Covering

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



Monday, October 31, 2011

Herman Cain: "Peace Through Strength and Clarity"

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain discusses the sexual harrassment allegations, touts his 9-9-9 plan, and more today at the National Press Club.

President Obama: Fit For Duty!

The White House released the results of the president's medical exam today. The physical examination was performed last week by Dr. Jeff Kuhlman, a Navy captain and the Physician to the President. Other specialists assisted in their areas of expertise.

Dr. Kuhlman recommends the President's next physical take place in December 2012.

View the exam results here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

White House Trick or Treating

Tonight (a rainy, sogging, Saturday night) President and Mrs. Obama will welcome local children to trick-or-treat at the North Portico of the White House.  The Portico will be lit orange for the occasion.

The trick-or-treaters are elementary students from local schools in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas as well as children from the Boys and Girls Club of America and children from military families.

Here's a video of the making of Halloween at the White House 2011, and video of the actual Halloween festivities, complete with First Grand Mother, Mrs. Robinson, here.



Per the White House, the following tricks and/or treats will be the order of the evening.

TRICKS

The White House and the surrounding grounds will be decorated in celebration of Halloween. As the trick-or-treaters make their way across the North Lawn to the North Portico they will be entertained by the Marine Band playing Halloween music and spooked by in-costume actors from Washington-area theatres, brought together by theatreWashington.

Veggy Art, a small-business owned by Chef James Parker and based in Chantilly, Va., will provide decorative pumpkins and on-site carving demonstrations for the event. The North Lawn will be decorated with ravens, cobwebs, pumpkin urns and branches.

TREATS

The following treats will be provided, which the Obamas have given to White House trick-or-treaters since 2009:

·         A Box of White House M & Ms

·         A White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookie Made by White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses

·         A Serving of Dried Fruit

The White House has even provided the recipe for the White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookie, Dried Fruit Mix.. 

The White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookie Recipe

1 lb Sugar                                                        1 tsp Vanilla
2 lbs Butter                                                     1 tsp Salt
                        3 Eggs                                                             3 lbs All Purpose Flour
                                                                       
Mix the butter and sugar till soft and well beaten. Then add eggs, vanilla, salt and half the flour. Beat on slow speed till mixed, then add the rest of the flour and mix until incorporated.

Push flat onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate overnight. Roll out to one quarter inch thick and cut out cookie shapes with cookie cutter.

Bake at 350F for 14 minutes and then allow to cool. 

Make Your Own Dried Fruit Mix

Dried Apples                                                               Dried Pineapple
Dried Apricots                                                            Dried Papayas
Dried Pears                                                                 Dried Cherries
Dried Blueberries                                                        Banana Chips

Combine ingredients and serve. Yum!

Click below for our Halloween trick, or depending on you, treat.

Victory for African American Farmers In Pigford Case

After many years of waiting, America's African American farmers will finally receive the compensation they have fought so long to receive.

Federal judge Paul Friedman approved the $1.2 billion settlement for African American farmers late Thursday, calling it "fair, reasonable, and adequate".

Under a federal judge's terms, dated in 1999, qualified farmers could receive $50,000 each to settle the claims of racial bias.

John Boyd, farmer and founder of BlackFarmers.org, has been in the forefront of this battle, having been on many TV and radio shows, and on Capitol Hill (see our coverage here) to bring the plight of America's Black farmers to the national stage.

Boyd called the historic announcement "vindication and justice".
Boyd pointed out that many African American farmers died and others lost land waiting for Congress, (specifically Tom Coburn) to make a decision on the case.

Senator Harry Reid, along with other members of Congress (Bobby Scott, John Conyers, and Kay Hagan) who worked to see that justice was upheld said, "The agreement that we reached shows what can happen when Democrats and Republicans come together to do the right thing."

The bill (Claims Settlement Act of 2010) also provides funding for settlements reached in four separate water rights suits brought by Native American tribes, as well as represents a significant step forward in addressing the water needs of Indian Country.

The USDA has several other claims that must be paid, not just to Black farmers, but Indian (Cobell lawsuit) and Latino farmers as well.

The president, earlier this year, said his administration will continue its efforts to "resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers, and others, in a fair and timely manner."

This week the president remarked on Friedman's ruling.

“The U.S. District Court’s approval of the settlement between the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and plaintiffs in the Pigford II class action lawsuit is another important step forward in addressing an unfortunate chapter in USDA’s civil rights history.  This agreement will provide overdue relief and justice to African American farmers, and bring us closer to the ideals of freedom and equality that this country was founded on.  I especially want to recognize the efforts of Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder, without whom this settlement would not have been reached", said President Obama on the court approved settlement.

In 1995, Boyd founded the National Black Farmers Association after encountering the US Department of Agriculture's discriminatory practices first-hand and meeting many more black farmers who shared this experience. Boyd soon led NBFA members in a march on the White House. He went on to meet with President Clinton and to testify before Congress. The plight of black farmers had caught the nation's attention, but Boyd's pursuit of justice continues to this day

Friday, October 28, 2011

The First Lady's Schedule: A Look Ahead. (Oct 29 - November 2)

UPCOMING GUIDANCE

Saturday, October 29 * White House – On Saturday evening, the President and the First Lady will welcome local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat at the North Portico of the White House. There will be a pool spray on the North Portico at the beginning of this event.

Monday, October 31  – Mrs. Obama will welcome Caroline Kennedy, representatives of other First Families and members of the White House Historical Association for a reception in honor of the organization’s 50th Anniversary. The White House Historical Association, chartered in 1961 with First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s ready approval, is a nonprofit historical and educational organization that plays a vital role in preserving the White House and recording its unique history. To enhance the understanding and appreciation of the President’s home, the White House Historical Association has published and distributed more than eight million books, as well as videos and other educational materials. The association also sponsors lectures, exhibits, and other outreach programs. Thousands of schools, universities and libraries have received free educational materials about the White House, and traveling exhibits and videos are circulated to the presidential libraries and museums. 

Travel to New Orleans and Houston

Tuesday, November 1 * 1:25 PM CT / 2:25 PM ET * New Orleans – Mrs. Obama to deliver remarks at a Democratic National Committee luncheon in New Orleans covered by a print pooler.

Tuesday, November 1 * 2:15 PM CT / 3:15 PM ET * New Orleans – As part of her Let’s Move! initiative, Mrs. Obama will visit Royal Castle Child Development Center in New Orleans to highlight the importance of building healthy habits at a very young age. The Louisiana Children’s Museum conducts East Sleep Play, an 11-week program at the center with children and parents focused on healthy eating and learning about good nutrition and physical fitness.

Tuesday, November 1* Houston – Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks at a Democratic National Committee reception in Houston.

Tuesday, November 1  * Houston – Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks at a Democratic National Committee dinner in Houston.

Back at the White House

Wednesday, November 2  * White House –First Lady Michelle Obama, the honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), will highlight the importance of after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities education by hosting the PCAH’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards – the country’s highest honor in this field. The awards focus national attention on exemplary programs currently fostering the creative and intellectual development of America’s children and youth through education and practical experience in the arts and the humanities. On Wednesday, the award will be given to 12 successful programs across the country that reach underserved children and youth. In addition to the First Lady’s involvement, award co-chairs including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will participate and be complemented by select performances from awardees. This event will be livestreamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award recipients include:  ArtLab; ArtWorks; Fleisher Youth Art Programs; Humanities Rock; Native American Composer Apprentice Project; Positive Directions Through Dance; Saturday Academies of American History; Sojourn to the Past; Young People’s Chorus of New York City; Young Shakespeare Workshop; Zumix; and 826 Seattle.

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OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES TWO STEPS TO HELP BUSINESSES CREATE JOBS, STRENGTHEN COMPETITIVENESS

Ending his three-day, cross-country tour where he spoke on the administration's efforts to lower student college loan payments, President Obama also continues with his plan to outline steps to help businesses create jobs.

Through two Presidential Memoranda issued today, the Obama Administration will take steps to speed up the transfer of federal research and development from the laboratory to the marketplace, and it will create BusinessUSA, a one-stop, central online platform where small businesses and businesses of all sizes that want to begin or increase exporting can access information about available federal programs without having to waste time navigating the federal bureaucracy.  These announcements are part of a series of executive actions to put Americans back to work and strengthen the economy because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act.

“With too many families struggling and too many businesses fighting to keep their doors open, we can’t wait for Congress to take action,” President Obama said.  “Today, I am directing my Administration to take two important steps to help American businesses create new products, compete in a global economy, and create jobs here at home.”

Accelerating Products from the Science Lab to the Marketplace

Breakthroughs in science and engineering create foundations for new industries, new companies, and new jobs.  With world-class universities and federal laboratories, the United States has long led the world in this innovative process.  As other countries begin to challenge American leadership in innovation, America must expand its ability to transfer science and engineering breakthroughs from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace.  Today’s Presidential Memorandum directs all federal agencies with research facilities to accelerate this timeline in three key ways:   

·         It directs agencies to streamline and accelerate the process for private-public research partnerships, small business research and development grants, and university-startup collaborations.  This will result in grants to startups being made 50% faster. 

·         It gives agencies more flexibility to partner with industry, encouraging them to create new partnerships with local communities, support the growth of regional innovation clusters, and share laboratory facilities with local businesses, among others. 

·         It will institute more accountability by directing agencies to develop a five-year plan with concrete goals and metrics to measure progress, including keeping track of how many patents each lab is generating.

Accelerating this timeline will help startups and small businesses around the country create new technologies, create new jobs and grow their companies while making more efficient use of the approximately $147 billion a year that the federal government invests in research and development.  Over the years, federal agencies have supported a number of startups that have gone on to define an industry. Each one of these companies, for example, received a federal research grant:

·         Qualcomm, a global American telecommunication corporation that designs and manufactures wireless communications equipment.

·         Symantec, a global software giant -- now the largest maker of security software for computers.

·         The iRobot Corporation, which designs robots such as the Roomba, for home vacuuming, and the PackBot, for the US military.

Creating a Streamlined, Virtual One-Stop Shop to Help Businesses Grow and Hire

Today, the Obama Administration is also following through on President Obama’s commitment to launch a centralized, one-stop online platform to make it easier than ever for businesses small and large to access services to help them grow and hire.  Today’s Presidential Memorandum directs the Administration to create within 90 days BusinessUSA, a one-stop shop for information regarding federal programs and services relevant to small businesses and businesses of all sizes that want to begin or increase exporting. 
 
BusinessUSA will implement a “No Wrong Door” policy for small businesses and exporters by using technology to quickly connect businesses to the services and information relevant to them, regardless of where the information is located or which agency’s website, call center, or office they go to for help.  And the more federal agencies continue to add content to BusinessUSA to encompass the full range of business programs and services, the more we will be able to reduce the confusing array of websites that exist today.  To ensure that it is oriented towards the needs of the customer, BusinessUSA will be designed, tested, and built with the active feedback of U.S. businesses and relevant online communities and, to the extent possible, will integrate related state and local government services, as well as those of private sector partners.

To strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global economy, we need to equip businesses with the tools and information necessary to support innovation and job growth in the 21st century.  Through BusinessUSA, small businesses and businesses who want to grow their exports will be able to find and access relevant programs, information, and other services from across the government rather than having to waste time navigating through the federal bureaucracy – thereby further streamlining and coordinating federal programs to reduce costs and provide customer-oriented service.  These changes were called for by the President’s Jobs Council, the President’s Export Council and small and medium sized businesses across the country as part of broad outreach by the Government Reorganization Initiative.

President Obama's Upcoming Schedule - Week of October 31, 2011

On Monday, the President will meet with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House.

On Tuesday, the President will participate in interviews with local TV anchors from markets across the country.

On Wednesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday and Friday, the President will be in Cannes, France for the G-20 Summit.

The President will return to Washington, DC on Friday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ending the War in Iraq

President Reaffirms Committment to Bring Troops Home by Year's End



(Full text of speech from James Brady Briefing Room)

 THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end -- for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world.  After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.
    
As Commander-in-Chief, ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities.  Last year, I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq.  And to date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops.  Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security.

A few hours ago I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.  I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments.  He spoke of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future.  We are in full agreement about how to move forward.

So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.  After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.

Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq -- tens of thousands of them -- will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home.  The last American soldier[s] will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.  That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.

But even as we mark this important milestone, we’re also moving into a new phase in the relationship between the United States and Iraq.  As of January 1st, and in keeping with our Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq, it will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

In today’s conversation, Prime Minister Maliki and I agreed that a meeting of the Higher Coordinating Committee of the Strategic Framework Agreement will convene in the coming weeks.  And I invited the Prime Minister to come to the White House in December, as we plan for all the important work that we have to do together.  This will be a strong and enduring partnership.  With our diplomats and civilian advisors in the lead, we’ll help Iraqis strengthen institutions that are just, representative and accountable.  We’ll build new ties of trade and of commerce, culture and education, that unleash the potential of the Iraqi people.  We’ll partner with an Iraq that contributes to regional security and peace, just as we insist that other nations respect Iraq’s sovereignty.

     As I told Prime Minister Maliki, we will continue discussions on how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces -- again, just as we offer training and assistance to countries around the world.  After all, there will be some difficult days ahead for Iraq, and the United States will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure and self-reliant.  Just as Iraqis have persevered through war, I’m confident that they can build a future worthy of their history as a cradle of civilization.

     Here at home, the coming months will be another season of homecomings.  Across America, our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families.  Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays. 

This December will be a time to reflect on all that we’ve been though in this war.  I’ll join the American people in paying tribute to the more than 1 million Americans who have served in Iraq.  We’ll honor our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4,500 American patriots -- and their Iraqi and coalition partners -- who gave their lives to this effort.

And finally, I would note that the end of war in Iraq reflects a larger transition.  The tide of war is receding.  The drawdown in Iraq allowed us to refocus our fight against al Qaeda and achieve major victories against its leadership -- including Osama bin Laden.  Now, even as we remove our last troops from Iraq, we’re beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, where we’ve begun a transition to Afghan security and leadership. When I took office, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in both these wars.  And by the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and make no mistake:  It will continue to go down. 

Meanwhile, yesterday marked the definitive end of the Qaddafi regime in Libya.  And there, too, our military played a critical role in shaping a situation on the ground in which the Libyan people can build their own future.  Today, NATO is working to bring this successful mission to a close.

So to sum up, the United States is moving forward from a position of strength.  The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year.  The transition in Afghanistan is moving forward, and our troops are finally coming home.  As they do, fewer deployments and more time training will help keep our military the very best in the world.  And as we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits and the opportunities that they have earned. 

This includes enlisting our veterans in the greatest challenge that we now face as a nation -- creating opportunity and jobs in this country.  Because after a decade of war, the nation that we need to build -- and the nation that we will build -- is our own; an America that sees its economic strength restored just as we’ve restored our leadership around the globe.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 Presidential Citizens' Medal

President Obama welcomed to the White House 13 recipients of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.



Nearly 6,000 public nominations were submitted

“This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” said President Obama.
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.  Like last year, President Obama is recognizing Americans this year whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention.  In May, the President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals:

Who have a demonstrated commitment to service in their own community or in communities farther from home. Someone who has engaged in activities that have had an impact in their local community, on a community or communities elsewhere in the United States, or on fellow citizens living or stationed around the world.

Who have helped their country or their fellow citizens through one or more extraordinary acts. Individuals who have demonstrated notable skill and grace, selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way, taken unusual risks or steps to protect others, made extraordinary efforts to further a national goal, or otherwise conducted themselves admirably when faced with unusually challenging circumstances. 

Whose service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. Individuals who have made efforts to combat stubbornly persistent problems that impact entire communities; for example, those who have taken innovative steps to address hunger, homelessness, the dropout crisis, lack of access to health care, and other issues that plague too many Americans.

Whose service has had a sustained impact on others’ lives and provided inspiration for others to serve. The ideal nominee for a Citizens Medal is a person whose work has had a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of others.

Among the honorees:



Ida Martin of Bluffton, SC who created Bluffton Self Help to assist working families, disabled residents, and senior citizens in the Bluffton, South Carolina area when they suffered a financial crisis. In 2010 alone, Bluffton Self Help provided 62,000 items of food to 11,600 people and provided clothing to almost 9,000 people.  Additionally, Bluffton Self Help provided families with short-term emergency financial assistance toward housing/utility assistance, medical assistance, or children's program assistance.  Mrs. Martin's philosophy is to help those who have the desire to help themselves. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for providing relief to many in moments of despair.

Margaret Martin, who after observing LA gang members stop at a Hollywood market to listen to a kid playing Brahms on a small violin, Margaret Martin realized those gang members would rather be doing what the kid was doing, but would never have the chance.  She decided to dedicate her life to making quality arts education available to those in the most under served, gang reduction zones of Los Angeles, and founded the Harmony Project in 2001.  The organization has provided instruments and tuition-free group and private music lessons to thousands of children in Los Angeles who would otherwise have no access to classical music.  Martin receives the Citizens Medal for replacing violence in children’s lives with music.

Michelle McIntyre-Brewer of Jefferson, MD, a military spouse, mother, and founder of Soldier’s List. She founded Soldier's List in 2003 to support high risk Service Members and their families.

“They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation.”

The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.  Like last year, President Obama is recognizing Americans this year whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention.  In May, the President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals.

Video: For 2010 honorees click here.  Our coverage here.

President Obama On The Death of Moammar Qaddafi

"One of the longest serving dictators is no more", said President Obama on the death of Moammar Qaddafi today in a White House rose garden speech.

"This is a momentous day in the history of Libya." 

In March of this year the president, delivering remarks to the Nation on Libya at the National Defense University in Washington said, "For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant – Moammar Qaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world – including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents."

The president authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

In a March, 2011 Weekly Address, President Obama said the mission in Libya " is succeeding".

Noting that Qaddafi called the people of Libya 'rats', the president, upon learning that the Libyan leader had been killed  said "the dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted."

"And with this enormous promise, the Libyan people now have a great responsibility -- to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Qaddafi’s dictatorship.  We look forward to the announcement of the country’s liberation, the quick formation of an interim government, and a stable transition to Libya’s first free and fair elections.  And we call on our Libyan friends to continue to work with the international community to secure dangerous materials, and to respect the human rights of all Libyans –- including those who have been detained.

Video has surfaced of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as she receives what she believed to be the 'unconfirmed' news of the death of Qaddafi.

"We've had a lot of those", Clinton said, almost dismissing the information.



Clinton visited the region earlier where she met with the Transitional National Council's Chairman and with the country's senior most leaders. She also visited the University of Libya.

"When I was appointed Ambassador to Libya, one of the most exciting prospects I looked forward to was speaking to large audiences of students and hearing their vision for their country's future", said Clinton. "When I arrived, I found that the Qaddafi regime's weighty oppression had thoroughly dimmed Libyan students' vision. His paranoid security apparatus also saw to it that I could never speak to large groups of students."

NATO aircraft struck military vehicles belonging to pro-Qaddafi forces near Sirte at about 8:30 a.m. this morning.

We confirm that all the evils, plus Qaddafi, have vanished from this beloved country," said interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril.

"It's time to start a new Libya, a united Libya," said Jibril. "One people, one future."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MLK Memorial Dedication: President Obama Remarks

Attendees Speak on the Signficance of the Day

President Obama spoke during Saturday's momentous dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication on the National Mall.

"For this day, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s return to the National Mall.  In this place, he will stand for all time, among monuments to those who fathered this nation and those who defended it; a black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals, a man who stirred our conscience and thereby helped make our union more perfect.

And Dr. King would be the first to remind us that this memorial is not for him alone.  The movement of which he was a part depended on an entire generation of leaders.  Many are here today, and for their service and their sacrifice, we owe them our everlasting gratitude.  This is a monument to your collective achievement."


The president placed signed copies of his Inauguration speech along with his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech in the Monument's time capsule.

The monument stands thirty feet tall, in a towering life-like display of stone that stirs the soul.
Former US ambassador Andrew Young, civil rights activist, and friend to Dr. King said that Dr. King was only 5'7" tall and at times had a complex speaking to taller men.   "Now here he is standing 30 feet tall on the National Mall."

The CEO of the Martin Luther King Building Project, Harry Johnson was especially delighted on the day, after the original dedication was postponed due to Hurricane Irene this past August.  But on this clear, brilliantly sunny Autumn day, his approval was imminent.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning", said Johnson likening his disappointment with the cancellation to the new opportunity to celebrate the Memorial.

"It has been both humbling and uplifting to participate in this magnificent undertaking", said Johnson.  "My hope is that through this memorial, his [Dr. King's] legacy will continue to touch those who walked with him, those inspired by him, and future generations who will get to know him."

Johnson called the occasion "a triumphant day in history."

Other speakers on the day included Reverend Jessie Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton, and the children of  Dr. King: Martin King, III, and daughter Bernice King, who reminded the audience of not only her father's work, but her mother's work as well towards the cause, and most notably for her strength while raising the family during the period of the Civil Rights movement.

"Even as a grieving widow after the assassination of my father, my mother also, with her tired and dedicated efforts, raised a nation in my father's teachings and values", said Dr. Bernice King.  Listen here for more.

James Owens, staffer for a Denver Congressman, was in the crowd of many people we interviewed on the day.  His father was bought to Dr. King's I Have A Dream speech, by Owen's grandparents 48 years ago.

"My father couldn't be here", said Owens, "So, I'm here as our family's representative.
Growing up Owens heard stories from his father about the works of Dr. King and "how he pushed through the adversities that were thrown at him."

"They tell the story of the struggle, and how King rebelled against the established order through his marches, through his sit-ins and how the aggregate of that led to a better country today", Owens said.

Perhaps no one at the Dedication described those 'struggles' more than Congressman John Lewis, friend to Dr. King, and noted civil rights activist.  Lewis, describing Dr. King as man who "liberated a nation", noted what Dr. King and others endured during his attempt to end the horrors of that period.

[Dr. King]  "was arrested, jailed, beaten and constantly harassed. His home bombed", explained Lewis. "He suffered the pain and errors of hate in a grass roots struggle to prove that love is the eternal power to overcome the limitation of hate. Had it had not been for his philosophy of peace and nonviolence that he preached and his insistence of a nonviolent resistance, based on brotherly love, this would be a different nation", said Lewis.  "We would be living in a different place today."

Photo video of the MLK Memorial Dedication.  Photos/CD Brown.


"How could you not be moved by that", asked Owens?  "Given that, it was kind of my duty to be here today to see the culmination of the Memorial."

We asked Owens, who is white, what he sees as the struggles that face the African American community today.

"Clearly, there are economic issues", said Owens, "along with everything else."
  
Owens cited Black unemployment, double the national average, as a major issue, calling it "completely unacceptable".    He also cited home ownership as another issue facing the African American community.

"Home ownership is lower [for African Americans] than the national average.  So,  it's just this institutionalized injustice that is rather pervasive."

While the country has made strides toward equality for all people, and has the country's first African-American president, Owens remarked that the "institutionalized injustice" is less overt today than in other periods of history, but still prevalent nonetheless.

We have a Black president, and we need to re-elect that Black president in 2012.  We absolutely do."

Mighty Voices at the MLK, Jr. Dedication.

Among the many noted celebrities and entertainers performing on the day were Mary Mary, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Stevie Wonder, and others.  Of all the entertainers, perhaps the most memorable would be the singing of Aretha Franklin's "Precious Lord", a song she stated Dr. King would often request her to sing.

Listen as Aretha Franklin sings Precious Lord at MLK Dedication.



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At the MLK, Jr. Memorial Dedication, more voices on the day:

Attendee Wilson Rhoades, 71, tears up recounting the struggles for equality he and his family. Admonishes successful people to "bring others along".

   

Twelve year-old journalist interviews U.S. presidents.  

 

MLK, Jr. Memorial Fund donator, Emmanuel Walker talks about donating to the King Memorial building fund, and on being 'so delighted' and "so proud to be here".  Listen.

 

More
View our photos from the day.   Hear all voices on the day here.

Heckler, calls President Obama the anti-Christ, gets removed from ceremony.

Monday, October 17, 2011

UPCOMING GUIDANCE FOR FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AND DR. JILL BIDEN

The First Lady's Joining Forces Tour

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
First Lady Michelle Obama will join President Obama at an event at Joint Base Langley – Eustis in Hampton, Virginia where they will discuss the importance of hiring American veterans. As part of her Joining Forces initiative, the First Lady will announce a major private sector commitment to hire veterans and military spouses.

* St. Louis, Missouri: First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Game One of the World Series to recognize Major League Baseball’s (MLB) outstanding support of America's veterans and military families as part of their Joining Forces initiative. The game will encourage Americans to support Joining Forces and MLB’s Welcome Back Veterans program to recognize and serve veterans, service members and their families. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will join representatives from MLB and the St. Louis Cardinals including Hall of Famer and Army veteran Red Schoendienst in hosting a military families appreciation event at the St. Louis Veterans Center. Families attending will be the first to view the new Joining Forces and MLB Public Service Announcement (PSA) that will premiere during Game One featuring Mrs. Obama as well as New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Johnny Damon, both of whom come from military families.

* St. Louis, Missouri: Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will participate in a special pre-game ceremony with veterans and military families at Busch Stadium. Game One of the World Series will be broadcast live on FOX starting at 7:30 PM EDT / 6:30 PM CDT. The Joining Forces and MLB Public Service Announcement (PSA) will debut in the ballpark, on MLB.COM and MLB Network featuring Mrs. Obama as well as New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Johnny Damon, both of whom come from military families.

Prior to the game, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will answer questions on the Joining Forces initiative submitted by MLB fans through Facebook and Twitter. People around the country can submit questions for Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden through MLB’s Facebook page (LINK) or on Twitter with the hashtag #AskMichelle.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Updated: White House Fall Garden Tour

I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed today's White House Fall Garden Tour.

Not only did the weather cooperate, (unlike the weather for last week's Korean State Visit), the grounds were meticulously manicured and flowers were freshly planted, seemingly for the occasion.  Fall hues of purple, orange, yellow and white permeated the Rose and Jacqueline Kennedy gardens of roses and chrysanthemums.

First Lady Michelle Obama's vegetable garden was brimming with heart-healthy, good-for-you, vegetable products including red chili peppers, budding egg plant, onion, tomato and delightful garden herbs.

Our tour guide, 'Will', was very accommodating, allowing us to take lots of pictures as he ushered us around the grounds where about 8-10 members of the media got an exclusive, first peek of the garden and the fall foliage. 

Also along the way were several photographs of former U.S. presidents that were placed at various points along the route indicating placement of an official presidential tree, or other commemorative planting.

Seeing the Children's Garden, a display of hand prints from the grandchildren of presidents past, was a delight.   The garden was added to the South Lawn by Lady Bird Johnson.

 Finding out that we won't soon see any Obama children hand prints until either Sasha or Malia grow up, marry, and have kids of their own, was a bit of a let down.  Hopefully the White House will modify the rules to not only include grandchildren, but children of presidents.  (Jenna Bush is the obvious exception as she is both the granddaughter of a former U.S. president, and daughter of a former U.S. president). 

It was fascinating seeing the White House tennis court, which doubled also as a basketball court.   The children's playground, complete with swings and sliding board, built when the girls first came to live at the White House, sits midway along the tour route.  One can certainly see that the First Family has several choices when it comes to getting physical exercise.

Seeing the White House bee hive was a treat as well.  We've heard about the White House honey that has been gifted to dignitaries, but seeing those busy bees at work was a piece of art, in motion.

We would be remiss if we did not mention the musical stylings from the U.S. Military Band, who sounded delightful and added a nice touch to the tour. The various musical selections, from jazz to classical, was music to our ears.

The White House Fall Garden Tour continues through Sunday, October 16.

The National Park Service will distribute free, timed tickets at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion located at 15th and E Streets on each tour day beginning at 8:00 a.m. Tickets will be distributed - one ticket per person - on a first-come, first-served basis.

See our White House Fall Garden Tour photos here.

White House Garden Trivia
President John Adams requested that a garden be planted before his arrival as the first U.S. president.  He was defeated by Thomas Jefferson and never got the chance to enjoy the produce.

Since the 1870's most presidents have planted a commemorative tree while in office.  Noting most recent presidents, George H.W. Bush planted a Purple Beech in 1991.  Bill and Hillary Clinton planted a Willow Oak in 1993, and again after Clinton's reelection, this time choosing a White Dogwood in 1994, planted by his wife, Hillary.  President Obama selected a Little Leaf  Linden in 2009.

Also in 2009 First Lady Michelle Obama, along with local students, broke ground for the first ever White House Kitchen Garden.  Since 2009, the garden, with over 50 varieties of seeds, has yielded over a thousand pounds of produce.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Korean President Visits White House: Talks Trade Agreement

Just as Congress approved the World Trade Agreement (WTA), which the president plans to sign later this week, President Obama joined Republic of Korea president, Lee Myung-bak, today during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House were President Obama  where President Obama said the WTA  is "a win for both our countries".

President Obama sits with President Lee in the Oval Office.  Photo/CD Brown.
"For our farmers and ranchers here in the United States, it will increase exports of agricultural products", said Obama.  "From aerospace to electronics, it will increase American manufacturing exports, including those produced by our small businesses.  It will open Korea’s lucrative services market, and I’m very pleased that it will help level the playing field for American automakers."
In summing up the benefits of the WTA, President Obama explained that it "will boost American exports by up to $11 billion and support some 70,000 American jobs.  It has groundbreaking protections for labor rights, the environment and intellectual property -- so that trade is free and fair."

Also near to the president's agenda, creating reusable energy sources and doubling American exports. 

"It will promote green jobs and clean energy, another area where we’re deepening our cooperation.  And it keeps us on track to achieve my goals of doubling American exports." 

Said President Lee on the occasion, "In particular, we welcome the ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement by the United States Congress.  I am confident that the Korea National Assembly will soon ratify this very important agreement in the near future."

President Lee joined Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton in a luncheon today where she remarked that the alliance between North Korea and the U.S. , “has never been stronger,”  and “the enduring partnership that we have built over decades of cooperation is a symbol of security, stability, peace and prosperity.”
The Obamas host Korean President Lee and wife.  Getty photo.

“President Lee’s vision for a global Korea is strengthening and deepening our relationship in new areas from peacekeeping to anti-piracy, from stemming climate change to ending nuclear proliferation,” Clinton said. 

The president, on the issue that "continues to pose a direct threat to the security of both nations,  further said of the agreement that, "Together, we've succeeded in changing the equation with the North, by showing that its provocations will be met not with rewards but with even stronger sanctions and isolation.  So the choice is clear for North Korea.  If Pyongyang  (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) continues to ignore its international obligations, it will invite even more pressure and isolation.  If the North abandons its quest for nuclear weapons and moves toward denuclearization, it will enjoy greater security and opportunity for its people.  That's the choice that North Korea faces." 

Table setting for State Dinner with Korea's President Kim.   Photo/CD Brown.
A state dinner is planned tonight for President Lee and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok.  Click here for dinner details.

Earlier in the day First Lady Michelle Obama invited Mrs. Kim to Annandale High School in Annandale, Virginia. Annandale is home to one of the largest Korean-American communities in the Washington area.

The visit also highlights the administration's tradition of extending the reach of the State Visit beyond the gates of the White House.

The event culminated with remarks by the First Lady and a musical performance featuring Korean-American violinist Jennifer Koh, the World Children’s Choir, and Annandale High School students.

On Friday, President Lee will travel with President Obama to Detroit where they will visit two automotive plants.

"As a former executive, President Lee will understand when I say that just as Americans buy Hyundais and Kias, I hope that South Koreans will buy more Fords, Chrysler"s and Chevys", said President Obama.

There have been five other previous Korean State Visits which include resident Roh Tae-woo (July 1-3, 1991); President Kim Yong-sam (July 25-28, 1995);  President Kim Dae-jung (June 8-11, 1998);  President Rhee Syngman (July 26-31, 1954) and President Park Chung-hee, (May 17-19, 1965).

Photos on the day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

White House Garden Tour This Weekend

The White House will open its gardens and grounds to visitors on Saturday, October 15th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m., and on Sunday, October 16th from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Visitors can view the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden and the South Lawn of the White House. The Kitchen Garden will once again be accessible to tour guests.

The Garden Tours are free and open to the public; however, a ticket is required for all attendees (including small children). The National Park Service will distribute free, timed tickets at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion located at 15th and E Streets on each tour day beginning at 8:00 a.m. Tickets will be distributed -- one ticket per person -- on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note the following items are not allowed on the White House grounds:

·         Food and Beverages of any kind
·         Duffel Bags/Suitcases/Backpacks
·         Animals (except guide dogs)
·         Aerosols of any kind
·         Knives of any size
·         Mace
·         Smoking
·         Real or Simulated Weapons/Ammunition
·         Fireworks/Firecrackers
·         The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items.

The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items.  However, strollers, wheelchairs, and cameras are permitted.

In the event of inclement weather, the Garden Tours may be cancelled. Please call the 24-hour information line at (202) 456-7041 to check on the status of the event. Tours of the White House will not occur on the dates of the Garden Tours.

Creating Jobs: 14 Infrastructure Projects Slated

Administration's Announcement of 14 Infrastructure Projects to be Expedited Through Permitting and Environmental Review Process

The Obama Administration announced the selection of 14 infrastructure projects around the country that will be expedited through permitting and environmental review processes, an important next step in the Administration’s efforts to improve the efficiency of federal reviews needed to help job-creating infrastructure projects move as quickly as possible from the drawing board to completion.  This announcement comes as a result of the Presidential Memorandum President Obama issued in late August at the recommendation of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Through the Presidential Memorandum, the President directed agencies to expedite environmental reviews and permit decisions for a selection of high priority infrastructure projects that will create a significant number of jobs, have already identified necessary funding, and where the significant steps remaining before construction are within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government and can be completed within 18 months.  Below is the full list of projects selected by those agencies, which represent diverse sectors of the economy and combined will support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.

Occupy DC protestors in front of the Department of Commerce Dept.  Photo/CD Brown.

As the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has highlighted, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permit decisions and environmental reviews is one critical step the federal government can take to accelerate job creation.  While many of these review processes are not under the control of the federal government -- state, local, and tribal governments are partners in the effort, as well -- the Obama Administration is committed to reforming  the federal permitting and environmental review process to ensure that it runs as efficiently as possible while continuing to protect the health and safety of all Americans, and to preserve opportunities for public participation in federal decision-making.  The Administration will apply broadly the information gathered while expediting these projects to further improve the permitting process for all projects.  And as part of the Administration’s commitment to efficiency and transparency, beginning at the end of November, the public will also be able to track the progress of projects under review through one central website.

14 Infrastructure Projects Selected for Expedited Review

Department of Transportation
Tappan Zee Bridge, New York
The Tappan Zee Bridge project will replace a deficient bridge that is a critical link in the regional transportation network.  While the project is an ambitious one and construction will not begin for several years, improved coordination amongst multiple federal agencies will reduce the time needed to proceed from a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to a Record of Decision, potentially reducing the project timeline by multiple years.

Crenshaw/LAX, California
The Crenshaw/LAX project will extend the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LA Metro) existing Green Line light rail nearer to the Los Angeles International Airport and connect it to the Expo Line light rail.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing additional targeted technical assistance to shorten the approval time for this project by several months. In addition FTA and LA Metro will pilot FTA’s new streamlined risk assessment approach for major transit projects to ensure risks and associated mitigation measures are identified and addressed promptly. 

Whittier Bridge, Massachusetts
The Whittier Bridge project on I-95 in Massachusetts will replace an existing bridge over the Merrimack River with a new, multi-modal bridge that will add lanes as well as bicycle and pedestrian lanes.  The lead agency, resource agency and project sponsor will facilitate better coordination to accelerate permit review and approval within six months, including an agreed upon schedule for document reviews and establishing a process for dispute elevation and resolution. 

Provo Westside Connector, Utah
The Provo Westside Connector highway project in Utah will build a new arterial roadway between Provo Airport and Interstate 15 to improve roadway system linkage in southwest Provo, UT.  By increasing coordination among federal and state agencies, permit review and approval can be expedited, saving six or more months.  This time savings will be achieved through an agreed upon schedule for document reviews and establishing a process for dispute elevation and resolution.

Baltimore Red Line, Maryland
The Baltimore Red Line is a 14 mile rail transit line connecting the suburban areas west of Baltimore to downtown, the Inner Harbor and Fells Point areas, and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus. This project has many outstanding permitting issues that will require substantial cooperation between a number of resource and other federal agencies.  By engaging in early negotiations with all necessary federal agencies and optimizing coordination amongst the agencies this project will begin construction earlier than currently planned, potentially reducing the project timeline by two years.

Next Generation Air Transportation System Infrastructure Project, Texas
This Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot project will create Next Generation (NextGen) aviation procedures, including the implementation of new, more efficient routes, for the two airports in Houston, Texas. These performance based navigation procedures must comply with internal FAA approvals as well as reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act.  Integrating these reviews will expedite this project and studying the impacts of the new procedures will serve as a demonstration project for future NextGen procedural improvements. 

Department of the Interior
Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project, New Mexico
This project will build two water treatment plants and deliver water through approximately 280 miles of pipeline, 24 pumping plants, and numerous water regulation and storage facilities bringing a clean and sustainable water supply to the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation will work to improve coordination between Federal and non-federal entities and to expedite land acquisition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Denver Mariposa Housing Project, Colorado
In connection with a HOPE VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, this project will revitalize a distressed housing project located in South Denver.  Portions of the project are underway and HUD will expedite its Part 58 review and review of the Revitalization Plan for the next phases.

City Market at “O” Street, District of Columbia
Located in Washington, DC, City Market at “O” Street is a mixed-use property consisting of 400 market-rate residential units, 16,000 square feet of retail space and a 57,000 square foot supermarket with financing under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Section 220 insured mortgage program.  In conjunction with this project and others, FHA has embarked on an effort to streamline the approval process for loans, including review of related federal permits and is working with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to expedite the National Historic Trust approval, subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Department of Commerce
Arroyo Sequit Watershed and Qwuloolt Estuary Coastal Habitat Restoration Project, California
This habitat restoration project is composed of two activities.  The first activity is the Arroyo Sequit Creek Steelhead Barrier Removal in California, which will involve construction activities to remove existing physical barriers, including two dry weather crossings and one check dam, along the Arroyo Sequit watershed in northern Los Angeles County, CA.  The second activity is the Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration in Washington State and will involve restoration construction activities to restore 350 acres of currently isolated floodplain.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will work with the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite construction permits by up to one year, with the goal of beginning construction as early as 2012.

West Coast Coastal Habitat Restoration Project, California and Washington
This project is composed of four habitat restoration activities including Sears Point Tidal Restoration in California; Napa River Salt Marsh Restoration in California; Riverside Ranch Restoration in California; and the Salt Creek Estuary Reconnection in Washington State.  The scope of these project activities will involve construction elements that will contribute to habitat restoration in these regions. This project will be expedited by up to one year by the facilitation of interagency resource coordination between the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Department of Agriculture
Cleghorn Ridge Wind Project, California
This wind generation project by Cleghorn Ridge Wind LLC would consist of up to 52 wind turbine generators aligned in a general east-west direction along the ridgeline at Cleghorn Ridge, in the San Bernardino National Forest. USDA Forest Service, U.S. Air Force, and Federal Aviation Administration will cooperate to complete the review of this project by federal agencies in as little as 18 months, rather than the three years originally estimated.

Deerfield Wind Power Project, Vermont
This wind generation facility by Deerfield Wind LLC in the towns of Searsburg and Readsboro in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont would consist of 15 two-megawatt turbines.  USDA Forest Service is working to expedite a Final Environmental Impact Statement before December 2011.

Dakota Prairie and Little Missouri National Grasslands, North Dakota and South Dakota
USDA Forest Service is working with an expedited process for reviewing oil and gas applications for wells and ancillary facilities such as pipelines and power lines in the Dakota Prairie and Little Missouri National Grasslands.  There are approximately 80 applications currently in file.  The expedited process involves early coordination with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management and use of the 390 Categorical Exclusion provided under the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

In addition to unveiling the projects selected for expedited review today, the Administration will also instruct agencies throughout the executive branch to gather comprehensive information regarding their reviews of infrastructure projects, and the best practices they have developed.  The Administration will use that information to develop recommendations to further improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of federal permitting and environmental review,  without compromising our responsibility to protect safety, public health, and the environment, through measures such as adopting sector-specific guidelines for timely reviews of permitting applications; encouraging early engagement with stakeholders; coordinating federal reviews with those of state, local and tribal regulatory agencies; and instituting greater oversight of the overall process.

Some Key Steps Taken By the Obama Administration On Permitting Reform:

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of common-sense steps the Obama Administration has taken to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permitting and review.  These steps are helping to speed job-creation in the near term while increasing our competitiveness and strengthening our economy in the longer term.  Just as importantly, the steps the Administration has taken also ensure that permitting and review processes continue to provide safeguards for public health and the environment while offering opportunity for constructive engagement by stakeholders.

For example:

·         Just last week, the Obama Administration announced it will accelerate the permitting and construction of seven proposed electric transmission lines.  This move will speed the creation of thousands of construction and operations jobs while transforming the nation’s electric system into a modern, 21st century grid that is safer and more secure, and gives consumers more energy choices.  The public can track the progress of these and other transmission projects at http://trackingsystem.nisc-llc.com/etrans/utility/Search.seam.  This effort is the latest achievement resulting from a 2009 agreement between nine federal agencies that has improved coordination among federal agencies, states, and other stakeholders involved in siting and permitting transmission facilities on Federal lands. 

·         In November 2010, the Council on Environmental Quality issued commonsense guidance for federal agencies on the use of categorical exclusions to improve the efficiency of the environmental review process under the National Environmental Protection Act.  When used appropriately, categorical exclusions help agencies reduce unnecessary paperwork and delay, by using research and experience to identify in advance categories of activities, like routine facility maintenance, that do not need to undergo intensive environmental review because they do not have significant environmental impacts.

·         Over the past two years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency have worked together to promote sustainable communities. For example, by partnering with local governments, the development community, and other key stakeholders, these agencies have helped to identify and remove key barriers to sustainable design and green building in their permitting process by increasing awareness of local ordinances that impact design, renovation, and maintenance of buildings and the sites at which they are located.

·         Earlier this summer, the President signed an Executive Order to promote the safe, responsible, and efficient energy resources in Alaska. The EO established a working group to facilitate coordinated and efficient energy development and permitting in Alaska while also ensuring that all proper environmental and safety standards are met.

Related.
President Obama Gets Support on Jobs Bill from Atlanta Mayors.   Read here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs: One Week Later

People around the world continue to send their condolences to the man some say changed their world forever.

As you know, the Apple inventor, creator, pioneer, and entrepreneur (as listed on his death certificate) passed last week at the age of 56 due to pancreatic cancer.

We thought President Obama's statement on the passing of Jobs was also creative, especially these remarks:

"The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."


Jobs' fans leave creative artwork to remember him.
Steve Jobs' life is set to be brought to the big screen after Sony Pictures bought the film rights to his biography.

The studio behind the Facebook film 'The Social Network' has reportedly paid around $1 million to base the movie on the forthcoming authorized biography of the late Apple co-founder.

Today, shares of Apple stock soared 19 points to end at $388.81.

Pool Report: President Obama Visits Walter Reed Hospital

Awards Purple Heart medals

During his nearly three hour visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesday, Maryland today, President Obama met with 38 wounded service members – 21 Soldiers, 13 marines, 2 Sailors and 2 Airmen.  (Names not readily identified).

OccupyDC protestor in front of Dept of Commerce building last week with message opposing the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Photo/CD Brown.
Thirty-five of the service members were injured in Afghanistan and 3 were injured in Iraq.  While at the hospital, the President awarded 4 purple hearts

Since the war began some ten years ago 46,542 service members have been wounded in connection with Afghan and Iraqi wars. Through last Thursday, the number of wounded by war zone in Afghanistan  is now 14,342.   In Iraq, 31,921 .  In the Middle East (Op. New Dawn), 279,  the Pentagon reports.

It is safe to say, yet again, let's end this war.  Now.

See more photos here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

President Obama Welcomes 1985 SuperBowl Champions, the Chicago Bears

"You never know where this game of sports takes us", said Richard Dent speaking to the media after President Obama honored the 1985 Super Bowl champions at the White House.




After the Bears won Super Bowl XX, their chance to celebrate at the White House during Ronald Reagan's tenure was interrupted when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.  

Mike Ditka (l) and Buddy Ryan (far right) show off the official Presidential Chicago Bears jersey.  Perhaps his most favorite athletic jersey yet.  Photo/CD Brown.
It would take 25 years, and a president from Chicago, to bring the storied team together to commemorate their historic feat.

"So, the moment for the Bears to visit the White House was postponed and the years went by.  But shortly after I took office, someone at the NFL realized, hey, there’s a Bears fan living in the White House", said President Obama.

The president went on to mention two members of the 1985 team who passed, Walter Peyton (cancer at 45), and Dave Duerson.

After it was made public that the Bears would visit the White House, Peyton was in the news about bringing both his wife Connie, and his mistress to his 1993 NFL Hall of Fame induction.
Teammate Otis Wilson lauded his friend as a  "phenomemal athlete" that was also a "class act" and "great individual" that he thinks about every day.
Chicago Bears Richard Dent and Otis Wilson display their 1985 Championship Super Bowl rings. Photo/CD Brown.
After the president honored the team the Bears' (former) coach, Mike Ditka, presented him with a team jersey (his second from a sports team this week).
"We’re very proud that you honored us by bringing us here, said Ditka.  It’s only 26 years after the fact, and five administrations, but thank you."
Said the president, "This is as much fun as I will have as President of the United States, right here.   This is one of the perks of the job, right here."

Quite naturally, the love for the team and its players doesn't just have the attention of the nation's Commander In Chief and personal friend.   Said Dent, speaking to reporters at the White House,  "We appreciate the love', and said of the team's legends of fans, "Anything you love you just don't stop the love."

Former linebacker Otis Wilson told reporters, "We did something special for the city of Chicago.  Both on the field, and off the field.   On continuing to receive accolades and recognition he said, "It's never enough."



When asked what the 2011 Bears need to play just like their predecessor, Dent, not being judgemental said, "We played with a certain attitude. We were pretty wild, just like our head coach."
 
The current Chicago Bears team sits 2-2 in the NFC North.
"Different era.  Different time", explained Dent.
Dan Hampton, defensive linemen for the team, decided not to make the trip to Washington with his former teammates.  In a radio interview earlier this month, Hampton said: “I don’t choose to go. No family, no kids (are allowed at the White House.) Honey’s going to the White House, and you tell your kids and your wife, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. You’re not invited.’ Secondly, I’m not a fan of the guy in the White House, and third, it was 25 years ago. Let it go."

Thankfully, the rest of the team didn't share those opinions.

"We all have choices we have to make in life", said Wilson.  "This is an opportunity many people never get", recounting his days as a youngster growing up in Brownsville section of  Brooklyn, New York.

"You never squander an opportunity like this."
The president shares a long and trusted friendship with both Dent and Wilson.  The pair recounted their days the helping their friend in his early political career.
"Less than two and half years he becomes [a] US Senator, and then he becomes president", Dent said. "I just tell kids once you put yourself on the right path, you know, the world is your oyster."
The world was certainly an oyster for the 1985 Chicago Bears, in a season that saw the organization earn a 15-1 record, making them the top seed in the NFC for the playoffs. The Bears defeated their three post season opponents by a combined score of 91-10 en route to a victory in Super Bowl XX, their ninth NFL Championship(Source)

The team is the only team in NFL history with a gold record and a Grammy nomination for the recording of the 'Super Bowl Shuffle', of which neither the president, nor team members performed.

"People would probably want to see something cooler", said Wilson. 

Thanks to YouTube, there is a 'modern' version, but we think the 1985 version is much, much better.
The president, who calls Chicago home, called the 1985 Chicago Bears the greatest team in NFL history.

"Now, I know that may get me into some trouble in some cities that I visit.  But I believe it is the truth."

--

1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl Trivia

  • The team's starting middle linebacker, linebacker Mike Singletary was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the UPI Defensive NFC Player of the Year. 
  • Running back  Walter Payton won became the NFC Offensive Player of the Year, while the team's head coach, Mike Ditka was kinged NFL Coach of the Year.
  • Defense end Richard Dent was the Super Bowl MVP.
Those were the days.

Related
Bears honored (Video)
Kids do the Super Bowl Shuffle.   (Video)
Bears White House visit.  (Our photos)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

President Remarks On Passing of Civil Rights Icon

Civil Rights icon Fred Lee Shuttlesworth passed today.

He was reveered as one of the most relentless figures of the Civil Rights Movement having established the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) 1956. In December of that year, the United States Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, was illegal.

Shuttlesworth, immediately announced that the ACMHR was going to test segregation laws in Birmingham. On Christmas night the Shuttlesworth house was blown up by sixteen sticks of Ku Klux Klan dynamite.
Shuttlesworth, who landed in the basement and whose bedroom was blown apart, and visiting Deacon Charles Robinson were unharmed. Shuttlesworth, then, led a rally the very next day.
He was beaten by police in 1957 for trying to enroll his daughter in an all white school and that same year joined with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and Bayard Rustin to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He also assisted the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in organizing the Freedom Rides. Shuttlesworth was hospitalized in 1963 as a result of being attacked by Sheriff Bull Connor's water cannons as he led a mass nonviolent demonstration. However, Shuttlesworth continued to work to secure Birmingham's public accommodations and the desegregation of its schools.
In 1966, Shuttlesworth became the pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and served as founding director of the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation. The recipient of numerous awards, Shuttlesworth is a remarkable figure and unsung hero of the Civil Rights Movement. He leaves behind three grown children.

On his passing President Obama stated, "Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth today.  As one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Shuttlesworth dedicated his life to advancing the cause of justice for all Americans.  He was a testament to the strength of the human spirit.  And today we stand on his shoulders, and the shoulders of all those who marched and sat and lifted their voices to help perfect our union."
Continuing, the president said, "I will never forget having the opportunity several years ago to push Reverend Shuttlesworth in his wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge – a symbol of the sacrifices that he and so many others made in the name of equality."
Obama remarked that America owes Reverend Shuttlesworth a debt of gratitude.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sephira, and their family, friends and loved ones."
Mr. Shuttlesworth was 89.

--
Related
Shuttlesworth Trivia

  • His statue adorns Birmingham's Civil Rights Institute.
  • He has streets named after him in Birmingham and Cincinnati, most noteably North Fred Shuttlesworth Circle
  • He was featured in Spike Lee's 1997 documentary film, 4 Little Girls ( Lee's film about the fatal 1963 bombing Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist church).
  • The life of Shuttlesworth is featured in his biography, A Fire You Can't Put Out:The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth.