A focus group sponsored by The Riley Institute at Furman University and moderated by pollster Peter Hart revealed significant anxiety among some GOP primary voters about Trump as a candidate, but all of the 10 participants said they would still support Trump over Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup, and all but two said they expect him to win the state's primary next Saturday. 

Click here for the full article.

Austin Police Investigate Shooting of Unarmed Teen by Officer

11-Year-Old Reaches Goal, Collects 1000 'Black Girl Books' To Donate

Marley Dias, the New Jersey sixth-grader who started the drive #1000BlackGirlBooks to gather books featuring girls of color, visited The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore Wednesday night and talked about reaching her goal.

The 11-year-old started the drive in November hoping to find books with characters that looked more like her. She told her mom she was sick of reading books that she couldn't relate to at her school, St. Cloud Elementary in West Orange. So, she decided to do something about it. With the help of her mother, Dias set out to collect 1,000 books with Black girls as the protagonists and a plan to donate them to her school and a school in St. Mary, Jamaica, her mother's native country. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

DARPA Plans to Launch 132-Foot Unmanned Warship in April

It sounds like science fiction: an unmanned warship patrolling the seas, autonomously searching for enemy submarines. But DARPA is in the business of bringing science fiction ideas to life, and a robotic ship like that is just what the defense research agency plans to launch this April, reported National Defense magazine

The ACTUV (a questionable acronym formed from "Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel") is a 130-foot, 140-ton vessel that, when it departs the coast of Portland, Oregon on April 7, will be the largest autonomous surface vehicle ever deployed. 

Click here for summary.

Source: NBC News/DARPA

WHO: Zika Link to Neurological Disorder Is 'Probable'

The virus is associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults and microcephaly in babies, said Marie-Paule Kieny of the World Health Organization.

Polar Vortex to Bring 'Coldest Air for More Than a Decade' to Northeast

Forget the Valentine's Day roses if you're stuck in the Northeast this weekend — give your loved one a sweater instead.

They'll need it.

A "life threatening" icy blast is expected to put a big chill on the romance for millions of Americans with the coldest temperatures to hit the region in over a decade, forecasters warned Friday.

The National Weather Service said the mercury will start dipping Saturday, but the coldest air would not arrive until Sunday morning — with several cities facing the prospect of subzero temperatures. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Eight Shot Dead: 2016 Sees Year-Over-Year Spike In Cops Killed By Gunfire

Already this year, eight on-duty police officers have been killed by gunfire — including five this week alone.

The 2016 gunfire fatalities mark a notable increase from the same Jan. 1 through Feb. 11 period last year, when just one officer was shot dead, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

In total, 11 officers have died this year, versus 13 officers in the same time frame last year. But most of the deaths last year were traffic-related, not firearms-related like they are this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's tally. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Ukraine Sees Russian Hand in Cyber Attacks on Power Grid

Reuters, 12/02 14:18 CET

By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Hackers used a Russian-based internet provider and made phone calls from inside Russia as part of a coordinated cyber attack on Ukraine’s power grid in December, Ukraine’s energy ministry said on Friday.

The incident was widely seen as the first known power outage caused by a cyber attack, and has prompted fears both within Ukraine and outside that other critical infrastructure could be vulnerable.

The ministry, saying it had completed an investigation into the incident, did not accuse the Russian government directly of involvement in the attack, which knocked out electricity supplies to tens of thousands of customers in central and western Ukraine and prompted Kiev to review its cyber defences.

But the findings chime with the testimony of the U.S. intelligence chief to Congress this week, which named cyber attacks, including those targeting Washington’s interests in Ukraine, as the biggest threat to U.S. national security. 

Click here for summary.

Source: Euronews

The Dangerous and Illegal Trade in Counterfeit Medicines


Look in your medicine cabinet, reflect on the those pills you may have taken for a recent flu. How do you know they are not fake?

Counterfeit medicines are 25 times more profitable than selling drugs and according to the World Health Organisation it is “an age-old practice which flourishes in many countries and is motivated mainly by the huge profits to be made”.

Here are a few examples: Cough syrup containing antifreeze (that led to 84 deaths in Nigeria in 2009). Teething medicine for babies made from car battery fluid and false contraceptives.

Figures from the WHO show that every year between 100,000 and one million people are victims of the trade in counterfeit medicines.

The Council of Europe introduced a treaty nearly five years ago in a a bid to crack down on the practice of selling fake medicines. It provides a framework for national and international co-operation in tackling the problem.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Euronews

Determined Youth of Poland Use Social Media to Battle Right-Wing Shift

Produced by Hans von der Brelie 

Source: Euronews

Syria ‘Cessation of Hostilities’ Deal Offers Glimmer of Hope

Source: Euronews

Zika Link to Microcephaly May Be Weeks Away, Says WHO

By Keith Walker | With REUTERS, STRATFOR 

Source: Euronews

South Africa: Zuma Speech Disrupted Amid Home Upgrade Scandal

Source: Euronews

Exclusive: Major Fire & Rescue Effort in Harlem

The footage was shot by "The G-Man" at 5:18 a.m. Details on the cause of the fire will be provided as they become available, Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Jury Finds NYPD Officer Peter Liang Guilty of Manslaughter

The Obama Nominations: Judge Abdul K. Kallon

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, President Obama nominated Judge Abdul K. Kallon to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

"Judge Kallon has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions,” said President Obama. “He will be a thoughtful and distinguished addition to the Eleventh Circuit, and I am extremely pleased to put him forward.”

Judge Abdul K. Kallon is a United States District Judge in the Northern District of Alabama.  Before joining the bench in 2010, Judge Kallon had an active litigation and counseling practice, handling corporate civil defense matters at both the district and appellate court levels.

Judge Kallon was born in Sierra Leone, where he lived until he immigrated to the United States in 1980 when he was eleven years old.  He received his A.B. in 1990 from Dartmouth College and his J.D. in 1993 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  In 1993, Judge Kallon began his legal career by serving as a law clerk to the Honorable U.W. Clemon of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.  The following year, he joined the law firm of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings as an associate and worked there until his appointment to the bench, becoming a partner in 2001. 

Throughout his career, Judge Kallon has been active in the Birmingham community and has served on numerous boards, including the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham, and Children’s Village Birmingham.  He has also been involved in numerous state and federal bar associations.  

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 

Sanders Introduces Bill Allowing Photographing and Recording of Police

New York State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village) today introduced legislation (S.6735) clarifying that a person is permitted to photograph and record law enforcement officers performing their duties, when the officer is in a public place or public view, or the person is in a private place where they have a right to be present. 

Existing law does not expressly prohibit photographing and recording police. However, there is an offense in New York called "obstructing governmental administration" under which interfering with police activity falls. This legislation amends that section of the law to clearly establish that the acts of photographing and recording police officers are not unlawful.

Further, under this new legislation the officer must not intentionally interfere with the photography or recording; detain, arrest, intimidate or otherwise harass such person; search or seize the camera or recording device without permission or a warrant; or damage or destroy the device. A civil cause of action to recover monetary damages is created against any officer violating this law, as well as that officer's law enforcement agency.

"There are calls for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement, which include pushes for police body cameras and dashboard cameras," Sanders said.  "In today's age of smartphones, encounters with police are frequently recorded and the public, as well as law enforcement officers, should know the law permits capturing these moments. This effort can go a long way to bolster the public's trust in our law enforcement system." 

Source: The Office of State Senator James Sanders, Jr.