Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weekly Address: It’s Time to Fill the Vacancy on the Supreme Court

Briefing on the State of U.S.-Turkey Relations


Defense Department Spokesman Peter Cook fields questions from reporters at the Pentagon on the state of U.S.-Turkey relations in the wake of the recent failed coup attempt and the subsequent jailing of military officials by the Erodogan government. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Analyzing the Necessity of the Glass-Steagall Act

Bloomberg View Columnist Megan McArdle talked about planks in both the Democratic and Republican Party platforms calling for the restoration of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which bars commercial banks from participating in high-risk investments. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Harlem Book Fair Panel Discussion on Zora Neale Hurston

Rutgers University’s Cheryl Wall, Rich Blint, with The James Baldwin Review, Columbia University’s Farah Jasmine Griffin, and Barnard College’s Yvette Christianse speak at the Harlem Book Fair about author Zora Neale Hurston. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Friday, July 29, 2016

White House Press Briefing

West Wing Week, 7/29/16

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

On Friday, July 29, 2016, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2607, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 7802 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, New York, as the Jeanne and Jules Manford Post Office Building;

H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016,” which modifies the administration and delivery of a number of Federal housing programs;

H.R. 3931, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 620 Central Avenue Suite 1A in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, as the Chief Petty Officer Adam Brown United States Post Office;

H.R. 3953, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4122 Madison Street, Elfers, Florida, as the Private First Class Felton Roger Fussell Memorial Post Office;

H.R. 4010, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 522 North Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona, as the Ed Pastor Post Office;

H.R. 4425, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 110 East Powerhouse Road in Collegeville, Minnesota, as the Eugene J. McCarthy Post Office;

H.R. 4747, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 6691 Church Street in Riverdale, Georgia, as the Major Gregory E. Barney Post Office Building;

H.R. 4761, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 61 South Baldwin Avenue in Sierra Madre, California, as the Louis Van Iersel Post Office;

H.R. 4777, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1301 Alabama Avenue in Selma, Alabama, as the Amelia Boynton Robinson Post Office Building;

H.R. 4877, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3130 Grants Lake Boulevard in Sugar Land, Texas, as the LCpl Garrett W. Gamble, USMC Post Office Building;

H.R. 4904, the “Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies Act of 2016” or the “MEGABYTE Act of 2016,” which requires Federal agencies, through an Office of Management and Budget directive, to track software licenses, and to make public reports on cost savings through efficient software license management;
H.R. 4925, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 229 West Main Cross Street, in Findlay, Ohio, as the Michael Garver Oxley Memorial Post Office Building;

H.R. 4975, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 5720 South 142nd Street in Omaha, Nebraska, as the Petty Officer 1st Class Caleb A. Nelson Post Office Building;
H.R. 4987, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3957 2nd Avenue in Laurel Hill, Florida, as the Sergeant First Class William "Kelly" Lacey Post Office;

H.R. 5028, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 10721 E Jefferson Ave in Detroit, Michigan, as the Mary E. McCoy Post Office Building;

H.R. 5722, the “John F. Kennedy Centennial Commission Act,” which establishes the John F. Kennedy Centennial Commission to plan, develop, and carry out activities to honor John F. Kennedy on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth;

S. 764, which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard;

S. 2893, the “Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act of 2016,” which extends authorizations of the sound recording and film preservation programs of the Library of Congress through FY 2026;

S. 3055, the “Department of Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2016,” which extends, to December 31, 2021, VA's authority to provide a dental insurance plan to veterans and their dependents and survivors; and

S. 3207, which authorizes the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped within the Library of Congress to provide playback equipment in all formats. 
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Rev. Sharpton's Statement on North Carolina Court Decision on Voter ID

(New York, NY) – National civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton applauded the federal appeals court in North Carolina today that struck down the state’s requirement for voters to show identification before casting ballots, while also reinstating early voting, a measure that has been a part of National Action Network’s mission around the country.

“We at National Action Network have long said that the Voter ID laws adopted by many states are an insidious effort to roll back hard-won voting rights and today’s decision is a step in the right direction towards allowing a more just election process,” Rev. Sharpton said.

NAN has led a voter protection tour and rallied against the unfairness of voter ID efforts that require voters to show photo IDs at polling sites and laws that restrict early voting. States have recently reversed restrictive laws and NAN is continuing a national effort leading into the November election to expose voter disenfranchisement. Countless potential voters have been shut out of the election process due to restrictive laws and NAN will work tirelessly to expose the injustice around the country in the months to come. 

Source: Mercury

Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID Law

A federal appeals court has struck down North Carolina’s voter identification law, holding that it was “passed with racially discriminatory intent.”

The ruling also invalidated changes the state made in 2013 to early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration.

The three judges assigned to the case — all Democratic appointees — were unanimous that the North Carolina legislature violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act three years ago by passing the law requiring voters to show certain types of photo ID at the polls. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Politico

Zika Virus Response in the U.S. and Abroad


Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discusses the threat posed by the Zika virus, including the risk of local transmission in the U.S. and concerns about the upcoming Olympic Games. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

U.S. Military Response to ISIS

National Review Staff Writer David French discusses the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and the U.S. military response to the militant group.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

'Flashback Friday': Nadia Comaneci - 1976 Gymnastics, All Seven Perfect 10's

Trailblazers in Black History: Chocolat

Chocolat was the stage name of Rafael Padilla, a clown who performed in a Paris circus around the turn of the 20th-century. Rafael was of Afro-Cuban descent and was one of the earliest successful black entertainers in modern France. He was the first black clown to play a lead role in a circus pantomime act, and with his longtime partner George Foottit they revolutionized the art of clowning by pairing the sophisticated white clown with the foolish auguste clown.

Click here for more information. 

Source: Wikipedia

Florida's 4 Zika Cases Likely Came From Local Mosquitoes: Gov. Scott

Florida's governor says the state has concluded that four mysterious Zika infections likely came from mosquitoes in the Miami area.

Gov. Rick Scott said Friday that no mosquitoes in the state have tested positive for Zika. But he says one woman and three men in Miami-Dade and Broward counties likely contracted the virus through mosquito bites. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

San Diego Police Shooting: One Officer Killed, One Rushed to Surgery

A police officer was fatally shot and another seriously injured during a traffic stop in San Diego late Thursday, officials said.

Authorities said early Friday that one person was in custody, but told residents to stay indoors while they searched the area for other potential suspects.

SWAT vehicles, helicopters and patrol cars were involved in the extensive operation. 

The shooting happened at around 11 p.m. local time (2 a.m. ET Friday) in the Southcrest neighborhood, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told reporters early Friday outside Scripps Mercy Hospital.

Could Russia Hack US Ballot Boxes on Election Day?

DCCC Confirms Cybersecurity Incident

Trump Campaign Struggles to Pull Off Minority Outreach Events

As his approval ratings with minority voters continue to plummet, Donald Trump's campaign rescheduled yet another minority outreach event this week.

The Republican nominee was set to attend a Hispanic roundtable in Miami on Tuesday, but two days after scheduling it, the campaign said the intended attendees weren't in town after all and that the roundtable would be delayed again. The event, first delayed after the police shootings in Dallas on July 7, had been initially scheduled for July 9. A new date has yet to be announced.

It's the latest in a growing list of derailed efforts to appeal to the communities that most strongly disapprove of the Republican nominee.

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

First Read: An OK Speech, But a Powerful Convention

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. 

An OK speech, but a powerful convention

PHILADELPHIA -- Hillary Clinton's speech Thursday accepting her party's presidential nomination was OK; she is never going to rhetorically outshine President Obama or her husband Bill Clinton. But what she and Democrats did achieve was produce a powerful convention that contrasted with Donald Trump's last week in Cleveland. While the GOP convention had high-profile no-shows (the Bushes, Mitt Romney, John Kasich) and a speech by a candidate who didn't endorse Trump (Ted Cruz), the Democrats trotted out Obama, Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, and yes Bernie Sanders, who all testified on Hillary Clinton's behalf. While the GOP convention focused on police, the Democrats featured both police and the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland. And while the GOP convention highlighted the violence that immigrants had committed and Benghazi, the Democrats introduced Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim-American Army captain, who delivered arguably the week's most stinging critique against Trump. "Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy" -- as he took out a pocket U.S. Constitution. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

The DNC Was Having a Moment of Silence for Fallen Police Officers. Then There Was a Scream…


In a largely apolitical speech that was seemingly the strongest defense of police to this point at the Democratic National Convention, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez was speaking to the DNC crowd about the resilience of police in the face of adversity, and how she’s been trying to make sense of it, before offering a solution: 

Violence is not the answer. Yelling and calling each other names is not going to do it. Talking within our own group in a language only our group understands leads nowhere. We have to start listening to each other.

Then, she asked the crowd to help her honor “all of America’s fallen officers with a moment of silence.” 

Click here to listen to what happened next. 

Source: Independent Journal Review and Conservative Daily

Nancy Pelosi Enlightens Us on Why White Guys Overwhelmingly Back The Donald


To conservatives, Nancy Pelosi has always been the proverbial gift that keeps on giving. Such was the case at the Democratic convention on Wednesday when she explained why white guys support Donald Trump.

In the mind of Nancy, it comes down to “the three Gs“:

“I think that, so many times, white — non-college-educated white males have voted Republican. They voted against their own economic interests because of guns, because of gays, and because of God, the three Gs, God being the woman’s right to choose.”
Both Pelosi and PBS’s Judy Woodruff chose to focus on non-college-educated white males, not-so-subtly suggesting that college-educated white males are way too smart to support The Donald over Hillary.

At least one recent poll suggests otherwise.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Independent Journal Review and Conservative Daily

Restaurant Employees All Over America Are Refusing to Serve Cops

Two employees at a Noodles & Company restaurant in Virginia were fired after refusing to serve a uniformed police officer on Monday

According to the Alexandria Police Department, one of the cooks came from the back and said ‘You better pull me off the line, because I’m not serving that,’ pointing at the uniformed officer. When both the cashier and the cook started laughing, the officer left the restaurant.

The restaurant terminated both employees on Thursday. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Your Black World News

NYPD Detective Posts Racist Rants Slamming Chirlane McCray & Bill Bratton

By Graham Rayman, Ryan Sit and Stephen Rex Brown

Courtesy, professionalism, respect — and racist Facebook rants?

A decorated NYPD detective has a rabid right-wing social media presence that includes prejudiced takes on news events, insults at Mayor de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, and die-hard support of Donald Trump.

Detective Gregory Gordon, 33, who works in the 121st Precinct in Staten Island, made the inflammatory posts on his Facebook page, which was set to private.

“Explain to me a time when a mayor’s wife has ever been able to weigh in on police related topics ever before? Who cares what this former crack addict says!” Gordon wrote on Facebook on Nov. 3, 2014, around the time a report claimed McCray didn’t trust Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The New York Daily News and the Empire Report

New York Hospitals Rated Lowest in U.S.

by Bill Hammond

New York’s hospitals collectively rank dead last among the 50 states in a new report card from the federal government, an Empire Center analysis shows.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its first-ever star ratings for hospitals across the country, based on 64 measures of quality.

Just one New York institution, the Hospital for Special Surgery, received the top rating of five stars, and only 12 received four stars. Forty-nine of the state’s hospitals were rated average with three stars, 58 got two stars and 35 got one star.

That translates to an average score of 2.26, which was the lowest of any state, the analysis found. Just above New York were the hospitals of Nevada (2.29), New Jersey (2.47), Florida (2.62), and Connecticut (2.64).

The states with the best averages were South Dakota (4.12), Idaho (3.65), Wisconsin (3.65), Minnesota (3.53), and Delaware (3.50). 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NY Torch and the Empire Report

Statement on the First Estimate of GDP for the Second Quarter of 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the first estimate of GDP for the second quarter of 2016. 

Summary: Real GDP grew 1.2 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter, with strong consumer spending growth offset in part by a decrease in inventory investment.

The economy grew 1.2 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter of 2016, due in part to a large decline in inventory investment (one of the most volatile components of GDP), along with declines in business investment, residential investment, and government spending. However, consumer spending grew strongly at 4.2 percent, and, in contrast to the pattern in recent years, net exports also added to GDP. Overall, the most stable and persistent components of output—consumption and fixed investment—rose a solid 2.7 percent in the second quarter. Today’s report underscores that there is more work to do, and the President will continue to take steps to strengthen economic growth and boost living standards, including promoting greater competition across the economy; supporting innovation; and calling on Congress to increase investments in infrastructure and to pass the high-standards Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Click here to read the complete statement.

Source: The White House, the Office of the Press Secretary

Youth Detention Center Scandal Prompts Questions

The scandal of abuse at an Australian youth detention center has prompted the Prime Minister to order an official inquiry. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout speaks with two people involved with the case.

Source: CNN

Refugees Around the World Prepare to Compete in Rio

Refugee athletes are preparing to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio in an effort to highlight the struggle of refugees worldwide. CNN's Lynda Kinkade reports.
Source: CNN

India Re-Imposes Curfew in Kashmir City, but Clashes Persist

By Aijaz Hussain, Associated Press

Authorities re-imposed a curfew to prevent a protest march to the main mosque in Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city Friday, but fresh street demonstrations and clashes still occurred at more than two dozen places amid outrage over the killing of a top rebel leader earlier this month.

Army soldiers fired at protesters in a village in northern Kupwara district, injuring at least three teenage boys who attacked their camp with stones and tried to barge into it, police said.

At a nearby village, at least two youths were injured with pellets fired by government forces, a police officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Residents said government forces visited homes in Srinagar before dawn Friday and asked them to stay indoors. One resident, Bashir Ahmed, said police didn't allow bakers and milkmen to deliver supplies in the area. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: ABC News

Pope Francis Visits Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Meets Survivors

Thursday, July 28, 2016

City Investigating 2 Legionnaires' Cases in Harlem: Health Officials

City health officials are investigating two cases of Legionnaires' disease that emerged late last year and earlier this year at an apartment complex in Harlem.

The two cases appeared 10 months apart at Savoy Park Apartments, health officials said.

Both individuals have recovered, they said.

Investigators haven't determined the source of the bacteria that caused their illness.

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

President Obama Meets with Security Teams to Get Latest Threat Assessment

The President today met with his counterterrorism and homeland security teams as part of the Administration's regular review of threats posed by ISIL, al-Qa’ida, and other terrorist groups to the United States, U.S. persons overseas, and to our allies and partners. Noting the recent spate of heinous attacks in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, the President directed his team to ensure we remain vigilant and best postured to defend against such attacks in the Homeland. He stressed the imperative of continuing to increase battlefield pressure on ISIL and other terrorist groups as well as making further progress against terrorist efforts to recruit, radicalize and mobilize individuals to violence. Additionally, the President’s team updated him on security preparations and U.S. support to the Government of Brazil as athletes and spectators from around the world travel to Rio de Janeiro for the upcoming Olympic Games. In this context, the President also was briefed on our efforts to protect against the spread of Zika. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Donald Trump’s Restrictions On The Press Reach Chilling New Low


A Washington Post reporter was detained and patted down while trying to cover a public event. 

By Michael Calderone

Even as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has denied press credentials to news organizations throughout the 2016 election season, journalists generally have had another option: Get a ticket, like anyone else, and walk in.

But in a disturbing interaction Wednesday night, private security, in tandem with local Milwaukee law enforcement, detained and patted down Washington Post reporter Jose DelReal while searching for his cellphone at a public event featuring GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence. DelReal, who had already been denied entry with the press, was then also prohibited from attending as a member of the public. 

Trump placed the Post on his campaign’s media blacklist last month in response to the paper running a headline he considered unfair. The refusal to grant press credentials to nearly a dozen news outlets, including Politico, BuzzFeed, The Daily Beast, Univision and The Huffington Post, is unprecedented in American presidential politics. The Trump campaign has also placed harsh restrictions on journalists’ movements at events, which have at times been enforced by the Secret Service.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Huffington Post 

Zika Probe in Florida Prompts FDA to Shut Down Blood Collection in 2 Counties

The Food and Drug Administration has ordered all blood collection centers in Florida's Miami-Dade and Broward counties to stop taking in blood as state health department officials continue to investigate four possible cases of local transmission of the Zika virus.

In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, the FDA said blood centers should stop collecting blood in the two counties until they can implement testing for the Zika virus in each unit of blood collected, or until they can put in place technology that can kill pathogens in collected blood. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Officers in Freddie Gray Case Suing Marilyn Mosby

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby may have dropped criminal charges against the remaining officers in the Freddie Gray trial, but she remains entrenched in a legal battle in civil court.

Five of the six officers charged for the death of Gray are suing Mosby, as well as Maj. Samuel Cogen of the Baltimore Sheriff's Office, in civil court for a gamut of causes.

In several lawsuits filed earlier this year, Officers William Porter, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, Lt. Brian Rice, and Sgt. Alicia White alleged defamation, false arrest, false imprisonment, and violation of constitutional rights, among others. 

Click here for the full article.

Hillary Clinton’s Big, Completely Underappreciated Moment Is Here

by Eleanor Clift

PHILADELPHIA — All the pieces are in place for Hillary Clinton to capture the magic of her historic nomination, or at least that’s the script being written here in Philadelphia. The Democrats have staged a masterful convention as a preamble for when Clinton steps to the podium to deliver her acceptance speech Thursday night.

Yet even those who have long anticipated this moment wonder whether the true weight of its significance will be felt, or whether Clinton is a bit late to the party. Those who benefit the most from the battles she waged don’t credit her, or care for her. They won’t be cheering; they’ll be sulking.

The truly transformative nature of the change that’s occurring may not be fully apparent until Inauguration Day. At that point, it will have sunk in. There will be no Bernie, no Donald Trump. Bill Clinton will be in a supporting role, and Barack and Michelle Obama will be headed into the sunset, writing their memoirs.

She will stand alone, her hand on the Bible, taking the oath of office as the first woman after a long line of men to be entrusted with the job of president, leader of the Western world. This is how we transfer power in a democracy, in a peaceful way, when differences are bridged and history has the last word. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast

30 Smart Schools Investment Plans Totaling $39 Million Approved


30 Smart Schools Investment Plans totaling $39 million have been approved as part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act – a sweeping initiative aimed at reimagining teaching and learning for the 21st century. The Act, first proposed by the Governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2014, supports investments in education technology that will equip students with the skills they need to thrive and succeed in the global economy. Together, these investments will help close the "digital divide" and increase access to technology and high-speed broadband in hundreds of schools across New York.

"Through the Smart Schools Bond Act, we are ensuring that all New York students have access to high-speed internet and new technology, regardless of their zip code," Governor Cuomo said. "The tools and resources schools will be able to attain with this funding will help equip the next generation of New Yorkers to lead this state into the future."

The Smart Schools Review Board met today for the third time and approved investment plans submitted by school districts. The Board is comprised of the Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the State Education Department.

The 30 plans approved today total $39 million and will fund several new projects, including $9.3 million for classroom technology purchases, $21.4 million for school connectivity projects and $7.9 million for high-tech security projects. This includes the approval of the first Special Education Smart Schools Investment plan, supporting $32,000 in classroom technology. 

A summary of these 30 plans is available here

In 2014, Governor Cuomo called for New York State to invest $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act – an initiative that would finance educational technology and infrastructure, providing students access to the latest technology and connectivity needed to succeed and compete in the 21st century economy. New Yorker’s agreed and voted in the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) that November.

Following the proposal of the Bond Act, Governor Cuomo established the Smart Schools Commission to gather information on strategies for how schools can most effectively invest the bond funds. This advisory commission produced a final report recommending a focus on expanding robust broadband and wireless connectivity and utilizing transformative technologies. The plans approved today by the Smart Schools Review Board reflect many of the best practices identified by the Commission. 

State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica said, "Technology offers schools the ability to break down barriers – between classrooms and homes, teachers and parents, and between school districts across the State. The plans approved today will help prepare students to participate in tomorrow’s economy."

State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "Today’s announcement of the next round of Smart Schools funding is another important step toward making sure schools across New York state have the technology tools and strong infrastructure they need to educate our 21st century learners. These funds are being used in districts right now to make sure that our students have what they need to prepare for their futures."

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "Our ongoing investment in Smart Schools equips our schools with the resources and tools needed to educate our students. The financial support provided today will boost our students’ abilities to succeed in the classroom, in their future careers, and in life. Congratulations to all of the schools and programs that will benefit from these awards."

With the Smart Schools Act, school districts are investing in technology such as computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and high-speed broadband and wireless connectivity. This technology helps students to learn at their own pace, expands access to advanced courses and interactive curriculum, and enhances communication between parents and teachers. Smart schools funds will also facilitate necessary investments in pre-kindergarten classrooms, removal of classroom trailers and high-tech school security.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo