Washington Post: The Environmental Protection Agency took the unusual step of revoking a permit Thursday for the country’s largest surface mine, a setback for the controversial practice of “mountaintop removal” that helps produce 10 percent of the nation’s coal.
The 2,300-acre operation at the Mingo Logan Coal Co.’s Spruce No. 1 coal mine in West Virginia has been mired in litigation since 1998.
The EPA’s decision could affect dozens of other mining projects across Appalachia, where firms have been blasting the peaks off mountains for years to reach coal seams and then depositing the remaining rubble in surrounding valleys. While the federal government issued permits for hundreds of these activities under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, the EPA adopted new environmental guidelines in April and is now reviewing 33 other pending permits.
The EPA’s assistant administrator for water, Peter S. Silva, said the Spruce No. 1 coal mine … “would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend.”
…The EPA used its authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act – which it has used only 12 other times in its history – to argue that the subsequent valley fills would harm the area’s water quality, habitat and wildlife.
President Barack Obama talks with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication, and Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, in the Outer Oval Office, Jan. 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson
Like so many Americans all across the country, Barack and I were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of violence committed in Arizona this past weekend. Yesterday, we had the chance to attend a memorial service and meet with some of the families of those who lost their lives, and both of us were deeply moved by their strength and resilience in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.
As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard. It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones. It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter. And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.
In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well. The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers….
….We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
…We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.
Christina Green felt that call. She was just nine years old when she lost her life….
And that’s something else we can do for our children – we can tell them about Christina and about how much she wanted to give back. We can tell them about John Roll, a judge with a reputation for fairness; about Dorothy Morris…. And we can work together to honor their legacy by following their example – by embracing our fellow citizens; by standing up for what we believe is right; and by doing our part, however we can, to serve our communities and our country.
(I confidently predict right wing OUTRAGE over this wonderful letter, particularly about the passages marked in red – “Look, look, she’s blaming us!” But then again, when was there ever no OUTRAGE from the right over anything the Obamas have ever said and done?? Thank you, First Lady)
President Obama talks with speechwriter Cody Keenan aboard Air Force One on the flight to Tucson, Jan. 12
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are greeted by officials after arriving at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson
….greeting Ron Barber, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district director, and members of his family at University Medical Center in Tucson
…..greeting shooting victims and their family members at the University of Arizona’s McKale Memorial Center. Pam Simon, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ outreach coordinator who was shot twice, sits in the background.
….with members of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ staff at the University of Arizona’s McKale Memorial Center
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, listen as Daniel Hernandez delivers remarks during the memorial service
Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano stands with Mark Kelly
People embrace as President Obama makes mention of first responders, medical personnel, and those who helped stop the gunman, during the memorial service
Daniel Hernandez, the 20-year-old intern credited with saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, receives a standing ovation
President Obama greets Mavy Stoddard and members of the Stoddard family. Dorwan Stoddard, Mavy’s husband, died while protecting her during Saturday’s shooting.
All Official White House Photos by Pete Souza and Chuck Kennedy
Steve Benen (Washington Monthly): To the delight of the audience at last night’s memorial service, President Obama told attendees that he’d just come from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ bedside. “And I want to tell you – her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you – right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time,” the president said.
In yet another disheartening display, some on the right would have us believe Obama wasn’t telling the truth. He was, but the accusation itself is a reminder of just what’s become of our discourse.
In one of the most cynical displays in recent memory, following the lead of Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft, several conservative websites … suggested that President Obama lied last night…
In a recently-completed press conference, Giffords’ doctor Peter Rhee explained that what Obama said last night about Giffords opening her eyes was “true” … the “lie” the right had uncovered wasn’t a lie at all.
…. Obama had heartening news about a congresswoman who very nearly died, and that news happened to be true. For some conservatives, however, this was not only an opportunity to catch the president in some kind of “gotcha” moment….
Is the right really this desperate? Do they hang on the president’s every word, wondering how to manipulate his every remark into some kind of cheap attack?
Good lord, these guys really need to grow up. This is just pathetic.
Washington Post: Doctors treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Thursday she has reached “a major milestone” medically with her ability to open her eyes and seemingly respond to her surroundings as she recovers….
In a news conference … the doctors said they were pleased that Giffords opened her unbandaged left eye “spontaneously” Wednesday night in response to the presence of friends from Congress….
G. Michael Lemole Jr., the hospital’s chief neurosurgeon, and Peter Rhee, the head of emergency care, said Giffords since then has also been able to sit on the edge of her bed and dangle her legs over the side, move both of her arms and legs and open both of her eyes.
“This is a major leap forward,” Lemole said. “This is a major milestone for her, and we’re hoping she crosses through many more.” Rhee said Giffords, 40, is “becoming more and more alert . . . and she’s making much more spontaneous movements as we have completely stopped all the medications that might blunt her mental status.”
“She’s starting to become aware of her surroundings,” Lemole said. “And that’s a very important step on her next move forward.”
…Giffords, who remains in critical condition, is one of five wounded patients who were still at the hospital Thursday morning. Rhee said four others are in fair condition. One is having surgery, and another is being discharged Thursday, he said. “Everybody is making fantastic forward progress,” Rhee said.
AP: Caroline Kennedy unveiled the nation’s first online presidential archive Thursday, a $10 million project to digitize the most important papers, photographs and recordings of President John F. Kennedy’s days in office.
Users can sort through the drafts of Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you,” speech and see how he tinkered with the words of that most famous line from his inauguration. Or they can listen to his personal phone calls and read his letters.
….After four years of work, the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston has made that a reality. Archivists digitized over 200,000 pages, 1,200 recordings and 300 museum artifacts, as well as reels of film and hundreds of photographs….
….For students across the country, the online archive will mean access to primary documents for school research. They could examine Kennedy’s correspondence with Martin Luther King Jr. from the time they first met to the time King was jailed in Birmingham, Ala.
Drafts of Kennedy’s speeches show how he was writing and editing along with speechwriter Theodore Sorensen, giving people a sense of the president’s power as a writer…
…January 20 is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s inauguration….
John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museumhere
Steve Chapman (Chicago Tribune): We all know that Barack Obama could have had a pretty good career as a law professor, a writer or a state legislator. What had never occurred to me before is that he might have made a good pastor.
His remarks at the memorial service in Tucson — steeped in emotion, infused with wisdom, animated by a generous spirit — were exactly what his shocked, grieving countrymen needed to hear. They were consoling, they were cathartic and they were inspiring.
The powerful address was also a reminder of the qualities that caused the citizenry to elect him in 2008. He rose to the occasion by eloquently invoking themes that dramatize our essential unity even in the face of events that have the potential to polarize. “Our hopes and dreams are bound together,” he emphasized.
It was not his purpose to score political points. On the contrary, he gracefully absolved conservatives of the charge that their angry rhetoric was to blame for the massacre. He made it plain that this is one of those events too large for glib scapegoating.
But he also used the occasion as an opportunity for the sober, humble reflection that individuals and nations need to do every so often. He urged us to act according to the better angels of our nature. But more important, he provided an example of how it’s done.
A lot of Americans don’t agree with his policies or like his personality. But I suspect that tonight, even many of them must have felt, at least for a moment, that Obama is their president, too.