Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekly Address: Ensuring a Fair and Competitive Marketplace

President Obama 2013 Inaugural Ceremony

Click on the image to increase its size. 

President Obama addressed the nation following his swearing-in during the public inauguration ceremony for his second term on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. In his remarks he stressed national unity and called on lawmakers to cooperate with one another to confront issues such as climate change, job creation, civil rights, and budget issues, saying “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.” The ceremony also included the musical performances, a poetry reading, the oaths of office for president and vice president. 

Because the official inaugural day of January 20 was on a Sunday, the president was officially sworn into office in a private ceremony at the White House the previous day. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Note: From The G-Man posted this video as a special tribute to the President and First Lady Michelle Obama for their service to the country over the last eight years.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

President Obama Holds News Conference

West Wing Week: 12/16/16

Statement by the President on the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act

Today I am signing the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law. It authorizes vital water projects across the country to restore watersheds, improve waterways and flood control, and improve drinking water infrastructure. The law also authorizes $170 million for communities facing drinking water emergencies, including funding for Flint, Michigan, to recover from the lead contamination in its drinking water system. That help for Flint is a priority of this Administration. WINN also includes four Indian water rights settlements that resolve long-standing claims to water and the conflicts surrounding those claims, address the needs of Native Communities, fulfill the Federal trust responsibility to American Indians, and provide a sound base for greater economic development for both the affected tribes and their non-Indian neighbors.

Title III, Subtitle J, of the law has both short-term and long-term provisions related to addressing the continuing drought in California. In the long-term, it invests in a number of water projects to promote water storage and supply, flood control, desalination, and water recycling. These projects will help assure that California is more resilient in the face of growing water demands and drought-based uncertainty.

Title III, Subtitle J, also includes short term provisions governing operations of the federal and state water projects under the Endangered Species Act for up to five years, regardless of drought condition. Building on the work of previous Administrations, my Administration has worked closely with the State of California and other affected parties to address the critical elements of California's complex water challenges by accommodating the needs and concerns of California water users and the important species that depend on that same water. This important partnership has helped us achieve a careful balance based on existing state and federal law. It is essential that it not be undermined by anyone who seeks to override that balance by misstating or incorrectly reading the provisions of Subtitle J. Consistent with the legislative history supporting these provisions, I interpret and understand Subtitle J to require continued application and implementation of the Endangered Species Act, consistent with the close and cooperative work of federal agencies with the State of California to assure that state water quality standards are met. This reading of the short-term operational provisions carries out the letter and spirit of the law and is essential for continuing the cooperation and commitment to accommodating the full range of complex and important interests in matters related to California water. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Statement by the President on the 80th Birthday of His Holiness Pope Francis

As he marks his 80th birthday tomorrow, I join the American people in extending our best wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis.  In both word and deed, Pope Francis has inspired people around the world with his message of compassion, hope, and peace.  He has called on us to see ourselves in one another, reach out to those who are at the margins of society, extend mercy, and care for the planet we all share.  It was my great honor to welcome His Holiness to the White House last year and to work together on common causes.  I remain especially grateful for his invaluable support for our work to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, which I announced on December 17 two years ago.  Guided by his humble example, may the people of the world move forward together toward true justice and peace for all God’s children. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Veep Talk: Stefan Löfven, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci

Vice President Joe Biden spoke by phone today with Prime Minister of Sweden ‎Stefan Löfven. The leaders reaffirmed the importance of the robust U.S.-Sweden partnership and followed up on a number of issues from their discussions during the Vice President's trip to Stockholm in August. 

The Vice President also spoke today by phone with President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.  The Vice President commended the leaders on the agreement they reached to resume talks in Geneva on January 9 and praised the courage and vision of the leaders that has made possible the progress‎ thus far. The Vice President reiterated unwavering U.S. support for the leaders' efforts to reach a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President 

Statement By the Vice President on the Signing of the Justice for All Reauthorization Act

Violence against women is straight and simply a crime. We must hold abusers accountable and provide services and closure to survivors. That's why I'm so pleased that the Justice for All Reauthorization Act – signed today – will provide $56 million in funds to further reduce the national backlog of untested rape kits, provide housing protections for victims of domestic violence, expand forensic testing capabilities to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent, and address the training and equipment needs of our Nation's crime labs.  As the author of the Violence Against Women Act, I applaud this bipartisan effort – which is supported by victim advocates, cops, prosecutors, and scientists all over the country – to improve the safety and security of all our citizens. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

'Putin Has Tacitly Supported Racist Groups Throughout His 16 Years in Power'


The following commentary is in response to the From The G-Man exclusive Murder and Racism in Russia: Will Anti-Muslim Sentiment Place the U.S. on the Same Path?

 By Askold Krushelnycky

Murderous racist attacks have been happening in Russia for many years. Anyone that doesn’t have slavic features like people from the Caucuses or Central Asia is contemptuously called “chernej” - black - by these violent thugs. 

Although a few of these guys have ended up in jail because they’ve carried out their attacks so openly, most get away with, literally, murder, because they have been tacitly supported by Putin throughout his 16 years in power. His method to cultivate support & distract attention from his own massive kleptocracy (and the theft and corruption of his cronies) and which keeps Russia as “the shithole” that Chestyakov calls it has been the classic tactic of blaming everything on foreign enemies - the US, the EU, Ukraine. He has mocked or whipped up hatred for foreign values - respect for other peoples & their cultures, democracy, human rights, independent & truthful journalism.

Putin - although he regularly extols the Soviet Union’s fight against Hitler - has always exploited deep-rooted neo-fascist/Russian nationalist sentiments that they are a master race in the region with a sacred mission. When you live in a system where your leaders steal billions (Putin’s wealth estimated at $40-120 BILLION) while you live in relative poverty and you can be killed, imprisoned or otherwise persecuted for political opposition, it’s perhaps comforting to delude yourself that you are not helpless & insignificant but part of a great Russian “mission” to cure a sick world of its liberal & democratic ills.

Like the Soviet leaders before him, Putin tries to avoid the awkward historic fact that it was a treaty between Hitler and Stalin in 1939, where they agreed to invade Poland & carve up other parts of eastern & central Europe between them, that led to World War Two. Soviet and German armies held a joint victory parade after dismembering Poland. As Britain fought against Hitler, Stalin for nearly two years was sending essential wartime supplies to the Nazis until the minute they invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. 

In 1988/9, even before the USSR fell apart, western publications (including there UK Sunday Times, where I worked) were reporting in amazement about neo-fascist groups operating under the guise of sports and bodybuilding clubs.  Putin latched onto those sinister groups & encouraged them because he recognized that he could nurture and control their nastiness.  They grew into a huge, government-supported youth movement called “Nashi” which means “Ours” (as in Our folk, Our kind). I don’t know if the name “Nashi” was intended to resemble “Nazi” but the organization has taken a lot from the style book of the Nazi-era youth organization, the “Hitlerjugend”.  Its members are proud ultra-nationalists who have frequently been involved in racist attacks.  

Putin has also, more generally,  but diligently applied Hitler’s methods to how he rules Russia and conducts aggression. For anyone who has read any serious history books about WW2, the similarities between Hitler and Putin are breathtaking. At the same time he accuses anyone who opposes him of being fascist. 

Askold Krushelnycky is a British citizen and freelance journalist whose parents were refugees from Ukraine. He is the author of “An Orange Revolution – A Personal Journey Through Ukrainian History”, which was published in 2006 by Random House/Harvill Secker. He is working on a second book that will focus on the turbulent events in Ukraine since the fall of 2013, when mass demonstrations turned into revolution and, ultimately, the present conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

President Obama's Use of Executive Orders

USA Today's Gregory Korte looks back at President Obama’s use of executive orders, including how his record compares to previous presidents, particularly controversial orders, and what orders President-elect Donald Trump could reverse.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Donald Trump Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania

President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence spoke to supporters at a rally celebrating their 2016 electoral victory. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

U.N. End-of-Year News Conference

Outgoing U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held his final year-end news conference.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Generational Experiences of Asian Americans

The program highlighted the generational experiences of Asian Americans, including Japanese-Americans placed in internment camps during World War II, as well as modern day challenges facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) communities today.

White House 'Hidden Figures' Event

The White House invites you to tune in for an event highlighting Hidden Figures in the history of space exploration. The event will feature the stories of individuals who have made significant contributions to human space flight, space science, and innovation but who have not often had their stories told. The event will also include a Q&A with the cast and crew of the movie Hidden Figures and remarks from Administration officials.

President Obama and President Pavlopoulos Toast

Report: Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a report and will host a forum on the Administration’s work to advance equity for women and girls of color and highlight the innovative solutions and exciting place-based work that is happening throughout the country.  The forum will bring together a range of stakeholders from the academic, private, government and philanthropic sectors to discuss ways that we can break down barriers to success and create more ladders of opportunity for all Americans, including women and girls of color.  The event will be livestreamed at and the full report is available here.

The Council on Women and Girls, since its inception, has focused on the needs and challenges of all women and girls. In 2014, as part of the effort to take into account the distinctive concerns of women and girls, the Council on Women and Girls launched a specific work stream called “Advancing Equity” to ensure that policies and programs across the federal government take into account the unique obstacles faced by women and girls, including women and girls of color and women and girls from marginalized communities.
In November 2014, the Council on Women and Girls released a report titled Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunitiesto identify barriers and disparities facing women and girls of color. This report addressed work done over the first six years of the Administration to improve the lives of women and girls of color. It discussed important issues, such as educational attainment, economic security, health and safety, violence against women, and criminal and juvenile justice. It also included a call to action for the establishment of a federal interagency working group to develop opportunities for advancement, which commenced in March of 2015.
One year later, in November 2015, the Council released a new report “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color” to highlight some of the additional steps taken by the Administration on issues faced by women and girls of color from 2014 through 2015.[i] In that report, the Council on Women and Girls identified five data-driven issue areas where interventions can promote opportunities for success at school, work, and in the community for women and girls of color. 

This updated report serves as a follow-up to the 2014 and 2015 reports, and as the culmination of the Advancing Equity work stream of this Administration. The Obama Administration has taken important steps forward in elevating, and addressing, key issues that cause disparities for women and girls of color, and women and girls from marginalized and underserved populations. Moreover, the call to action around this work has inspired philanthropic leaders, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations to continue efforts that sustain and build upon the successes achieved in improved life outcomes for women and girls of color and their peers. 

Source; The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'Flashback Friday': Donald Trump 1989 Interview on the 'Central Park Five'

Note: This video was posted on From The G-Man on December 16 at 2:14 p.m. It was removed from YouTube less than 24 hours later.

Trailblazers in Black History: Angela Bassett

Born on August 16, 1958, in New York City, Angela Bassett attended the Yale School of Drama and went on to star in the Tina Turner biopic What's Love Got to Do With It, for which the actress received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award. Other films have included Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Strange Days, Supernova and Mr. 3000. She wed fellow actor Courtney Vance in 1997.

Additional information is available here


U.S. Army Returns Tanks to Europe as NATO Eyes Assertive Russia

Three years after the last American tank left Europe, they are being brought back "as part of our commitment to deterrence," Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges told NBC News.

Hodges, who is commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, welcomed a batch of tracked and wheeled support vehicles to a depot in the Netherlands on Thursday. 

Click here for the full article.

Pentagon: Chinese Navy Stole U.S. Underwater Drone

Two U.S. Navy Ocean Glider Unmanned Underwater Vehicle were collecting data during what the Pentagon called a routine survey approximately 50 nautical miles NW of Subic Bay, in the Philippines.

The gliders "stopped dead in the water" as they awaited recovery by the USS Bowditch, an oceanographic research vessel. A Chinese ship that was already shadowing the Bowditch swooped in and "unlawfully retrieved" one of the gliders. 

"They stole it," an official with knowledge of the incident told NBC News.  

Click here for the full article. 

Why It Matters That Trump Isn't Taking the Russia Hack Seriously

Trump isn't taking Russia's hack seriously. And that's the biggest story of all

Out of all of the recent developments in the news about Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential race — the CIA's conclusion that it was done to help Donald Trump, the NBC report that Vladimir Putin was personally involved — the biggest has been Trump's reaction.

First, he criticized the CIA. "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," his transition team said in a statement after the Washington Post's scoop last week. Second, Trump questioned — falsely — why it took the Obama administration so long to act on the claims of Russian interference. "If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act?" he tweeted. "Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?" (In fact, the Obama administration on Oct. 7 named Russia as being behind the hacks.) 

Click here for the full article. 

Hillary Clinton Singles Out Putin, Comey in Election Loss

Hillary Clinton told donors on Thursday night that her loss was partly due to U.S. election hacks directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and FBI director James Comey's election-eve letter to Congress related to her use of a private email server.

"Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people…that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this Election," Clinton is heard saying in an audio recording first obtained by the New York Times and verified as authentic by several sources present at the event to NBC News. 

Click here for the full article.

Obama Administration Extends Deadline for

The Obama administration is giving consumers a few extra days to sign up on in time for health insurance coverage to take effect Jan. 1.

The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, Dec. 19, says Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal health insurance markets. 

The unexpected extension was announced after close of business Thursday. Counihan said it's due to strong interest. 

Click here for summary.

Toy Giveaway in the Bronx on December 20

Contact Leila Martinez or Samariz Gross at (718) 991-3161 for additional information.

Source: The Office of State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz

Governor Cuomo Calling A Special Session to Kill New York City’s Taxi Industry

By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
District 32 Bronx County, New York 

You should know that Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning to call us legislators back to Albany for a Special Session next week.

You should also know that in my opinion, it is ridiculous to call us to Albany at the very end of the year just to vote to remove any responsibility from Uber to get approval from local authorities, and do whatever they want. This will kill all of New York City’s livery bases, destroy our local taxi industry, and effectively cut the throats of our taxi drivers.

On the other hand, these State regulations they would like to ram through would not apply in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Ladies and gentlemen, you should also know that I am only one vote, and my vote may not really count because I am sure that Governor Andrew Cuomo has already made a deal with the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Leader to have enough votes for him to do whatever he wants to do.

But for right now, this Black guy from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, with the kinky hair and the broken English is not planning to go back to Albany until January 4, 2017.

So, for all of those Uber followers and supporters who want to kill New York City’s local taxi industry, I am afraid you will have to do it without my vote and in my absence.

I am not planning to go to negotiate my salary increase so that Uber and the Governor can get away with killing New York City’s taxi industry.

I am Senator Ruben Diaz and this is what you should know.

Winners & Losers 12/16/16

Another week, another stream of contestants on the reality show playing out at Trump Tower. The biggest winner seemed to be Kanye West, who got an unexpected meeting with the president-elect. The loser though? Trump Grill, which Vanity Fair said “could be the worst restaurant in America.” At least our losers can breathe a sigh of relief that they weren't caught up in that circus. 


Louis Ciminelli - Buffalo’s biggest developer may still have a whole heap of trouble to deal with, but at least one legal battle is going his way. A judge ruled this week that a case brought by the Buffalo School Board - the effort led by Ciminelli’s longtime rival in the ego-driven Western New York real estate world, school board member Carl Paladino - alleging that his company had withheld information in an effort to inflate profits on a $1.3 billion reconstruction contract would be dismissed. With that out of the way, now all he has to worry about are those pesky federal bid-rigging charges.

Joseph Emminger - The town of Tonawanda supervisor breathed a sigh of relief this week, as investments from GM and a Japanese tire maker will retain more than 2,000 jobs and add new employment in his Western New York burg. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to town to shake hands and plenty of state legislators showed up to laud the new investment - the companies plan to spend more than $370 million - Emminger was the one with the most to lose, as the future of the GM plant was uncertain, and so is the real winner here. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: City & State (via The Empire Report)

What Could Trump Do About North Korea?

Drawing on her experience in North Korea, Christiane Amanpour examines the issues, and realities, facing Donald Trump in that country. 

Source: CNN

Ukraine to US: We Warned You About Russia

Officials from Ukraine and other countries say they warned the US about Russian cyberattacks.

Source: CNN

Young French Voters on National Front's Appeal

Jim Bittermann reports on the rise of France's National Front Party and finds out why Marine Le Pen's populist ideas are resonating with young voters. 

Source: CNN

Young Girl Blamed for Police Station Bombing

Syrian state run television reports that a young girl is responsible for an explosion at a police station.

Source: CNN

Aleppo's Emotional Evacuations

Some civilians and rebels have escaped the war-torn city, but conflicting reports suggest evacuation efforts may not last.

Source: CNN

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jury Finds Dylann Roof Guilty of Charleston Church Massacre

School Apologizes After Students Target Black Basketball Team

President Obama Speaks at the 'My Brothers Keeper' Summit

Evening Hanukkah Reception at the White House

Donna Rice Hughes on Melania Trump Cyberbullying Platform

Melania Trump

Enough is Enough CEO Donna Rice Hughes discusses cyberbullying, which incoming first lady Melania Trump has said will be her platform issue after her husband takes the oath of office.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

The 2017 Economic Report of the President

WASHINGTON, DC – The Council of Economic Advisers today issued the Economic Report of the President.   

You can view the report here.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Statement on H.R. 6297 - Iran Sanctions Extension Act

The following statement was provided by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. 

This Administration has made clear that an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, while unnecessary, is entirely consistent with our commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  Consistent with this longstanding position, the extension of the Iran Sanctions Act is becoming  law without the President's signature.  Extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, which was in place at the time the JCPOA was negotiated and remains so today, does not affect in any way our ability to fulfil our commitments in the JCPOA.  The Administration has, and continues to use, all of the necessary authorities to waive the relevant sanctions, to enforce those that are outside the scope of the JCPOA, and to reimpose sanctions if necessary in the event that Iran should fail to perform its commitments under the JCPOA.  Ensuring the continued implementation of the JCPOA is a top strategic objective for the United States and for our allies and partners around the world. The JCPOA makes our nation, and the entire world, safer by verifiably ensuring Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon.  As long as Iran adheres to its commitments under the JCPOA, we remain steadfastly committed to maintaining ours as well.

Kremlin Calls NBC Report Putin Directed Hack 'Laughable Nonsense'

The Kremlin on Thursday disputed an exclusive NBC News report that U.S. intelligence has documented Vladimir Putin's personal involvement in a Russian intelligence operation to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the AP the report was "laughable nonsense."

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, accused "Western media" of being a "shill" and a "mouthpiece of various power groups."

NBC News reported Thursday night that the U.S. has information that Putin personally directed how material hacked by Russian intelligence agencies was used during the campaign. 

Click here for the full article. 

Tall Tale or Satire? Authors of So-Called 'Fake News' Feel Misjudged

Bogus stories about paid protesters and presidential endorsements made by the Vatican, among many other clickable tales, were not uncommon in the run-up to the general election this year, spreading like wildfire through social media. In the media's soul-searching following the election, unsubstantiated stories and their purveyors were singled out, dissected and lumped together under the umbrella of "fake news." 

Now, some of the more artistic and comedic creators among the pure click-baiters are speaking out against the "fake" label and calling for a more nuanced approach. Many say they aren't doing fake news — they're doing satire. 

Click here for the full article.