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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vice President Biden Lauds His "1 is 2 Many" Campaign Against Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

Near to advice President Biden's heart is the treatment of women and the eradication of sexual assault against women.

He continues his 1 is 2 Many campaign to spread the message that rape will not be tolerated, especially on college campuses where one in five women, ages 18-24 are sexually assaulted.

The White House has produced a PSA asking, #WhatWouldYouDo, and reminding the public that:

 “If she doesn’t consent, or can’t consent — it’s a crime . . . and if you see sexual assault happening, help her, don’t blame her —and speak up.”

Click here to take a look at the PSA featuring actors and both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Other VP Biden News
Vice President Biden makes call to NBA Chairman, Kevin Johnson to lend support to players in wake of Donald Sterling racists actions and comments towards NBA players and the NBA family.

Said Johnson, "He (Biden) called me and said, We're with you, and the White House is watching."

***Update*** May 1,2014
While the President and Vice President may have ridding sexual assault on college campuses on their agendas, the fact remains that sexual assault against women in the military is still quite pervasive.   During Thursday's White House briefing that very subject came up.  In fact, it was the first question asked during the day's briefing.

Q.  The Pentagon is releasing a report today showing sexual assault in the military has increased 50% (we'll put that in bold - that's fifty percent).  Does the Commander-in-Chief view that?  Does he think it's because of the increase in reporting, or is the problem getting worse?

Listen (and watch) below to hear the answer given by Press Secretary Jay Carney.




$4.75M Project Seeks to Ease Mistrust Between Law Enforcement, Minority Communities

WASHINGTON—Noting that African-American and Hispanic males are arrested at disproportionately high rates, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that the Justice Department will seek to collect data about stops, searches and arrests as part of a larger effort to analyze and reduce the possible effect of bias within the criminal justice system. 

            Attorney General Holder said the project grew out of President Obama’s call, issued last July following the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, for the Justice Department to seek to reduce tensions between law enforcement and minority communities.

"Racial disparities contribute to tension in our nation generally and within communities of color specifically, and tend to breed resentment towards law enforcement that is counterproductive to the goal of reducing crime,” Attorney General Holder said. “Of course, to be successful in reducing both the experience and the perception of bias, we must have verifiable data about the problem.  As a key part of this initiative, we will work with grant recipients and local law enforcement to collect data about stops and searches, arrests, and case outcomes in order to help assess the impact of possible bias.”

The data collection is one part of the Department’s new National Center for Building Community 

Trust and Justice. It will be funded through $4.75 million in competitively awarded grants. The grant recipients will be named later this year.

Also said AG Holder, “Last July, following the verdict in the case involving the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, President Obama spoke out about the need to promote better understanding between law enforcement and young men of color.  He specifically directed the Justice Department to work closely with state and local law enforcement agencies to develop training and other innovative tools that can help to reduce discord and restore trust.

“We are heeding the President’s call.  This month, the Justice Department is launching a new initiative – the National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice – to analyze and reduce the effect of racial bias within the criminal justice system.  The Center will be funded through an initial competitive grant award totaling $4.75 million and is jointly supported by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, the COPS Office, the Civil Rights Division, the Office on Violence Against Women, and the Community Relations Service.  This effort will encompass a broad range of areas in which fairness and trust can come into question–from stops and searches to wrongful convictions.

Hear Mr. Holder's entire remarks here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What We Already Know: Vice President Joe Biden Sleeps With A Professor

It's no secret that second lady Dr. Jill Biden is a community college professor (George Mason), and that both the president and the vice president have touted community colleges for years.

 "We know, for example, that in the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate’s degree are going to grow twice as fast as jobs that don’t require college. We will not fill those jobs or keep those jobs on our shores without community colleges", explained the president.

Dr. Biden in 2009 told an audience, "For more and more people, community colleges are the way to the future", said Biden.  "They’re giving real opportunity to students who otherwise wouldn’t have it.  They’re giving hope to families who thought the American Dream was slipping away.  They are equipping Americans with the skills and expertise that are relevant to the emerging jobs of the future.  They’re opening doors for the middle class at a time when the middle class has seen so many doors close to them."

Enter her husband Joe Biden, known for saying what he wants - how he wants.  Listen as he explains his love for both community colleges, and his favorite college professor.

"The same one."

Close To Home: Maryland Raises Min Wage

Minimum wage workers in Maryland could soon start to see an increase in pay. 

On Saturday the Maryland Senate voted to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

The hike is expected to be at its full increase by 2018.  An increase of .75 cent begins  Jan 1, 2015 - that is, if Congress approves.  If it does Maryland governor Mark O'Malley can sign legislation into law.

"Lawmakers did the right thing giving so many Maryland families the raise they deserve", O'Malley said.

Echoing Governor O'Mally, President Obama said in a statement today, "The Maryland Legislature did the right thing for its workers today by increasing the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

With states like Maryland, and other states setting the example, President Obama is hoping all states will eventually follow suit.

"Maryland’s important action is a reminder that many states, cities and counties – as well as a majority of the American people – are way ahead of Washington on this crucial issue", he said.

But there is an opposing hurdle to consider.

"... there’s only one group who can get the job done for the entire country – that’s Congress. They should follow Maryland’s lead and lift wages for 28 million Americans by passing legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10, helping to ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the opportunity to succeed."

See also
Maryland faith leaders call for MW increase

Friday, April 4, 2014

White House Welcomes Tunisia's Prime Minister: Promise of $400M

You can bet any time a foreign dignitary visits the Oval Office, money is probably going to be involved.

Today, President Obama promised North Africa's republic, Tunisia, a loan for $400M (or $500M, depending on who you ask) to help its nation rebuild after the torrential Arab Spring uprising.

The Arab Spring was the work of young people who had felt frustrated by the sense of injustice and favoritism so rampant with the political regime running the country for 23 years.

"Those young people are for the majority well educated, holding university degrees but with no hope of landing jobs. After the initial euphoria of the post-revolution victory and the rise of an Islamist government, their hopes dissipated and the prospects of finding a job looms further and further", said Dr. Mongi Bahloul, University of Sfax  of South, Tunisia. "An increasing number among the youth have tried to, and sometime did, leave the country to fight as Jihadists in Syria or boarded fishing boats illegally to end up as refugees on the Italian coasts."

Said President Obama, "The good news is, is that in Tunisia, where this began, we have seen the kind of progress that I think all of us have been hoping for.  Although it has been full of challenges, as any democratic process inevitably will confront, what we’ve seen now is a coming together of various factions within Tunisia, a new constitution that not only respects the individual rights of men but also women, that speaks to tolerance and respect for religious minorities.  And it creates the bedrock, the foundation for a Tunisian society that can thrive in this new global environment."

Tunisia's prime minister Medhi Jomaa, who is in the US visiting for several days, said of the support from the U.S., "I really appreciate that, and it's a great pleasure and an honor for me to be here meeting you.  It's an opportunity as well to express Tunisia’s appreciation of all the support you (the United States) are giving, (and) your personal commitment and engagement to see progress in this transition, democratic transition in the march of Tunisia towards stability and democracy."

A rather nice birthday present for Jomaa, who turns 52 on April 22nd.

Along with a meeting shoring up "economic recovery" for Tunisia, Prime Minister Jomaa joined
President Obama in greeting 10 of the 65 Tunisian students currently studying in the United States as part of the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program.  This $10 million initiative launched in 2012 is sending approximately 400 Tunisian undergraduate students for one academic year of undergraduate studies at U.S. universities and community colleges.  This year, the United States plans to double this program with an additional $10 million, pending Congressional approval.  This program enhances youth employability, promotes direct people-to-people engagement, and furthers long-term economic growth in Tunisia by developing human capital.

The students are from Bizerte, Kasserine, Sfax, Tatouine, Ben Arous, Kairouan, Monastir, Ariana, and El Kef.  They are studying at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky; Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Nazareth College of Rochester in Rochester, New York; Emporia State University, in Emporia, Kansas; Seattle Central Community College; Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Spokane Community College; Northeast Wisconsin Technical College; Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and Concord University in Athens, West Virginia.

(Student info source: WH pool reporter Dave Cook from the Christian Science Monitor).