The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.

For the Institute to continue fulfilling this vital public health mission, it must foster innovative thinking and ensure that a full array of novel scientific perspectives are used to further discovery in the evolving science of brain, behavior, and experience. In this way, breakthroughs in science can become breakthroughs for all people with mental illnesses.

There is always someone there to reach out to


For many, getting help starts with a conversation. People who believe they may be suffering from a mental health condition should talk about it with someone they trust and consult a health care provider. As a Nation, it is up to all of us to know the signs of mental health issues and lend a hand to those who are struggling. Shame and stigma too often leave people feeling like there is no place to turn. We need to make sure they know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness — it is a sign of strength.

For more:


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA Treatment Locator

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Report

Find treatment services nearby, call 1-800-662-HELP

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-TALK

Health Hotlines app

Obama Biden


122 thoughts on “The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

  1. WH

    Monday Jan. 10, 2011

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    10:20 AM

    Pres Obama receives the presidential daily briefing.
    11:00 AM

    Pres Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence to honor the victims of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona.
    11:15 AM

    Pres Obama meets with senior advisers.
    12:00 PM
    12:05 PM

    Pres Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Pres Sarkozy of France
    12:55 PM

    Pres Obama and Pres Sarkozy deliver statements to the press.
    1:00 PM
    1:10 PM

    Pres Obama holds a working lunch with Pres Sarkozy.
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM

    • How to Find Help

      If unsure where to go for help, talk to someone you trust who has experience in mental health—for example, a doctor, nurse, social worker, or religious counselor. Ask their advice on where to seek treatment. If there is a university nearby, its departments of psychiatry or psychology may offer private and/or sliding-scale fee clinic treatment options. Otherwise, check the Yellow Pages under “mental health,” “health,” “social services,” “crisis intervention services,” “hotlines,” “hospitals,” or “physicians” for phone numbers and addresses. In times of crisis, the emergency room doctor at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for a mental health problem, and will be able to tell you where and how to get further help.

      Listed below are the types of people and places that will make a referral to, or provide, diagnostic and treatment services.

      * Family doctors
      * Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
      * Religious leaders/counselors
      * Health maintenance organizations
      * Community mental health centers
      * Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
      * University- or medical school-affiliated programs
      * State hospital outpatient clinics
      * Social service agencies
      * Private clinics and facilities
      * Employee assistance programs
      * Local medical and/or psychiatric societies

      For the entire article:

    • When It Comes To Depression, Serotonin Isn’t The Whole Story

      1/23/12 by ALIX SPIEGEL – NPR

      When I was 17 years old, I got so depressed that what felt like an enormous black hole appeared in my chest. Everywhere I went, the black hole went, too.

      So to address the black-hole issue, my parents took me to a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She did an evaluation and then told me this story:

      “The problem with you,” she explained, “is that you have a chemical imbalance. It’s biological, just like diabetes, but it’s in your brain. This chemical in your brain called serotonin is too, too low. There’s not enough of it, and that’s what’s causing the chemical imbalance. We need to give you medication to correct that.”

      Then she handed my mother a prescription for Prozac.

      That was the late ’80s, but this story of a chemical imbalance brought on by low serotonin has remained very popular.

      “I don’t know of any story that has supplanted it,” says Alan Frazer, a researcher who studies how antidepressant medications work. He is also chair of the pharmacology department at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

      “It definitely continues to live — absolutely,” agrees his colleague Pedro Delgado, the chair of the psychiatry department at UT. “If you go to your community doctor, you’re likely to hear some version of that.”

      But for many scientists who research depression, this explanation is no longer satisfying.

      “Chemical imbalance is sort of last-century thinking. It’s much more complicated than that,” says Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. “It’s really an outmoded way of thinking.”

      Coyle, who is also the editor of the journal General Archives of Psychiatry, says that though serotonin plays a role in depression, low serotonin is likely not the cause of depression. Scientific thinking has clearly shifted, he says.

      Still, the story of serotonin remains. Why does it continue to have such a powerful grip on the popular imagination?

      The Link

      According to Frazer, to understand how the story of low serotonin came to dominate our understanding of what causes depression, you need to go back to the late ’50s, to a psychiatric hospital in Switzerland.

      That was where a psychiatrist named Roland Kuhn gave a newly developed drug to 10 patients who had been paralyzed by depression for years. Over the course of three weeks, he watched a near-miracle occur.

      “There was this lightening of their mood,” Frazer says. “They became more energized, more interested in things around them.”

      This was the birth of the very first antidepressants, called tricyclics. And with that birth came a question: How could these drugs possibly be working? Researchers had some ideas, but it really wasn’t until the mid ’60s, when the cause of Parkinson’s disease was discovered, that a real narrative began to take shape.

      It turned out that Parkinson’s — a brain disorder — was caused by a deficiency of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This discovery influenced the way scientists thought about depression.

      “There is no doubt in my mind that the Parkinson’s story had a strong impact on the way that people were thinking about depression,” Frazer says. “It became easy to speculate that depression was due to a deficiency.”

      The question, of course, was what was deficient? Which chemical was too low? For decades researchers argued this question, but no one candidate took the lead. And then came Prozac.

      For the entire article and audio interview:

  2. VA, DoD Coming to Grips with the Mental Health Costs of War

    Posted by Brandon Friedman on October 29, 2009

    When troops leave the active military after service in Iraq and Afghanistan, many find themselves lost in a blur of reality shows and superficiality—in a world where nothing explodes but tempers, and in a place where the rush of combat is soon dulled by the slow drip of alcohol. The symptoms of most Veterans might not be so pronounced, but there’s always someone living through this.

    For my part, when I returned home in 2004, I sympathized with Martin Sheen in the opening scene of Apocalypse Now—though, in my case, I made post-combat stress look way less cool. And while I never punched a mirror, I learned quickly that I wasn’t immune from the foundation-shaking effects that war can have on the mind.

    The problem of post-traumatic stress is new for neither Veterans, nor for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. However—from “soldier’s heart” after the Civil War to “shell shock” to “combat fatigue”—the services have typically handled PTSD only to the point that it doesn’t boil over into a major social or political problem. And while that’s been good enough for many, it hasn’t been good enough for America’s combat Veterans.

    However, that’s why DoD and VA are now coming together to not only seek practical solutions to mental injuries, but to de-stigmatize them as well. This week, for the first time, the departments are holding a joint national summit meant to harness “the programs, resources and expertise of both departments to deal with the aftermath of the battlefield.”

    In his opening remarks at the event, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki noted that “as a provider of mental health services, VA is challenging all of our assumptions about mental health care. We are undergoing a fundamental and comprehensive review of our programs to see that our approaches are Veteran-centric, uniform, and accessible.” But, he continued, “VA does not operate in a vacuum. Our collaboration with DoD is mission-critical because we share the same clients—the same population—at different stages in their lives. There can be no ‘seamless transition’ or ‘continuum of care’ without serious and high-quality collaboration between both departments.”

    For the entire article:

  3. Remarks of President Barack Obama
    As Prepared for Delivery
    Weekly Address

    July 10, 2010

    Last weekend, on the Fourth of July, Michelle and I welcomed some of our extraordinary military men and women and their families to the White House.

    They were just like the thousands of active duty personnel and veterans I’ve met across this country and around the globe. Proud. Strong. Determined. Men and women with the courage to answer their country’s call, and the character to serve the United States of America.

    Because of that service; because of the honor and heroism of our troops around the world; our people are safer, our nation is more secure, and we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq by the end of August, completing a drawdown of more than 90,000 troops since last January.

    Still, we are a nation at war. For the better part of a decade, our men and women in uniform have endured tour after tour in distant and dangerous places. Many have risked their lives. Many have given their lives. And as a grateful nation, humbled by their service, we can never honor these American heroes or their families enough.

    Just as we have a solemn responsibility to train and equip our troops before we send them into harm’s way, we have a solemn responsibility to provide our veterans and wounded warriors with the care and benefits they’ve earned when they come home.

    That is our sacred trust with all who serve – and it doesn’t end when their tour of duty does.

    To keep that trust, we’re building a 21st century VA, increasing its budget, and ensuring the steady stream of funding it needs to support medical care for our veterans.

    To help our veterans and their families pursue a college education, we’re funding and implementing the post-9/11 GI Bill.

    To deliver better care in more places, we’re expanding and increasing VA health care, building new wounded warrior facilities, and adapting care to better meet the needs of female veterans.

    For the entire article:

  4. White House Discussion on Ending Domestic Violence Across America

    Posted by Lynn Rosenthal on November 11, 2010

    Last Friday, Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and I met with 13 groups working to combat domestic and sexual violence at the national, state and local level. These groups represent a broad and diverse approach to ending violence against women in this country. The meeting was a fantastic opportunity to hear from the front lines about the needs of communities and to talk about the Obama Administration’s new initiatives. The groups in attendance drew our attention to all the ways domestic violence and sexual assault touch women’s lives.

    Kim Teehee, Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs, led a discussion on implementing the historic Tribal Law and Order Act, which brings new resources to Indian Country to address the shockingly high rates of domestic and sexual violence against Native American women. The Tribal Law and Order Act helps Tribes hold perpetrators accountable and reduce crime.

    We discussed the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and its protections for victims of domestic violence. Not only does the landmark health care reform bill prohibit discrimination against victims, it also intervenes early to break the cycle of violence by providing help to pregnant women and new mothers who are being abused. There’s still more we can do to meet the physical and mental needs of victims and improve the capacity of the public health system to respond to violence.

    The groups told us about other critical issues, such as the profound impact violence has on children. Without intervention, children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems and sometimes end up in the juvenile justice system. We also talked about the need for solutions that respect religion, culture and family. Rape and abuse touch the lives of women, men, and children in every corner of our nation and we need responses that make sense for every unique community. We agree, which is why the Obama Administration recently announced unprecedented coordination and cooperation across the entire government to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse.

    For the entire article:

  5. Mental Health and Substance Abuse
    Syringe Services Programs: A Proven Public Health Strategy

    By Wanda Fowler | Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    With the recent federal policy change allowing use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, there is renewed focus on cost-effective public health syringe services programs to prevent HIV and hepatitis C infections and to reduce disparities. State law modifications to allow syringe services programs are described.

    For the entire article:

  6. Mental Health Services During and After Armed Conflict: The State of Knowledge and Practice

    September 2010 | Peace Brief by Leonard Rubenstein and Anjalee Kohli


    * There is increasing recognition that the violence, displacement, disruption of communities and social networks, and deprivation stemming from war deeply impact the mental health of individuals and the social cohesion of communities. In response, donors and providers are creating programs for psychosocial or clinical services that seek to be culturally appropriate, attentive to the need to build local capacity, and sustainable.
    * The quality and comprehensiveness of mental health programs offered in crises, however, generally remains mixed. Too often the programs do not sufficiently differentiate among widely varying individual needs or focus predominantly on either community-based interventions or the clinical needs of more severely affected people but not both. Services for people with more severe disabilities often replicate institutional models, and accompanying human rights violations, that existed in the pre-war period. The challenge of providing sound programs, moreover, is complicated by a relatively thin evidence base.

    For the entire article:

  7. Legislation co-sponsored by Co-Chairs of the Mental Health Caucus during 111th Congress:

    H.R.2531 – Mental Health in Schools Act of 2009
    – Rep Napolitano, Grace F. (D-CA-38)

    CRS Summary:Mental Health in Schools Act of 2009 – Amends the Public Health Service Act to revise a community children and violence program to assist local communities and schools in applying a public health approach to mental health services, including by: (1) revising eligibility requirements for a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement; and (2) providing for comprehensive school mental health programs that are culturally and linguistically appropriate and age appropriate. Makes only a partnership between a local educational agency and at least one community program or agency that is involved in mental health eligible for such funding.

    For the entire article:

  8. January 09, 2011

    President Obama Calls for Moment of Silence for Victims of Shooting in Tucson, Arizona

    “Tomorrow (1/10/11) at 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time, I call on Americans to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.”

    The President will observe the moment of silence with White House staff on the South Lawn. The moment of silence will be pooled press.

    Today, the President has signed a proclamation calling for flags to be flown at half-staff.

    Also, the planned trip by the President to Schenectady, New York, on Tuesday, January 11, to the General Electric energy division is postponed. The trip is expected to be rescheduled.

  9. Defense Secretary Gates Arrives in Beijing

    No. 025-11
    January 10, 2011
    Opening Statement by Secretary Robert Gates during Joint Press Conference with General Liang Guanglie from Beijing, China

    “It is a pleasure to be back in Beijing. I’d like to thank the government and people of China for their gracious hospitality, which I’ve greatly enjoyed since my first visit almost 30 years ago. Much has changed since then.

    “I also want to thank Gen. Liang for his hospitality. He and I had a great deal to discuss in our meetings earlier today. Both President Obama and President Hu have stressed that building a sustained and reliable relationship between our two militaries is an indispensible part of strengthening our two nations’ broader relationship — a relationship that consists of deepening economic and cultural ties that touch the lives of virtually all our citizens.

    “Among these are:

    * Improving maritime security;
    * Addressing the challenges posed by the spread of nuclear-, space-, cyber-, and missile technology;
    * Maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula by facilitating engagement between the two Koreas and towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula;
    * Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon by continuing to work through the dual-track approach; and finally
    * Continuing to cooperate generally to diffuse global conflicts and tensions.

    “I’ve stressed several times the importance of maintaining an ongoing military-to-military dialogue between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Mechanisms such as the Defense Consultative Talks, the Defense Policy Coordination Talks, and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement can serve as important channels of communication in this regard.

    For the entire article:

    • Defense Secretary Visits Beijing

      From: DODvClips | January 10, 2011

      This week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is visiting leaders in China to lay the foundation for a stable military-to-military relationship that can continue, even in times of political differences. Officials from both countries have called meetings so far “candid and productive.” American and Chinese officials agree that solid ties are in both nations’ best interests.
      In this video, Deputy Chief of the General’s Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Army Ma Xiao Tian greets the secretary at the Beijing International Airport.

  10. January 04, 2011

    Statement on the visit of French President Sarkozy to the White House

    President Obama will welcome President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to the White House on Monday, January 10. As France assumes the Presidency of the G-8 and the G-20 for 2011, the President looks forward to working with President Sarkozy to sustain the global economic recovery and create jobs. The two Presidents will also discuss a broad range of current foreign policy and security issues.

    • I’m sure President Obama will graciously welcome French President Sarkozy to the White House. France remains one of our strongest allies.

  11. Thanks CR for this thread. I find that people are still not willing to acknowledge mental illness as a serious disease. I was watching sporadically all weekend reporting of this shooter in Tucson and his “friends” are coming out to say how unstable he seem but not one has said they tried getting him help. So sad.

    • Thanks Sandy!

      I just wanted people to know that they don’t have to suffer alone and that there are agencies and people who can help if only they are asked to.

      • Good morning, Sandy and CR.

        You both make excellent points and – CR – I’m glad you provided the info on PTSD among our military. So sad.

        Here’s hoping many people can learn something from this awful tragedy in Arizona.

  12. After I purchased the President’s book, “Of Thee I Sing,” I added a review on Amazon. Just noted that out of 105 reviews, 96 were 5-stars, 6 were 4-stars, and the other 3 don’t count (lol).

    • Thanks for reminding me to post a review; I bought two of POTUS’ “Of Thee I Sing” books

      • Even one of the three 1-star ratings included a comment that the reviewer liked the President – just not the book!

      • Excerpt of my review:

        “The book informs, entertains and the proceeds benefit a scholarship program”

    • January 09, 2011

      Presidential Proclamation–Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Tucson, Arizona

      As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, January 14, 2011. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

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


    • A Moment of Silence for Arizona Shooting Victims
      From: whitehouse | January 10, 2011

      President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are joined by White House staff on the South Lawn as they observe a moment of silence to honor the victims of the tragic shootings in Tuscon, Arizona. January 10, 2011.

      • Moment of silence for Ariz. victims


        President Barack Obama led the country in a moment of silence for the victims of the Arizona shootings on Monday, standing with First Lady Michelle Obama outside the White House as a bell tolled three times.

        At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, hundreds of congressional staff members gathered at the same time, 11 a.m, on the east steps of the Capitol for their own tribute to the slain staff members of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and to Giffords herself, who remains in critical condition at a Tucson hospital.

        Those scenes were repeated across the country, from the chambers of the New York City Council to the automobile show in Detroit in response to what the president said on Sunday would be “a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.”

        Obama and his wife bowed their heads, their hands clasped in front of them, while the bell tolled. More than 200 White House staff members looked on, including senior adviser David Axelrod, deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, special projects assistant Stephanie Cutter and Gene Sperling, his new economic adviser.

        The Obama’s then turned and went back inside the White House. The president plans to meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France around noon. He’s scheduled to make a statement to reporters in the Oval Office after the meeting.

        For the entire article:

    • January 10, 2011
      Readout of The President’s Calls and Briefings

      Last night the President continued to call the families of the victims from the terrible tragedy in Arizona and will continue to do so throughout the week. The President is assuring them that all is being done to try and get to the bottom of this. He is offering his full support and thoughts and prayers on behalf of himself, Michelle and the entire nation.

      Earlier this morning, the President was twice updated on the investigation by John Brennan. Yesterday, the President received three briefings from John Brennan, and last night the President also spoke to FBI Director Mueller to pass along his appreciation for all the hard work being done by federal, state and local law enforcement and investigators in Tucson, Arizona.

      In addition to calls the President made on Saturday, January 8 to:
      Representative Gifford’s husband, Mark Kelly
      Governor Jan Brewer
      Speaker John Boehner
      Representative Eric Cantor, Majority Leader
      Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader
      Representative Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip
      Representative James Clyburn, Assistant Democratic Leader
      Representative Ed Pastor

      On Sunday night, January 9, the President spoke to:
      Family of Christina-Taylor Green
      Family of Gabe Zimmerman
      Senator John Kyl
      Senator John McCain

  13. Happy Monday, everybody!


    Kat's Weekday Obama Administration Report, 1/10/11

    Today's report features:

    • President on the Arizona attack: The President denounces the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others.

    • Weekly address: The President explains the new benefits from the tax cut compromise.

    • December jobs numbers: The economy added more than 100,000 jobs in December.

    • State news: One-year anniversary of earthquake in Haiti.

    • Interior news: Conservation in the Everglades.

    • West Wing Week: A look at the previous week.

    • New WH Chief of Staff The President introduces William Daley.

    • First Question & press briefing: Mr. Gibbs on his upcoming departure and other issues.

    • Energy news: Benefits of geothermal heating and cooling.

    • Weekly address: The President resolves to do all he can to get the economy growing and create jobs, and encourages Republicans to embrace their new responsibility to govern.

    • West Wing Week: Looking back at 2010.

  14. Biden to Assess Progress in Afghanistan

    Jan. 10, 2011 American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, – Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Afghanistan today for a previously unannounced visit that White House officials said is designed to assess progress and reinforce the U.S. commitment.

    Biden is scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to speak to U.S. service members and civilians, and to visit an Afghan army training center.

    This is Biden’s first trip to Afghanistan as vice president. He was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry; Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan; and three Afghan officials.

    A White House official said the vice president will assess progress toward the transition to Afghan-led security and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan. He also will meet with Petraeus and Eikenberry to get an “update from them on the situation on the ground,” the official added.

    Biden and Karzai are scheduled to have lunch together during the trip, and are scheduled to participate in an expanded meeting with officials from both countries.

    Biden last visited Afghanistan in 2009 as vice president-elect.

    • Biden’s wife pauses with soldiers

      01/10/11 By AMIE PARNES – POLITICO

      While her husband made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Monday, Jill Biden spoke briefly at a National Guard deployment ceremony for soldiers, according to a White House aide.

      Biden began her remarks by expressing condolences for the Arizona shootings and asked her audience to keep the community in their prayers, the aide said. The moment of silence led by President Obama was observed by those at the ceremony.

      The soldiers of the Delaware Army National Guard’s 126 Aviation Regiment will leave for Fort Hood, Texas, before going to Afghanistan.

  15. Clinton: Arab world must confront Iran

    1/10/11 MATTHEW LEE -AP

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that sanctions have slowed Iran’s efforts to develop atomic weapons and accused the country of trying to foment new conflict in the Middle East to distract attention from its nuclear ambitions.

    On the first stop of a three-nation tour of the Persian Gulf, Clinton said the Arab world in particular should act to sharpen enforcement of the sanctions and reject attempts to stoke Mideast tensions. She also said Arab states had a special role to play in helping restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks by promoting a broader Arab-Israeli settlement.

    “The most recent analysis is that the sanctions have been working. They have made it much more difficult for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions,” she told a pan-Arab television talk show. “Their program, from our best estimate, has been slowed down. So we have time, but not a lot of time.”

    If Iran succeeds in developing an atomic bomb, it will plunge the Mideast into a disastrous nuclear arms race, she said. “It is first and foremost in the interest of the region to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

    Last week, Israel’s newly retired spy chief was reported to have said he thinks Iran won’t be able to build a nuclear bomb before 2015, pushing back Israeli intelligence estimates of when Tehran might become a nuclear power.

    For the entire article:

    • January 10, 2011

      Remarks by President Obama and President Sarkozy of France after Bilateral Meeting
      Oval Office

      1:22 P.M. EST

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: We’ll, I’m very grateful to have my dear friend, Nicolas Sarkozy, here. And I think Nicolas has agreed that at the top I want to just make a few comments about the situation in Tucson, Arizona.

      Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses. We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

      I think it’s important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events: a 20-year-old college student who ran into the line of fire to rescue his boss; a wounded woman who helped secure the ammunition that might have caused even more damage; the citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of what I think that speaks to is the best of America, even in the face of such mindless violence.

      And so, in the coming days we’re going to have a lot of time to reflect. Right now, the main thing we’re doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who’ve been impacted, making sure that we’re joining together and pulling together as a country. And as President of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them.

      Now, I want to say to Nicolas that I want to offer my condolences to his countrymen as well. They just recently had two French citizens who were kidnapped in Niger. It points to the challenge of terrorism that we jointly share, and this is just one more area in which cooperation between France and the United States is so critical.

      We don’t have a stronger friend and a stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy and the French people. We have cooperated over the last several years on dealing with a global economic crisis, dealing with the challenges of terrorism, dealing with a range of geopolitical issues from the Middle East to Iran to Afghanistan. And I’ve always found Nicolas to be an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend to the American people, as well as a leader on the world stage.

      For the entire article:

  16. With secession vote, Sudan’s Lost Boys hope to find peace

    1/10/11 By Bruce Newman – San Jose Mercury

    “When they came to burn the village,” said Abraham Makuei, recalling the madness that gripped his country when he was 7, plunging the Sudan into civil war, “if you could get away, your father would say, ‘Go now. Let me remain here to die.’ ”

    And so the Lost Boys of Sudan set out on their long journey together. A trip that began in 1987, with thousands of small boys walking through the African bush for 12 terrifying days, comes to a close this week with a 12-hour drive from San Jose to Phoenix. A referendum on the secession of southern Sudan has begun, and carloads of Lost Boys from throughout the western United States are headed to Arizona to cast their votes.

    If, as expected, the 4 million southern Sudanese who have registered here and in Africa for the election end up voting to split the continent’s largest country in two, it will provide a peaceful coda to the brutal civil war that killed 2 million people, while creating a newly independent nation. And it will bring the Lost Boys’ wandering to an end.

    Provided, of course, they don’t get lost again on their way to the polling place. The Lost Boys of Sudan — part of an expatriate community of about 70 Sudanese in San Jose — are men now.

    For the entire article:

  17. Dem planning bill that would outlaw threatening lawmakers

    01/09/11 By Peter Schroeder –

    Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.

    Brady told CNN that he wants federal lawmakers and officials to have the same protections against threat currently provided to the president. His call comes one day after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot, along with 19 other people, at a public event in Tucson. A suspect is currently in custody.

    “The president is a federal official,” Brady told CNN in a telephone interview. “You can’t do it to him; you should not be able to do it to a congressman, senator or federal judge.”

    Among the six people killed was Federal Judge John Roll.

    While it is unknown at this time whether the shooter was politically motivated, that has not prevented a vigorous debate about whether heated political rhetoric seen during the healthcare reform debate and during the 2010 campaign is inciting violence.

    For the entire article:

    • Good. Maybe they’ll pick up SP if she tries using the cross-hairs “symbol” again (not to imply this affected the current tragedy, but we might never know if it did).

  18. Brown seeks 5-year extension of California taxes


    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget Monday that would slash funding to most areas of state government and maintain a series of tax increases for five years to close California’s huge budget deficit.

    The Democratic governor released his first budget proposal since winning election last fall. He called for $12.5 billion in spending cuts, including reductions in welfare, social services, health care for the poor and a combined $1 billion cut to the University of California and California State University systems.

    Brown also wants the Legislature to call a special election in June to give voters an opportunity to continue hikes in the income, sales and vehicle taxes for five years. His proposal relies on new revenues of $12 billion.

    The governor’s office said the only area of state spending he would protect is K-12 education.

    Brown said his recommendations would close an 18-month budget gap estimated at $25.4 billion and require sacrifice from all Californians.

    “For 10 years, we’ve had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt. We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth,” he said in a statement.

    Brown also has said he will seek to fundamentally restructure state government, shifting a host of responsibilities from the state to counties and cities, a process he has acknowledged will be complicated and controversial.

    That includes eliminating redevelopment agencies and ending tax breaks available to businesses that operate in depressed areas designated as enterprise zones.

    Brown said Monday that if voters approve, revenue generated from the sales tax and vehicle license fees currently set to expire in July would go to local governments to help pay for the changes.

    For the entire article:

  19. Breaking News:

    Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) sentenced to at least three years in prison in money-laundering case, judge rules.

  20. Colorado man arrested for threats to senator’s staff

    1/10/11 Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Colorado man has been arrested for allegedly threatening Democratic Senator Michael Bennet’s staff two days before a gunman went on a shooting spree in Arizona that gravely injured a member of Congress, authorities said Monday.

    John Troy Davis, 44, called Bennet’s Denver office on January 6 seeking help with his Social Security benefits but then threatened to “come down there and shoot you all,” according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court Friday.

    Before making the threats, Davis told Bennet staff members that he was “a schizophrenic and I need help,” the FBI affidavit said. Davis had called Bennet’s office in the last month and made threats, according to the FBI.

    He was accused of making a second call to the senator’s Denver office that day seeking help with his benefits and again making threats, including telling another Bennet staff member that he “may go to terrorism.”

    For the entire article:

  21. Hillary Clinton on Gabrielle Giffords: Stop extremists at home and in Middle East


    During a trip to Abu Dhabi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and said extremists must be stopped – both in the Middle East and back home.

    Giffords is a “wonderful, incredibly brave, young woman congressmember” who was shot by an “extremist,” Clinton said.

    The remarks came as Clinton spoke on an Arabic television show hosted by women.

    She said that all societies have extremists, but with openness and tolerance, they can be defeated.

    “Rather than standing off from each other, we should work to try to prevent the extremists anywhere from being able to commit violence,” she said.

  22. Elite Afghan Police Unit Leads Way for Rest to Follow

    1/10/11 By Jon Connor – DCOM-Regional Support, NTM-A/CSTC-A Public Affairs

    KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 6 , 2011) – Add in the ingredients of father, gardener, carpenter, house cleaner, and dynamic leader, and what do you have? In this case, you have the commander of the elite police unit known as the Central Unit located in the southern area of Kabul.

    Brig. Gen. Ahmed Fahim Qayem, commander of the Central Unit, Police Zone 101, is setting the example for Afghan police units throughout the country. The general truly cares what everything looks like, the perception it conveys, and most importantly, the unit personnel he leads.

    For Qayem, this is an opportunity to lead his way, an opportunity to make a big difference in the lives of those Afghan men who volunteer to serve to bring order to their nation amidst a war-raved environment.

    “Since I was 8 years old, my intent was to be a good soldier and officer,” Qayem said in his office Dec. 30 through an interpreter. “To be honest, professional, and do what I was told.”

    This comes from a leader who has served as a soldier – and artillery officer – and fought with the Mujahideen, the guerrilla fighters who battled the Soviet army from 1979 – 1989, when the Soviets withdrew in defeat. The Soviets invaded in December, 1979 in order to support a recently installed pro-Soviet prime minister. He was also a cavalry officer and fought as a commando as well.

    For the entire article:

  23. W.H. looks to cities on budget


    The budget debate in Washington will be heating up in the coming weeks, and it is likely to be kicked off by President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25.

    In preparation for the fight between Democrats and Republicans over where to find the tens of billions of dollars they expect to cut from the budget, a group of city and local officials met for three hours with senior staff members at the White House on Friday to urge them to save Community Block Development Grants, which many cities depend on to provide social services.

    The GOP has singled out the program as a place where the federal government can save billions of dollars, simply by cutting funds to cities where the money does not serve “low-income” communities.

    “This is going to be one of our bigger battles,” said James C. Hunt, a councilman from Clarksburg, West Va., who attended the meeting. “We were very emphatic that CDBG is not a program that you cut.”

    Hunt cited the program’s impact on providing a safety net for joblessness, as well as providing essential training and social services in diverse communities across the country. But he and others said that senior White House staff members wouldn’t make any commitments about the administration’s willingness to protect the grants.

    For the entire article:

  24. Ford plans to hire 7,000 workers by 2012

    1/10/11 DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP

    DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. says it will add more than 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years, including 750 engineers with expertise in batteries and other advanced technology, as it begins producing several new vehicles.

    The company plans to hire 4,000 manufacturing workers this year. Almost half those workers will be at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky that will make the new Ford Escape starting late this year. It expects to add at least 2,500 new manufacturing jobs in 2012.

    The 750 engineers that Ford plans to hire will work on hybrid and electric vehicles.

    The company said it is beginning a recruiting effort this week in Detroit and either other cities, including San Jose, Calif., and Raleigh and Durham, N.C.

    Ford introduced three future electric and hybrid vehicles Monday at the Detroit auto show, including an electric version of the Ford Focus which will go on sale in the U.S. later this year and hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the C-Max minivan which will go on sale in 2012.

    For the entire article:

  25. Sarkozy to meet Saudi king, Lebanon PM in New York

    1/10/11 AFP

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet Saudi Arabia’s recuperating King Abdullah and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in New York, a French official said Monday.

    After meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House Monday, Sarkozy was to hold talks with the Saudi monarch on regional issues including Lebanon, Iran, the Middle East peace process and the fight against terrorism, as well as bilateral French-Saudi relations, a member of Sarkozy’s entourage said.

    Sarkozy will meet separately with Hariri in “a continuation of the discussions he had with him last November 30 at the Elysee Palace over the situation in Lebanon and Lebanese-French relations,” the official said.

    The French leader arrived in Washington at 11:05 am (1605 GMT) for a one-day visit with Obama as France embarks on its year at the presidency of the G20, as well as the Group of Eight (G8) powers, during which Sarkozy wants to reform currency and commodity markets and world governance.

    For the entire article:

  26. In hard times, states still spend to protect farms

    1/10/11 STEPHEN SINGER -AP

    HAMDEN, Conn. – Despite tough financial times following the worst recession in decades, some states continue to spend millions of dollars to preserve American farmland and stem its rapid loss to development and suburban sprawl.

    Advocates say the preservation efforts are needed to ensure food is available locally if the national distribution system is ever disrupted. They also say it helps maintain a way of life important to many Americans.

    Twenty-five states have farmland preservation programs, and nearly half of them are in the densely populated Northeast, where the loss of fields to housing developments and shopping malls has been rapid and pressing. After losing 21 percent of its farmland in less than two decades, Connecticut increased spending on preservation efforts.

    Former Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she made the program a priority despite looming budget deficits and demands to cut spending.

    “It’s difficult sometimes when there are so many pressing needs,” she said just days before leaving office on Jan. 5. “It’s our culture, our way of life, our farms.”

    For the entire article:

    • Excerpt from Wikipedia’s US Economy page:

      Exports (2009 est.) $1.057 trillion f.o.b

      Export goods section

      Agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%

      Industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%

      Capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%,

      Consumer goods (2009) (automobiles, medicines) 15.0%

      Main export partners (2009)

      Canada, 13.2%
      Mexico, 8.3%
      China, 4.3%
      Japan, 3.3%

  27. CR, your blogs are always so on point. Hope all of my O friends are doing great today.

  28. WH

    Tuesday Jan. 11
    All Times Eastern

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

    Pres Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
    Oval Office
    Closed Press
    11:00 am

    Pres Obama meets with senior advisors
    Oval Office
    Closed Press

    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      Jan 11 Live Feed Schedule



      9:00 AM EST
      Capitol Hill honors Tucson shooting victims
      Lawmakers, staff and others sign a condolence book for the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting in Arizona on Capitol Hill.

      12:00 PM EST
      Hospital briefing on Arizona shooting victims
      Officials from University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, hold a briefing on the conditions of victims from Saturday’s mass shooting.

      1:00 PM EST
      State Department briefing on Sudan
      The State Department holds a special briefing on the situation in Sudan following a referendum on the future of the southern part of the African country.

      2:00 PM EST
      NASA briefing on next shuttle mission
      NASA officials brief reporters on efforts to repair space shuttle Discovery for a future launch.

      7:00 PM EST
      Special mass service for AZ victims
      Special community mass at St. Odilia church, the home church of the Green and Roll families. Members of each family are expected to attend.



      Continued coverage of the status of shooting victims in Tucson, Arizona

      10am ET
      National Oil Spill Commission Final Report

      Senators Call for End to Political Gridlock
      * Sen. Kerry Remarks: C‑SPAN2 at 10am ET
      * Sen. Leahy Remarks: c‑ at 11am ET

  29. Obama to travel to Arizona on Wednesday

    1/10/11 JULIE PACE -AP

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will travel to Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for the victims of last weekend’s shooting rampage.

    White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said late Monday that the president would speak at the service, and that first lady Michelle Obama would accompany her husband.

    The University of Arizona said the service would take place at 6 p.m. local time on the campus and would be free and open to the public.

    Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is in critical condition after being shot in the head Saturday. Six others died and more than a dozen were wounded outside a supermarket where Giffords had set up a booth to hear the concerns of constituents.

    For the entire article:

  30. Interior Department chief of staff departing

    1/10/11 By Ben Geman –

    Interior Department Chief of Staff Tom Strickland, who is also a top conservation official with the department, is leaving the department in February after about two years on the job.

    Strickland is both chief of staff and Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. The Senate confirmed Strickland as assistant secretary in late April 2009.

    “Tom has been a driving force in standing up our Interior leadership team, launching a 21st century conservation agenda, leading initiatives such as the Everglades restoration, and helping restore the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday in a statement.

    For the entire article:

  31. Consumers still struggling with loans: ABA

    1/11/11 Dave Clarke – Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumers continue to struggle to pay back home equity, auto and other loans as high unemployment drags on the economy.

    The American Bankers Association said in a report released on Tuesday that the overall loan delinquency rate ticked up slightly for the second straight quarter. It had been dropping steadily since hitting 3.35 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

    The overall rate increased to 3.01 percent in the third quarter of 2010 from 3.00 in the second quarter.

    The ABA defines a delinquency as a payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

    For the entire article:

  32. China overshoots loan target and more tightening to come

    1/11/11 Aileen Wang and Koh Gui Qingv- Reuters

    BEIJING (Reuters) – China overshot its bank loan target in 2010 and finished the year with money growth still running too fast, underscoring the need for more decisive policy tightening to keep inflation in check.

    At the same time, a record $199 billion surge in foreign exchange reserves in the fourth quarter pushed China’s stockpile, already the world’s biggest, to $2.85 trillion, highlighting that money streaming in from abroad was complicating policy efforts at home.

    Chinese banks issued 7.95 trillion yuan ($1.2 trillion) in new loans last year, the central bank said on Tuesday, more than the 7.5 trillion yuan that the government wanted for the full year. The broad M2 measure of money supply grew 19.7 percent, also topping the official target of 17 percent.

    For the entire article:

  33. Afghanistan reconstruction auditor resigns

    1/11/11 Michelle Nichols – Reuters

    KABUL (Reuters) – A U.S. auditor for Afghanistan reconstruction, who said waste and fraud in efforts to rebuild the war-torn country may have cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, resigned on Tuesday.

    Arnold Fields, a retired Marine Corps general, said he would step down on February 4 after nearly three years as the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR) overseeing tens of billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan.

    In September, a top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, three Republican senators and non-profit group Project on Government Oversight, urged U.S. President Barack Obama to fire Fields, who they accused of failing to do his job.

    For the entire article:

  34. Gates: China confirms stealth jet test-flight

    1/11/11 Phil Stewart -Reuters

    BEIJING (Reuters) – China confirmed it held its first test-flight of a stealth fighter jet on Tuesday, a show of muscle during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates aimed at defusing military tensions between the two big powers.

    Gates said Chinese President Hu Jintao told him the maiden test-flight of the J-20 fighter jet prototype, which could eventually help narrow the military gap with the United States, was not timed to coincide with his visit.

    “I asked President Hu about it directly, and he said that the test had absolutely nothing to do with my visit and had been a pre-planned test,” Gates told reporters.

    Asked whether he believed that, Gates said: “I take President Hu at his word that the test had nothing to do with my visit.”

    For the entire article:

  35. South Sudan upbeat amid vote, but threat of border violence casts shadow

    1/11/11 Maggie Fick -Christian Science Monitor

    Juba, Sudan – The mood on the second day of voting in South Sudan’s independence referendum remained upbeat, and lines at polling stations around the capital, Juba, were again long, but the threat of further violence in the disputed north-south fault-line of Abyei cast a shadow over the optimism felt around the south on Sunday.

    The people of Abyei were meant to cast their own votes of self-determination starting Sunday, a referendum they were promised when the north and south ended more than two decades of war in 2005. Instead, negotiations between the Khartoum-based National Congress Party (NCP) and the south’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are stalled. But one thing is looking almost certain: Abyei won’t determine its future status – either as part of northern or southern Sudan – through the ballot box.

    Although officials on the ground in Abyei reported that the situation today was calm, clashes over the past three days could herald a backslide into local conflict in the flashpoint region that Sudan watchers fear could destroy the hard work over the past six years to preserve a fragile peace.

    For the entire article:

  36. Obama traveling to Tucson


    President Barack Obama will travel to Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday to honor the six people slain by a gunman last Saturday in a shooting spree that gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, according to an administration official.

    Obama, who ordered a national moment of silence in memory of those killed by shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner at Giffords’ “Congress on the Corner” event at a Tucson shopping mall, plans to attend some kind of memorial service, the person said. Details are still being worked out.

    White House staff had been in communication with local officials to figure out the best way to honor the victims without creating a huge distraction at a time when investigators are still collecting evidence — and Giffords remains in an area hospital in the first stages of a precarious recovery.

    For the entire article:

  37. Biden: U.S., Karzai on ‘same page’

    01/11/11 By MATT NEGRIN – POLITICO

    Vice President Biden and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met at the presidential palace in Kabul on Tuesday to talk about the U.S. military handing over responsibility to the Afghans in July.

    Amid their talks, Karzai remarked to the pool traveling with Biden that they would work “on the transition.”

    Biden was cordial with Karzai, saying he “did a great job in Lisbon” at a summit to talk about the future of Afghanistan. “I think it’s gotten us on the same page,” he said, according to the pool.

    The vice president also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to assisting the Afghan government as it needs and wants. “We are not leaving if you don’t want us to leave,” Biden said.

  38. Clinton’s secret trip to Yemen

    01/11/11 By MATT NEGRIN – POLITICO

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise trip to Yemen on Tuesday to urge officials there to address anti-American extremism more effectively.

    Clinton, the first secretary of state to visit Yemen in 20 years, also planned to meet with civic leaders and students, the AP reports. Her visit to Sanaa was “shrouded in secrecy for security reasons,” the wire said.

    Part of her message to Yemeni officials is that the United States is prepared to help the country deal with the roots of extremism: poverty, inequality and politics.

    “It’s not enough to have military-to-military relations,” Clinton told reporters. “We need to try to broaden the dialog. We need to have this dialog with the government.”

    • I like the way Secretary Clinton generally meets with students in different countries she visits. I believe she is trying to impact their sentiments about the United States, which is certainly a good idea.

  39. November wholesale inventories fall, sales up sharply

    1/11/11 David Lawder -Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. wholesale inventories unexpectedly fell in November as wholesale sales outstripped forecasts, a government report showed on Tuesday, suggesting optimism about the sustainability of demand.

    The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories fell 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted $425.5 billion. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1 percent rise in inventories after an October increase that was revised downward slightly to 1.7 percent. It was the first fall in wholesale inventories since December 2009.

    Wholesale sales in November rose 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted $370.1 billion, well ahead of forecasts for a 1.5 percent increase. October sales were revised upward to a 2.6 percent gain after an initial report of a 2.2 percent rise.

    For the entire article:

  40. When hate speech is cloaked in politics

    1/10/11 San Josde Mercury News editorial

    Talk matters.

    It isn’t cheap. It shapes the way people think and the way they live their lives. This is why the language of hate and personal vilification that now pervades the rhetoric of the American right is so poisonous to our civic life.

    It foments anger. It creates a sense of crisis that clouds rather than clarifies thoughtful debate. It increases polarization rather than moving people toward any hint of common ground.

    Were the actions of a clearly deranged Jared Loughner on Saturday in any way caused by the hate speech on talk radio or the rabid tea party campaign against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last fall? We will never know. But the tragedy has shone a spotlight on poisoned rhetoric, and there is no defending it.

    Hate speech cloaked in politics and combined with violent imagery has to stop.

    Battle or gun metaphors here and there are nothing new. We all use them from time to time. But it’s different when they’re used relentlessly and combined with portrayals of ideological opponents as evil and threatening to our way of life. And it’s different when this rhetoric is not just from the fringe but is condoned by mainstream political leaders, mostly Republican.

    For the entire article:

  41. Happy Tuesday, everybody!


    Kat's Weekday Obama Administration Report, 1/11/11

    Today's report features:

    • Two Presidents: The President meets with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

    • In memoriam: The President, First Lady and White House staff join in a moment of silent remembrance; a Presidential Proclamation honoring the victims; moment of silence observed by NASA's Mission Control and the International Space Station.

    • Afghanistan: The Vice President visits Kabul to assess progress in handing over security to Afghan forces; the President received the resignation of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

    • US-China relations: Defense Secretary Gates is in China for discussions on strengthening the countries' military-to-military relationship.

    • Labor news: DOL recovers back wages for L.A. garment workers; Secretary Solis to re-establish the charter of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

    • New features for Energy's website unveils the first wave of improvements.,-1-11-11

  42. What the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Bill Means for Our Veterans

    Posted by Darienne Page on January 11, 2011 at 11:00 AM EST

    Last Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Bill. The bill represents another step in the Administration’s continued commitment to ensuring that the men and women of our Armed Forces, who have served our country with distinction, receive the benefits they have earned. It provides Veterans the ability to use their benefits for vocational and on-the-job training, expands eligibility for the benefit to National Guardsmen and women who are activated for domestic assistance, provides Active Duty troops with additional assistance to purchase books, and allows for severely injured Veterans and their caregivers to have additional time to use their benefits.

    Since the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, over 400,000 Veterans and their families have taken advantage of the opportunity to pursue a higher education. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Bill will expand that opportunity, furthering the President’s promise to take care of our nation’s Veterans.

    For the entire article:

  43. Chamber of Commerce backs repeal vote on healthcare reform

    1/11/11 Kim Dixon – Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Corporate America’s biggest lobbying group on Tuesday praised a more business-friendly tone from the White House, but backed Republican efforts to dismantle the Obama administration’s healthcare overhaul.

    “We see the upcoming House vote as an opportunity for everyone to take a fresh look at healthcare reform,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said.

    The Republican-led House of Representatives was set to conduct a largely symbolic vote to repeal Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment this week, but it was delayed after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

    Donohue, in delivering his annual “State of American Business” address, also pressed for more open markets in China, warned against over-regulation and called for aggressive cuts to government spending.

    He said the United States should push its trading partners to open markets. But he added “starting a trade war with one of our fastest-growing export partners is not the answer.”

    President Barack Obama is due to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao on January 19.

    For the entire article:

  44. OECD jobless rate steady at 8.6% in November

    1/11/11 AFP

    PARIS (AFP) – The unemployment rate in advanced world economies held steady at 8.6 percent in November, having remained close to post-World War II highs for most of 2010, the OECD said Tuesday.

    “The OECD-wide rate has been stable at 8.5 percent – 8.6 percent since February 2010, despite diverging trends at the national level,” the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report.

    “There were 45.8 million unemployed persons in OECD countries in November 2010, down 0.3 million from November 2009 but 15.9 million higher than in November 2007,” it added.

    The United States was a big changer, with the jobless rate dropping 0.4 percentage points to 9.4 percent in December.

    For the entire article:

  45. Vice President Biden in Afghanistan: “It’s Afghans Who Must Build Their Nation”

    Posted by Jesse Lee on January 11, 2011

    When the Vice President landed in Afghanistan yesterday, where he is spending most of the week, it was another chapter in the Vice President’s role dealing with that country that has stretched not just throughout this Administation, but back to a visit nine years ago when the Taliban was first driven from power. Vice President Biden was there to get a first-hand assessment of progress on the ground as the United States continues to move towards empowering Afghanistan for full independence, and his remarks in a joint press conference with President Karzai told the story of this tough endeavor:

    When I was last in Afghanistan just before our administration took office — it was two years ago this month, and President-elect Obama asked me, as you recall, Mr. President, to once again get a firsthand look and have a discussion with you. And now since then we have with the leadership of my — the team that’s here on the right, the President’s team, we have a strategy and the resources in place to accomplish the goal of a stable and growing and independent Afghanistan able to provide for its own security, and in the process to be able to, at the same time, to disrupt and dismantle and defeat ultimately al Qaeda in Pakistan and the little appearance there is in Afghanistan.

    A stable, sovereign Afghanistan that is not a haven for terrorists is critical toward that goal. And to that end we’re engaged in working — and I had the opportunity to go to a training facility today — working with your military to train up a first-class military organization that will be eventually in the position to meet all of the Afghan security needs. And toward that end I’d like to thank your Minister of Defense for taking me on the tour earlier today.

    For the entire article:

  46. King: Ban weapons near federal officials attending public events

    By Daniel Strauss – 01/11/11

    The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wants to ban people from carrying weapons within 1,000 feet of federal officials at public events.

    Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said he would propose a bill in the coming weeks that would ban the carrying of guns within that range for the president, vice president, members of Congress and federal judges.

    King made the announcement accompanied by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for tighter gun restrictions.

    For the entire article:

  47. Don’t forget to mail our First Lady a birthday card!

    Her birthday is Monday, Jan 17

    Mail it to:

    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    • I hope her dear husband will be home for the big day! Maybe they’ll have date night, in and around D.C.!

  48. President Obama on Haiti, One Year Later

    January 11, 2011 by Jesse Lee

    One-year anniversaries can sometimes seem an arbitrary symbolic moment, but being reminded of the devastation in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake one year ago serves as an example of why they can be so important as well. The First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden witnessed that devastation on their trip captured above (view full size), and as the President makes clear in his statement today, their road back still stretches far ahead:

    As we mark one year since the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, we honor the memory of the quarter of a million Haitians who were lost, along with more than one hundred Americans, many United Nations personnel and citizens from dozens of nations. We recall how Americans, civilian and military, joined with people from around the world in one of the largest humanitarian efforts ever attempted. And we continue to be inspired by the Haitian people, and our vibrant Haitian American community, who have faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary courage and faith.

    Since the first moments of the disaster, the United States has helped to rally international support for Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction and respond to new challenges, such as the outbreak of cholera and Hurricane Tomas. This global effort, led by the Haitian government, continues today and has been matched by the tremendous compassion of the American people, who in difficult economic times have given generously to help.

    For the entire article:

  49. January 11, 2011

    Statement by the Press Secretary on President Obama meeting with the Prime Minister of Lebanon

    Tomorrow, President Obama will meet with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon to discuss U.S. support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, and stability, the ongoing work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and other regional issues. Lebanon is an important partner in U.S. efforts to promote peace, stability, and justice in the Middle East.

  50. Letter from the President regarding the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996

    January 11, 2011

    Dear Mr. Chairman: (Dear Madam Chairman:)
    (Dear Representative:) (Dear Senator:)

    Consistent with section 306(c)(2) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-114)(the “Act”), I hereby determine and report to the Congress that suspension, for 6 months beyond February 1, 2011, of the right to bring an action under title III of the Act is necessary to the national interests of the United States and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba.



      • From Wiki:

        The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (Helms–Burton Act, Pub.L. 104-114, 110 Stat. 785, 22 U.S.C. § 6021–6091) is a United States federal law which strengthens and continues the United States embargo against Cuba. The act extended the territorial application of the initial embargo to apply to foreign companies trading with Cuba, and penalized foreign companies allegedly “trafficking” in property formerly owned by U.S. citizens but expropriated by Cuba after the Cuban revolution. The act also covers property formerly owned by Cubans who have since become U.S. citizens.


    1/11/11 POLITICO44

    A White House statement on President Obama’s conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia: “The President spoke to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to wish him well as he continues to recover from his recent surgery, and thanked him for receiving Secretary Clinton in New York last week. The President told the King that, in light of their shared commitment to Lebanon’s welfare and to supporting Prime Minister Hariri, he looks forward to continuing to work together with Saudi Arabia and other partners to support Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, and stability. “

  52. Good evening O friends. As usual, lots of good articles here today. Glad to see Kat back. Hope you are feeling better. I am also happy to hear that Gabrielle Gifford is progressing.

    • Hi, COS. Good to see ya (as we were glad to see Kat back earlier). Yes, CR has been at it again, sharing lots of goodness with us.

      Enjoy the rest of your evening!

      • Same to you Jacqueline. I am looking forward to seeing PBO’s speech in AZ tomorrow. He has a way of calming us and I know it will be a considerate speech. I kinda tuned out of politics during Bushes’ reign. Doeas anyone know whether he spoke at these type of occasions and personally visited families like PBO?

        • COS – In answer to your question about Bush, he was in the forefront after 9/11, of course, but I can’t remember any specific commemorations, except at The Pentagon, where he presided or spoke (I just realized I’ve almost blocked him out of my thought processes entirely). I think Bill Clinton was President at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, and I believe I recall he visited the families of victims and was at the memorial.

  53. Opinion: The rest of us must speak up against hateful speech

    1/23/2011 By LaDoris Cordell – San Jose Mercury News

    Today, like never before in this country, words of hate and words of extremist provocation are being hurled by people — most of whom are ignorant, some of whom are calculating and manipulative, all of whom are counting on the rest of us to remain silent.

    Do not misunderstand me. I am a staunch supporter of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe, as did the Founding Fathers, that freedom of speech is absolutely essential to a democracy. Because of the First Amendment, anyone in this country can express her or his views without the threat of punishment by the state.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, when he spoke out against the Vietnam War, did so under the protection of the First Amendment. Many in this country despised him for his views, but he knew that unlike in totalitarian regimes, his words were protected. He had the right to disagree.

    And disagree, he did, in the most eloquent fashion. He didn’t call names, he didn’t threaten, he didn’t belittle. His were words of peace and nonviolence, while still critical of our government’s stance on the war.

    I am not asking that the words of those who subtly and not so subtly encourage violence be suppressed or muzzled. The moment that happens, we create a slippery slope such that further restraints on all speech are fair game. No, let these ignorant hateful people speak. But when they speak, our responsibility is to speak — louder and longer.

    When Gabrielle Giffords and her congressional district appeared in cross hairs on the website of someone who could have occupied the White House and who still has aspirations to do so, where were we? Why did it take the attempted assassination of Giffords to highlight the danger inherent in such a graphic? Where was the groundswell of outrage demanding the removal of those cross hairs the minute they went up on the Web?

    I was silently disgusted, as were, I’m sure, many of you. But, silent disgust in the face of individuals whose words are inflammatory and dangerous, is not only woefully inadequate, it is woefully wrong.

    For the entire article:

  54. Administration Implements Affordable Care Act Provision to Improve Care, Lower Costs

    Value-Based Purchasing Will Reward Hospitals Based on Quality of Care for Patients


    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today launched a new initiative which will reward hospitals for the quality of care they provide to people with Medicare and help reduce health care costs. Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program marks the beginning of an historic change in how Medicare pays health care providers and facilities—for the first time, 3,500 hospitals across the country will be paid for inpatient acute care services based on care quality, not just the quantity of the services they provide.

    This initiative helps support the goals of the Partnership for Patients, a new public-private partnership that will help improve the quality, safety and affordability of health care for all Americans. The Partnership for Patients has the potential over the next three years to save 60,000 lives and save up to $35 billion in U.S. health care costs, including up to $10 billion for Medicare. Over the next ten years, the Partnership for Patients could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and result in billions more in Medicaid savings.

    “Changing the way we pay hospitals will improve the quality of care for seniors and save money for all of us,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Under this initiative, Medicare will reward hospitals that provide high-quality care and keep their patients healthy. It’s an important part of our work to improve the health of our nation and drive down costs. As hospitals work to improve their performance on these measures, all patients – not just Medicare patients – will benefit.”

    For the entire article:

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