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NEWS FROM THE EDITOR
May 16, 2015
By Leslie Salzillo
Reprinted from DailyKos
January 22, 2015
President Obama’s State of the Union Address Released to the Press Prior to the Speech
There is a ritual on State of the Union night in Washington. A little before the address, the White House sends out an embargoed copy of the President’s speech to the press (embargoed means that the press can see the speech, but they can’t report on it until a designated time). The reporters then start sending it around town to folks on Capitol Hill to get their reaction, then those people send it to all their friends, and eventually everyone in Washington can read along, but the public remains in the dark.
This year we change that.
For the first time, the White House is making the full text of the speech available to citizens around the country online. On Medium, you can follow along with the speech as you watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, tweet favorite lines, and leave notes. By making the text available to the public in advance, the White House is continuing efforts to reach a wide online audience and give people a range of ways to consume the speech.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:
We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.
But tonight, we turn the page.
Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.
Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.
America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:
The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.
At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.
Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?
Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?
Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another — or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?
In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas.
So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us. It begins with our economy.
Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way. They were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
“If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”
As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.
“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”
We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.
America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.
We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.
Photo_Bureau of Labor Statistics via HuffingtonPost
We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.
We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.
We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.
At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.
So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.
Today, thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again. We know that more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007. But here’s the thing — those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm. Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American.
Because families like Rebekah’s still need our help. She and Ben are working as hard as ever, but have to forego vacations and a new car so they can pay off student loans and save for retirement. Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs more than their mortgage, and almost as much as a year at the University of Minnesota. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.
In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity. We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet — tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them.
That’s what middle-class economics is — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success — we want everyone to contribute to our success.
So what does middle-class economics require in our time?
Obama State of the Union 2015 Address: President's [FULL] SOTU Speech Today on 1/20/15
Obama State of the Union 2015 Address: The president laid out a vision for his last two years in office, outlining areas of possible consensus with Republicans as well as challenging them to support h...
First — middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement — and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.
Here’s one example. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority — so this country provided universal childcare. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.
Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.
Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.
These ideas won’t make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship. That’s not the job of government. To give working families a fair shot, we’ll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest. We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice. But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage — these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families.
That is a fact. And that’s what all of us — Republicans and Democrats alike — were sent here to do.
Second, to make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.
America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world. But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more. By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.
That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.
Forty percent of our college students choose community college. Some are young and starting out. Some are older and looking for a better job. Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt. Understand, you’ve got to earn it — you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time. Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible. I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today. And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.
Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships — opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.
And as a new generation of veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend. Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.
Finally, as we better train our workers, we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill.
Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.
So no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America. That’s why the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire.
21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.
21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.
Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.
21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.
I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.
I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs — converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars. In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. Good luck, Captain — and make sure to Instagram it.
Now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments. As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do.
This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.
Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness. This is where America needs to go. I believe it’s where the American people want to go. It will make our economy stronger a year from now, fifteen years from now, and deep into the century ahead.
Of course, if there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from challenges beyond our shores.
My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military — then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.
I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.
First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.
At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.
Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.
Second, we are demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.
That’s how America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.
In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs. Welcome home, Alan.
Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
Third, we’re looking beyond the issues that have consumed us in the past to shape the coming century.
No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.
In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola — saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. But the job is not yet done — and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty.
In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules — in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.
2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.
I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.
That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement — the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.
There’s one last pillar to our leadership — and that’s the example of our values.
As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.
As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice — so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half. Now it’s time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It’s not who we are.
As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties — and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.
Looking to the future instead of the past. Making sure we match our power with diplomacy, and use force wisely. Building coalitions to meet new challenges and opportunities. Leading — always — with the example of our values. That’s what makes us exceptional. That’s what keeps us strong. And that’s why we must keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards — our own.
You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America — but a United States of America. I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home — a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world’s great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values.
Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.
I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.
I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.
So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who, every day, live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper. And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example. So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for — arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.
Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different.
Understand — a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.
A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.
A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.
A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America.
If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments — but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.
We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.
Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.
We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.
That’s a better politics. That’s how we start rebuilding trust. That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve.
I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol — to do what I believe is best for America. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.
Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth — that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.
I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids. I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen — man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.
I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.
I want them to grow up in a country where a young mom like Rebekah can sit down and write a letter to her President with a story to sum up these past six years:
“It is amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”
My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.
COMPARE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES BY PRESIDENTS OBAMA - CLINTON - BUSH SENIOR AND GEORGE W. BUSH
COURTESY OF MSNBC
State Of The Union 2015 (You Compare)
My prediction of what will be said during the State of The Union speech Tuesday. Compare what is predicted and what is said.
November 3, 2014
Nick Wallenda Told Reporters That Chicago Wind Slowed Him Down on His High-Wire Walks Sunday
Nick Wallenda successfully completed his controversial Chicago skywalk Sunday, breaking two world records and defying critics who claimed the stunt was too dangerous to perform without a harness.
In a spectacle drawn out over two hours for television, Wallenda completed the two walks in about eight minutes. The stunt added to the Wallenda family legacy, as its latest star ramped up the drama with last-minute rigging changes and concerns about the wind.
"You guys watching think I'm crazy, but this is what I'm made for," Wallenda said after his first few steps on the wire.
Wallenda, 35, began by walking more than two city blocks from the Marina City west tower to the Leo Burnett Building. That first crossing — which took 6:51 minutes and was done at a 19-degree slant across the Chicago River — set the world record for steepest incline for tightrope walking between two buildings.
October 16, 2014
Second Texas Presbyterian Hospital Nurse
Tested Positive for Ebola
A Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who helped treat the Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola last week, has tested positive for the disease in a preliminary test, and was flown to Emory Hospital in Atlanta where three Ebola patients have been successfully treated. Nurse Amber Vinson was cleared to fly out of Texas on Frontier Airline to attend a wedding, and developed a 99.5 fever on her way back to Texas. Currently about 76 healthcare workers who had contact with Mr. Duncan at the time when his infection was at its pick are being monitored for symptoms. Vinson is the third person to be have developed symptoms in Texas, the seven to be treated in the United States, including an NBC cameraman who was flown from Sierra Leon and is now being treated in a hospital in Nebraska.
“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr. David Lakey, the Texas health commissioner. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”
The worker, who was not identified, was an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. The person reported a low grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing. Officials interviewed the worker and were identifying “any contacts or potential exposures,” the statement read.
President Obama canceled his travel to a fund-raiser and a campaign rally so he could convene a meeting of several top cabinet members to coordinate the government’s response to the Ebola outbreak, officials announced.
The decision comes as a second health care worker in Dallas tested positive for Ebola, raising new concerns about the protocols for containing the spread of the deadly virus and heightening fears among the public.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------October 15 2014
Second Texas Presbyterian Hospital
Healthcare Worker Tested Positive for Ebola
The authorities in Texas reported on Wednesday that a second health care worker involved in the treatment of a patient who died of the Ebola virus had tested positive for the disease after developing a fever. The worker, who was not identified by name, had been “among those who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was diagnosed with Ebola,” a statement from the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
U.S. Supreme Court Struck Down Texas’ Abortion Clinics Closing Scheme
The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a federal appeals court ruling that was forcing many abortion clinics in Texas to close. The Supreme Court’s order, which was five sentences long, will allow the clinics to remain open while appeals proceed.
Meeting of Bishops Announced New Stand on Gay
Co-Habitation – And Divorce
The Vatican - A meeting of bishops at the Vatican used remarkably conciliatory language on Monday toward gay and divorced Catholics, signaling a possible easing of the church’s rigid attitudes on homosexuality and the sanctity of marriage. The gathering of bishops from around the world called on pastors to recognize, among other things, the “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation.” The meeting, or synod, was called by Pope Francis to discuss issues related to the family in contemporary society. A report was given on Monday of the main considerations under debate in the first week of the two-week gathering.
-------October 12, 2014
Healthcare Worker Infected in Texas with Ebola
DALLAS (AP) — A Texas health care worker who provided hospital care for an Ebola patient who later died has tested positive for the virus, health officials said Sunday in a statement. If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.
A statement posted on the Texas Department of State Health Service's website said "confirmatory testing will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta."
18-year-old Vonderrit Myers, Jr. Was Shot and Killed Thursday by Off-Duty Policeman Working as a Security Guard for a Private Company
AP: St. Louis Police Chief Col. Sam Dotson said the 32-year-old unidentified officer, a six-year veteran of the force, was working for a private security company when he approached three men on the street. "As he exited the car, the gentlemen took off running. He was able to follow one of them before he lost him and then found him again as the guy jumped out of some bushes across the street," Lt. Col. Alfred Adkins said. "The officer approached, they got into a struggle, they ended up into a gangway, at which time the young man pulled a weapon and shots were fired. The officer returned fire and unfortunately the young man was killed."
Fox News: The way that one of the men ran — grabbing at his waistband, slightly lopsided — indicated that he was carrying a weapon, so the officer chased him, Dotson said. Ballistic evidence recovered from the scene indicates that the man fired three rounds at the officer before his weapon jammed, Dotson said, adding that the gun was also recovered.
The officer fired 17 shots, Dotson said. He said he didn't know how many of those shots hit the suspect or why the officer fired that many shots.
"An investigation will decide if the officer's behavior was appropriate," he said. A state senator and other black leaders in St. Louis called on the Justice Department Thursday to investigate the fatal shooting. But demonstrators still fuming over the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Mo., refused to believe the police version of the encounter and called for a federal investigation. “This was a case of racial profiling turned deadly,” Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said during a protest on Thursday outside the St. Louis police headquarters.
New York Daily News: “He was unarmed,” a cousin of the suspect, Teyonna Myers, told the Post-Dispatch. “He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.” Berhe Beyent, who owns a deli in the area, confirmed that Myers had purchased a turkey sandwich and soda at his store 10 minutes before the shooting. Myers’ uncle, Jackie Williams, 47, said his nephew had been living at his house, which is within walking distance of where the shooting occurred. “My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich. Security was supposedly searching for someone else,” Williams said. “I don’t know how this happened, but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.”
Yahoo News: Thousands of protesters in downtown St. Louis marched and rallied at a plaza. Organizers included Hands Up United, an activist group that emerged after Brown's death. Union members, gay rights activists and people from the Occupy movement joined in. Civil rights organizations and protest groups had invited people from around the U.S. to join vigils and other events in the St. Louis area planned for Friday through Monday. "This isn't going to stop until there is change with police and black youth," said Tory Russell, one of the founders of Hands Up United. Early Saturday morning, protesters went to the St. Louis neighborhood of Shaw, where on Wednesday, an off-duty white officer working for a security firm shot dead 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. in what police have described as a firefight.
October 9, 2014
From around the web: News Alerts - In the News - Developing
And Breaking Now
Ebola in the U.S.
First Patient, Thomas Eric Duncan - 42
Died of Ebola at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Yesterday
A man who took a commercial flight from Liberia that landed in Dallas on Sept. 20 has been found to have the Ebola virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. He is the first traveler to have brought the virus to the United States on a passenger plane. He was not ill during the flight, health officials said. Symptoms developed several days after he arrived, and he is being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the patient with the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States and the Liberian man at the center of a widening public health scare, died in isolation at a hospital in Dallas on Thursday, hospital authorities said.
Mr. Duncan died at 7:51 a.m. at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, more than a week after the virus was detected in him on Sept. 30. His condition had worsened in recent days to critical from serious as medical personnel worked to support his fluid and electrolyte levels, crucial to recovery in a disease that causes bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea. Mr. Duncan was also treated with an experimental antiviral drug, Brincidofovir, after the Food and Drug Administration approved its use on an emergency basis.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gave worst- and best-case estimates for Liberia and Sierra Leone based on computer modeling. In the worst-case scenario, Liberia and Sierra Leone could have 21,000 cases of Ebola by Sept. 30 and 1.4 million cases by Jan. 20 if the disease keeps following its current trajectory, without effective methods to contain it. These figures take into account the fact that many cases go undetected, and estimate that there are actually 2.5 times as many as reported. The report does not include figures for Guinea because case counts there have gone up and down in ways that cannot be reliably modeled. In the best-case model — which assumes that the dead are buried safely and that 70 percent of patients are treated in settings that reduce the risk of transmission — the epidemic in both countries would be “almost ended” by Jan. 20, the report said. It showed the proportion of patients now in such settings as about 18 percent in Liberia and 40 percent in Sierra Leone.
Yesterday, federal officials said that they would begin temperature screenings of passengers arriving from West Africa at five American airports, beginning with Kennedy International in New York as early as this weekend, as the United States races to respond to a deadly Ebola outbreak. Travelers at the four other airports — Washington Dulles International, O’Hare International, Hartsfield-Jackson International and Newark Liberty International — will be screened starting next week, according to federal officials. The screenings will be for passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries hardest hit by the epidemic.
U.S. Supreme Court Refused to Take on
Same Sex Marriage Cases
The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.
Attorney General Eric Holder Is Leaving
the Obama Administration
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will resign his post, the Justice Department said Thursday. Mr. Holder will remain in office until a successor is nominated and confirmed. Mr. Holder, the 82nd attorney general and the first African-American to serve in that position, had previously said he planned to leave office by the end of this year.
Particularly in President Obama’s second term, Mr. Holder has been the most prominent liberal voice of the administration. The Justice Department said Mr. Holder finalized his plans to leave in an hour long conversation with Mr. Obama at the White House over Labor Day weekend.
Secret Service in Turmoil - Disorder
Placed President Obama's Life at Risk
Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, is expected to resign in the wake of several security breaches.
It came less than a day after lawmakers from both parties assailed Ms. Pierson’s leadership and said they feared for the lives of the president and others in the protection of the storied protective agency.
A man who jumped the White House fence this month made it far deeper into the president’s home than previously disclosed, overpowering a female Secret Service agent inside the North Portico entrance and running through the East Room before he was tackled, according to a congressional official familiar with the details of the incident.
The man, Omar J. Gonzalez, was finally stopped as he tried to enter the Green Room, the official said. Earlier, Secret Service officials had said Mr. Gonzalez, 42, had only made it steps inside the North Portico after running through the front door.
The new development, first reported by The Washington Post, will create an explosive hearing on Tuesday when a bipartisan panel of lawmakers intends to grill Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, about whether a lax and undisciplined culture inside the long-heralded agency has badly eroded its ability to protect the president and his family, several members of Congress said Monday.
HP Announced Break Up into Two Companies
Hewlett-Packard confirmed on Monday that it planned to break into two companies. The company, considered a foundational institution of Silicon Valley, said in a news release that it intended to divide itself into a company aimed at business technology, including computer servers and data storage equipment, software and services, and a company that sells personal computers and printers. Both companies will be publicly traded. The business-oriented company will be called Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, while the PC company will be called HP Inc. and will retain the company’s current logo. The transaction is expected to be completed by October 2015, the end of HP’s fiscal year, the company said.
Cyber Attack on JP Morgan Chase
A Cyber Attack this summer on JPMorgan Chase compromised more than 76 million household accounts and 7 million small-business accounts, making it among the largest corporate hacks ever discovered. The latest revelations, which were disclosed in a regulatory filing on Thursday, vastly dwarf earlier estimates that hackers had gained access to roughly 1 million customer accounts. The new details about the extent of the hack — which began in June but was not discovered until July — sent JPMorgan scrambling for the second time in just three months to contain the fallout.
The New York Times reported today that President Obama and his top national security advisers began receiving periodic briefings on the huge Cyber Attack at JPMorgan Chase and nine other financial institutions this summer, part of a new effort to keep top national security officials as updated on major Cyber Attacks as they are on Russian incursions into Ukraine or Islamic State attacks.
In the JPMorgan case, according to officials who are familiar with the briefings, no one could tell the president what he most wanted to know: What was the motive of the attack? “The question kept coming back, ‘Is this plain old theft, or is Putin retaliating?’ one senior official said, referring to the American-led sanctions on Russia. “And the answer was: We don’t know for sure.’’ More than three months after the first attacks were found, the source is still unclear and there is no evidence that any money was taken from any institution. But questions are being asked across Wall Street as other targets emerge. At least three companies — Citigroup, E*Trade Financial and HSBC — found that one of the same web addresses used to penetrate JPMorgan had tried to get into their systems, people briefed on the matter say.
Nobel Prize in Medicine
John O’Keefe of Britain and May‐Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser of Norway were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday for their work identifying the cells that make up the positioning system in the brain. The prize, the world’s most prestigious scientific award, was announced by Goran K. Hansson, secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
U.S. Job Report for September
The U.S. Economy Created 248,000 Jobs in September
Over 56 months of Job Growth
10,000,000 Since President Obama Took Office in 2009
American companies are hiring again at a healthy pace, adding 248,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent. The strong report was likely to buoy the outlook of economists who had worried the post-recession recovery was being sidetracked. Those fears were prompted by the government’s report on Sept. 5 that fewer jobs were added in August than in any month so far this year.
Patrick Modiano, the French writer whose novels center on topics like memory, identity and guilt, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday. In an announcement in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy cited Mr. Modiano’s ability to evoke “the most ungraspable human destinies in his work.” Recent winners for the prize in literature have included the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro in 2013; the Chinese novelist Mo Yan in 2012; the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer in 2011; and the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa in 2010. The last American writer to win the Nobel for literature was Toni Morrison, in 1993. The Nobel, one of the most prestigious and financially generous awards in the world, comes with a $1.1 million prize. The literature prize is given out for an entire lifetime of writing rather than a single work.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Two Americans and a German researcher on Wednesday were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work fine-tuning optical microscopy so that molecular processes could be viewed in real time.
The 2014 laureates in chemistry are Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Virginia; Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany; and William E. Moerner of Stanford University in California.
In awarding the prizes at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, the Nobel Committee said in a news release: “For a long time optical microscopy was held back by a presumed limitation: that it would never obtain a better resolution than half the wavelength of light. Helped by fluorescent molecules the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2014 ingeniously circumvented this limitation. Their ground-breaking work has brought optical microscopy into the “Nanodimension.”
September 23, 2014
The United States and its Allies Begun Bombings in Syria
Going after ISIS Targets
As the United Nations Assembly General is set to open today with 14-0 countries in attendance, the news this morning is that the United States and allies have launched bombing strikes in Syria targeting ISIS targets, weapons depot, training camps, leadership headquarters, and top ISIS leaders. President Obama is said to have brought together a coalition of mostly neighboring Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, The United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
Meanwhile, no one knows for sure how President Bashar al Assad of Syria might react to these airstrikes, which have been carried out primarily by American fighter pilots with no military personal to back them up. President Obama has deployed approximately 1500 troops in Iraq, but he has repeatedly indicated that those troops will only be there to protect American personnel and play an advisory and logistical role to the Iraqi army made up of at least 300,000 men, all of whom run and left their weapons behind when ISIS fighter moved into Iraq where they eventually took over several key cities and towns, including Tikrit and Mosul, plus a large swap of area in Northern Iraq.
The American military strikes in Iraq have apparently so far yielded little or no results in terms of taking back territory from ISIS, since there are no soldiers on the ground to move in and secure those the grains the Americans are making. It is not clear at this point what will happen in the next few weeks, and the speculations are rampant that this mission will either fail or American ground troops will end up entering this “war,” something that the President insist will not happen.
American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants known as the Islamic State. American military officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the Photo_vollairenet.org region.
The strikes represent a major turning point in President Obama’s war against the Islamic State and open up a risky new stage of the American military campaign. Until now, the administration has bombed Islamic State targets only in Iraq, and had suggested it would be weeks if not months before the start of a bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------September 22, 2014
Man Scaled White House Fence and Entered Front Door
Had Been Found with Several Semi-Automatic Weapons
PHOTO_Michael Reynolds/European Press_photo Agency
Washington_ The man who managed to get in the front door of the White House on Friday had a cache of ammunition and weapons in his car at the time of the incident, and he had been arrested by the Virginia State Police in July with several weapons and a map of the White House in his possession, according to law enforcement officials.
On Monday, federal prosecutors said that officers found 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in the car of Omar Jose Gonzalez, 42, of Texas, after they searched it on Friday. The prosecutors made their disclosure before a judge as they argued that Mr. Gonzalez should continue to be held in jail because he posed a danger to President Obama.
The judge agreed, and Mr. Gonzalez will remain in custody until a hearing next month.
In late August, Secret Service officers stopped Mr. Gonzalez in front of the fence on the White House’s South Lawn after they noticed a hatchet in his waistband, the officials said. The officers searched Mr. Gonzalez car, finding two dogs, camping equipment but no weapons. He was not arrested or questioned further.
In July, Mr. Gonzalez was arrested after he led Virginia troopers on a high-speed pursuit along Interstate 81 in Southwest Virginia in his Ford Bronco. After being stopped, police found the vehicle filled with weapons, according to a release by the state police.
Among the items found in Mr. Gonzalez’s vehicle in July was a mini-arsenal of 11 guns including two shotguns and four rifles, some equipped with scopes and bipods that a sniper would use and “a map of Washington, D.C., with writing and a line drawn to the White House,” law enforcement officials said. He also had four pistols, three of them loaded, and a revolver. The inventory of Mr. Gonzales’ vehicle listed by the Virginia State Police indicates the items were found stored in his vehicle’s “bulky floor.”
Virginia officials said Mr. Gonzalez was charged with reckless driving, one felony count of eluding police and possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Virginia state police said they took possession of the weapons in the Bronco in July, after Mr. Gonzalez was in custody. A law enforcement official said the weapons were not taken as evidence, but said, “They were stored by police so they wouldn’t be sitting in the vehicle unsecured.”
The state police said they had alerted the Secret Service about Mr. Gonzalez’s arrest. The fact that the Secret Service knew the man was facing gun charges and had a map of the White House has prompted its director to expand the agency’s internal investigation of the incident. Along with examining how officers at the White House responded to Mr. Gonzalez
jumping over the fence and whether new security procedures should be implemented.
September 19, 2014
What is Going On in Iraq and Syria?
The Obama Administration Has Declared War
On the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, right, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testify on U.S. policy regarding the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL, before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2014. (Photo by MC1 Daniel Hinton)
All during the summer the militant group now known all over the world, thanks to the United States, as ISIS maneuvered to take over land and territory across northern Iraq. Thousands of fighters from Europe, Africa, and the United States joined the group, entering Iraq and thereby the jihad through Turkey. Over the a period of several weeks, the few thousands fighter crossed the border from Syria where they were fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in conjunction with numerous other militia groups, Al Qaeda, and the Free Syrian Army.
These various and disparate groups were not only fighting against the Syrian government, at times, they fought against each other, and at other times, they cooperated with each other. In other words, the situation is Syria had been a complete mess for over two years, with hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the middle and dying. It is estimated that more the two hundred thousands of Syrians had died in the fighting and thousands more had fled to Jordan or Egypt. All the while, the United States sat on the sideline until it was reported and U.S. intelligence quickly confirmed that the government of Syria had used chemical weapon against the fighters. In response, the Obama administration went up in arm and threatened to bomb targets in Syria. But before this bombing campaign could start, Russia, which is a supporter of Arafat and a major weapon supplier to Syria, intervened in a negotiation with U.S. Secretary of States John Kerry and several other countries and negotiated a deal to inventory and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons piles, an agreement that the United States and most of Europe found acceptable. This prevented military intervention in Syria.
In August, after ISIS, which as the strongest group in the Syrian civil war, ran the Iraqi army out of town and took over strategic villages in Iraq, including Mosul, President Obama announced that the United States had a moral obligation to intervene to help villagers who had fled the village when ISIS took over and the villagers fled upon a mountain where they became stranded with no food or water, and were exposed to the elements. At that point the U.S. military, ordered by President Obama, dropped food and water by air to the refugees, and the Kurdish army managed to guide the villagers down from the mountain with air cover by U.S. fighter pilots who dropped bombs over ISIS’ targets in the territory that they had occupied. ISIS responded by threatening to kill American hostages if “Obama did not stop the bombing.
” The United States did not respond to this threat, and the group began a series of killings. At this point, they have executed two American freelance journalists, and two aid workers, among what is believed to be several dozen hostages that being held by the group. ISIS has been said to be well-financed by other countries in the area, and is generating revenue through the sale of oil from the refinery in Mosul that is under their control. Reports indicate that Turkey is the primary buyer of this oil. The group has also seized millions of dollars from Iraq banks when they seized the town where the Iraqi Central Bank is located.
Immediately after this humanitarian mission was over, President Obama ordered an expansion of the bombing mission with the intention of preventing ISIS from advancing on Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. However, within about two weeks, the president held several press conferences, gave TV interviews, and a prime time address to the American public to declare that, “ISIS was a monster – a cancer – that must be degraded and eventually destroyed.” The president also announced that he was ordering the U.S. military to pursue ISIS across the Syrian border, meaning that the U.S. military will now be dropping bombs in Syria. In addition, this mission will include training and arming the Free Syrian Army, which is believed to be made up of primarily Syrian citizens who joined together to fight the government of Syria, which they believe is corrupt and has refused to implement democratic reforms.
News by foreign journalists and commentaries from Middle Eastern expert indicate that the CIA has been training fighters to engage the Syrian military and ISIS on the ground. International and foreign reported have also made it clear that the hostages had been passed from hands to hands, sometime sold, and at times, exchanged for weapons. And ISIS having the most resources and weapons, consists the strongest and most viable group of fighters. It is reported that the group is headed by former Iraqi generals and commanders under former President Saddam Hussein. President Obama has insisted that he will not order U.S. troops to go fight on the ground neither in Iraq nor Syria. But instead, he will count on trained fighters from Syria to do the ground warfare with the help of drones and U.S. fighter pilots dropping bombs on identified targets.
To date, U.S. fighter pilots have dropped nearly, if not more than 160 bombs over Iraq. This mission has been expanded, and Congress which is split between lawmakers who want an all-out war against ISIS with thousands of U.S. troops in the theater, and those who agree with the president to limit the fight to an air mission. This week, this chaotic mess has moved to the United State Congress where two hearing were held Monday and Tuesday to figure out what is the best course of action, whether or not there is a need for a full declaration of war, and whether this mission’s goal “to degrade and destroy ISIS” is ultimately achievable and if so how long it will take. Secretary of State John Kerry testified before a Senate Committee yesterday and answered many questions from the committee. The day before, it was Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Chief of Staff, Martin Dempsey who answered questions. Both failed to indicate any specifics or end-point to this mission beyond this initial bombing and the goal to arm and train selected Syrian fighters (“The good guy”).
The Obama administration said Sunday that “several” Arab nations had offered to join in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but any sustained military campaign does not appear imminent, and is likely to require an even more significant commitment from other nations and fighting forces in the region.The United House of Representatives voted yesterday to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront the militant group Islamic State, backing President Obama after he personally pleaded for support. The vote was 273-to-156 and it only allowed for a narrow military measure with no money attached. The Senate is expected to pass the measure today
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U.S. Supreme Court Dismantled Civil Rights
Voting Rights - Women Health
& ACA_State Medicaid Exemption
Alabama Governor George Wallace (1963 Inaugural Address)
U.S. Supreme Court Justices
On June 25, 2013 – in Shelby County v. Holder, [570 U.S. (2013) a landmarkUnited States Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: Section 5] , the Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that Section 4(b) is unconstitutional “because the coverage formula is based on data over 40 years old, making it no longer responsive to current needs,” and therefore an impermissible burden on the constitutional principles of federalism and equal sovereignty of the states. At the core of the disagreement was whether racial minorities continued to face barriers to voting in states with a history of discrimination. “Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
The Court did not strike down Section 5, but without Section 4(b), no jurisdiction will be subject to Section 5 preclearance unless Congress enacts a new coverage formula requiring certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices. The section essentially determined which states must receive clearance from the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington before they made minor changes to voting procedures, like moving a polling place, or major ones, like redrawing electoral districts. This decision by the High Court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.
In the 10 months after the Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, five states have tightened access to voting. From Texas to Virginia, state and local governments have taken steps to require voter ident
The law had applied to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states, including Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. But the chances that the current Congress could reach agreement on where federal oversight is required are small, most analysts say.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the majority opinion. Justice Ginsburg was joined in dissent by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
On March 31, 2014, open enrollment for the first year of the ACA's healthcare exchange marketplace ended, exceeding the goal of 7 million enrollees.
The President and White House Staff react to the House of Representatives passing the bill on March 21, 2010.
· Guaranteed issue prohibits insurers from denying coverage to individuals due to pre-existing conditions, and guaranteed same premium for people of the same age living in the same geographic location without regard to gender
· An individual mandate requiring all individuals not covered by an employer sponsored health plan, Medicaid, Medicare or other public insurance programs to secure an approved private-insurance policy or pay a penalty
· The law provides for subsidies for low income individuals to help them comply with the mandate.
· For plans starting in 2015, the proposed enrollment period is November 15, 2014–February 15, 2015.
· Businesses which employ 50 or more people but do not offer health insurance to their full-time employees will pay a tax penalty if the government has subsidized a full-time employee's healthcare through tax deductions or other means. This is commonly known as the employer mandate.
. Officials in several states have decided to oppose those elements of the ACA over which they have discretion. As of this month, 24 States have refused to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance marketplace, effectively blocking coverage to over 5 million Americans. DailyBriefing.com lists those states as including:
· Alaska: Gov. Sean Parnell (R)
· Georgia: Gov. Nathan Deal (R)
· Indiana: Gov. Mike Pence (R)
· Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R)
· Mississippi: Republican Legislature
· Nebraska: Gov. Dave Heineman (R)
· Oklahoma: Gov. Mary Fallin (R)
· South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R)
· Texas: Gov. Rick Perry (R)
· Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R)
January 1, 2014
2013 Year in Review
January: President Barack Obama got sworn in for a historic second term after a brutal 2 billion dollar campaign against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate and Tea Party House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.
February: It was the deadliest storm in modern Philippine history, and one of the strongest ever recorded. Typhoon Haiyan plowed through the country's midsection on Nov. 8, with winds of more than 150 miles an hour. The storm killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than three million. President Benigno Aquino III estimated the cost of the damage—including 550,000 homes—at nearly $13 billion. The worst-hit area is mainly agricultural. Government economic managers have said the damage could lower growth, although reconstruction spending should temper the storm's effects on the economy.
Also in February: Christopher Dorner, an ex-police officer, is named a suspect wanted in connection with shootings that occurred throughout Southern California within a week period. In those shootings, three people died, including a police officer and an assistant women's basketball coach at California State University, Fullerton, and several others were wounded. Dorner was later killed after taking refuge in a house in the mountains and taking the homeowners hostage.
March: 76-year old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires became Pope Francis, succeeding Pope Benedict XVI who stepped down two weeks earlier, citing declining health—the first pontiff in more than six centuries to resign from a position traditionally held until death. Pope Francis of the Jesuit Order has amazed the world and brought back a billion Catholics to the Catholic Church through his return to the basic and fundamental principal of Christianity: caring for the poor and the less fortunate, and “love your neighbor as you love yourself for the love of God.”
April: 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and his 19 year brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, bombed the Boston Marathon killing 3 people and wounding 260. Day later, the brother killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer and started a standoff with Watertown police in a chase that started in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The hunt for the surviving 19 year old Tuft University student shut down and paralyzed Metropolitan Boston for over 24 hours.
May: Under the leadership of the bipartisan so-called “gang of eight,” led by Tea Party Cuban-American Florida Senator,Marco Rubio, the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary approves immigration reform legislation that would give citizenship to millions living in the country illegally. At the time, Rubio was regarded as a rising star in the Republican Party – the man likely to fix Republicans’ electoral deficit among Latinos. However, within days, Rubio was forced to distance himself from his own plan when he came under attack from conservative groups and Tea Party faithful. Rubio who was considered a sure bet to run as a candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries quickly fell from grace and was side swept by Tea Party hardliners the Junior Senators from Texas and Kentucky, respectively Ted Cruz who led the government shutdown with the help of 80 Tea Party House Republicans and Senate Libertarian Rand Paul.
June: 29-year old former NSA contractor and data analysts released top-secret documents to the UK newspaper, The Guardian and the Washington Post, unleashing outrage and disbelief in the massive National Security Agency data-swooping program on American citizens and foreigners. The leak revealed the government’s reach into private telephone, internet, and financial records access by internet into the systems of major service providers, including AT&T, Verizon,Sprint, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others. Snowden later released thousand more pages of classified documents, some showing illegal practices by the NSA and the monitoring of telephone activities of at least 19 foreign Heads of States, including France and Germany.
Also in June: the Republican majority legislature in Texas passed one of the most restrictive laws banning most abortions and passing regulations which would have made impossible for doctors and clinics to provide abortion services in the State. When the legislature attempted to pass the law in just before midnight at the end of the legislative period, Texas Democratic Senator Wendy Davis mounted an 13- hour filibuster. The filibuster rules in the Texas legislature are strict and forbid members to get off topics, lean on the podium, and even from drinking water. When a Senate colleague tried to provide Mss. Davis with a back support, the Senate Republican Chair declared that she had violated the rules and ordered her to terminate the filibuster By that time, words had gotten out on social media and thousands of people spontaneously showed up and filled the galleries of the capitol, chairing and chanting for her to be allowed to continue. When she was finally forced off the floor just 1 minute before midnight, the Republicans tried to rush the bill through and passed it. However, the record later showed that they had voted for the bill 2 minutes after midnight when the legislative session had already expired, which would have made the bill illegal. That forced the Republicans to pull out the bill. but in July, Texas governor Rick Perry called a special session of the legislature and the bill was passed. Democrats are a small minority in the Texas legislature.
July: A Seminole County Florida Jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Reactions around the country was swift as people marched in several cities around the country to protest the verdict from coast to coast.
August: The Islamic politics and cultural website, Islamic Invitation Turkey released a video, they said, showed that the Syrian government had launched a chemical attack near Damascus, the capital of Syria. The international press reported stories about the attack, but the evidence began to indicate that the chemical attack, which killed 1500 civilians, including 400 children, was ordered and carried out by the military forces of Syrian’s President Bashar Al Assad. President Obama threatened military action against Syria. However, several days later, news broke that Secretary of State John Kerry, brand new on the job, had reached a diplomatic agreement with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin to monitor the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical weapon under the close supervision of the United Nations’ Weapons Inspectors.
Also in August: Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin struck down New York’s stop-and-frisk “policy” ruling that the New York Police Department tactics of violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city. The ruling effectively killed the program, following the election of New York’s new Mayor Bill De Blasio. In her ruling, Judge Scheindlin effectively rejected New York Mayor’s Michael Bloomberg and his administration’s argument that the tactics plays a major element in fighting crime in the city. In her ruling, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin found that the Police Department resorted to a “policy of indirect racial profiling” as it increased the number of stops in minority communities. That has led to officers’ routinely stopping “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” The judge found that patrol officers have used the policy in the past 9 years “to stop innocent people without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing.” Bloomberg tries angrily and desperately to hang onto his racist policy under the pretense of safety, and he woe to pursue this bloody odious legacy through the courts. Ultimately, this scheme will be found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme; for it cannot survive any serious scrutiny by any person of conscience under the IV and the XIV Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood Supporters Declared a “Day of Rage.” The country descended into chaos and violence, and appeared to be on the verge of a civil war after the military intervened in Egyptians’ second uprising against President Mohammed Morsi and installed interim PM Hazem Beblawi. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood vowed to rise against what they considered a military coup and took to the streets by the thousands in protest. Egypt has been under military rule since, and in a state of turmoil since President Morsi was democratically elected by a majority of Egyptians a year ago in the wake of the Arab Spring, which resulted in the ouster of 30-year military dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The military promised new elections, but has since banned the Muslim Brotherhood from political participation, declaring the party a terrorist organization.
September 1: North Carolina passed the most extreme voter ID laws with other measures all aimed at preventing targeted groups of voters from casting ballots in the general elections. Those laws targeted Blacks and Hispanics, younger voters, low income and elderly voters by making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to obtain newly required State ID that the State made almost impossible to obtain based on the very requirements that were put in place to obtain such ID. In addition, many states reduced the number of days for voting, cut down on voting hours, and reduced voting precincts by moving them out of populated areas and increasing them in more rural areas with lower populations. Civil rights groups successfully sued over those voting restrictions and by Election Day, most of those laws were struck down and found unconstitutional by the Courts. In addition, the Justice Department blocked several of those states from putting those laws into effect by using Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to challenge the new laws and protect the voting rights of millions of Americans.
September 5: After her fifth attempt, Diana Nyad did something truly historic, when she completed a swim from Havana, Cuba to the Key West, a voyage she started 35 years ago. The 64-year-old left Havana Saturday and reached the shores of Florida’s Key West on Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2013 just before 2 PM local time after about 53 hours of swimming in shark-infested water. Although looking a bit dazed, with a swollen lip, and covered with sunburn, Nyad swam within feet of the beach before walking onto dry land. She was received by clapping spectators who cheered her on and wanted to take pictures with her. She was taken to the hospital for medical treatment. CBS reported that she was released from the hospital Monday evening after receiving IV treatment. The record-book swimmer told reporters, "I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you're never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team," she said on the beach. "I have to say, I'm a little bit out of it right now," she was reporting saying.
September 28: President Obama announced that he spoke on the telephone with the President of Iran, Hassan Ruhani,
before the Iranian President left New York after he attended and delivered a speech at the United Nations this week. The conversation was said to have lasted 10 to 15 minutes, after which President Obama made the announcement to the White House press without taking questions. The President acknowledged the barriers that exists on the road to forging a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear program. However, given that the Iranian Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini gave his green light for President Ruhani to engage in serious diplomatic negotiations with the U.S. to reach a negotiated settlement that would benefit all parties, including the middle East as a whole, by bringing about more stability, and satisfy the United State government, while allowing Iran to continue to pursue a peace civilian nuclear program. This was a breakthrough announcement, considering that the two countries have been in a virtual Cold War and open hostility since 1979, when Iranians revolted and overthrew the American puppet government of the Shah of Iran, took American hostages and returned the Supreme Leader, who was in exile in France, The Ayatollah Khomeini.
October 1: When the clock struck 12:00 last night, the extreme right wing Tea Party Republicans in Congress shut down the federal government. The demand in this hostage-taking: House Republicans want the President of the United State to scrap his own Health Care Law, which was duly passed in both Houses of Congress, upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and ratified voters in two elections. At this time, a small but the most radical faction in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has managed to hold the country hostage and shut down the government. Their leader in name only in the US House, Speaker John Boehner, stumbles and bumbles in front of cameras as if gagged and bound. After two weeks of holding funding for the federal government hostage in an attempt to dismantle the President’s Health Care law, through unworkable legislative maneuver, at midnight last, the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives succeeded in shutting down the federal government.
Also on October 1: The last component of the President’s healthcare law, the open insurance marketplace, was launched and the media, the Republicans, and a small fraction of people who had been covered under sub-standard health insurance plans went into a frenzy over the utter failure of the roll-out due to the abject dysfunction of the website that was built to handle enrollment, healthcare.gov.
October 17, The United States Government re-opened for business after 3 weeks (16 days) of Republican shut down over a failed effort to defund the President’s healthcare law. After resisting putting the Senate bill on the floor of the House without the support of the majority of his Republican Caucus, House Speaker John Boehner (Rep.-Ohio) finally agreed to allow the Senate clean continuing resolution to fund the government to go to the floor of the House for an open democratic vote. The bill was passed with the support of all 200 Democrats in the House; 87 Republicans voted yes, including Speaker Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
November: Historic Typhoon Haiyan stormed through the Philippine at winds of q50 miles an hour. It was the deadliest storm in modern in the history of the country. The storm killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than three million. A month later, about 101,000 people were still living in government shelters. President Benigno Aquino III estimated the cost of the damage, including 550,000 homes, at about $13 billion.
December: Tea Party House Republican Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray reached a budget agreement passed by both the House and the Senate. The first federal budget to have been enacted in 3 and a half years, paving the way for possible future compromises between the 2 governing parties and signaling a winding down of Republican obstructionism. The passage of the 2013 two-year budget also makes it less likely that Republicans will attempt to shut down the government over the raising of the country’s debt ceiling comes the deadline to do so on February 15, 2014. The budget deal also replaced the sequester cuts that caused the layoff of thousands of government employees and reduced benefits for food stamps recipients and meals on wheels for seniors. Although the Republicans succeeded in cutting $23 billion dollars out of the SNAP program that helps low-income families feed their children, they were unsuccessful in cutting the $40 billion they were looking to cut or eliminate the program altogether. The Democrats also held the line and prevented the Republicans from cutting Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. However, House Republican Speaker John Boehner adjourned Congress without passing the Senate passed Farm Bill or extending unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million unemployed Americans whose unemployment insurance ended 2 days after Christmas on December 27. Many of the new cuts have been placed squarely on veteran and federal employee pensions.
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
Wall Street ended its best year since the 1990’s.
The Dow Jones Industrial climbed to 26.5% ending its best year since 1995.
Wall Street and big banks settled with the government in a multi-layer investigation into the fraudulent financial practices that led to the economic crash of 2008, and paid billions of dollars in fines and penalties, but nobody went to prison for defrauding ordinary citizens and causing untold miseries to homeowners and pensioners.
Hispanics marched to demand immigration reform and a stop to deportation and the break up of families
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