Friday, September 30, 2016

President Obama Remarks at Shimon Peres Funeral


Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Shimon Peres Funeral Arrivals and Procession

President Obama and Bill Clinton joined world leaders in Jerusalem at the state funeral of Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and prime minister who died on September 28, 2016 at the age of 93. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

The Politicization of the Supreme Court


Author James Zirin discusses his new book, Supremely Partisan, in which he argues the Supreme Court has become increasingly partisan and that its selection of politicized cases could undermine public confidence in the Court.  

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Source: C-SPAN

Stop and Frisk: U.S. v. Shaquille Robinson Oral Arguments

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, hears oral argument on police stop and frisk policies. 

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Source: C-SPAN

National Security Council Notes: Status Report on the Implementation of Executive Order 13698 Hostage Recovery Activities

The following statement was issued today by National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price. 

Last year, President Obama ordered comprehensive updates to U.S. hostage recovery policy and signed an Executive Order to organize more effectively our efforts so we are best postured both to bring home U.S. nationals held abroad and support their families. Since then, we have brought under one roof law enforcement, intelligence, and military experts at the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, where they work side-by-side to develop and pursue recovery strategies. Moreover, the President designated a Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, who coordinates our diplomatic efforts abroad. The interagency Hostage Response Group is ensuring that all of the elements put into place last year are working together as a team and receiving any guidance and oversight that they need.

To ensure that the U.S. Government implemented these important reforms effectively and continued to identify areas for improvement, the Executive Order required that a status report be completed one year after it was signed. That report was produced this summer by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and after discussions with key stakeholders on how best to incorporate their feedback the report is being made public today. The report concludes that last year's institutional and policy changes have had a positive impact on hostage recovery efforts. Where the report identifies work yet to be done or improvements still to be made, departments and agencies have already begun work to implement the recommendations and will continue to seek ways to improve our hostage recovery efforts.

While we know that we cannot prevent every hostage situation, we are fully committed to the safe recovery of our fellow citizens and the provision of unfailing support to their families. With the reforms we have made over the last year, the U.S. Government is now well postured to ensure that hostage recovery activities will remain an enduring priority from administration to administration. 
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

On Friday, September 30, 2016, the President signed into law:

S. 1878, the “Advancing Hope Act of 2016,” which modifies the Food and Drug Administration priority review voucher program for rare pediatric diseases and extends authority for the program through December 31, 2016

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Alabama Chief Justice Suspended for Rest of Term Following SPLC Ethics Complaint

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary today suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for the rest of his term in office.

The Court ruled that Moore violated the canons of judicial ethics by ordering Alabama's probate judges to defy a federal court injunction requiring them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on a non-discriminatory basis. This is the second time in 13 years that Moore has been sanctioned as a result of ethics complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“The Court of the Judiciary has done the citizens of Alabama a great service by suspending Roy Moore from the bench,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen.

“He disgraced his office and undermined the integrity of the judiciary by putting his personal religious beliefs above his sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

“Moore was elected to be a judge, not a preacher. It's something that he never seemed to understand. The people of Alabama who cherish the rule of law are not going to miss the Ayatollah of Alabama.” 

Source: The Southern Poverty Law Center

Trailblazers in Black History: Phylicia Rashād


Phylicia Rashād is an American actress and stage director. She is known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1984–92), which earned her Emmy Award nominations in 1985 and 1986. She was dubbed "The Mother" of the African-American community at the 2010 NAACP Image Awards. 

In 2004, Rashad became the first Black actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, which she won for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Her other Broadway credits include Into the Woods (1988), Jelly's Last Jam (1993), Gem of the Ocean (2004), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2008). 

She won an NAACP Image Award when she reprised her A Raisin in the Sun role in the 2008 television adaptation. She has also appeared in the films, For Colored Girls (2010), Good Deeds (2012) and Creed (2015).

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

'Flashback Friday': War or Peace? 1950, A Fateful Year

This video was uploaded to YouTube on May 13, 2010. 

Source: Nuclear Vault

CDC Sounds Alarm on Travel to Asia as Zika Spreads There

"Pregnant women should not travel to any area with a Zika travel notice and should consider postponing non-essential travel to the 11 countries in Southeast Asia listed in the newly issued considerations," the CDC advised on Thursday.

"The countries included in these considerations are Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), and Vietnam." 

Click here for the full article.

Shimon Peres' Funeral Brings Leaders from 70 Countries Together in Israel

The Political Elite Fights Trump -- And They're Still Not Winning

Elites vs. Trump -- and the elites haven't won yet
In a general election unlike any we've covered before, this fact stands out: Almost every elite institution in America is united (or mostly united) against Donald Trump. Consider:
  • Current or ex-presidents: Zero current or living ex-presidents are supporting Trump, versus four who are backing Hillary Clinton (Obama, Clinton, Bush 41, Carter), with the other (Bush 43) on the sidelines.
  • Big business: Not a single Fortune 100 CEO has endorsed Trump, while 11 are supporting Clinton, per the Wall Street Journal. (The other 89 haven't picked a side.)
  • Cabinet members: By our count, only 9 of George W. Bush's 34 cabinet secretaries are backing Trump.
  • Silicon Valley: Just 1% of the political donations from the internet industry in this presidential election ($28,272 out of nearly $4 million total) has gone to Trump, while 60% has gone to Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
  • Newspaper endorsements: By our count, 15 newspapers have endorsed Hillary Clinton in the general election, versus just one for Trump (The National Enquirer); in fact, Gary Johnson has more newspaper endorsements (four) than Trump does (one). And most recently, USA Today calls Trump "unfit for the presidency."

Tim Kaine Talks Race and Politics in Essay: 'It's a Civil Rights Election'

With 39 days left to election day, the effort to focus on the priorities of base voters is becoming clearer in the race for the White House.

"Over many years of Sundays, I've learned how being white in America means you can go your entire life without ever understanding the challenges African-Americans face every day. It's on all of us to come to grips with these issues," the Democratic nominee for Vice President wrote. 

"In many ways, that's the deeper question we're facing in this election: who we are, how we treat each other and what kind of nation we want to leave our children. It's a civil rights election," the junior Senator from Virginia, which is 20 percent African American, states bluntly. 

Click here for the full article. 

IU Kelley School of Business Welcomes Dr. Mae Jemison as Poling Chair of Business and Government

To some it may appear as though Dr. Mae C. Jemison has done it all. She is physician, engineer, entrepreneur, and an astronaut. But she hasn’t stopped there. She is now a leader-in-residence at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, where she will serve as the Poling Chair of Business and Government for the 2016-2017 academic year.

She is the first African-American to be appointed to the Poling Chair. According to the Indiana University news release, Dr. Jemison will work to “stimulate discussion in the areas of leadership, and the critical interactions between the private and public sectors in matters of economic growth, technology research and development, and sustainability.”

The Poling Chair was established in 1933 and named after Kelley School alumnus and Ford Motor Co. chairman, Harold “Red” Poling. Last year, the position was held by Deepender Hooda, a Kelley School alumnus and member of India’s parliament.

Dr. Jemison will visit both the Bloomington and Indianapolis Kelley School campuses. She will visit the week of October 3 and is scheduled to speak at 4:30 PM on October 6 at the Hutton Honors College in Bloomington. 

Source: Your Black World News

GOP Blocks Probes Into Trump-Russia Ties

By Shane Harris

Russian hackers are apparently trying to mess with our elections. But congressional Republicans are crippling any investigations—while their probes of Hillary Clinton continue.

Suspicion is mounting about Donald Trump’s ties to Russian officials and business interests, as well as possible links between his campaign and the Russian hacking of U.S. political organizations. But GOP leaders have refused to support efforts by Democrats to investigate any possible Trump-Russia connections, which have been raised in news reports and closed-door intelligence briefings. And without their support, Democrats, as the minority in both chambers of Congress, cannot issue subpoenas to potential witnesses and have less leverage to probe Trump.

Privately, Republican congressional staff told The Daily Beast that Trump and his aides’ connections to Russian officials and businesses interests haven’t gone unnoticed and are concerning. And GOP lawmakers have reviewed Democrats’ written requests to the FBI that it investigate Trump before they were made public. 

But the lawmakers in both chambers have declined to sign on to them. Republicans have no appetite to launch inquiries into their party’s presidential nominee, and they continue to believe the FBI flubbed its investigation into Clinton and her aides, who should have been charged with mishandling government secrets, the staffers said. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Jefferson, Lewis Counties Declared Natural Disaster Areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared Jefferson and Lewis counties as primary natural disaster areas due to the ongoing drought.

The USDA determined there were sufficient production losses in four New York counties to warrant the designation.

The four are Jefferson, Lewis, Broome and Oswego counties.

The designation means farmers are eligible to receive certain assistance including emergency loans.

However, it wasn't immediately clear how much the declaration would help farmers. Jefferson County agriculture coordinator Jay Matteson was trying Thursday to find out whether the disaster declaration moves Jefferson County from a "D2" or "severe drought" zone to a "D3" or "drought disaster" zone. 

Click here for the full article.


How a Reclusive Hedge-Fund Boss and His Daughter Are Reshaping the Republican Party


When Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination in Cleveland, some of the most powerful people in the party had a ticket to watch from Suite 245 in Quicken Loans Arena. Invited to the cushy skybox were financiers, real estate developers, a supermarket magnate and an ambassador. Hardly anyone knew it at the time, but the list also included a pair of political insiders who would soon take control of the Trump campaign: Kellyanne Conway, a consultant who had spent the GOP primary toiling for his top rival, and Steve Bannon, the boss of Breitbart News. Both were guests of a woman named Rebekah Mercer.

Bannon and Conway are hardly the only Republicans who rely on Mercer as a benefactor. To help pay for the convention, the family foundation Mercer runs wrote a $500,000 check–pocket change compared with the tens of millions of dollars it has showered on a sprawling web of conservative foundations, political networks and research institutions. That’s not counting the family’s reputed eight-figure investment in Breitbart, the house organ of the right-wing populist movement that fueled Trump’s ascent, and in Cambridge Analytica, a controversial data firm hired by a growing number of GOP candidates. Rebekah’s father Robert Mercer, a New York hedge-fund executive, has forked over more than $20 million in the 2016 election, which makes him the single largest Republican donor this cycle. Before the Mercers backed Trump, they bankrolled Texas Senator Ted Cruz through a family super PAC that employed Conway. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Time Magazine

Republican George Amedore Wins Green Party Line, is Blasted By Green Party Co-Chair


Incumbent Republican state Sen. George Amedore has beat out his Democratic opponent, Palatine Supervisor Sara Niccoli, in a write-in campaign for the left-leaning Green Party line.

Amedore, R-Rotterdam, secured the Green Party ballot line as a write-in candidate in the primary, according to state Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin.

According to Conklin, Amedore won 63 write-in votes and Niccoli won 48. The endorsed Green Party candidate, Marina Karuma-Seales of Saugerties, received 12 votes. A single vote went to former Congressman Maurice Hinchey.

Amedore will carry the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform party lines in the November elections. Niccoli will carry the Democratic, Working Families Party and Women’s Equality Party lines. 

Click here for the full article.


New York City’s Homeless Population Is About to Hit 60,000

The number of New Yorkers sleeping in homeless shelters is at a record high, and will likely surpass 60,000 in the coming days: a grim commentary on the failure of the city’s efforts to combat homelessness.

According to the Daily News, the city officially counted 59,948 individuals in its more than 600 homeless shelters Wednesday night. Of these, 23,600 are children, The Wall Street Journal adds, noting that the total has risen steeply from 50,689 when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, and from about 57,600 just a few months ago.

City officials insist the total would be even higher — around 67,000, they estimate — without the new anti-homelessness programs the de Blasio administration has put in place like rental assistance and legal aid.

Click here for the full article.

Source: New York Magazine (via The Empire Report) 

Firefighter Killed in NYC Explosion to Be Honored With Promotion to Deputy Chief

An FDNY battalion chief who was killed in a house explosion will be posthumously promoted to deputy chief, Mayor de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced Thursday.

Michael J. Fahy was struck with debris Tuesday when a suspected drug den exploded. Nine other firefighters and six police officers were injured. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hackers Target Election Systems in 20 States

Oval Office Chat: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany

President Obama spoke today by phone with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on the situations in Ukraine and Syria.  Regarding Ukraine, President Obama expressed strong support for the ongoing efforts of the Normandy Group, led by Germany and France, to determine a way forward that leads to rapid and full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.  Both leaders urged the parties to continue respecting the cease-fire, begin the disengagement of forces along the line of contact as quickly as possible, and provide international monitors unfettered access to the entire conflict zone.  The President and Chancellor strongly condemned the barbarous Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes against eastern Aleppo, an area populated with hundreds of thousands of civilians, half of whom are children.  They agreed Russia and the Syrian regime bear special responsibility for ending the fighting in Syria and granting the UN humanitarian access to besieged and hard to reach areas in Syria. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

White House Briefing

Education Secretary John King speaks about the president’s education agenda ahead of Spokesman Josh Earnest’s daily briefing with reporters at the White House. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Veep Talk: The Amirs of Kuwait and Qatar

The Vice President spoke today with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, to review recent events in the region and related security cooperation.  The Vice President commended the Amir’s humanitarian leadership and expressed appreciation for the additional support for refugees that Kuwait generously announced at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York on September 20.  Both leaders stressed the enduring strength of the bilateral relationship, and reaffirmed their commitment to build on the historic ties between the United States and Kuwait, including through the inaugural U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue planned for October 21 in Washington, D.C.

The Vice President also spoke by phone today with His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Amir of Qatar, to review events in the region and related defense cooperation. The Vice President and the Amir discussed important regional developments, including the dire situation in Syria and the importance of close cooperation to counter violent extremists. Both leaders also underscored the importance of continued dialogue and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen joint cooperation between the United States and Qatar.  

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President 

FCC Commissioners Hold News Conference

FCC Commissioners speak to reporters following the The Federal Communications Commission’s spring meeting on a variety of topics, including a rule to allow cable customers to purchase their own set-top boxes instead of renting them from providers. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

House Speaker Weekly Briefing

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of topics, including the continuing resolution passed Wednesday night to fund the federal government through December 9 and the general election. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the minority leader in the House, fields reporters' questions at her weekly briefing at the U.S. Capitol.

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Source: C-SPAN

Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer Release Report on Senate Productivity

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) release their new report, which they say details gridlock in the Republican-led Senate. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Christie and Cuomo News Conference on Hoboken, New Jersey Train Crash

Governors Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) speak to reporters about the New Jersey Transit commuter train that crashed into Hoboken Terminal. At least one person died in the incident and over 100 are injured. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Statement on the Third 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 third estimate of GDP for the second quarter of 2016. 
Summary: Real GDP growth in the second quarter was revised up to 1.4 percent at an annual rate according to BEA’s third estimate.                                       

Second-quarter economic growth was revised to 1.4 percent at an annual rate in the third estimate, up 0.3 percentage point from the second estimate. Consumer spending grew strongly at 4.3 percent in the second quarter—its second-fastest quarterly growth since 2006—and, in contrast to recent quarters, net exports and business fixed investment also added to GDP growth. Some of this growth was offset by a large decline in inventory investment (one of the most volatile components of GDP), along with declines in residential investment and government spending. Overall, growth in the most stable and persistent components of output—consumption and fixed investment—was revised up to 3.2 percent. 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 by 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.

1. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 1.4 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter of 2016, according to BEA’s third estimate. Consumer spending grew 4.3 percent, well above its pace over the prior four quarters, with faster growth in both durable and nondurable goods spending. In addition, export growth was positive in the second quarter, and net exports contributed positively to GDP growth. Nonresidential fixed investment increased modestly in the second quarter, with strong growth in intellectual property products investment (see point 4 below) offset by continued weakness in both structures and equipment investment. Inventory investment—one of the most volatile components of GDP—subtracted 1.2 percentage points from GDP growth. Residential investment contracted following eight straight quarters of increases. 
You can view the complete statement here
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 

'Ukrainian Weekly' Editor Responds to CNN News Report on MH17

On July 30, 2014, Matthew Dubas, editor of the New Jersey-based publication The Ukrainian Weekly, appeared in an episode of "The G-Man Interviews" to discuss the crash of Malaysian Flight MH17. 

During that interview, Dubas noted that his sources told him there was footage of trucks transporting weapons into Ukraine and that a Buk missile was missing from one of the transport vehicles. The episode can be viewed here.

Dubas submitted the following editorial in response to the recent CNN news report entitled "MH17 Downed By Missile Brought in from Russia". The report indicated that after a prolonged investigation, investigators found the flight was downed by a Buk missile. The views expressed by Mr. Dubas do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ukrainian Weekly's management or staff.

When I appeared on The G-Man Interviews in 2014, I believe we even discussed possible locations where the Buk was fired from, and the similar pictures and evidence that Bellingcat and others have publicized.

The denials from Moscow are such a thinly veiled middle finger to the Western legal framework that hopes to prosecute those individuals and Russia itself for its crimes against humanity. (Russia continues its veto in the UN Security Council on the formation of an international tribunal for MH17, etc.) As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Russia at the U.N., Russia is living in a "parallel world," where reality is deemed by Moscow as fiction and Moscow's fiction is reality.

The Western world is seemingly ill-prepared to deal with such terrorist gangsters as we have not seen effective examples of leadership to deter. ISIS is small potatoes by comparison, as it does not have nukes but is sitting on an oil cache (like Russia), nor does it target civilian aircraft. Iran has begun its agitation in the region as well, with assistance and encouragement from Moscow. Radicalized Islamists pose a greater threat to the general public in urban areas, as those attacks have been localized, as we've seen, but meant to induce fear and disrupt the daily routines of individuals. 

The same frustration is growing due to Russia's blatant war crimes in Syria. 

The question that has been on everyone's mind is: Will Russia ever face prosecution and will the victims ever get a sense of justice for the innocents lost by terrorist acts?

Not long ago, some people were asking if the Soviet Union would ever collapse and if Ukraine would ever be free, and that has become a reality (although in the last two years it has come under threat from Russia). We can do more than just hope. We can make it happen, but only if we act together against Russia. And Russia is attempting to break that unity through a disinformation campaign and influencing political parties in Europe and, seemingly, the U.S. as well.

History has shown that some governments have gone against convention in order to seek justice, like when the Mossad secretly extricated Nazi leader Adolph Eichmann from Argentina to face prosecution in Israel.

I don't expect anything like that, but it should perhaps inspire Western leaders to think outside the box (more than just sanctions) and to seek to apply enforceable consequences on such criminals and governments that are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Another example would be the targeting of Boko Haram and reports of its attempt to starve to death more than 75,000 people in Nigeria. The world has been mostly silent on that threat as well. 

Yet, global leaders continue to repeat that old saying, "Never again."