Archive for April, 2014

30
Apr
14

#1010Means: Raising The Minimum Wage

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President Barack Obama speaks about minimum wage at the White House. Senate Republicans on Wednesday, blocked a bill to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in five years

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Ned Resnikoff: Senate Republicans Block Minimum Wage Bill

A proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 died in the Senate on Wednesday, when Democrats failed to gather the 60 votes required to bring it to a clean vote. The only Republican to vote in favor of ending debate and holding a vote was Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., initially voted to move the bill forward, but switched his vote to “no” as part of a parliamentary maneuver which will allow him to bring the legislation back to the floor at a later date. Even if the proposed minimum wage hike cleared the Senate, there it was little chance it would ever receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled House. Yet recent polling shows growing popular support for raising the minimum wage, making Wednesday’s vote into a political win for the Democrats.

Nearly the full Senate Republican caucus is now on record opposing a wage hike which most Americans support—a fact which Reid has not shied away from since the vote. In a press conference following the bill’s failure, he blamed the billionaire businessmen, Charles and David Koch. “They’re fighting for billionaires,” he said. “We’re fighting for people who are struggling to make a living.” President Obama made the minimum wage bill’s value as an electoral football even more explicit during a press conference held a couple hours after the vote. He urged supporters of a wage hike to put pressure on Republican legislators in the run-up to the 2014 midterms. “If your member of Congress doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, you’ve got to let them know they’re out of step,” he said. “And if they keep putting politics ahead of hardworking Americans, you’ll put them out of office.”

More here

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President Barack Obama shakes hands with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., during an event on increasing the minimum wage

30
Apr
14

The First Lady And Second Lady Honor Military Families

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White House: Philanthropic Organizations Pledging More Than $100 Million To Veteran And Military Communities

Today, as part of the third anniversary of Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Biden announced that the Council on Foundations will lead the philanthropic community in establishing the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, which will be an enduring forum for donors to communicate and share best practices about supporting the veteran and military communities. “We’ve got to show our veterans and military families that our country is there for them not just while they’re in uniform, but for the long haul,” said the First Lady. The First Lady also announced that the philanthropic community is pledging more than $100 million over the next five years to support veterans and military families. These commitments will fund organizations that support service members, veterans, survivors, and their families.

The First Lady also called upon more donors to join this effort in order to fully support all those nonprofits and community groups that do such wonderful work for the military and veteran communities every day. The announcement signaled the launch of the Philanthropy — Joining Forces Impact Pledge, a new commitment to bring support to service members, veterans, and military family causes over five years. “To all the military families here today and across the country, I just want you to know that this is just a first step,” added the First Lady. “We’re going to get more donors involved in this effort. We’re going to keep reaching out to people all across the country so that no matter where you live or work, you will be surrounded by a country that truly honors your service and your sacrifice, now and in the years and decades ahead. That is our pledge to you.”

More here

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Yahoo: First Lady Announcing Pledges For Vets, Families

First lady Michelle Obama announced pledges from foundations and corporations totaling more than $160 million Wednesday to help veterans and their families get the services they need as the country adjusts to a postwar footing. Calling this a “pivotal moment for our military families and for our country” as the war in Afghanistan ends, the first lady said military families should never have to face the challenges associated with the transition to civilian life alone.

Appearing at a conference of philanthropic groups, Mrs. Obama warned that with fewer homecoming videos and welcome-home parades for returning troops likely in future years, “we cannot allow ourselves to forget their service to our country. … We’ve got to show our military families that our country is there for them not just while they’re in uniform but for the long haul.” The first lady highlighted the launch of the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge, under which more than 30 organizations are making commitments to provide a range of services over the next five years, including $62 million in existing commitments and $102 million in new pledges over the next five years.

More here

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Chrissandra Jackson, accompanied by Dr. Jill Biden, at the third anniversary of Joining Forces, at the American Red Cross Hall of Service in Washington

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30
Apr
14

On the death penalty

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I will start by saying this.

There are times I read or hear about a case. Someone who, for example, rapes and murders a child. And my gut reaction is to say, “Kill him”. He doesn’t merely deserve to be removed from society, but to be denied of life for his abomination. It is a gut reaction, a cry of the heart, a revulsion at a crime so heinous that it defies understanding. And as humans, often what we don’t understand must be excised, like a cancer. I know if someone murdered a person I loved, my thirst for vengeance would be nigh unquenchable, sated only by the ending of his or her own life.

In Iran a few weeks ago, a young life was about to be extinguished in punishment for murder. The noose was around his neck. He was begging and pleading for his life. Then, the mother of the boy he killed ascended to the hangman’s platform. She slapped the convicted’s face. And then she told the executioner to remove the noose.

This happened in what many Americans consider to be a barbaric, retrograde state, a terrorist state, opposed to all we hold dear. A mother climbed onto the platform where her son’s murderer was about to be executed, and forgave him. No more blood would be spilled. The cycle would end then and there.

Yesterday, an execution in Oklahoma was botched due to an incorrect mixing of the lethal cocktail. This was an execution pushed for by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. She suspended the second—SECOND—execution scheduled for that day “pending further review”.

But we have much to learn from that courageous Iranian mother.

Continue reading ‘On the death penalty’

30
Apr
14

President Obama Speaks on the Minimum Wage

3:10 EDT: President Obama Speaks on the Minimum Wage

Also at White House Live

30
Apr
14

Pete Souza: The Trip to Asia

Children help President Barack Obama to his feet after he sat on the floor to have a group photo with them during a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mrs. Akie Abe present President Barack Obama with a Bo golf club cover at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, April 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama gives a fist bump to a baby during a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and President Park Geun-hye exit for a walk in the Little Garden to view a tree she planted on her Inauguration Day, at the Blue House in Seoul, Republic of Korea, April 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is kissed by 94-year-old Carolina Garcia Delfin, a Filipina nurse who fought in the resistance against Japanese forces during World War II. The President mentioned her in his remarks to American and Philippine troops at Fort Bonifacio in Manila, Philippines, April 29, 2014 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Students So Jung Kim and Chi Hyun Lee present President Barack Obama with a bouquet of flowers as he arrives for a tour of Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Republic of Korea, April 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lots more gems here

30
Apr
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Green Room of the White House before being introduced at a Joining Forces initiative employment announcement for veterans and military spouses, April 30, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

1:0 Jay Carney briefs the press

3:10: President Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage

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Clyde Davis holds a sign before the NBA playoff game 5 between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, April 29

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NPR: Obamacare Enrollees Emboldened To Leave Jobs, Start Businesses

Until recently, Mike Smith, 64, of Long Beach, Calif., worked 11 hours a day, Monday through Friday and then half a day on Saturday. He was a district manager for a national auto parts chain. He dreamed of retiring early, but it wasn’t an option for him because he and his wife relied on his the health insurance tied to his job. “At our age, with some pre-existing medical conditions, it would have been very costly to buy insurance on the open market — about $3,000 a month,” he says. But the Affordable Care Act changed that. Smith retired in January. So did his wife, Laura, also 64.

The couple now has a private health insurance policy that they bought through Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace. It costs them $200 a month. The coverage helped the Smiths make a major lifestyle change. A recent study by Georgetown University and the Urban Institute predicts the ACA will enable up to 1.5 million Americans to leave their jobs and become self-employed, start new businesses or retire early. It’s a finding that runs counter to forecasts by critics of the federal health law, who contend it will cost the nation jobs and cripple America’s small-business economy.

More here

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Washington Post: Obamacare beneficiary: ‘You Wouldn’t Have Caught Me Dead Watching MSNBC’

The story of Dean Angstadt’s sudden embrace of Obamacare made MSNBC last night. Host Chris Hayes picked up on a heartwarming story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a 57-year-old logger of Boyertown, Pa., who’d resisted signing up for Obamacare coverage but finally relented under the urging of a friend.  what accounts for Angstadt’s resistance to Obamacare in the first place? He says that he “leans” Republican and essentially listened to what the GOP had to say about Obamacare, and not so much to what the Democrats had to say.

As for his media diet, Anstadt says he goes online for some of his news, but when it comes to television, “Fox News, of course, and that’s basically what I watch on TV” Asked if Fox News had molded his view of Obamacare, Angstadt responded, “Yeah, yeah — they get people fired up. You know what, I really do have a different outlook on it. It’s really wrong that people are making it into a political thing. To me, it is a life-and-death thing.” Of Obamacare’s namesake, Angstadt says, “I didn’t care for Obama. I can’t say nothing bad about him now because it was his plan that probably saved my life.”

More here

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ThinkProgress: GOP Lawmakers Confronted By Constituents Demanding To Know Why They Won’t Expand Medicaid

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing group funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, has been aggressively pressuring states to reject Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion. Last fall, the organization launched a massive campaign that has focused mainly on Virginia. But the latest town hall meetings hosted by AFP in the state aren’t exactly going well. Over the past week, at several town halls intended to emphasize why Virginia shouldn’t expand Medicaid, GOP lawmakers have been confronted by constituents who are demanding to know why they’re denying health care from an estimated 400,000 low-income residents.

Last week, at an AFP-sponsored forum in Charlottesville featuring two GOP lawmakers who oppose the expansion, the event was packed with more than a hundred Medicaid supporters. Protesters gathered outside the building with signs encouraging passing cars to honk for Medicaid expansion, and a local outlet noted that the politicians faced a “hostile audience” inside, too. Then, on Monday, three Republicans were “deluged with questions” about their refusal to expand Medicaid at an AFP event in Ashburn

More here

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Ari Berman: Federal Court Strikes Down Discriminatory Wisconsin Voter ID Law

At 2:17 pm EST today, ESPN announced that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling had been banned from the NBA for life for his racist remarks. Seven minutes later, at 2:24 pm, the ACLU tweeted that a Wisconsin judge had struck down the state’s voter ID law because it disproportionately burdened black and Hispanic voters. Both decisions were striking affirmations of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent last week, in a Michigan affirmative action case, that “race matters.” Sotomayor pointed to contemporary voter suppression efforts as an illustration of her defense. Wisconsin federal district court Judge Lynn Adelman ruled today that the state’s voter ID law, which was temporarily enjoined in 2012, violated the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The voter ID law had a clear discriminatory impact, the judge found. “The evidence adduced at trial demonstrates that this unique burden disproportionately impacts Black and Latino voters,” Adelman wrote. Data from the 2012 election “showed that African American voters in Wisconsin were 1.7 times as likely as white voters to lack a matching driver’s license or state ID and that Latino voters in Wisconsin were 2.6 times as likely as white voters to lack these forms of identification.” The judge found that Wisconsin’s ID law overwhelmingly impacted lower-income voters and that “Blacks and Latinos in Wisconsin are disproportionately likely to live in poverty…. The reason Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately likely to live in poverty, and therefore to lack a qualifying ID, is because they have suffered from, and continue to suffer from, the effects of discrimination.”

More here

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Steve Benen: House GOP leaders Scramble After Accidentally Telling The Truth

With a tip of the hat to Michael Kinsley, it appears half the House Republican leadership committed gaffes in recent days by accidentally telling the truth. They’re now scrambling to reverse course.

Late last week, for example, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the chair of the House Republican Conference, conceded to her local newspaper that the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to be repealed. Though she wants to “look at reforming the exchanges,” the local report added that McMorris Rodgers “said the framework established by the law likely will persist and reforms should take place within its structure.”

This was a perfectly sensible position for a House GOP leader to take. Yesterday, the congresswoman’s office assured the right she has no use for such reasonableness.

More here

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Washington Post: White House Opens Door To Tolls On Interstate Highways, Removing Long-Standing Prohibition

With pressure mounting to avert a transportation funding crisis this summer, the Obama administration Tuesday opened the door for states to collect tolls on interstate highways to raise revenue for roadway repairs. The proposal, contained in a four-year, $302 billion White House transportation bill, would reverse a long-standing federal prohibition on most interstate tolling. Though some older segments of the network — notably the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes and Interstate 95 in Maryland and Virginia — are toll roads, most of the 46,876-mile system has been toll-free. “We believe that this is an area where the states have to make their own decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We want to open the aperture, if you will, to allow more states to choose to make broader use of tolling, to have that option available.”

The question of how to pay to repair roadways and transit systems built in the heady era of post-World War II expansion is demanding center stage this spring, with projections that traditional funding can no longer meet the need. That source, the Highway Trust Fund, relies on the 18.4-cent federal gas tax, which has eroded steadily as vehicles have become more energy efficient. “The proposal comes at the crucial moment for transportation in the last several years,” Foxx said. “As soon as August, the Highway Trust Fund could run dry. States are already canceling or delaying projects because of the uncertainty.” While providing tolling as an option to states, the White House proposal relies on funding from a series of corporate tax reforms, most of them one-time revenue streams that would provide a four-year bridge to close the trust-fund deficit and permit $150 billion more in spending than the gas tax will bring in.

More here

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Lindsey Bever: Botched Oklahoma Execution Reignites Death Penalty Debate

Tuesday night’s botched execution in Oklahoma, which resulted in an inmate’s writhing death from a heart attack 43 minutes after he received what was supposed to be a lethal injection, was just one in a series of bungled execution attempts the past few years. It’s prompting calls for a moratorium on capital punishment from death penalty opponents. The inmate, Clayton Lockett, was confirmed unconscious 10 minutes after the first dose in the state’s new three-drug protocol was administered. The first drug, midazolam, is intended to render a person unconscious. But three minutes later, he began breathing heavily, thrashing and straining to lift his head, media witnesses said. Reporters for Tulsa World and KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City said Lockett called out from the gurney, “man.”

The blinds were then lowered to prevent people in the viewing gallery from seeing inside the death chamber. Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton answered a ringing phone and left the room with a few officials. Patton told reporters Lockett’s vein line had “blown.” When asked what he meant, Patton said the vein had “exploded.” Executions have become increasingly difficult for states to carry out over the past two years because of similar incidents. Licensed physicians are now unwilling to have anything to do with them on ethical grounds. Pharmaceutical companies that market the most tested drugs have cut off supplies, forcing states to obtain compounds they refuse to describe from suppliers they refuse to identify. Now the battle concerns not who dies, but how they die, and the competence of states to carry out executions humanely.

More here

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Charles Pierce: Another Win For Voting Rights

There is so little good news on the voter-suppression front these days that, when some actually rears its head, it catches you somewhat by surprise, even more so when it cites what everybody knows about these laws, but what many people have to pretend they can’t figure out.

…. There will be appeals. There also may be an attempt to push another, similar bill through the legislature by Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. But, for now, something resembling the state’s proud progressive history has prevailed.

More here

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Mike Florio: Sterling’s Lifetime Ban Sends Clear Message To All Owners

By banning L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, Adam Silver has made the jobs a little easier for his colleagues in the Commissioners’ Club. Every owner of every major-league franchise, in the NBA or elsewhere, now knows that views like those espoused by Sterling will result in swift and decisive action.

How could Commissioner Roger Goodell do anything less with an NFL owner, now that Silver has set the precedent in a different sport? With Goodell developing in his seven-plus years on the job a reputation for aggressively enforcing all rules and policies against the league’s players, it would be virtually impossible for Goodell to not drop the hammer on an NFL owner who engages in similar conduct.

More here

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Forbes: Here’s How Obama’s Russia Sanctions Will Destroy Vladimir Putin

The US Treasury Department announced further sanctions today on seven Russian officials and 17 Russian companies, including Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, several financial institutions and a number of firms connected to the energy sector.  These will include visa bans, asset freezes and further restrictions on trade.

When the first round of sanctions were imposed, the Russians largely laughed them off and critics of the administration pounced.  How could visa bans and asset freezes affect the calculus of Putin’s most ardent supporters?  What effect will it have on the ones don’t travel extensively the West or keep assets in foreign banks?

Yet this line of reasoning betrays a deep misunderstanding about the purpose and effects of the sanctions.  They are, in fact, a new breed of financial warfare that the Treasury department has been honing since 9/11, which rely on new legislation such as Section 311 of the Patriot Act and “know your customer” banking rules.

More here

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Anthony Man: Looking For Complaints, Rick Scott Instead Finds Praise For Obamacare

Gov. Rick Scott visited a senior center Tuesday to warn about cuts he said Obamacare is forcing in a popular version of the Medicare health program and to collect their horror stories. What he found was a satisfied group with few complaints. The 20 seniors assembled for a roundtable with Scott at the Volen Center were largely content with their Medicare coverage and didn’t have negative stories to recount. And some praised Obamacare – a program that Scott frequently criticizes. “I’m completely satisfied,” Harvey Eisen, 92, a West Boca resident, told Scott. Eisen told the governor he wasn’t sure “if, as you say,” there are Obamacare-inspired cuts to Medicare. But even if there are, that would be OK. “I can’t expect that me as a senior citizen are going to get preferential treatment when other programs are also being cut.”

Ruthlyn Rubin, 66, of Boca Raton, told the governor that people who are too young for Medicare need the health coverage they get from Obamacare. If young people don’t have insurance, she said, everyone else ends up paying for their care when they get sick or injured and end up in the hospital. Eventually, Rubin said, Obamacare will become more popular. “People were appalled at Social Security. They were appalled at Medicare when it came out. I think these major changes take some people aback. But I think we have to be careful not to just rely on the fact that we’re seniors and have an entitlement to certain things,” she said. “We’re all just sitting here taking it for granted that because we have Medicare we don’t want to lose one part of it. That’s wrong to me. I think we have to spread it around. This is the United States of America. It’s not the United States of senior citizens,” Rubin said from her spot two seats away from the governor.

More here

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Washington Post: Virginia Attorney General Declares ‘Dreamers ‘ Eligible For In-State Tuition

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring thrust himself and his state back into the national spotlight Tuesday by announcing that some illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as children can qualify for in-state college tuition under existing law. Herring made the announcement at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus just a few months after the legislature declined to enact the idea and on the heels of another brazen legal move in January, when he declared that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. “We should welcome these smart, talented, hard-working young people into our economy and society rather than putting a stop sign at the end of 12th grade,” Herring (D) said Tuesday to sustained applause and cheers from a room full of Latino students, immigration activists and education officials.

Announced in Spanish, Hindi, Vietnamese and Korean in addition to English, Herring’s move built upon President Obama’s decision to allow thousands of young illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Virginia students who are lawfully present in the United States as a result of Obama’s effort, which is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, qualify for in-state tuition as long as they meet the state’s residency requirements, Herring said. Herring’s decision was far more than symbolic, instantly making college more affordable for more than 8,000 young illegal immigrants. The attorney general said state universities will immediately implement the policy, which comes just in time for high school seniors trying to make college plans for the fall.

More here

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Suzanne Gamboa: Can You Trust Obama To Police Immigration? Report: Yes You Can

House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that moving ahead on immigration reform depends on the President showing he’s enforcing the law, which authors of an enforcement analysis said he has done. In his first news conference since Congress returned from a two-week break, Boehner said the biggest impediment on immigration reform is that Obama has “got to show the American people and the Congress he can implement the law the way it may be passed.” As Boehner made the statement, the Migration Policy Institute unveiled an analysis concluding Obama has built on enforcement policies of previous administrations and accelerated them, while trying to focus on border security and deportations of criminals.

In addition, some 250 evangelical pastors from 25 states also seemed reluctant to wait for more evidence on Obama’s trustworthiness. On Tuesday they were in Washington, D.C. visiting more than 100 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, and pushing for movement on immigration reform. Immigration hawks have criticized Obama’s record because of a drop in the number of immigrants apprehended in the interior of the U.S. Some have also opposed Obama’s decision to extend relief from deportation to young immigrants who are in the country illegally.“ If you are looking to critique the administration, you can find certain people are not crossing ICE’s radar and not being deported and that’s because the administration is focusing efforts mostly at the border,” said Rosenbaum, who served on Obama’s transition team on immigration.

More here

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Coral Davenport: Justices Back Rule Limiting Coal Pollution

In a major victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the smog from coal plants that drifts across state lines from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast. The 6-to-2 ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: a series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the regulations, which use the Clean Air Act as their legal authority, as a “war on coal.” The industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules.

Legal experts said the decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, signals that the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could withstand legal challenges. In June, the E.P.A. is expected to propose a sweeping new Clean Air Act regulation to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping greenhouse gas that scientists say is the chief cause of climate change. Coal plants are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

More here

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Reuters: U.S. Consumer Confidence Rebounds To Pre-Crisis Levels In First Quarter

U.S. consumer sentiment rose sharply in the first quarter as optimism about the economic outlook improved, according to a global survey which also showed rising confidence in debt-laden euro zone countries. Globally, consumer confidence returned to pre-financial crisis levels in the first three months of this year, at its highest since the first quarter of 2007, the survey by global information and insights company Nielsen showed on Wednesday.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index rose 2 points in the first quarter to 96, according to the survey, conducted between February 17 and March 7. A reading below 100, however, signals still relatively low consumer morale. Consumer confidence in the United States hit the 100 mark, rising 6 points from the previous quarter, and 44 percent of respondents said they were putting spare cash into savings accounts, up from 39 percent in the previous quarter. “Recovery gained forward momentum in the U.S. as the world’s largest economy reported improving unemployment numbers and rising equity and home prices,” said Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen.

More here

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First Lady Michelle Obama poses for a selfie with a member of the audience after participating in a Joining Forces initiative event with service members, military spouses, and employers at the Fort Campbell Veterans Jobs Summit and Career Forum at Fort Campbell, Ky., April 23, 2014 (Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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On This Day

President Obama gets a hug from Angelica Guarino, whose fiance was one of the participants in the “White House to Light House” Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride that took place moments before on the South Lawn of the White House, April 30, 2009

President Obama shakes hands with Marines attending the “White House to Light House” Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride, April 30, 2009

President Obama, surrounded by members of Congress and Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of Ryan White (2nd R), signs the Ryan White HIV/AIDS treatment extension act of 2009 in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington on October 30, 2009. The act is the largest federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. It was named in honor of Ryan White, a teenager who contracted AIDS through a tainted hemophilia treatment in 1984 and became a well-known advocate for AIDS research and awareness, until his death on April 8, 1990

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets hostesses at the annual Congressional Club Luncheon at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama talks with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, following a health care meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama leans against the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, April, 30, 2010.(Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama looks through binoculars as he tours the Secret Service’s James J. Rowley Training Center in Beltsville, Md., April 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama disembarks Marine One after he arrived on the South Lawn of the White House, April 30, 2010

President Obama meets with Bono to discuss development policy in the Oval Office, April 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama laughs with, from left, Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Associate Director of Speechwriting Jonathan Lovett, and Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, while reading a draft of his remarks for the White House Correspondents Association dinner, in the Outer Oval Office, April 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait backstage before being introduced at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2011. Press Lead Advance Brandon Lepow and Trip Director Marvin Nicholson, right, stand with the President and First Lady (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama chats with Seth Meyers at the White House Correspondents Association Gala, April 30, 2011

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President Obama and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan wait in the Green Room of the White House before the start of their press conference in the East Room, April 30, 2012 ( Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the Green Room of the White House at a Joining Forces initiative employment announcement for veterans and military spouses, April 30, 2013

President Obama during a press conference in the Brady Press Room at the White House, April 30, 2013

President Obama and Vice President Biden talk with advisors following a National Security Staff meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2013. Clockwise from the President are: Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; and Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Advisor (Photo by Pete Souza)

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30
Apr
14

Early Bird Chat

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, April 30, 2011

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MoooOOOooorning – Happy Wednesday!

29
Apr
14

A Tweet Or Two

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Continue reading ‘A Tweet Or Two’

29
Apr
14

#1Is2Many

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White House: Fact Sheet: Not Alone – Protecting Students From Sexual Assault

One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. Most often, it happens her freshman or sophomore year. In the great majority of cases, it’s by someone she knows – and also most often, she does not report what happened. And though fewer, men, too, are victimized. The Administration is committed to putting an end to this violence. That’s why the President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on January 22, 2014, with a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with additional tools to combat sexual assault on their campuses.

Today, the Task Force is announcing a series of actions to: (1) identify the scope of the problem on college campuses, (2) help prevent campus sexual assault, (3) help schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted, and (4) improve, and make more transparent, the federal government’s enforcement efforts. We will continue to pursue additional executive or legislative actions in the future. These steps build on the Administration’s previous work to combat sexual assault. The Task Force formulated its recommendations after a 90-day review period during which it heard from thousands of people from across the country — via 27 online and in-person listening sessions and written comments from a wide variety of stakeholders.

On Tuesday, we are launching a dedicated website – www.NotAlone.gov – to make enforcement data public and to make other resources accessible to students and schools. On the website, students can learn about their rights, search enforcement data, and read about how to file a complaint. The website will also help schools and advocates: it will make available federal guidance on legal obligations, best available evidence and research, and relevant legislation. Finally, the website will have trustworthy resources from outside the federal government, such as hotline numbers and mental health services locatable by simply typing in a zip code.

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Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the release of the First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington.

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USA Today: Biden: Colleges Must Step Up To Prevent Sexual Assault

Vice President Biden said on Tuesday that the USA’s colleges and universities have a moral responsibility to “step up” efforts to prevent sexual assault on campuses. Biden’s remarks follow the White House Task Force to Prevent Students from Sexual Assault’s release of a series of recommendations late Monday, which detail the administration’s plan to improve reporting by universities and colleges of sexual assault incidents as well as bolster efforts to educate students about sexual and gender-based violence. “I understand all the excuses and I understand all the rationale …but colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend rape or sexual assault doesn’t occur on their campuses,” Biden said. “I understand that the good guys [that] report feel like they may be damaging the reputation of their schools. I get it. But it doesn’t matter. We need to provide survivors with support and we need to bring perpetrators to justice.”

The administration also announced that it would launch the website NotAlone.gov where enforcement data will be published and begin a push to require colleges and universities to conduct “climate surveys” to better understand how frequently incidents happen on campus but are not reported to authorities. “I challenge every college and university if they are really serious about protecting students to conduct anonymous surveys,” Biden said. “They have a moral responsibility to know what is happening on their campus.” the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released released a new guidance document on students’ rights and schools’ obligations under Title IX, which require colleges and universities that receive federal funds to investigate claims of sexual assault and provide a timely and impartial grievance procedure to resolve those claims. Notably, the guidance extends Title IX protection for the first time to claims of discrimination based on gender identity.

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Vice President Joe Biden consoles Madeleine Smith after she recounted her story of being raped while a student at Harvard University

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The White House’s 1 is 2 Many website. You can access a plethora of resources that help combat sexual violence

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Continue reading ‘#1Is2Many’

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Beautiful

President Barack Obama is kissed by 94-year-old Carolina Garcia Delfin, a Filipina nurse who fought in the resistance against Japanese forces during World War II. The President mentioned her in his remarks to American and Philippine troops at Fort Bonifacio in Manila, Philippines, April 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Home

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14

Raise The Wage

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14

Rise and Shine

President Obama shakes hands with a young girl after arriving at Miami International Airport in Miami, Fla., April 29, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today

President Obama is returning from his Asian trip, he is scheduled to arrive at the White House at 6:0 PM EDT

2:30 EDT: Vice President Biden Speaks at an Event Releasing the First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

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Sara Kliff: Republican Replacement For Obamacare Is Fauxobamacare

Scott Brown, who’s now running for Senate in New Hampshire, has found the perfect position on Obamacare. He’s for it. He’s just not for calling it Obamacare. In an interview with WBUR, he called Obamacare a “disaster.” Then he was asked what he’s for  — and he went on to describe Obamacare. “I’ve always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee,” he said. “That’s all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of preexisting conditions, catastrophic coverages, covering kids, whatever we want to do.”

He even said it could “include the Medicaid expansion [for] folks who need that care and coverage.” Oh, he also promises his plan won’t raise taxes, cut spending on Medicare, or make people drive very far to go to the hospital. So his plan will have more generous insurance options and no way to pay for them. In other words, his plan will be like Obamacare, but even better! Call it Fauxbamacare.

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Brian Beutler: Buzzfeed Chronicles Paul Ryan’s Metamorphosis, Ignores His Frightening Budget

If I had to draw one conclusion from McKay Coppins’ latest Paul Ryan bildungsroman in Buzzfeed, it would be that Ryan wants public documentation of his metamorphosis from tough-love austerian into a tribune for the poor. But that he doesn’t want it captured in the context of everything else he’s done for his entire career.

…. House Republicans passed his budget on April 10. It proposes monumental cuts to social programs for the poor.

But most of that context is invisible in the profile, as is any indication that Ryan’s actually changed his thinking about how to reduce poverty. And it’s thus silent on the basic question of whether Ryan’s serious at all, or playing us for fools.

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Amy Worden: Pa. Judge Won’t Reconsider Voter ID Ruling

A Commonwealth Court judge on Monday denied the Corbett administration’s request to reconsider his ruling overturning the state’s two-year-old voter identification law. In a 29-page decision, Judge Bernard L. McGinley said the law requiring Pennsylvania voters to produce photo ID at the polls failed “to provide liberal access to compliant photo ID” and, as a result, disenfranchised voters. “The evidence showed the voter ID provisions at issue deprive numerous electors of their fundamental right to vote, so vital to our democracy,” wrote McGinley, who struck down the law in January. The Corbett administration has 30 days to file an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Joshua Maus, spokesman for the Office of General Counsel, said the office was reviewing the ruling. Lawyers representing plaintiffs in the case praised the ruling. “The court confirmed that the photo ID law is unnecessary and disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of people,” said Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. “We call on the governor, the attorney general, and the secretary of state to stop spending our precious state dollars on defending this law, so dangerous to our democratic system.”

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Steve Benen: Poverty, Policy, And Paul Ryan

If it seems every few months brings us another installment in the “Paul Ryan cares about poor people” series, it’s not your imagination. In November, the Washington Post helped get the ball rolling with a front-page article on the House Budget Committee chairman, celebrating the congressman for his efforts “fighting poverty and winning minds.”

The gist of the piece was that the far-right congressman is entirely sincere about using conservative ideas to combat poverty.

In December, BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins ran a related piece, and today Coppins published another: Ryan is “trying to challenge the notion that his party is out of touch with poor people the old-fashioned way: by talking to some.”

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Mark Berman: Why The World Finally Noticed Donald Sterling’s Appalling History

The Donald Sterling who is dominating headlines and drawing widespread condemnation for allegedly saying a metric ton of racist things is the same Donald Sterling who has a long, long, long history of being accused of saying or doing offensive things. So why is this time — and why are these particular remarks — different? Why has the world suddenly discovered Donald Sterling?
Consider that Bomani Jones wrote a story headlined “Sterling’s racism should be news” in 2006. Again: 2006. Eight years and 351 losses by the Clippers ago. Jones wrote this after Sterling was sued for housing discrimination. In the lawsuit, Sterling was accused of refusing to rent apartments to black people.

Yet, it took an audio recording allegedly capturing Sterling saying astonishingly bigoted things for the world to finally notice. This incident is clearly different, owing to a combination of what he said, the fact that people can hear it for themselves and the era in which he said it. In the past, Sterling’s comments were delivered through testimonies and depositions. Offensive statements made during a deposition and reprinted later can spark an outcry, as Paula Deen can attest to, but the Deen episode occurred with someone who was much more famous than Sterling. This episode with the audio recording combines offensive comments with an easy way for people to hear a real human being say these things.

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Ishaan Tharoor: U.S.-Philippines Security Deal Shows That America Still Has Its Fans

The new 10-year defense agreement is perhaps the most significant achievement of Obama’s four-country tour of Asia, where the Philippines was the final destination. U.S. troops now have expanded access to Philippine facilities and will participate in an increased number of joint military exercises with the archipelago nation. There’s no plan at present for a permanent American troop presence nor a clear indication that the U.S. would come to the Philippines’ defense in the face of an external threat. But the pact represents something an about-face for Manila: more than two decades ago, the last U.S. naval base in the country at Subic Bay — a legacy of nearly half a century of American colonial rule — was shut down. (At the time, Aquino’s mother, Corazon, was the country’s President.)

Manila’s alliance with Washington has strengthened under Aquino.Aquino’s stance perceptibly hardened and he has become perhaps the most forthright statesman in Southeast Asia when it comes to confronting perceived Chinese aggression. Obama, meanwhile, reiterated that the new defense deal with the Philippines was not about containing China. But it’s hard not to view it in the context of a larger geopolitical chess match in the Pacific. The U.S. now has greater operational flexibility when contemplating maneuvers and actions in the South China Sea.

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Jennifer Steinhauer: White House To Press Colleges To Do More To Combat Rape

Reacting to a series of highly publicized rapes on college campuses, the White House on Monday released guidelines that increase the pressure on universities to more aggressively combat sexual assaults on campus. The recommendations urge colleges, among other measures, to conduct anonymous surveys about sexual assault cases, adopt anti-assault policies that have been considered successful at other universities and to better ensure that the reports of such crimes remain confidential. The guidelines are contained in a report by a White House task force that President Obama formed early this year, and

the administration is likely to ask Congress to pass measures that would enforce the recommendations and levy penalties for failing to do so. The government will also open a website, NotAlone.gov, to track enforcement and provide victims with information. “Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need, like a confidential place to go, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

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Washington Post: Mr. Boehner Comes Clean On Immigration Reform

IN WASHINGTON, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) peddles one line on immigration reform that is transparently false. In his district in Ohio, he becomes a truth-teller. For months, Mr. Boehner has tried to justify the intransigence of his fellow House Republicans, who have refused to consider a Senate measure to overhaul the broken immigration system. His stated reason was that they could not trust President Obama to enforce any law passed by Congress. But on Thursday, at a meeting at a rotary club lunch in southwestern Ohio, an area Mr. Boehner has represented for more than two decades, he gave it to ’em straight. Asked about immigration reform, the speaker squarely blamed his GOP caucus, with more than a hint of derision.

“Here’s the attitude,” he said, scrunching up his face and delivering the real Republican excuse in a toddler’s whine: “ ‘Ohhhh, don’t make me do this! Ohhhh, this is too hard!’ ” The trouble is that this bracing shot of honesty from Mr. Boehner probably will not fix the underlying problem, which is a Republican Party that cannot see a future for itself, or for the nation, beyond its own predominantly white, aging electorate. House Republicans, rooted in parts of the country demographically distinct from an increasingly diverse nation, are loath to embrace the nation’s Hispanics in part because relatively few of them live or vote in their districts. As they cling to an older America, a new America is rising fast.

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LA Times: White House Will Announce New Measures To Combat Sexual Assault On Campus

The White House will announce new measures Tuesday to deal with campus sexual assault, an issue that in recent years has inflamed college campuses from Yale to UC Berkeley. The recommendations from a task force of federal officials headed by Vice President Joe Biden include publicizing enforcement data, issuing guidelines about confidentiality, and requiring colleges and universities to survey students on their experiences with sexual assault. Colleges and universities will be asked to survey students next year to determine the prevalence of sexual assault on campus and may be required to conduct such a survey in 2016. A website, NotAlone.gov, will be unveiled to make each school’s enforcement data public, and to publish information about student rights and resources.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release recommendations on how to prevent sexual violence, particularly on how to get bystanders to step in when students are at risk of assault. The federal government will also address the touchy issue of confidentiality. Often victims ask that their names not be revealed to their attackers or the police, putting campus authorities in a bind in conducting investigations. The government will clarify that students can talk to certain guidance counselors in confidence and will issue guidelines on how to deal with confidentiality in resolving reports of violence. Schools will be asked to improve their investigative and adjudicative procedures under guidance from the Justice Department. New guidance will be issued making clear that questions about a victim’s sexual history should not be permitted during school hearings and that a previous sexual relationship does not imply consent.

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Ben Armbruster: Like Kerry, Seniors Israeli Officials Have Warned Of Israel Becoming ‘An Apartheid State’

he Daily Beast reported on Sunday that Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state” should the Israelis and Palestinians fail to reach a two-state solution to their decades old conflict, a warning that many top Israeli officials themselves have issued. “A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry reportedly said in a private meeting with world leaders. “Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.”

 A number of very senior Israeli officials have also warned that Israel risks becoming an apartheid-like state absent a two-state solution: 2007 — then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.” 2010 — then-Israeli Defense Minister and Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak: “The simple truth is, if there is one state” including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, “it will have to be either binational or undemocratic. … if this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

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Zack Ford: United Church Of Christ Sues North Carolina For Right To Marry Same-Sex Couples

The United Church of Christ (UCC), joined by a group of LGBT-friendly clergy and same-sex couples, has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s laws and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Not only does the ban inhibit same-sex couples’ equal protection under the law, the complaint argues, but it also violates the religious liberty of these religious leaders.

That is because North Carolina has a separate law that prohibits ministers from solemnizing a marriage without a license for that marriage. If charged, a minister would be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and charged a fee of $200. Thus, a religious organization like the UCC, which celebrates same-sex marriages, can not even honor that religious ceremony without violating the law. The complaint explains how this hurts both the UCC, as well as the other clergy and couples party to the suit

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Kyle Roerink: Las Vegas Helping Lead Charge In Fight To Reform Minimum Wage

Dalven McClain, a 19-year-old fast-food worker, wants to make more money. McClain works at a Las Vegas McDonald’s to save up for classes at UNLV. He earns $8.79 an hour, 54 cents more than the state minimum wage and $1.54 more than the federal minimum. But he says it’s still not enough. He’s stuck living with his parents and hasn’t been able to afford college. McClain has helped make Las Vegas a hotbed in the national campaign to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The battle pits retail and restaurant workers against the businesses that employ them, and congressional Democrats against Republicans.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, introduced the Minimum Wage Fairness Act in November. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the bill would hit the chamber’s floor for a vote this week. The bill is part of the Democrats’ 2014 midterm election campaign that also includes immigration reform and pay equity between men and women. While workers rallied for bigger paychecks, partisan politics has so far stalled the bill in Washington. President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders say the bill would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, citing a February report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. To become law, the bill will have to pass the Republican-controlled House, where both mainstream conservatives and Tea Party backers assail the legislation.

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On This Day

First Lady Michelle Obama volunteers for Feeding America with congressional spouses at the Capitol City Food Bank in northeast Washington, D.C., April 29, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama with senior advisors in the Blue Room after a prime time press conference which was held in the East Room of the White House, April 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama walks down the Cross Hall towards the East Room of the White House prior to a prime time press conference, April 29, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama approaches the podium prior to a prime time press conference in the East Room of the White House, April 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama speaks during a prime time news conference in the East Room of the White House, April 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama participates in a ceremony to recognize the National Teachers of the Year in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on April 29, 2010

President Obama hugs National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling of Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa

First Lady Michelle Obama paints a butterfly at a Congressional Club spouses service event at the Marie Reed Learning Center in the Adams Morgan community of northwest Washington on April 29, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama gestures to Bo, the Obama family dog, on the South Lawn of the White House, April 29, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Biden bow their heads during the funeral for Dorothy Height at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., April 29, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama returns to his seat after delivering the eulogy at the funeral for Dorothy Height at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., April 29, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks with participants from the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, an iconic campaign in civil rights and labor rights history, during a meeting in the Map Room of the White House, April 29, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama comfort people at Holt Elementary School in Holt, Ala., April 29, 2011. The President and First Lady traveled to Alabama to visit storm damaged neighborhoods and meet with families affected by deadly tornados (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama inspect tornado damage with residents of the Alberta neighborhood in Tuscaloosa, Ala., April 29, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia, left, Sasha, and Astronaut Janet Kavandi walk under the landing gear from beneath the nose of space shuttle Atlantis as they visit Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 29, 2011

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with STS-134 space shuttle Endeavor commander Mark Kelly, right, and shuttle astronauts, from left, Andrew Feustel, European Space Agency’s Roberto Vittori, Michael Fincke, Gregory H. Johnson, and Greg Chamitoff

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson, stand on the viewing platform where they would have watched the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., April 29, 2011. The launch was delayed due to an electrical heating problem (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks with former President Bill Clinton before an event in McLean, Va., Sunday, April 29, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx delivers remarks after President Obama announced him to be his nominee as the next Transportation Secretary, during a ceremony at the White House on April 29, 2013

President Obama greets Jack Hoffman, 7, of Atkinson, Neb., in the Oval Office, April 29, 2013. Hoffman, who is battling pediatric brain cancer, gained national attention after he ran for a 69-yard touchdown during a Nebraska Cornhuskers spring football game. Hoffman holds a football that the President signed for him (Photo by Pete Souza)

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14

Early Bird Chat

President Barack Obama stretches to shake the hand of a young girl held aloft during a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning – Happy Tuesday!

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Apr
14

Homeward Bound

Heading home: President Obama leaving the Philippines at the end of his four-nation Asian trip

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Alaska Time (4 hours behind EDT)

5:25 AM: Arrives in Anchorage, Alaska and Air Force One refuels

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7:50 AM: Departs Elmendorf Air Force Base en route Washington, DC

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EDT

5:45 PM: Arrives Joint Base Andrews

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6:0 PM: Arrives the White House

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