Saturday, June 4, 2016

President Obama: 'Muhammad Ali Shook Up the World'

Statement from President Barack Obama and First Lady
Michelle Obama on the Passing of Muhammad Ali 

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest.  Period.  If you just asked him, he’d tell you.  He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.” 

But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing. 

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing.  But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time. 

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him – the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.  I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was – still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared.  “I am the part you won’t recognize.  But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own.  Get used to me.” 

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right.  A man who fought for us.  He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.  His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing.  It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail.  But Ali stood his ground.  And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course.  For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved.  But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves.  Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world.  We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest.  We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes. 

Muhammad Ali shook up the world.  And the world is better for it.  We are all better for it.  Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Muhammad Ali Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Bush presented the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to honor 14 individuals for an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. 

The recipients were Muhammad Ali, Carol Burnett, Aretha Franklin, Alan Greenspan, Vincent Cerf and Robert Kahn for designing the language that led to the Internet, Jack Nicklaus, Andy Griffith, Paul Rusesabagina for sheltering hundreds during the Rwandan genocide, Paul Harvey, former Rep. Sonny Montgomery (D-MS), Soviet historian Robert Conquest, retired Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, and Hall of Fame baseball player Frank Robinson. 

The ceremony was originally broadcast on November 9, 2005. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

NBC News - Muhammad Ali on Not Going to War

Muhammad Ali Debates Key Issues

Muhammad Ali - Funny Speeches, Interviews, Trash Talk

Muhammad Ali Amazing Speech About Life

Muhammad Ali Dies at Age 74

Friday, June 3, 2016

Co-Hosts Announced for President Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees

Statement by National Security Advisor Susan Rice

On September 20, President Obama will host a Leader’s Summit on Refugees on the margins of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power met with Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and others representing the co-hosts for the Summit – Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, Sweden and the UN Secretary General.  The Leaders’ Summit co-hosts pledged to work closely together to advance the objectives of the Summit, not only through direct action but also through concerted efforts to urge and support robust action by other UN Member States. 

With 20 million refugees around the world, a comprehensive, collective international effort to strengthen refugee protection and assistance is more critical than ever.  The co-hosts for the Summit all recognize that the international community must do more to protect and assist refugees.  Humanitarian appeals are at record levels, yet are underfunded. Massive numbers of refugees are turning to dangerous and illegal smuggling networks in search of safety; and millions more face long-term dependency in first asylum countries, without access to lawful employment and education.  In the lead up to the UNGA, the co-hosts and other UN Member States that join this effort will make concrete commitments to address these challenges, and all new and significant commitments made during 2016 will be recognized at the Leaders’ Summit. 

Through the Leaders’ Summit, we will seek: at least a 30 percent increase in financing for global appeals and international humanitarian organizations; to double the global number of resettled refugees and those afforded other legal channels of admission; and to increase the number of refugees worldwide in school by one million, and the number of refugees granted the legal right to work by one million.  Reaching these ambitious objectives will be challenging; yet, the level of need demands no less.  The United States has long been a humanitarian leader.  During this Administration, we continue to strive to do more and encourage other countries to do the same.  The Leaders’ Summit will further that leadership and address a level of displacement the world has not witnessed since World War II.  This week’s meeting with key partners committed to meeting these objectives is another key step in efforts to strengthen the international response and expand opportunities for refugees worldwide.  

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Immigration Policy and National Security

Daniel Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, discusses U.S. immigration policy and the economic and national security issues related to immigration. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Patrolling and Protecting the U.S. Border

Border Patrol Acting Chief Ronald Vitiello discusses his agency’s work to protect the nation’s borders and prevent illegal immigration into the U.S. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Statement on the Employment Situation in May

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in May. 

Summary: The economy added jobs in May at a considerably slower pace than in recent months as unemployment fell and wage growth continued its pickup.

The economy added 38,000 jobs in May, considerably below both expectations and the pace of growth in recent months, with volatility in monthly data and a temporary strike in the telecommunications industry contributing to the disappointingly low number. U.S. businesses have now added 14.5 million jobs over 75 straight months of private-sector job growth. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in May, its lowest level since November 2007. The labor force participation rate ticked down, though it remains at the same level as in June 2015. Importantly, average hourly earnings for private employees have increased 3.2 percent at an annual rate so far in 2016. In light of both volatility and temporary factors in monthly jobs data, it is important to view this month’s report in the context of both other recent data–including recent trends in consumer spending, vehicle and housing sales, and initial claims for Unemployment Insurance—as well as the longer-run trend in job growth. So far in 2016, payroll growth has averaged 150,000 jobs a month, well above the pace necessary to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate. This month’s report is a reminder of the important work that remains to sustain faster growth in jobs and wages, including investing in infrastructure and job training, implementing high-standards trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and raising the minimum wage.

You can view the full statement here

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'Flashback Friday': Bill Clinton, Jerry Brown Trade Jabs at 1992 Democratic Primary Debate

Published on YouTube on Nov 10, 2015
"You're not worth being on the same platform as my wife," Bill Clinton told Jerry Brown in a 1992 Democratic primary debate in Chicago after Brown accused Clinton of funneling Arkansas state money to Hillary Clinton's law firm.

Video courtesy of  Face the Nation on CBS.

Trailblazers in Black History: Adam Clayton Powell

Uploaded to YouTube on Jan 9, 2010.
During the middle girth of this century, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was the equivalent of the rap group Public Enemy, the protest politician Jesse Jackson, and the Congressional Black Caucus all in one.

Video courtesy of teacherofculture.

Racist ‘Jew Tracker’ Targets Trump’s Son-in-Law

Photo illustration by The Daily Beast 

By Joe Veix

A deep dive into an abusive Neo-Nazi Chrome app built by self-proclaimed Trump supporters reveal it also targets The Donald’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. 

Hordes of online Neo-Nazis thought they were being pretty clever.

They developed a coded insignia that could secretly mark out Jewish public figures and writers. Mic discovered this week that a Google Chrome app allowed fellow Nazis, trolls, and self-identified Donald Trump supporters to search blogs and social media and help them target the Jewish people who had been identified.

Typing the (((echoes))) symbol around a name acts like a corrupted anti-Semitic trigger warning and flags its targets as Jewish or “anti-white” to other bigoted users. Since most sites strip parentheses and other punctuation from search results, it is extremely difficult to find specific instances on social media, making it challenging to trace patterns of abuse.

When The Daily Beast examined the Chrome app, it also emerged that a list of named Jewish actors, directors, and media figures were being targeted. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Staten Island Teen Dies from Asthma Fleeing Racist Crew Waving Gun

Dayshen McKenzie died while running for his life.

The black Staten Island teen, fleeing what witnesses described as a mostly white crew shouting racial epithets and waving a gun, collapsed and died last week from an asthma attack.

“To me, it’s murder,” said Diane Fatigati, an ex-NYPD officer and 9/11 responder, who rushed to the aid of the dying McKenzie. “They were chasing him — that’s a crime. You’re hunting them because they’re black ... You’re calling them a n----r.”

Fatigati tried desperately to resuscitate the 16-year-old aspiring rapper. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: New York Daily News 

Note: The following statement was issued today by National Action Network president Rev. Al Sharpton.

“As someone who led the demonstration 30-years ago in Howard Beach, I read with horror what happened to Staten Island teen Dayshen McKenzie and there are striking similarities to what happened in 1986 to Michael Griffith. National Action Network (NAN) has a Staten Island office and will offer whatever support we can to the family of this young man. On Saturday, during NAN’s live action rally and radio broadcast, we will call on the federal government to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime because after the Staten Island District Attorney’s office (under the former prosecutor) showed questionable investigative skills in the Eric Garner case, we cannot in confidence rely on the DA’s office to pursue this matter to the degree the community feels will bring justice to the family of Dayshen McKenzie.” 

Source: Mercury

First Read: Trump's Takeover of the GOP Is Now Complete

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.
Trump's GOP takeover is now complete

On March 3, Mitt Romney delivered his own blistering speech on Donald Trump, which used some of the same lines of attack that Hillary Clinton included in her anti-Trump address yesterday. "[Trump's] domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill," Romney said back then. But today — exactly three months ago since that speech — Trump's takeover of the Republican Party is now complete, especially after House Speaker Paul Ryan (Romney's 2012 running mate) endorsed the real-estate mogul. Ryan tried to give himself distance by withholding his endorsement for 29 days after Trump became the GOP's presumptive nominee, particularly given their differences over immigration, entitlements, trade, and Trump's Muslim ban. But it's hard to disagree with this take from the Cook Political Report's David Wasserman: "Speaker Paul Ryan endorses nominee who wants to ban Muslims from the country. The hostile takeover of the GOP is now complete." 

Click here for the full article.

Protesters Assault Trump Supporters With Eggs, Bottles, Punches After Rally

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Donald Trump supporters were mobbed and assaulted by protesters on Thursday night after the candidate's campaign rally in California.

The violence broke out after the event in San Jose wrapped up just before 8 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET). Some Trump supporters were punched. One woman wearing a "Trump" jersey was cornered, spit at, and pelted with eggs and water bottles.

Police held back at first but eventually moved in. San Jose Police Sgt. Enrique Garcia told NBC News that several protesters were arrested and one officer was assaulted in the melee. 

Click here for video.

Zika Virus Might Also Spread Via Oral Sex: French Researchers

Zika virus, spread mostly by mosquitoes, might also travel via oral sex, French researchers report.

It's known that sex can spread Zika virus, which can remain in a man's semen for weeks and even months. In an excruciatingly detailed report, a team of researchers at France's INSERM medical institute describe a case they think suggests that oral sex might also spread the virus. 

It started with a woman who got sick in Paris last February. She got the classic Zika rash and muscle aches, and had not been to any Zika-affected areas. But a man she knew had been in Rio and also had a rash.  

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Promising Drugs Stoke Talk of Cancer 'Cures'

Robert Waag is alive and apparently cancer free more than two years after advanced melanoma reached his lungs, hips and other parts of his body - a feat only recently considered unthinkable for such patients.

Waag, 77, is on the immunotherapy Keytruda, a new type of drug that enlists the body's defenses in the fight. 

The first new immunotherapy drug for cancer was introduced in 2011, so long-term efficacy is unknown. But the approach is showing promise. Before these drugs, the prognosis for most patients with advanced melanoma was a year at best.

In one study of Keytruda, 40 percent of such patients survived at least three years, and 10 percent showed no evidence of cancer. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Editorial: A Drug Epidemic in Black, White and Purple

We are all still reeling from the sudden death of music icon Prince on April 21. And once the initial impact of his loss settled in, the inevitable happened. Shade, speculation and revelations of his alleged addiction to opiates and pain medications spread like wildfire.

Today, NBC News reports that Minnesota Medical Examiners confirmed Prince died from an overdose of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

There is a lot of talk these days about the impact and victims of substance abuse — specifically, pain medications and other opioids, as well as heroin. Today, the conversations are very compassionate and enlightened because the face of addiction is changing.

"We need to see the Prince in all of us. We need to see the vulnerability. We're all vulnerable here," Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told the L.A. Times. "It's a wake-up call for how we view these drugs." 

Click here for the full article.

NATO’s Top Soldier Says Trump Comments Play into Hands of Putin

Reuters, 03/06 16:28 CET

By Marius Zaharia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – NATO’s top military officer, General Petr Pavel, denounced U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday for criticizing the alliance as obsolete and said such comments played to the hands of its opponents.

In unusual criticism of a presidential candidate, Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, said in an interview that Russian “President (Vladimir) Putin and some others may be pleased by this approach”.

“To take such an approach would be a great mistake,” he said.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, has criticized the decades-old NATO alliance with mainly European nations – a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy – as obsolete and too costly for the United States.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was set up in a different era, Trump has said, when the main threat to the West was the Soviet Union. It was ill-suited to fighting terrorism.

Pavel, a former Czech Republic army chief, said the NATO alliance formed in 1949 was not perfect but it had great potential as well as the chance to be improved.

“Statements like these are not necessarily damaging, but they are not useful,” Pavel said in Singapore on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s biggest security summit. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: euronews.

Israel ‘Engaging’ with ICC Over Gaza War Crimes Inquiry – Prosecutor

Reuters, 03/06 13:44 CET

By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) – Israel is holding discussions with the International Criminal Court over its investigation into possible war crimes in the 2014 Gaza conflict, the ICC’s prosecutor said.

The disclosure, in an interview with Reuters, would indicate a step-up in Israeli engagement with the Hague-based tribunal and a shift from a policy of non-cooperation with ICC probes of alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories.

An Israeli government source said there was contact with the ICC on procedural issues, but declined to go  into detail.

“Israel has agreed to engage with my office and we are exchanging information,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said during a visit to the U.N. in Geneva late on Thursday. She said the ICC was in touch with both sides in the Gaza conflict. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: euronews.