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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

President Obama on Duke's Krzyzewski: "He's got potential."

(Politics. On Point) - President Obama honored the Duke Blue Devils at the White House on Tuesday. Duke won the NCAA title in a come-from-behind contest against Wisconsin, 66-63. The Blue Devils and their coach, Mike Krzyzewski, know a few things about winning national titles.

The president said of Kryzyewski, "We think he's got potential", calling him an "up-and-coming" coach.

Watch below to see how Kryzyewski responds.


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VP and AG Announce Initiative to Address Backlog of Untested Sexual Assault Kits

From the White Press Office

NEW YORK, NY – Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch today announced $41 million in grant awards to 20 jurisdictions to eliminate or reduce the number of untested sexual assault kits across the country.  Today’s announcement is being announced as part of an unprecedented partnership with the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY) – whose own grant program is contributing $38 million to the cause for a total of $79 million to eliminate the backlog reaching 43 jurisdictions in 27 states across the country.

“Rape kits are an essential tool in modern crime fighting — not only for the victim, but, for the entire community. Studies show we solve up to 50 percent of previously unsolved rapes when these kits are tested. When we solve these cases, we get rapists off the streets. For most survivors, seeing their rapists brought to justice, and knowing that they will not return, brings peace of mind and a sense of closure. The grants we’re announcing today to reduce the national rape kit backlog will bring that sense of closure and safety to victims while improving community safety,” Vice President Biden said.

“The groundbreaking initiative we are announcing today is part of the Justice Department’s longstanding efforts to support survivors of sexual violence and to bring abusers to justice,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  “For anyone who has felt isolated and afraid, left out and left behind as a result of a sexual crime, our message is clear: we will not forget you.  We will not abandon you.  You are not alone.”

The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, a competitive grant program administered by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), supports the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions’ approaches to evidence found in sexual assault kits that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory for testing. BJA created the initiative in consultation with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office for Victims of Crime, (OVC), and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).  The goals of the initiative are to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to these cases whenever possible through a victim-centered approach, as well as to build jurisdictions’ capacity to prevent conditions that lead to high numbers of untested kits. The funding awarded through DANY’s program will pay directly for testing kits, and the combined effort between BJA and DANY is projected to achieve testing of approximately 70,000 sexual assault kits. BJA and DANY partnered to reach as many jurisdictions as possible and also to identify jurisdictions where funding could be combined to adequately address kit backlogs.

The initiative is part of the Justice Department’s larger ongoing effort to comprehensively address the problem of sexual assault and to support victims.  For example, NIJ maintains a webpage on Sexual Assault Investigations, Sexual Assault Kits: Using Science to Find Solutionswhich provides information ranging from improving forensic sexual assault examinations to  research findings on untested evidence in sexual assault cases.  OVC provides a Sexual Assault Response Team Toolkit, which has over 1.4 million views to date and includes a checklist of recommendations for victim-centered policies and practices in developing a sexual assault response. OVW updated the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations and released a companion document on Recommendations for Administrators of Prisons, Jails, and Community Confinement Facilities for Adapting the U.S. Department of Justice's National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents.

Since 2008, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has provided more than $825 million for DNA analysis in crime laboratories and for activities such as research dedicated to strengthening the accuracy and reliability of forensic science.

A complete listing of today’s federal award recipients can be found here 

A complete listing of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Initiative awards can be found here.

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Upcoming guidance for First Lady Michelle Obama

As part of her Let’s Move! initiative, the First Lady will welcome 63 local elected officials and representatives from across the country on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 to celebrate their commitment to building healthier communities.

At the event, the First Lady will commemorate Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, reaching 500 communities, resulting in nearly 80 million Americans impacted by the program. Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National League of Cities, calls upon local elected officials to adopt long-term, sustainable and holistic approaches to addressing childhood obesity. 

Each local elected official has pledged to achieve the following five goals to promote healthy living throughout the community:

1)      Helping early care and education providers incorporate best practices for nutrition and physical activity
2)      Displaying USDA’s MyPlate in all municipal or county venues where food is served
3)      Expanding access to meal programs before, during and after the school day, and/or over summer months
4)      Implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
5)      Increasing opportunities for physical activity

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hurricane Katrina - 10 Years Later

President Obama praises New Orleans' comeback; says "more to do."

"We must honor their memory each day by rebuilding, and improving, the piece of America they called home."  -  President Obama

Honor Katrina's victims by continuing to rebuild a stronger community: President Barack Obama
By Barack Obama
on August 29, 2015 at 6:45 AM

President Obama chats with a young girl during his visit in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans.
Credit: White House photo/Pete Souza.
On Thursday (Aug. 27), I traveled to New Orleans to mark 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated communities across the Gulf Coast and shook America. A visit to the Lower Ninth Ward would have seemed unimaginable in the storm's immediate aftermath, but today the waters have receded — replaced by a region that is moving forward. Over the past 10 years, folks across the Gulf Coast have displayed the spirit of resilience that our country was founded on— building back stronger and dreaming bigger than before.

We know there is more to do — but the progress I witnessed firsthand in New Orleans, and the progress that has been replicated by committed, driven Americans throughout the Gulf Coast, is a testament to what's possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and to build a better future.

My administration has been focused from day one on continuing and expediting the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the storm, and on investing in the people of the Gulf Coast. And we're applying the lessons we learned across the country.  If Katrina was an example of what happens when government fails, the recovery has been an example of what's possible when government works with local communities as a true partner.

New Orleans residents celebrate ten-year anniversary of Katrina with a parade.  Photo credit: Douglas Adams, Jr.
Together, we've delivered resources to help Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida rebuild schools, hospitals, roads, police and fire stations, and historic buildings and museums.  And we're building smarter, from elevating homes to retrofitting buildings to improving drainage, so that our communities are better prepared for the next storm. We're transforming education, encouraging entrepreneurship and helping to ensure that everyone has access to great healthcare.

In the wake of Katrina, America's challenge was not to restore things to the way they were. Our goal was to rebuild a city and a region as it should be — a place where everyone, no matter who they are, what they look like, or how much money they have, has an opportunity to make it.

We've come a long way in that respect, but there's more work to do when too many of our children live in poverty and when, in New Orleans, typical black households earn about half the income of white households. There's more to do when too many people have yet to find good, affordable housing or a job. There's more work to do when too many proud Gulf Coast residents have not yet been able to return to the place they love.

That's why we're working across the region to help ensure access to affordable housing for low-income families. It's why we're fighting poverty, revitalizing neighborhoods and investing in public safety. It's why we believe in programs like My Brother's Keeper, an initiative devoted to making sure that all young people, especially our boys and young men of color, have the opportunity to achieve their potential.

We know that after every storm, the sun comes out. And I know that in the face of every crisis, Americans come out, band together and build back.

That's how the Gulf Coast responded to Katrina. That's how our nation has come back from the economic brink of seven years ago. Because of the grit and determination of the American people, our businesses have created 13 million new jobs over 65 straight months, and our unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 5.3 percent.  The uninsured rate is at an all-time low, while the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.  We've cut our deficits by two-thirds.  We've ended two wars, and gone from nearly 180,000 brave American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to fewer than 15,000.  We've launched a clean energy revolution that will help save this planet. And with the freedom to marry who you love, our nation has become a little more just.

That's not just progress. It's real change — and it doesn't come easy.

So we'll keep working. Because, it's not enough to remember the more than 1,800 men, women, and children — our fellow citizens — who lost their lives 10 years ago. We must honor their memory each day by rebuilding, and improving, the piece of America they called home.

It won't be easy, but the extraordinary resolve of the folks I met this week remind us why we are up to the task of forging a better future. These Americans live the basic value that defines this country — a value we have been reminded of in these past 10 years as we've come back from a crisis that changed your region, and an economic crisis that spread throughout the nation — the notion that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper.  That we look out for each other, because we are all in this together.

If we stay focused on that common purpose; if we remember our responsibilities to ourselves and our obligations to one another; then from Texas to Florida, we can rebuild a region, and a nation, that's worthy of our children, and worthy of the generations to come.

NOLA Rebirth Chronicled on Instagram