Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vincent Gray Chooses Cabinet Members

Incoming Mayor Vincent Gray has named five more appointments to the senior leadership of his new administration.

De’Shawn A. Wright will be the Deputy Mayor for Education.  Wright worked previously as a senior advisor to Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, and has worked to develop a comprehensive reform agenda for the Newark Public Schools and has a strong background in policy, management, and classroom teaching.

Hosanna Mahaley, will head the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.  Mahaley has worked the last few years developing innovative strategies for elevating teaching and assessing student progress.

Rochelle L. Webb will head the Department of Employment Services.  Dr. Webb has more than 20 years of leadership experience implementing state and federal initiatives related to employment and human services in Arizona and Texas.

Gustavo F. Velasquez will continue serving as the Director of the Office of Human Rights, while Clarence Brown will continue serving as the Executive Director of the Office on Aging. Brown has more than 33 years of academic and professional experience in the field of aging or gerontology, public administration, public policy and political science.

Gray, the District of Columbia's newest mayor won in a landslide victory over outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty, will hold the traditional inaugural celebration on Sunday, January 2nd. 
Tickets to the “One City” inaugural event can be picked up on December 22, 28, 29 and 30 from 10 am to 2 pm each day in room 145 of Walter E. Washington Convention Center where the inaugural celebration will take place.  

A photo ID is required.

This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Before Christmas Break President Obama Recaps Accomplishments

Today the president signed  Don't Ask, Don't Tell into law, allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military.  The president said the signing was "the right thing to do for our security, and the right thing to do, period."

Today's event was one of several events the president deemed "progress for the American people".

"A lot of folks in this town predicted that after the midterm elections, Washington would be headed for more partisanship and more gridlock", said President Obama. 

"And instead, this has been a season of progress for the American people.  That progress is a reflection of the message that voters sent in November; a message that said it’s time to find common ground on challenges facing our country.  That’s a message that I will take to heart in the New Year, and I hope my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same."

The president met briefly in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with reporters today before leaving with his family for Hawaii for the Christmas holiday.

He pointed out other moments of "progress" thanking both Republicans and Democrats for coming together on the New START treaty. 

"This is the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades, and it will make us safer and reduce our nuclear arsenals along with Russia", said Obama.  With this treaty, our inspectors will also be back on the ground at Russian nuclear bases.  So we will be able to trust but verify."

The president also praised both parties for passing the tax cuts bill, continuing unemployment insurance, and passing a food safety bill.   The president also signed into law the Hunger-Free Kids Act that encourages schools to provide healthier menu options to students for breakfast and lunches in schools around the country.

President Obama said the success of the above items was "the most productive post-election period we’ve had in decades",and the "most productive two years that we’ve had in generations."

What continues to be a continuous task for the president and his cabinet?

Finding ways to decrease spending, jobs creation, and growing the economy. 

"I expect we’ll have a robust debate about this when we return from the holidays", said the president.

Friday, December 17, 2010

President Obama To Sign Middle Class Tax Cut Bill

President Obama is expected to sign the Middle Class Tax Cut Bill today in a ceremony at the White House.

The bill, with parts the president admits he his opposed to - but is satisfied with, nonetheness -  is expected to grow the economy, create jobs, and help middle class families across the country, ensuring that middle class families won't incur a tax hike at the end of the year.

One report explains the measure like this:
  • Tax rates will remain at their current levels -- 10%; 15%; 25%; 28%; 33%; and 35%, based on your income. It also maintains lower tax rates on your investments for the next two years.
  • If you make less than $90,000 a year, the bill provides an extension of the $2,500 credit you've been receiving to help pay for college tuition, which was begun under last year's economic stimulus bill.
  • It will be easier for you to provide for your children. Under the Bush bill, you got a child tax credit of $500. That has now increased to $1,000.
 Other measures of the bill as stated by the president earlier in the week include:

"Offering hope to millions of Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own by making sure that they won’t suddenly find themselves out in the cold without the unemployment insurance benefits that they were counting on; and it would offer real tax relief for Americans who are paying for college, parents raising their children, and business owners looking to invest in their businesses and propel our economy forward."

Former president Bill Clinton, who admitted he will benefit from the tax bill, said the bill is a good one, calling it "a net-plus", and expects that the portion extending unemployment benefits will circulate money back into the economy. 

The bill also continues the credits for manufacturing jobs related to energy coming in to America.

Many Democrats have expressed their opposition to the bill.   Members of the Congressional Black Caucus called the bill “bad for African Americans” and other vulnerable communities.

“You can’t give tax cuts away like you’re Oprah Winfrey or Santa Claus,” Virginia Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott, a member of the House Budget Committee, said during a Capitol Hill press conference. “Someone eventually has to pay for it.”

That somebody, as Caucus members explained, have been communities of color.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

President Signs Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

President Obama with Harriett Tubman Elementary student at signing of Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
It was a joyous occasion at Washington's Harriett Tubman Elementary School in Northwest DC on a cold and blustery school morning that saw many parents hurrying their kids off wrapped in scarfs, hats and gloves and plenty of backpacks.

On this special day, the kids were in for a special treat.  Times two.

President Obama is coming to their school for a special visit.

"This is monumental", said the school's principal Harry Hughes.  It's monumental for the whole community to be a part of history.   The kids are boiling over with excitement."

The president is there to sign the Hunger-Free Kids Act which means kids across the country, including the pre-K to fifth grade students at Tubman Elementary, will have better food menu choices during their busy days at school.

Already, the school has made changes.

"We're seeing less packaged foods", said Dr. Amanda Alexander, Superintendent of the city's Cluster 3 schools.  "We're seeing less greasy foods and more vegetables and freshly made foods, lean meats, and salads."

The school, with roughly 500 students, has worked with White House chefs as part of the Chefs Move to School initiative and participated in a recent White House garden harvest event.

"What the kids have learned in the Chefs Move to School initiative has helped them make better food choices", added principal Hughes.
The signing was made possible by members of Congress as well as the efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama who championed the cause to see that every child is eating healthier, nutritious meals in hopes ridding the national crisis of childhood obesity. 

"At a very basic level, this act is about doing what’s right for our children.  Right now, across the country, too many kids don’t have access to school meals", said Mrs. Obama.  And often, the food that’s being offered isn’t as healthy or as nutritious as it should be.   That’s part of the reason why one in three children in America today are either overweight or obese.

While the president has surely been met with opposition on this week's current legislative efforts, the passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids act was not one of them.

"I also want to echo my husband’s thanks to leaders and members of Congress, many of whom are on the stage, many of whom are not and are down here, and you all have done just a tremendous thing in making this day possible.  As he said, this was truly a bipartisan effort, with passionate supporters from both parties putting in late nights and long weekends, working around the clock to make sure that this bill got passed, because while we may sometimes have our differences, we can all agree that in the United States of America, no child should go to school hungry."

Attending the signing was David Beckmann.  Beckmann is president of Bread For the World, a collective Christian voice urging members of Congress to help end hunger.   He called the signing of bill "the right thing to do", but warns that while there are those who have little access to healthy foods, there are many more who are without access to food altogether.

"One in four kids in America's households are without food", said Beckmann.   

He is hoping the Obama administration will take up the cause to help end hunger.

"The talk has been about obesity, but not too much about hunger", explained Beckmann.

Perhaps that will be upcoming on the president's agenda, one that also needs more of a national spotlight.

But for now, the focus was on improving the quality of school breakfasts, lunches and other foods sold in schools while also strengthening nutrition programs that serve young children, including WIC and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. 

"Even in times of discord", expressed Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, "America has always had a little red school house.  Today is a joyous one.  We are giving kids fuel for learning in school houses across the nation:  Good food.  And good food equals love."

"Children will know that they are loved."  

Changes in the school menu
What folks are saying

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lakers And President Obama Team Up For NBA Cares

President Obama and the Los Angeles Lakers helped kids from DC's Girls and Boys Club put together packages for U.S. service members and the homeless today at The ARC.   The President and the Lakers visited with the kids in partnership with NBA Cares

President Obama with 2010 NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers. Photo/CD Brown.
For fifteen year-old Tylan, one of the youth from the Boys and Girls Club, called the visit from the Lakers and President Obama his best day ever.   "It was so exciting!  It was so amazing - my favorite team, my favorite player.   To see President Obama, Tylan said, "It was good."

President Obama personally congratulated the Lakers for their achievements on and off the basketball court.

"Now, I have to say that there is a longstanding tradition of welcoming championship sports teams to the White House.  But here’s the thing:  These guys have been there so often; they were just there last year because they won the title.  And Kobe and Derek have been there so many times now, they could lead tours themselves.  The same is true for Coach Jackson", said the president.

Phil Jackson has eleven NBA championship rings, five with the Lakers.   

Laker guard Kobe Bryant shared with us that he thinks this season will be the last for Coach Jackson.   "There is no one like him", said Bryant.  "No one," adding his other selelction for best coach would be Vincent Lombardi.

The Lakers take on the Wizards this Tuesday at Verizon Center.  

We spoke to a few of the Lakers who shared their thoughts on the upcoming match up.

On meeting the Wizards for the second time this month, Laker guard Derek Fisher to us of the Wizards' young team that he's "expecting them to play better at home".  The Wizards were able to come back from a 19 point deficit against the Lakers earlier this month. 

"We had a big lead and they were able to work their way back into the game and make it somewhat close.  It will be a matter of how we're able to play in terms of our level", Fisher said.

Lakers' Kobe Bryant receives gifts from students of DC's Boys and Girls Club. Photo/CD Brown.
On visiting with the youth today, Fisher called it a "great experience".  "It always is. Anytime you can take some time away from the game - and in particular spend time with young people - to see the impact, to have the experience.  Today, doing the letters and making the care packages for the homeless, and for the soldiers and our service people, and having President Obama present added an even special touch to it."

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Christmas Time, Officially!

Christmas in Washington isn't official until the lighting of the national Christmas tree.

The First Family helped bring in the occasion with a few friends like Jordan Sparks, BB King, Cheryl Crow, and actor/rapper Common, the evening's emcee.

Mrs. Obama read 'Twas The Night Before Christmas.

The Obamas continue to celebrate the season with the taping of the annual Christmas In Washington event, as we recently noted, this Sunday at the National Building Museum.    The show will air on December 17th on TNT.

Watch the tree lighting ceremony here.

Marion Barry: 'Mayor For Life' Film Series

The same movie producer that bought us documentaries like Len Bias: Without Bias, and A Crack In The System is bringing a new film, Mayor For Life, which views on You Tube.

I guess it's chronicling the life and times of the embattled former mayor of the Nation's Capital, turned Ward 8 Councilmember, Marion Barry. 

Or is it about Barry's PR representative?

See for yourself, and decide.

President To Sign Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

On Monday, the President will sign into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  He will join the First Lady in delivering remarks.

As a precursor to Monday's event, the White House had a background conference call today to discuss the bill signing and what the new legislation means for millions of school children across the country.

On the call were Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sam Kass, White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, and Tim Cipriano, Executive Director of Food Services for New Haven public schools.

The legislation means increased funding for schools to improve menu choices in vending machines, school lunch lines, and À la carte menu items.

"Kids eating healthy equates to more kids learning, which equates to smarter kids down the line", said Cipriano.

The legislation, in conjunction with the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, strives to decrease (or rid) childhood obesity within a generation.

One-in-four American school children lack access to healthy foods, while 1/3 of kids see their school lunch as the only meal of the day. 

One in three children are at risk of being obese.  If something isn't done America's future generations may not be fit enough to pass the required physical test to join the U.S. military.

"The president has been consistently aggressive in reversing these numbers", said US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak.

Mrs. Obama, who has billed her Let's Move! campaign a top priority during her tenure as The First Lady, remarked after the passing of the legislation earlier this year saying she was both "thrilled, and "proud" of the legislators who helped pass the bill.

"I’m proud of what we’re doing to support these efforts through our Let’s Move! initiative, and I am confident that, together, we can turn the tide on childhood obesity and give all our children the happy, healthy lives they deserve." 

Naysayers and political noise makers like Sarah Palin, who protested a Pennsylvania school's effort  to get students to eat healthier because she believes the Act would limit sweets in schools, will find that the Act does not discourage kids from having treats.

"The Act does not ban bake sales, nor does it prevent parents from bringing cookies to school", clarified Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsak.  "Read the bill."

The Act will provide healthier food ingredients like whole grains, include more fruits and vegetables, and offer fat free or reduced fat milk on school menus while improving the quality of school breakfasts, lunches and other foods sold in schools, while strengthening nutrition programs that serve young children like WIC and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.   

"Today is a great day for 32 million of America's kids", said Vilsak.

He called the bill a "critical step" in reducing hunger and obesity in America's children.

Earlier this week Janey Thornton, USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary,  recognized 11 Mississippi Public Schools in Purvis, Hattiesburg, Lumberton and Sumrall for their excellence in school nutrition that entailed meeting the highest standards for creating and maintaining healthy school environments by promoting good nutrition and physical activity.

Monday's remarks from the President and First Lady, as well as Monday's bill signing, will be streamed live at at 10:25am ET.

Bill Summary
'Recipes For Healthy Kids' Challenge

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Passes

Elizabeth Edwards endured a lot while dealing with her diagnoses with breast cancer. 

Just Monday we learned that the cancer spread to her liver and that doctors had advised against seeking further treatment.

She was resting comfortably at her home in North Carolina with family, and former husband John Edwards by her side earlier this week.

Edwards helped propel her husband into the spotlight during his second bid - this time during the 2008 presidential campaign, only to find out that the man she revered had an affair with a campaign worker.

The details were painted out in a book written by former Edwards campaign manager, Andrew Young titled, The Politician.

Mrs. Edwards was also a writer, having authored two books:  Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers, and Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities.  She also shared her story with this year's Kennedy Center Honors recipient, Oprah Winfrey.  

Mrs. Edwards was a woman who had been scorned, not once, but at least twice, while being portrayed as a person of strength and courage during her most darkest of days. 

Both the President and Vice President have made comments on her passing:

President Obama: "In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain.  Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up.  But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration."

Vice President Biden: “Elizabeth Edwards fought a brave battle against a terrible, ravaging disease that takes too many lives every day.  She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and to those who felt they knew her."

In the days before her death, Edwards wrote these words on her FaceBook page: 

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel towards everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."

Elizabeth Edwards was 61.

Kennedy Center Honors

Oprah Winfrey and Steadman Graham at the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors.  Photo/CD Brown.
The Kennedy Center Honors came and went this past Sunday, and we were lucky enough to get a peek (literally, just a peek) at this year's honorees, and a few others.

The star-studded event, that each year, honors five individuals for their lifetime achievement in the performing arts was nothing short of amazing and included the likes of former recipient Ms. Diana Ross.

We saw a bevy of public figures, so mixed and assorted, ranging from politics (Congressman Charlie Rangel, General Colin Powell and wife Alma, and Newt Gingrich), to comedy (Chris Rock) to super heroes (Wonder Woman - aka Linda Carter).

We even caught up with powerhouse couple and star of The Real Housewives of DC, Jason and Stacie Turner.

John Travolta wowed fans just outside the Kennedy Center entrance by taking time to sign autographs and taking pictures.   (I'll admit, that dude still looks amazing!)  

Even Willie Nelson strutted his stuff on the Red Carpet, along with the amazing and beautiful Jennifer Hudson who wowed the audience with her musical talents, as did the Gay Men's Choir of Washington (who knew?).

This year's honorees included Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, composer Jerry Herman, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, and The Beatles' Paul McCartney.

All the honorees were treated at the White House (as tradition dictates) for a celebratory pre-Kennedy Center Honor ceremony.

"This is a season of celebration and of giving.  And that’s why it’s my great privilege as President to honor the five men and women who have given our nation the extraordinary gift of the arts", said President Obama.

Last year's honorees included Mel Brooks, Grace Mumbry, Dave Brubeck, Bruce Springsteen and Robert DeNiro. 

The 2010 KCHs will air December 28th on CBS from 9:00-11:00 p.m.

Michelle Obama, Defender of the Arts.
Defending The Arts

The President knows a little something about the Arts and has continued embracing the Arts via the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH).   

But... (and there's always that)

This year's Kennedy Center celebration of people in the Arts, shall we say, pales in comparison to this person who has been given the title as The Defender of The Arts by DC Magazine.

Mrs. Obama, honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, is featured in Super Hero-like fashion on this month's cover (how timely) flying beautifully atop our Nation's Capital securing the Arts for all mankind!

Watch out Wonder Woman!

Interestingly enough, we asked Linda Carter who she thought would do a great job of portraying her should the Wonder Woman series where to ever be remade.

We didn't get a response. 

Coming Together On Tax Cuts and Unemployment Benefits

The Obama administration has come to somewhat of a happy medium with Republicans on extending both tax cuts - and unemployment benefits - for millions of Americans.

Tax Cuts And The Federal Budget

The president said during his campaign that he originally planned tax cuts for the 'middle class' (a term that needs further defining in this current economic climate), but has since changed his stance.

"It would be a grave injustice to let taxes increase for these Americans right now.  And it would deal a serious blow to our economic recovery", the president said yesterday in remarks to the press.

Both parties voted to extend Bush-era tax cuts (for two years) while extending unemployment benefits for 13 months. 

Without the tax cuts Americans could see their taxes rise beginning January 1, 2011.

"I am not willing to let that happen.  I know there’s some people in my own party and in the other party who would rather prolong this battle, even if we can't reach a compromise.  But I'm not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington.  And I'm not willing to let our economy slip backwards just as we're pulling ourselves out of this devastating recession."

The White House is explaining the benefit of extending the tax cut like this, "
"The framework agreement includes a mutually agreed upon solution to the impasse over taxes by extending the 2001/2003 income tax rates for two years and reforming the AMT to ensure that an additional 21 million households will not be hit with a tax increase. These measures will provide relief to more than 100 million middle-class families and prevent a tax increase of over $2,000 for the typical family."
and states the measure has three key components that (1) will ensure that working families will not lose their tax cut; (2) focuses on high-impact job creation measures, and (3) does not worsen the medium- and long-term deficit.

As for the extending the unemployment benefits in a climate that has seen record unemployment numbers across the country, the White House says extending unemployment benefits will "create 600,000 jobs in 2011. "

The White House is reporting that had these benefits not been extended 2 million workers who would have lost benefits. 
The decision was made before the Holiday recess, and the new year.  One sure to bring relief and merriment to millions of Americans this Holiday season.  (Maybe not so much, however to the extremely wealthy segment of the American population).

Senior Administration Officials will hold a background briefing call today at 6:45 p.m (EST) to provide an update on the tax cuts and unemployment insurance. 


Question of the day:  If America's wealthiest are paying the most in taxes, why is there still homelessness and hunger in America?  What is the U.S. government doing with all that money where we, the richest country on the planet, can't feed and house every American?  No more homelessness in five to ten years? I say no more homelessness today!

You and Your Money
Bush-era Tax Cuts. What does it all mean, really?
The president's additional remarks to the press

Friday, December 3, 2010

President Obama's Surprise Visit To Troops In Afghanistan

ABC News (and now the White House) is reporting that President Obama, in a surprise visit, has just landed in Afghanistan to visit with U.S. troops.

First Pool Report- Excerpted. (11:33 am EST)

President Obama arrived in Afghanistan at 8:35 pm. Air Force One was wheels down at Bagram Air Base. POTUS stepped off the plane at 8:48 pm. He was greeted by Gen. David Petreaus and Amb. Eikenberry.

POTUS is expected to be on the ground for 3 hours. The schedule has changed and continues to. POTUS was initially expected to helo to Kabul to meet with Karzai. Cancelled. Then they were to do secure videoconference from Bagram. That is also cancelled.

From Robert Gibbs: Due to weather and technical problems, the secure videoteleconference is now a phone call.

The President, most noteably, wanted to visit with the troops during the holidays, citing, "It's a particularly tough time of year."

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Ssecurity Advisor for Strategic Communications, noted that the visit was planned over a month ago.

Second pool report - also excerpted.  (11:57 am EST)

POTUS is currently doing the phone call with Karzai, then he will meet with Eikenberry and Petraeus.

Then he will do the hospital visit.Then he will do the speech to troops - about 30-40 minutes from now.

Then TBD, possibly a smaller greet with troops.

POTUS's attire: brown leather bomber jacket, dark slacks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Safe Food. Healthy Kids.

House Passes Child Nutrition Legislation

With a vote of 264 yays, and 157 nays the House passed the $4.5 billion child nutrition legislation that will improve the quality of meals that children receive at school.

We can't believe the 157 who voted against this bill.  Who doesn't want America's kids eating healthy food?

We share in the First Lady's comments on the passage of the bill.

"I am so thrilled that the House of Representatives has passed “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” – a groundbreaking piece of bipartisan legislation that will significantly improve the quality of meals that children receive at school and will play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity."

The First Lady has been working feverishly to ensure that America's kids eat properly.

"Over  the past two years, I have had the privilege of speaking with parents, educators, governors and mayors, medical professionals, community and business leaders, and students all across the country – all of whom are determined to ensure that our children have access to the nutritious food they need to learn and grow and fulfill their potential."

Again we ask, who doesn't want that?

"This is an historic victory for our nation's youngsters", said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak.

"This legislation will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children."

The USDA will now begin to implement the following provisions under the legislation.

1. Upgrading nutritional standards for school meals by increasing the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches by 6 cents for districts who comply with federal nutrition standards. This is the first real reimbursement rate increase in over 30 years.

2. Improving the nutritional quality of all food in schools by providing USDA with the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, including in vending machines, the “a la carte” lunch lines, and school stores.

3. Increases the number of eligible children enrolled in the school meals programs by using Medicaid data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications connecting approximately 115,000 new students to the school meals program.

4. Enhances universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school wide income eligibility.

5. Provides more meals for at-risk children nationwide by allowing Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to be reimbursed for providing a meal to at-risk children after school paving the way for an additional 21 million meals to children annually.

6. Empowering parents by requiring schools to make information more readily available to parents about the nutritional quality of school meals, as well as the results of any audits.

7. Improving the quality of foods supplied to schools by building on and further advancing the work USDA has been doing to improve the nutritional quality of the commodities that schools get from USDA and use in their lunch and breakfast programs.

8. Improving WIC by making it easier for children to get recertified as eligible for the program, requiring greater use of EBT technology (debit cards), and expanding support for breastfeeding.

Earlier this week Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act to protect our nation’s food supply.  The legislation ensures more frequent inspections of food manufacturing facilities and will require these facilities to take preventative actions to reduce the risks of outbreaks and foodborne illness.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Lady Prepares For 'Christmas Time'

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and The White House is checking its list.  On the list, a pre-holiday peep at holiday decorations for the media and many families of the military.

"It’s Christmas!   It’s exciting!", the First Lady exclaimed.

Decorations include 19 Christmas trees in every corner of the White House, a giant Bo (the family dog) made out of pipe cleaners, and a 350 pound gingerbread house.

The White House is expecting more than 100,000 people to enjoy the White House decorations.

The First Lady welcomed the White House Christmas tree on last Friday.  The 18 ½ foot Douglas-fir arrived from the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Leighton, Pennsylvania.

Having trouble viewing this video?  Click here.

Christmas In Washington 2010
Simple Gifts

President Obama Meets With....

Another busy day for President Obama as his scheduled included meetings with two prominent D.C. area figures: Mayor-elect Vincent Gray, and General Colin Powell.

Gray and President Obama discussed funding for infrastructure for Ward 8, D.C. license plates, the city's high unemployment rate, and voting rights.

The two spoke on the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks' giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus - an act that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and catapulted the Civil Rights movement.

'I'm unequivocally in support of voting rights for the District of Columbia", Obama told Gray.

The District faces a $188 million gap in the Fiscal Year 2011 operating budget.

Gray expects to have future meetings with the president.

On meeting with General Powell the president explained, "Most of the discussion we had was around national security issues.  We talked about some of the challenges across the landscape, from North Korea to Iran to Afghanistan.  But we spent, in particular, a lot of time talking about the START treaty."

President Obama and Vice President meet with General Colin Powell at the White House.

He also thanked Powell and his wife Alma for the contributions to America’s Promise, and most recently the couple's report, 'Building a Grad Nation'.

The president is expected to meet with newly elected governors at the Blair House on Thursday.

The Republican Case For Ratifying New START