President Obama Changes US – Cuba Relations

12/17/2014

Pres Obama US - Cuba Relations

December 17, 2014

Statement by the President on Cuba Policy Changes

Cabinet Room

12:01 P.M. EST

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

In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 17, 2014

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

New Recommendations to End Pirate Fishing and Seafood Fraud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on Dec 16, 2014

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

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

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

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


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

Tanya Somanader December 16, 2014 05:12 PM EST

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

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

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

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

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

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Reaction to President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum

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

NRDC Lauds Obama Drilling Ban in Alaska’s Spectacular Bristol Bay – National Resources Defense Council
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Pres Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13491 Banning Torture

12/10/2014

December 09, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guantanamo Bay detention camp

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

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

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

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

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President Obama’s attempt to close the camp

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

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

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

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White House Summit on Early Childhood Education

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

First Lady Michelle Obama visits a classroom

Early Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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White House Announces Summit on Early Education

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

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

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

Speaking Program:

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

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

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

11:50 AM       President Obama Delivers Remarks

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

2:40 PM         Vice President Biden Delivers Closing Remarks

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Congress Should RAISE THE WAGE

12/07/2014

Raise The Wage

Keeping Up [the Pressure] on [Raising] the Minimum Wage

Secretary Thomas E. Perez November 07, 2014 03:26 PM EST

It’s been almost two years since President Obama first called for an increase in the national minimum wage.

He believes more strongly than ever that no one who works full-time should have to raise a family in poverty. He believes that the current rate of $7.25 per hour undermines our basic bargain, failing to reward hard work with a fair wage.

But Congress hasn’t exactly seen it that way. Republicans have said “no” to even allowing a Senate vote on a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 — without adding any new taxes, spending, or bureaucracy — and meanwhile, public support only continues to grow. Bottom line: They’re not keeping up with the views of people around the country. In Tuesday’s election, a higher minimum wage went five-for-five. By convincing margins, voters in Alaska (69 percent), Arkansas (65 percent), Nebraska (59 percent), South Dakota (53 percent), and Illinois (67 percent) said loud and clear that they want to give hardworking people a raise.

Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota (all reliably red states, by the way) will implement changes in their state law, with a total of about 325,000 people set to get a raise. (The Illinois ballot measure was a non-binding resolution urging the state legislature to act.)

These results come on top of coast-to-coast grassroots progress in recent months. Since the beginning of 2013, 13 other states, plus the District of Columbia and several localities, raised their minimum wages, either through referendum or legislative action — with 7 million Americans set to get a raise from these actions. So that’s 17 total states that will now have taken decisive action on raising their minimum wages. And the President — as part of his year of action — signed an Executive Order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contract workers.

US vs World's Minimum Wage Comparison

Also, the U.S. minimum wage isn’t keeping up with the rest of the world — we rank third-to-last among OECD nations (when you measure minimum wage as a percentage of median wage).

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/11/07/keeping-minimum-wage

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Minimum Wage by Stateshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_in_the_United_States#State

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The Lives of People of All Colors DO MATTER

12/04/2014

Candle light

Thursday, December 4, 2014
Attorney General Holder to Hold Roundtable Meetings in Five More Cities as Part of Justice Department’s “Building Community Trust” Initiative

On the heels of President Obama’s national call to foster strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect and serve, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today the upcoming cities where Attorney General Eric Holder will hold regional roundtable meetings as part of the department’s Building Community Trust initiative.  Those cities are: Cleveland, Memphis, Tennessee, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Oakland, California.

The roundtables will serve as an opportunity to bring law enforcement, elected officials and members of the community together to discuss next steps that the administration will take to improve relationships between law enforcement and the community, increase the integrity within our justice system, and share best practices for policing.

The Attorney General hosted the first such Building Community Trust roundtable meeting at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday.  There, he discussed President Obama’s announcement to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the federal review on the use of military-style equipment for local law enforcement, and the new Community Policing Initiative to fund up to 50,000 additional body-worn cameras for law enforcement agencies.  At a community town hall meeting held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Attorney General announced that the department will soon release new guidelines on the use of racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies.

For more: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-holder-hold-roundtable-meetings-five-more-cities-part-justice-departments

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Building Community Trust Tour with Attorney General Eric Holder

Published on Dec 15, 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder was in Memphis, TN. to lead the third of five planned “Building Community Trust” roundtable discussions. Born out of the President’s call for an increased effort to help rebuild trust in local law enforcement and the justice system, the Attorney General met with local leaders to discuss next steps to share best practices for community policing. Held at the Lorraine Motel, site of where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968 and home to the National Civil Rights Museum.

 

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In Oakland, The Disconnect Between Young People And Police

December 05, 2014 JOI SMITH – youthradio

Oakland has a history of tensions between police and the community. The police department there is under federal oversight for its use of force, among other problems.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some people are also seeking a way forward, as we hear from Joi Smith of Youth Radio.

JOI SMITH, BYLINE: Oakland has a long history of tensions between police and the community. In fact, the Oakland Police Department is under federal oversight for its use of force and its reporting of misconduct, among other problems. Twenty-five-year-old Alex Sipp says it feels like there’s no end in sight. He says in his neighborhood, he notices resentment towards police starting at a young age.

ALEX SIPP: Like, I’ve heard little kids, you know, point out the police coming down the street for no reason. It’s almost like a sense of fear, like, uh oh, here they come instead of – oh no, that’s the police. They’re here to protect me.

ARNOLD PERKINS: We make bogeymen out of people that you don’t talk to.

SMITH: That’s Arnold Perkins, the former director of the Alameda County Department of Public Health. He understands why people are reacting and taking it to the streets. But he believes both protesters and police have to hear each other out. Protests have turned violent in Oakland, and Perkins had been hoping for a more productive outcome.

PERKINS: What would happen if the group would have marched down to the police station and contacted the chief before and says, you know, we want to sit down and, you know, have a conversation. We keep tearing up our city. It leads us nowhere but more anger and more frustration.

SMITH: Olis Simmons is the founding CEO of East Oakland community organization Youth Uprising. She thinks Oakland can be a leader in raising a national dialogue about racial justice and relationships with the police.

OLIS SIMMONS: Holding young people who are at the epicenter of violence dearest to my heart has created a place where I’ve had to be in dialogue with the police department about their leadership, about their professional development, about their oversight.

SMITH: Simmons brings police officers to East Oakland to speak to the youth. She says when police and community members meet face to face, it can start to break down the tension.

For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/05/368640589/in-oakland-there-s-a-disconnect-between-young-people-and-police

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The Lives of People of All Colors DO MATTER

Hands of Color

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2014 National Christmas Tree & Holiday at the White House

12/02/2014

Natl_XTreeNational Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 4, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Ellipse in Presidents Park, Washington DC

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WASHINGTON (November 26, 2014) – Today, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation announced that actor and producer Tom Hanks and singer-songwriter, actress, and producer Rita Wilson will co-host the 92nd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. Wilson will also perform during the show. Additionally, multi Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and actor NE-YO, multiplatinum-selling artist Steve Miller, and country star Chely Wright will join pop phenomenon Fifth Harmony, Grammy-winning legend Patti LaBelle, pop world duo Nico & Vinz, and award-winning vocal group The Tenors in performing a collection of holiday favorites. Follow @TheNationalTree on Twitter and visit www.thenationaltree.org for the most up-to-date event information.

This year’s National Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on Thursday, December 4 on the Ellipse at President’s Park, one of America’s 401 national parks, in Washington, D.C. The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. ET with the National Christmas Tree Lighting pre-show, co-hosted by 94.7 FRESH FM’s Tommy McFLY and ABC7/WJLA-TV’s Jummy Olabanji. The event will air on public television throughout the month of December.  For broadcast times, check local listings or the National Christmas Tree Lighting website.

Presented by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, and produced by Bounce AEG, the National Christmas Tree Lighting kicks off a four-week holiday celebration at President’s Park. This year’s ceremony marks the 92nd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting, an American holiday tradition started by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923.

Thanks to Google’s Made with Code, the premier sponsor of the 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting, girls across the country will experience the beauty of code by lighting up holiday trees at President’s Park. Beginning on December 2, girls can head to madewithcode.com to code a design for one of the 56 state and territory trees. Girls can select the shape, size, and color of the lights, and animate different patterns using introductory programming language and their designs will appear live on the trees. Other event supporters are GE Lighting, Amtrak, Guest Services Inc., Hargrove, Hudler Carolina Tree Farms, Loews Madison, Nicolas Holiday, and Uber.

For more information about the event and its history, please visit www.thenationaltree.organd follow the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2014.

Find Your State Ornaments, Volunteers from across the nation have designed and created special ornaments to adorn the 56 small trees along the Christmas Pathway Of Peace: pathway-of-peace

2014 WH Holidays - Bo & Sunny

WH Holdays 20142014 WH Christmas Ornament

The holidays are a lovely time to be in Washington, and each year, the White House showcases the spirit of the season when the First Family decks the halls and opens their home to guests from all across the country.

The First Lady and her staff devote much of their time in December to decorating many of the rooms of the White House.

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Information on White House Christmas 2014

Décor

This year’s White House decorations also pay tribute to our Armed Forces and their families. The East Wing of the White House features a Christmas tree adorned with gold star ornaments, honoring the heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

The official White House Christmas tree, which stands 18 feet tall in the Blue Room, honors the courageous service of the troops, veterans, and military families, who all serve our Nation every single day. This year’s official White House Christmas tree comes to the White House from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Leighton, Pennsylvania, and is trimmed with ornaments decorated by military children living on U.S. military bases all over the world.

The Holiday Tour Book

The White House Holiday Tour Book contains artwork created by students from the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, D.C. The 16-page booklet features descriptions of decorations in many of the White House’s rooms, histories of past White House holidays, a White House gingerbread cookie recipe, and a letter from President and Mrs. Obama welcoming visitors into their home for the holidays.

We have prepared a special activity for children who visit the White House this holiday season: the Holiday Tour Booklet instructs them to find ornaments of Bo and Sunny that the silly First Dogs “lost.” The ornaments are hidden throughout the White House rooms and show Bo and Sunny putting on their snow boots, dreaming of treats, building a snowman, singing holiday songs, and hanging stockings on the mantel. Download the Tour Book

2014 Holidays at The White Househttp://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house/holidays-2014

Download the Bo Wrapping Paper

Download Your Own Bo & Sunny Gift Tags

Bake & Share Gingerbread Cookies from the White House Pastry Kitchen

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