Posts Tagged ‘alabama

10
May
15

“We Can Overcome Anything That Stands In Our Way”

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The First Lady at Tuskegee University, May 09, 2015

“…… The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me. Because while we’ve come so far, the truth is that those age-old problems are stubborn and they haven’t fully gone away. So there will be times, just like for those Airmen, when you feel like folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are.

The world won’t always see you in those caps and gowns. They won’t know how hard you worked and how much you sacrificed to make it to this day – the countless hours you spent studying to get this diploma, the multiple jobs you worked to pay for school, the times you had to drive home and take care of your grandma, the evenings you gave up to volunteer at a food bank or organize a campus fundraiser. They don’t know that part of you.

Instead they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives – the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the “help” – and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.

And I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day – those nagging worries that you’re going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason; the fear that your job application will be overlooked because of the way your name sounds; the agony of sending your kids to schools that may no longer be separate, but are far from equal; the realization that no matter how far you rise in life, how hard you work to be a good person, a good parent, a good citizen – for some folks, it will never be enough.

And all of that is going to be a heavy burden to carry. It can feel isolating. It can make you feel like your life somehow doesn’t matter – that you’re like the invisible man that Tuskegee grad Ralph Ellison wrote about all those years ago. And as we’ve seen over the past few years, those feelings are real. They’re rooted in decades of structural challenges that have made too many folks feel frustrated and invisible. And those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country.

But, graduates, today, I want to be very clear that those feelings are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up. Not an excuse. They are not an excuse to lose hope. To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose.

But here’s the thing – our history provides us with a better story, a better blueprint for how we can win. It teaches us that when we pull ourselves out of those lowest emotional depths, and we channel our frustrations into studying and organizing and banding together – then we can build ourselves and our communities up. We can take on those deep-rooted problems, and together – together – we can overcome anything that stands in our way.”

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Posted already …. but these words can never be posted enough.

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The Full Speech

09
May
15

“I Can’t Wait To See How High You Soar”

@FLOTUS: These @TuskegeeUniv alums met Eleanor Roosevelt during her historic visit in 1941 to fly with the #TuskegeeAirmen

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The First Lady’s Commencement Address at Tuskegee University

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Thank you all.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much. (Applause.)  Let’s let our graduates rest themselves.  You’ve worked hard for those seats!  (Applause.)

Let me start by thanking President Johnson for that very gracious introduction, and for awarding me with this honorary degree from an extraordinary institution.  I am proud to have this degree — very proud.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

I want to recognize Major General Williams; Congresswoman Sewell; Zachary; Kalauna; to all of the trustees, the faculty, the staff here at Tuskegee University.  Thank you — thank you so much for this warm welcome, this tremendous hospitality.  And I’m so glad to be here.  (Applause.)

Before I begin, I just want to say that my heart goes out to everyone who knew and loved Eric Marks, Jr.  I understand he was such a talented young man, a promising aerospace engineer who was well on his way to achieving his dream of following in the footsteps of the Tuskegee Airmen.  And Eric was taken from us far too soon.  And our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with his family, his friends, and this entire community.  (Applause.)

I also have to recognize the Concert Choir.  Wow, you guys are good!  Well done!  (Applause.)  Beautiful song.  (Applause.) And I have to join in recognizing all the folks up in the stands — the parents, siblings, friends — (applause) — so many others who have poured their love and support into these graduates every step of the way.  Yeah, this is your day.  (Applause.)  Your day. (Applause.)

Now, on this day before Mother’s Day, I’ve got to give a special shout-out to all the moms here.  (Applause.)  Yay, moms! And I want you to consider this as a public service announcement for anyone who hasn’t bought the flowers or the cards or the gifts yet — all right?  I’m trying to cover you.  (Laughter.)  But remember that one rule is “keep mom happy.”  (Laughter.)  All right?  (Applause.)

And finally, most of all, I want to congratulate the men and women of the Tuskegee University Class of 2015!  (Applause.)    T-U!

AUDIENCE:  You know!

MRS. OBAMA:  I love that.  (Applause.)  We can do that all day.  (Laughter.)  I’m so proud of you all.  And you look good.  (Applause.)  Well done!

You all have come here from all across the country to study, to learn, maybe have a little fun along the way — from freshman year in Adams or Younge Hall — (applause) — to those late night food runs to The Coop.  (Applause.)  I did my research.  (Applause.)  To those mornings you woke up early to get a spot under The Shed to watch the Golden Tigers play.  (Applause.)  Yeah!  I’ve been watching!  (Laughter.)  At the White House we have all kinds of ways.  (Laughter.)

And whether you played sports yourself, or sang in the choir, or played in the band, or joined a fraternity or sorority — after today, all of you will take your spot in the long line of men and women who have come here and distinguished themselves and this university.

You will follow alums like many of your parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles — leaders like Robert Robinson Taylor, a groundbreaking architect and administrator here who was recently honored on a postage stamp.  (Applause.)  You will follow heroes like Dr. Boynton Robinson — (applause) — who survived the billy clubs and the tear gas of Bloody Sunday in Selma.  The story of Tuskegee is full of stories like theirs — men and women who came to this city, seized their own futures, and wound up shaping the arc of history for African Americans and all Americans.

And I’d like to begin today by reflecting on that history — starting back at the time when the Army chose Tuskegee as the site of its airfield and flight school for black pilots.  (Applause.)

Back then, black soldiers faced all kinds of obstacles.  There were the so-called scientific studies that said that black men’s brains were smaller than white men’s.  Official Army reports stated that black soldiers were “childlike,” “shiftless,” “unmoral and untruthful,” and as one quote stated, “if fed, loyal and compliant.”

So while the Airmen selected for this program were actually highly educated — many already had college degrees and pilots licenses — they were presumed to be inferior.  During training, they were often assigned to menial tasks like housekeeping or landscaping.  Many suffered verbal abuse at the hands of their instructors.  When they ventured off base, the white sheriff here in town called them “boy” and ticketed them for the most minor offenses.  And when they finally deployed overseas, white soldiers often wouldn’t even return their salutes.

Just think about what that must have been like for those young men.  Here they were, trained to operate some of the most complicated, high-tech machines of their day — flying at hundreds of miles an hour, with the tips of their wings just six inches apart.  Yet when they hit the ground, folks treated them like they were nobody — as if their very existence meant nothing.

Now, those Airmen could easily have let that experience clip their wings.  But as you all know, instead of being defined by the discrimination and the doubts of those around them, they became one of the most successful pursuit squadrons in our military.  (Applause.)  They went on to show the world that if black folks and white folks could fight together, and fly together, then surely — surely — they could eat at a lunch counter together.  Surely their kids could go to school together. (Applause.)

You see, those Airmen always understood that they had a “double duty” — one to their country and another to all the black folks who were counting on them to pave the way forward.  (Applause.)  So for those Airmen, the act of flying itself was a symbol of liberation for themselves and for all African Americans.

One of those first pilots, a man named Charles DeBow, put it this way.  He said that a takeoff was — in his words — “a never-failing miracle” where all “the bumps would smooth off… [you’re] in the air… out of this world… free.”

And when he was up in the sky, Charles sometimes looked down to see black folks out in the cotton fields not far from here — the same fields where decades before, their ancestors as slaves. And he knew that he was taking to the skies for them — to give them and their children something more to hope for, something to aspire to.

And in so many ways, that never-failing miracle — the constant work to rise above the bumps in our path to greater freedom for our brothers and sisters — that has always been the story of African Americans here at Tuskegee.  (Applause.)

Just think about the arc of this university’s history.  Back in the late 1800s, the school needed a new dormitory, but there was no money to pay for it.  So Booker T. Washington pawned his pocket watch to buy a kiln, and students used their bare hands to make bricks to build that dorm — and a few other buildings along the way.  (Applause.)

A few years later, when George Washington Carver first came here for his research, there was no laboratory.  So he dug through trash piles and collected old bottles, and tea cups, and fruit jars to use in his first experiments.

Generation after generation, students here have shown that same grit, that same resilience to soar past obstacles and outrages — past the threat of countryside lynchings; past the humiliation of Jim Crow; past the turmoil of the Civil Rights era.  And then they went on to become scientists, engineers, nurses and teachers in communities all across the country — and continued to lift others up along the way.  (Applause.)

And while the history of this campus isn’t perfect, the defining story of Tuskegee is the story of rising hopes and fortunes for all African Americans.

And now, graduates, it’s your turn to take up that cause.  And let me tell you, you should feel so proud of making it to this day.  And I hope that you’re excited to get started on that next chapter.  But I also imagine that you might think about all that history, all those heroes who came before you — you might also feel a little pressure, you know — pressure to live up to the legacy of those who came before you; pressure to meet the expectations of others.

Continue reading ‘“I Can’t Wait To See How High You Soar”’

18
Jun
14

The Affordable Care Act Lives Up To Its Name

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Columbus Dispatch: Obamacare Premiums Average $80 A Month

People who signed up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s health-care law are paying about $80 a month in premiums on average, the administration reported yesterday. The new numbers from the Health and Human Services Department cover only the 36 states where the federal government took the lead in setting up new insurance markets, accounting for about 5.4 million of the 8 million people who signed up nationally. Major states like California and New York were not included, but that might not affect national averages by much. The law limits what people pay for a benchmark plan to a fixed share of their income, regardless of where they live.

Among the major findings: • Taxpayers are subsidizing 76 percent of the average monthly premium in the 36 federally administered markets. • The average premium is $346 a month, but the typical enrollee pays just $82. Tax credits averaging $264 a month cover the difference. The government pays the subsidy directly to insurers. • After tax credits, Mississippians paid the least for coverage — averaging just $23 a month on average premiums of $438.

More here

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Alex Walsh: Obamacare Side Effect: Alabama Medicaid Enrollment Goes Over 1 Million Due To Awareness, Rule Changes

Alabama has so far rejected the federal government’s proposal to expand Medicaid. Regardless, the Affordable Care Act still had the effect of increasing the size of Alabama’s Medicaid rolls. Medicaid enrollment in Alabama jumped up noticeably in January 2014, from around 970,000 to just over 1 million. Part of the reason behind the increase was a rule change enacted by the Affordable Care Act. The ACA required the state to transfer about

23,000 children from ALL Kids (Alabama’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP) over to the Medicaid rolls. Health care analysts also say that the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act brought a new wave of attention to health insurance, motivating many Americans to check their eligibility for various existing programs. This effect has been called “wood working” by some organizations, including Kaiser.

More here

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Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Letter To The Editor: Affordable Care Act Feels Like I Won The Lottery

I must add my so so appreciative voice to all the press about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I must say it is the best thing that has come along in my lifetime since “sliced bread.” My husband and I paid $14,520 in premiums alone this year for very high deductible policies. The ACA is allowing the premium cost to stay within 9.5 percent of your income if you are in the 400 percent above poverty income range. Our premiums were well above that percentage of our income.

This high premium stuff with riders and coinsurance has been going on for us since 2007 when we lost our group coverage, with hugely increasing premiums every year. Before we got any help from insurance our out-of-pocket would have been $30,000. Our joined premium per month will be $660 and our maximum out-of-pocket for care will be $3,250 each. I feel like I won the lottery: no riders and no preexisting Blue Cross policies with nationwide providers.

More here

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04
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama delivers remarks at 25th Anniversary Freedom Event in Castle Square, Warsaw (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today

The President left Poland for Belgium this morning. After arriving he will meet King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo of Belgium, attend the Council of the European Union in Brussels and attend a G-7 working dinner.

1:30 EDT: First Lady Michelle Obama Announces The Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

White House Live

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President Obama’s speech in Poland this morning – forward to 53 minutes

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The Week Ahead – See Here

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FACT SHEET: U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine

The United States is working to bolster Ukraine’s ability to secure its borders and preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty in the face of Russian occupation of Crimea and a concerted effort by Russian-backed separatists to destabilize eastern Ukraine.  President Obama has approved more than $23 million in additional defensive security assistance since early March.

This assistance includes:

A new tranche of $5 million for the provision of body armor, night vision goggles, and additional communications equipment.  This is in addition to the approximately 300,000 Meals Ready to Eat (delivered in March), as well as assistance for the provision of materiel using Foreign Military Financing to support Ukraine’s armed forces with medical supplies, service member equipment (e.g., helmets, sleeping mats, water purification units), explosive ordnance disposal equipment, and handheld radios.

The United States also has allocated Cooperative Threat Reduction funding to support Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service with supplies (e.g., clothing, shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps, engineering equipment, communications equipment, vehicles, and non-lethal individual tactical gear).

More here

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Washington Post: Obama vows to defend freedom in Europe, support democratic movements worldwide

Surrounded by throngs celebrating Poland’s 25 years of democracy, President Obama on Wednesday pledged to uphold the United States’ longtime commitment to the defense of Eastern Europe against new threats, using the opportunity to deliver a resounding endorsement of democratic movements across the world.

“Throughout history, the Polish people were abandoned by friends when you needed them most,” Obama said. “I have come to Warsaw today — on behalf of the United States, on behalf of the NATO Alliance — to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Poland’s security.”

Speaking at the “Freedom Day” event in a historic square by the Royal Castle, the president said he would use the full might of the American armed forces to protect Poland and other Eastern European allies and called out Russia as a threat to regional security and democracy.

“Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia,” he said. “We refuse to allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define the 21st.”

More here

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Brilliant:

Stonekettle Station: Negotiating With Terrorists

Are we really going to do this?

Is this what it’s finally come down to, is it really?

Look at yourselves, you silly selfish bastards.

Look. At. Yourselves.

Go on, do it, find a mirror and look into your own dead zombie eyes and see the empty void looking back.

This revolting, disgusting display of hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy, is this what we’ve finally become?

Are we now so filled with foul bilious hatred, are we now so consumed with soul-destroying fear, do we now despise our own selves so much that we would actually protest the return of one of our own? Is that it?

Is that what we’ve become?

If so, then the sooner America collapses of its own maggot-ridden gangrenous rot, the better.

No. No, don’t you dare look away.

More here

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Steve Benen: McCain’s reversals on Bowe Bergdahl

It was just last week when Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) delivered a Memorial Day message in which she urged Americans to keep Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl “in our thoughts and prayers.” She added, “I renew my call on the Defense Department to redouble its efforts to find Sergeant Bergdahl and return him safely to his family.”

Less than a week later, the Defense Department announced that Bergdahl had been freed and he’ll be returned safely to his family – prompting a new round of criticism from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

But all things considered, these conflicting statements are mild compared to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his recent reversals…

More here

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Michael Tomasky: The Bowe Bergdahl Story Is Right-Wing Crack

Never mind that Bush would have done the same as Obama. Republicans are hitting the pipe big time on the ‘deserter’ — and their creepy bottom line is that he should have been left to die.

I was amazed but not surprised by my Twitter feed Monday. More than 200 tweets from conservatives, I would estimate, calling me a host of names and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a menu of worse ones. That’s the most ever in one day, I think, even more than for my most scorching anti-NRA columns, which have heretofore set the gold standard for inspiring drooling right-wing vitriol.

I was not, as I say, surprised. This story has every element right-wingers dream of. Every dark suspicion they harbor about President Obama can be wedged into the narrative conservatives are constructing about how Saturday’s prisoner exchange supposedly went down and what the president’s presumed motivations were. So I knew instantly, when I read Michael Hastings’s 2012 Rolling Stone profile of Bergdahl on Sunday afternoon, that this was going to be the next Benghazi. The story is right-wing crack. And sure enough, Republicans are hitting the pipe big time.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Former Bush Official Blasts GOP On Bergdahl: Bush Would Have Done The Same Thing

A former Bush administration official broke with Republicans on Tuesday to defend President Obama’s prisoner exchange, arguing that since “the war in Afghanistan is winding down,” the United States would be required to return prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay back to Afghanistan.

… Asked about reports that Bergdahl deserted his unit, Bellinger added that the former hostage “will have to face justice, military justice.” “We don’t leave soldiers on the battlefield under any circumstance unless they have actually joined the enemy army,” he said. “He was a young 20-year-old. Young 20-year-olds make stupid decisions. I don’t think we’ll say if you make a stupid decision we’ll leave you in the hands of the Taliban.”

More here

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Smartypants: Why the prisoner exchange is a big issue for the neocons

We’re hearing all kinds of hysteria about the prisoner exchange that resulted in the release of Sergeant Bergdahl. The media is indulging claims about Bergdahl’s state of mind, whether or not the President was required to consult with Congress prior to finalizing the exchange and stories about soldiers who may have died trying to rescue him. But that’s all hyperbole designed to gin up the anti-Obama base. I propose that the real issue for conservatives actually centers on the other side of the exchange…the release of the 5 Taliban detainees from Gitmo.

More here

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From Donna Dem:

Good Morning TOD

Before I head out to work let’s make today a Day of Action

We can start by all of us contacting Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Here is her contact information

Phone: (202) 224-3841

Fax: (202) 228-3954

Email

Twitter: @SenFeinstein

We can help her to understand that as a Democrat it should be her primary goal to support this President and if she has issue with anything he does she needs to talk to his staff or him directly about it. It is not necessary for her to run to every open mike and give the Republicans and the media ammunition to bash President Obama.

Have a great O’Day Everyone!!

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TPM: Videos Showed Bergdahl’s Rapidly Deteriorating Health

Some critics of the prisoner swap that exchanged Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees said there was no evidence, as President Barack Obama insisted in a press conference Tuesday, that the soldier’s deteriorating health necessitated swift action to secure his release.

But the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that the U.S. intelligence community had evidence of Bergdahl’s failing health, based on a secret analysis of two videos of the soldier in captivity ….

Officials who saw the recent video described Bergdahl’s condition as “alarming.” ….

“We believe they saw Bergdahl as a golden egg. That is why they kept him alive and as healthy as possible. But as he deteriorated, some people believe he became more of a burden to them,” the official told the Journal. “And as the war was ending some of them [Taliban] came to doubt his value. He was more of a liability as his health declined.”

More here

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LA Times Editorial: Editorial Freeing Sgt. Bergdahl: Why it was a good deal for all Americans

The release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of Islamist extremists for almost five years, is good news not only for his family but for all Americans. But the price the Obama administration paid for the 28-year-old soldier’s repatriation was freedom for five detainees at Guantanamo Bay who are hardened Taliban commanders.

…. unless the U.S. were to assert the right to hold the detainees forever without trial, they would have been released at some point. Why not do it now when it helps to secure the release of an American?

…. Congress is free to press the administration about details of the arrangement that won Bergdahl’s freedom. But the president must be equally free to respond to a diplomatic opening that could mean the difference between freedom and captivity for an American soldier.

More here

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Meanwhile in the real world, while the GOP try to distract everyone with Bergdahlzi ->

Steve Benen: ID law blocks 93-year-old voter in Alabama

Two years ago, the nation was introduced to Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old widow in Pennsylvania who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite has voted in nearly every election for the last-half century – right up until 2012, when the state told this African-American woman she wouldn’t be allowed to cast a ballot because Republicans policymakers had created a voter-ID law to combat voter fraud that didn’t exist.

After Applewhite’s story garnered national attention, election officials helped get her situation straightened out – and more recently, the law itself was struck down as unconstitutional – but the incident was a reminder about the real-world impact of unnecessary voter-ID laws.

Two years later, Zachary Roth introduces us to a similar face – of the same age – in the “war on voting.”

More here

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ThinkProgress: Major Companies Distance Themselves From U.S. Chamber Campaign Against Obama’s Climate Plan

Days before President Obama’s EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced sweeping new rules to limit the amount of carbon pollution that existing power plants can dump into the atmosphere, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report blasting the then-unreleased regulations as certain to raise electricity prices, kill jobs, and slow the economy. But leading climate-friendly members of Chamber don’t want to be associated with its anti-climate report. Several member companies, contacted by ThinkProgress, declined to endorse the Chamber’s efforts against the administration’s move to address a direct cause of climate change.

ThinkProgress reached out to several dozen of the major corporations that have either contributed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or had executives currently serving on its board of directors. None endorsed the new report.

More here

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Steve Benen: An exceedingly rare NRA apology

It’s been about four decades since Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal introduced us to an unfortunate catchphrase: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” More recently, I’ve always thought it was better applied to the National Rifle Association, which never has to say it’s sorry, either.

No matter how extreme the far-right group gets, no matter who it offends, no matter the consequences of its policy purism, the NRA just doesn’t apologize for anything, ever.

Once in a great while, however, there are exceptions.

More here

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AP: Brisk demand for SUVs and pickup trucks pushed U.S. auto sales to a nine-year high in May

Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota all reported double-digit sales gains over last May. Even General Motors, battling bad publicity from a mishandled recall, surprised with a 13 percent sales increase.

Ford’s sales rose a better-than-expected 3 percent, while Hyundai’s were up 4 percent. Of major automakers, only Volkswagen’s sales fell.
Video: Is 16M Vehicles the New Normal for Auto Sales?

May is traditionally a strong month for the auto industry, as buyers spend their tax returns and think ahead to summer road trips. This year’s calendar, with five weekends, gave it an extra boost. Sales were particularly strong the last weekend of the month, automakers said.

Sales rose 11 percent to just over 1.6 million in May. That was the highest monthly total since July 2005, according to Kelley Blue Book.

More here

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USA Today: White House to host event on working dads

The White House, which is preparing a summit on working families later this month, sponsors an event Monday devoted to working fathers.

Business leaders, administration officials, and other working fathers will “explore the breadth of roles dads play today at home” and “the new challenges dads experience balancing career and family,” says a White House announcement.

…. Speakers will include New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman.

More here

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On This Day

President Obama speaks at Cairo University in Cairo, Thursday, June 4, 2009. In his speech, President Obama called for a ‘new beginning between the United States and Muslims’, declaring that ‘this cycle of suspicion and discord must end’. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama jokingly shows off the hat he was given during his tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt on June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tours the Pyramids and Sphinx with Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass (left), Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (right), June 4, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tours the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt on June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama ducks his head to get through an entranceway on a tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt, June 4, 2009. At center-right is the hieroglyphic that the President comment on saying it looked like him. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, personal aide to the president Reggie Love, and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett take a ride on camels in Egypt on June 4, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama looks out the window of Marine One as they leave the Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx in Egypt, June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tours the Sultan Hassan Mosque with Dr. Zahi Hawass (left), Iman Abdel Fateh (right), and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza).

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President Obama gestures during a meeting on the response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, at the Tarmac Field House at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, La., June 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama, at left, eats boiled seafood with residents at Carmandelle’s Live Bait and Boiled Seafood in Grand Isle, La., June 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama jokes with members of the Chilean delegation as President Sebastián Piñera of Chile sits at the Resolute Desk following a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, June 4, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama embraces Myrlie Evers-Williams during her visit in the Oval Office, June 4, 2013. The President met with the Evers family to commemorate the approaching 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers’ death (Photo by Pete Souza)

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17
Feb
14

President Obama’s America

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Quinn Brenneke: Unemployment Down, Ed Neufeldt’s Bracelets Come Off

Ed Neufeldt vowed to wear three green bracelets until unemployment rates fell below 7 percent. He told The Elkhart Truth in 2012, “I may be wearing them to my casket,” but on Thursday they came off. “I thought that would never happen,” he said looking at the bracelets in his hand. Unemployment rates posted this week prompted Neufeldt to symbolically remove his three bracelets, which represented unemployment rates in the U.S., Indiana and Elkhart County. Rates in all three are now below seven percent.

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Neufeldt began speaking about unemployment to media outlets especially after he introduced President Obama during his visit to Elkhart County in 2009. Neufeldt said he thinks he has had 80 media interviews since. The future of Elkhart County, he said, is optimistic. “Elkhart County has hope for the future,” he said. His 18-year-old daughter recently started her first job. “Five years ago,” he said, “you couldn’t event go out and get a job.” “I think Elkhart County is blessed,” he said. “We have recovered.”

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David Lat: How Did Two Young Lawyers Get To Have Dinner With The Obamas?

Caleb Ballew and Kourtney Ballew. They’re a pair of twenty-something, small-firm lawyers from Huntsville, Alabama. Say what? Did the Obama White House get Salahi’d again? Actually, no. The Ballews came as honored guests of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Because the Obamas have had so few state dinners, invitations to the ones they do host are in especially high demand. How did two recent law school graduates score one of the most coveted invites in the country? Near the end of 2010, out of financial necessity, the Ballews allowed Kourtney’s health insurance to lapse. She hadn’t had any major health issues up until that point, and they expected that it would be a temporary measure. But during that time period when she was uninsured, Kourtney got diagnosed with a medical condition that could require multiple — and expensive — surgical procedures. Luckily, as a result of health care reforms initiated by President Obama, Kourtney was able to avail herself of a government-run Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. This allowed Kourtney to have her two surgical procedures — which went smoothly, thankfully — at a fairly minimal cost. Had the Ballews had to pay out of pocket for the surgeries, it would have been crippling.

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In November 2012, shortly after President Obama won re-election, Caleb sent a heartfelt letter of gratitude to the president. In the letter, which Caleb described to AL.com as “a pretty emotional letter,” he congratulated the president on his reelection, praised him for delivering on his campaign promises, and thanked him for making such a huge difference in the Ballews’ lives. On Monday, February 3, Caleb received an email inviting him to the State Dinner for President Hollande taking place on Tuesday, February 11. When they reached President Obama, a White House functionary announced the Ballews to the president. As they shook hands, the president said to Caleb, without any prompting, “I really enjoyed your letter. Thank you so much for that.” “I was very impressed,” Caleb said. “There were a number of us ordinary citizens at the dinner, and I was so impressed that the president remembered me and my letter.” After Caleb and President Obama exchanged some pleasantries, the president said to Caleb, “You’re sitting at my table.” “I thought he just used that line on everyone,” Caleb told me. “So I said to him, ‘Mr. President, I don’t believe they’d seat me at your table.” “I’m pretty sure,” President Obama said to Caleb. “I’ll see you in there.” When they arrived, Caleb asked one of the honor guards where he could find the Ballews’ table, table 19. Caleb expected it to be a table somewhere off in a corner. The guard, without even having to look around, directed Caleb towards the large rectangular table directly in front of the stage. “I said a four-letter word to Kourtney,” Caleb recalled, “then said, ‘We are sitting with the president tonight!’”

More here

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09
Jan
14

Night Owl Chat

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Pete Souza: “Gotta love the reaction of that young face as the President greeted members of the audience following a ceremony honoring the 2012 BCS National Champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team on the South Lawn of the White House.”

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That joyous and wondrous expression is one more reason why the Obama presidency will have top billing in the history books. 

Wishing you all sweet dreams! :D

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24
May
13

The Day in Images

President Obama congratulates Alexis Marisa Werner with open arms during the US Naval Academy commencement ceremony in Annapolis

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Text of the President’s remarks here

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First Lady Michelle Obama visits Savoy School, one of eight schools selected last year for The Turnaround Arts Initiative at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, May 24

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Text of the First Lady’s remarks at Savoy Elementary School here

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President Obama signs a bill in the Oval Office designating the Congressional Gold Medal to commemorate the four young girls killed during the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, as (L-R) Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Dr Sharon Malone Holder, Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep Terri Sewell (D-AL), Thelma Pippen McNair, mother of Denise McNair, Lisa McNair, sister of Denise McNair, Dianne Braddock, sister of Carole Robertson, Rev Arthur Price, Jr, pastor 16th Street Baptist Church, and former U.S. Attorney Gordon Douglas Jones look on. The medal, the highest Congressional civilian honor, was given posthumously to Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair who died September 15, 1963 when a bomb planted by white supremacists exploded exploded at the church

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