Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act of 2014

08/12/2014

Patty Murray & lgbt-veterans

“Equal protection under the law is a fundamental right in our country. No one should suffer discrimination because of their race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Whether applying for a job, finding a home, eating in a restaurant, serving in our military, or attending school, we must ensure that all citizens are treated fairly and equally.”

To learn more about Senator Patty Murray’s priorities for the LGBT community

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Murray bill would force Social Security to pay same-sex spouses survivor benefits

A year after Supreme Court decision, some couples still denied benefits

5/8/14 By Liz Goodwin and Olivier Knox – Yahoo News

Nearly a year ago, the nation’s highest court told the federal government that it could no longer withhold marriage benefits from tens of thousands of same-sex married couples.

But that landmark Supreme Court decision made little difference in the lives of gay couples who live in the 33 states that ban same-sex marriage.

Midori Fujii and Kristie Kay Brittain got married in California, then returned to Indiana, which bans gay marriage. When Brittain died of ovarian cancer in 2011, Fujii found out that she would not be eligible to receive her wife’s Social Security survivor benefits.

For months, the Social Security Administration has put survivor benefit applications from same-sex spouses who live in states that don’t recognize gay marriage on hold. That’s because a portion of the decades-old law says that for a spouse to be eligible for benefits, his or her marriage must be recognized in the state where the couple currently resides.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., hopes to change that with a bill she’s introducing Wednesday called the Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act of 2014, Yahoo News has learned. The measure would amend the Social Security Act to grant survivor benefits to any individual legally married anywhere in the United States, regardless of whether he or she lives in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

It would also declare individuals who were legally married in another country eligible for Social Security survivor benefits, according to a summary of the legislation provided by her office.

“Your zip code should not determine whether or not your family will have the means to survive after the death of a spouse,” Murray said in a statement. “While I believe the Social Security Administration can, and should, resolve this inconsistency through administrative action, the SAME Act would provide a road map to ensure equality under our federal laws do not end at state lines.”

For more: http://news.yahoo.com/murray-bill-would-force-social-security-to-pay-same-sex-spouses-survivor-benefits-220923730.html


SS 45th Annv

Social Security Act of 1935

The Social Security Act, Pub.L. 74–271, 49 Stat. 620, enacted August 14, 1935, now codified as 42 U.S.C. ch. 7, was a social welfare legislative act which created the Social Security system in the United States.

Overview
The Social Security Act was drafted during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first term by the President’s Committee on Economic Security, under Frances Perkins, and passed by Congress as part of the Second New Deal. The act was an attempt to limit what was seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children. By signing this act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Act

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Social Security Timeline: http://www.ssa.gov/history/1930.html

 

Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to TELL THEM TO GIVE THE LGBT COMMUNITY EQUAL BENEFITS!!

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 US LGBT Rights Timeline 1903-2014 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)

 White House – LGBT

 LGBT Democrats Facebook

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American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978

08/10/2014

American Indian Religious Freedom Act

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Public Law No. 95-341, 92 Stat. 469 (Aug. 11, 1978) (commonly abbreviated to AIRFA), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1996, is a United States federal law, enacted by joint resolution of the Congress in 1978. It was enacted to protect and preserve the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American IndiansEskimosAleuts, and Native Hawaiians. These rights include, but are not limited to, access of sacred sites, freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rights and use and possession of objects considered sacred.

The Act required policies of all governmental agencies to eliminate interference with the free exercise of Native American religion, based on the First Amendment, and to accommodate access to and use of religious sites to the extent that the use is practicable and is not inconsistent with an agency’s essential functions. It also acknowledges the prior violation of that right.

Passage

Due to the complex nature of American Indian religious beliefs, American Indian religions have often been at odds with existing federal laws and government policies. There have been three general areas of conflict. Firstly, American Indians did not have access to a number of sacred places that were used in religious ceremonies. Native American religious practices often came into conflict with the idea that American public lands exist for the use and benefit of the American people. The results of the passage of the Indian Removal Act and the General Allotment Act were the displacement of hundreds of tribes, including the Five Civilized Tribes of the southeastern United States, and the forced assimilation of Native American families into agricultural settler societies.

The second conflict was the possession of ceremonial items that are restricted by United States Law, such as eagle feathers or bones (a protected species) or peyote. The conflict lies in the fact that items such as peyote are integral parts of ceremonies practiced by members of churches such as the Native American Church. The use of eagle bones in ceremony has been brought up in any case involving Indian claims on hunting and fishing rights allowed for tribal member to hunt for eagles.

The third general area of conflict was an issue of interference. Sacred ceremonies were sometimes subject to interference from overzealous officials or curious onlookers.

The act itself was more a policy statement, and it acknowledged prior infringement on the right of freedom of religion for American Indians by denying them their First Amendment right of “free exercise” of religion. President Jimmy Carter said, in a statement about the AIRFA, a very similar thing:

In the past, Government agencies and departments have on occasion denied Native Americans access to particular sites and interfered with religious practices and customs where such use conflicted with Federal regulations. In many instances, the Federal officials responsible for the enforcement of these regulations were unaware of the nature of traditional native religious practices and, consequently, of the degree to which their agencies interfered with such practices.

This legislation seeks to remedy this situation.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Indian_Religious_Freedom_Act

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Obama Proclaims Río Grande del Norte a National Monument, Significant Site for Natives

3/26/13 indiancountrytodaymedianetwork

Yesterday, March 25, by proclamation, President Obama established Río Grande del Norte as a National Monument. The announcement of a national monument designation has come in response to considerable input from the community including local businesses, sportsmen, elected officials, Latino organizations, Native American tribes and nearly the entire New Mexico congressional delegation.

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument will boost economic growth in northern New Mexico while permanently protecting the heritage,  water and approximately 240,000 acres of natural areas and wildlife habitat in the region.

Hispano leaders and organizations, small business owners and the Taos and Mora Valley Chambers of Commerce, sportsmen and ranchers, Native American Pueblos and elected officials, and conservation organizations have come together to thank President Obama for protecting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

“I applaud President Obama protecting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument because many of the wildlife species that live in that corridor come in and out of this area.  Left unprotected, there may be very few animals available that the Native American people of Taos Pueblo depend on for food, clothing and shelter,” says Benito Sandoval, Taos Pueblo War Chief.

For more: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/26/obama-proclaims-rio-grande-del-norte-national-monument-significant-site-natives-148361

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Securing Indigenous Rights to Sacred Places With the UN Declaration

5/16/12 Karla E. General – indiancountrytodaymedianetwork

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples presents a new opportunity and a new kind of legal authority that could help Native peoples to secure rights to sacred places, and to preserve and protect cultural, religious, and spiritual practices.

The Declaration recognizes and affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to their cultural, religious, and spiritual practices, to have private access to sacred sites (Arts. 12(1), 11(1)), as well as to maintain and strengthen their spiritual relationship with their traditionally held lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources (Art. 25). With the Declaration, Native peoples have rights acknowledged by the international community of nations, including rights to sacred places both within existing reservation or territorial boundaries and beyond.

As rights-holders, Native nations and individuals have the right to cultural, religious, and spiritual practices. As duty-bearer, the U.S. has the responsibility to prevent infringement of these rights.

For more:  http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/16/securing-indigenous-rights-sacred-places-un-declaration
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US Govt & Indigenous Peoples Timeline 1819-2014 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)
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Voting Rights Act of 1965 – Now Weaker due to Supreme Court 2013 Ruling

08/07/2014

Bruised and weary, the Voting Rights Act celebrates its 49th birthday

Forty-nine years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, taking an enormous step toward protecting the right to vote for all Americans.Decades of concerted effort on the part of state and local officials to disenfranchise African Americans through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and sheer intimidation had inspired little action from Congress.

But the momentum created by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the horrified reaction to violence inflicted upon voting-rights protesters marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965, drove federal legislators to craft a response.

The resulting legislation, signed into law at the Capitol with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and other civil-rights leaders looking on, has stood firmly for nearly half a century.

Among other measures, the VRA outlawed literacy tests and empowered the U.S. Department of Justice to challenge the use of poll taxes in state and local elections. Passage of the 24th Amendment in 1964 already barred the use of poll taxes in national elections.

Section 2 is largely a restatement of the 15th Amendment, prohibiting any voting rules or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race or color. Amendments to the VRA in 1975 extended its protections to members of a language minority group, such as speakers of Spanish or Native American languages.

Moreover, thanks to another round of amendments in 1982, citizens today who challenge voting regulations under Section 2 need only prove that, in the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the rules have merely the effect of abridging the right to vote.

In crafting the original VRA, Congress also provided for special intervention in jurisdictions where racial discrimination is believed to be greatest. Under Section 5, those parts of the country identified by a formula established in Section 4 must obtain “pre-clearance” from the DOJ or the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia before making any changes to its voting laws.

In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), however, the Supreme Court struck down the Section 4 formula, leaving Section 5 intact but requiring legislators to redraw its coverage before further enforcement. Since the ruling, several amendments have been proposed but Congress has thus far declined to act.

For more: http://news.yahoo.com/bruised-weary-voting-rights-act-celebrates-49th-birthday-094610138.html;_ylt=AwrTWfylBORThjUAvXfQtDMD

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Supreme Court’s ruling on Shelby County v. Holder (2013) made the Voters Rights WEAKER

2014 Ballots has 50 Restrictive Voter Rights Bills

11 States have introduced voter ID legislation since Supreme Court ruling for  Shelby County v. Holder in 2013


2014 NC Voter Suppression Laws2014 OH & WI Restrictive Voter Laws

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Where Tuesday’s Voting Rights Act ruling matters, in one map

June 25, 2013 at 11:37 By Dylan Matthews – washingtonpost

Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which outlines how the government is to determine which states, counties, towns, and other jurisdictions have to have their voting laws “precleared” by the Justice Department, is unconstitutional. But which jurisdictions currently face preclearance, and, barring Congressional action, are now freed from that requirement?

6:25:13 Supreme Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional

For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/25/where-tuesdays-voting-rights-act-ruling-matters-in-one-map/

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Holder to black leaders: ‘Sacred’ right to vote under attack

5/30/12 11:28 AM EDT By JOSEPH WILLIAMS – POLITICO

Attorney General Eric Holder told a council of African American church leaders Wednesday that the “sacred” right to vote is under assault nationwide, with federal lawsuits and at least a dozen state laws that could weaken — or block — minority access to the ballot box this fall.

Forty-seven years after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, “overt and subtle forms of discrimination still exists,” Holder said in a speech before the Council of Black Churches. The twin factors of lingering bias and systematic assaults from the right, he said, means that “for the first time in our [lifetimes], we are failing to live up to one of our most noble ideals” – the right to equal access to the vote.

The brief speech was a call to arms for the black church, which since the days of the civil rights movement has been active in fighting for equal voting right for minorities. Holder, who was warmly received by the audience, told them his office is “aggressively” taking on the task of protecting that right, including challenging several state lawsuits that would overturn key provisions of the Voting Rights Act involving redistricting in Southern states and strict new voter I’d laws that could keep minorities, the elderly and young people of all races from casting ballots in the 2012 election – which analysts expect will be decided by a narrow margin.

Ensuring that everyone who is qualified can vote “is one of our highest priorities,” Holder told the council, adding that during his watch the Justice Department has taken on more than 100 cases involving voting within the past year, “a record number.” Since President Bush re-authorized the Section 5 provision of the Voting Rights Act, which requires some Southern states to get federal approval before making broad changes to laws involving voting, “it has consistently come under attack by those who say it is no longer needed.”

Holder also rejected conservatives’ contention that making it easier to vote invites fraud, a key argument in calling for tougher voter I’d laws. Recalling that protesters and faith leaders faced violence and death to gain that right during the 1960s civil rights movement, Holder called on black churches to mobilize as an ally of the Justice Department, informing the larger community and pushing back against restrictive proposals.

“We have to honor the generations that took extraordinary risks” to guarantee equal access to the polls, Holder said. The nation has made tremendous progress, he added, but “this fight must go on.”

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Tribal leaders welcome Holder’s voting access plan

Tuesday, 10 June 2014 15:28 by RACHEL D’ORO, Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday his office will consult with tribes across the country to develop ways to increase voting access for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Holder said the goal is to require state and local election officials to place at least one polling site in a location chosen by tribal governments in parts of the nation that include tribal lands. Barriers to voting, he said, include English-only ballots and inaccessible polling places.

In Alaska, for example, the village of Kasigluk is separated into two parts by a river with no bridge. On election day, people on one side have just a few hours to vote before a ballot machine is taken by boat to the other side. Several other Alaska villages have been designated as permanent absentee voting areas, which is something allowed by regulation, according to Gail Fenumiai, director of the state Division of Elections.

In Montana, a voting rights lawsuit is pending from tribal members on the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations. They want county officials to set up satellite voting offices to make up for the long distances they must travel to reach courthouses for early voting or late registration.

“These conditions are not only unacceptable, they’re outrageous,” Holder said. “As a nation, we cannot — and we will not — simply stand by as the voices of Native Americans are shut out of the democratic process.”

After consulting with tribal leaders, his office will seek to work with Congress on a potential legislative proposal, Holder said.

For more: http://www.nativetimes.com/index.php/news/politics/10019-tribal-leaders-welcome-holder-s-voting-access-plan


The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C.§§19731973aa-6) is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.

Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”Specifically Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African-Americans from exercising the franchise. The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, who had earlier signed the landmark; Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_Rights_Act

History of Federal Voting Rights Laws

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“The 1965 Voting Rights Act, one of the most historic and groundbreaking pieces of legislation in our nation’s history. For those who marched bravely; who worked tirelessly; who shed their blood and gave their lives in the pursuit of freedom for every American, the Act served as the culmination of decades of work to fulfill America’s promise. And for the members of the Moses Generation – including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, who stood alongside President Johnson when he signed the bill into law – it was an affirmation that although the arc of the moral universe may be long, it bends toward justice.

The Voting Rights Act guaranteed African Americans the right to vote at a time when thousands were being disenfranchised across the country. It extended the protection of our Constitution to every citizen regardless of race or religion; color or creed. And in the 45 years since it was passed, the Act has been reaffirmed four times – each one a reminder that we must remain vigilant in guaranteeing access to the ballot box.

As we pause to reflect on the anniversary of that historic moment, I encourage every American to honor the legacy of the brave men and women who came before us – from the foot soldiers to the Freedom Riders – by exercising the rights they fought so hard to guarantee. And together let us recommit ourselves, in ways large and small, to continuing their journey to promote equality and perfect our union.”‘

President Barack Obama – August 06, 2010

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US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1863-1963 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)

US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1964-2009 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)


Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014

08/05/2014
President Barack Obama shakes hands and thanks Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

President Barack Obama shakes hands and thanks Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230) is a bill that is intended to address the ongoing Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014. The bill would expand the number of options veterans have for receiving care and grant the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs more power to fire senior executives. The Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014 began with the discovery that there was on-going systematic lying by the Veterans Health Administration about the wait times veterans experienced waiting to be seen by doctors. By June 5, 2014, Veterans Affairs internal investigations had identified a total of 35 veterans who had died while waiting for care in the Phoenix VHA system. Another audit determined that “more than 57,000 veterans waited at least 90 days to see a doctor, while another 63,000 over the last decade never received an initial appointment.”

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans%27_Access_to_Care_through_Choice,_Accountability,_and_Transparency_Act_of_2014

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CONGRESS PASSES EMERGENCY VA FUNDING BILL

EIGHT MEMBERS VOTE AGAINST VETERANS

August 01, 2014

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is relieved that Congress finally did what they were elected to do and passed an emergency funding bill at the last minute to help the Department of Veterans Affairs overcome a nationwide crisis in care and confidence. The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, by a vote of 420-5, and on Thursday, the Senate did likewise, by a vote of 91-3. The bill now heads to the president for his signature.

“This legislation will help new VA Secretary Robert McDonald to fix what’s broken, hold people accountable, and restore the faith that veterans must have in their VA,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, of Hawthorne, Nev. “The VFW salutes House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Senate VA Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), their staffs and supporters for making this happen.”

The $15 billion emergency funding bill expands access to non-VA health care facilities for veterans experiencing excessive appointment waiting times, or who reside 40 miles or more away from a VA medical facility; hires more doctors, nurses and other health care practitioners; adds 27 new or expanded VA outpatient clinics; enhances care for victims of Military Sexual Trauma and those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries; and provides instate tuition rates for all Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients, regardless of residency requirements. The legislation also gives the VA secretary far more latitude in firing senior executives who fail in their primary mission of taking care of America’s veterans.

“Holding people appropriately accountable is critical to mission accomplishment in both the public and private sector, which is why that same rule must also apply to the three senators and five congressmen who voted against H.R. 3230,” said Stroud.

Voting against the legislation were Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), and Steve Stockman (R-Texas). The hypocrisy of their “no” votes, according to the VFW national commander, is virtually all of them voted for hundreds of billions in supplemental war funding with little concern about corresponding offsets or oversight about how or where the money would be spent; and one was even the governor of a state that experienced tremendous active, Guard and Reserve deployments, as well as combat casualties.

For more: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2014-Articles/CONGRESS-PASSES-EMERGENCY-VA-FUNDING-BILL/

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Thursday, August 7, 2014
President Obama signs
H.R. 3230 – Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014
Fort Belvoir, VA

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US – Africa Leaders Summit

08/03/2014

US - Africa Leaders Summit

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit constitutes the largest single engagement by any U.S. President with Africa. The theme of the Summit is “Investing in the Next Generation.” Focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government’s responsibility and work, and this Summit is an opportunity to discuss ways of stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation. Focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government’s responsibility and work, and is an opportunity to discuss ways of stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation. The Summit will focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlight America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people. At the same time, it will highlight the depth and breadth of the United States’ commitment to the African continent, advance our shared priorities and enable discussion of concrete ideas to deepen the partnership. At its core, this Summit is about fostering stronger ties between the United States and Africa.

The Summit will include approximately 50 African heads of state and government as well as the Chairperson of the African Union, a range of U.S. and African civil society and business leaders, young African leaders, and Members of Congress. The presence of so many African leaders in the nation’s capital provides an historic opportunity to further strengthen ties with our African partners and highlight America’s longstanding commitment to investing in Africa’s development and its people.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/us-africa-leaders-summit

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AUGUST 1

Signature Events
The Summit will include six U.S. Government-sponsored “Signature Events,” allowing for in-depth conversations on some of the most pressing issues facing the U.S.-Africa partnership. These sessions will set the stage for the high-level discussions that President Obama will chair during the subsequent Summit leader meetings.

  • Faith Works: Honoring the Contributions of the Faith Community to Peace and Prosperity in Africa – Ronald Reagan Building

 

AUGUST 4

    • Civil Society Forum – National Academy of Sciences
    • African Growth And Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum – The World Bank
    • Power Africa Event, Co-Hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa – Grand Hyatt Hotel
    • Investing in Women, Peace, and Prosperity Working Luncheon – National Academy of Sciences
    • Investing in Health: Investing in Africa’s Future – National Academy of Sciences
    • Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate – National Academy of Sciences
    • Combating Wildlife Trafficking – National Academy of Sciences
  • Congressional Reception for African Leaders – Capitol Hill

 

AUGUST 5

  • U.S.-Africa Business Forum Hosted by U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies the forum focuses on strengthening trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa  – Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.
    • Expanding Opportunities: The New Era for Business in Africa –  Mandarin Oriental Hotel
    • Remarks by Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini- Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union –  Mandarin Oriental Hotel
    • Open Markets: Financing the Africa of Tomorrow –  Mandarin Oriental Hotel
    • Powering Africa: Leading Developments in Infrastructure –  Mandarin Oriental Hotel
    • Game Plan: Shaping the Future of a Fast-Growing Continent –  Mandarin Oriental Hotel
    • President Barack Obama delivers the closing remarks at the U.S. – Africa Business Forum  – Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.
  • White House Dinner on the Occasion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit – The White House
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AUGUST 6

Summit Leader Meetings

U.S. Africa Leaders Summit

U.S. Africa Leaders Summit Schedule
FACT SHEET: U.S.–African Cooperation on Global Health
FACT SHEET: U.S.-African Cooperation in Advancing Gender Equality
FACT SHEET: Shared Investment in Youth
FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Democratic Institutions, Good Governance, and Human Rights in Africa
FACT SHEET: Investing in African Trade for our Common Future
FACT SHEET: The Doing Business in Africa Campaign
Presidential Memorandum — Establishing a Comprehensive Approach to Expanding Sub-Saharan Africa’s Capacity for Trade and Investment
Executive Order –Establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa
FACT SHEET: Powering Africa: Increasing Access to Power in Sub-Saharan Africa
FACT SHEET: U.S. Engagement on Climate Change and Resilience in Africa
FACT SHEET: U.S.-African Cooperation on Food Security
FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Peacekeeping in Africa
FACT SHEET: Security Governance Initiative
FACT SHEET: Partnering to Counter Terrorism in Africa

Follow the Summit on Twitter using the hashtag#AfricaSummit

U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
Washington, D.C.
August 4, 2014

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World War I – 100th Anniversary

08/01/2014

Map Europe alliances 1914

 

World War I , also known as the First World War, was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than 9 million combatants were killed, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents’ technological and industrial sophistication, and tactical stalemate. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.

The war drew in all the world’s economic great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United KingdomFrance and the Russian Empire) and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Although Italy had also been a member of the Triple Alliancealongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgariathe Central Powers. Ultimately, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history.

Although a resurgence of imperialism was an underlying cause, the immediate trigger for war was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, and international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ww1

WWI - 100th Anniv logo

The First World War (1914-1918) had a profound impact on the history of Belgium and of the whole world. “More than any other modern war, ’14-’18 lives in the memory as the ultimate example of a mismatch between what was at stake and the price that was paid. It is the war of the ‘lost generation’, sacrificed for a cause which, in hindsight, is difficult to pinpoint.” (Sophie De Schaepdrijver). Although the last human witnesses are no longer with us, the First World War remains etched in the collective memory of our nation. Belgium played an important role in the conflict, not least through the courageous resistance shown by our soldiers during the German invasion. ‘Poor little Belgium’ earned the admiration of the world.

It is only fitting, therefore, that Belgium will play a central part in the centenary commemorations. These will include a number of national commemorative ceremonies with international scope. In addition, Belgium’s various levels of government will oversee a range of cultural, artistic, historical and scientific initiatives throughout the period 2014-2018.

 

NATIONAL CEREMONIES

Three commemorative ceremonies with international scope

In an effort to accurately reflect historical reality, to highlight the important role played by Belgium in the conflict, to honour both the military and civilian victims and to include a citizen focus in the commemorations, the federal government has chosen three highly symbolic locations, each reflecting different aspects of the war: Liège, Ypres (Ieper) and Brussels.

Commemorative Ceremonies

04/08/2014 – Liège
Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Belgium’s invasion by Germany and the violation of Belgian neutrality. Theme: resistance to invasion.

28/10/2014 – Ypres (Ieper) and Nieuwpoort
Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Ypres. Theme: refusal to surrender and the flooding of the Yser plain. The Soldier King (Albert I) will be honoured.

11/11/2018 – Brussels
Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice. Theme: the end of war, the return to peace and reconstruction.

The federal authorities will take part in commemorative ceremonies at the following sites

In addition to these ceremonies, the federal government will also take part in four large commemorative events with international scope, linked to key moments in the First World War:

04/08/2014 – Mons
The United Kingdom’s entry into the war in response to the violation of Belgian neutrality. The British government has decided to commemorate this event on 4 August 2014 with ceremonies in the UK and in Mons (late afternoon), at the site where the first British soldier fell.

01/01/2015 to 31/12/2016 – Brussels-Capital Region
Between 2015 and 2016, events in the Brussels-Capital Region will focus on daily life during the occupation, acts of resistance and the role played by King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth.

22/04/2015 to 28/05/2015 – Ypres (Ieper)
The Second Battle of Ypres and the first gas attacks will be remembered between 22 April and 28 May 2015.

31/07/2017 to 06/11/2017 – Passchendaele
The Battle of Passchendaele, in which 500,000 people died, will be commemorated between 31 July and 6 November 2017. This remains a highly symbolic date in the Commonwealth countries.

For more: http://www.be14-18.be/en

John McCrae's Memorial

John McCrae‘s Memorial

WW1 100th Annv banner

July 28, 2014

President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to the Kingdom of Belgium to Attend the World War I Centennial Commemoration

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the Kingdom of Belgium to attend the World War I Centennial Commemoration in Liege on August 4, 2014.

The Honorable John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Denise Campbell Bauer, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, U.S. Department of State

General Philip M. Breedlove, Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Major General Alfred A. Valenzuela, USA (Ret), Member, World War I Centennial Commission

 

3/26/14 Remarks by President Obama, His Majesty King Philippe, and Prime Minister di Rupo of Belgium at Flanders Field Cemetery

US Department of Defense – World War I , 100th Anniversary


STOP Angery Tantrums. START Passing Laws to Help Middleclass

07/29/2014

GOP_Elephant_NO_cartoon

Obama to GOP: Stop hating

7/30/14 By KENDALL BREITMAN – POLITICO

President Barack Obama had some blistering words for congressional Republicans during a speech Wednesday in Kansas City, saying they need to stop “hating all the time.” “We could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit,” Obama said. “Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time. Lets get some work done together.”

The president’s speech comes on the day that the House is set to vote on whether they will be moving forward in a lawsuit against Obama.

“Now everybody knows this is a political stunt,” Obama said of the lawsuit, “but it’s worse than that because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to help you. And by the way, you know who is paying for this suit they are going to file? You!” “The main vote that they scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job,” Obama told the laughing audience. “So, you know, they’re mad because I’m doing my job. And by the way, I’ve told them, I said ‘I’d be happy to do with with you. So the only reason I’m doing it on my own is because you don’t do anything.’”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/obama-gop-stop-hating-109543.html?hp=l3 .

Update: “House Republicans Just Voted to Sue President Obama”

Ezra Mechaber July 30, 2014 07:02 PM EDT

The House of Representatives just took a vote — and it wasn’t to raise the minimum wage, put in place equal pay, create jobs, or reform our broken immigration system.

Instead, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives just voted to sue the President for using his executive authority. This lawsuit will waste valuable time and potentially millions of taxpayer dollars.

This is the least productive Congress in decades. And instead of doing their job, they are suing the President for doing his.

The President is committed to making a difference for the millions of hardworking Americans trying to do right by their families and communities. While Republicans in Congress continue to waste taxpayer money, this President is going to keep doing his job. President Obama remains ready and willing to work with Republicans in Congress if they decide to get serious and do something for the American people. But he is also committed to acting even as Congress won’t. You’ve seen that time and time again this year — from raising the federal minimum wage on new federal government contracts, to expanding apprenticeship opportunities and making student loan payments more affordable.

The President is not going to back away from his efforts to use his authority to solve problems and help American families. In fact, the day after the vote, President Obama will announce his next executive action to crack down on federal contractors who put workers’ safety and hard-earned pay at risk. It’s just the next in a series of steps this Administration will be taking this year to make sure that American workers are getting a fair deal, and he has pledged to take executive action to deal with our broken immigration system in the months ahead.

For more:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/07/30/dan-pfeiffer-house-republicans-just-voted-sue-president-obama

..

This Congress poised to be least productive in history

Yahoo Finance

This session of Congress, the 113th, is currently the least productive Congress ever. With only 125 public laws enacted since it began nearly two years ago and an August recess coming up leading straight into midterm elections, it seems like the record for least done is all but won.

“Even by [congress’] terrible standards, they’re going to underwhelm,” says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and chief economic policy advisor to U.S. Senator John McCain.

“Our nation has many deep needs for permanent reforms, whether they’re immigration, or education, or entitlements taxes. You look around and there’s big legislation that’s really necessary. Congress is doing none of that,” says Holtz-Eakin, now president of American Action Forum. “They can’t even get the little things done like … the annual spending bills.”

So will this Congress be able to get anything done before the next one starts? Holtz-Eakin has little hope for any big initiatives but he does think there will be some tax extenders, and possibly reauthorization of terrorism risk insurance and the Export-Import Bank.

President Obama has publicly lambasted the 113th Congress saying, “This has become the least productive Congress in modern history, recent memory. And that’s by objective measures – just basic activity.”

Of course quality comes before quantity, and a Congress that passed a few very important bills could be more noteworthy than a Congress that passed a large number of smaller bills. The 113th Congress, however, hasn’t been able to do that either, says Holtz-Eakin. “They’re not going to get anything major done … get ready for the 114th Congress and see you in January.”

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3 big issues Congress will likely punt for now

July 29, 2014 By REBECCA KAPLAN – CBS NEWS

Congress is getting ready to leave Washington for a five-week summer recess and, despite progress on reforming the VA and a short-term fix to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from running dry, there are a host of difficult issues that will be left hanging until they return.

The biggest items lawmakers are punting to the fall include the crisis of child migrants flooding across the southern border, a host of foreign policy crises, and a long-term fix to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

Part of the problem is the looming midterm elections, where, according to a CBS News/New York Times analysis, Republicans are narrowly projected to capture the Senate in November.

“The kind of Republican mindset right now is, ‘we’re on a roll heading into this election: don’t give Barack Obama any signing ceremonies’ and so the incentives to cut deals across House and Senate are very limited,” American Enterprise Institute congressional scholar Norm Ornstein told CBS News. “

At the same time we have [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid looking very hard to get as many confirmations through as he can. Each one is being filibustered, and that means even thought he has the votes for them it soaks up a lot of floor time.”

For more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/3-big-issues-congress-will-likely-punt-for-now/  .

GOP_Elephant_WRONG_WAY_smallWHAT GOP CONGRESS HAS DONE in 2014 FOR 99% OF  AMERICANS

 

. 2014 Year of Action

President Obama is Taking Action

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama affirmed that this would be “A Year of Action” to help ensure opportunity for all Americans.

Since January, the President has taken more than 20 actions on his own to help build real, lasting economic security for the middle class and expand opportunities for every hardworking American to get ahead.

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President Obama speaks on expanding opportunity for more Americans

Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri Jul 30, 2014

“Let’s really fight to make sure that everybody gets a chance and, by the way, that everybody plays by the same rules. (Applause.) We could do so much more if we got that kind of economic patriotism that says we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. And that’s what Victor believes.

When Victor wrote me his letter, he said, “I believe, regardless of political party, we can all do something to help our citizens to have a chance at a job, have food in their stomachs, have access to great education and health care.” That’s what economic patriotism is. (Applause.) That’s what we should all be working on.

Instead of tax breaks for folks who don’t need them, let’s give tax breaks to working families to help them pay for child care and college. Don’t reward companies shipping jobs overseas; let’s give tax breaks to companies investing right here in Missouri, right here in the Midwest. (Applause.) Let’s give every citizen access to preschool and college and affordable health care. And let’s make sure women get a fair wage. (Applause.) Let’s make sure anybody who is working full-time isn’t living in poverty. (Applause.) These are not un-American ideas; these are patriotic ideas. This is how we built America. (Applause.)

So just remember this: The hardest thing to do is to bring about real change. It’s hard. You’ve got a stubborn status quo. And folks in Washington, sometimes they’re focused on everything but your concerns. And there are special interests and there are lobbyists, and they’re paid to maintain the status quo that’s working for somebody. And they’re counting on you getting cynical, so you don’t vote and you don’t get involved, and people just say, you know what, none of this is going to make a difference. And the more you do that, then the more power the special interests have, and the more entrenched the status quo becomes.

You can’t afford to be cynical. Cynicism is fashionable sometimes. You see it all over our culture, all over TV; everybody likes just putting stuff down and being cynical and being negative, and that shows somehow that you’re sophisticated and you’re cool. You know what — cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism didn’t win women the right to vote. Cynicism did not get a Civil Rights Act signed. Cynicism has never won a war. Cynicism has never cured a disease. Cynicism has never started a business. Cynicism has never fed a young mind. (Applause.)

I do not believe in a cynical America; I believe in an optimistic America that is making progress. (Applause.) And I believe despite unyielding opposition, there are workers right now who have jobs who didn’t have them before because of what we’ve done; and folks who got health care who didn’t have it because of the work that we’ve done; and students who are going to college who couldn’t afford it before; and troops who’ve come home after tour after tour of duty because of what we’ve done. (Applause.)

You don’t have time to be cynical. Hope is a better choice. (Applause.) That’s what I need you for.”

 

 

. Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to TELL THEM TO START WORKING WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA TO HELP AMERICA’S RECOVERY!!

U.S. Senators

U.S. Representatives

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