President Obama 2014 Year In Review

12/18/2014

YEAR IN REVIEW: Creating Economic Opportunity for All Americans in 2014

December 18, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama took office in the depths of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Six years later, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, and the decisive actions he took early on – to bring the economy back from the brink, to save the auto industry, and to build a new foundation for middle-class growth – we’ve made real progress.

The economy grew at a combined 4.2% pace in the second and third quarters of this year, the strongest six-month period of growth in more than a decade.  American businesses have added new jobs for 57 consecutive months, the longest streak of private-sector job creation on record, for a total of 10.9 million new jobs. The pickup in the pace of job growth this year has come in industries with higher wages.  And wages across the economy are rising – a very welcome sign for millions of American families.

The U.S. economic recovery took a major step forward in 2014, achieving a number of important milestones:

The President pledged that 2014 would be a year of action and he has spent the last 12 months working with Congress where he could and taking action on his own where needed to revitalize the economy. He also worked closely with leaders from businesses, nonprofits, education, and communities to expand opportunity for more American families. These efforts have helped contribute to economic progress in a number of ways. Some critical efforts include:

Supporting Job Creation Through Manufacturing and Exports

Manufacturing job growth doubled this year – to about 15,000 jobs per month compared to 7,000 jobs per month last year. In total, since February 2010, the United States has directly added 764,000 manufacturing jobs, with the sector expanding employment at its fastest rate in nearly two decades. And the United States’ renewed competitiveness in manufacturing is bringing production back, with 54 percent of U.S.-based manufacturers surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group actively considering bringing production back from China to the United States, up from 37 percent only 18 months prior. The Administration has helped support these efforts by taking steps including:

  • Launching New Hubs as Part of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation
  • Supporting Efforts to Foster Manufacturing Entrepreneurship and Investment in the United States
  • Growing Our Investments in Advanced Manufacturing Research
  • Another Year of Record-Breaking Exports
    • The Made in Rural America Initiative Leads to a Boost in Small Rural Manufacturing Exports and Other Companies
    • Intensifying and Broadening Our Export Promotion
    • The Advocacy Center at the Department of Commerce Enjoyed a Record-Breaking Year in Helping U.S. Firms Win Contracts Abroad to Create Jobs at Home

Taking Action to Raise the Minimum Wage

Following President Obama’s call on Congress to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10, states, cities and counties, and business leaders have taken action on their own to increase wages across the country. And on February 12, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, requiring that workers on new Federal contracts be paid $10.10 an hour.

  • 14 States Passed Minimum Wage Increases – and 7 Million Workers Are Set to Benefit From Increases Passed Since the President’s Initial Call in 2013
  • Cities and Counties Have Also Taken Steps to Raise Wages
  • Businesses – Both Large and Small – Are Taking Action
  • President Obama’s Action will Ensure that All Employees of Federal Contractors are Paid at Least $10.10 an HourSupporting Job Skills and Employment Opportunities

Working with Congress, businesses, states and cities and non-profits, the President has taken action to make sure our job-training system is preparing and connecting Americans to the jobs that employers are looking to fill. From an across-the-board review of our job-training system to new grants that support apprenticeships and help connect the long-term unemployed to work, the President and his Administration have used every tool available to train Americans with the skills they need, and connect them with businesses that are looking for skilled workers.

  • Reforming Our Job-Training System to Make It Demand Driven
  • Passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
  • Getting Long-Term Unemployed Americans Back to Work: President Obama issued a three-part call to action – to employers, to communities across the country, and to federal agencies – to help Americans who are out of work, including the long-term unemployed, find jobs or get the skills they need so they can succeed in the labor force. Since that call to action, long-term unemployment has declined by 1.1 million and progress has been made on all three fronts, including:
    • $170 million in grants awarded in October to programs in 20 states and Puerto Rico to partnerships between non-profits, local government, and employers to train and match long-term unemployed job seekers for in-demand jobs.
    • A new set of best practices for hiring and recruiting the long-term unemployed signed by over 200 businesses – including 80 of the nation’s largest companies – to ensure that these candidates receive a fair shot during the hiring process.
    • Toolkits created by Deloitte Consulting in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and with the input of about 100 White House Best Practice signatories to help more employers implement the best practices.
    • Finally, following up on a Presidential Memorandum issued in January, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued guidance to Federal agencies to ensure that individuals who are unemployed or have faced financial difficulties because of circumstances like job loss receive fair treatment and consideration for employment by Federal agencies.
  • $450 Million in Grants to Nearly 270 Community Colleges Partnering with More than 400 Employers Nationally
  • Investing in a Competitive Workforce Through Apprenticeships

Providing High-Quality Education to America’s Students

Ensuring that all Americans are prepared for the jobs of the future and strengthening middle-class security, starts with a strong education system.  The President has taken a number of steps over the past year to expand access to high-quality early childhood education, connect every student to high-speed Internet, and make college more affordable.

  • Committing to Affordable Higher Education
    • Expanding Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    • The President and First Lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity
    • Protecting Students from Unaffordable Debts at Career College Programs
  • Committing to Early Education: Throughout 2013 and 2014, the President challenged states, business leaders, and Congress to help more children gain access to the early education they need to succeed in school and in life.  On December 10, 2014, the President convened philanthropists, educators, community leaders and others to announce a collective investment of over $1 billion for early childhood education.  Federal commitments of $750 million will support early learning for over 63,000 children while corporate and philanthropic leaders’ independent commitments of $330 million will expand the reach and enhance the quality for thousands more.
  • ConnectED to the Future:  In June 2013, President Obama visited Mooresville, NC to announce the ConnectED Initiative, which aims to ensure 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband in the classroom by 2017, and called for private sector leaders and the FCC To help connect our students. Since that time, the FCC has taken steps to modernize the E-rate program to support high-speed connectivity for America’s schools and libraries, providing a $2 billion down payment and passing a proposal that provides recourses needed to meet the President’s ConnectED goals.  Additionally, private-sector companies have committed more than $2 billion in resources to schools to supplement federal actions and help support cutting-edge technologies across a greater number of schools and homes. On November 19, 2014, The President hosted school leaders and educators to push this effort forward and make all schools “Future Ready”.  More than 1,200 superintendents joined the Administrations Future Ready District Pledge to set a vision for digital learning across America.  Combined, this pledge will already reach 10 million students across 16,000 schools.

For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/18/year-review-creating-economic-opportunity-all-americans-2014

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Pres Obama Year of Action

2014 the Year of Action

In his 2014 State of the Union, the President said that 2014 would be a “year of action” to ensure opportunity for all Americans. He’s making good on that promise (despite that Congress did not help, labeling them the ‘Worst Congress ever’.

What does a “year of action” mean, exactly?
The President will continue to work with Congress wherever he can to keep our economy moving forward and creating jobs. But in the meantime, he’s also going to do everything he can on his own to fight for middle-class families every single day.

And he’s been busy. Using his pen and his phone, the President has helped create new manufacturing jobs, expand apprenticeships, and job training, make student loan payments more affordable, support equal pay and workplace flexibility, cut carbon pollution, and rally support across the country while raising the minimum wage for all workers on new federal contracts. And that’s not all.

Here’s an update on the more than 40 actions he’s taken since January to do just that.

Learn more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/year-of-action

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List of President Obama’s 2014 Executive Actions to Help Americans

Pres Obama US - Cuba Relations

and on 12/17/14 President Obama Charts a New Course on US – Cuba Relations

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President Obama Changes US – Cuba Relations

12/17/2014

Pres Obama US - Cuba Relations

December 17, 2014

Statement by the President on Cuba Policy Changes

Cabinet Room

12:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.

In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.

There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 –- just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.

Meanwhile, the Cuban exile community in the United States made enormous contributions to our country –- in politics and business, culture and sports. Like immigrants before, Cubans helped remake America, even as they felt a painful yearning for the land and families they left behind. All of this bound America and Cuba in a unique relationship, at once family and foe.

Proudly, the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba through these five decades. We have done so primarily through policies that aimed to isolate the island, preventing the most basic travel and commerce that Americans can enjoy anyplace else. And though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people. Today, Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party that came to power half a century ago.

Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born. Consider that for more than 35 years, we’ve had relations with China –- a far larger country also governed by a Communist Party. Nearly two decades ago, we reestablished relations with Vietnam, where we fought a war that claimed more Americans than any Cold War confrontation.

That’s why -– when I came into office -– I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy. As a start, we lifted restrictions for Cuban Americans to travel and send remittances to their families in Cuba. These changes, once controversial, now seem obvious. Cuban Americans have been reunited with their families, and are the best possible ambassadors for our values. And through these exchanges, a younger generation of Cuban Americans has increasingly questioned an approach that does more to keep Cuba closed off from an interconnected world.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/statement-president-cuba-policy-changes

December 17, 2014

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.

It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.

Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas. We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/fact-sheet-charting-new-course-cuba

 

Learn more about new US – Cuba Relations : http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba

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Ending Pirate Fishing & Seafood Fraud & Protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay

12/16/2014
Seafood fraud can happen at any point in the supply chain, undermining law-abiding fishers and misleading consumers. (Photo credit: NOAA)

Seafood fraud can happen at any point in the supply chain, undermining law-abiding fishers and misleading consumers. (Photo credit: NOAA)

New Recommendations to End Pirate Fishing and Seafood Fraud

America’s fisheries drive coastal economies and put food on the tables of families across the country. Unfortunately, the twin global issues of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud undermine the economic and environmental sustainability of fisheries and fish stocks.

Global losses attributable to IUU fishing are estimated at $10 billion to $23 billion annually. Pirate fishing vessels take in fish without regard to the sustainability of ocean ecosystems. Not required to file trip plans or carry transponders, the ships roam the oceans in the shadows and become vectors for human, drug, and arms trafficking. Black-market fishing distorts legal markets and displaces law-abiding fishermen, ultimately serving as a drag on the global economy. These challenges can be compounded by seafood fraud — the mislabeling, misbranding, or falsification of product origins — which can occur at any point in the supply chain.

Today, the federal task force on combatting IUU fishing and seafood fraud released its final recommendations to tackle these complex challenges. President Obama announced the creation of the task force at the State Department’s Our Ocean conference in June, and for the last six months, under the leadership of NOAA Administrator Kathy Sullivan and Under Secretary of State Cathy Novelli, representatives from 14 agencies have come together to answer the President’s call to action.

The 15 recommendations being released by the task force today will:

  • Combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud at the international level by directing agencies to identify specific diplomatic, development assistance, and trade-related actions
  • Strengthen enforcement and enhance enforcement tools to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud by improving resource and information sharing and supporting risk-based targeting of illicit seafood shipments
  • Create and expand partnerships with state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and IUU seafood in U.S. commerce
  • Create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into the U.S. commerce to prevent entry of illegal product into the supply chain and better inform retailers and consumers.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/16/new-recommendations-end-pirate-fishing-and-seafood-fraud

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bristol baybristol bay - whale tail
President Obama Protects Alaska’s Bristol Bay From Future Oil and Gas Drilling

Published on Dec 16, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama designated the pristine waters of Bristol Bay as off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing.  This action safeguards one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and preserves an ecologically rich area of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska that is vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.

Bristol Bay is at the heart one of the world’s most valuable fisheries, helping to provide 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood and support a $2 billion annual fishing industry.  The beautiful and remote area is also an economic engine for tourism in Alaska, driving $100 million in recreational fishing and tourism activity every year. Bristol Bay hosts the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world, and provides important habitat for many species, including the threatened Stellar’s eider, sea otters, seals, walruses, Beluga and Killer whales, and the endangered North Pacific Right Whale.

Today’s decision to withdraw the area from all future oil and gas leasing extends indefinitely a temporary withdrawal that President Obama issued in 2010 and was set to expire in 2017.  This action builds on decades of local efforts to protect Bristol Bay from oil and gas development by Alaska Native tribes and organizations, as well as local seafood and tourism businesses that create jobs and strengthen Alaska and the nation’s economy. It also honors the legacy of Alaska residents like Harold ‘Harvey’ Samuelsen, a salmon fisherman who is legendary for his lifelong dedication to Bristol Bay and to creating economic opportunities for Alaska Native and rural communities.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/16/president-obama-protects-alaska-s-bristol-bay-future-oil-and-gas-drillin


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5 Things You Need to Know About Alaska’s Bristol Bay

Tanya Somanader December 16, 2014 05:12 PM EST

1. BRISTOL BAY PROVIDES 40 PERCENT OF AMERICA’S WILD-CAUGHT SEAFOOD.
Bristol Bay is one of the world’s most valuable fisheries, providing 40 percent of America’s seafood and supporting up to $2 billion in commercial fishing every year.

2. BRISTOL BAY HOSTS ONE OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST WILD SALMON RUNS.
While remote, this area is also an economic engine for tourism in Alaska. Bristol Bay drives $100 million in recreational fishing and tourism activity every year.

3. BRISTOL BAY IS HOME TO MULTIPLE THREATENED SPECIES.
Bristol Bay provides important habitat for many species, including the threatened Stellar’s eider, sea otters, seals, walruses, Beluga and Killer whales, and the endangered North Pacific Right Whale.

4. THE PRESIDENT’S ACTION PROTECTS MILLIONS OF ACRES FROM DRILLING.
The North Aleutian Basin Planning Area that includes Bristol Bay consists of about 32.5 million acres. The previous Administration set in motion a new lease sale for 2011 that would have opened approximately 5.6 million acres — about one-fifth of the planning area — for drilling. In 2010, President Obama temporarily withdrew the Bristol Bay area from oil and gas development, and today’s action extends that protection indefinitely.

5. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOT THE ONLY PRESIDENT TO USE HIS EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY TO PROTECT LANDS.
The President issues his temporary withdrawal in 2010 using his authority under section 12 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which gives the president authority to withdraw offshore areas from potential oil and gas leasing. President Eisenhower was the first to exercise the authority in 1960, withdrawing an area now included in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Since then, presidents on both sides of the aisle have acted to withdraw areas of the Outer Continental Shelf from oil and gas leasing.

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Reaction to President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum

Oceana Hails Announcement as Huge Victory for Our Wallets, Health & Oceans – Oceana

NRDC Lauds Obama Drilling Ban in Alaska’s Spectacular Bristol Bay – National Resources Defense Council
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Feeding America 2014

12/14/2014

Feeding America (aka Second Harvest) is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Their mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.

Each year, the Feeding America network provides food to more than 37 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including 14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

Their network of more than 200 food banks serves all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, securing and distributing more than 2.5 billion pounds of food and grocery products annually. Those member food banks support approximately 61,000 local charitable agencies and 70,000 programs, which provide food directly to individuals and families in need.

Learn more about your local Feeding America network member food bank: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx

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HUNGER IN AMERICA

Impact of Hunger

Hunger Studies

GET INVOLVED

Volunteer

Advocate

Corporate Opportunities

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Feeding America Facebook
Feeding America Twitter
Feeding America Pinerest
Feeding America Google+
Feeding America Instagram
Feeding America YouTube

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Community Renewal: Supporting a Local Food Bank

Feeding America’s Hungry: The Facts

One hundred percent of food banks responding to a Feeding America survey reported increases in demand for emergency food assistance over the last year.  Demand for emergency food assistance increased at a rate ranging from 28.6% – 37.7% footnote 1.

Many people are turning to food banks for the first time because of the economic climate. 99.4% of food banks and distribution agencies reported seeing more first time users in the last year. 74% reported seeing more newly unemployed persons. 48% of food banks and distribution agencies reported seeing a greater number of children in their food lines.

Seventy-two percent of food banks do not feel as though they are able to adequately meet the needs of their communities without adjusting the amount of food distributed.

Across the Feeding America network of over 63,000 agencies, 66 percent of pantries, 41 percent of kitchen programs, and 11 percent of shelter programs have no paid staff, relying entirely on volunteers. footnote 2

Commit yourself and a team of your friends and neighbors to help feed America’s hungry.  This tool kit will give you the basics to volunteer at a food bank, start of food drive, recruit a team, organize your group, and make an impact.

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Bo & Sunny Approved

Bo & Sunny Approved

Some Feeding America (Second Harvest) locations also partner with an organiztion that supplies food for pets. Contact your location to inquire.
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Thanks to Pres Obama for US Economy Gains

12/11/2014

1989-2014 US Annual Job Totals

When the U.S. economy is the envy of the world 

12/08/14 04:58PM  By Steve Benen – maddowblog

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Right. In the public discourse, there’s often a temptation to compare the current economic recovery to other recoveries that followed modern downturns. There’s one glaring problem with this: the global crash in 2008 was the worst crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression. Comparing it to more routine, cyclical downturns is like comparing a twisted ankle to getting hit by a bus — they both hurt, but the scope and scale of the damage is qualitatively different.
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It’s smarter, then, to compare our economic recovery against other countries who dealt with similar circumstances. And on this front, as President Obama was eager to remind Americans in his weekly address, we’re the envy of the world:
“America, we still have a lot of work to do together. But we do have real, tangible evidence of our progress. 10.9 million new jobs. 10 million more Americans with health insurance. Manufacturing has grown. Our deficits have shrunk. Our dependence on foreign oil is down. Clean energy is up. More young Americans are graduating from high school and earning college degrees than ever before. Over the last four years, this country has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every advanced economy combined.”
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That last point is no small detail. In the aftermath of the crash, advanced economies around the globe rushed to respond, with many adopting competing solutions. Many chose the kind of austerity measures Republicans hoped to impose on Americans.
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Fortunately for those who want to see the U.S. succeed, Republicans weren’t in a position of power in 2009.
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As a result, as Rachel noted on the show on Friday, American growth is “outperforming other economies.” Indeed, one of the more striking aspects of the recent upswing in the domestic economy is that “the U.S. remains a standout as the rest of the world struggles.”
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For more: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/when-the-us-economy-the-envy-the-world

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Don’t look now, US economy booming!

12/05/14 08:59PM maddowblog

Rachel Maddow reports on the litany of positive economic indicators, including significant job growth, lower gas prices, higher wages, and a lower number of uninsured, and the difficulty Republicans are having formulating a response.

Republican Message Sinks In Even as Obama Economy Gains Strength

Dec 7, 2014 5:32 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell and Jonathan Allen – bloomberg

To hear Republicans tell it, President Barack Obama is the leader of a lackluster economy — and Americans believe them.

The only problem: That view is outdated.

Last week’s Labor Department report showed the economy added 321,000 jobs in November, marking 10 consecutive months in which the number has topped 200,000. Average hourly earnings rose 0.4 percent from a month earlier, the most since June of last year. At the same time, most Americans — 52 percent in a Gallup poll — said the economy was “getting worse” in November, echoing the Republican message.

“They’ve done a better job of saying, ‘The economy is not working as well as it should have and elect us and we’ll do a better job,’” said John Silvia, the chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For years, House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, repeated a simple mantra to needle Obama on the economy: “Where are the jobs?” To the dismay of some Democrats, the White House has avoided declaring victory in Washington’s rhetorical war over the economy because the slow pace of growth has frustrated those who haven’t felt the benefits of the recovery.

The jobs report “will have some impact on the public perception of the economy, as it should,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Dec. 5. “We certainly welcome those signs of strength. We want to make sure that — that working folks are experiencing those kinds of benefits, too.”

For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-07/republican-message-sinks-in-even-as-obama-economy-gains-strength.html

 Biggest Payroll Gain in Almost Three Years Boosts U.S. Wages

Dec 5, 2014 6:27 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell – bloomberg

A broad-based November hiring surge ranging from factories to offices and retailers powered the U.S. economy to create the largest number of jobs in almost three years, triggering long-awaited wage gains.

The 321,000 advance in payrolls exceeded the most optimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists and followed a 243,000 gain in October that was stronger than previously reported, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The jobless rate held at a six-year low of 5.8 percent. Average hourly earnings rose 0.4 percent, the most since June of last year.

Persistent job growth that’s generating income growth and stoking demand increases the likelihood of employment opportunities for even more Americans. Treasury yields rose as traders bet the improvement in the labor market will help assure Federal Reserve policy makers that the economy is strong enough to withstand an increase in borrowing costs next year.

“You’ve got this really nice dynamic going on in that there’s more jobs growth, more spending, stronger GDP growth, which in turn means more jobs being created,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for IHS Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts, and the second-best forecaster of payroll gains over the last two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “It’s just a very good cycle to be in right now for the United States.”

For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-05/payrolls-in-u-s-surge-by-most-since-early-2012-as-wages-pick-up.html

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Factories Keep Humming in U.S. Even Amid Global Slowing: Economy

Dec 1, 2014 9:08 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell – bloomberg

Manufacturing growth in the U.S. barely skipped a beat in November, holding near the strongest pace in three years, as the world’s largest economy rose above a global slowdown.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index was little changed at 58.7 last month, the second-strongest level since April 2011, compared with 59 in October, the Tempe, Arizona-based group reported today. Readings greater than 50 indicate expansion.

Orders over the past four months have been the strongest in a decade as growing demand from American clients makes up for any letdown among foreign customers. Figures yesterday showing retailers struggled to lure shoppers during the first weekend of the holiday season raise concern that the pace of growth will be difficult to sustain heading into 2015.

“Whatever is happening abroad, this sector seems to be shrugging it off,” said Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, who projected a reading of 58.5. “There’s still a fair amount of momentum in the U.S. manufacturing sector.”

American producers keep powering ahead at the same time their global competitors slow. Manufacturing in Germany, France and Italy unexpectedly contracted last month, according to purchasing managers’ gauges. An index of Chinese manufacturing fell as mandatory plant shutdowns during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum aggravated a pullback in the economy.

For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-01/manufacturing-in-u-s-expanded-more-than-projected-in-november.html

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Find Out What President Obama is  Doing to Improve Our Economyhttp://www.whitehouse.gov/economy
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Pres Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13491 Banning Torture

12/10/2014

December 09, 2014

Statement by the President Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, these public servants have worked tirelessly to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks. Solemn rows of stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA honor those who have given their lives to protect ours. Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices.

In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.

Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11—the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office. The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.

As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people. We will therefore continue to be relentless in our fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today’s report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past. Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.

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Secretary Kerry on Release of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report
Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Department of State – Washington, D.C.

12-09-2014
Release of this report affirms again that one of America’s strengths is our democratic system’s ability to recognize and wrestle with our own history, acknowledge mistakes, and correct course. This marks a coda to a chapter in our history.

President Obama turned the page on these policies when he took office and during week one banned the use of torture and closed the detention and interrogation program. It was right to end these practices for a simple but powerful reason: they were at odds with our values. They are not who we are, and they’re not who or what we had to become, because the most powerful country on earth doesn’t have to choose between protecting our security and promoting our values.

Now this report sheds light on this period that’s more than five years behind us, so we can discuss and debate our history – and then look again to the future.

As that debate is joined, I want to underscore that while it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant to reexamine this period, it’s important that this period not define the intelligence community in anyone’s minds. Every single day, the State Department and our diplomats and their families are safer because of the men and women of the CIA and the Intelligence Community. They sign up to serve their country the same way our diplomats and our military do. They risk their lives to keep us safe and strengthen America’s foreign policy and national security. The awful facts of this report do not represent who they are, period. That context is also important to how we understand history.

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UN expert calls for prosecution of CIA, US officials for crimes committed during interrogations

9 December 2014 – A United States Senate report has confirmed what the international community has long believed – that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush Administration which allowed to commit gross violations of international human rights law, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights said today.

Released this afternoon, the so-called Feinstein report, after long-time US Senator Dianne Feinstein who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that compiled the document, probes crimes of torture and enforced disappearance of terrorist suspects by the Bush-era CIA.

“It has taken four years since the report was finalised to reach this point,” said Ben Emmerson in a statement.

Now it is time to take action, he added. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” he said.

Identities of the perpetrators, and many other details, have been redacted in the published summary report but are known to the Select Committee and to those who provided the Committee with information on the programme.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” Mr. Emmerson explained.

International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

The US is legally obliged, by international law, to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.

For more: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49560#.VIhmd4s9dbw

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Guantanamo Bay detention camp

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, also referred to as GuantánamoG-bay or GTMO (pronounced ‘gitmo’), is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which fronts on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. At the time of its establishment in January 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said the prison camp was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous persons, to interrogate “detainees” in an optimal setting, and to prosecutedetainees for war crimes.Detainees captured in the War on Terror, most of them from Afghanistan and much smaller numbers later from Iraq, the Horn of Africa and South Asia were transported to the prison.

The facility is operated by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) of the United States government in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Detainment areas consisted of Camp Delta (including Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (which is now closed).

After Bush political appointees at the U.S. Office of Legal CounselDepartment of Justice advised the Bush administration that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal black jurisdiction, military guards took the first twenty detainees to Guantanamo on 11 January 2002. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Ensuing U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2004 have determined otherwise and that the courts have jurisdiction: it ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on 29 June 2006, that detainees were entitled to the minimal protections listed under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Following this, on 7 July 2006, the Department of Defense issued an internal memo stating that detainees would, in the future, be entitled to protection under Common Article 3.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp#President_Obama.27s_attempt_to_close_the_camp

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President Obama’s attempt to close the camp

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama described Guantánamo as a “sad chapter in American history” and promised to close down the prison in 2009. After being elected, Obama reiterated his campaign promise on 60 Minutes and the ABC program This Week.

On 22 January 2009, President Obama stated that he ordered the government to suspend prosecutions of Guantánamo Bay detainees for 120 days to review all the detainees’ cases to determine whether and how each detainee should be prosecuted. A day later, Obama signed an executive order stating that Guantánamo Detention Camp would be closed within the year. His plan encountered a setback when incoming officials of his administration discovered that there were no comprehensive files concerning many of the detainees, so that merely assembling the available evidence about them could take weeks or months. In May, Obama announced that the prosecutions would be revived. On 20 May 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90–6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In November 2009, President Obama admitted that the “specific deadline” he had set for closure of the Guantánamo Bay camp would be “missed.” He said the camp would probably be closed later in 2010, but did not set a specific deadline.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp#President_Obama.27s_attempt_to_close_the_camp

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White House Summit on Early Childhood Education

12/09/2014
First Lady Michelle Obama visits a classroom

First Lady Michelle Obama visits a classroom

Early Learning

Expanding access to high quality early childhood education is among the smartest investments that we can make. Research has shown that the early years in a child’s life—when the human brain is forming—represent a critically important window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child’s success in school and in life.

Participation in high-quality early learning programs—like Head Start, public and private pre-K, and childcare—will provide children from all backgrounds with a strong start and a foundation for school success. These programs also generate a significant return on investment for society; numerous economic studies have documented a rate of return of $7 or more on each dollar invested through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults.

President Obama’s comprehensive early learning agenda invests in and strengthens early childhood education, care, and development for our nation’s youngest learners. It helps to prevent achievement gaps before they start, and invests from an early age in children as our most critical national resource.

  • Preschool for All
  • Boosting the Quality of Child Care
  • Empowering Parents
  • Raising the Bar for Early Learning
  • Reforming and Expanding Head Start

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/early-childhood

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White House Announces Summit on Early Education

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, December 10, President Obama will host a White House Summit on Early Education. The Summit will bring together a broad coalition of philanthropic, business, education, advocacy and elected leaders, as well as other stakeholders who are committed to expanding access to high-quality early education. This summit builds on the President’s call in his 2013 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality early childhood education to every child in America. As part of that effort, the President proposed a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child—beginning at birth and continuing to age five. This proposal includes extending and expanding evidence-based, voluntary home visiting, growing the supply of effective early learning opportunities for young children through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and providing Preschool for All. Since the President’s call to action, more than 30 states and cities have established new programs or expanded access to preschool. Studies show that for every dollar we invest in early childhood education, we see a rate of return of $7 or more through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults.

During the summit, the President will announce the states and communities that will receive $250 million in Preschool Development Grants and $500 million in Early Head Start Child Care Partnership awards to enhance and expand preschool programs and to improve access to high-quality infant and toddler care in high-need communities. In addition to those grant announcements, the President will also highlight new private sector commitments to expand children’s early learning opportunities. Over the last several months, Senior Administration Officials have traveled across the country to hear from local officials, education experts, business leaders, and the philanthropic community about how to best advance the President’s agenda to expand access to high-quality early education for all Americans.

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Wednesday, December 10
President Obama hosts a White House Summit on Early Education
White House

Speaking Program:

8:25 AM         Opening Remarks: Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Muñoz

8:40 AM         Panel 1: Public Investment Leadership to Expand Early Education

11:05 AM       Panel 2: Challenging Leaders to Invest in Early Education

11:50 AM       President Obama Delivers Remarks

1:40 PM         Panel 3: Promoting Quality in Early Education

2:40 PM         Vice President Biden Delivers Closing Remarks

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