Saturday, June 11, 2016

Weekly Address: Addressing Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis

White House Press Briefing

West Wing Week, 6/10/16

Statement from the President on the Passing of Gordie Howe

The following statement was issued on June 10. 

The list of hockey players who suited up in six different decades, including returning to the ice after being inducted into the Hall of Fame, is a short one: it starts and ends with Gordie Howe.  But the list of kids who skated around the pond until dark, picturing themselves passing, scoring, and enforcing like Howe, dreaming of hoisting the Stanley Cup like him – that one comprises too many to count.  Howe’s productivity, perseverance, and humility personified his adopted hometown of Detroit, to which he brought four championships and which he represented as an All-Star more than 20 times.  The greatest players define their game for a generation; over more than half a century on the ice, Mr. Hockey defined it for a lifetime.  Michelle and I send our condolences to his sons and daughter, his family, and his loyal fans from Hockeytown to Hartford to Houston and across North America. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Friday, June 10, 2016

Muhammad Ali Memorial Service (Full Video)

Former President Bill Clinton, actor Billy Crystal, interfaith leaders, and others spoke at a memorial service in Louisville, Kentucky, for boxer Muhammad Ali, who died June 3, 2016, at age 74. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Debate: Is Cuomo's Crackdown on BDS Unconstitutional McCarthyism or a Stand Against Anti-Semitism?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued the first-ever executive order forcing state agencies to divest from any organizations aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. BDS is an international campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. However, its opponents say BDS is a thinly disguised anti-Semitic attempt to debilitate or even destroy Israel. Cuomo’s executive order forces state officials to make a list of businesses and groups who are engaged in activities targeting Israel.

Democracy Now speaks to Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, and Robert Freedman, a visiting professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and the former president of Baltimore Hebrew University.

Click here for video.

Source: Democracy Now!

President Obama Speaks on the White House Mentorship and Leadership Program

President Obama Hosts a Reception for LGBT Pride Month

VP Biden's Remarks at American Constitution Society (Full Video)

Vice President Joe Biden criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his comments against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel who was overseeing lawsuits against Trump University. He said the candidate’s comments tilted towards “authoritarianism and tyranny” and warned that he would defy the courts if they ruled against him if he were to be elected president. The vice president also spoke against his former colleagues in the Senate who refused to grant a hearing to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland.

This was part of the opening session of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy 2016 National Convention, held at the Capital Hilton.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Janet Redman Testimony at DNC Platform Hearing

Redman, Climate Policy Director at the Institute for Policy Studies, spoke at the DNC Platform Hearing on June 9, 2016, in Washington, DC. 

User-Created Clip
by Josh Hoxie
June 9, 2016 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Roundtable on Retirement Security and Savings

Former Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and James Lockhart, co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Retirement, discuss the commission’s report on obstacles facing Americans as they save for retirement.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Secretary Burwell Calls Governors to Discuss Zika Preparedness

On June 9, 2016, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell and CDC Director Tom Frieden, along with Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope at the White House hosted a video tele-conference with Governors and local officials from states believed to be at the highest risk for local transmission of Zika.  The discussion focused on the Federal government’s support of and partnering with state and local governments as they conduct Zika preparedness and response efforts. In addition, the discussion covered guidance that the Federal government is providing today to states to help them prepare for cases of local transmission as we enter the summer months, which are the height of mosquito season.  Governors from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas joined the call along with officials from Georgia, Hawaii, California, and Los Angeles County.

During the call, Burwell and Frieden briefed the governors on the Administration’s Zika response efforts to date. Burwell stressed the importance of states quickly implementing mosquito control and surveillance activities; ensuring sufficient laboratory capacity to handle indicated diagnostic testing needs; communicating with the public, particularly pregnant women and women of childbearing age and returning travelers; about the risk of mosquito-borne  and sexual transmission of Zika; and taking additional steps to ensure the safety of the blood supply.

Burwell also stressed the need for Congress to pass the Administration’s full emergency funding request so that states and territories have the funding they need to fight Zika.

CDC Director Frieden highlighted federal resources available to states, including technical assistance from CDC; funding for preparedness and response, building laboratory capacity, and technical support for vector control; CDC’s Emergency Response Team (CERT), a group of public health experts who can be mobilized and deployed upon confirmed local transmission; and guidance to assist state, local, and territorial public health officials in preparedness and response planning.

Frieden also discussed CDC’s draft Zika Response Plan document, a resource document that outlines Federal and state roles in responding to a potential case of local Zika transmission in the continental United States and Hawaii. The draft response plan, created with input from state and local officials, includes detailed guidance for states and local jurisdictions on critical areas including but not limited to: protocol for the initial response to local transmission of Zika, defining and communicating with the public about a Zika transmission area for multiple confirmed cases of local transmission, and technical assistance and expanded capacity for mosquito surveillance and control. Several governors expressed appreciation for the call and the urgent need for additional funding, and asked for further communication as mosquito activity increases this summer.

Secretary Burwell also committed to working with governors to maintain support and an ongoing dialogue as federal, state, and local officials prepare for local transmission of Zika and continue to respond to travel-associated cases in their jurisdictions. 

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

DEA Wants Inside Your Medical Records to Fight the War on Drugs

By Christopher Moraff

The feds are fighting to look at millions of private files without a warrant, including those of two transgender men who are taking testosterone.

Marlon Jones was arrested for taking legal painkillers, prescribed to him by a doctor, after a double knee replacement.

Jones, an assistant fire chief of Utah’s Unified Fire Authority, was snared in a dragnet pulled through the state’s program to monitor prescription drugs after someone stole morphine from an ambulance in 2012. To find the missing morphine, cops used their unrestricted access to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitor Program database to look at the private medical records of nearly 500 emergency services personnel—without a warrant.

Jones was arrested along with another firefighter and a paramedic on suspicion of prescription fraud. 

“I got a call at work from the police chief, who I know and work with,” Jones testified before a state senate committee last year. “He said ‘We think you have a problem, you’re taking too many medications. We need to make sure you’re no longer a threat to the community or yourself. So we’re doing this to help you.’” 

Jones described in tearful detail what happened next.

“There were three police officers pounding on the door. They said they had a warrant for my arrest and they were going to take me in,” he said. “It was the middle of the day, on my front doorstep, in front of my wife and daughter. I’m handcuffed and stuffed into a police car and they haul me to jail.”

Jones was hit with 14 felony counts but all of them were later dropped. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

'Flashback Friday': Hillary Clinton Endorses Barack Obama

Saving Our Youth: Gang Prevention PSA

Trailblazers in Black History: Lola Falana

Uploaded to YouTube on May 12, 2009. 

The talented Lola Falana meets with Kevin O'Brien of Theatre of the Word Inc. 

In this first interview Lola talks and explains about who she is. Lola is a talented singer and actress known for her great performances in television and on stage.

Bonus feature: Muhammad Ali on the Lola Falana Show

Is Hillary Clinton Considering Elizabeth Warren as Her Running Mate?

First Read's Morning Clips: Pummeling Trump

OFF TO THE RACES: Pummeling Trump sums up Democrats' pummeling of Donald Trump after top leaders coalesced behind Hillary Clinton.

NBC's Kasie Hunt confirms reports that Clinton and Elizabeth Warren will meet Friday morning.
CLINTON: From the Wall Street Journal: "At the center of a criminal probe involving Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information is a series of emails between American diplomats in Islamabad and their superiors in Washington about whether to oppose specific drone strikes in Pakistan. The 2011 and 2012 emails were sent via the "low side''—government slang for a computer system for unclassified matters—as part of a secret arrangement that gave the State Department more of a voice in whether a Central Intelligence Agency drone strike went ahead, according to congressional and law-enforcement officials briefed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe." 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Hackensack Mayor, Deputy Mayor Break With GOP in Protest of Trump as Presumptive Presidential Nominee

The mayor and deputy mayor of a New Jersey city have ditched their Republican party affiliation, fed up with what they call racist comments by Donald Trump, the party's presumptive presidential nominee. Checkey Beckford reports. 

Click here for video.

Source: NBC News

Another Staten Island Church Targeted in Fire-Bombing Attempt: NYPD

OP-ED: The Case for LGBT-Inclusive Education

The alarming rate of bullying, homelessness, HIV and suicide among LGBT youth should be an outrage: Nearly a fifth of students are physically assaulted because they are LGBT; among homeless children, 25 to 50 percent are LGBT; the CDC reports among youth aged 13 to 24 diagnosed with HIV in 2014, 80 percent were gay and bisexual males; and gay teens are also eight times more likely to report having attempted suicide.

Instead, the outrage swirls around who gets to use whose bathroom. Sparked by North Carolina's "bathroom bill", the legal battle over transgender rights recently escalated to include over a dozen states suing the federal government in response to the Obama administration's transgender bathroom policy. What if all the time, energy and taxpayer money spent on litigation were invested toward providing comprehensive LGBT inclusive health education for all children? 

Click here for the full article.

U.S. Takes Key Step in Ceding Control of Internet Addresses

The U.S. government is taking a key step in relinquishing control of the Internet's addressing system, fulfilling a promise made in the 1990s.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Thursday that it endorses a March proposal to turn full control over to a private international organization. All that remains is completing some contracts and operational testing. That's expected to be done in the coming months. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Thomas J. Perkins, Major Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist, Dies at 84

SAN FRANCISCO — Thomas Perkins, one of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley, died on Tuesday at age 84 at his home in Belvedere, California, according to the Marin County coroner's office.

As co-founder of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Perkins played a major role in the formative years of the computer and biotech industries. The firm that bears his name went on to fund some of the biggest names of the internet era, including Google and Amazon.

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Twitter Hack: Should You Worry About Millions of Leaked Passwords?

Yet another security outfit is reporting that millions of stolen passwords — this time, for Twitter accounts — are floating around the dark side of the internet. Should you be worried?

In truth, it's hard to say. And that's rapidly emerging as the latest dilemma of digital life.

The website LeakedSource said it received a cache of Twitter data that contains 32 million records, including passwords. Twitter said that its systems haven't been breached. LeakedSource said the passwords were most likely collected over time by malware-infected browsers that sent saved passwords to hackers. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Charleston Church Shootings: Dylann Roof Wants to Waive Trial

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Dylann Storm Roof are at odds over whether he should face a jury on capital charges that he killed nine people at a South Carolina church last year, according to court documents.

Lawyers for Roof, 22, of Columbia, South Carolina, filed a motion Thursday waiving his right to a jury trial in the shootings on June 17, 2015, during a Bible study class at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

But in the same motion, they said federal prosecutors had already rejected the idea and are determined to bring him to trial. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Prosecutor: Police Van Driver Gave Freddie Gray 'Rough Ride'

Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson's trial begins. News4's Chris Gordon reports. 

Published Thursday, June 9, 2016.

Click here for video. 

Source: NBC News

U.S., Iraqi Officials Can’t Confirm Report Islamic State Leader Baghdadi Wounded

Reuters, 10/06 12:16 CET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. and Iraqi officials fighting Islamic State said on Friday they could not confirm a report by an Iraqi TV channel that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been wounded in an air strike in northern Iraq.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the radical Islamist militants, Colonel Chris Garver, said in an email that he had seen the reports but had “nothing to confirm this at this time”.

Kurdish and Arab security officials in northern Iraq said they also could not confirm the report.

Al Sumariya TV cited a local source in the northern province of Nineveh saying that Baghdadi and other Islamic State leaders were wounded on Thursday in a coalition air strike on one of the group’s command headquarters close to the Syrian border.

The channel has good connections with Shi’ite politicians and Iraqi forces engaged in the battle against Islamic State.

Click here for the full article.

Source: euronews.

U.N. Says Israeli Move on Palestinian Permits May Be Collective Punishment

Reuters, 10/06 15:40 CET

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Israel’s cancellation of entry permits for Palestinians following a deadly attack in Tel Aviv may amount to collective punishment, which is banned under international law, the United Nations’ top human rights official said on Friday.

Responding to the criticism, Israel defended its actions as “legitimate steps in order to defend its citizens from terrorists”.

The Israeli military on Thursday revoked permits for 83,000 Palestinians to visit Israel and said it would send hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank a day after a Palestinian gun attack that killed four Israelis in Tel Aviv.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein condemned the attack, the largest loss of Israeli life in a single attack since the current surge in violence, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.

But he is deeply concerned about the revoking of permits “which may amount to prohibited collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time”, she told a news briefing.

Click here for the full article.

Source: euronews.

Italy Arrests Two Ukrainians Suspected of Trafficking Syrians by Boat

Reuters, 10/06 11:26 CET

ROME (Reuters) – Italian police have arrested two Ukrainians suspected of trafficking Syrians to Italy on a sail boat, and have launched a probe to find the criminal organization ultimately responsible.

Almost 50,000 sea-borne migrants have landed this year in Italy, which is on the front line of Europe’s biggest migration crisis since World War Two.

Most are sub-Saharan Africans and many travel on boats so rickety they risk sinking before arriving and are picked up in Italian or Libyan waters and brought ashore by the coastguard.

But finance police said in a statement the suspected traffickers arrested on Thursday had managed to leave 16 people with wet clothes on a beach in Calabria, in the toe of Italy’s boot, and start making a getaway towards international waters.

Police chased and boarded the 10-metre (33 ft) single-mast vessel and arrested the two Ukrainians on board. The boat was confiscated and the pair were taken to jail after the migrants identified them.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: euronews.

Kurdish TAK Militants Claim Deadly Istanbul Bombing

Source: euronews.

Libyan Pro-Government Brigades Advance on ISIL Stronghold of Sirte

Source: euronews.

Euro 2016: Kick-Off Overshadowed by Terror Threat and Strikes

Source; euronews.

“Nae Brexit” Say Scots Unwilling to Follow England Out of Europe

By Hans von der Brelie | With Robert Hackwell (English Journalist), Tim Hirst (Camera)   

Source: euronews.

Venezuela: Calls for Recall Vote Grow Louder as Opposition Politicians Assaulted

Source: euronews.

Movie-Maker Michael Moore Warns of Trump Presidency

Source: euronews.

German-Turkish War of Words Intensifies After ‘Genocide’ Vote

Source: euronews.

Europeans ‘Increasingly Anti-Brussels, But Don’t Want Brexit’

By Thomas Seymat | With PEW RESEARCH CENTER

A few weeks ahead of the make-or-break UK referendum on whether to leave the European Union, several surveys hint that while Europeans are against Brexit, they are increasingly divided, and doubtful, on the role of the EU.

Views on the EU vary dramatically depending on the member states, according to a Pew Research survey.

Poland and Hungary, despite current tensions with Brussels from their Eurosceptic governments, have the highest percentage of favourable views of the EU, with 72 percent and 61 percent respectively. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: euronews.

Big Job Cuts in Britain’s Oil and Gas Sector

As many as 120,000 workers will have lost their jobs in Britain’s oil and gas sector by the end of the year, according to the industry’s lobby group.

Oil and Gas UK said that would mean a 25 percent fall in the workforce since mid-2014 when oil prices started declining.

The losses include those directly employed and people in the supply chain and providing services. 

Click here for summary.

Source: euronews.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

White House Briefing

Josh Earnest responded to reporters' questions on a variety of topics, including President Obama’s meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president earlier in the day. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Bernie Sanders White House Driveway Remarks

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke to reporters following a meeting with President Obama at the White House. He pledged to work with presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton to defeat Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, and would campaign in the June 14 Washington, D.C., primary. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Senate Minority Leader Reid on Meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) spoke to reporters following a meeting with 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

House Republican National Security Agenda

Congressional Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) unveiled their party’s national security policy proposals at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.  

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN

House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi briefed reporters on her legislative agenda and responded to their questions on a variety of topics. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Puerto Rican Debt Relief Legislation

The Hill's Peter Schroeder discusses the Puerto Rican debt relief bill under consideration in the House.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Sharpton to Speak at Wake of Dayshen McKenzie

On June 10, at 10:30 a.m., Rev. Al Sharpton will speak at the wake of Dayshen McKenzie. 

While the circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear, and the role of race has not yet been determined, the teenager clearly died as a result of being chased. Rev. Sharpton is honoring his commitment to the family and will forego attending Muhammad Ali’s service in Kentucky. 

Minister Kirsten John Foy, Northeast Regional Director of National Action Network, will officiate the service. 

The service will be held at A. Azzara Funeral Home, 183 Sand Lane, in Staten Island, New York.

Source: Mercury

Politics in Action: Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act

H.R. 5278 - Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act

(Rep. Duffy, R-WI, and two cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which would provide Puerto Rico with a comprehensive restructuring authority to address its unsustainable debt, coupled with appropriate fiscal oversight to increase transparency and achieve meaningful reforms.

Puerto Rico has already begun defaulting on its $70 billion of debt with a much larger default anticipated on July 1 when nearly $2 billion in additional payments are due.  However, this is not just a matter of financial liabilities.  The human costs for the 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico – in terms of access to health care, electricity, education, and basic public safety – are real and escalating daily.  H.R. 5278 would allow Puerto Rico to restructure its liabilities to help address the ongoing crisis, with no new Federal spending. 

While the Administration supports passage of H.R. 5278, the Administration has concerns with some provisions in the bill.  The Administration opposes the measures in this bill on minimum wage and overtime that put in jeopardy important protections for workers, do nothing to address the crisis, and further exacerbate the economic disparities between Puerto Rico and the mainland United States.  Although the bill would include important provisions to ensure adequate funding for public sector pensions, it could do even more to protect pensions.  Further, the bill should ensure Puerto Ricans have a robust voice on the proposed Financial Oversight and Management Board.  While the bill includes provisions the Administration opposes, on balance, the Administration believes this compromise legislation is far superior to the status quo and is necessary to protect the well-being of 3.5 million Americans and create a path to recovery.

Only Congress has the authority to provide Puerto Rico the tools to resolve this crisis.  Failing to act now will result in an economic and humanitarian crisis far beyond what Puerto Rico is already facing today.  Absent the bill's protections and tools, an escalating series of lawsuits between creditors and against Puerto Rico could ensue, which could imperil essential services and put pensions in jeopardy. 

The Administration urges the Congress to build on the bipartisan effort behind PROMESA and pass this legislation quickly before this crisis grows materially worse. 

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