03/05/2014 DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz Names Raul Alvillar Political Director
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz today announced veteran Democratic Party operative Raul Alvillar, as the DNC’s new National Political Director.
“We’re thrilled to have Raul joining our team, bringing with him more than a decade of experience on campaigns, in the private sector and in government. His work on everything from legislative outreach to campaigns and LGBT advocacy will be an asset to Democrats at every level,” said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “Together, with the rest of the team at the DNC, we’ll be able to support the President’s legislative agenda and elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2014 and beyond.”
“I am excited to join the DNC and get to work electing and reelecting Democrats across the country,” Alvillar said. “I look forward to working with our state parties and DNC members to make certain we are providing them the tools they need to ensure that the Democratic Party thrives at all levels.”
"I've worked closely with Raul over the years and have been continually impressed by his leadership, work ethic and political instinct," said DNC CEO Amy Dacey. "Raul will be an invaluable resource to our team at the DNC and Democrats across the country."
Alvillar has worked for President Obama in a variety of roles since 2007. He comes to the DNC after serving as Senior Advisor to Secretary Shaun Donovan in the Office of Public Engagement and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Prior to his position at HUD, Raul was Associate Director at the Office of Public Engagement for the White House Office of the Vice President, where he worked closely with elected officials, stakeholders and members of the administration. He also served as Deputy National Political Director at Senator John Kerry's Keeping America's Promise PAC and as Political Director and Regional Field Director on the John Kerry 2004 Presidential campaign.
Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus added, “Raul is a strong ally for Democrats everywhere and I'm proud to call him a friend. At a time when the stakes could not be higher for working families in America, I am confident that Raul brings the experience and dedication to promote the President's agenda and propel Democrats to victory in November.”
“Raul is a real star in the Democratic world. He worked for me during the Kerry for President Campaign and showed great skill and political judgment. The DNC is lucky to have him,” said Democratic strategist Steven Elmendorf.
03/04/2014 Reflections in celebration of Women’s History Month
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’ll be sharing thoughts from Democratic leaders throughout March. I started things off by reflecting on my inspirations and what I’ve learned from the women around me.
1. What woman inspired you?
I was inspired by my mom and my grandma who instilled in me as early as I can remember that I could grow up and be anything I wanted to be. They lead by example, balancing work and family and giving me the values that helped me understand that because we were fortunate, it was our responsibility to give back to the community.
2. Why are you a Democrat?
I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party stands for inclusion, equality, and opportunity and that means empowerment for all Americans to achieve anything they can dream, if they work hard and play by the rules. I’m a Democrat because I believe that government can be part of the solution and isn’t all of the problem.
3. What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self not to sweat the small stuff, to not put off for tomorrow what can be done today and to remember to be a sister to other women because helping others succeed helps all women succeed.
03/01/2014 Let’s make this year a success for women and for the nation
Women’s History Month is special to me not just as a woman but as a mother, as a daughter and as a wife. It is inspiring to think how far we’ve come thanks to the women of previous generations on whose shoulders we stand. The suffragists fought for the right to vote and they won it in 1920. Another generation secured the passage of Title IX.
Our generation had cause to celebrate when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 and when health care reform passed in 2010. Because of the Affordable Care Act, being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition, and women now have access to preventive care like mammograms at no cost.
And yet our generation of women has an opportunity to do even more. I’m proud that the DNC recently launched the Democratic Women’s Alliance to get more women involved in politics, at every level. As the President said in his 2014 State of the Union Address, "When women succeed, America succeeds." Together, let’s make this year a success for women and for the nation.
Add your name to stand with the President and Democrats fighting for equal pay for women:
02/24/2014 DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Rep. John Dingell Retiring
Washington, DC – Earlier today, U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell (MI-12) announced he will not seek re-election. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“For more than five decades, U.S. Rep. John Dingell has served the people of Michigan and this nation with honor and distinction. As the Dean of the House of Representatives, he has done so much to help not only his constituents in Michigan, but nationwide. He has been a champion for Democratic values and has been a vocal advocate for the auto industry, civil rights, immigration reform, the environment and presided over the House of Representatives as we passed the Affordable Care Act.
“While he was Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he helped pass clean air and water bills and helped secure more of our land for preservation and national parks. He also helped shepherd through a bill that is very personal to me, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, that aims to prevent childhood drowning deaths and injuries.
“Congressman Dingell leaves behind a remarkable legacy of working across the aisle on behalf of all Americans. His diplomacy and institutional knowledge will be missed in the halls of Congress. I wish Congressman Dingell and his family all the best as he embarks on a well-earned retirement.”
03/09/2014 Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk of Ukraine
President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine to the White House on March 12. The visit will highlight the strong support of the United States for the people of Ukraine, who have demonstrated inspiring courage and resilience through recent times of crisis. The President and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk will discuss how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. They will also discuss support the international community can provide to help Ukraine confront its economic challenges, and the importance of uniting Ukraine and working to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people as they prepare for May presidential elections.
03/09/2014 Readout of National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Travel to the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti
National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti from March 6-8. In the UAE, she held highly productive bilateral discussions with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and other senior Emirati officials, including the Foreign Minister and Deputy Chief of National Security. They exchanged views on a wide range of regional issues, including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Middle East Peace, as well as U.S. partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Ambassador Rice visited the new campus of NYU Abu Dhabi, one of the three major U.S.-UAE long-term legacy partnership projects. She met with a diverse and talented group of American, Emirati and international students from NYU Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholarship Program and expressed support for the major investments the UAE has made in world class liberal arts and STEM higher education programs.
In Djibouti, Ambassador Rice met with senior leaders and U.S. troops from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) at Camp Lemonnier to discuss CJTF operations in the region. She thanked the troops for their extraordinary work to build counterpart capacity in the region, conduct crisis response, and execute vital counter-terror operations that help keep the American people safe. Ambassador Rice met with Djiboutian President Guelleh to renew our robust strategic partnership with the government and people of Djibouti. She thanked him for Djiboutian leadership on a range of issues, including countering terrorism and piracy, and responding to humanitarian emergencies. In her meeting with President Guelleh and with Foreign Minister Youssouf and a delegation of senior Djiboutian ministers and officials, she discussed ways to deepen and enhance our bilateral cooperation, including in ways that will tangibly benefit the economic well-being of the Djiboutian people and address shared security challenges. They discussed ways that Camp Lemonnier and the U.S. military presence in Djibouti can have a more direct and positive impact on the local economy, and ways that American assistance can lead to further sustainable development and improved regional security.
03/08/2014 Readout of the President’s Calls with President Berzins of Latvia, Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom, President Grybauskaite of Lithuania, President Hollande of France, President Ilves of Estonia, and Prime Minister Renzi of Italy
The President spoke separately with Prime Minister Cameron, President Hollande, and Prime Minister Renzi today about Ukraine. The President welcomed the strong, unified stance of the United States and the European Union regarding Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, including in the conclusions of the March 6 European Council. The leaders reiterated their grave concern over Russia’s clear violation of international law and reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The President also spoke with President Berzins, President Grybauskaite, and President Ilves on a conference call today. The President reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty and our enduring support for the security and democracy of our Baltic allies. The Baltic leaders welcomed the provision of additional support to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, and the leaders agreed to continue coordinating their efforts closely.
All of the leaders agreed on the need for Russia to pull its military forces back to their bases, allow for the deployment of international observers and human rights monitors to the Crimean peninsula, and agree quickly on the formation of a contact group that could lead to direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The leaders rejected the proposed referendum in Crimea as a violation of Ukraine’s constitution and underscored that all decisions about the future of Ukraine must include the government in Kyiv. The leaders made clear that Russia’s continued violation of international law will isolate it from the international community. They also discussed the need for the international community to provide strong support to the government of Ukraine as it works to stabilize its economy and prepares for elections in May. They agreed to continue close coordination, including through appropriate international organizations.
03/08/2014 Weekly Address: Time for Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage for the American People
WASHINGTON, DC—In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the momentum building across the country to give Americans a raise and reiterated his call for Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The President has already signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for people working under new federal contracts. Companies large and small are choosing to give workers a raise because they know it’s good business. And Governors across the country are answering the President’s call by working to raise their states’ minimum wages. Now, it’s time for Congress to get the job done and restore opportunity for all Americans by raising the minimum wage to “ten-ten.”
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, March 8, 2014.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
March 8, 2014
Hi, everybody. This week, I traveled to New England, where I was joined by four governors who are working to raise the minimum wage in each of their states. And they’ve also joined me in calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Because it would give nearly 800,000 Americans in their states a raise – and lift wages for about 28 million across the country.
So these governors aren’t waiting for Congress to make up its mind. And in my State of the Union Address, I asked America’s business leaders to go ahead and do what they could to raise their employees’ wages, too. And increasingly, it’s not just large companies like Costco or the Gap that choose to pay their employees higher starting wages.
It’s smaller businesses like Jaxson’s, a family-owned ice cream parlor in South Florida. They answered the call and raised their wages so that more than 70 employees would earn at least $10.10 an hour, without cutting back on hiring.
And two weeks ago, an Atlanta small business owner named Darien Southerland [SUTH-er-lind] wrote me to share a lesson his grandmother taught him – that if you treat your employees right, they’ll treat you right. And Vice President Biden paid him a visit this week.
I agree with these business owners, which is why I issued an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. It’s good for our bottom line. And working Americans have struggled through stagnant wages for far too long.
A clear majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage, because we believe that nobody who works full-time should have to live in poverty. About half of all Republicans support raising the minimum wage, too. It’s just too bad they don’t serve in Congress. Because the Republicans who do serve in Congress don’t want to vote on the minimum wage at all. Some even want to get rid of it completely. Seriously.
That’s why what business leaders and everyday Americans are doing to raise wages is so important. Because change doesn’t come from Washington – change comes to Washington. I’ve always believed that, and it’s true in this case, too. Outside Washington, Americans are ready to put aside old political arguments and move this country forward. The American people are way ahead of Congress on this issue, and we’ve just got to let Congress know that. It’s time for “ten-ten.” It’s time to give America a raise. And it’s time to restore opportunity for all.
03/07/2014 Readout of the President’s Call with Chancellor Merkel of Germany
The President spoke with Chancellor Merkel today about Ukraine. The President welcomed the conclusions of the March 6 European Council and the unified position of the United States and the European Union regarding Ukraine. The leaders agreed on the need for Russia to pull back its forces, allow for the deployment of international observers and human rights monitors to Crimea, and support free and fair presidential elections in May. They discussed the need for Russia to agree quickly on the formation of a contact group that will lead to direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The leaders reiterated their grave concern over Russia’s clear violation of international law through its military intervention in Ukraine.
03/07/2014 Remarks by the President on Preparing for College
Coral Reef Senior High School
3:05 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Miami! (Applause.) Hello, Cuda Nation! (Applause.) Hello! It is good to be here at Coral Reef Senior High. (Applause.) You guys are just happy because it’s warm down here all the time. (Laughter.) I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the rest of the country is cold. (Laughter.) Listen, Michelle and I are so grateful for the warm welcome. It is great to be here. I want to thank some people who are doing outstanding work.
First of all, your superintendent, Superintendent Carvalho, is doing great work. We’re really proud of him. (Applause.) Your principal, Principal Leal, is doing great work. (Applause.) All the Coral Reef teachers and staff, you guys are all doing a great job. (Applause.) And you’re doing what is necessary to help young people get ready for college and careers. So that’s why we’re here. We are proud of what’s being done at this school.
I want to mention a few other folks who are here who are fighting on behalf of the people of South Florida every day. We’ve got Congressman Joe Garcia is here. (Applause.) We’ve got Congresswoman Frederica Wilson here. (Applause.) We’ve got Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Your former Governor Charlie Crist is here. (Applause.)
And most of all, I want to thank the people that Michelle and I came all the down here to see, and that is the students of Coral Reef. (Applause.) We had heard great things about your school. We had heard great things about the students. We wanted to come down here and just see what was going on. (Applause.) And Michelle and I just had a chance to visit with some of your classmates who are going through some of the scholarship applications, and we had a chance to talk to them and hear what their plans were. And first of all, Michelle and I looked and we said, these must be actors playing students, because they were all smart and good-looking and organized. (Laughter.) And I asked them, what are you going to do? And they’re -- well, I’m going to be applying to business school, and then I’m going to start a company, and then I -- when I was your age, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was lucky if I had gotten out of bed on time. (Laughter.) So you guys are ahead of the game.
And we’re here to tell you that you’ve got to keep up the good work, because by working hard every single day, every single night, you are making the best investment there is in your future. And we want to make sure you’ve got everything, all the tools you need to succeed. We want every young person to have the kinds of teachers and the kind of classes and the kind of learning experiences that are available to you here at Coral Reef. (Applause.) Because that’s the best investment we can make in America’s future. (Applause.)
Now, keep in mind, Michelle and I, we’re only here today because of the kind of education that we got. That was our ticket to success. We grew up a lot like many of you. I was raised by a single mom; she was a teenager when I was born. We moved around a lot, we did not have a lot of money, but the one thing she was determined to see was that my sister and I would get the best education possible.
And she would press me. Sometimes she’d make me wake up, do my lessons before I even went to school. She was not going to let me off the hook. And at the time, I wasn’t happy about it, but now I’m glad she pressed me like that. Because, thanks to my mother and my grandparents, and then great teachers and great counselors who encouraged me, and a country that made it possible for me to afford a higher education, I was able to go to college and law school.
And then when I met Michelle, I saw that -- (applause) --there were a couple of things I noticed. I noticed she was smart. (Applause.) I noticed she was funny -- she’s funny, she’s funnier than I am. (Laughter.) Obviously, I noticed she was cute, yes. (Applause.) But one of the things I also realized was, even though we had grown up in very different places, her story was a lot like mine. Her dad worked at a city water plant. He didn’t go to college. He was a blue-collar worker. Michelle’s mom -- my mother-in-law, who I love to death -- she was a secretary. No one in her family had gone to college. But because she had worked hard and her parents understood the value of education, and she had great teachers and great opportunities, and because the country was willing to invest to make sure that she was able to pay for college, she ended up going to some of the best universities in the country. (Applause.)
So the point is she and I have been able to achieve things that our parents, our grandparents would have never dreamed of. And that’s the chance this country should give every young person. That’s the idea at the heart of America. (Applause.)
What makes this country great, what makes it special when you look around, and Miami is a great example of it, you’ve got people coming from everywhere, every background, every race, every faith. But what binds us together is this idea that if you work hard, you can make it -- that there’s opportunity for all. The belief that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, if you are responsible and put in the effort, you can succeed. There’s no limit to what you can do. That’s what America is all about. (Applause.)
Opportunity is what drew many of your parents and grandparents to America. And we’ve got to restore that idea for your generation, so that everybody has the same chance Michelle and I did. That’s why we’re working on what we call an opportunity agenda to create more jobs and train more workers with new skills; to make sure hard work is rewarded with a paycheck that supports a family; to make sure that everybody can get health care when they need it, so that nobody has to get into financial trouble because somebody in the family gets sick. (Applause.)
And for the students here, a lot of you, you may not think about these issues all the time. You’re spending a lot of time on homework and sports, and this and that. But you also oftentimes see your own family struggling and you worry about it. And one of the single-most important parts of our opportunity agenda is making sure that every young person in America has access to a world-class education -- a world-class education. (Applause.) So that’s why we are here.
I believe we should start teaching our kids at the earliest ages. So we’re trying to help more states make high-quality preschool and other early learning programs available to the youngest kids. (Applause.) I believe that our K-12 system should be the best in the world. So we started a competition called Race to the Top, to encourage more states like Florida to raise expectations for students like you, because when we set high expectations, every single one of you can meet them. (Applause.) You’re recruiting and preparing the best teachers. You are turning around low-performing schools. You’re expanding high-performing ones. You’re making sure every student is prepared for college or a career.
I believe that every student should have the best technology. So we launched something we called ConnectED to connect our schools to high-speed Internet. And I want to congratulate Miami-Dade and your superintendent, because you have achieved your goal of installing wi-fi in every single one of your schools. (Applause.)
So the good news is, in part because of some of these reforms we’ve initiated, when you add it all up our nation’s high school graduation rate is the highest on record. The drop-out rate has been dropping, and among Latino students has been cut in half since 2000. (Applause.) Miami-Dade’s graduation rate is higher than it’s ever been. That’s all because of the efforts of so many people, including the parents and students who have been putting in the effort. It’s because of the teachers and administrators and staff who are doing such a great job. You should be proud. We’re making progress -- we’re making progress. (Applause.)
Yes, you guys -- by the way, you can all sit down. I didn’t realize everybody was still standing up. Sit down. Take a load off. You guys can’t sit down though, because you don’t have chairs, although bend your knees so you don’t faint. (Laughter.)
But here’s the key thing, Coral Reef: We still have more work to do, all of us -- elected officials, principals, teachers, parents, students. Because, as Michelle says, education is a two-way street. Folks like us have to work hard to give you the best schools and support that you need. But then, you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain by committing to your education. That means you’ve got to stretch your minds. You’ve got to push through subjects that aren’t always easy. And it means continuing your education past high school, whether that’s a two-year or a four-year college degree or getting some professional training.
So I want to talk about an easy step that high school students like you can take to make college a reality. And it’s something you already know here at Coral Reef, but I’m speaking to all the young people out there who may be watching. It’s called FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
It is a simple form. It used to be complicated; we made it simple. It doesn’t cost anything -- that’s why the word “free” is right there in the name. (Laughter.) It does not take a long time to fill out. Once you do, you’re putting yourself in the running for all kinds of financial support for college -- scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs.
For the past five years, we’ve been working to make college more affordable. We took on a college loan system that gave billions of dollars of taxpayer money to big banks to manage the student loan system. We said, we don’t need the banks, let’s give the money directly to students, we can help more students. (Applause.) We can help more students that way. So we expanded the grants that help millions of students from low-income backgrounds pay for college. We’re offering millions of people the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes once they graduate.
Today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. That’s a great thing. (Applause.) That is a great thing. But we still need to do more to help rein in the rising cost of tuition. We need to do more to help Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt -- because no striving, hardworking, ambitious, young American should ever be denied a college education just because they can’t afford it -- nobody. (Applause.)
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of young people all across the country who say the cost of college is holding them back. Some of you may have sat around the kitchen table with your parents wondering about whether you’ll be able to afford it. So FAFSA is by far the easiest way to answer that question. And I know the Barracudas know all about FAFSA. (Applause.) Last year, you had the second-highest completion rate of any large high school in the state. (Applause.) You should be proud of that. Your teachers and parents should be proud of that.
But last year, almost half of high school graduates in Florida didn’t fill out the FAFSA form.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: That ain’t right. (Laughter.) Not only is it not right, but it also ain’t right. (Laughter.) And as a result, they lost out on over $100 million in Pell grants. Think about that -- $100 million that could have helped Florida students help pay for college was just left on the table. That’s just in Florida. Nationwide, over one million high school students did not fill out the FAFSA form. That happens every year.
So my challenge today to every high school student in America: Fill out the form. Even if you think you might not qualify for financial aid, fill out the form. You might qualify.
And we’re making it easier than ever. We put the FAFSA form online. We made it shorter. It takes about half an hour to fill out. And it could change the rest of your life. We’ve updated it to save your parents a lot of hassle as well. And today, I’m announcing another improvement.
Today, I’m directing the Department of Education to tell every governor that, starting today, they can, if they choose, confidentially let high school administrators know which students have filled out the FAFSA form and which haven’t. So that way, if Principal Leal wants to check in with the seniors --
AUDIENCE: Wooo --
THE PRESIDENT: I know, everybody is like, wow. (Laughter.) I know she’s already on top of stuff, but this way, she could check and seniors who had not filled it out, she could then help them answer the questions and figure out what’s holding her back -- what’s holding them back.
Anybody will be able to go online and find out the number of students who have filled out the form at each high school, so we can track it. So if you want to have a friendly competition with Palmetto High or Miami Killian -- (applause) -- to see who can get a higher completion rate on your FAFSA, you can do that. (Applause.) You achieved the second-highest rate in the state, but I mean if you want to settle for number two, that's okay -- you might be able to get number one. (Applause.) Huh? I’m just saying you could go for number one. (Applause.)
So these are things I can do on my own, but I’m here to also tell you I need -- I could use some help from folks in Washington. There are some things I don’t need Congress’s permission for, and in this year of action, whenever I see a way to act to help expand opportunity for young people I’m just going to go ahead and take it. I’m just going to go ahead and do it. (Applause.)
So earlier this year, Michelle and I hosted a College Opportunity Summit, where over 150 colleges and universities and nonprofits made commitments to help more low-income students get to college and graduate from college. (Applause.) But I’m also willing to work with anybody in Congress -- Democrat, Republican, don't matter -- to make sure young people like you have a shot to success.
So a few days ago, I sent my budget to Congress. And budgets are pretty boring -- but the stuff inside the budgets are pretty important. And my budget focuses on things like preschool for all; like redesigning high schools so students like you can learn real-world skills that businesses want -- (applause) -- like preparing more young people for careers in some of the fields of the future -- in science and technology and engineering and math to discover new planets and invent robots and cure diseases -- all the cool stuff that we adults haven’t figured out yet. (Laughter.)
These are not just the right investments for our schools; they’re the right priorities for our country. You are our priority. We’ve got to make sure we have budgets that reflect that you are the most important thing to this country’s success. If you don't succeed, we don't succeed. (Applause.)
We’ve got to make sure all of you are prepared for the new century, and we’ve got to keep growing our economy in other ways: attracting new high-tech jobs, reforming our immigration system -- something Congressman Garcia is fighting for. (Applause.) And the rest of Congress needs to stop doing nothing, do right by America’s students, America’s teachers, America’s workers. Let’s get to work. Let’s get busy. (Applause.) We’ve got work to do. All of us have work to do -- teachers, school counselors, principals, superintendents, parents, grandparents.
We all have work to do, because we want to see you succeed, because we’re counting on you, Barracudas. (Applause.) And if you keep reaching for success -- and I know you will, just based on the small sampling we saw of students here -- if you keep working as hard as you can and learning as much as you can, and if you’ve got big ambitions and big dreams, if you don’t let anybody tell you something is out of your reach, if you are convinced that you can do something and apply effort and energy and determination and persistence to that vision, then not only will you be great but this country will be great. (Applause.) Our schools will be great. (Applause.)
I want us to have the best-educated workforce in America. And I want it to be the most diverse workforce in the world. That’s what I’m fighting for. That’s what your superintendent and your principal are fighting for, and I hope that’s what you fight for yourselves. (Applause.) Because when I meet the students here at Coral Reef, I am optimistic about the future. Michelle and I walked out of that classroom, and we said, you know what, we’re going to be in good hands, we’re going to do okay. (Applause.) Because these young people are coming, and nobody is going to stop them.
Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
03/07/2014 Remarks by the President to Travel Pool
Classroom in Coral Reef Senior High School
2:47 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: One of the reasons we're down here, Michelle and I are both working on encouraging school districts to adopt some terrific stuff that's being done down here in order for young people to know if they’ve done the work, if they’re being responsible, they’re outstanding students, then financing should not be a barrier for them being able to go to college. And we just don't have enough information that's getting out there about how easy it is now to fill out the FAFSA form and other scholarships that are available. But this school district is doing some great work on it. So this is an example of where we want all our young people to be.
03/07/2014 Press Gaggle with Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest en route Florida
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Florida
12:17 P.M. EST
MR. EARNEST: This afternoon, the President and First Lady are headed to Coral Reef High School to talk about ensuring that as many students as possible fill out the financial aid forms that open the door to a college education. Never before has a college education been as important as it is now in expanding opportunity and ensuring economic stability in this global economy.
The First Lady has previously talked about efforts the administration has taken to simplify the financial aid form. Today, the President will talk about an executive action that he'll take to better track which students have completed the form, which will assist efforts to encourage the families of students to do so.
And I'll also point out that any time you're going to a school whose mascot is the barracuda you know it's going to be an interesting afternoon. So it should be kind of fun.
With that, why don't we take some questions?
Q Quick question -- the readout this morning on the President’s call to the Japanese Prime Minister, he talked about they agreed to work with other G7 countries to put pressure on Russia. Does that reference signal the U.S. no longer views the group as the G8? And if that's the case, what’s the latest on the President going to the previously scheduled so-called G8 summit in Sochi?
MR. EARNEST: Jeff, as you know, what we have done is we've suspended our participation in meetings to prepare for the G8 meeting in Sochi. The reference to the G7 is simply an indication of how united those seven countries are in our resolve to stand up for principles relating to territorial integrity and individual state sovereignty. You’ve heard these seven countries speak with one voice on this issue and you’ve seen these seven countries demonstrate their resolve in considering a range of options to demonstrate that there will be costs associated with violating principles like this.
So you saw the readout from the call that the President had with Prime Minister Abe, and Prime Minister Abe was of one mind with the President and the other members of the international community and the other members of the G7 on this issue.
Q So Sochi, on or off? If it continues, will the President go?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I don't have any announcements to make about the President’s travel in June. But I can tell you that there had been meetings, as there always is, in advance of the big meeting in June among the countries to prepare for meetings like that. Our participation in those meetings has been suspended, and I think it would be logical for anybody to conclude that it raises significant questions about whether or not we’d participate in the meeting in June.
Q I wanted to ask you about Senator Gillibrand’s sexual assault bill -- military sexual assault bill. I don't remember the President ever coming out and saying where he stood on that bill. Did he have a position on it? And was it getting blocked in the Senate, was that something that the White House thought was okay or --
MR. EARNEST: I'm going to have to pull some additional information for you, which I could get this afternoon, related to this. It has been the administration’s position and you’ve heard the President speak very forcefully as the Commander-in-Chief about taking the kinds of steps necessary to address what is a persistent problem in our armed forces. But in terms of our position on specific proposals to reform that system, let me get back to you on that.
Q A quick one on Ukraine again. Republicans have been pushing this plan to increase exports of natural gas. Does the administration see that as some type of realistic option when it comes to helping overseas?
MR. EARNEST: Let me start by saying this: There are six licenses that have been approved by the Department of Energy related to the export of about 8.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to a range of countries around the world. What’s important for you to understand about those licenses that have already been issued is that the projects for delivering the product would not be completed until the end of next year. So proposals to try to respond to the situation in Ukraine that are related to our policy on exporting natural gas would not have an immediate effect.
The other factor that’s important to understand about the situation is the current inventories of liquefied natural gas in Europe and in Ukraine are actually above traditional levels or above normal levels. The reason for that is, unlike North America, they’ve had a relatively mild winter in Europe and the region. So there is no indication currently that there’s much risk of a natural gas shortage in the region.
The other dynamic that factors into all this is that Russia prides itself on being a reliable supplier of natural gas to countries around the world -- I would say natural gas and other sources of energy to countries around the world. Shutting off the natural gas would threaten that reputation -- it certainly would undermine it, not just in the eyes of Ukraine and Europe but in countries around the world.
Finally, it’s also important to recognize that Russia relies on revenue from exporting natural gas and other sources of energy. Russia currently yields about $50 billion a year in revenue from exporting natural gas, so ending that kind of relationship with Europe would have significant financial consequences for Russia as well.
So this is a complicated situation. For a more detailed explanation of this complicated dynamic, I’d refer you to the Department of Energy. But in terms of the top lines, the United States has a long relationship with Ukraine and has actually been talking about these energy issues for some time. Vice President Biden traveled to Ukraine in 2009, and one of the items at the top of the agenda was efforts by the United States to work with Ukraine to help them reduce their dependence on Russian sources of energy, to help them reform their energy sector, to improve efficiency, to improve energy security in Ukraine. So this is a complicated issue, one that we’ve been coordinating with the Ukrainians on for quite some time.
So I think that mostly answers your question, but for a more detailed answer, I’d refer you to the Department of Energy.
Q Just related to that, did this come up in the call last night with the Prime Minister? Because I know that it’s been really important for Japan to build a strong relationship with Russia for natural gas. Was the President able to give any assurances to the Prime Minister about this?
MR. EARNEST: I don’t want to get into a more detailed readout beyond what we issued last night and early this morning. But I will say that the executive order that the President issued yesterday put in place a structure where sanctions could be implemented. As Jay discussed during the briefing, no specific organizations have been targeted at this point, but that process is underway. So there’s no immediate impact from the sanctions that the President has considered in terms of interrupting anybody’s access to Russian sources of energy.
What sanctions we’ll be focused on are individuals and entities that have interfered with or played a prominent role in interfering with the sovereignty of Ukraine. And those are the individuals and entities that will be targeted. And when we have additional announcements on that, we will. Let me just end this answer by saying that, as I mentioned in my previous answer, that Prime Minister Abe is committed, or voiced to the President his commitment to closely coordinating with the international community and with the other countries in the G7 in standing up for the principle of respecting state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of independent nations.
Q Josh, I’m wondering why the White House made the decision or the President made the decision to stick to the plan of spending the weekend in Key Largo, given obviously the pace of events overseas and the fact that the Vice President is also going to be out of the country?
MR. EARNEST: Well, Mark, as you’ve been covering the President this week, you know that he has had a very robust schedule of consulting with President Putin a couple of times this week, that he has had a number of conversations with Prime Minister Cameron, Chancellor Merkel, and other foreign leaders -- Prime Minister Abe just last night. He has been able to do all of that without interrupting what has otherwise been a pretty busy schedule for him this week -- during a snow day in Washington, D.C., during the rollout of the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Our ongoing efforts to monitor ongoing events in Ukraine and to stay in close contact with world leaders has not affected the other aspects of the President’s schedule.
That’s true of the President’s schedule today. The President and First Lady, as I mentioned at the top, are traveling to a high school to talk about this core component of the President’s domestic agenda. Meanwhile, the President has been able to get updates from his national security team and I would anticipate that later today, the President will have at least one phone call to make with a world leader around the globe. I do anticipate we’ll be able to get you a readout of that call, so we’ll keep you posted.
I think the point is that the President over the course of a very busy week has maintained his schedule and his ability to monitor ongoing events in Ukraine. I would anticipate that he’ll do the same thing this weekend. And the fact of the matter is what the President is doing this weekend in Florida is essentially what the President will be doing if he stayed back at the White House. It’s just that the weather will be a little warmer.
Q Well, what else will he be doing besides monitoring world events? What else will he be planning to do on his vacation, if you can give us a little flavor?
MR. EARNEST: The President is looking forward to spending some time with his wife and daughters, who are traveling down to Florida as well. There are some recreational amenities on the property, including workout facilities, tennis courts, a couple of golf courses, as you’ve seen.
So there is a -- many of the people that the people that the President has been talking to in terms of our allies in Europe and other world leaders -- there’s a six-hour time difference between here and there. So if there is an opportunity for the President to enjoy some of those amenities, then he’ll do that. But we’ll have to see. What he will do and what he is looking forward to doing is getting a little bit of downtime in the warm weather with his wife and daughters.
Q Can I ask you was any of the President’s or the First Lady’s personal acquaintances or friends traveling on Air Force One who are not administration officials, do you know? We saw someone boarding who happened to be well dressed with like a cowboy hat -- wasn’t sure who that was -- earlier before the President got there. And I didn’t know if any other friends or acquaintances --
MR. EARNEST: There are a couple members of the Florida congressional delegation onboard. I saw Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Congressman Joe Garcia is on board as well. It may have been one of the two of them that you saw.
Q You don’t know if any other, like, friends?
MR. EARNEST: I don’t know of any other friends of the President or the First Lady that’s on board.
Q Is there still a chance that he could go back to the White House tonight? Or is the weekend here set pretty much?
MR. EARNEST: There’s always a chance that the schedule could change, but I don’t anticipate any changes at this point.
Q Josh, one more question on this. You’ve obviously got the Vice President out of town, the Secretary of State is still out of town, the National Security Advisor is in the Persian Gulf, and the President is heading to Florida. I’m just wondering that’s four senior national security officials not in Washington, including the President. Is that an unusual set of circumstances? And does that pose any issues in terms of how the government would respond should something sudden happen in Ukraine or Crimea?
MR. EARNEST: It’s hard for me to speak to the travel habits of all of those officials. Most of the people you described have as a part of their job description traveling overseas to represent the interest of the United States overseas. So I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a fairly regular occurrence. I mean, it’s not uncommon when the President is traveling overseas for the National Security Advisor or for the Secretary of State to be with him. So it’s not uncommon.
I will say this: The President is traveling this weekend with his Deputy National Security Advisor, Tony Blinken, who has played a very important role in handling this situation in Ukraine. The President is traveling with the regular assortment of communications tools that will allow him to convene in a secure fashion meetings with his national security team, if necessary. He, of course, has a telephone, so if he needs to make calls to world leaders, whether it’s President Putin or our allies, or other international leaders that are involved in this effort, he can stay in regular touch with them. So we have complete confidence that the President can handle all the responsibilities that he has, based on the resources that we have with us on the flight.
Q That said, you were quoted earlier this week I think by Politico saying that it was still up in the air, there was some debate or some internal deliberations about whether he would maintain a weekend schedule of staying down there. The decision seems that he’s going to. What was the debate about then if he can do that, and you know that? Are you saying that the situation in the Ukraine is sort of calm enough that you can go reliably? In other words, what was the debate or why did it come down on this side?
MR. EARNEST: I wouldn’t characterize it as a debate. I was quoted in Politico talking about the fact that the President’s schedule would be a little more fluid than usual because international events were a little more fluid than usual.
I do think that what we have seen over the course of the last several days is the President has marshalled our allies to put in place a structure for responding to the situation that we’re seeing on the ground in Ukraine. The President has had, again, multiple conversations with President Putin where he highlighted that there is an off-ramp here, that there is an opportunity for the Russians to sit down with the Ukrainians, facilitated by the international community, if necessary, to try to broker an agreement, to allow international inspectors into every corner of the nation of Ukraine to ensure that the rights of everybody, including the rights of ethnic Russians, are being protected.
We’ve described before that that is a legitimate interest of Russia and, frankly, it’s a legitimate interest of the international community to ensure that the rights of all the citizens of Ukraine are being respected.
There’s an opportunity for the Russians to live up to their basing agreement in Crimea, to return their soldiers and their troops to their bases, and for the international community to come together in support of the elections that are planned for May. So there is a path to deescalate the situation. And that is a path that has been set up by -- under the President’s leadership. We have marshalled the international community behind -- or in support of this potential off-ramp. And I think over the course of the next few days, we’ll get a better indication about whether or not the Russians are open to that off-ramp.
And one of the conclusions of the call that the President had with President Putin yesterday was that Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov, should be in touch to talk about steps forward on that.
So I think -- the President is hopeful that we’ll get a little greater clarity on the situation over the course of the next few days. And if additional steps need to be taken next week, then we can take those steps.
Q Can you characterize the tone of these lengthy conversations that the two leaders have had? I mean, you said that next few days will tell the story, but it doesn't seem that so far that something has come out of it, that --
MR. EARNEST: I don't want to set up a deadline over the next few days. I think we’re hopeful that in the next few days, we’ll get greater clarity about whether or not the Russians are willing to take some concrete steps toward this off-ramp here.
But in terms of characterizing the calls, we have issued readouts and I wouldn’t want to get in front of those. But I do think that it’s fair for you to -- fair for people to take away from these readouts that at least as it relates to the view of the situation -- the U.S. view of the situation versus the Russian view of the situation in Ukraine, and in Crimea in particular, there’s a pretty strong difference of opinion; that there is a disagreement about the facts related to what’s actually happening on the ground there.
The best example of this is you saw in the news conference that President Putin convened earlier this week that he basically denied that there were Russian troops on the ground in Crimea outside their bases. All of the available evidence indicates that's not true.
So we’re having robust, direct, candid conversations between President Obama and President Putin. That means acknowledging that there are basic differences over what’s actually happening on the ground in Crimea.
So the real test is whether or not the Russians are going to take advantage of this off-ramp that is available here. And we’re hopeful that the Russians will take the steps necessary to deescalate the situation -- by observing the basing agreements, by supporting elections, by entering into talks, facilitated by the international community, if necessary, with the Ukrainians to try to resolve all this. And again, that could also include putting international monitors all throughout Ukraine to ensure that the rights of everybody, including ethnic Russians, are being respected.
President Putin has indicated that that's part of Russia’s interest in the region, and it’s part of the U.S. and the international community’s interest in the region. So there is some common ground here. But I don't want to paper over the differences that exist on some very basic facts on the ground.
Q It sounds like you’re saying the White House is in kind of a wait-and-see mode for a few days on this?
MR. EARNEST: I wouldn’t use those words, only because the President and senior members of our team remain very actively engaged in the situation. The President will continue to consult very closely with our allies around the globe, particularly the G7 nations that Jeff mentioned. Secretary Kerry will be in touch with his counterpart, having specific discussions about the way forward here. So there’s still a lot of activity going on here even as we watch carefully to see what the Russian reaction might be.
Q Will the President have a message today for voters in next week’s special congressional election?
MR. EARNEST: The White House is obviously aware that there is a special congressional election on the other side of the state of Florida. I know that that race has gotten a lot of national attention, but I don’t anticipate that in his event today that the President will be talking about it. He’ll be pretty focused today on this one core component of his domestic agenda, which is expanding the door -- expanding college education.
Q Is it a coincidence that he’s there a few days ahead of the election?
MR. EARNEST: Well, it’s in a different part of the state, so, yes, it is a coincidence.
Q Do you have a week ahead?
MR. EARNEST: I do have a very bare-bones week ahead. At this point, we anticipate that the President and the First Family will return to Washington on Sunday.
On Monday, the President is really looking forward to welcoming the 2012 and 2013 Division I Men’s and Women’s NCAA National Champions at the White House. As you know, the President traditionally welcomes the NCAA champion football and basketball teams. This will be an opportunity for the President to welcome the NCAA champions in some sports that don’t get quite as much attention as those other more high-profile events. So we’re looking forward to that.
On Tuesday, the President is planning to travel to New York City to participate in events to benefit the DNC and the DSCC. At this point, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I don’t have any additional events to announce. I anticipate the President will be at the White House and participating in meetings on those days.
Q Thank you.
Q I have one more -- sorry -- closer question to ask about this beer bet. My editors asked me to ask specifically -- Prime Minister Harper said he hasn’t gotten his beer yet from the Olympic hockey bet. What’s with the delay?
MR. EARNEST: I don’t know. I’m not privy to the details of the international beer delivery, but I can tell you that the President is somebody who makes good on his bets. So I’m confident that Prime Minister Harper and members of his team will soon be enjoying some delicious White House beer.
03/07/2014 Statement by the President on Bloody Sunday
Forty-nine years ago, a determined group of Americans marched into history, facing down grave danger in the name of justice and equality—walking to protest the continued discrimination and violence against African Americans. On a day that became known as “Bloody Sunday”, these brave men and women met billy-clubs and tear gas with courage and resolution. Their actions helped set an example for a generation to stand up for the fundamental freedoms due to all people. We recognize those who marched that day—and the millions more who have done their part throughout our nation’s history to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
03/07/2014 Background Press Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden's Trip to Chile and the Dominican Republic
11:00 A.M. EST
MS. TROTTER: Good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining us. This conference call is to discuss the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden’s trip next week to Chile and the Dominican Republic.
This call is on background and all of our speakers should be referred to as senior administration officials. They’ll speak for a few minutes and then take some of your questions. And with that I will turn it over to our first senior administration official.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, everybody, for joining the call. I’m just going to take a couple of minutes to give some broad outlines, and then turn it over to my colleague to go into the substance, and then we’ll look forward to taking a few of your questions.
The Vice President and Dr. Biden will travel to Chile and the Dominican Republic from March 9th to the 12th. In Chile, the Vice President will attend the inauguration of Michelle Bachelet, who he met back in March of 2009, in Santiago, first, to underscore the historically close ties between the United States and Chile; and, second, because this inauguration represents an important gathering of leaders from across the region and provides an opportunity for him to engage with a broad range of presidents and other senior officials on some of the most important issues facing the Americas today.
With Bachelet, the Vice President looks forward to discussing a range of issues in our bilateral relationship with Chile, including the TransPacific Partnership, the U.N. Security Council, of which Chile is a non-permanent member; 100,000 Strong in the Americas; and a number of other issues, as well.
And then he will also look forward to speaking with leaders from President Humala of Peru, to President Santos of Colombia, to President Peña Nieto of Mexico, to other figures from across South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Most importantly, perhaps, thanks to the U.S. Senate, the Vice President will be accompanied by our just-confirmed ambassador to the Republic of Chile, Mike Hammer. And we thank the Senate for moving on his confirmation yesterday so that Ambassador Hammer could join us for this trip.
In the Dominican Republic, the Vice President and President Medina have a lot of issues to discuss, both bilaterally and regionally, and also to lift up and celebrate the very close people-to-people ties between the United States and the Dominican Republic. More than a million and a half Dominicans and their descendants live in the United States, and more than 250,000 U.S. citizens live in the Dominican Republic. And you see a million and a half or so U.S. tourists visiting the Dominican Republic every year.
As a signatory of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, we enjoy very close trade ties with the DR. And the DR is an important voice in issues facing Caribbean countries, as well as Central American countries, as the current president of SICA, the Central American Integration System.
The Vice President will place particular emphasis on the issue of energy security while he’s in the Dominican Republic, given the challenges and opportunities that have been created in recent years in the region, and our deep investment in making sure that all the countries of the Caribbean and the broad region are able to access secure, stable, and affordable supplies of energy to power their economies and provide better lives for their people.
Just to step back for one second, before my colleague gets into some of more of the details, this trip continues both the Vice President’s and the administration’s active engagement in the Americas and in the Western Hemisphere over the past year and beyond.
Just in early December, President Santos of Colombia was here to meet with the President in the Oval; and just a couple of weeks ago, the President attended the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca. And this trip will mark the seventh trip the Vice President has taken since 2009, and will be a part of the active pace of travel and meetings and telephone calls you’ve seen from him -- the early part of last year. It is a way in traveling to these two countries to continue to underscore and emphasize and make concrete this administration’s strong commitment to elevated and intensified engagement with the Americas and with leaders and peoples across the Americas, and to advance our vision of an Americas that is middle class, secure, and democratic from Canada to Chile, and everywhere in between.
So with that, let me turn it over to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. And good morning. Thanks for joining this call. I’m just going to hit a couple of the details in our relations with Chile and the Dominican Republic that are going to figure in our conversations and our relationship over the next year and several years.
In the case of Chile, President Obama and Vice President Biden have the utmost admiration and respect for President Bachelet, dating back from her first term as Chilean President, and more recent -- first executive director of U.N. Women. We look very much forward to working with her in her new term as President. We’ve had an excellent relationship with outgoing President Piñera as well, as indicated by President Piñera’s visit to the United States for a meeting with the President in 2013.
Chile is one of our closest partners in the Americas. Our 2004 free trade agreement made our economies increasingly interconnected and allowed us to nearly quadruple our bilateral trade and goods to $28 billion last year. Chile is our fourth largest export partner in the region.
So for this reason, it’s very important to us to have Chile as a participant in the negotiations for the TransPacific Partnership, which my colleague just mentioned. The TPP negotiations are almost complete, and given our close relationship and the integration of our economies, both Chile and the United States should be big beneficiaries of the TPP’s successful conclusion.
But it’s not just our economies that are interconnected, it’s also our people. Last week, Chile became the 38th country to be designated as a participant in the visa waiver program. That’s going to help speed, accelerate, and deepen the already very close relations between our two countries.
Another area where there’s a great deal of cooperation and collaboration and definitely room for additional expanded growth is in education. Educational exchange is a way that we see as deepening our lasting personal ties as well as our close economic ties. It’s a priority issue for President Obama, for President-Elect Bachelet, and of course, for the Vice President. And we hope to leverage our 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Chile. In fact, the Vice President recently helped launched the next phase of 100,000 Strong, and so it’s very timely for him to be going to Chile now, where we have some of our closest educational partnerships.
We also have, beyond the bilateral connections, a very close relationship with Chile in the multilateral world. We consult very often, regularly, on global issues of course with Chile as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. That’s going to be a continuing element of collaboration between our countries, but also, President Obama and President-Elect Bachelet launched our Trilateral Development Cooperation initiative in 2009, and we’ve worked together in countries as diverse as El Salvador, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic on matters as diverse as agriculture, assisting at-risk youth, and security cooperation.
In addition, Chile has been a long-standing contributor to the U.N. stabilization mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, contributing about 700 police and military. And that’s going to be another area where we’ll continue to work closely with Chile.
So turning to the Dominican Republic, as my colleague mentioned, they are very, very strong, familial and personal connections between the people of the United States and the Dominican Republic. And that’s been reinforced by the implementation of CAFTA-DR, our free trade agreement. We have new ideas we’d like to pursue with the Dominican government on cooperation related to the economy, energy, education, and security.
In terms of our security and law enforcement cooperation, we have an excellent, very good collaboration with Dominican authorities. We have cooperated with the Dominican Republic in helping them set up a 911 program in Santo Domingo, and we’re also looking beyond security issues at assisting the Dominican Republic on issues related to citizen security, but also education, the prevention and the spread of HIV/AIDS, reducing the vulnerability to climate change and strengthening government institutions. USAID will invest about $185 million in the Dominican Republic over the next five years.
So another item for discussion certainly will be the -- matters related to the Constitutional Tribunal’s decision in the Dominican Republic related to nationality law. That’s an area where the United States has engaged with the Dominican Republic. We are hopeful that there will be a conclusion to this matter through legislation that will address those most affected by that ruling.
On energy issues, we have lots of collaboration already. But we’re very interested in expanding our leadership role and collaboration not just the United States, but also by working with Canada, Mexico, and other partners to help address some of the distortions and market issues that have affected the distribution of energy in the Caribbean. As my colleague mentioned, this is an area that’s important to us, because we see it as key to improving the competitiveness of the Caribbean and for Central America, for that matter, in the global economy.
So, finally, President Medina is currently serving as the President Pro Tempore of the Central American Integration System, SICA, through June of 2014. We want to continue the conversation that President Obama launched with SICA leaders in May of last year in Costa Rica, and again with the ultimate goal of promoting regional integration that’s going to be very important to the Caribbean and Central America’s ability to compete in the global economy.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Just before we open it up for questions, I wanted to highlight the fact that as I said at the outset of the goal, Dr. Biden will be joining the Vice President in both Chile and the Dominican Republic. And she will participate in some of the inauguration activities in Chile, and also pursue some of her own events and activities in both Chile and the Dominican Republic. And we’ll provide more details on that in the next day or so.
Q Hi, this is FOX News Latino. I was wondering if the Vice President will be discussing any matters regarding to the unrest in Venezuela with either President-Elect Bachelet, or with President Santos in Colombia, or President Peña Nieto in Mexico?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me start -- I’ll turn it over to my colleague by saying that Venezuela will be at or near the top of the agenda in all of these bilateral meetings, the concerns that the entire region has about the unrest and the challenges there. In terms of more specifics on that, let me turn it over to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the entire region has shown concern regarding events in Venezuela, particularly to the arrest of people for freely expressing their views and for exercising their right to freedom of assembly, among other issues. But we’ve been very clear that the view of the United States is that the outcome -- a successful outcome is going to require third party mediations. And we’re going to continue to support any efforts to achieve the release of people arrested in this upsurge, and also to call on the government to halt its practice really of demonizing the opposition and of allowing essentially vigilante groups to intimidate and use violence against people who are peacefully demonstrating against the government. So with that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And we expect the Vice President will speak to this issue in regional media in the run-up to the trip.
Q How important is it for the U.S. to address the constitutional crisis (inaudible)? And what should the American government have done about it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, so I didn’t clearly hear the call. But I understand it has to do with the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling in the Dominican Republic. So let me address that.
First of all, we recognize that every country has the sovereign right to determine its nationality laws and its domestic legislation. With respect to the constitutional court ruling, we've conveyed our deep concern to the government of the Dominican Republic regarding the impact on the citizenship status of persons living in the Dominican Republic, including those with longstanding either residence or close ties to the Dominican Republic. Our understanding is that perhaps as many as 200,000 people could be affected by this.
We've engaged at senior levels with Dominican authorities who’ve been very transparent with us in discussing their approach to this and their desire to achieve a resolution that is nondiscriminatory and that reflects the need to have a just solution for people who have longstanding ties and connections to the Dominican Republic, and also to not further those groups that are already in a condition of vulnerability or that would be at risk in other senses, or deny them documentation and the ability to fully participate in the country -- they belong and where they live.
So this is something that is important not just to us, but other members of the international community, and it's something that we've worked very closely on with a number of partners. And we know that other actors are also very active in dealing with this.
03/09/2014 Conservative ideology sentences citizens to poor health and permanent poverty
One can count on Republican leadership continuously disparaging the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They bash it on all the media networks. It is disconcerting that as quantifiable data is released, rarely are they asked to defend their proclivity for misinformation. This is a disservice to Americans that is bordering on "civil criminality."
Obamacare has been active for several years now and no one is scheduled or sentenced to die. Hence, there are no death panels. That statement is not completely true. States like Texas, Louisiana and Florida have in fact sentenced their poor, sick and uninsured to die by refusing the Medicaid expansion to Obamacare. Where are the Democratic ads accusing these states of implementing death panels?
Everyone knows grandma is still around. After all, she is actually getting her prescriptions at better prices. Hence, grandma was not thrown under the bus.
Everyone knows that Cigna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc. are private companies. Hence there is no government takeover of health care.
Since the inception of Obamacare, the unemployment rate has fallen. More people are gainfully employed. Hence, Obamacare is not a job killer.
The uninsured rate has fallen. Hence, Obamacare does not cause the loss of insurance in the aggregate.
03/09/2014 GOP will repeat Ryan budget history by adopting Camp tax plan next year
Last month, Republican House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) introduced his proposal for a major overhaul of the U.S. tax code. But among Republican leaders in Congress, its arrival was about as welcome as an ill-timed fart.
Hoping to focus the 2014 midterm elections on Obamacare instead of controversial new tax provisions, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pronounced Camp's plan dead on arrival, cynically lamenting, "I think we will not be able to finish the job, regretfully. I don't see how we can." Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) rejected the idea that Camp's was the official House GOP tax plan and responded simply, "Ah, Jesus" when asked if he would bring it up for a vote. And Paul Ryan (R-WI), who if he does not run for president in 2016 will likely take Camp's committee gavel next year, "ducked questions on the proposal's substance" before blandly declaring, "this is the beginning of a good debate."
But the skittish reaction of the GOP's best and brightest should not mislead anyone into believing that this is the beginning of the end for Dave Camp's tax code rewrite. Instead, it is just the end of the beginning. After all, in early 2010 Republicans in Congress terrified about its impact on the upcoming midterms ran away from Paul Ryan's budget-busting, upper class tax-cutting, Medicare rationing, Social Security privatizing and safety net shredding "Roadmap for America's Future." Yet a year later, 95 percent of Republicans on Capitol Hill voted for the Ryan budget, a near-unanimous endorsement they would repeat in 2012 and 2013.
From almost the moment Barack Obama first took the oath of office, Paul Ryan has been the GOP's self-proclaimed point man for the Republican alternative budget. But support among his GOP colleagues has always been directly proportional to the distance to the next Election Day. The closer Americans get to the ballot box, the fewer Republican allies Ryan has by his side.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.
03/09/2014 What if legislators didn't have to draw majority-minority districts? Democrats would lose big
Districts in the Deep South won by President Obama, all majority-minority
The Voting Rights Act saw one of its main enforcement mechanisms gutted last summer in the controversial and partisan 5-4 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder. However, even without section 5 requiring many jurisdictions to pre-clear changes to the voting process section 2 remains. Through it and accompanying jurisprudence such as Thornburg v. Gingles and Barlett v. Strickland, states and other jurisdictions are effectively required to draw majority-minority districts under appropriate circumstances. Recently there has been debate about what impact these required majority-minority districts have on Democratic numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives through redistricting with some believing they result in a smaller Democratic caucus despite giving minorities more seats. In this diary I want to thoroughly dismantle that argument by mapping out plausible alternate outcomes in the absence of the VRA forcing majority-minority districts to be drawn and showing that the result is that Democrats lose many seats and are effectively shut out of contention for control of the house and especially many state legislatures.
To summarize I found that Democrats would have lost over a dozen seats in the house which would require them to gain around 30 for just a simple majority in 2014. This is largely because there are very few Democratic-drawn states to begin with and fewer with majority-minority districts. Those that have them see local political considerations augur against diluting minority strength, not the VRA. In many Republican-drawn states the majority-minority districts function to effectively pack in Democrats and protect neighboring Republican districts and thus would not be altered. However in the Deep South it would be open season on the few remaining Democratic districts. The party would also be permanently in the minority in many state legislatures with Republicans able to effectively set their minimum seat count above the number required to override vetoes. Below the fold I'll go over the states individually and map out eight of them.
Some of us science bloggers are big fans of a hit TV show called The Big Bang Theory. One of our favorite characters is the socially awkward and totally lovable Dr. Amy Farah Fowler, microbiologist, brilliantly played by Mayim Bialik. To be precise, it's now Dr. Bialik; this former child star turned sitcom icon is a real scientist and a bit of a polymath, having earned a very real doctorate in neurobiology, lending even more depth to her delightful TV persona. That may be why, last week, Bialik attracted no small amount of notice by implying, at least according to some accounts, that she was an anti-vaxxar.
Alas, we can't say for sure because Bialik chose not to clarify. She wrote in part:
I almost always listen to my editor. But I rebelled last week. You see, she asked me to write in response to someone on the internet who was speaking disparagingly about me regarding my personal (and rarely publicly discussed) decisions about vaccines. She wanted me to respond. I said no.
Since Bialik has a real doctorate in biology, perhaps she deserves the benefit of the doubt. What we do know is the comment section following her post quickly degenerated into a jamboree of discredited anti-science spiels and claims of vast conspiracies. Follow below and we'll talk more about the itty-bitty microbes and great big lies that play a part in this bustling corner of the anti-science racket.
03/09/2014 The demographic underpinnings behind America's blue shift, illustrated with interactive maps
Net racial change since 1990
If you've been around for a few decades' worth of presidential elections, you probably have a strong sense of which parts of the country are trending toward or away from the two political parties. California has gone from swing state to blue state; Virginia has gone from red state to swing state; Tennessee has gone from swing state to red state; West Virginia didn't even bother to pause at swing state en route to switching from blue state to red state.
But why would that happen, in a country with nationalized campaigns, run mostly on nationwide media? Shouldn't the swing from election to election, from place to place, be pretty uniform? Well, no: The population of each state, and the characteristics of the people living there, constantly change. And knowing that different categories of people—whether it's based on race, or education, or religion, or marital status—are considerably more likely to vote a particular way, then it stands to reason that as the mix of people changes from place to place, so too will the way that place votes.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a post based around an interactive map that looked at how the presidential vote had changed at the county level over the last two decades, not in terms of percentage change like usual, but in terms of the raw number of votes. This showed how the changing geographical pattern of votes—huge numeric gains for the Democrats in the nation's most populous counties, while smaller gains for the Republicans were spread out across the nation's rural and exurban areas—is a huge boost for Democrats' chances in presidential elections but also (thanks to the increased consolidation of more and more Democrats in fewer and fewer places) makes control of the House more difficult.
While it looked cool, I later realized that it was missing an important component: the "why" aspect, explaining who moved into or out of those various places (or, just as importantly, aged into the electorate or died out of it). It occurred to me that I could use the exact same method, looking at the net change in, say, white residents versus non-white residents, or college-educated residents versus non-college-educated residents, over the same two-decade period. Most likely, it would show that the places that had tremendous growth in non-white residents or college-educated residents would be the same places that showed tremendous growth in Democratic votes. Did it? Follow over the fold to find out ...
03/09/2014 Obama's foreign policy doctrine and why it makes sense
Some of the more thoughtful conservative critics of President Obama's foreign policy posit that he has no strategy for the United States. They frequently say that the United States is "weak" and that the nation's posture toward foreign events is "adrift." A few years ago I wrote about President's Obama's foriegn policy by also noting that it was lacking an overall doctrine or Grand Strategy. For me, at least, this was good thing. A feature, not a bug:
You'll notice a commonality: Whenever a president gets a doctrine named after himself, the United States ends up in a messy, unnecessary war. Furthermore, it overcommits our resources and prestige, and sometimes our very lives, to the grand designs of what are sometimes megalomaniacs with too much power. We are better off without a doctrine.
That is why I am quite glad President Obama doesn't appear to have one. He handles each foreign policy situation on a case-by-case basis, carefully balancing U.S. interests and human interests as they appear. There is no philosophy to build on, nor any fundamental belief to adhere to. This allows the president to be flexible rather than, well...doctrinaire. I am not necessarily saying the president is making the correct decision in each matter nor am I saying he is making all the wrong ones. I am saying that he hasn't boxed himself into a one-size-fits-all approach and that therefore he is more likely to make the correct one.
You'll note in the video above or the transcript, in which the president is updating the press on his actions with respect to the situation in Crimea, that the president considers flexibility a fundamental asset in handling international relations:
According to my guidance, the State Department has also put in place restrictions on the travel of certain individuals and officials. These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea. And they also give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on Russia’s actions.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.
03/09/2014 'I support the troops, but they did volunteer …'
I hung these up many years ago, but I am still a soldier at heart.
I served in the U.S. Army for four years. I went in as a young, innocent, naïve high school kid seeking the glory I had seen sensationalized by Hollywood. I came out four years later as an Air Assault qualified, 12B10, combat engineer, and held the rank of E-4/corporal(P). Thankfully, I saw no combat during my time in the Army.
I could build a Bailey bridge, lay a minefield, put up triple strand concertina, make an abatis, disarm IEDs (we called them booby traps), drive an armored personnel carrier, operate a D-Handled Dozer (i.e. a shovel), and I knew how to fire and maneuver. Those four years that I served had an outsized impact on my life and forever changed the person I was. My veteran’s benefits paid for me to go to school and attain my Master’s degree. Something I never would have been able to achieve without the discipline I learned in the military.
Today, as was the case when I served, if you were junior enlisted and had a family you likely live off post as post housing was filled with higher ranking troops. Which meant that as junior enlisted you live in a crappy trailer park and to make ends meet you are likely receiving food stamps.
When I got out of the Army I quickly found out that I had no marketable skills. There just is not a lot of call for a guy who can lay out a minefield of M16A1 bounding mines in civilian market. The same is true for troops getting out today who served in combat arms.
When someone finds out I am a veteran they often thank me for my service which always makes me feel uncomfortable. I doubt that is something that will ever change for me. I am proud of my service to my country; however, I do not need to be thanked for it. I also hear a lot of talk about supporting the troops and I find a lot of that is just talk.
03/09/2014 Why are so many conservative politicians brandishing guns?
Sheriff McConnell to the rescue?
Yes, we know it's all a show, that it's all about appealing to (appeasing) the NRA crowd, and demonstrating that a buttoned-down insider like Mitch McConnell is really one of the guys. Fine. But I have to say, there's something about it that just feels sinister.
OK, so John Kerry pandered too in 2004, with his whole hunter shtick, but McConnell did something very different at CPAC this past week. He brought a gun to an explicitly political gathering (he then handed it to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), as part of presenting Coburn with an NRA lifetime achievement award). Now, it's not like taking out your Colt .45 and laying it upon your desk on the Senate floor, but it's one more example of the mixing of politics and implicit violence that conservatives are deploying more and more often.
Among countless other examples, last month we saw Todd Staples, a candidate for lieutenant governor in Texas, run the following TV ad:
“You’re not a king, and Texans bow to no one,” Mr. Staples says, looking directly into the camera and addressing the president, before he is shown picking up a gun at a store, aiming it over a counter and vowing to “fight Obama’s liberal agenda.”
(snip) [Staples] ends on an equally aggressive note: “So, Mr. President, if you still want to mess with Texas, we’ve got a saying for you: Come and take it.”
Please read below the fold for more on this story.
Young Latinas across the United States are engaged in activism and have become a large Democratic voting demographic. Yet too often their "herstory" here is still not told well enough in our schools. Latinas in the United States are not a "race." They are women of many ancestries, and a broad range of national heritages. Some may be recent immigrants, or the female children of immigrants born here, and others have ancestors who predate the founding of the 13 colonies, and the United States of America.
Though U.S. history books on American "roots" tend to focus on the Jamestown settlement as our colonial founding city, the British English speaking slant tends to skew our perceptions of the past, and we forget, or don't explore, the people of San Juan, Puerto Rico, or of Saint Augustine, Florida. Spanish occupation in the new world attached to the meme of "discovery" obviously precludes the existence of ancient pueblos like Taos and Acoma. Few Americans know the story of the founding of Los Angeles, in California, whose founding members, called pobladores, were of mixed racial ancestry—black, indigenous—and only two were from Spain. This history became a political hot potato in LA but clearly illustrates the early ancestral admixture of founding Latinas.
I dedicate this essay today to long time civil rights activist and attorney Adelpha Callejo, "La Madrina" (the godmother) (June 10, 1923 - January 25, 2014), who passed away recently but who will not be forgotten.
Adelfa Botello Callejo, a Dallas lawyer and civil rights leader who was first exposed to activism as a girl interpreting for her immigrant father, died Saturday. She was 90 and had battled a return of brain cancer since last year. Callejo’s crusades ranged from protests over the fatal police shooting of a 12-year-old Mexican-American boy in 1973, to City Council redistricting in the late 1980s, to strategizing over Farmers Branch’s policies against illegal immigration in 2006.
Her influence was so broad that some simply called her La Madrina, “The Godmother.” She called herself the “millionaire militant,” a reference to her belief that her wealth bolstered her independence. “In my family, it was un-American to not protest,” Callejo said in a 2006 address to tens of thousands at a Dallas march against strict immigration policies.
03/08/2014 Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: With a name like "dump slurry," you know it must be good edition
This morning in punditry... Maureen Dowd talks down to the president, and Congress, and everyone... Ruth Marcus righteously kicks Dowd's butt... both Dana Milbank and Ross Douthat are at CPAC, but seeing somewhat different conventions... Missouri thinks your chickens are too happy... and more after the break. But first...
Pagan Kennedy peers down the microscope at all us participants in the ongoing experiment.
If you walk into a farm-supply store today, you’re likely to find a bag of antibiotic powder that claims to boost the growth of poultry and livestock. That’s because decades of agricultural research has shown that antibiotics seem to flip a switch in young animals’ bodies, helping them pack on pounds. Manufacturers brag about the miraculous effects of feeding antibiotics to chicks and nursing calves. Dusty agricultural journals attest to the ways in which the drugs can act like a kind of superfood to produce cheap meat.
But what if that meat is us? Recently, a group of medical investigators have begun to wonder whether antibiotics might cause the same growth promotion in humans. New evidence shows that America’s obesity epidemic may be connected to our high consumption of these drugs. But before we get to those findings, it’s helpful to start at the beginning, in 1948, when the wonder drugs were new — and big was beautiful.
That year, a biochemist named Thomas H. Jukes marveled at a pinch of golden powder in a vial. It was a new antibiotic named Aureomycin, and Mr. Jukes and his colleagues at Lederle Laboratories suspected that it would become a blockbuster, lifesaving drug. But they hoped to find other ways to profit from the powder as well. ...
Mr. Jukes wanted more Aureomycin, but his bosses cut him off because the drug was in such high demand to treat human illnesses. So he hit on a novel solution. He picked through the laboratory’s dump to recover the slurry left over after the manufacture of the drug. He and his colleagues used those leftovers to carry on their experiments, now on pigs, sheep and cows. All of the animals gained weight. Trash, it turned out, could be transformed into meat.
Feeding the animals the slurry from a chemical trash heap. Sure. No possible problem there.
You may be wondering whether it occurred to anyone back then that the powders would have the same effect on the human body. In fact, a number of scientists believed that antibiotics could stimulate growth in children. From our contemporary perspective, here’s where the story gets really strange: All this growth was regarded as a good thing. It was an era that celebrated monster-size animals, fat babies and big men. In 1955, a crowd gathered in a hotel ballroom to watch as feed salesmen climbed onto a scale; the men were competing to see who could gain the most weight in four months, in imitation of the cattle and hogs that ate their antibiotic-laced food. Pfizer sponsored the competition.
...experiments were then being conducted on humans. In the 1950s, a team of scientists fed a steady diet of antibiotics to schoolchildren in Guatemala for more than a year,while Charles H. Carter, a doctor in Florida, tried a similar regimen on mentally disabled kids. Could the children, like the farm animals, grow larger? Yes, they could.
By the way, the children to whom the drugs were fed in that experiment were totally helpless, definitely non-volunteer participants. But then, that's pretty well true of the rest of us.
Think it's just food quality and quantity that's making America's kids fat? Read the rest of this article.
03/09/2014 Little-Known Health Act Fact: Prison Inmates Are Signing Up
Inmates are taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid that allows states to extend coverage to single and childless adults — a major part of the prison population.
03/09/2014 Political Memo: Any Thoughts, Mrs. Clinton, on the Year After Next?
As speculation grows about whether Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for president in 2016, so too has a political parlor game of coming up with creative variations on the same question.
03/09/2014 The Caucus: 2016 Republican Prospects Spar Over Ukraine
Three Republicans said to be considering presidential runs tried to distinguish themselves on Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Peninsula in television appearances.
03/09/2014 Letter From Washington: For I.R.S. Chief, a Challenge Too Big to Pass Up
John Koskinen, commissioner of the troubled Internal Revenue Service, must contend with budget cuts and intense animosity from Republicans.
03/08/2014 Leading Republicans Move to Stamp Out Challenges From Right
This election season, Republicans are challenging conservative advocacy groups head on in an aggressive effort to undermine their credibility.
03/08/2014 Rand Paul Wins Conservative Straw Poll
The straw poll, conducted at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, reflects the enthusiastic reception that Mr. Paul, a libertarian senator, received at the event.
03/08/2014 Farm Bill Reflects Shifting American Menu and a Senator’s Persistent Tilling
As one congressman put it, “There is nothing hotter than farm to table.” The bill’s champion, Senator Debbie Stabenow, made sure the trend got a boost.
03/08/2014 White House Memo: Long Wielding Power Behind the Scenes, Now Taking Her Leave
Alyssa Mastromonaco will leave the White House staff in May, the last to depart of the Obama aides who were there from the early days.
03/08/2014 Kerry Warns Russia Against Annexation of Crimea
The secretary of state said that any steps by Russia to annex Crimea would bring diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine to a halt.
03/08/2014 Florida Election a Crash Course for Midterm Races
Both Republicans and Democrats see the special election Tuesday as a potential harbinger, particularly with regards to the Affordable Care Act.
08/04/2013 Hendrik Hertzberg: Anthony Weiner’s all-digital sex scandal.
It’s been another political season of impressively gaudy sex scandals, further confounding America’s hard-won reputation as a nation of censorious puritans. The paradox isn’t so surprising, when you think about it: the broader the range of sex-related activities deemed immoral, unnatural, or . . .
07/28/2013 John Cassidy: Don’t give up on Detroit.
If you were to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts, home to Diego Rivera’s magnificent murals depicting scenes at the Ford Motor Company in the early nineteen-thirties, and then take a stroll through the surrounding streets, you might be surprised at what you would find: coffee shops . . .
07/21/2013 Jelani Cobb: The folly of Stand Your Ground laws.
For some years, the N.R.A.’s approach to gun-rights advocacy has amounted to a variant of the old Maoist dictum, to the effect that democracy flows from the barrel of a gun. In March, the group provided a novel twist on the theme of sidearm liberty when it . . .
07/14/2013 George Packer: Why Egypt is a foreign-policy puzzle.
American foreign aid has always been an awkward exercise in high-minded self-interest—humanitarian goals balanced uneasily with strategic calculations. Whenever these two come into conflict, Presidents inevitably find a way out of their loftier commitments. In 1947, when Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed a huge . . .
06/30/2013 Jeffrey Toobin: The end of DOMA and the future of gay rights.
The Supreme Court’s embrace of gay rights last week had an almost serene majesty. The obvious correctness of the Court’s judgment, its curt dismissal of a monstrous injustice, had a grandeur that requires little elaboration. Yet the decision had its roots in something prosaic and largely . . .
06/23/2013 Steve Coll: Obama sends weapons to Syria.
The carved minaret above Aleppo’s twelfth-century Umayyad Mosque collapsed in April. The city, which is Syria’s most populous, has endured Hittite, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule, little of it benevolent. But this year, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have delivered a distinctly . . .
06/16/2013 Hendrik Hertzberg: Difficult questions about the N.S.A.
Since the first week of June, when the Washington Post and London’s Guardian, doing the work that journalism is supposed to do, published detailed news of the National Security Agency’s gigantic programs of cell-phone and Internet information-gathering, the world has been riveted. These were . . .
06/02/2013 Steve Coll: Why journalists deserve better protections.
In 1969, when nothing excited the public’s interest like the depredations of drug fiends, the Louisville Courier-Journal sent a reporter named Paul Branzburg to penetrate Kentucky’s marijuana underground. He published eyewitness accounts; a photograph accompanying one of them showed hands hovering over a pile of . . .
05/26/2013 William Finnegan: The struggle for immigration reform.
It was edifying while it lasted. A bipartisan immigration bill, supported by an unusually wide coalition of business, labor, church, and humanitarian groups, made its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the baying over Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service was fierce and rising . . .
05/19/2013 Elizabeth Kolbert: What’s at stake in Obama’s Keystone decision.
A lot of what’s known about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be traced back to a chemist named Charles David Keeling, who, in 1958, persuaded the U.S. Weather Bureau to install a set of monitoring devices at its Mauna Loa observatory, on the island of Hawaii. By . . .
03/09/2014 Ukraine: The heart of the revolution
An inside look at the people behind the revolution that resulted in the parliamentary ouster of President Victor Yanukovych and Russia's power grab in Crimea
03/09/2014 ALMA: Peering into the universe's past
A new $1.3 billion radio telescope is allowing scientists to see parts of the universe they've seen never before, offering insight into how it all began
03/09/2014 The Data Brokers: Selling your personal information
Steve Kroft investigates the multibillion dollar industry that collects, analyzes and sells the personal information of millions of Americans with virtually no oversight
02/27/2014 60 Minutes Presents: Crime and Punishment
Steve Kroft hosts a special hour of 60 Minutes including the capture of "Whitey" Bulger; the murder of a neo-Nazi leader; and, the largest archival theft in U.S. history
02/23/2014 Liam Neeson’s success and sorrow
One of the highest paid movie stars in Hollywood speaks about his wife’s untimely death, his childhood and how his age is beginning to conflict with his action star roles
02/23/2014 The Con Artist: A multimillion dollar art scam
For decades, art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi made millions in a scam that eventually led him to a six-year prison sentence and lawsuits totaling $27 million