Sen. Harry Reid’s Constitutional Amendment Bill to Limit Money in Politics

09/07/2014

Citizens United

Reid schedules vote in September on amending the Constitution

August 01, 2014, 03:12 pm By Ramsey Cox – TheHIll

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set up a procedural vote for September on a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics.

Before adjourning for a five-week recess on Friday, Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 19, which is designed to overturn two recent Supreme Court decisions that allowed corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals to spend more money on federal elections.

The procedural vote on the constitutional amendment is set for 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 8.

The amendment is certain to fail in the Senate because Republicans generally support the high court’s decisions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC, arguing they removed limits on free speech.

“This partisan effort to weaken the First Amendment is the clearest proof yet of how out of touch the Democrat Majority has become from the needs and concerns of ordinary Americans and how ill-equipped they are to lead in these challenging times,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday. “Washington Democrats have forgotten that the First Amendment is meant to empower the people, not the government.”

The 2010 Citizens United ruling struck down restrictions that had barred corporations and unions from spending money from their general treasury funds to support or oppose candidates. In McCutcheon, the court struck aggregate limits on individual contributions to candidates.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/214089-reid-sets-up-vote-to-reverse-citizens-united-decision
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Senate moves forward with amendment to the Constitution on elections

9/8/14 By Ramsey Cox – theHill

The Senate on Monday advanced a constitutional amendment meant to reverse two recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign spending.

Republicans are likely to vote against the amendment when it comes up for a final vote, but by allowing it to proceed, ensured that it will tie up the Senate for most of the week.

More than 20 Republicans joined Democrats in the 79-18 vote advancing the amendment, well over the 60 votes that were needed.

The amendment is almost certain to fail, as it would need to win two-thirds support to pass the Senate, and then would still need to move through the House and be ratified by two-thirds of the states.

“We should have debate on this important amendment,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said before voting for cloture. “The majority should be made to answer why they want to silence critics.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would gladly debate the issue for as long as Republicans require because the amendment is necessary to keep “dark money” out of politics.

For more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/217025-senate-advances-constitutional-amendment-on-campaign-spending
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Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission558 U.S. 50 (2010)

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. The nonprofit corporation Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act or “BCRA”). In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that portions of BCRA §203 violated the First Amendment.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission

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July 16, 2012

Statement by President Obama on the DISCLOSE Act

Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that big corporations are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence American elections. They can buy millions of dollars’ worth of TV ads with no obligation to reveal who’s actually paying for them.

The consequences of this decision are predictable. If we allow this practice to continue, special interests will have unprecedented influence over politicians. It’s wrong. It’s corrosive to our democracy, and it’s a threat to our future.

Today, Republicans in the Senate had the chance to change it. They had the opportunity to support a bill that would prevent the worst effects of the Citizens United decision and require groups or special interests who are trying to influence elections to reveal their donors so the public will know who’s funding their political ads. This bill should have received broad, bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, Republicans chose to block it. Instead of standing up for the American people, Republicans stood with big banks and oil companies – special interests that certainly don’t need more clout in Washington.

I will continue to do everything I can to repair the deficit of trust between Washington and the American people. I’m disappointed Republicans in Congress failed to take action and hold corporations and special interests accountable to the American people.

BILL MOYERS: Here’s a significant revelation of which you may not be aware. The plutocrats know it and love it, and the rest of us should be forewarned. When the Supreme Court made its infamous Citizens United decision, liberating plutocrats to buy our elections fair and square, the justices may have effectively overturned rules that kept bosses from ordering employees to do political work on company time. Election law expert Trevor Potter told us that now “corporations argue that it is a constitutionally protected use of corporate ‘resources’ to order employees to do political work or attend campaign events—even if the employee opposes the candidate, or is threatened with being fired for failure to do what the corporation asks.”

Reporter Mike Elk at In These Times magazine came across a recording of Governor Mitt Romney on a conference call in June with some business executives. The Governor told them there is quote, “nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.”

And here’s Governor Romney two months later, campaigning at an Ohio coal mine:

MITT ROMNEY: This is a time for truth. I listened to an ad on the way here. I’ll tell you, you got a great boss. He runs a great operation here. And he—Bob? Where are you Bob? There he is.

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Bill Moyers on Citizen’s United Decision

“Look at all those miners around him, steadfastly standing in support, right? They work for a company called Murray Energy and attendance at the rally, without pay, was mandatory. Murray Energy is notorious for violating safety regulations, sometimes resulting in injuries and deaths. And the company has paid millions in fines. The CEO, Bob Murray, a well-known climate change denier and cutthroat businessman, insists that his employees contribute to his favorite anti-regulatory candidates, or else. In one letter uncovered by “The New Republic” magazine, Murray wrote quote, “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts.” So much for voting rights and the secret ballot at Murray Energy.

Mike Elk discovered that the Koch Brothers, David and Charles – who have pledged to spend $60 million defeating President Obama – have sent a “voter information packet” to the employees of Georgia Pacific, one of their subsidiaries. It includes a list of recommended candidates, pro-Romney and anti-Obama editorials written by the Koch’s and a cover letter from the company president. If we elect the wrong people, Dave Robertson writes, “Many of our more than 50,000 US employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.” Other ills? Like losing your job?

This is snowballing. Timeshare king David Siegel of Westgate Resorts reportedly has threatened to fire employees if Barack Obama is re-elected and Arthur Allen, who runs ASG Software Solutions, e-mailed his employees, “If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.”

Back in the first Gilded Age, in the 19th century, bosses and company towns lined up their workers and marched them to vote as a block. As we said at the beginning of this broadcast, the Gilded Age is back with a vengeance. Welcome to the plutocracy. The remains of the ol’ USA.”

Source: http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-plutocracy-rising/

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HEADLINES OF GOP Blocking the DISCLOSE ACT

* Senate GOP block campaign spending disclosure bill [AP,7/16/12]

Senate Republicans blocked Democratic-backed legislation requiring organizations pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign ads to disclose their top donors and the amounts they spend. GOP opposition prevented Democrats from getting the 60 votes needed to bring what is known as the Disclose Act to the Senate floor. The vote was 51-44. Democrats revived the act during a presidential election campaign in which political action committees and nonprofit organizations, funded by deep-pocketed and largely anonymous contributors, are dominating the airwaves with largely negative political ads.

* Senate Republicans block campaign disclosure bill [Reuters,7/16/12]

* Senate Republicans Block Campaign Donor Disclosure Bill [Bloomberg, 7/17/12]

* The Power of Anonymity [NY Times, 7/17/12]

* Senate Democrats Plan ‘Midnight Vigil’ on Campaign Finance Bill [WSJ, 7/16/12]

* Expose the fat cats [Washington Post,7/16/12]

* GOP Kills DISCLOSE Act and Leaves Voters in the Dark [Daily Beast,7/17/12]

* DISCLOSE Campaign Spending Act Blocked By Senate Republicans [Huffington Post, 7/17/12]

* Dems hold ‘midnight vigil’ to protest defeat of DISCLOSE bill – [The Hill, 7/16/12]

*  GOP Unanimously Votes to Block DISCLOSE Act [National Journal, 7/16/12]

* Republicans block bill on transparency [Washington Times, 7/17/12]

* Senate Dems Plan ‘Midnight Vigil’ For Campaign Finance Bill [BuzzFeed, 7/16/12]

* GOP blocks political-ad disclosure bill [Boston Globe,7/16/12]

* GOP Senators block Disclose Act political donation transparency [The Examiner, 7/17/12]

* GOP Senators block Disclose Act political donation transparency [Reid.senate.gov, 9/11/14]

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Sorry but ProPresObama thread comments &
WH daily schedule not available 9/5/14 – 9/14/14


Little Rock Nine – 57th Anniversary

09/03/2014

 Photograph shows a group of people, one holding a Confederate flag, surrounding speakers and National Guard, protesting the admission of the "Little Rock Nine" to Central High School. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA - Photo Credit: John T. Bledsoe


Photograph shows a group of people, one holding a Confederate flag, surrounding speakers and National Guard, protesting the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA – Photo Credit: John T. Bledsoe

Little Rock Nine were a group of African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of TopekaKansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. The decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas, the Little Rock School Board agreed to comply with the high court’s ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957. By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. The nicknamed “Little Rock Nine” consisted of Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas(1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.

The Blossom Plan

One of the plans created during attempts to desegregate the schools of Little Rock was by school superintendent Virgil Blossom. The initial approach proposed substantial integration beginning quickly and extending to all grades within a matter of many years. This original proposal was scrapped and replaced with one that more closely met a set of minimum standards worked out in attorney Richard B. McCulloch’s brief. This finalized plan would start in September 1957 and would integrate one high school, Little Rock Central. The second phase of the plan would take place in 1960 and would open up a few junior high schools to a few black children. The final stage would involve limited desegregation of the city’s grade schools at an unspecified time, possibly as late as 1963.

This plan was met with varied reactions from the NAACP branch of Little Rock. Militant members like the Bateses opposed the plan on the grounds that it was “vague, indefinite, slow-moving and indicative of an intent to stall further on public integration.” Despite this view, the majority, most feeling that Blossom and the school board should have the chance to prove themselves, that the plan was reasonable, and that the white community would accept it, accepted the plan.

This view was short lived, however. Changes were made to the plan, the most detrimental being a new transfer system that would allow students to move out of the attendance zone to which they were assigned. The unaltered Blossom Plan had gerrymandered school districts to guarantee a black majority at Horace Mann High and a white majority at Hall High. This meant that, even though black students lived closer to Central, they would be placed in Horace Mann thus confirming the intention of the school board to limit the impact of desegregation. The altered plan gave white students the choice of not attending Horace Mann, but didn’t give black students the option of attending Hall. This new Blossom Plan did not sit well with the NAACP and after failed negotiations with the school board; the NAACP filed a lawsuit on February 8, 1956.

This lawsuit, along with a number of other factors contributed to the Little Rock School Crisis of 1957.

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

.Little Rock Nine

Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine

 

The Wilderness Act of 1964 – 50th Anniversary

09/01/2014

lbj-signs-wilderness-act
The Wilderness Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–577) was written by Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society. It created the legal definition of wilderness in the United States, and protected 9.1 million acres (36,000 km²) of federal land. The result of a long effort to protect federal wilderness and to create a formal mechanism for designating wilderness, the Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964 after over sixty drafts and eight years of work. When Johnson signed the act, he made the following statement: “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

The Wilderness Act is well known for its succinct and poetic definition of wilderness:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

When Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964, it created the National Wilderness Preservation System. The initial statutory wilderness areas, designated in the Act, comprised 9.1 million acres (37,000 km²) of national forest wilderness areas in the United States of America previously protected by administrative orders.

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

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U.S. Forest Service to Mark 50th Anniversary of Wilderness Act

January 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM Posted by Tiffany Holloway, Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service

Editor’s Note: Throughout the year, we will highlight Forest Service wilderness areas in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

It’s pretty amazing that you can be in the busy college town of Carbondale, Ill., one minute, then roughly an hour’s ride away be at the gateway to one of our wilderness areas.

This year is the golden anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed on Sept. 3, 1964, by President Lyndon Johnson. The act established the country’s National Wilderness Preservation System. So, on Sept. 3, 2014, lovers of wildlands will celebrate the landmark event that made history.

Today, America boasts 758 wilderness areas covering almost 110 million acres. The Forest Service alone manages 440 wilderness areas. They make up a third of the entire National Forest System.

“This anniversary year provides a wonderful opportunity for us to re-affirm our commitment to wilderness stewardship and to engage the public, particularly youth, in opportunities for a better understanding and appreciation of wilderness benefits — clean air and water, natural settings, critical plant and wildlife habitat, solitude, recreation, spiritual renewal, and economic benefits,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

For more:   http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/01/16/u-s-forest-service-to-mark-50th-anniversary-of-wilderness-act/

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“Fifty years ago, a forward-thinking Nation came together, a President put pen to paper, and a great society secured an enduring gift for future generations. Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964, the Wilderness Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act began a new era of American conservation. Together, they set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of Federal land for the use and enjoyment of the American people and recognized our obligation to preserve a piece of our original and unspoiled splendor for posterity. For the first time, our Nation defined vast stretches of our continent as wilderness and codified the simple premise that when we take something from the earth, we have a responsibility to give something back. On the anniversary of this environmental milestone, we reflect on our rich tradition of stewardship, which has preserved the wild and scenic places we enjoy today, and renew our commitment to advancing our country’s legacy of conservation in our own time.

Our Nation’s wilderness shaped the growth of our country and the character and spirit of our people. Early pioneers explored its expanse as they pushed westward, and its natural bounty sustained settlers who found new land and new opportunities for prosperity. Today our vast wilderness — which has grown to more than 109 million protected acres — provides laboratories for our researchers and classrooms for our students pursuing new frontiers of science, medicine, and technology. This land is the habitat for our Nation’s diverse flora and fauna and refuge for Americans of all ages. And it supports recreation and tourism that strengthen our economy.

My Administration continues to pursue a conservation agenda for the 21st century. During my first year as President, I designated over 2 million acres of wilderness and more than 1,000 miles of rivers. And earlier this year, I established the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, marking the eleventh time I have used my Executive authority to protect our pristine landscapes and historic and cultural heritage.”

8/29/14 President Obama 

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50th Anniversary of Wilderness Act Commemoration Events

Let’s Move! – Outside 

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Pres Obama Travels to Estonia and NATO Summit in Wales

09/01/2014

USA Estonia flags

Obama Estonia

President Obama will visit the Republic of Estonia in early September to further enhance the strong relations between the two countries, and to affirm America’s commitment to our Baltic allies. In Tallinn, he will meet with President Ilves, as well as Prime Minister Roivas, to discuss bilateral ties, strategic and regional cooperation, and our shared commitment to the trans-Atlantic partnership.

The President will also meet with the three Baltic presidents — President Ilves, President Berzins of Latvia, and President Grybauskaite of Lithuania — to discuss ongoing cooperation on regional security and policies that support economic growth, and to discuss collective defense. In light of recent developments in Ukraine, the United States has taken steps to reassure allies in Central and Eastern Europe, and this trip is a chance to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to Article V as the foundation of NATO.

After visiting Estonia, President Obama will proceed to Wales to participate in the Summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

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Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden On the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of The Baltic WayAugust 22, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, we congratulate the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 25th anniversary of The Baltic Way.  Today, we remember that as many as two million people joined hands on August 23, 1989 to form a human chain spanning nearly 400 miles from Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius.  This impressive, peaceful demonstration of courageous people—men and women, young and old—was organized as a rebuke to the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which led to the occupation of the region by the Soviet Union. The United States never recognized the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which lasted from World War II until restoration of independence in 1991.

The Baltic Way was a remarkable moment in history that illustrated the desire for freedom and democracy and set the stage for the fall of the Berlin Wall just two months later.  The Berlin Wall divided people, but the Baltic Way united them and inspired hope for a new era.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/08/22/statement-nsc-spokesperson-caitlin-hayden-occasion-25th-anniversary-balt

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Anniversary of the Baltic chain marked in Ukraine

Published on Aug 24, 2014

Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians gathered in Kyiv’s European Square on Saturday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Baltic Way protest against Soviet rule.

 

Baltic Way

NATO Wales Summit 1014

9/4/14 NATO Summit group photo Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

9/4/14 NATO Summit group photo Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

NATO Summit Wales 2014

On September 4 to 5, 2014, Wales will host the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain as the UK hosts the NATO summit. President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, and President Hollande are expected to attend along with leaders and senior ministers from around 60 other countries.The summit comes as NATO draws down from its longest ever mission in Afghanistan and against a backdrop of instability in Ukraine. It is an opportunity to ensure that NATO continues to be at the forefront of building stability in an unpredictable world.

For more: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/nato-summit-wales-cymru-2014

NATO Summit Agenda

NATO Summit Wales 2014

Summit Schedule
Summit Livestream
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President Obama’s Travel Itinerary

Tuesday, September 2

President Obama travels to the Republic of Estonia to further enhance the strong relations between the two countries, and to affirm America’s commitment to our Baltic allies.

Wednesday, September 3

President Obama arrives in Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama meets with employees and family members of the United States Embassy to Estonia
Swissotel Tallinn, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama is greeted by Estonian President Ilves in an official arrival ceremony
Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama and  Estonian President Ilves hold a bilateral meeting
Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama and Estonian President Ilves hold a joint press conference
Bank of Estonia, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama meets with Prime Minister Roivas to discuss bilateral ties, strategic and regional cooperation, and our shared commitment to the trans-Atlantic partnership
Stenbok House, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama meets with Estonian President Ilves, Latvian President Berzins and Lithuania President Grybauskaite to discuss ongoing cooperation on regional security and policies that support economic growth, and to discuss collective defense
Kadriorg Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama delivers remarks to students, young professionals, and civil society and political leaders
Nordea Concert Hall, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama and Estonian Prime Minister Roivas  deliver remarks to U.S. and Estonian troops
Tallinn Airport Hangar, Tallinn, Estonia

President Obama departs Tallinn, Estonia enroute to Newport, Wales

President Obama arrives in Newport, Wales

President Obama overnights in Newport, Wales

Thursday, September 4

President visits Mount Pleasant Primary School with United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron
Newport, Wales

President Obama joins a meeting on Ukraine
Celtic Manor, Newport, Wales

President Obama participates in the official family photo with leaders attending the NATO Summit
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

President visits Mount Pleasant Primary School with United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron
Newport, Wales

President Obama participates in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit first session on Afghanistan
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

President Obama participates in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

President Obama attends a reception hosted by Prince Charles of Wales
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

President Obama participates in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit working dinner
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

President Obama overnights in Wales
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales

Friday,  September 5

President Obama participates in  a fly-over ceremony
Newport, Wales

President Obama participates in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit working session on the Future NATO
Newport, Wales

President Obama participates in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit working session on the Transatlantic Bond
Newport, Wales

President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Celtic Manor, Newport, Wales

President Obama holds a press conference
Newport, Wales

President Obama departs Newport, Wales to return to the White House

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Labor Day 2014

08/29/2014

Rosie Riveter - Labor Day

WE Americans are the only ones who can grow our economy.

Double the value of your dollar and help grow the economy when you buy the Made In The USA label.

Outsourcing Message from AllAmericanClothing.com


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Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

Source: http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm

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Betting on America - PBO quote_ medObama_backs_American_workers_med

As we seek to strengthen our economy and our middle class, we must secure a better bargain for all — one where everyone who works hard in America has a chance to get ahead. I am committed to boosting economic mobility by empowering our workers and making sure an honest day’s work is rewarded with an honest day’s pay. My Administration is fighting for a fair minimum wage for every employee because nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. We must also eliminate pay discrimination so women receive equal pay for equal work, combat unfair labor practices, and continue to defend the collective bargaining rights our parents and grandparents fought so hard for.

 

As we celebrate Labor Day, we reflect on the efforts of those who came before us to increase opportunity, expand the middle class, and build security for our families, and we rededicate ourselves to moving forward with this work in our time. We stand united behind our great American workforce as we lay the path for economic growth and prosperity.

President Barack Obama 8/31/14

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Monday, September 1, 2014
President Obama delivers remarks at the Wisconsin’s 55th Laborfest
Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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FDA Gains Access Database of Chemicals in Foods

08/27/2014

Chemicals in Food

 

Big Food to divulge chemical info

Food companies are trying to beat the federal government’s push to make chemicals in food more transparent.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents America’s biggest food companies, is set to announce a major new initiative Wednesday that will give the Food and Drug Administration access to a large database of safety information for chemicals used in processed foods, from Twinkies to almond milk.

Pressure has been building on FDA for years to look more closely at food chemicals, which are mostly self-approved by food companies relying on publicly available science and panels of industry-paid experts. But the agency hasn’t gotten around to it.

The move makes GMA look good. But even the sharpest critics of how the food industry uses food chemicals, whose safety assessments are often not shared with FDA, are welcoming the voluntary industry move. So is the agency.

For more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/big-food-to-divulge-chemical-info-110395.html?hp=f2 

 

FDA Food Additives & Ingredients Links

 

 


Executive Actions for Service Members, Veterans & their Families

08/26/2014

President Barack Obama returns the salute from Tommie Okabayashi, one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans, during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama returns the salute from Tommie Okabayashi, one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans, during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Japanese American WWII veterans

Japanese American WWII veterans

August 26, 2014

FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Executive Actions to Fulfill our Promises to Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families

Today, President Obama will address the American Legion’s 96th convention and outline the five priorities the Administration is focused on to ensure we are fulfilling our promises to service members, veterans and their families: delivering the quality health care veterans have been promised; ensuring all veterans have every opportunity to pursue the American Dream; providing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the resources our veterans deserve; protecting the dignity and rights of all veterans; and eliminating the decades-old disability claims backlog.

The President will announce 19 new executive actions to serve the military community, including new efforts to strengthen service members’ access to mental health care. The President will also highlight efforts to improve the transition between DoD and VA care for those leaving military service, and improve economic opportunity for our military families with new private-sector commitments that will make it easier to obtain mortgage interest rate reductions and reduced monthly payments – helping more of our troops save money through lower monthly payments. The President will also announce that the Administration is continuing to make significant progress toward reducing the number of veterans who suffer from homelessness. Over the past four years a third of homeless veterans, nearly 25,000, have moved off the streets, out of shelters and into housing. The President will also renew his call for community action — asking every American to do their part to support our service members, Veterans, and their families.

All of these announcements, including the new executive actions and progress being made on existing efforts, reflect the commitment of the President and his administration to expanding opportunity for those who sacrifice so much to serve our country:our service members, veterans and their families.

Delivering the Health Care Veterans Have Been Promised

Access to Quality VA Healthcare

The President and VA are committed to ensuring that veterans have access to the timely, high-quality health care that they have earned and deserve. Over the last several months, we have seen inexcusable delays in care at some VA health care facilities. We have taken a number of steps already to change the way VA does business to ensure that this never happens again, and we will keep at it as long as it takes.

* Improving Access to Care: To improve the access to care for our veterans, VA has taken several initial steps over the last several months, including: Reaching out to over a quarter million veterans to get them off waitlists and into appointments sooner and training or re-training approximately 10,000 schedulers. Additionally, VA has surged resources to the hospitals and clinics that need it most, including Phoenix. This includes deploying mobile clinics, adding more clinic hours, and recruiting additional and temporary staff members to VA medical centers nation-wide.

* Accountability: As the President has made clear, those responsible for manipulating or falsifying records at VA must be held accountable. VA established an independent accountability review board to review employee actions and hold them accountable where there is misconduct. VA has proposed action to relieve several employees of their responsibilities; additional investigations continue.

* Recruiting the Best Medical Professionals: This week VA will announce that it is launching a new recruiting campaign designed to help attract the best and the brightest medical professionals to work in the VA system, and to fill the shortages in health care workers, including doctors and nurses, at many VA facilities.

* Electronic Health Records: Key to helping Veterans and Service members receive better, safer, and more efficient care is modernizing VA and DoD’s Electronic Health Record systems. Today, more than 5.3 million records are jointly accessible and more than 1.5 million pieces of health data are shared daily. By the end of this fiscal year, the Joint Legacy Viewer will be deployed to more DoD medical centers and every VA medical center. This viewer will allow DoD and VA providers to see nearly all of the electronic health records stored in both Departments’ systems, including doctors’ notes, problem lists, and inpatient discharge summaries.

* New commitment to Transparency: For the first time ever, VA is providing the public with regular, updated information on the timeliness of VA care and will continue to report regularly on quality of care on VA.gov. This is more information than any private hospital in the United States currently provides.

*Protections for Whistleblowers: VA has reaffirmed and strengthened its commitment to protections for whistleblowers and the new leadership has been clear that retaliation against, or intimidation of, whistleblowers will not be tolerated. In addition, the VA has been working to achieve compliance with the Office of Special Counsel’s whistleblower protection certification program.

* Reforming VA: Over the last several months, the Administration has taken action to reform the way VA operates. The 14-day scheduling goal has been removed from employee performance plans, and Secretary McDonald is convening a panel of experts to make recommendations on new standards for access to care. We will also establish a new board of physicians to advise the Secretary on best practices for delivering timely, quality care to our veterans, and to ensure that VA care remains the best care anywhere.
Veterans Mental Health

The President will announce 19 new executive actions to improve the mental health of service members, veterans, and their families, which builds on the progress the Administration has made since the President’s 2012 (Mental Health) Executive Order. In response to the 2012 Executive Order, VA has increased its mental health staffing, expanded the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line, and enhanced its partnerships with community mental health providers; DoD and VA worked to increase suicide prevention awareness and, DoD, VA and the National Institutes of Health jointly developed the National Research Action Plan on military and veteran’s mental health to better coordinate federal research efforts. The new mental health executive actions will fall under the following six categories:

* Improving Service Members’ Transition from DoD to VA and Civilian Health Care Providers: DoD will now be automatically enrolling all service members leaving military service who are receiving care for mental health conditions in the Department’s inTransition program, through which trained mental health professionals help these individuals transition to a new care team in VA. Currently, service members must be specifically referred to inTransition by their DoD provider or seek out the program on their own. Additionally, VA will implement a new policy to ensure that recently discharged service members enrolling in the VA health care system maintain accessto mental health medication prescribed by an authorized DoD provider regardless of whether the medication is currently on VA’s formulary, unless the health care provider identifies a specific safety or clinical reason to make a change.

* Improving Access and Quality of Mental Health Care at DoD and VA: VA will pilot the expansion of mental health peer support to veterans being treated in primary care settings. In addition, DoD has initiated action to do what they can under its authority and will continue to work with Congress to take action to bring TRICARE, DoD’s health care coverage, up to full mental health and substance use disorder parity, meaning benefits for these conditions are generally on par with benefits for medical/surgical conditions.

* Continuing our Commitment to Improve Treatments for Mental Health Conditions including PTSD. In support of the National Research Action Plan on military and veteran’s mental health, the DoD and the National Institutes of Health are launching a longitudinal project focused on the early detection of suicidality, PTSD, and long term effects of TBI, and other related issues in service members and veterans. VA is launching a $34.4 million suicide prevention study involving 1800 veterans at 29 VA hospitals. In support of the President’s BRAIN Initiative, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is announcing a new $78.9 million research program to develop minimally-invasive neurotechnologies that may help treat many diseases, including PTSD. In addition, the White House announced that this fall it will host the White House BRAIN conference, including a focus on PTSD and TBI.

* Raising Awareness About Mental Health and Encouraging Individuals to Seek Help: VA and DoD are expanding their suicide prevention and mental health training for healthcare providers, chaplains, and employees who work directly with veterans.

* Improving Patient Safety and Suicide Prevention: VA and DoD are taking action to provide new opportunities for servicemembers, veterans, and their families to give back unwanted medications, and thereby help reduce the opportunities for abuse. The Departments are also taking action to encourage firearm safety and reduce the risk of overdose.

* Strengthening Community Resources for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families: While all individuals can experience mental health conditions, service members, veterans, and their families may experience stressors unique to their time in the military. Understanding military culture and the experiences of service members and their families can help community providers best serve these individuals. DoD and VA will disseminate its existing military cultural competency training to 3,000 community mental health providers during FY 2015.

For the full list of executive actions, click HERE.

HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

The American Nurses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association, is launching an innovative web-based PTSD Toolkit for registered nurses – all 3.1 million of them. The toolkit provides easy to access information and simulation based on gaming techniques on how to identify, assess and refer veterans suffering from PTSD. www.nurseptsdtoolkit.org

In collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) along with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), Give an Hour, and many others will collaborate to deliver “Joining Forces Wellness Week 2014.” The week-long series of educational topics and programs will occur around Veterans Day. The cornerstone event will be a webinar focusing on military cultural competency, taking a military health history, generational differences in veterans, unique needs of guard and reserve personnel, and the needs of parents and family members of veterans.

Ensuring All Service Members Have Every Opportunity to Pursue the American Dream

President Obama will announce a new voluntary partnership with financial lenders across the country that will help deliver important financial and home loan-related protections to our military community. Congress passed the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) in 2003 to provide protections for military members as they enter active duty. Our Service women and men have earned important financial protections under the law, but too many do not exercise these important rights. But when business and government work together we can make a difference.

Banks and Mortgage Servicers Answer the President’s Call to Action: Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., CitiMortgage, Inc., Bank of America, N.A., Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, and Quicken Loans are partnering with the Administration to make it easier than ever for active duty service members to obtain mortgage interest rate reductions and reduce their monthly payments. The partnership cuts red tape where possible and establishes concrete steps to reduce the burden on service members by having participating mortgage servicers proactively identify, notify and assist in enrolling eligible service members.

Key Provisions of the Partnership

* Proactive Identification of Active Duty Service Members: Under the partnership, participating servicers will proactively identify active duty personnel no less than once a quarter by querying the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), a searchable database of individuals who were or on Title 10 active duty status, against their loan portfolio, reducing the burden on the service member.

* Proactive Outreach to Eligible Service Members: Participating mortgage servicers will proactively reach out to individuals that have been identified as being eligible for benefits under SCRA to notify them of their benefits. Servicers will leverage multiple marketing and communication tactics including telephone, mail, e-mail, or other reasonable forms of communication.

* Simplify the Application Process: Participating mortgage servicers will work together to ease the burden of enrollment and satisfaction of the SCRA written notice requirement.

Ensure Active-Duty Military Get the Student Debt Relief They Are Entitled to: In addition to the Administration’s efforts to work with banks and mortgage servicers to ensure service members have access to the benefits they are eligible under the SCRA, the Department of Education has directed its federal student loan servicers to match their student borrower portfolios against DoD’s database to identify active-duty service members who are eligible to cap interest rates on student loans – including federal student loans — at 6 percent and to reduce those interest rates automatically for those eligible without the need for additional paperwork. This week, the Department released additional guidance to encourage Federal Education Loan program servicers to provide for a similar streamlined process.

Ensuring Veterans Have Access to a Quality Education

* Principles of Excellence: Making good on our commitment to support Student veterans, President Obama will announce that this week, VA will launch an updated version of the GI Bill® Comparison Tool and that nearly 6,000 education institutions are now meeting the goals set out in the “Principles of Excellence” (POE) Executive Order. POE ensures schools are providing meaningful cost and quality information, preventing deceptive recruiting practices, and providing high-quality academic and student support services. We know through the work of organizations like the American Council on Education, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and Student Veterans of America that a successful student veteran is an informed student veteran. The Comparison Tool leverages many of the lessons learned from these organizations and others and makes it easier to calculate GI Bill® benefits and provides key information about college affordability and value so beneficiaries can choose the best education program to meet their needs. Since its launch in February 2014, there have been over 350,000 unique visitors to the tool. (benefits.va.gov/gibill/comparison)

* Operation Educate the Educators and the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: Through First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forcesinitiative, all 50 States have now signed on to “Educate the Educators” with over 100 institutions of higher education committed to help train future teachers for the unique needs of military students. 50 States have also signed on to participate in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children that helps provide consistent policies across school districts and states to help ease the transition for military connected students.

UNIVERSITIES & COLLEGES ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

The President will announce that commitments to the 8 Keys to Veterans Success on Campus have increased to more than 1,000 community colleges and university campuses and he called on more educational institutions to join this effort. Last year, the President challenged to educational institutions to adopt best practices supporting educational success and fostering postsecondary educational opportunities for veterans. At that time, only 250 community colleges and universities had signed up.

Ensuring Veterans Have Access to Good-Paying Jobs

* Economic Communities of Interest: The Administration is announcing that VA has developed specific campaign plans in 20 communities where public/private partnerships can make a significant difference in the lives of our transitioning service members, veterans and their families. These community based campaigns will last for two years and will promote awareness and use of education benefits and build veteran skill sets by expanding VA’s existing partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Veteran Service Organizations and federal agencies. Each campaign will kick off with a two-day hiring summit.

* Making it Easier for Qualified Service Members to Earn a Commercial Driver’s License: Thanks to the local community based efforts of many, including our Veteran and Military Family Service Organizations like the American Legion and others, for the first time all 50 States and the District of Columbia, now waive the skills test for qualified service members and veterans applying for a State Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). For four years, the Administration has worked state-by-state, partnering with DoD, DoT, other Federal agencies and outside stakeholders to make it easier for military truck drivers to earn a CDL. The waiver process saves the CDL applicant time and money, making it easier to transfer the skills learned in the military to civilian life and a job. To date more than 6,000 service personnel have taken advantage of the Skills Test Waiver.

* Veterans Employment Center: Earlier this year, the Administration announced the Veterans Employment Center, the first government-wide effort that brings together public and private employers with real job opportunities, and provides the military community with the tools to translate their military skills into plain language and build a profile that can be shared – in real time – with employers who have made a public commitment to hire veterans. The VEC lists over 1.5 million private and public sector jobs and consolidates over a dozen redundant sites. Employers have made commitments to hire over 150,000 individuals from the military community. The site averages over 50,000 users daily.

* Veteran and Military Spouse Employment: Through the Administration’s Joining Forces initiative, businesses have trained or hired more than 540,000 veterans and military spouses. Furthermore, over 64,000 military spouses have been hired with 224 private- and public-sector partners since the program began three years ago. In addition, 48 States have removed credentialing impediments for separating service members and another 47 States are facilitating military spouse transition and licensure portability.

EMPLOYERS ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

The President has emphasized the important role employers play in increasing economic opportunity for veterans through stable employment opportunities—not just because it’s good for veterans but because it’s good for the bottom line. He is calling for more employers and educational institutions to take on innovative veteran training partnerships. For example, corporate leaders like Blackstone have made veteran hiring a priority. Together with their portfolio company, Hilton Worldwide, they are partnering with Kendall College to develop a hotel management education and training program to provide transitioning service members and veterans on-the-job experience and an inside track to available jobs upon graduation from the program. All of this is bolstered by the veteran’s use of their GI Bill® benefits.

Protecting the Dignity and Rights of All Veterans

Ending Veteran Homelessness: President Obama will announce that the number of veterans who suffer from homelessness has dropped by a third over the past four years as nearly 25,000 veterans have moved into housing. This announcement follows the First Lady’s event in June, with HUD and VA, announcing the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Through this Challenge, mayors, county executives, and governors are signing on to end veteran homelessness in their communities in 2015. To date, over 200 communities have signed on.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

There are over 4,000 homeless women veterans in our country today. These women veterans struggle to find employment and short and long-term housing, and subsequently may be faced with the unthinkable possibility of losing their children. The VA has entered into a public-private partnership with TriWest Healthcare Alliance to connect women veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, especially those with children, to the services and benefits that lead to employment. This effort will initially focus on five cities: Seattle, WA; Phoenix, AZ; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; and Honolulu, HI. Partnerships in each city will be established among community leaders, employers, government and non-government organizations, and committed citizens who can work together, individually and collectively to help reduce barriers to employment for homeless women veterans and connect them with employment. The President will call for more public-private partnerships to help end veteran homelessness.

Two years ago, The National Guard Bureau announced their own community based effort last year, and launched Joining Community Forces to leverage their local community foot-print and family support centers to connect Guardsmen and Reservists of all services, Veterans and military families to local community based resources. They are re-doubling their efforts, and are challenging all 54 Guard Bureaus in that effort.

Ensuring that Veterans Affairs Has the Resources to Serve Our Veterans

On August 7, 2014, the President signed into law the bipartisan Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014. At a time of crisis, our Veteran and Military Family Service Organizations called the country and Congress to action. This legislation provides VA with additional resources to improve access and quality of care for Veterans. This law will help VA hire more doctors, nurses and other medical staff, as well as to provide needed additional space and modernize VA’s hospitals and clinics. It authorizes the new Veterans Choice program, which allows eligible Veterans to choose to use non-VA care when they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or cannot be seen by a VA doctor within a reasonable amount of time. And finally, the law will give Secretary McDonald more authority to hold senior VA leaders accountable.

Ending the Disability Claims Backlog

Disability Claims Backlog Update
Improving quality and reducing the length of time it takes to process disability claims is integral to the Administration’s mission of providing the care and benefits that Veterans have earned and deserve in a timely, accurate, and compassionate manner. Through initiatives supported by President Obama, VA has decreased the backlog by more than 50 percent since its peak in March 2013. Continuing this work in 2014, VA is implementing additional changes to the Veterans Benefits Management System to increase automation and integration, system-wide. Thanks to transformation initiatives and the creative and impactful partnerships with our VSOs like the Disabled American Veterans, VFW, The Legion and others, VA is on track to meet the President’s goal and eliminate the claims backlog by completing all claims in 125 days in 2015.

 

Learn more http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/veterans-military-families

Homeless Vet Call Center  - sml

Veterans Crisis Line

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