Serving In Our Military Openly – End of DADT

“When that bill reaches my desk, I will sign it, and this discriminatory law will be repealed. Gay and lesbian service members — brave Americans who enable our freedoms — will ,” “The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one.”

12/18/10 President Barack Obama after DADT was struck down in Congress

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The Obama administration has directed officials to recognize same-sex partners as family members 

“The UNHCR recommended that the U.S. consider family unity principles in exercising the public interest exception, including “de facto” family members, family members without pending legal status and same-sex partners.64”
“With regard to using the public interest exception to recognize common-law or same-sex partnerships without other relevant public interest considerations, U.S. federal law precludes the use of the term “spouse” to refer to same-sex partnerships 67. ”

Source: http://goo.gl/ZVi4R

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Feb. 11, 2013 Department of Defense Secretary Panetta Signs Memo Extending Benefits to Same-sex Partners

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High court strikes down federal marriage provision

6/26/13 By MARK SHERMAN | Associated Press – 3 mins 4 secs ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

Same-sex marriage has been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia. Another 18,000 couples were married in California during a brief period when same-sex unions were legal there.

The court has yet to release its decision on California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” Kennedy said.

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he said.

He was joined by the court’s four liberal justices.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

For more: http://news.yahoo.com/high-court-strikes-down-federal-marriage-provision-140557846.html

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June 28, 2013

Statement by the President on the Extension of Federal Employee Benefits

Today my Administration announcedthat, for the first time in history, we will be making important federal employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement benefits, available to eligible married gay and lesbian couples and their families.

This is a critical first step toward implementing this week’s landmark Supreme Court decisiondeclaring that all married couples –gay and straight — should be treated equally under federal law. Thousands of gays and lesbians serve our country every day in the federal government. They, and their spouses and children, deserve the same respect and protection as every other family.

Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, we will continue to move as quickly as possible to fully implement the Court’s decision.

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Hagel: States Refusing Same-sex Family Benefits Must Comply

Oct. 31, 2013 By Karen Parrish – American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau to meet with the adjutants general of nine states to resolve the issue of those states denying ID cards to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities.

In a speech at the 100th annual Anti-Defamation League in New York tonight, Hagel said the adjutants general will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and Defense Department policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.

DOD last month began providing same-sex spouse benefits for military members and eligible civilian employees, following the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

“We did it because everyone who serves our country in uniform … should receive the full benefits they earned, fairly and in accordance with the law,” the secretary said tonight. “Everyone’s rights must be protected.”

A senior defense official speaking on background said that on Aug. 15, Pentagon officials issued a communication noting the system was updated and that ID cards to same-sex spouses were to be issued by all ID card processing stations starting Sept. 3. The official noted that nine states — Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia — are denying equal access for same-sex spouses and are violating DOD and service-level policies for administering same-sex couple and family benefits.

“Secretary Hagel expects these nine states to resolve this issue,” the official said. “He is prepared to take further action should the states not come into compliance with DOD policy.”

In his remarks in New York, Hagel said the denial of ID cards at National Guard facilities unnecessarily forces couples to travel to federal facilities.

“Not only does this violate the states’ obligations under federal law, their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to,” he said. “This is wrong. It causes division among the ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DOD has fought to extinguish.”

The secretary emphasized that members of the National Guard serve their states and the nation and deserve to be treated accordingly.

“Whether they are responding to natural disasters here at home in their states or fighting in Afghanistan, our National Guardsmen all wear the uniform of the United States of America,” he said. “They are serving this country. They – and their families – are entitled to all the benefits and respect accorded to all of our military men and women.”

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Release No: NR-272-15

July 13, 2015 dod.gov

Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on DOD Transgender Policy

Over the last fourteen years of conflict, the Department of Defense has proven itself to be a learning organization. This is true in war, where we have adapted to counterinsurgency, unmanned systems, and new battlefield requirements such as MRAPs. It is also true with respect to institutional activities, where we have learned from how we repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” from our efforts to eliminate sexual assault in the military, and from our work to open up ground combat positions to women. Throughout this time, transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms.

The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions. At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.

Today, I am issuing two directives to deal with this matter. First, DoD will create a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. Led by (Acting) Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson, and composed of military and civilian personnel representing all the military services and the Joint Staff, this working group will report to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work. At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified. Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.

As I’ve said before, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military’s future strength depends on it.

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6/9/16 FACT SHEET: Obama Administration’s Record and the LGBT Community
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277 thoughts on “Serving In Our Military Openly – End of DADT

  1. WH

    Sunday Dec. 19, 2010

    All Times Eastern

    Pres Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    8:00 AM
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    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
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    • POTUS podium

      Dec 19 Live Feed Schedule

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      CNN http://live.cnn.com/

      10:00 AM EST
      Senate in session
      Senators discuss and debate the New START nuclear arms pact between the United States and Russia, as well as other issues of the day.

      10:30 AM EST
      Bloomberg on 9/11 health compensation bill
      New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls on the Senate to pass a health care bill benefiting 9/11 rescue workers.

      12:30 PM EST
      House in session
      House lawmakers discuss and debate the issues of the day.

      12:30 PM EST
      White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs holds his daily briefing with reporters. Topics expected to be discussed include the crisis in the Korean Peninsula, the New START accord, the Senate’s decision on “don’t ask, don’t tell” and more.

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      10 AM EST Senate START Debate Goes Into Closed Session http://cs.pn/gJXfy5

      1PM EST Experts Discuss the Implementation of the New Health Care Law http://cs.pn/dHEwv8

  2. ServicemembersUnited | October 17, 2009

    President Obama’s remarks on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at the HRC National Dinner, in which he solidly commits to ending DADT.

    • Release No: NR-272-15

      July 13, 2015 dod.gov

      Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on DOD Transgender Policy

      Over the last fourteen years of conflict, the Department of Defense has proven itself to be a learning organization. This is true in war, where we have adapted to counterinsurgency, unmanned systems, and new battlefield requirements such as MRAPs. It is also true with respect to institutional activities, where we have learned from how we repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” from our efforts to eliminate sexual assault in the military, and from our work to open up ground combat positions to women. Throughout this time, transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms.

      The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions. At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.

      Today, I am issuing two directives to deal with this matter. First, DoD will create a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. Led by (Acting) Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson, and composed of military and civilian personnel representing all the military services and the Joint Staff, this working group will report to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work. At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified. Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.

      As I’ve said before, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military’s future strength depends on it.

  3. The President Tweets:

    By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will patriotic Americans be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

  4. Gays see repeal as a civil rights milestone

    12/19/10 VERENA DOBNIK- AP

    NEW YORK – Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military is a step toward equality, advocates say, but a fight for other social changes such as gay marriage still lies ahead.

    The Senate voted Saturday to end the 17-year ban on openly gay troops, overturning the Clinton-era policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    “It’s one step in a very long process of becoming an equal rights citizen,” said Warren Arbury of Savannah, Ga., who served in the Army for seven years, including three combat tours, before being kicked out two years ago under the policy. He said he planned to re-enlist once the policy is abolished.

    “Even though this is really huge, I look at it as a chink in a very, very long chain,” he added.

    Supporters declared the vote a civil rights milestone.

    Aaron Belkin, director of the California-based Palm Center — a think tank on the issue — said the vote “ushers in a new era in which the largest employer in the United States treats gays and lesbians like human beings.”

    For thousands of years, he said, one of the key markers for first-class citizenship in any nation is the right to serve in the military, and Saturday’s vote “is a historic step toward that.”

    Repeal means that for the first time in U.S. history, gays will be openly accepted by the military and can acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear of being discharged. More than 13,500 service members have been dismissed under the 1993 law. Before that, they had been explicitly barred from military service since World War I.

    The change won’t take immediate effect, however. The legislation says the president and his top military advisers must certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ fighting ability. After that, there’s a 60-day waiting period for the military.

    For the entire article: http://yhoo.it/hCt3b5

  5. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Will Be Repealed

    December 18, 2010 Posted by Mary Hough – DNC.org

    The Senate has voted 65-31 to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

    Seventeen years after the introduction of the discriminatory law, which bans gay men and women from serving openly in the military, the Senate has finally voted for repeal.

    Today’s two votes have been the culmination of months of work by President Obama and Congressional Democrats, and follow on the heels of an extensive military study that concluded that their was no risk to repeal.

    The President will now be able to sign the legislation into law before the end of the year, fulfilling the commitment he made in this year’s State of the Union address.

    Following today’s vote the Department of Defense will implement a transition plan designed to make sure repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is done as smoothly as possible.

  6. ‘Don’t Ask’ Remains in Effect as Gates, Mullen Tackle Plan

    12/18/10 By Donna Miles – American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, welcomed the Senate’s vote today to repeal the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, while emphasizing that the current law and policy will remain in effect until they and President Barack Obama certify the plan to implement it.

    “Once this legislation is signed into law by the president, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully,” Gates said in a statement released today.

    The legislation specifies that the repeal will take effect only after Gates, Mullen and Obama certify that new policies and regulations to implement it are “consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and retention of the armed forces,” the secretary noted.

    “As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the services, commands and units,” he said.

    Mullen said he looks forward to working with Gates and the service chiefs and said he’s “committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards.”

    For the entire article: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62164

  7. President Hails Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Law

    12/18/10 By Donna Miles -American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2010 – President Barack Obama hailed the Senate’s vote today to repeal the law that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military and expressed confidence the Defense Department can institute the new policy while maintaining military strength and readiness.

    The Senate, during a rare Saturday session, voted 65 to 31 to overturn the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that’s been in effect since 1993.

    “The Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend,” Obama said in a statement issued after the Senate voted earlier today to break a filibuster and move forward to a vote on the bill.

    “By ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” the president said. “And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”

    Obama said he’s “absolutely convinced” that repeal of the law will underscore the professionalism of the world’s best-led and best-trained fighting force.

    “And I join the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of servicemembers asked by the Pentagon, in knowing we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness,” he said.

    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other military leaders repeatedly expressed a preference for legislative action – which they said would permit an orderly transition for the military – over having the law struck down by a court, requiring immediate compliance with the change and possibly creating different rules in different places.

    Following the House’s passage of the repeal Dec. 15, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said a congressional vote would enable the Defense Department to “carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts.”

    Defense officials said yesterday they were preparing for the law’s passage. Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, is expected to issue a memo to inform the department of the change and explain timelines for its implementation.

    Obama said today’s decision recognizes that it’s time to close one chapter in U.S. history and open another. “It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed,” he said. “It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly.”

    • White House Staff: It Gets Better

      Inspired by President Obama’s “It Gets Better” video, several LGBT White House staffers share their messages of hope and support for LGBT youth who are struggling with being bullied.

    • UN backs gay rights for first time ever

      6/17/11 By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press – 1 hr 47 mins ago

      GENEVA – The United Nations endorsed the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people for the first time ever Friday, passing a resolution hailed as historic by the U.S. and other backers and decried by some African and Muslim countries.

      The declaration was cautiously worded, expressing “grave concern” about abuses because of sexual orientation and commissioning a global report on discrimination against gays.

      But activists called it an important shift on an issue that has divided the global body for decades, and they credited the Obama administration’s push for gay rights at home and abroad.

      “This represents a historic moment to highlight the human rights abuses and violations that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face around the world based solely on who they are and whom they love,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement.

      For the entire article: http://goo.gl/024yZ

      • June 17, 2011

        Statement by the President on the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

        Today, for the first time in history, the United Nations adopted a resolution dedicated to advancing the basic human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights — and entitled to the same protections — as all human beings. The United States stands proudly with those nations that are standing up to intolerance, discrimination, and homophobia. Advancing equality for LGBT persons should be the work of all peoples and all nations. LGBT persons are entitled to equal treatment, equal protection, and the dignity that comes with being full members of our diverse societies. As the United Nations begins to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for LGBT persons, the world becomes a safer, more respectful, and more humane place for all people.

    • Certification sets stage for openly gay troops to serve

      July 21, 2011 By LEO SHANE III AND KEVIN BARON – Stars and Stripes

      WASHINGTON – The Department of Defense planned Friday to certify that the military is ready for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, according to U.S. officials, setting the stage for openly gay troops to begin serving in the military in late September.

      The certification comes after months of training for military personnel to prepare them for the presence of openly gay uniformed colleagues for the first time in history, and starts the 60-day waiting period before the law is completely removed.

      Under rules outlined by Congress in December, the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are required to certify that the services are ready for the dramatic personnel change before the law could be repealed.

      Defense officials would not say exactly when that 60-day countdown will begin, but officials late Thursday were preparing the final paperwork to end the law.

      Pentagon officials last week said that the service chiefs had submitted their reports on training and readiness to new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who had stated that repeal could take place in late July or early August.

      For the entire article: http://www.stripes.com/certification-sets-stage-for-openly-gay-troops-to-serve-1.149824

      • July 22, 2011

        Statement by the President on Certification of Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

        Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality. In accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days—on September 20, 2011.

        As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal. As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.

        I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war. I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition. Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans.

        Attached are the certification and transmittal letters concerning the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

        Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Certification (PDF, 45KB)

        John McCain Letter (PDF, 21 KB)
        Adam Smith Letter (PDF, 21 KB)
        Carl Levin Letter (PDF, 22 KB)
        Howard P. McKeon Letter (PDF, 22 KB)

      • Secretary Panetta’s Statement on Certification of Readiness to Implement Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

        7/22/11 defense.gov

        “Last December, this department began a careful and methodical process to prepare for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

        “Since then, the Repeal Implementation Team has worked to coordinate the necessary changes to policy and regulations, and to provide education and training to service members. This effort, led by Undersecretary of Defense Clifford R. Stanley, was designed to ensure the smoothest possible transition for the U.S. military to accommodate and implement this important and necessary change.

        “Today, as a result of strong leadership and proactive education throughout the force, we can take the next step in this process. The President, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have certified that the implementation of repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the armed forces. This certification decision was carefully made after receiving input from the service chiefs, service secretaries and from all the combatant commanders, who stated their views that the force is prepared for this change.

        “With this certification, and in accordance with the law, on Sept. 20, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will be repealed. We will have taken the time necessary to get this done right and to ensure that service members are properly trained for a change that I believe is essential to the effectiveness of our all-volunteer force.

        “All men and women who serve this nation in uniform — no matter their race, color, creed, religion, or sexual orientation — do so with great dignity, bravery, and dedication. As secretary of defense, I am committed to promoting an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility that their talents and capabilities warrant. They put their lives on the line for America, and that’s what really matters. Thanks to the professionalism and leadership of the U.S. military, we are closer to achieving the goal that is at the foundation of America — equality and dignity for all.”

      • Adm. Mike Mullen’s Statement on Certification of Readiness to Implement Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

        7/22/11 defense.gov

        “I believe the U.S. armed forces are ready for the implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I conveyed that opinion yesterday to the President and to the secretary of defense, and today we certified this to Congress.

        “My opinion is informed by close consultation with the service chiefs and the combatant commanders over the course of six months of thorough preparation and assessment, to include the training of a substantial majority of our troops.

        “I am comfortable that we have used the findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group to mitigate areas of concern and that we have developed the policy and regulations necessary for implementation — consistent with standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.

        “Certification does not mark the end of our work. Ready though we are, we owe it to ourselves and to the nation we defend to continue to train the remainder of the joint force, to monitor our performance as we do so, and to adjust policy where and when needed.

        “My confidence in our ability to accomplish this work rests primarily on the fact that our people are capable, well-led and thoroughly professional. I have never served with finer men and women. They will, I am certain, carry out repeal and continue to serve this country with the same high standards and dignity that have defined the U.S. military throughout our history.”

    • Welcoming Home Our Veterans

      Published on Jul 23, 2012 by BarackObamadotcom
      Learn more: http://OFA.BO/ooJZtN

      Since day one, President Obama has made it a priority to keep the sacred trust we hold with those who wear the uniform of the United States and their families.

      In advance of the President’s remarks at the VFW Convention in Reno, Obama for America released this video that discusses the President’s commitment to keeping our nation’s sacred promise to our veterans. This video highlights a St. Louis parade organized to welcome our servicemembers home from Iraq.

      Learn how President Obama continues to better serve those who have served this nation and how you can get involved with Veterans and Military Familes for Obama: http://OFA.BO/ooJZtN

    • McRaven gives ‘fantastic’ Obama credit for bin Laden raid

      By JOSH GERSTEIN | 7/26/12 1:06 AM EDT POLITICO

      ASPEN, Colo.—Republicans trying to play down President Barack Obama’s decision to launch the raid that led to the death of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden are not getting much help from the military brass who oversaw the operation.

      During a rare public interview on Wednesday, Adm. Bill McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations command, portrayed as bold and brave Obama’s decision to order the raid despite significant doubts about whether bin Laden was at the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.

      “At the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden of this operation, that made the hard decision,” McRaven said during an on-stage interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that served as the kickoff session of the Aspen Security Forum.

      Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has suggested that the decision to launch the raid was a no-brainer. “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,” Romney said in April.

      McRaven refused to respond Wednesday when asked whether he agreed with Romney that any president would have made the same decision Obama did. However, at a couple of junctures, the Special Operations commander offered effusive praise for Obama.

      “The president of the United States is fantastic,” the admiral said. “I’m not a political guy. I’ve worked in both [administrations,] very much enjoyed working with President Bush and I very much enjoy working for President Obama. This isn’t about politics. This is about a Commander in Chief who I have the opportunity to engage with on a routine basis.”

      McRaven also had high praise for Obama’s national security team, including those in place at the time of the raid, such as then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisers Denis McDonough and John Brennan.

      “I’m not a political guy, but I’ll tell you as an interested observer of this, they were magnfiicent how they handled the start-to-finish,” McRaven said. “The president asked all the right questions…The president gave me ample time to prepare once the conversations were through.”

      McRaven, like all military officers, serves at the pleasure of the president. A few weeks before the bin Laden raid, Obama nominated McRaven to take over the Special Operations command and be elevated to four-star admiral. McRaven, who was deeply involved in planning and executing the May 2011 raid, was confirmed by the Senate to his current post the following month.

      • Sharp Decline in Terror Attacks After Bin Laden Death

        8/1/12 By Dana Hughes | ABC OTUS News – 14 hrs ago

        The number of worldwide terror attacks fell to 10,283 last year, down from 11,641 in 2010 and the lowest since 2005, the State Department reported today.

        What’s made the difference? The State Department cites the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda members killed last year including Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Anwar al-Awlaki, who was the head of Yemen’s Al Qaeda affiliate and had ties to the underwear bomber plot in 2010.

        “The loss of bin Laden and these other key operatives puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse,” the report stated.

        But Ambassador Dan Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counter-terrorism, warned that for all the good news about the core of al Qaeda being weakened, affiliates of the group, particularly in Yemen and in Africa, continue to pose a real risk.

        Nigeria was one of the few countries which actually saw an increase in terror attacks last year because of Boko Haram, and Kenya and Somalia continue to experience attacks by a weakened Al Shabab. Benjamin also noted that the Arab spring and other countries in transition could leave important allies like Egypt and Iraq vulnerable to terror groups.

        “Inspiring as the moment may be, we are not blind to the attendant perils. Terrorists could still cause significant disruptions for states undergoing very challenging democratic transitions. Affiliates of the group, and violent extremist ideology and rhetoric continue to spread in some parts of the world,” said Benjamin.

        For more: http://news.yahoo.com/sharp-decline-terror-attacks-bin-laden-death-213958117–abc-news-politics.html

    • Karl Marlantes on What It’s Like to Go to War

      July 27, 2012 billmoyers

      Summary: Bill talks to Karl Marlantes — a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran, Rhodes Scholar, author, and PTSD survivor — about what we on the insulated outside need to understand about the minds and hearts of our modern warriors. Marlantes shares with Bill intimate stories about how his battlefield experiences both shaped and nearly destroyed him, even after returning to civilian life.

      “’Thou shalt not kill’ is a tenet you just do not violate, and so all your young life, that’s drilled into your head. And then suddenly, you’re 18 or 19 and they’re saying, ‘Go get ‘em and kill for your country.’ And then you come back and it’s like, ‘Well, thou shalt not kill’ again. Believe me, that’s a difficult thing to deal with,” Marlantes tells Bill. “You take a young man and put him in the role of God, where he is asked to take a life — that’s something no 19-year-old is able to handle.”

      For the audio interview: http://billmoyers.com/segment/karl-marlantes-on-what-its-like-to-go-to-war/

    • DOGMA

      It isn’t gay marriage that should trouble the Supreme Court, says Kevin Fisher-Paulson. It’s straight marriage.

      3/25/13 By Kevin Fisher-Paulson – KQED

      As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the legality of my marriage, I came to the conclusion that they should be ruling on their own matrimony. The real threat to this sacred institution is opposite sex marriage.

      As religious leaders will tell you, the purpose of a marriage is to stay together forever and to raise children.

      So let’s look at the forever part. Opposite sex couples divorce almost one out of every two marriages: 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce, 67 percent of second marriages end in divorce and a whopping 74 percent of third marriage end in divorce. In other words, the more that a straight person marries, the more likely he or she is to divorce.

      Gays haven’t had much time to get married, let alone divorced, but currently straights are divorcing at twice the rate of gays. It’s that whole people from Venus business really do understand each other better than the people from Mars.

      And we all know that the purpose of marriage is to have children, right? Again, opposite sex couples are ruining this holy precept. In 1976, census data indicated that 10% of opposite sex marriages were childless, and by 2003, that number had almost doubled to 19%. On the other hand, now that gays and lesbians have the ability to parent in many but not all states, the percentage of same sex couples with children has tripled from a mere 8% in 2000 to one out of four gay couples now with children. And perhaps even more important, not one of us gay couples is having a child by accident. Like Chief Justice Roberts, many of us adopt. Our family is truly a family of choice.

      Ironically, while opposite sex couples are casually doing driveby weddings in Vegas, we gays are treating marriage with tradition, and I daresay, reverence. Maybe it’s because we have to fight so hard for it.

      For the entire article and audio in statement: http://www.kqed.org/a/perspectives/R201303250735

  8. The Senate is expected to hold additional votes today on the START Treaty beginning at 12 p.m. EST

  9. Good Morning Everyone!

    It is so wonderful that our men and women in the military can now serve with pride of country and pride in who there are openly!

    I HOPE that you have a good day! 🙂

  10. Democrats Confident that 9/11 Health Bill Will Pass
    One More Republican Vote Needed to Pass Bill for Responders and Victims

    12/18/10 By MATTHEW JAFFE, JESSICA HOPPER & KEVIN DOLAK – ABCNews

    Senate Republicans last week derailed a bill that would provide $7.4 billion in health care and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors, but Gillibrand today voiced confidence that the Senate will pass the bill in the next week, now that lawmakers have agreed on how to pay for the measure.

    “We have the votes we need,” Gillibrand said today at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “We’ve had indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill.

    “They would like to vote for a stand-alone bill,” she said. “There is general agreement on a new pay-for that we’re going to offer, so the hope is to get to the bill as soon as the START bill is completed.”

    The bill was put to a test vote on Dec. 9, but supporters found themselves three votes short of the 60 needed to proceed to debate and a final vote. The measure failed 57-42.

    Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois has now voiced his support for the bill. With his vote and that of Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, who switched his vote to “no” at the last moment, a parliamentary move that allows him to bring the measure up again for a vote, Democrats need just one more Republican vote to pass the bill.

    For the entire article: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/democrats-confident-911-health-bill-pass/story?id=12431493

  11. First lady arrives with daughters, dog

    By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services

    Dec 19, 2010 01:30 a.m. PST – StarAdvertiser

    The Obamas’ beachfront rental house in Kailua remained empty most of the day, with no sign of security on land or sea.

    But that changed in the evening after the family and first dog Bo arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and motored over to the Windward side, arriving just after 8 p.m.

    While some Kailuana Place residents said they wish the Obamas would spend their vacation at nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii, others said they are excited to welcome the first family back to their neighborhood.

    “It’s no problem,” said resident Sharon Miscovich, 48. “We put up our own signs to let people know the road is blocked. The Secret Service agents are wonderful — very nice guys. And this year the dog is coming, so it’s even better.”

    Kelii Kiakona, who lives just a block from the temporary guard station, said he actually likes the security presence in the neighborhood.

    “The streets are definitely quiet,” he said. “That’s a positive. If you don’t belong here, you’re not getting in.”

    President Barack Obama won’t fly to Hawaii until Congress’ session is complete, possibly on Wednesday, the White House said.

    The entire Obama family will return to Washington on New Year’s Day.

    • kitvtv | December 17, 2010

      Residents in Kailua where the presidential family is staying are preparing for Obama’s arrival.

  12. Republicans dig in their heels on nuclear treaty as Dems push vote

    12/19/10 By Alexander Bolton & Bridget Johnson- TheHill.com

    Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) predicted victory Sunday for the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, but his Republican counterpart said that unless there are changes to the preamble he is “absolutely” voting no.

    “I think whether there are the votes to ratify depends on how much the Senate is jammed,” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said on “Fox News Sunday,” saying his “prediction is coming true” that other business including the DREAM Act and the omnibus had swallowed time senators needed “to do it adequately.”

    For the entire article: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/134397-republicans-dig-in-their-heels-on-nuclear-treaty-as-dems-push-vote

    • Looks like Mark Knoller is live-Tweeting the Senate:

    • Good morning Kat and O friends. Hope everyone is having a great day. Kat I turned the news on this morning and I saw all of these cars trying to make it up a hill with little or no success, and I think they said it was in Washington. If so, are you familiar with that hill? It was a sight to see those cars sliding down the hill in slow motion. It was good that no one got hurt.

      • Hi COS! Not in my neck of the woods — it looks like a sunny June day out the window with green grass and evergreens. COLD once you get outside, though. I am reading news reports about traffic accidents in a district that includes Spokane — cars sliding on slippery roads and a pile-up of about 15 cars on I-90.

  13. Energy Department, Dec. 17, 2010:

    A Gingerbread Village That’s Sweet In More Ways Than One

    Posted by Andy Oare

    Every year, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy builds a gingerbread house to celebrate the holidays. This year they rolled out a bit more dough and built a gingerbread neighborhood. As you might expect, it’s not your average, run-of-the-mill, gingerbread neighborhood. This town is all about using energy wisely. All the buildings have smart meters made from fig cookies (work with me here), and some feature cool roofs made of icing to keep air conditioning bills low in the summer. I don’t know what the r-value of gingerbread is, but let’s imagine the homes are very well insulated and sealed and have efficient furnaces and air conditioners, so the gingerbread people are quite cozy. Some of the homes and buildings have licorice solar panels too. The beauty of this town, however, is that the buildings are very comfortable, and don’t use as much energy as they used to. Also, the gingerbread people are spending much less on energy bills than they used to.

    Now imagine real neighborhoods like this. Like most in America, your home was probably not built to be very energy efficient. With some simple upgrades, however, you and each of your neighbors can save hundreds of dollars each year.

    At the Department of Energy, we’re working with partners across the country to make community-wide energy-saving upgrades possible. How will we make that work? Through our BetterBuildings program, our partners are developing innovative, replicable business models to finance energy upgrades. Just like the cable TV roll out in the 1980s, business models that work block by block rather than home by home, will make it easier and cheaper for people to upgrade their homes and offices. Families and businesses will save money by saving energy, whole neighborhoods at a time.

    http://blog.energy.gov/blog/2010/12/17/gingerbread-village-thats-sweet-more-ways-one

  14. DCCC kicks off recruitment push

    12/18/10 ALEXANDER BURNS -POLITICO

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already ramping up its candidate recruitment program for the 2012 cycle, sketching out a list of battleground districts where high-caliber nominees could flip seats into Democratic hands.

    The House Democrats’ campaign arm held its first 2012 recruitment meeting Thursday morning, with incoming DCCC Chairman Steve Israel and his predecessor at the committee, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, in attendance.

    While the DCCC hasn’t yet chosen its full recruitment committee, a dozen members participated in the early discussion on building a Democratic slate for 2012, with a handful of competitive House seats standing out as welcoming targets.

    Among the Republican lawmakers high on the list were California Rep. Dan Lungren, Illinois Rep.-elect Robert Dold, New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance, New Hampshire Rep.-elect Charlie Bass and Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, according to a Democratic official.

    All of those seats were competitive in 2008 or 2010 and all were ultimately won by Republicans this year. In a year less friendly to the GOP, Democrats could have a better shot at knocking off Lungren, Lance and Dent and taking the other two seats they lost in November.

    The party must pick up at least 25 seats in order to take back the House.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46529.html

  15. From Commerce Department, Dec. 17, 2010:

    Celebrate Good Times

    Posted by Zara Brunner

    …. Vice President Biden and Secretary Locke joined the Baldrige Foundation, Overseers, Judges, and NIST leadership and staff in congratulating the 2009 Baldrige Award recipients. Two representatives from each of the Award recipients were on the stage as their colleagues, friends, and partners made some noise. Literally. We heard all sorts of noisemakers–from starfish like maracas to miniature cow bells. The Color Guard and Army Band Brass Quintet helped set the mood too.

    Congratulations Honeywell FM&T, MidwayUSA, AtlantiCare, Heartland Health, and the VA Cooperative Studies Program Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center…. As Vice President Biden said: “you set the example” for organizations across the US and demonstrate that there’s “nothing you can’t do.” You join past Baldrige Award recipients and form an elite group of role model organizations this country needs. Thanks for showing the way forward to other organizations looking to transform business, health care, and government in order to build a stronger America in the face of ever tougher global competition.

    For those of you who didn’t get to join us, please feel free to watch a replay of the Ceremony webcast….

    http://nist.typepad.com/baldrige_program/2010/12/celebrate-good-times.html

    • *****CORRECTION****

      That should “read text of pending Resolution of Ratification of the START Treaty.”

  16. How we got here

    December 19, 2010 | Posted by rootless_e @ ThePeoplesView

    The Obama Presidency interrupted a more than 30 year sequence of defeats for America’s liberals and, boy, has that made the progressive elites angry. After the Carter Presidency which saw deregulation as the major domestic policy initiative, vainly attempted to keep the Shah of Iran in power, and jump-started Al Qaeda as an anti-communist “ally”, Reagan won in 1980 and 1984, then Bush won in 1988. Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 victories produced the following significant policy developments:

    1. Balancing the budget by increasing taxes – much of it on the middle class and poor.
    2. Republican Welfare “reform” that increased poverty and devastated inner cities
    3. The NAFTA “free trade” agreement that helped deeply damage the industrial base of the United States and to increase the relative size and economic and political power of the FIRE Sector (Finance, Insurance, Real-Estate) at the expense of manufacturing.
    4. Legislation institutionalizing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Law (DOMA).
    5. A total defeat on health reform.
    6. Consolidation of a corporate/right-wing media – Clinton’s term saw Rush Limbaugh on Armed Forces Radio, the establishment of the Fox network, the build out of Citadel and Sinclair and the other right wing radio networks, Disney’s takeover of ABC and the elimination of the remaining liberal radio talk shows – Jim Hightower’s audience of 2 million was not enough to keep him on the air after he attacked Disney’s labor practices.
    7. Massive expansion of the “drug war” including major military intervention in Columbia.
    8. Loss of the Senate and the House to Republican control.
    9. Repeal of banking regulation, notably regulation of derivatives trading and Glass-Steagall also leading to increased political and economic power for Wall Street.

    For the entire article: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2010/12/how-we-got-here.html#disqus_thread

    • Quote:

      “…. The progressive elite is not the “base” of the Democratic party no matter how much they may insist otherwise. They are not “liberal” in the traditional American sense either. If American liberalism has a base it is in the battles for civil rights and economic rights (opportunity). Neither of these interest the progressive elite.”

    • Deaniac83:

      “I think President Obama deserves an inordinate amount of credit, but I don’t care much that Hamsher and Wooledge don’t want to give the President credit. There’s definitely enough credit to go around in this victory. But the problem with the claw-on-the-chalkboard rah-rah opposition to the President is that they are neither humble enough nor pleased enough in a victory to admit their errors in judgment, even when they should be happy to be wrong.”

      He suggests they could learn from Rachel Maddow’s example.

  17. Ending tax breaks for the wealthy a 2012 goal: Biden

    12/19/10 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration will be better positioned to fight the extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans when they are set to expire in two years, Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday.

    Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden said the administration will be able to make a better case ahead of the 2012 presidential election that continuing the benefit for high earners “does not make sense.”

    For the entire article: http://yhoo.it/gDHWeq

  18. In Sunday-evening surprise, Senate unanimously passes food safety bill

    12/19/10 By Alexander Bolton – TheHill.com

    The Senate unexpectedly approved food safety legislation by unanimous consent Sunday evening, rescuing a bill that floated in limbo for weeks because of a clerical error.

    The Senate passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act on Nov. 30 by a vote of 73-25. But the bill was later invalidated by a technical objection because it was a revenue-raising measure that did not originate in the House — Senate staff had failed to substitute the food safety language into a House-originated bill.

    A coalition of groups supporting the bill sent a letter Sunday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) calling for action on food safety.

    “Our organizations are writing to support attaching S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, to the Senate’s proposed short-term continuing resolution,” the groups wrote. “Strong food-safety legislation will reduce the risk of contamination and provide FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help make prevention the focus of our food safety strategies.”

    The American Public Health Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and other groups signed the letter.

    Democrats first attempted to attach the food safety bill to the two-and-a-half-month spending measure but Republicans balked because they wanted to keep that measure clean, according to Senate aides.

    Republicans, however, later agreed to pass it by unanimous consent.

    Reid announced he would send the legislation — this time properly attached to a House-originated measure — back to the lower chamber for final approval.

    For the entire article: http://bit.ly/hwhbJ9

  19. Hey guys! Just stopping by to say what’s up? This was an exciting weekend, so glad DADT got done and START is on it’s way. Prez is going out with a bang!

    TTFN!

    • Hey Vero, how are you? Good to see you here. I thought were going to have to put out an APB for you. We missed you.

      Chris Maatthews can’t help himself sometime. This made me laugh.

      The Tingle Is Back! Chris Matthews Excited To See Obama’s Cute, “Wonderful, Boyish Smile”
      Deccember 18th, 2010

      You have to admire one thing about Chris Matthews, when he’s got a feeling he just can’t fight it and wants to share it with everyone. Despite the criticism he received for infamously feeling a “thrill going up [his] leg” during a speech by President Obama and Matthews thinking he needed to defend that statement, he is at again, confessing that deep down he really, really likes so many characteristics of Obama.

        • Kat I just read this Andrew sullivan piece from an OFA link and my toes are tingling. 🙂 I really like Sullivan.

          I especially love this part.

          Snip..

          I agree. If the next two years are as productive as the last two, and if Obama resists the Rich-Krugman-Maddow chorus to be Michael Moore in chief, then the promise of the Goodbye To All That presidency is very much alive. From the perspective of this Christmas, after the many bewildering twists and turns of the last two years, Obama is looking good because he kept his nerve and retained his restraint. That’s a tough combo: nerve and restraint. It takes a cold-bloodedness to pull this off, and there are times when ice seems to run through the man’s veins.

          I occasionally used to day-dream about a ‘one-nation’ Tory U.S. president, a second Eisenhower of a sort. Little did I know he would be a black man with a funny name.

  20. WH

    Monday Dec. 20, 2010

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM

    Pres Obama receives the presidential daily briefing.
    10:30 AM

    Pres Obama meets with senior advisers.
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    12:30 PM

    R Gibbs briefs the press.
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      Dec 20 Live Feed Schedule

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      12:30 PM EST
      White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs holds his daily briefing with reporters. Topics expected to be discussed include the crisis in the Korean Peninsula, the New START accord, the Senate’s decision on “don’t ask, don’t tell” and more.

      CNN http://live.cnn.com/

      10:00 AM EST
      Senate in session
      Senators discuss and debate the New START nuclear arms pact between the United States and Russia, as well as other issues of the day. http://www.cnn.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=stream1

      10:30 AM EST
      Bloomberg on 9/11 health compensation bill
      New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls on the Senate to pass a health care bill benefiting 9/11 rescue workers.

      12:30 PM EST
      House in session
      House lawmakers discuss and debate the issues of the day.

      12:30 PM EST
      White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs holds his daily briefing with reporters.

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      10:00 AM EST
      Senate in session
      Senators discuss and debate the New START nuclear arms pact between the United States and Russia, as well as other issues of the day. http://cs.pn/guRpYP

      12:30 PM EST
      House in session
      House lawmakers discuss and debate the issues of the day.

      1pm ET
      Experts Discuss the Implementation of the New Health Care Law http://cs.pn/dHEwv8

  21. Benefits: Jobless relieved life raft still afloat

    12/20/10 MEGHAN BARR -AP

    CLEVELAND – Kimberly Smith holds up the piece of paper that is the only thing keeping her from bankruptcy: an application for extended unemployment benefits. She’s not happy that she needs it. And she’s upset that it was nearly taken away.

    “I do deserve it,” the 49-year-old says. “I’ve done everything I could to try and get a job. I tried to get back into the retail industry. I made the effort to, at my age, go back to college.”

    President Barack Obama extended unemployment benefits for Smith and millions of other Americans when he signed tax-cut legislation Friday. It helps people who have been out of work more than 26 weeks but less than 99 weeks, though the benefits vary greatly from state to state.

    They could be just about anybody. People with college degrees and people with no higher education. People who have resorted to living out of their cars. People who have cashed out their retirement savings. People who once held six-figure jobs and people like Smith, who was laid off from her job as a department manager at a jeweler’s a year and a half ago.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101219/ap_on_bi_ge/us_tax_cuts_the_reprieve

    • Good morning CR. It is funny that as I read this article, I was listening to Rep. Donna Edwards on the Bill Press show right now from Maryland I believe, and I think she said that she voted against it. I think she is Donna’s representative and is a member of the CBC.

      • Good morning COS!

        I am just so glad that people who are down and out have been given a small helping hand at least for now.

        • It was excellent – I just read it. Andrew Sullivan nails it again! Call me eternally grateful somebody “gets it.”

  22. Obama, family, entourage expected soon in Kailua

    12/20/10 HERBERT A. SAMPLE- AP

    KAILUA, Hawaii — While President Barack Obama’s standing in Washington has dropped a notch or two in the year since he and his family last spent their holiday vacation in this beach community, the thrill is definitely not gone for many Kailuans about him coming back.

    “I’m very excited,” said Virginia Carnohan, owner of The Cottage gift shop about 2 1/2 miles from the trio of multimillion dollar beachfront homes where the Obama family and friends will spend Christmas and New Year’s.

    “We have a local boy who’s president and everybody’s very proud of that,” said Chuck Prentiss, chairman of the Kailua Neighborhood Board, a panel that advises Honolulu city officials on community concerns.

    First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha arrived Saturday evening on Oahu — the island that contains the state’s largest city, where Obama was born and mostly raised. But the president is not expected until after Congress adjourns, possibly on Wednesday.

    Last year, delayed by deliberations on the health care reform bill, the family didn’t get to Hawaii until Christmas Eve. This will be their third consecutive holiday visit to Kailua.

    The Secret Service began alerting residents of spacious homes along Kailuana Place last week that checkpoints will soon go up. Hawaiian Telecom personnel were busily repairing telephone wiring outside one of the Obama homes, which sit midway down a cul-de-sac.

    For the entire article: http://yhoo.it/fU7psD

  23. Rain wreaks havoc across Oahu
    Roads and weekend plans are ruined as the unrelenting storm hits the state

    12/20/10 By Dan Nakaso – StarAdvertiser

    Oahu will remain under a flash-flood watch through this afternoon following a rain-soaked Sunday that saw a storm-related fire knock out power to parts of Ala Moana Center on the last shopping weekend before Christmas, the closure of the Honolulu Zoo and City Hall, an overwhelmed sewer system that burst manhole covers and wrong-way drivers trying to avoid flooded streets.

    A 4-foot-wide sinkhole opened up on Oahu Avenue yesterday.

    At least three flooded homes received help from the Hawaii chapter of the American Red Cross.

    A 150-pound boulder rumbled off Diamond Head and landed at the Diamond Head Lighthouse.

    The rain unleashed a handful of mudslides, including one at Farrington Highway at Ko Olina that choked the only way into and out of the Leeward Coast.

    For the entire article: http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20101220_rain_wreaks_havoc_across_oahu.html

    • Kailua, where the Obamas are staying is on the Windward coast but still the island is only 596.7 sq. mi. (1,545.4 km²) so rain/flooding is affecting the whole island (at least it is warm rain).

  24. December 20, 2010
    The Gitmo Trials Ban Mystery: Solved.

    Thanks to Lynn Sweet, we now know who was responsible for placing the ban on federal funds for federal criminal trials of Guantanamo detainees in the National Defense Authorization Act. It was the Illinois Republican delegation, concerned about the rather remote possibility that the Obama administration would ultimately be moving detainees to the designated “Gitmo North” Thompson former correctional facility. In fact, the ban is almost a non-sequitur in this regard, except in the sense that it makes it more difficult to close Gitmo, both by banning trials and making voluntary transfers to countries with “known recidivists” conditional on the approval of the Secretary of Defense.
    http://bit.ly/fjQbqY

    • This is closes I can find word from Lynn Sweet re: Sen. Kirk, a blog entry dated Dec. 17.

      Sen. Mark Kirk threatens to hold up Defense bill over Guantanamo detainees
      By Lynn Sweet on December 17, 2010 9:52 AM | No Comments
      WASHINGTON–Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Friday threatened to place a “hold’ on the Defense Appropriation bill if it includes a provision to allow the transfer of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba military prison to the United States. Under Senate rules, any Senator can stall a piece of legislation–and the freshman Kirk is flexing his new senate muscle for the first time.

      The issue flared up earlier this year when the Obama administration moved to buy an underused state prison in Thomson, Ill. in part to use to house Guantanamo detainees. As a House member from Illinois–until he was sworn into the Senate on Nov. 29–Kirk opposed any transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.

      Closing Guantanmo was a central Obama pledge that the president has not been able to keep–a promise made during his campaign on his first day in office. Congress needs to give permission for any transfer of a Guantanamo prisoner to the U.S.
      http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2010/12/sen_mark_kirk_threatens_to_hol.html

  25. Obama pushes for arms pact as top Dem upbeat

    12/20/10 DONNA CASSATA -AP

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama lobbied senators by phone Monday to back an arms treaty with Russia that he’s called a national security imperative, as a top Senate Democrat conceded “house by house combat” would be needed to win enough GOP votes to prevail.

    The president is continuing to call senators as he presses for passage of the New START treaty before Congress adjourns, according to deputy press secretary Bill Burton.

    The White House and Senate Democratic leaders expressed confidence they’ll ultimately have enough votes for passage. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would oppose the accord, complicating the prospects for Obama’s top foreign policy priority.

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats have now picked up the support of GOP Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and said he thinks Democrats will get the two-thirds vote the Constitution requires for the Senate to ratify a treaty. He said Democrats will need nine or 10 Republican votes to prevail.

    “It’s going to be a real slog, house by house combat if you will,” Schumer told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday. “But I think we’ll be there.”

    For the entire article: http://yhoo.it/ezYF7v

  26. Happy Monday, everybody!

    >^..^<

    Kat's Weekday Obama Administration Report, 12/20/10

    Today's report features:

    • Weekly Address: The President calls for ratifaction of the New START Treaty.

    • DADT: The President's statement on DADT repeal.

    • DREAM Act: The President's statement on the Senate vote; statements from the Attorney General and Cabinet Secretary.

    • Signing tax cuts legislation: The President signs the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

    • Education Department Tribal Listening Tours: The Secretary and other officials discuss plans to meet tribal needs.

    • Energy News: A gingerbread village illustrates energy upgrades; Interior Secretary asks for comments on solar energy plans; clean energy manufacturing expands in the Midwest; US now net exporter of solar energy products.

    • Honoring museums and libraries: The First Lady presents the National Medal for Museum and Library Services to 10 outstanding institutions.

    • A visit from the President: The President reads to students at Long Branch Elementary School in Arlington, VA.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/20/929796/-untitled-diary

  27. Schumer: 9/11 bill must pass now

    12/20/10 MANU RAJU -POLITICO

    New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday that the House should stay in session until the Senate passes a new version of a bill aimed at giving health benefits to Ground Zero workers.

    Setting up a clash in the final days of the congressional session, Schumer – along with fellow New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand – offered a modified version of a bill Sunday giving compensation to rescue workers who fell ill from the toxic dust stemming from the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

    “There are ways that the House may be able to pass this bill by unanimous consent,” Schumer said at a Sunday news conference in the Capitol. “Otherwise, we believe they should stay to get the bill passed, and we’re going to get it done as quickly as possible.”

    But with time running out this congressional session, Democrats have little margin for error. Schumer said that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave him assurances that the Senate would take up the bill after the Senate finishes its work on the new START nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46593.html

  28. Congress Passes Landmark Community Radio Act
    Opens airwaves to more stations, diversity of voices

    12/19/10 pitchfork.com

    Yesterday, on the same day that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, another significant bill was passed by both the House and Senate: the Local Community Radio Act. As the Huffington Post reports, this legislation allows for the creation of new non-commercial stations on American airwaves– a number that could reach to the hundreds or even thousands. In a press release, the Future of Music Coalition said, “The addition of more Low Power FM (LPFM) stations will increase local civic engagement, diversify the airwaves, support local music and culture, assist during emergencies, expand religious expression, and provide a platform for the voices of underrepresented communities to be heard.”

    UPDATE: The bill states that these stations must be FCC-approved “based on the needs of the local community,” and that restrictions are in place to “prohibit any applicant from obtaining a low-power FM license if the applicant has engaged in any manner in the unlicensed operation of any station in violation of section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 301).” There is also built-in protection for “full-power FM stations that are licensed in significantly populated States with more than 3,000,000 housing units and a population density greater than 1,000 per square mile,” so low-power stations may be more difficult to acquire in those areas.

    More than 500 LPFM stations have been given the green-light since 2001. According to the bill, “These stations are currently on the air and are run by local government agencies, groups promoting arts and education to immigrant and indigenous peoples, artists, schools, religious organizations, environmental groups, organizations promoting literacy, and many other civically oriented organizations.” With the passing of this bill, we can now expect many more of these LPFM stations to proliferate.

    This is a major victory for those aspiring to become community broadcasters, and an extremely exciting development for community-driven radio nationwide. Pitchfork very much looks forward to reporting on and supporting these new stations as they appear.

    • DN! Obama Admin Scores Local Radio Community Act Historic Victory

      From: StartLoving4 | December 20, 2010

  29. End-of-year presser is ‘possible’

    12/20/10 By MATT NEGRIN – POLITICO

    It is “certainly possible” that President Obama will call a press conference on Wednesday before he leaves for Christmas vacation, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday.

    Obama plans to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” Wednesday morning, Gibbs said, hinting that Obama would leave shortly afterward to join his family in Hawaii.

    Asked if Obama would hold a press conference before boarding Air Force One, Gibbs told reporters simply that it’s “certainly possible.”

  30. TAKEAWAYS

    12/20/10 POLITICO44

    Here’s what you need to know from Monday’s White House briefing with press secretary Robert Gibbs:

    — President Obama has no plans to be briefed by Bill Richardson on the governor’s trip to North Korea, Gibbs said. He said Richardson’s visit was as a “private citizen” and “not in any way sanctioned by the U.S. government.”

    — Obama and Vice President Biden have been calling senators about ratifying the START deal with Russia, and they “continue” to do so, Gibbs said.

    — Trying to pin some Republicans down, Gibbs said it “doesn’t make a ton of sense” that they think the START deal could harm missile defense “if they haven’t had enough time” to read the treaty. Still, he was confident that the agreement will be ratified before Congress leaves for the year.

    — Pressed repeatedly on when the White House thinks gays in the military will be able to say they’re gay, and other matters related to repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Gibbs said, “There are a host of lawyers looking at all these legal issues.”

    — Obama canceled plans to go to the Wizards-Heat basketball game on Saturday because he was in the Oval Office and his residence “working,” Gibbs said, calling it “a better use of his time.”

  31. Posted at my DK diary by commenter Pam from Calif:

    Pismo2000 | December 19, 2010 –

    I’m Grateful for President Obama

  32. I know this was written on Dec. 18 and may have been posted already. Disregard if you have seen it. It is about old man bitter McCain.

    SNIP….

    McCain distinguished himself doubly this weekend, opposing the Dream Act and leading the opposition to “Don’t Ask,” despite the very public positions of his wife and daughter on the other side of the issue. I used to know a different John McCain, the guy who proposed comprehensive immigration reform with Ted Kennedy, the guy–a conservative, to be sure, but an honorable one–who refused to indulge in the hateful strictures of his party’s extremists. His public fall has been spectacular, a consequence of politics–he “needed” to be reelected–and personal pique. He’s a bitter man now, who can barely tolerate the fact that he lost to Barack Obama. But he lost for an obvious reason: his campaign proved him to be puerile and feckless, a politician who panicked when the heat was on during the financial collapse, a trigger-happy gambler who chose an incompetent for his vice president. He has made quite a show ever since of demonstrating his petulance and lack of grace.

    What a guy.

    Read more: http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2010/12/18/two-dreams-one-dead/#ixzz18gDfbmfJ

      • CR, what makes it so sad is that he should be reflecting at this point in his life and trying to do the right thing. I don’t think he can sink any lower. Loser is the perfect word.

        • I’m reading upthread, and knew you guys were discussing McCain, even before I confirmed it.

          He’s the biggest loser of all, in more ways than just his big ones in 2000 and 2008. What a disgrace he’s become.

          My question is: Has he no family or friends who could speak to him about his bizzaro behavior? To save him from himself, and all that?

  33. Harry Reid Questions ‘Mental Capacity’ Of His GOP Colleagues

    12/20/10 Nick Wing -The Huffington Post

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said recently that if the upcoming 112th Congress fails to address comprehensive immigration reform, it will be the result of the GOP’s insufficient “mental capacity.”

    During an interview with the New York Times, Reid did a little forecasting about the legislative limits of the next Congress.

    For his part, Mr. Reid predicted, “We’ll get some things done,” naming comprehensive immigration legislation as one possibility.

    If Republicans’ vulnerability among Hispanic voters does not persuade them to compromise, he noted, “they have real problems with their mental capacity.”

    Others have said that the Senate’s failure to pass the DREAM Act is a bad omen, as far as the future of immigration reform is concerned.

    The legislation, which offers a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, was slammed by opponents as an “amnesty” bill that didn’t address the more urgent need of securing the border.

    While some still hold hope that the DREAM Act’s powerful allies will succeed in pushing forward comprehensive immigration reform, it appears that more states are turning to harsh immigration enforcement laws inspired by Arizona’s controversial measure signed into law earlier this year. Further complicating the reform effort is a new wave of state legislators taking aim at “birthright citizenship.”

  34. Whiteboard

    12/20/10 POLITICO44

    Vice President Biden announced Monday that his deputy press secretary, Annie Tomasini, will leave at the end of the year for a position at Harvard. She’ll be replaced by Amy Dudley, who was Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman’s press secretary.

    “Annie has been a trusted and loyal member of my inner circle, as well as a source of support for the entire Biden family,” Biden said in a statement. “From her time with me in the U.S. Senate, on the campaign trail, and now at the White House, Annie has been successful at every level. Her talent, tireless work ethic and innate ability to bring out the best in those around her have made her an invaluable asset to the entire office. Jill and I will miss her deeply, but we wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

    The White House offered this bio of Biden’s new aide:

    “Amy Dudley comes to the White House from Senator Ted Kaufman’s office, where she served as his press secretary. Prior to the Senate, she worked in the public affairs office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), where she helped to develop media strategies to highlight the organization’s efforts to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide. Dudley began her career in Washington as a staff writer for The Hotline, National Journal’s daily briefing on politics, where she covered the 2006 midterm elections and the run-up to the 2008 presidential primaries. A native of Brookfield, Connecticut, Dudley graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies.”

  35. Sierra Club Magazine Jan/Feb 2011:

    * Solar panels will go back up on the White House this spring

    * The EPA recommends that the Clean Water Act permit for the spruce No. 1 Mine Logan County, West Virginia, be withdrawn. Without such permit the country’s largest mountaintop-removal operation would have to shutdown

    * The US military wants to use 50 percent renewable energy by 2020

    * The Obama administration lifts its moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico a month and a half early.

    * The mystery of the bee killing colony collapse disorder may be solved: A new report finds that every dying hive studied had a “100 percent lethal” combination of fungus and a virus

  36. President Obama Signs Critical Legislation to Prevent Child Abuse and Domestic Violence

    Posted by Lynn Rosenthal on December 20, 2010

    This afternoon, I stood in the Oval Office and watched as President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) which includes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA.) As he signed this crucial bill into law, the President was surrounded by Senators and Representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, and national advocates who work every day to end domestic violence and child abuse.

    In 2008, 772,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect. Nearly 2,000 of those children died. By providing states and local communities with new tools to identify and treat abuse and neglect, CAPTA-funded services will continue to protect children across the country. Prevention efforts will help parents by addressing high risk-factors like substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence.

    Domestic violence still affects 1 in 4 women in states and territories across the country. FVPSA funds nearly 1,700 shelters and service programs for victims of domestic violence and their children. It also supports the National Domestic Violence Hotline, whose staff and volunteers answer more than 22,000 calls for help each month and link victims with the resources they need to rebuild their lives.

    I’d like to thank the members of Congress whose leadership was essential to CAPTA and FVPSA’s passage: Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Mike Enzi, Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative George Miller, Representative John Kline, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, and Representative Todd Platts. I particularly want to thank Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Gwen Moore, who were the lead sponsors of FVPSA and who worked so hard to ensure the bill passed this year.

    Thanks to the bi-partisan work of members of Congress who were with us today, CAPTA and FVPSA will help end abuse, give hope to victims, and provide families with the help they need, when they need it. As we gathered in the Oval Office, I was thinking of the many abuse survivors I have met over the years. This bill creates a bright future for victims and their families.

    Lynn Rosenthal is White House Advisor on Violence Against Women

  37. WH

    Tuesday Dec. 21, 2010
    All Times Eastern

    VP Biden meets with senior advisers in the afternoon.
    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    10:05 AM

    Pres Obama and VP Biden receive the presidential daily briefing.
    10:45 AM

    Pres Obama meets with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      Dec 21 Live Feed Schedule

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      CNN http://live.cnn.com/

      9:30 AM EST
      Senate in session
      Senate lawmakers take up the New START accord, health care legislation benefiting 9/11 first responders, food safety and government spending.

      11:00 AM EST
      The Census bureau holds a briefing to announce the 2010 U.S. population and congressional reapportionment.

      11:00 AM EST
      White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs holds his daily briefing with reporters. Topics expected to be discussed include the New START accord, the “net neutrality” debate and the situation along the Korean Peninsula.

      1:00 PM EST
      Pelosi holds ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ bill signing ceremony
      One day before President Obama signs legislation repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a bill signing ceremony.

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      FCC Considers Adopting “Net Neutrality” http://www.cspan.org/Events/FCC-Considers-Adopting-Net-Neutrality/10737418370/

      11:00 AM EST
      The Census bureau holds a briefing to announce the 2010 U.S. population and congressional reapportionment. http://www.cspan.org/Events/US-to-Unveil-2010-Census/10737418368/

      11:00 AM EST
      White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs holds his daily briefing with reporters. Topics expected to be discussed include the New START accord, the “net neutrality” debate and the situation along the Korean Peninsula.

      1:00 PM EST
      Pelosi holds ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ bill signing ceremony
      One day before President Obama signs legislation repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a bill signing ceremony.

  38. This Week: FCC Meets on Net Neutrality; Census Data to Be Released

    12/20/10 CSPAN

    Tomorrow the Federal Communications Commission will vote on net neutrality. They will consider whether to adopt rules to preserve “net neutrality,” following a federal court ruling citing that the agency lacked the authority to regulate the Internet.

    Net neutrality is a principle that advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content and sites.

    The U.S. Census Bureau will also be releasing the first set of 2010 data tomorrow. The release will not only include the population of the U.S. and each state, but will also indicate congressional apportionment totals. The 435 seats in the House are divided among the 50 states based on population figures collected in the data which is collected every ten years.

    The Census Bureau must report the results to President Obama before the end of the year. Individual city and county population is not expected in this data release.

    http://www.cspan.org/Events/This-Week-FCC-Meets-on-Net-Neutrality-Census-Data-to-Be-Released/10737418346/

  39. Senate expected to vote Tuesday on funding measure

    12/20/10 By Erik Wasson – TheHill.com

    The Senate is expected to cast a key procedural vote Tuesday on a spending measure freezing federal worker pay.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday evening filed a cloture motion to end debate on a continuing resolution, which would fund the government through March 4. A spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee said the vote on that motion would be Tuesday.

    The Senate resolution also does not contain controversial language present in the Senate omnibus spending bill and House full-year resolution which would have prevented any transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. The language, objected to by Attorney General Eric Holder, would have prevented civilian trials of suspected terrorists and made it impossible to fulfill President Obama’s pledge to close the prison.

    Sixty votes are required to end debate. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he and Reid had a deal on the funding measure, though a Senate Democratic aide said there are still some outstanding issues.

    For the entire article: http://bit.ly/eFIRRA

  40. Project Share
    Philanthropist Provides Care For Brain-Damaged Soldiers

    12/21/10 Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling – NPR

    ATLANTA — One afternoon this fall, Bobby McKinney hunched over a coffee table with a clear glass surface. A lamp with a bare light bulb illuminated it from below. Pencil in hand, the former Marine traced the pattern for a tattoo across delicate paper, a swirling, intricate design reminiscent of a Celtic cross.

    McKinney’s small apartment faded from his thoughts: The closet filled with shirts and pairs of jeans, hung three inches apart, all facing exactly the same direction, the way the Marines had taught him. The box packed with a dozen brown plastic medicine bottles. The worn couch that he slept on instead of the bed. The eraser board on his refrigerator where he had scrawled “A coward dies a 1,000 deaths. A warrior dies one.”

    Suddenly, a nurse’s aide knocked on the door. Had he checked the oven? McKinney leapt up and ran to the kitchen, pulling out a tin of brownies on the point of burning.

    “I guess I was just very focused on the tattoo design,” he told a counselor later, pushing a camouflage baseball cap back on his head. “I set the alarm. I guess I just didn’t hear it.”

    “Try to work on one thing at a time,” she told him. “Multitasking is just asking the brain to do two or three things not too well.”

    McKinney, 29, nodded in agreement. It seemed so obvious once she said it. But his mind — the mind that once helped sniper teams in Iraq, that navigated battlefield maps and complex rules of enemy engagement — had just not come up with the idea to do one task instead of many. “When you think about it, it kinda makes sense. But I wouldn’t think about it on my own,” he said.

    McKinney is an Iraq war veteran who suffered multiple concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injuries. Bomb blasts jarred his brain, leaving him with no outside scars, but with nagging mental problems. His short-term memory is bad. He moves slowly through ordinary chores. He gets disoriented easily, and can’t find his way to the home that he has lived in for months without the aid of a GPS.

    For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/21/132203864/philanthropist-provides-care-that-the-pentagon-wont

  41. Happy Tuesday, everybody!

    >^..^<

    Kat's Weekday Obama Administration Report, 12/21/10

    Today's report features:

    • Watch on Wednesday: The President will sign DADT repeal Dec. 22.

    • Preventing child abuse and domestic violence: The President signs preventive legislation.

    • Press briefing: START, First Responders Bill, Afghanistan.

    • Côte d’Ivoire unrest: White House calls for Côte d’Ivoire's President Gbagbo to step down and allow Alassane Ouattara to take office; Ambassador Rice on UNSC's extension of peacekeeping mandate.

    • Commerce news: Secretary Locke comments on outcomes of 21st session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.

    • HHS News: Launch of Healthy People 2020, the nation's 10-year health agenda.

    • EPA news: Green builders’ innovative efforts in Philadelphia.

    • Capitol Tree: USDA report on the Wyoming tree's travels.

    • Remembering the troops: What deployed soldiers miss when they can't be home for the holidays.

    • It Gets Better: LGBT White House staffers share messages of hope and support.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/21/930498/-Kats-Weekday-Obama-Administration-Report,-12-21-10

  42. Happy winter, all!

    We couldn’t get a glimpse of the lunar eclipse, due to the never-ending cloud cover here in the midwest. Was anyone able to see it?

  43. December 21, 2010

    Statement by President Obama on Iraqi Government Formation

    Today’s vote in the Council of Representatives is a significant moment in Iraq’s history and a major step forward in advancing national unity. I congratulate Iraq’s political leaders, the members of the Council of Representatives, and the Iraqi people on the formation of a new government of national partnership.
    Yet again, the Iraqi people and their elected representatives have demonstrated their commitment to working through a democratic process to resolve their differences and shape Iraq’s future. Their decision to form an inclusive partnership government is a clear rejection of the efforts by extremists to spur sectarian division.
    Iraq faces important challenges, but the Iraqi people can also seize a future of opportunity. The United States will continue to strengthen our long-term partnership with Iraq’s people and leaders as they build a prosperous and peaceful nation that is fully integrated into the region and international community.

    • December 21, 2010

      Statement by Vice President Biden on Iraqi Government Formation

      Today, Iraq’s political leaders delivered what Iraq’s people deserved and expected: an inclusive, national partnership government that reflects the results of Iraq’s elections.

      I especially want to congratulate Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqiyya leader Ayad Allawi and Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani for the hard work and wise leadership that has brought Iraq to this promising moment.

      There are many challenges ahead, but I am convinced Iraq is up to them. The United States stands ready to help and to strengthen even more the important partnership we have built.

  44. FCC adopts Internet traffic rules

    12/21/10 by Jasmin Melvin – Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. communications regulators adopted Internet traffic rules on Tuesday that prevent providers from blocking lawful content but still let them ration access to their networks.

    The Federal Communications Commission approved the “Open Internet” order after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan got the support of fellow Democrats Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.

    The rules aim to strike a balance between the interests of Web service providers, content companies and consumers, but some industry analysts think a court challenge is still likely.

    At issue is whether regulators need to guarantee that all stakeholders continue to have reasonable access to the Internet, a principle often called “net neutrality,” or whether the Internet is best left to flourish unregulated.

    The two Republican commissioners at the agency opposed the measure saying it was unnecessary and would stifle innovation. Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker told an FCC open meeting that they believed the rules would fail in court.

    High-speed Internet providers like Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications can “reasonably” manage their networks under the rules and perhaps charge consumers based on levels of Internet usage.

    The rules, to be somewhat looser for wireless Internet, could help cable companies in competition with plans by Microsoft Corp, Google Inc and Amazon.com to deliver competing video content over the same Internet lines the cable companies run to customers’ homes.

    • December 21, 2010

      Statement by the President on Today’s FCC Vote on Net Neutrality

      Today’s decision will help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet while encouraging innovation, protecting consumer choice, and defending free speech. Throughout this process, parties on all sides of this issue – from consumer groups to technology companies to broadband providers – came together to make their voices heard. This decision is an important component of our overall strategy to advance American innovation, economic growth, and job creation.

      As a candidate for President, I pledged to preserve the freedom and openness that have allowed the Internet to become a transformative and powerful platform for speech and expression. That’s a pledge I’ll continue to keep as President. As technology and the market continue to evolve at a rapid pace, my Administration will remain vigilant and see to it that innovation is allowed to flourish, that consumers are protected from abuse, and that the democratic spirit of the Internet remains intact.

      I congratulate the FCC, its Chairman, Julius Genachowski, and Congressman Henry Waxman for their work achieving this important goal today.

  45. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal provides hope for passage of New START Treaty

    12/21/2010 San Jose Mercury News Editorial

    The final tally of Saturday’s Senate vote allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military — 65-31 — masks the intensity of the opposition to repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It also shows that some Republicans in the Senate are capable of doing the right thing — of helping, as Martin Luther King Jr. liked to say, that long arc of history bend toward justice — even when the leaders of their party are determined to obstruct progress and put political posturing first.

    History will not be kind to the 31 Republican senators who voted against repeal. They were presumably bowing to their leaders’ attempts to weaken President Barack Obama, since the vast majority of the public and the military supports repeal. “Why fix something that isn’t broken?” these senators, led by John McCain, kept repeating. It’s as if they had their fingers in their ears throughout this debate.

    “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has damaged the lives of more than 13,000 service members drummed out of the military, along with countless others who are forced to live a lie so they can serve their country. It has also harmed military readiness in the midst of two wars, according to a federal judge who recently ruled it unconstitutional.

    One of the eight Republicans who voted for repeal, Richard Burr of North Carolina, did so out of recognition that the country has changed. In a statement after the vote, Burr said, “Given the generational transition that has taken place in our nation, I feel that this policy is outdated and repeal is inevitable.”

    Given that Burr isn’t exactly a champion of gay rights, it’s bracing to see that truth so plainly stated. His comments could also portend a tipping point on the issue of gay marriage. It will be difficult to argue that gay Americans who risk their lives for their nation should continue to be denied the right to marry.

    Burr and other Republicans deserve plaudits for bucking Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose No.1 priority is defeating Obama. It was in that vein that McConnell pledged over the weekend to vote against the New START treaty, which requires Russia and the United States to reduce their nuclear arsenals and allows inspections of Russian nuclear facilities to resume. The treaty is one of the last pieces of business for this Congress; ratification requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

    Two other Republican leaders on military issues, McCain and Lindsey Graham, reportedly offered to round up votes for the treaty last week, but only if Democrats agreed to drop repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” — evidence that opposition to the treaty is far from principled. New START is supported by military leaders, nuclear experts and every living Republican secretary of state. The only reason to oppose it is politics.

    Majority Leader Harry Reid is pressing hard for passage, saying the debate “will come down to a simple choice: You either want to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, or you don’t.” With Reid pledging a procedural vote as early as today, we’ll soon find out which side the Republicans are on — and hope that, as with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” vote, patriotism trumps politics.

  46. In addition to pledging not to give up on the DREAM Act:

  47. Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 21, 2010:

    Readout of the President’s Meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

    In an Oval Office meeting today, the President discussed immigration reform with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). The President and the members discussed their deep disappointment with the DREAM Act failing in the U.S. Senate despite having the support of a majority of Senators and a majority of the American people, noting that it would have cut the budget deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. The President reiterated that he will not give up on the DREAM Act, and thanked the members for their tireless leadership on this issue.

    The President further reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, pointing out that we can no longer perpetuate a broken immigration system that is not working for our country or our economy. The President and the members agreed that the American people expect both parties to come together around common sense approaches to solve our toughest problems, not kick them down the road, and agreed to work together and with the Congress to get the job done. They also agreed that immigration reform should remain a top priority for the coming Congress, and to work together to advance proposals that not only to strengthen security at the nation’s borders, but also restore responsibility and accountability to what everyone agrees is a badly broken immigration system.

    Members in Attendance:

    Senator Bob Menendez (NJ)
    Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA)
    Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (NY)
    Congressman Charlie Gonzalez (TX)
    Congressman Luis Gutierrez (IL)

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/21/readout-presidents-meeting-with-congressional-hispanic-caucus

  48. Hoyer still ‘hopeful’ House can pass 9/11 first-responders health bill this week

    12/21/10 By Mike Lillis – TheHill.com

    A top House Democrat said Tuesday that legislation providing healthcare services for 9/11 rescue workers is still on track for a House vote this week.

    After talks with bill supporters in the Senate, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he remains hopeful the upper chamber will send the proposal back to the House “by tonight or early tomorrow morning.”

    Hoyer said he spoke Tuesday morning with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a lead sponsor of the Senate bill, to discuss plans for finalizing the measure this week.

    “We want to pass it. We think it’s an important piece of legislation,” Hoyer said. “I am hopeful that we can deal with it tonight. We’ll see what the [Senate] Republicans want to do.”

    Although House lawmakers passed the bill by a wide margin in September, the legislation has faced a much steeper climb in the Senate, where GOP critics say they want more time to consider it. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is threatening to filibuster the bill, preventing the proposal from even reaching the Senate floor.

    For the entire article: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/134699-hoyer-hopeful-house-can-pass-911-health-bill-this-week

  49. 7.4 earthquake hits Pacific, no tsunami warning issued for Hawaii

    Dec 21, 2010 HawaiiNewsNow

    PACIFIC OCEAN (HawaiiNewsNow) – A 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean 80 miles south of Japan near the Bonin Islands on Tuesday.

    Japan’s Meteorological Agency has issued a warning for a mild tsunami for nearby islands.

    So far, there have been no reports of damage or injuries.

    According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, there is no tsunami threat for Hawaii.

  50. WhiteBoard

    12/21/10 POLITICO44

    Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are on Capitol Hill as the Senate nears a vote on ratifying the START pact with Russia, an administration official tells POLITICO. — Glenn Thrush (2:24 p.m.)

    • White House White Board: Health Reform & Rate Review

      Posted by Stephanie Cutter on December 21, 2010

      For the past decade, Americans have seen double-digit health insurance premium increases. From 2000 to 2010, premiums rose 114 percent and nothing suggests that the quality of insurance coverage improved. In many cases, insurance companies had free reign and weren’t held accountable when they attempted to raise rates on consumers. Only 26 states and the District of Columbia can reject premium increases that are excessive or unjustified, and many of these states lack the resources to use this authority to protect consumers.

      That’s beginning to change. Here’s how:

      First, the Affordable Care Act gives states $250 million to enhance their rate review procedures so they can better protect consumers and stop unreasonable premium hikes from taking effect. 46 states and the District of Columbia have already received a share of these resources and they’re using the new funds to make more information about premiums available to the public and get the authority they need to oversee the insurance marketplace and protect consumers.

      Second, the Affordable Care Act brings new transparency to the health insurance market by requiring insurance companies to publicly justify any unreasonable premium increases. Under the new rules, if an insurance company proposes to raise rates by 10% or more, they must publicly disclose on their own, as well as HHS’ website the justification for the increase. The appropriate state insurance commissioner or, if a State does not have an effective rate review process, HHS, will then review the insurance company’s justification to determine whether or not the increase is justified. In some states like, Washington and Maine, all new insurance premium rates, regardless of whether they are below 10% need to be approved by the state insurance commissioner’s office ahead of time, and will continue to be reviewed moving forward.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/21/white-house-white-board-health-reform-rate-review

  51. Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 21, 2010:

    Presidential Proclamation–Stalking Awareness Month

    Stalking is a serious and pervasive crime that affects millions of Americans each year in communities throughout our country. Though we have gained a better understanding of stalking and its prevalence since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, this dangerous and criminal behavior is still often mischaracterized as harmless. During Stalking Awareness Month, we acknowledge the seriousness of stalking, we recognize its impact on victims, and we recommit to reducing its incidence.

    Persistent stalking and harassment can lead to serious consequences for victims, whose lives may be upended by fear. Some victims may be forced to take extreme measures to protect themselves, such as changing jobs, relocating to a new home, or even assuming a new identity. Stalking can happen to anyone, and most victims are stalked by someone they know. Young adults are particularly vulnerable, and women are at greater risk for stalking victimization than men.

    Stalking can be a difficult crime to recognize. The majority of survivors do not report stalking victimization to the police, in part because perpetrators use a variety of tactics to intimidate and harass their victims. Increasingly, stalkers use modern technology to monitor and torment their victims, and one in four victims report some form of cyberstalking — such as threatening emails or instant messaging — as part of their harassment.

    My Administration is working across the Federal Government to protect victims of violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse or harassment. Stalking affects too many Americans to remain a hidden crime, and a strong stand is required in order to both support victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

    As a Nation, we have made progress, but much work remains to respond to this criminal behavior. We must work together to educate the public about the potentially deadly nature of stalking, to encourage victims to seek help, to inform criminal justice professionals about the intersection of stalking and other dangerous crimes, and to support law enforcement in their efforts.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2011 as National Stalking Awareness Month. I call on all Americans to learn to recognize the signs of stalking, acknowledge stalking as a serious crime, and urge those impacted not to be afraid to speak out or ask for help. Let us also resolve to support victims and survivors, and to create communities that are secure and supportive for all Americans.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

    BARACK OBAMA

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/21/presidential-proclamation-stalking-awareness-month

  52. I knew sooner or later that the blame would start shifting to PBO re the 9/11 bill. I have a feeling PBO is calling behind the scenes. I really feel bad for these guys. The repugs are heartless.

  53. December 21, 2010

    Statement by the Press Secretary on Adoption of U.S. Sponsored Amendment to Ensure Gays and Lesbians Are Covered By UN Resolution on Extrajudicial Execution

    President Obama applauds those countries that supported the amendment offered by the United States to ensure that “sexual orientation” remains covered by the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary execution. Killing people because of their sexual orientation cannot be rationalized by diverse religious values or varying regional perspectives. Killing people because they are gay is not culturally defensible – it is criminal.

    While today’s adoption of an inclusive resolution is important, so too are the conversations that have now begun in capitals around the world about inclusion, equality, and discrimination. Protecting gays and lesbians from state-sponsored discrimination is not a special right, it is a human right. Today’s vote in the United Nations marks an important moment in the struggle for civil and human rights. The time has come for all nations to redouble our efforts to end discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

  54. Food safety bill sent to Barack Obama’s desk

    12/21/10 MEREDITH SHINER – POLITICO

    The House on Tuesday approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s food regulatory system – sending the popular bipartisan measure to the president’s desk nearly a year and a half after it passed its first version of the bill.

    The Food Safety and Modernization Act cleared the House by 215-144 less than two days after Senate Republicans gave a surprise victory to the legislation’s advocates by allowing Democrats to move the package by unanimous consent. Though the Senate originally passed the bill in November, a clerical error voided the effort and many on both sides of the aisle worried Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would keep his word and block the legislation yet again as this Congress came to a close.

    But when the Oklahoma Republican backed off his objections, the pathway opened for the bill that boosts the powers of the Food and Drug Administration to become law. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation as soon as Wednesday with the overhaul of a nearly-century-old system set to become yet another lame-duck achievement in a pile that already includes a tax deal, a repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and a year-end spending plan to prevent government shutdown.

    “On behalf of our nation’s children, in the name of the health and well-being of all Americans, we have passed a major overhaul of American food safety that will protect lives and prevent illness,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after the vote. “With the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, we will fundamentally change the way we protect public health and the safety of our food supply.”

    The food safety bill grants the FDA the authority to issue its own recalls over contaminated products. In addition, it provides for increased access to manufacturer records in the case of outbreak while also enabling third-party testing to ensure FDA-regulated products meet the standards set by the agency. The legislation includes exemptions for small farmers and processors, which were pushed by supporters of local food who worried that more stringent, and therefore likely expensive, rules would cut deeply into their ability to compete.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46701.html

  55. WH

    Wednesday Dec. 22, 2010
    All Times Eastern

    VP Biden meets with senior advisers in the afternoon.
    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    9:15 AM

    Pres Obama delivers remarks and signs the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. Biden also attends.
    10:00 AM

    R Gibbs briefs the press.
    10:15 AM

    Pres Obama meets with Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner.
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM

    4:15 PM EST
    President Obama Speaks to the Press
    5:00 PM
    6:30 PM

    Obama departs the White House en route Andrews Air Force Base.
    6:45 PM

    Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Honolulu, Hawaii.
    7:00 PM

  56. OMG, I am loving Rachel’s show tonight in front of this live audience touting PBO’s accomplishments. (at leas the first part of her show)

      • Hey CR. I decided to give Rachel another chance tonight and I am glad I did. I actually like the response from her live audience.

        • Rachel appreciates how hard Pres Obama worked in pushing the repeal of DADT and she said so in the video above.

          She also said that she even found it hard to believe that it would pass.

  57. Obamas shop on as outage hits Hawaii mall

    Dec. 21, 2010 UPI

    HONOLULU, Dec. 21 (UPI) — First lady Michelle Obama and her daughters were whisked through a Honolulu shopping center despite a power outage authorities said was caused by the weather.

    The lights went out Monday in parts of the Ala Moana Center at Waikiki twice while the Obamas were inside.

    Although Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia had plenty of helpful security personnel around them, scores of other shoppers found themselves being led to the exits of darkened stores by employees with flashlights.

    “The first thing you heard was all these kids crying,” shopper Ligaya Hartman of Waipio told the Honolulu Star- Advertiser. “There were a lot of unhappy kids.”

    Utility crews had been working on equipment near the mall that had been damaged by a weekend storm when the power failure occurred.

    The Star-Advertiser said Tuesday the Obamas have had their Hawaiian holidays interrupted by power outages before. Their 2008 stay in Oahu’s Kailua district included an island-wide blackout that lasted a full day.

    • My husband used to work for Hawaiian Electric and he still keeps in touch with them. During that 2008 power outage HECO delivered a generator to the house where the Obamas were staying.

      • Wow, sounds like a bit of chaos in the store. I guess they are doing last minute shopping for PBO before he arrives. 🙂 Of course if he gets his start treaty in addition to the other bills passed, he will have his Christmas gifts.

  58. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal

    From: DODvClips | December 21, 2010

    President Barack Obama will sign the ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal Act of 2010 into law on December 22.

  59. President Obama’s Holiday Message

    From: DODvClips | December 21, 2010

    President Barack Obama wishes the troops a happy holiday season.

  60. Last-minute holiday shoppers boost U.S. sales

    12/22/10 Jon Lentz- Reuters

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – More last-minute shoppers flocked to stores this year on the final Saturday before Christmas than last year, but spending is expected to be even higher late this week.

    U.S. retail sales on Saturday were up 15.1 percent from last year to $7.58 billion as many people wrapped up their gift buying, research firm ShopperTrak said on Tuesday. This year also benefited from its comparison to the weekend in 2009 when a blizzard hammered the East Coast.

    That storm contributed to a 16.5 percent drop to $6.58 billion in so-called “Super Saturday” spending in 2009. This year’s totals were below the $7.87 billion Americans spent for the day in 2008, said ShopperTrak, which analyzes the retail industry.

    Yet with less than a week to go until Christmas, many shoppers are still procrastinating. Some eleventh-hour gift seekers will even be out on Christmas Eve – about 23 million, according to a separate survey on Tuesday from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

    “Now that we are down to the wire, consumers have stepped up their shopping pace, as well as their purchases,” ICSC chief economist Michael Niemira said in a statement. “All and all, retail shopping trends are shaping up to be very favorable for holiday sales, as well as December sales performance, for retailers.”

    Consumer spending makes up about 70 percent of the U.S. economy and analysts have said they expected the 2010 holiday season to show the biggest sales gains since 2007.

    December 23 is likely to be the year’s second biggest day in sales and third biggest in foot traffic, said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101221/bs_nm/us_usa_retail_supersaturday

  61. Happy Wednesday Everyone! I HOPE that you have a good day! 🙂

    Thank goodness that our gay military brothers and sisters will be able to serve openly after today!

    ONCE AGAIN ‘THAT HOPEY CHANGE THING” WON!

    • Rachel Maddow- Behind the GOPs strategy of obstruction (of 9/11 First Responders)

      From: StartLoving4 | December 21, 2010

    • Obama: “Prepared to Implement”

      12/21/10 ADVOCATE EXCLUSIVE OBAMA INTERVIEW By Kerry Eleveld

      President Obama tells The Advocate the Pentagon is “prepared to implement” repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and it will take months not years. He also says he’s “wrestling” with the issue of marriage equality.

      Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is taking the implementation manual for repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” with him on vacation, President Obama told The Advocate during a wide-ranging interview late Tuesday afternoon — the first one-on-one interview of his presidency with an LGBT news outlet.

      “My strong sense is [implementation] is a matter of months,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “Absolutely not years.”

      The president added that he has also broached the topic with Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, and that “he’s going to make it work.” Amos has been the most outspoken critic of repeal among the military’s service chiefs.

      Obama also said that he is “incredibly proud” of following through on repealing the 1993 law and recalled a pledge he made to a service member while working a rope line in Afghanistan just a few weeks ago.

      “A young woman in uniform was shaking my hand — it was a big crowd — she hugged me and she whispered in my ear, ‘Get ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ done.’ And I said to her, ‘I promise you I will.’”

      On the question of marriage equality, the president said his “attitudes are evolving.”

      “Like a lot of people, I’m wrestling with this,” he said. “I’ve wrestled with the fact that marriage traditionally has had a different connotation. But I also have a lot of very close friends who are married gay or lesbian couples.”

      The president also signaled that he and his lawyers are reviewing “a range of options” when it comes to the administration’s responsibility to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, especially since repealing it over the next two years will be a nonstarter with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

      For the entire article: http://www.advocate.com/News/News_Features/Exclusive_Interview_President_Barack_Obama_DADT/

      • President Obama Supports the Respect for Marriage Act

        Posted by Colleen Curtis on July 19, 2011

        President Obama is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act, which is being introduced by Senator Feinstein and Congressman Nadler in the Senate on July 20. This legislation would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.

        The President has long called for a legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which continues to have a real impact on the lives of real people — our families, friends and neighbors.

        Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/19/president-obama-supports-respect-marriage-act

    • Gov’t says transgender people protected under law
      Gov’t says transgender people protected under federal job discrimination laws

      4/24/12 By Sam Hananel, Associated Press | Associated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) — In a first-of-its-kind ruling, the agency that enforces the nation’s job discrimination laws has ruled that transgender people are protected from bias in the workplace.

      The decision late last week from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that a refusal to hire or otherwise discriminate on the basis of gender identity is by definition sex discrimination under federal law.

      While some federal courts have reached the same conclusion in recent years, employment law experts say the EEOC decision is groundbreaking because it sets a national standard of enforcement that offers employers clear guidance on the issue.

      “This decision is important because the EEOC is the agency with lead authority to interpret and enforce the nation’s employment rights laws,” said Jennifer Pizer, legal director of the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy.

      The case involved a California woman who claimed she was denied a contractor job with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after the contractor learned she had undergone a procedure to change her gender from a man to a woman.

      Mia Macy, an Army veteran and former police detective, initially applied for the position as a man and was told that she was qualified for the job as a ballistics technician. Then she informed the contractor that she was changing her gender. After that, she was told funding for the job was cut. She later learned someone else was hired for the position.

      Macy filed a complaint with the ATF, which told her that federal job discrimination laws did not apply to transgender people. The Transgender Law Center, a legal rights advocacy group in San Francisco, took up her case.

      The ruling does not yet determine that she was discriminated against, but that she can bring a charge of discrimination under the law.

      EEOC spokeswoman Justine Lisser said the unanimous ruling from the five-member agency does not create a new cause of action. It clarifies that charges of gender stereotyping are considered claims of sex discrimination under existing law.

      For the entire article: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/govt-says-transgender-people-protected-232046050.html;_ylt=A2KJjbxIE5hPREMAnknQtDMD

    • Obama endorses same-sex marriage

      5/9/12 2:57 PM EDT POLITICO44

      President Obama endorses same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC News:

      “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,”

    • Obama declaration “icing on the cake” of gay rights legacy – The Rachel Maddow Show (May 9th,

      Published on May 10, 2012 by Panzerfaust04

      Rachel Maddow emphasizes that policy is more important than personal views by politicians on gay rights and lists President Obama’s achievements in helping to secure rights for gay Americans. Past presidents have asserted their personal friendship or sympathy for gay people while hurting them with bad policy and associating themselves with anti-gay hatemongers. From the May 9th, 2012 edition of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

    • FIRST OPENLY GAY CADETS GRADUATE FROM AIR FORCE ACADEMY

      5.26.2012 : MICHAEL MATSON – .gay.net

      For the very first time, openly gay and lesbian cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs participated in graduation commencement. It was the school’s first since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and President Obama was on hand to personally salute each of the cadets.

      Check out ABC News’ coverage of the historic event below.

      ———–

      Air Force Academy Graduates First Openly Gay Cadets

      Published on May 23, 2012 by biggreend05

      ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

    • President Obama Celebrates Pride Month

      Published on Jun 1, 2012 by whitehouse

      The President highlights the unsung heroes of the LGBT community.

    • December 22, 2010

      Background on the President’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Bill Signing Today

      BACKGROUND ON THE PRESIDENT’S DON’T ASK DON’T TELL REPEAL BILL SIGNING TODAY
      US DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

      In the morning, the President and the Vice President will deliver remarks and the President will sign into law the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 in a ceremony at the Department of the Interior. The audience will be made up of approximately 500 attendees, including Administration officials, Members of Congress and key advocates and stakeholders.

      STAGE PARTICIPANTS
      Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
      Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn
      Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
      Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Leader
      Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Leader
      Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
      Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
      Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA)
      Representative Susan Davis (D-CA)
      Eric Alva, Former Staff Sgt, US Marine Corps
      Zoe Dunning, Former Commander, US Navy

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/22/background-presidents-dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-bill-signing-today

    • December 22, 2010

      Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
      Department of Interior

      Washington, D.C.

      9:10 A.M. EST

      THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, folks, how are you? (Applause.) It’s a good day. (Applause.) It’s a real good day. As some of my colleagues can tell you, this is a long time in coming. But I am happy it’s here.

      Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Please be seated.

      It was a great five-star general and President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said, “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness and consideration, and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”

      By repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” today, we take a big step toward fostering justice, fairness and consideration, and that real cooperation President Eisenhower spoke of.

      This fulfills an important campaign promise the President and I made, and many here on this stage made, and many of you have fought for, for a long time, in repealing a policy that actually weakens our national security, diminished our ability to have military readiness, and violates the fundamental American principle of fairness and equality — that exact same set of principles that brave gay men and women will now be able to openly defend around the world. (Applause.)

      It is both morally and militarily simply the right thing to do. And it’s particularly important that this result was fully supported by those within the military who are charged with implementing it. And I want to pay particular respect, just as a personal note — as we used to say, I used to be allowed to say in the Senate, a point of personal privilege — Admiral Mullen, you’re a stand-up guy. (Applause.) I think they like you. (Applause.)

      He already has enough power. Don’t — (laughter.)

      And it couldn’t have been done without these men and women leading our military. And certainly it could not have been done without the steady, dedicated and persistent leadership of the President of the United States. (Applause.)

      Mr. President, by signing this bill, you will be linking military might with an abiding sense of justice. You’ll be projecting power by promoting fairness, and making the United States military as strong as they can be at a time we need it to be the strongest.

      For the entire transcript: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/22/remarks-president-and-vice-president-signing-dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-a

    • AP Exclusive: Navy clears gay WWII vet’s record (under DADT)

      9/17/11 By JULIE WATSON – Associated Press | AP – 16 hrs ago

      SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nearly 70 years after expelling Melvin Dwork for being gay, the Navy is changing his discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable” — marking what is believed to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

      The Navy notified the 89-year-old former corpsman last month that he will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial.

      Dwork spent decades fighting to remove the blot on his record.

      “I resented that word ‘undesirable,'” said Dwork, who was expelled in 1944, at the height of the war, and is now a successful interior designer in New York. “That word really stuck in my craw. To me it was a terrible insult. It had to be righted. It’s really worse than ‘dishonorable.’ I think it was the worst word they could have used.”

      For Dwork, victory came with a heartbreaking truth: Last year, when the Navy finally released his records, he learned that his name had been given up by his own boyfriend at the time.

      The decision to amend his discharge papers was made by the Board for Corrections of Naval Records in Washington.

      In its Aug. 17 proceedings, obtained by The Associated Press, the board noted that the Navy has undergone a “radical departure” from the outright ban on gays that was in place in 1944. The board pointed out Dwork’s “exemplary period of active duty” and said that changing the terms of his discharge was done “in the interest of justice.”

      For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-navy-clears-gay-wwii-vets-record-213853644.html

    • Wednesday, February 23, 2011

      Letter from the Attorney General to Congress on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act

      WASHINGTON – The Attorney General sent the following letter today to Congressional leadership to inform them of the Department’s course of action in two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman. A copy of the letter is also attached.

      The Honorable John A. Boehner
      Speaker
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Washington, DC 20515

      Re: Defense of Marriage Act

      Dear Mr. Speaker:

      After careful consideration, including review of a recommendation from me, the President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, i as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 530D, I am writing to advise you of the Executive Branch’s determination and to inform you of the steps the Department will take in two pending DOMA cases to implement that determination.

      While the Department has previously defended DOMA against legal challenges involving legally married same-sex couples, recent lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of DOMA Section 3 have caused the President and the Department to conduct a new examination of the defense of this provision. In particular, in November 2010, plaintiffs filed two new lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in jurisdictions without precedent on whether sexual-orientation classifications are subject to rational basis review or whether they must satisfy some form of heightened scrutiny. Windsor v. United States, No. 1:10-cv-8435 (S.D.N.Y.); Pedersen v. OPM, No. 3:10-cv-1750 (D. Conn.). Previously, the Administration has defended Section 3 in jurisdictions where circuit courts have already held that classifications based on sexual orientation are subject to rational basis review, and it has advanced arguments to defend DOMA Section 3 under the binding standard that has applied in those cases.ii

      For the entire article: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/February/11-ag-223.html

    • DADT Repeal

      The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (H.R. 2965, S. 4023) is a landmark federal statute that lays a legal mechanism to repeal the Don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT) policy (10 U.S.C. § 654), which since 1993 prevented openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the United States Armed Forces.

      However, the Act does not immediately repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Act:

      Provides for repeal of the current Department of Defense (DOD) policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces, to be effective 60 days after the Secretary of Defense has received DOD’s comprehensive review on the implementation of such repeal, and the President, Secretary, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) certify to the congressional defense committees that they have considered the report and proposed plan of action, that DOD has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by such repeal, and that implementation of such policies and regulations is consistent with the standards of military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion, and military recruiting and retention.

      Furthermore, unlike the proposed Military Readiness Enhancement Act, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 does not replace the current policy of DADT with a non-discrimination policy which prevents the military from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

      President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen provided the certification required by the Act to Congress that on July 22, 2011. Implementation of repeal is scheduled for completion on September 20, 2011.

      For the entire article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Ask,_Don%27t_Tell_Repeal_Act_of_2010

    • Obama: Americans No Longer Have to Lie to Serve

      Sept. 20, 2011 American Forces Press Service

      WASHINGTON– President Barack Obama today issued a statement on the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that had barred gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

      The repeal took effect at midnight.

      Here is the president’s statement:
      Today, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is finally and formally repealed. As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.
      I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans. Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.

      For more than two centuries, we have worked to extend America’s promise to all our citizens. Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans. Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.

      • DOD Set for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal

        Sept. 19, 2011 –By Jim Garamone -American Forces Press Service

        WASHINGTON, The repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law is slated to take effect tomorrow, a senior Defense Department official told reporters today.

        The repeal of the law will mean gay and lesbian service members may be open about their sexual orientation. The department is ready for repeal, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

        Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will discuss the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law tomorrow at a Pentagon news conference.

        “This is something that has been known for a long time,” Little told press members. “We’ve gone through a process to certify repeal.”

        Nearly all service members have taken the training associated with the law’s repeal. Little praised the services for their efforts.

        Recruiters are accepting applications from openly gay and lesbian applicants seeking to enlist in the military. While many changes in policies and regulations already have taken place, some changes in how repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law will be implemented must wait until after the law takes effect.

        These policies and regulations will be promulgated tomorrow, the Pentagon press secretary said.

        “No one should be left with the impression that we are unprepared. We are prepared for repeal,” Little said. “The force is well aware that this is coming. They’ve had the training. It’s been in the press for months. The September 20th day is not a mystery.”

    • AP Exclusive: Navy clears gay WWII vet’s record

      Fri, Sep 16, 201 By JULIE WATSON – Associated Press | AP

      SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nearly 70 years after expelling Melvin Dwork for being gay, the Navy is changing his discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable” — marking what is believed to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

      The Navy notified the 89-year-old former corpsman last month that he will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial.

      Dwork spent decades fighting to remove the blot on his record.

      “I resented that word ‘undesirable,'” said Dwork, who was expelled in 1944, at the height of the war, and is now a
      successful interior designer in New York. “That word really stuck in my craw. To me it was a terrible insult. It had to be righted. It’s really worse than ‘dishonorable.’ I think it was the worst word they could have used.”

      For Dwork, victory came with a heartbreaking truth: Last year, when the Navy finally released his records, he learned that his name had been given up by his own boyfriend at the time.

      The decision to amend his discharge papers was made by the Board for Corrections of Naval Records in Washington.

      In its Aug. 17 proceedings, obtained by The Associated Press, the board noted that the Navy has undergone a “radical departure” from the outright ban on gays that was in place in 1944. The board pointed out Dwork’s “exemplary period of active duty” and said that changing the terms of his discharge was done “in the interest of justice.”

      Navy officials declined to discuss Dwork’s case, citing privacy reasons.

      “I think that with the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ there is a growing realization within the military that not only gays be allowed to serve openly now but this was probably the wrong policy all along,” said Aaron Belkin, an expert on gays in the U.S. military at the University of California, Los Angeles.

      He added: “This illustrates, at least in the case of one person, that the military is trying to set things right.”

      About 100,000 troops were discharged between World War II and 1993 for being gay and lost their benefits as a result, Belkin said. Under the more relaxed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which allowed gays to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation to themselves, about 14,000 troops were forced out, but most were given honorable discharges that allowed them to draw benefits. The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” officially takes effect Tuesday.

      Since Congress voted last year to repeal the Clinton-era law, dozens of gay veterans who were given undesirable, dishonorable or less-than-honorable discharges before 1993 have stepped forward, seeking to have the stain removed from their records, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

      For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-navy-clears-gay-wwii-vets-record-213853644.html

    • Repeal of gay ban welcomed by civilian partners

      9/18/11 By DAVID CRARY – AP National Writer

      NEW YORK (AP) — After 19 years hiding her relationship with an active-duty Army captain, Cathy Cooper is getting ready to exhale. On Tuesday, the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” will expire. And Cooper will dare speak her love’s name in public.

      “This is life-changing,” said Cooper, choking up. “I just want to be able to breathe — knowing I can call my partner at work and have a conversation without it having to be in code.”

      Much has been reported about the burdens that “don’t ask” placed on gay and lesbian service members who risked discharge under the 1993 policy if their sexual orientation became known in the ranks. There’s been less attention focused on their civilian partners, who faced distinctive, often relentless stresses of their own.

      In interviews with The Associated Press, five partners recalled past challenges trying to conceal their love affairs, spoke of the joy and relief accompanying repeal, and wondered about the extent that they would be welcomed into the broader military family in the future.

      Even with repeal imminent, the partners — long accustomed to secrecy — did not want to reveal the full identity of their active-duty loved ones before Tuesday.

      Cooper, who works for a large private company, moved from the Midwest to northern Virginia to be near her partner’s current Army post, yet couldn’t fully explain to friends and colleagues why she moved. “It’s been really difficult — it’s really isolated us,” she said. “I became much more introverted, more evasive.”

      Cooper said her partner’s Army career is thriving, though she’s had to hide a major component of her personal life.

      “I don’t know any of her co-workers,” Cooper said. “She says, ‘You’re the best part of me and I have to pretend you don’t exist.'”

      For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/repeal-gay-ban-welcomed-civilian-partners-152147633.html

    • “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Ends: First Lady Will Welcome Gay Military Families To Joining Forces

      SEPTEMBER 20, 2011OBAMAFOODORAMA.BLOGSPOT.COM

      Families that have openly gay or lesbian military service members will now be welcome at events for First Lady Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign, says Mrs. Obama’s Communications Director, Kristina Schake. That’s because “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), repealed nine months ago by Congress, officially expires today. The First and Second Ladies’ campaign supports and celebrates military families as “the force behind the force.”(Above: Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden in a promo photo for the campaign)

      “After the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell takes effect, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden look forward to including openly gay and lesbian service members in events to recognize their service to the nation, as well as the service of their families,” Schake said in a statement to The Advocate.

      Last April, DADT was still the law of the land, so openly gay and lesbian service members and their advocacy groups were not allowed to attend the big White House launch event for the Joining Forces campaign, held in the East Room, and attended by President Obamaand Vice President Joe Biden, as well as top military brass. Created almost eighteen years ago during the Clinton presidency, DADT prevented members of the military from publicly revealing their sexual orientation.

      Today, for the first time in military history, service men and women can reveal their sexual orientation without fear of reprisal. The “no openly gay” White House event policy was in effect exclusively for military-related events: Since taking office, President Obama has hosted three different receptions to celebrate LGBT Pride Month. There are also many openly gay and lesbian staff who work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps the most high profile is Jeremy Bernard, the first openly gay Social Secretary in White House history. Bernard is also the first male Social Secretary.

      For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/09/dont-ask-dont-tell-ends-first-lady-will.html

    • President Obama repeals “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” – DADT Ends September 20, 2011 – Veterans speak

      From: BarackObamadotcom | Sep 19, 2011

  62. Third-quarter growth revised up to 2.6 percent

    12/22/10 Lucia Mutikani – Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Economic growth was a touch higher than previously estimated in the third quarter, but below expectations as a rise in the pace of inventory accumulation was offset by downward revisions to consumer spending, a government report showed on Wednesday.

    Gross domestic product growth was revised up to an annualized rate of 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent, the Commerce Department said.

    Economists had expected GDP growth, which measures total goods and services output within U.S. borders, to be revised up to a 2.8 percent pace. The economy expanded at a 1.7 percent rate in the second quarter.

    But data so far suggests growth accelerated in the fourth quarter and will remain supported in 2011 by an $858 billion tax deal, which will help plug the gap from the fading boost from the rebuilding of inventories by businesses and winding down of the government’s $814 billion stimulus package.

    The tax plan, widely viewed as a second fiscal stimulus for the economy, is seen complementing the Federal Reserve’s program to buy $600 billion worth of government bonds to shore up the recovery.

    Third-quarter growth estimates were revised to reflect a $121.4 billion increase in business inventories rather than the $111.5 billion rise reported last month. Inventories added 1.61 percentage points to GDP growth.

    Excluding inventories, the economy expanded at a 0.9 percent pace rather than 1.2 percent.

    The increase in consumer spending was revised down to a 2.4 percent rate from 2.8 percent rate. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity and contributed 1.67 percentage points to growth in the July-September period.

    Still, consumer spending during the quarter was the fastest since the first quarter of 2007 and was a pick-up from the second quarter’s 2.2 percent pace.

    For the entire article: http://yhoo.it/fR3Rrl

  63. Just watched the signing of dadt; very sincere & emotional. Have not heard so much clapping at any other bill signing. Hope this plays on the national news channels.

  64. Happy Wednesday, everybody!

    >^..^<

    Kat's Weekday Obama Administration Report, 12/22/10

    Today's report features:

    • Health insurance rate review: Requiring insurance companies to publicly justify unreasonable premium increases.

    • Press briefing: Immigration, DADT, START, health care, other topics.

    • Labor Department: Regulations DOL will consider.

    • New SBA website: Overview of new tools.

    • Net neutrality: FCC acts on Internet openness; President's statement.

    • Immigration reform: President meets with Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

    • America COMPETES Act: Federal agencies can now conduct prize competitions as called for by the President.

    • Stalking awareness: President's proclamation urges crime prevention, support for victims.

    • UN adopts US amendment to protect LGBT people: President applauds countries supporting amendment.

    • President and Prime Minister: US-UK leaders talk.

    • Iraq: Statements on new government from POTUS, VPOTUS, SOS; National Guard helps provide shoes for Iraqi kids.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/22/930683/-Kats-Weekday-Obama-Administration-Report,-12-22-10

  65. Twas a Night in December

    From: DODvClips | December 15, 2010

    Servicemembers stationed from Antarctica to Afghanistan lent their talents and time to craft, “Twas a Night in December,” based on the popular holiday story, but rewritten with a military twist. More than 40 commands around the world, representing every branch of the military service, participated. Along with the military people who contributed to this creative effort, country music star, Toby Keith introduced the video, reinforcing his long-term support for military and their families stationed around the world.

    • Message to the Troops
      From: DODvClips | December 29, 2010

      GEN David Petraeus and CSM Marvin Hill send a Holiday message to U.S. servicememebers in Afghanistan.

  66. TAPS for Troops/ Families

    From: DODvClips | December 22, 2010

    Family members of fallen servicemembers who need help this holiday season can call 1-800-959-8277 or visit the website http://www.taps.org/.

  67. Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
    Weekly Address
    The White House

    December 25, 2010

    THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, everybody. Michelle and I just wanted to take a moment today to send greetings from our family to yours.

    THE FIRST LADY: This is one of our favorite times of year. And we’re so fortunate to be able to celebrate it together in this wonderful home.

    This is the “People’s House.” So Barack and I try to open it to as many people as we can, especially during the holiday season.

    This month, more than 100,000 Americans have passed through these halls. And the idea behind this year’s theme, “Simple Gifts,” is that the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don’t cost a thing – the comfort of spending time with loved ones…the freedoms we enjoy as Americans… and the joy we feel upon giving something of ourselves.

    So in this time of family, friends, and good cheer; let’s also be sure to look out for those who are less fortunate, who’ve hit a run of bad luck, or who are hungry and alone this holiday season.

    THE PRESIDENT: Because this is the season when we celebrate the simplest yet most profound gift of all: the birth of a child who devoted his life to a message of peace, love, and redemption. A message that says no matter who we are, we are called to love one another – we are our brother’s keeper, we are our sister’s keeper, our separate stories in this big and busy world are really one.

    Today, we’re also thinking of those who can’t be home for the holidays – especially all our courageous countrymen serving overseas.

    For the entire transcript: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/25/weekly-address-president-and-first-lady-extend-christmas-greeting-and-ur

    • Merry Christmas from President Barack Obama passed on by Marine Corps Commandant

      From: marines | December 26, 2010

      The Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps stopped in at Camp Dwyer, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for a Christmas Eve Dinner with Regimental Combat team 1, December 24. The Commandant also addressed all the Marines where he passed along a message from their Commander in Chief. Shot by Cpl. Skyler Tooker.

  68. Colonel Cites Measurable, But Fragile, Afghan Progress

    12/28/10 By Jim Garamone – American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON – Measurable progress has been achieved in Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktia provinces, but it is fragile, Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of the American task force in the area, said today.

    Luong spoke to the Pentagon press corps via teleconference. The commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team also said that Afghan security forces in his area are operating independently.

    Task Force Rakkasan’s mission –- Rakkasan is what the Japanese called the unit in 1945 –- is to protect the Afghan population and increase the capacity, capability and credibility of the Afghan national security forces in support of the Afghan government. This is counterinsurgency doctrine at its basics, the colonel said.

    The unit took over its area of responsibility in February and will begin rotating back to Fort Campbell, Ky., shortly.

    “In the last 11 months, we have seen gradual but measurable progress,” Luong said. “First and foremost, the combined coalition/Afghan national security forces team has taken approximately 2,000 fighters out of the fight.”

    This security achievement has given local governance a chance to establish roots and begin serving the people. Afghan elders are taking part in regional shuras and in determining what projects are needed in their towns and villages, Luong said.

    “Kids are now going to school, playing cricket, flying kites -– activities strictly forbidden under Taliban rule. To me, it’s a subtle sign,” he said.

    Luong is hearing from the Afghan people that the improved security is making a difference. “More importantly, for the first time, they’re feeling that the provincial government is now working for the people,” he said. “In short, while fragile, we’re seeing progress across the board in Paktia and Khost.”

    However, the enemy has a vote, Luong said, noting the main enemy in his area is the Haqqani network.

    “I can tell you that at least in Paktia, Paktika and Khost [provinces], the Haqqani network is sort of on its heels,” he said. “We have captured and killed many, many of their fighters and mid-level leaders. The senior leadership routinely hides in the tribal areas in Pakistan now for the fear of being captured or killed.”

    Meanwhile, Luong said, coalition and Afghan forces are keeping the pressure on the terrorist network.

    “We have increased fourfold … the number of operations and patrols, up to 12,000 in the last year, with 600 named operations,” the colonel said.

    For the entire article: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62265

    Operations in Afghanistan (short clip only)
    From: DODvClips | December 28, 2010

    The Commander of Task Force Rakkasan briefed reporters on current operations in Khost Province, Afghanistan.

  69. Ringing In the New Year With New Education Benefits for Wounded Warriors

    Posted by Brian Hawthorne on January 01, 2011

    In case you hadn’t heard, in the last days of the Session, both the House and the Senate passed a Bill, S. 3447, that significantly enhanced and changed the Post 9/11 GI Bill and other educational benefits. This effort was led by a coalition of veteran services organizations, and we are proud to have seen it through.

    This Bill made a lot of important changes to these programs specifically for wounded warriors and disabled veterans, and I wanted to take a moment to tell you about them and others so you can start to plan for your educational goals.

    * Vocational Rehabilitation Program Stipend. Most significantly, a disabled veteran receiving the housing stipend under the Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Chapter 31), which is usually significantly less than the Post 9/11 GI Bill, can now opt to receive the more generous amount under the Post 9/11 GI Bill which is the BAH rate of E-5 with dependents for their local zip code. This will be hundreds of dollars more per month for tens of thousands of eligible beneficiaries.
    * Vocational School Training and Apprenticeships Now Covered. The Post 9/11 GI Bill can now be used at many more vocational schools, apprenticeships, and on-the-job-training programs, which means that you can use it to enter into almost any field that you want.
    * Housing Allowance for Online Learners. A housing allowance is now available for exclusively online learners, so even while you are recuperating and cannot attend class in person on a campus, you can start your education online and receive the housing support allowance you need.
    * Book Allowance for Active Duty. If you are still on active duty, and want to start your education, you can now receive the $1,000/year book stipend that was previously not available for active duty personnel.
    * Prep Courses and Test Fees Now Covered. If you have not yet applied for schools, and want to bring your SAT/ACT scores up, the Post 9/11 GI Bill can now be used to fund prep courses and the test fees themselves so you can be more competitive when you apply.
    * Time for Eligibility Tolled During Recovery and for Caretakers. The Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30), which has a 10-year expiration date, has been extended for wounded, injured, and ill veterans and their caretakers for the length of their recovery time, which means that time spent in the hospital does not burn benefit time. This same extension also applies to children who are caretakers and have had Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits transferred to them, or recipients of Chapter 35 Survivor’s Benefits. Normally, they must use their benefits before their 26th birthday, but this can be extended for those providing care to wounded, injured, and ill veterans.

    You can read a summary of the major changes here. There are a myriad of GI Bill benefit programs available to wounded and disabled veterans, and if you need help selecting the one that is right for you, talk to an educational advisor at your base or local school, or one of the veteran service organizations that make it our business to help you get the benefits you deserve. Feel free to visit our home page at http://www.studentveterans.org. If you are interested in information on enrollment and/or transferring your benefit to a dependant, just click the Post 9-11 GI Bill Icon on http://www.warriorcare.mil.

    Thank you for your service!

    Brian Hawthorne is an Army veteran with two tours in Iraq. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Student Veterans of America, and is receiving his Master’s Degree from the George Washington University.

  70. Tricare Young Adult Program Announced

    January 13, 2011 defense.gov

    The Department of Defense announced today its introduction of the premium-based Tricare Young Adult Program (TYAP) which extends medical coverage to eligible military family members to the age of 26. Expected to be in place later this spring, TYAP implements the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of fiscal 2011. Premium costs for TYAP are not yet finalized, but the NDAA specifies rates must cover the full cost of the program.

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 required civilian health plans to offer coverage to adult children until age 26. Tricare previously met or exceeded key tenets of national health reform, including restrictions on annual limits, lifetime maximums, “high user” cancellations, or denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions – but did not include this expanded coverage for adult children. Dependent eligibility for Tricare previously ended at age 21 or age 23 for full-time college students.

    The fiscal 2011 NDAA now gives the DoD the authority to offer similar benefits to young adults under Tricare.

    “We’ve been working hard to make sure we could put Tricare Young Adult on a fast track,” said Tricare Deputy Director, Rear. Adm. Christine Hunter. “Fortunately for our beneficiaries concerned about health care coverage for their adult children, the law signed by the President includes opportunities for military families to elect this new premium-based plan retroactive to Jan.1.”

    For the entire article: http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14200

  71. January 24, 2011

    Presidential Initiative Supports Military Families

    President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden put forward today nearly 50 commitments by Federal agencies responding to the President’s directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive Federal approach to supporting military families. Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment is the result of an effort led by the National Security Staff and Domestic Policy Council responding to the Presidential Study Directive-9 calling on all Cabinet Secretaries and other agency heads to find better ways to provide our military families with the support they deserve. The result will be a unified Federal Government approach to help ensure:

    * the U.S. military recruits and retains America’s best, allowing it to maintain the high standards which have become a hallmark of our armed forces.
    * Service members can maintain both strong families and a high state of readiness;
    * family members can live fulfilling lives while supporting their service member(s); and
    * the American people better understand and appreciate the experience, strength, and commitment of those who serve and sacrifice on their behalf.

    This document provides the Federal Government’s response to that challenge by identifying four strategic priorities that address the primary challenges facing our military families.

    1. Enhance the well-being and psychological health of the military family.

    1. Ensure excellence in military children’s education and their development.
    2. Develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses.
    3. Increase child care availability and quality for the Armed Forces.

    These four priorities were identified with special attention to the feedback that the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and Administration officials have received from the many service members and their families they have encountered over the past two years. They address the concerns and challenges of the families of Active Duty and Reserve Component Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard members; Veterans; and those who have fallen. Each Cabinet Secretary pledged to continue to communicate these priorities, share expertise, and establish sustainable solutions through leveraging partnerships.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/24/presidential-initiative-supports-military-families

    • January 24, 2011

      Background on the President’s PSD Event Today with the First Lady and Dr. Biden

      EAST ROOM

      Today, the President, the First Lady, and Dr. Biden will deliver remarks at an event at the White House unveiling efforts to better coordinate and strengthen the Federal government’s support for military families. The President will publicly release the final report of the Presidential Study Directive-9 (PSD-9), Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment (attached), a signature Administration deliverable for military families and the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s leadership on military family matters. The final report for PSD-9 includes nearly 50 commitments by and between Cabinet and other Federal agencies addressing some of the critical needs of military families. This report demonstrates the President’s commitment to mobilizing the entire Administration to support America’s troops, veterans and their families. The report’s release also marks nearly 2 years of leadership and advocacy by the First Lady and Dr. Biden. The event will be attended by Cabinet Members, Members of Congress, senior military officials, Veterans and Military Family Support Organizations, and military families.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/24/background-presidents-psd-event-today-first-lady-and-dr-biden

  72. White House Unveils New Approach to Military Family Support

    1/24/11 Elaine Wilson -American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2011 – White House officials released a report today that unveils a new, governmentwide approach to military family support and details a sweeping, interagency effort under way to strengthen families and enhance their well-being and quality of life.

    President Barack Obama announced the results of a nearly yearlong review of military family support today in a White House ceremony attended by the Defense Department’s top brass, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, service chiefs and their spouses.

    From child care to health care to spouse employment, the report — titled “Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment” ( PSD-9) — identifies the key issues military families face and presents programs and resources government agencies plan to roll out in the coming months to address them.

    “This document is the commitment to our military families not only of this government, but this nation in terms of their support, their care and their empowerment,” Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Pentagon’s office of military community and family policy, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service in a recent interview.

    The report outlines four key areas that the governmentwide effort plans to address: enhancing military families’ well-being and psychological health, developing military spouse career and education opportunities, increasing child care availability and quality and ensuring excellence in military children’s education and development.

    “We’re bringing together our agencies, our whole of government, with our whole of nation to focus on those four priority areas,” Gordon said. “The DOD can’t do this alone; it does take a whole-of-nation approach.”

    For the entire article: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62550&462550=20110124

  73. January 24, 2011

    Remarks by the President, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden on the Presidential Studies Directive: Strengthening Our Military Families

    East Room

    10:57 A.M. EST

    DR. BIDEN: Good morning. And on behalf of the President and First Lady, the Vice President and myself, I want to welcome you and thank you for joining us here today at the White House.

    I want to offer a special welcome to our service members and military families. Your presence here today honors us all.

    I’m proud to stand here this morning as a military mom. My son is a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard and he recently spent a year in Iraq, so my husband and I know well the mixture of pride and concern that all military families share.

    From our earliest times together, Michelle and I have had the privilege of meeting with military service members and their families all around the country — people and families like so many of you who are with us here today.

    People like Jessica Sanders who I met at a deployment ceremony for members of the Delaware Army National Guard’s 126th Aviation Regiment. Jessica’s fiancé, Captain Mark Thomas, will deploy in the coming weeks to Afghanistan where he and his unit will provide medical evacuations for troops, allies and Afghan civilians. Captain Thomas’s parents are here today, too. Thank you for your service. (Applause.)

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/24/remarks-president-mrs-obama-and-dr-biden-presidential-studies-directive-

  74. ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal Plan Progressing Quickly, Officials Say

    1/28/11 By Karen Parris – American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2011 – The plan to end the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military is progressing quickly, senior Defense Department officials said here today.

    Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to Pentagon reporters in the first of a series of briefings that will chart the department’s progress in implementing the repeal of the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

    “My sense is [we have a] really good working relationship with the services as we do this, … not only the service chiefs, but the senior enlisted,” Stanley said. “You get good vibes about where we are in terms of cooperation [and] information coming forth.”

    President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law Dec. 22, with provisions ensuring the repeal will not take place until 60 days after he, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, certify the military services are ready.

    As part of today’s briefing, officials distributed copies of two memos containing the department’s guidance on repeal implementation. The first, signed by Gates, sets a planning deadline of Feb. 4. The second, which Stanley signed, outlines policy changes.

    “Strong, engaged and informed leadership will be required at every level to implement the repeal … properly, effectively, and in a deliberate and careful manner,” Gates’ memo read in part.

    “This is not, however, a change that should be done incrementally. The steps leading to certification and the actual repeal must be accomplished across the entire department at the same time,” the memo continued.

    Gates’ guiding principles for implementation stress respect for individuals and common across-the-services standards, while prohibiting harassment, unlawful discrimination and policies based solely on sexual orientation.

    Gates directed that a repeal implementation team lead the process to develop plans, update policies and train the force.

    “What you’re going to see as we move forward, we have actually three tiers as we get to the training part,” Stanley said.

    The three levels of training begin with policy makers, chaplains, lawyers and counselors; continue with leaders including commanding officers, senior noncommissioned officers and senior civilians; and culminate with troops across the services.

    For the entire article: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62623

  75. January 27, 2011

    Remarks by the First Lady at Basic Training Graduation Ceremony
    Hilton Field

    Fort Jackson Army Training Center, South Carolina

    1:26 P.M. EST

    MRS OBAMA: Well, thank you so much. First, let me say thank you to Lieutenant Colonel Quincy Norman for that very kind introduction, as well as to Major General Mike Milano, Command Sergeant Major Brian Stall, and Command Sergeant Major Michael McIntosh. I want to thank you for all for setting up this visit and making my stay so nice. It’s exciting.

    I also want to recognize Governor Nikki Haley and her husband, Michael, who’s an officer in the Army National Guard, for joining us today. Let’s give them a round of applause — (applause) — as well as Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, who’s here today. Let’s give him a round of applause. (Applause.) Thank you all for being here.

    Let me tell you I am thrilled to be with all of you today. Thrilled. (Applause.) And I am especially thrilled to be back in South Carolina. I haven’t been back here in a while. This is what I consider to be my hometown in so many ways. It’s good to be back. (Applause.)

    But I am especially thrilled to be with the extraordinary men and women who are graduating today, the members of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment! (Applause.)

    In just ten short weeks, you’ve done so much. You’ve plowed through obstacle courses, you marched endless miles with heavier and heavier loads, you completed both Basic and Advanced Rifle Marksmanship. You conquered Victory Tower, you made it through Omaha Range, and you probably did more sessions of P.T. than any of you care to remember. (Laughter.) And you did all of this during what I understand was one of the coldest months on record here in South Carolina. (Applause.)

    In fact, I understand that sometimes, you had to even break through the ice on the ground before you could start your training during the day.

    So on behalf of myself and my husband and a grateful nation, I want to start off today by saying congratulations on all that you’ve achieved, and of course, “Hoo-ah!” (Laughter and applause.)

    Now, I know that these past ten weeks haven’t been easy. And I call them short but I know that they haven’t felt short. I know it’s probably felt a little more like ten years rather than just ten weeks. I know that you all had plenty of moments when you wondered, what on Earth have I gotten myself into. (Laughter.)

    Maybe it was that first wakeup call right before the sun was up, or maybe it was when you had to check to see what shade of blue your fingers had turned, or maybe it was when you were wondering how big the blisters on your feet had gotten. Maybe that was when.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/27/remarks-first-lady-basic-training-graduation-ceremony

    • Michelle Obama Interview

      From: DODvClips | January 28, 2011 |

      The Pentagon Channel’s SSgt Josh Hauser sits down with First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss the consequences of childhood obesity, poor childhood nutrition and lack of physical exercise in an exclusive one-on-one interview.

  76. A New Way to Serve Our Veterans

    Posted by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on April 19, 2011

    Some of the most important programs our department provides are mental health services. I am pleased to announce that VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) have launched the PTSD Coach – our first in a suite of jointly developed mobile smartphone applications (apps) for mental health.

    When speaking with Veterans living with PTSD, we were told that they wanted and needed a convenient way to learn more about the services and resources available to them, as well as an app that could help them manage symptoms of PTSD at any given moment. The PTSD Coach is a cutting edge app which provides information and tools that Veterans and service members can use to cope with their PTSD symptoms any moment of the day—24/7.

    This new tool is useful for anyone who is receiving treatment for PTSD. It is also an anonymous resource that will be important for Veterans and service members, who may not be in treatment now, but who may be seeking quick, accessible information about PTSD. It’s available now on iTunes and will be online soon for Android phones, as well. I recommend it for anyone, who wants to learn more about PTSD, and we’ll look forward to introducing additional apps over the course of the coming year. This is just one more way that VA and DoD are working together to provide 21st Century tools for the men and women who are serving, and have served, our great Nation.

    Eric Shinseki is the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  77. May 20, 2011

    Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama at United States Military Academy Graduation Family Banquet

    West Point, New York
    May 20, 2011

    AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY—

    Hello everyone, and thank you for that wonderful welcome. I want to thank Lieutenant General Huntoon for that very kind introduction, as well as Secretary of the Army John McHugh, the Class of 1961 bar presenters, all of our distinguished guests, and all of the parents, families, and friends who are joining us tonight. And of course, I want to say thank you for inviting me here to the United States Military Academy.

    This is my first visit to West Point and I am truly humbled to speak to you tonight on an evening that’s so special for all of you, for this Academy, and for this country. As I look around at the cadets in this room, it is very clear to me that you all reflect everything we hope to see in ourselves and our country – firmness of character and strength of heart, a strong body and a ferocious mind, a devotion to country and to family.

    And I know that this weekend is the product of 47 months of extraordinary effort and endurance from R-Day to your last exam during TEE-week. For all of you, I know this has been a magnificent journey, a journey full of academic and athletic victories, a journey that has taken you across the country and around the world.

    You’ve learned new skills and immersed yourself in new cultures, which will serve you well on today’s battlefields. You’ve also created a Bionic Foot, an Exoskeleton, and other robotics and cyber defense projects that will help troops in the field. In the area of sports, your football team had its first winning season in 14 years and its first bowl victory in 25. Your women’s rugby team just brought home the national championship last weekend. And with your help, West Point earned its first victory in the Sandhurst Competition in 18 years.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/20/remarks-first-lady-michelle-obama-united-states-military-academy-graduat

  78. President Obama Lays a Wreath at Arlington National Cemetery

    From: whitehouse | May 30, 2011

    President Obama lays a wreath on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery.

  79. May 30, 2011

    Remarks by the President at a Memorial Day Service

    Arlington National Cemetery
    Arlington, Virginia

    11:25 A.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you so much. Please be seated.

    Thank you, Secretary Gates, and thank you for your extraordinary service to our nation. I think that Bob Gates will go down as one of our finest Secretaries of Defense in our history, and it’s been an honor to serve with him. (Applause.)

    I also want to say a word about Admiral Mullen. On a day when we are announcing his successor as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as he looks forward to a well-deserved retirement later this year, Admiral Mullen, on behalf of all Americans, we want to say thank you for your four decades of service to this great country. (Applause.) We want to thank Deborah Mullen as well for her extraordinary service. To Major General Karl Horst, the commanding general of our Military District of Washington; Mrs. Nancy Horst; Mr. Patrick Hallinan, the superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, as well as his lovely wife Doreen. And to Chaplain Steve Berry, thank you for your extraordinary service. (Applause.)

    It is a great privilege to return here to our national sanctuary, this most hallowed ground, to commemorate Memorial Day with all of you. With Americans who’ve come to pay their respects. With members of our military and their families. With veterans whose service we will never forget and always honor. And with Gold Star families whose loved ones rest all around us in eternal peace.

    To those of you who mourn the loss of a loved one today, my heart breaks goes out to you. I love my daughters more than anything in the world, and I cannot imagine losing them. I can’t imagine losing a sister or brother or parent at war. The grief so many of you carry in your hearts is a grief I cannot fully know.

    This day is about you, and the fallen heroes that you loved. And it’s a day that has meaning for all Americans, including me. It’s one of my highest honors, it is my most solemn responsibility as President, to serve as Commander-in-Chief of one of the finest fighting forces the world has ever known. (Applause.) And it’s a responsibility that carries a special weight on this day; that carries a special weight each time I meet with our Gold Star families and I see the pride in their eyes, but also the tears of pain that will never fully go away; each time I sit down at my desk and sign a condolence letter to the family of the fallen.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/30/remarks-president-memorial-day-service

  80. Standing When the First Lady Pays a Call

    May 31, 2011 DAVID W. DUNLAP – NYTimes

    On Memorial Day, Michelle Obama made an unannounced trip to visit the wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Joao Silva of The New York Times was among those on whom she paid a call. “She came across as a kind and attentive person,” Mr. Silva said. She asked about the progress of his recovery and gave yo-yos, Frisbees and White House candies to his children, Isabel, 6, and Gabriel, 5.

    Perhaps the most telling moment occurred before Mrs. Obama arrived. On learning of her pending visit, Mr. Silva made a point of putting on his prosthetic legs.

    “I wanted to be able to greet her standing up,” he said.

  81. Hollywood Silver Screen Debut: First Lady Michelle Obama Films “iCarly”

    JUNE 13, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

    In Los Angles on Monday for a two-day swing through California, First Lady Michelle Obama taped two scenes of a special episode of the hit Nickelodeon TV series for kids, iCarly, to promote her Joining Forces campaign to support and honor military families. The show’s storyline features 18-year-old actress Miranda Cosgrove as title character Carly Shay, who lives with her older brother in a loft, with no parents around because their father is a Colonel deployed overseas. The First Lady’s episode was written especially for her by series creator Dan Schneider.

    Since becoming First Lady, Mrs. Obama has appeared on many talk shows–and on a special White House episode of Iron Chef America. She’s also taped an extensive series of PSAs for both the Joining Forces and let’s Move! campaigns, but the iCarly outing is her first appearance on a sitcom. Earlier in the day, during a meeting at the Writers Guild Theater in West Hollywood, designed to encourage the creative Guilds to support military families by making entertainment vehicles focused on members of the Armed Forces, Mrs. Obama explained her iCarly appearance, and said that she’d been memorizing lines, but added that she was “terrified.”

    For the entire article and photos: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/06/hollywood-silver-screen-debut-first.html

    • First Lady in Hollywood

      From: DODvClips | Jun 14, 2011

      First Lady Michelle Obama wants to see more stories involving military families on television and in the movies.

    • Friday, January 13, 2012

      Alexandria, Virginia * Morning – First Lady Michelle Obama will join the cast of Nickelodeon’s iCarly at a special screening of “iMeet The First Lady,” a new episode featuring Mrs. Obama that honors America’s military children. The show’s lead character, Carly Shay (played by Miranda Cosgrove), is the daughter of an Air Force Colonel currently serving overseas in the military. In “iMeet the First Lady,” Mrs. Obama talks with Carly about her service to America as a member of a military family and thanks her friends for supporting her during her father’s deployment. The episode airs on Nickelodeon on Monday, January 16th.

      The iCarly cast will host special screenings of “iMeet the First Lady” at military bases across the country starting on January 9th to give military kids the first chance to see the new episode. The cast will visit Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California; Naval Submarine Base, New London, Groton, Connecticut and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Wrightstown, New Jersey. As the final event of the tour, Miranda Cosgrove and the iCarly cast will be joined by Mrs. Obama at Hayfield Secondary School, a school with a large number of military children. They will screen the episode, participate in iCarly’s “Random Dancing” and answer questions from the students.

      Mrs. Obama will also appear in a Joining Forces PSA produced by Nickelodeon that will debut immediately following the airing of “iMeet the First Lady” on the 16th.

      Source: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2012/01/week-ahead-schedule-for-first-lady.html

      • Let’s Groove: Michelle Obama Celebrates Acting Debut With iCarly Screening For Joining Forces

        JANUARY 13, 2012 foodorama.blogspot

        By Marian Burros

        Alexandria, VA: First Lady Michelle Obama shimmied and shook and pumped her fist as she did some “random dancing” with the iCarly cast members who joined her on Friday morning in the auditorium at the Hayfield Secondary School. The 1,500 students in the audience shouted and screamed and applauded just as loud as they did when the stars of the popular kids show came on stage. Mrs. Obama’s visit to the school, which has many children from military families enrolled, was to promote “iMeet The First Lady,” an episode that premieres Monday on Nickelodeon. It’s Mrs. Obama’s debut as a sitcom actor.

        “Got to dance on stage with Mrs. Obama #awesome,” tweeted Miranda Cosgrove, who plays lead character “Carly Shay.” She also “randomly dances” with Mrs. Obama on the show; the fun interlude is a regular feature.

        The audience received the highest accolade from Jerry Trainor, who plays Carly’s elder brother “Spencer” on the show. He said it was the loudest crowd the cast had ever had.

        For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2012/01/lets-groove-michelle-obama-celebrates.html

      • Joining Forces with Nickelodeon & iCarly

        From: whitehouse | Jan 16, 2012

        First Lady Michelle Obama joins the cast of Nickelodeon’s iCarly at a special screening of “iMeet The First Lady,” a new episode featuring Mrs. Obama that honors America’s military children. The event took place at Hayfield Secondary School, a school in Virginia with a large number of military children. They screened the episode, participated in iCarly’s “Random Dancing” and answered questions from the students.

  82. June 22, 2011

    Remarks by the President on the Way Forward in Afghanistan

    East Room

    8:01 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Nearly 10 years ago, America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security –- one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield, but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives.

    In the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al Qaeda and routed the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, our focus shifted. A second war was launched in Iraq, and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there. By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al Qaeda’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al Qaeda and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

    For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda, to reverse the Taliban’s momentum, and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to draw down our forces this July.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/22/remarks-president-way-forward-afghanistan

    • Obama Tells VOA US Will Not Abandon Afghanistan, Despite Troop Cuts

      6/23/11 VOANews

      President Barack Obama has discussed the current situation in Afghanistan in an interview with the Voice of America.

      The president says his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan does not mean the U.S. is abandoning that country.

      “Keep in mind that we’re talking about 10,000 troops by the end of this year, an additional 23,000 by the end of next summer – and we’ll still have 68,000 troops there, in addition to the coalition partner troops,” President Obama said. “So there is still going to be a substantial presence. But what it does signal is that Afghans are slowly taking more and more responsibility.”

      Phased transition

      The president says his decision is consistent with what he called a phased transition process.

      “Already there are Afghans out there every day who are fighting the fight, Afghans who are dying on behalf of their country, and their freedom, and their dignity,” he noted. “And what we want to make sure of is that we continue to be a good partner with that process, but also want to send a signal to the Afghan people: this is your country ultimately and you are going to have responsibilities.”

      For the entire article: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Obama-Focuses-on-Afghanistan-During-VOA-Interview-124416269.html

    • “We’re Keeping Our Promises”: Vice President Joe Biden on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Our Commitment to Defeat al Qaeda

      Posted by Kori Schulman on June 23, 2011

      Last night, President Obama addressed the nation on the way forward in Afghanistan and his plan to remove 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and a total of 33,000 by next summer.

      To put this decision in a larger context, Vice President Biden took a few minutes to share his thoughts about the promises this Administration has made – and kept – when it comes to the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and our commitment to defeat al Qaeda:

  83. Partnership Links Military Spouses With Employers

    June 23, 2011 By Terri Moon Cronk American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON – The Defense Department is launching a new partnership next week that’s intended to expand job opportunities for military spouses by connecting them with employers actively seeking to hire them.

    Microsoft, Home Depot, Starbucks and the Navy Federal Credit Union are just a few of the nearly 60 corporations and companies that have signed on with the DOD partnership, said Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.

    When the partnership is launched June 29 at the Chamber of Commerce here, Gordon expects 14 more companies will be added to the partnership’s roster.

    “The design of this program is to bring together those spouses who want to work with a web portal where companies that would like to employ our military spouses can find them,” he said.

    That web portal is Military OneSource — located athttp://www.militaryonesource.com — which also offers job-seeking resources such as resume building. People can call OneSource consultants at 1-800-342-9647.

    The partnership is based on memoranda of agreement to hire military spouses, Gordon explained. Some 100 job fairs are scheduled, starting in Los Angeles on July 10, with 200 companies ready to offer jobs to spouses.

    “Military spouses bring a lot to the table,” he said. “They’ve volunteered and lead different activities on and off our installations. They are skilled, diverse, and know how to operate in a team environment.”

    For the entire article: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=64438

    • June 29, 2011

      REMARKS BY DR. JILL BIDEN AT THE LAUNCH OF THE MILITARY SPOUSE EMPLOYMENT PARTNERSHIP, AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

      United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

      Good morning everyone.

      Thank you, Andrea, for that kind introduction and for all you do for our country. I am thrilled to be here with all of you today as Second Lady, and also as a proud Blue Star mom.

      I’d like to thank the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the senior enlisted advisors and their spouses for their outstanding leadership.

      I’d also like to acknowledge Admiral and Deborah Mullen for their incredible commitment to our Nation’s military families. We are all grateful to you both – and Deborah, you are a wonderful example of our amazing military spouses around the globe.

      And finally, I’d like to thank our guests of honor, the extraordinary military spouses and families who are here with us today.

      All of us – the business representatives, the military leaders, and the officials from the Chamber of Commerce – all of us are here today because of you.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/29/remarks-dr-jill-biden-launch-military-spouse-employment-partnership-prep

  84. U.S. turns joint security stations over to Iraqis

    June 29, 2011 Spc. Anthony T. Zane, 362nd MPAD – army.mil

    BASRAH, Iraq, June 24, 2011 — Three joint security stations located in southern Iraq were signed over to the Iraqis June 19-22, 2011.

    U.S. military officers met with Iraqi officials at Sifer and Al Sheeb in Maysan Province and Minden located in Basrah Province to sign over control of the three stations as the U.S. continues its responsible drawdown.

    “The significance of these last three sites is that they were done with very little advanced notice,” said Lt. Col. Charles Schoening, division engineer and chief of transition, 36th Infantry Division, Austin, Texas. “We got approval to close Sheeb, Sifer and Minden June 1, which is right around three weeks, and prior to that no bases had been closed in that short a time period,” he added, emphasizing the efficiency of the drawdown.

    Preparing each site for the transition included many steps to ensure that the bases were in proper order once returned to the government of Iraq.

    “There is an exhaustive environmental process in order to ensure that when we return these bases, there is nothing hazardous or harmful to the environment left on the bases,” said Schoening. “We have a very good ongoing environmental program, so if there is an incident, say a fuel spill, we have a process for getting that cleaned up immediately,” he added.

    The official turnover occurred not in a public forum, but in the privacy of small meeting rooms located at each station, including Sifer, located on the Iranian border.

    For the entire article: http://www.army.mil/article/60792/U_S__turns_joint_security_stations_over_to_Iraqis/

  85. BREAKING: Boehner appeals DOMA cases to Supreme Court

    June 29, 2012 washingtonblade

    House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) attorneys on Friday formally appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appeals court decision determining the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

    Drew Hammill, spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told the Washington Blade on Friday afternoon Republicans had notified Democratic leadership that House counsel filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

    The court ruling that was appealed was the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the cases of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services. On May 31, the appellate court issued a decision that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional as a result of both cases.

    In a statement, Pelosi slammed Boehner for continuing to assert the constitutionality of DOMA, saying the appeal is a decision that will “waste more taxpayer funds to advance a position rejected by four different courts and to defend discrimination and inequality before the highest court in the land.”

    “Democrats have rejected the Republican assault on equal rights, in the courts and in Congress,” Pelosi said. “We believe there is no federal interest in denying LGBT couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to all couples married under state law. And we are confident that the Supreme Court, if it considers the case, will declare DOMA unconstitutional and relegate it to the dustbin of history once and for all.”

    Boehner’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on the appeal.

    In the filing, Boehner’s attorneys present two questions to the Supreme Court: (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and (2) Whether the court below erred by inventing and applying to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act a previously unknown standard of equal protection review.

    “As the First Circuit recognized, this case calls out for this Court’s review,” the filing states. “The court of appeals has invalidated a duly-enacted Act of Congress and done so even though it acknowledged both that DOMA satisfies ordinary rational basis review and does not implicate heightened scrutiny. In the established world of equal protection law that result should have been impossible.”

    The filing also cites a separation of powers issue as the result of the Obama administration no longer defending DOMA in court as it continues to enforce it and leaves the House to defend the law.

    “Only this Court can settle this matter definitively,” the filing states. “Unless and until this Court decides the question, the executive branch will continue to attack DOMA in the courts, while continuing to enforce it, thus creating more potential litigation for the House to defend. This Court and this Court alone has the power to settle this question and redirect controversy over this important national question to the democratic process.”

    For more: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/06/29/breaking-boehner-appeals-doma-cases-to-supreme-court/

  86. rainbow-flag

    Appeals court rules against Defense of Marriage Act

    10/18/12 By Terry Baynes | Reuters – 3 hrs ago

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court in New York on Thursday ruled that a U.S. law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.

    The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now the second federal appeals court to reject part of the Defense of Marriage Act. It upheld a lower court ruling that had found a central part of the law unconstitutional.

    Appeals in several cases are currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could choose to take up the issue in its current term.

    Two members of a three-judge panel ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old woman who argued that the law discriminates against gay couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    They found that gays and lesbians are entitled to heightened protection from the courts, based on the history of discrimination the group has suffered.

    “Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public,” Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the majority.

    Six states have legalized same-sex marriage, including New York in 2011. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996, federal law and government programs do not recognize those marriages.

    The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Windsor by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court in New York. Windsor is a former IBM computer programmer who married Thea Clara Spyer in Toronto, Canada, in 2007. The two were engaged in 1967.

    Spyer died in 2009 after a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis, leaving all of her property to Windsor. Because the marriage was not recognized under federal law, Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes, according to her lawsuit.

    Windsor’s attorneys argued that the act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

    The Obama administration said last year it considered the law unconstitutional and would no longer defend it. Instead, a group appointed by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is defending the law in courts across the country.

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/appeals-court-ny-rules-gay-marriage-law-unconstitutional-160159196.html

  87. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ dischargees to receive full back pay from DOD

    1/07/13 04:54 PM ET By Carlo Muñoz – TheHill

    In a landmark settlement, the Pentagon has agreed to give full back pay to U.S. service members who were discharged due to their sexual orientation under the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

    The payouts will be granted to service members dismissed from the military under the now-repealed policy on or after November 2004.

    “This means so much to those of us who dedicated ourselves to the military, only to be forced out against our will for being who we are,” former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins said in a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit.

    Under “Don’t ask,” service members who were honorably discharged automatically had their separation pay cut in half.

    The ACLU of New Mexico sued the Pentagon on behalf of 181 service members who were dismissed under the policy to recover their full pay. Each solider, sailor, airman and Marine in the case will receive, on average, a payout of $13,000, the ACLU said.

    The Defense Department will pay a total of $2.4 million to the plaintiffs.

    Federal law entitles service members to separation pay if they have been involuntarily and honorably discharged after completing at least six years of service, the ACLU said.

    Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/275971-service-members-discharged-under-dont-ask-dont-tell-to-receive-full-back-pay

  88. Same-sex Couples Can Claim New Benefits by October

    Feb. 11, 2013 By Karen Parrish – American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON – Military members and retirees with same-sex partners will qualify for up to 24 new benefits under policy changes Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced today.

    In a memo to the service chiefs outlining the new policy, Panetta noted the department has “essentially completed” repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that barred gay and lesbian military members from serving openly.

    Now, the secretary wrote to the chiefs, military leaders’ work must “expand to changing our policies and practices to ensure fairness and equal treatment and to taking care of all of our service members and their families, to the extent allowable under law.”

    Two of the new benefits are available at the service member’s election: hospital visitation and Family Readiness Group membership. For 22 other benefits, service members and their same-sex partners may file a “declaration of domestic partnership.” That declaration entitles same-sex partners to military identification cards, commissary and exchange shopping privileges, child care and youth programs, sexual assault counseling and other benefits.

    Housing, medical and dental care, and overseas command sponsorship for same-sex partners are not included in this round of policy changes. As Panetta noted in a statement, those benefits are restricted under the Defense of Marriage Act, commonly known as DOMA, which defines “spouse” as someone married to a person of the opposite sex. The Supreme Court is reviewing the law, and is expected to rule on it later this year.

    For more: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119260

    • Panetta Signs Memo Extending Benefits to Same-sex Partners

      American Forces Press Service Feb. 11, 2013

      WASHINGTON – Calling it “a matter of fundamental equity,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today signed a memorandum to the service secretaries and the Pentagon’s top personnel official extending benefits to same-sex partners of service members.

      Here is the secretary’s announcement of the policy change:
      “Seventeen months ago, the United States military ended the policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We have implemented the repeal of that policy and made clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place in the Department of Defense.

      “At the time of repeal, I committed to reviewing benefits that had not previously been available to same-sex partners based on existing law and policy. It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country. The department already provides a group of benefits that are member-designated. Today, I am pleased to announce that after a thorough and deliberate review, the department will extend additional benefits to same-sex partners of service members.

      “Taking care of our service members and honoring the sacrifices of all military families are two core values of this nation. Extending these benefits is an appropriate next step under current law to ensure that all service members receive equal support for what they do to protect this nation.

      “One of the legal limitations to providing all benefits at this time is the Defense of Marriage Act, which is still the law of the land. There are certain benefits that can only be provided to spouses as defined by that law, which is now being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. While it will not change during my tenure as secretary of defense, I foresee a time when the law will allow the department to grant full benefits to service members and their dependents, irrespective of sexual orientation. Until then, the department will continue to comply with current law while doing all we can to take care of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and their families.

      “While the implementation of additional benefits will require substantial policy revisions and training, it is my expectation that these benefits will be made available as expeditiously as possible. One of the great successes at the Department of Defense has been the implementation of DADT repeal. It has been highly professional and has strengthened our military community. I am confident in the military services’ ability to effectively implement these changes over the coming months.”

    • In Loving Memory Of A Wife, Daughter And Fallen Soldier

      February 16, 2013 5:20 AM by NPR STAFF

      North Carolina National Guardsman Tracy Johnson is an Iraq War veteran and an Army widow.

      She is also one of the first gay spouses to lose a partner at war since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

      On Feb. 14, 2012, Tracy married her longtime partner, Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson. But eight months later, Donna was killed by a suicide bomber while serving in Khost, Afghanistan.

      “That day, I had a bad feeling,” Tracy tells her mother-in-law, Sandra Johnson, during a visit to StoryCorps. “I immediately starting scouring the news websites, and it said that … three U.S. soldiers were killed in Khost, Afghanistan, and I knew, obviously, that’s where she was stationed.”

      But she had to wait to find out if her fears were legitimate.

      “I knew that any communication about Donna was going to come to you guys because even though we were married, I wasn’t considered her next of kin,” Tracy says.

      Donna’s sister called and told Tracy that people from the military were at her mother’s house. Tracy grabbed a copy of their marriage certificate and went to the house.

      “I said, ‘You know, I am her wife and I brought documentation,’ ” she recounts. The notification officer looked at it and asked for a copy.

      Tracy then asked if she could be the military escort who brought her wife’s body home.

      “He goes, ‘Well, we’ll see.’ Well, I know it wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for your insistence,” she tells Sandra.

      The idea of strangers bringing her daughter home was upsetting.

      “I wanted her coming home to family,” she says.

      For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2013/02/16/172135162/in-loving-memory-of-a-wife-daughter-and-fallen-soldier

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