Times Colonist: Obama To Sign Executive Order Cracking Down On Labor Violations By Federal Contractors
President Barack Obama is preparing to sign an executive order cracking down on labour violations by companies that contract with the federal government, the White House said Wednesday. Obama’s order will require companies seeking federal contracts valued at more than $500,000 to make public any labour law violations in the last three years, a step the Obama administration hopes will incentivize companies to resolve labour disputes such as back wage claims.
Federal agencies will be given more guidance on how labour violations should factor into their decision-making as they award lucrative contracts, officials said, with an eye toward pushing the most egregious violators into remediation agreements before new contracts are granted. Under the order, workers will also be given information each pay period to allow them to determine whether their paychecks are accurate.
The economy grew at a strong 4% rate in the second quarter of 2014, outpacing analyst estimates by almost a full point. The news that is even more encouraging than the topline GDP growth number is where it came from: consumer spending, business investment, and exports. Consumer spending growth doubled since the first quarter, business investment growth grew by more than a factor of 3, and exports saw a near-20-point swing. The reason these particular numbers are so encouraging is that they all point to strong jobs growth.
In an economy that is 2/3rds consumer spending, growth in that area is the predominant factor in creating demand, and therefore, jobs. We have come here in less than six short years after the greatest economic calamity this country has ever seen, save for one. We have arrived here not only without creating a war bubble but while actually deflating the war bubble by ending wars. This is because while nearly everyone else has been busy trying to generate clicks, the President has worked day and night to generate jobs. This is because while the media has been busy looking for poutrage, this president has used his blood, sweat and tears to look for solutions.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that “all available evidence” suggested that Israeli artillery had hit a United Nations school in Gaza full of civilians who thought they were in a safe zone. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” the secretary general told reporters in San Jose, Costa Rica, according to a transcript provided by his office.
It was Mr. Ban’s strongest comments to date on attacks on United Nations installations in Gaza, where Palestinians have been taking shelter. Six United Nations staff members have been killed in the current conflict so far. United Nations officials said that they had informed Israel 17 times of the precise location of the school and that there were civilians sheltering there, including once at 8:50 p.m., just hours before the attack on Wednesday.
Justin Wolfers: What Debate? Economists Agree The Stimulus Lifted The Economy
Here’s a simple case study making the point that our political debates about economics have become largely unhinged from those among actual economists. Take the Obama stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. If you took your cues from the political rhetoric in Washington — or even from the occasional virulent debate in the economics blogosphere — you would think the whole question of fiscal stimulus is highly contested. But it’s not. There’s widespread agreement among economists that the stimulus act has helped boost the economy. The Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago — hardly a hotbed of liberal or Keynesian thought — regularly surveys a number of the leading American economists about a variety of policy issues.
Recently each of these eminent economists was asked whether the unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill. Of the 44 economists surveyed, 37 responded, yielding a healthy response rate of 84 percent. Among those who responded, 36 agreed that the stimulus bill had lowered the unemployment rate, while one disagreed. That lone disagreeing economist, Harvard’s Alberto Alesina (who was one of my thesis advisers), has been a virulent opponent of the stimulus, although the research that he’s based this upon has come under sustained criticism, particularly from the International Monetary Fund, which views the study as flawed.
Sahil Kapur: House Votes To Sue President For The First Time In History
House Republicans officially gave Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) their seal of approval on Wednesday to sue President Barack Obama, marking the first time in U.S. history that a chamber of Congress has endorsed a lawsuit against a president. The House adopted the resolution by a vote of 225-201. Five Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic conference to vote against the measure. They were Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Walter Jones (R-NC), Paul Broun (R-GA), Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Scott Garrett (R-NJ). The resolution authorizes Boehner to challenge Obama in court for exceeding his authority by unilaterally delaying deadlines under Obamacare.
Although he has said he’ll target the one-year delay of the health care reform law’s employer mandate penalties, the text of the GOP resolution gives the Speaker room to legally challenge implementation tweaks to other provisions of the law. It’s a politically awkward one for his party given that Republicans despise the employer mandate, and have voted to eliminate and delay it. “Republicans want to sue the president for not enforcing a law they want to repeal,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “It is wrong. It is a waste of time. It is a waste of money. It is a distraction from the important issues so important to our people. This lawsuit is nothing more than a partisan bill to rally the Republican base.”
The bombs continue falling, more and more people are running for their lives with fewer places to go and as the screams from beneath the wreckage of Israel’s assault become more frequent, a generation of Gaza’s children are being shaped by what they see. And yet, as kids often do, they can still surprise you. Inside a Gaza City UNRWA school that’s been turned into a shelter, children pack the courtyard. Ten-year-old Yasmine al Attar stares at me from under her dark curled bangs. Yasmine’s aunt, Hula al Attar, tells me her son can’t sleep amid the nightly air strikes. Instead he howls and shakes.
“My 11-year-old son saw bodies in the street in the  war and he still can’t forget those images,” says the veiled 29-year-old mother. Yasmine speaks up. She tells me she can’t sleep either, and waits out the attacks by clinging to her mother in a corner classroom. I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. “I don’t know if I will live,” she says flatly. When pressed for what she would like to be if she does survive, she becomes excited thinking about the possibilities. “I’ll be a doctor,” she says at first. Then she changes her mind. “I’ll be a journalist,” she says, pulling on her brown curls. “I just want to do something that helps people and tells the world what’s happening.”
The chart illustrates a pattern that most of us probably do not find surprising. But the sheer chasm separating single white men from Black and Hispanic single women is still shocking to see visualized so clearly. Single white men have 438 times the assets as single Black women and 365 times that of single Hispanic women. As we can see, marriage is a huge determinant of wealth – but mainly if you’re not white, and especially if you’re a woman.
As the report notes, owning a car is an important way to access more employment opportunities among other things. But that wealth is not easily accessible in dollar terms, which is highly relevant for the following reason. Great disparities of wealth not only have a huge impact on life opportunities and the prospects for wealth accumulation. They are hugely important factor in the precariousness of economic life experienced by different demographic groups.
Esteemed NBC White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd caused quite a furor this morning.
Speaking on Morning Joe, he said quite openly what many of us have just assumed to be the truth by virtue of careful observation: that it’s not the media’s job to correct misinformation and falsehoods. He made this comment in relation to the Obamacare debate, saying that the GOP has been better at “messaging”—i.e. getting the media to repeat its lies ad nauseam—while the Obama administration and Democrats have failed to make their case.
Confronted with significant pushback on Twitter, he had this to say:
Somebody decided to troll w/mislding headline: point I actually made was folks shouldn't expect media to do job WH has FAILED to do re: ACA
Oh no! He was “trolled”, because someone—actually, several someones—called into question why he even has the job of “journalist” if he’s saying that it isn’t his job to fulfill a journalist’s prime responsibility, which is to give his readers/viewers/listeners accurate information about the world around them.
Steve Benen: Jobless claims show unexpected improvement
Lately, just about all of the news on initial unemployment claims has been good, and the new figures out this morning were unexpectedly encouraging.
…. In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. We’ve been below the 370,000 threshold 23 of the last 26 weeks, and below 350,000 in 7 of the last 10 weeks.
NY Post: In a stunning move, the Obama Administration has thrust itself into the middle of the explosive federal stop-and-frisk trial and is taking sides against the NYPD, raising the odds of a outside monitor being appointed to oversee the controversial crime-fighting program.
…. The source said that Attorney General Eric Holder’s office notified the city that it intends to file briefs in support of claims by the Center for Constitutional Rights that cops are stopping suspects on the basis of race.
Legal Times: When President Barack Obama nominated two women to a key appeals court last week, he was adding to his lead when it comes to adding women to the federal bench, according to a new study.
Obama has successfully appointed a greater percentage of women to federal judgeships than any other president in American history …. The study doesn’t include the two recent nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard. (Neither pick has been confirmed.)
Forty-two percent of Obama’s successful nominations have been women, according to the study. That’s well above the rates of President George W. Bush (22 percent) and President Bill Clinton (29 percent), the study found. President Obama is the first president to appoint two women to the Supreme Court.
“This administration deserves credit for working to create a federal judiciary that more closely reflects the richness and diversity of the American people,” said AFJ President Nan Aron.
NYT: Six months after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., and with no major gun legislation on the horizon in Congress, the White House is quietly moving forward on an executive package of gun safety measures.
The package, which includes 23 executive actions announced by President Obama earlier this year, is intended to bolster the nation’s database used for background checks and make it harder for criminals and people with mental illnesses to get guns.
Among other things, the executive orders relax health care privacy regulations that some state executives say prevent them from putting the names of those Americans with mental health records into the database. The orders also give states more money to help them add data to the system and compel federal agencies to share more mental health data on workers. The goal is to add thousands of new people into the database — those with a history of mental illness, for example — who would not legally be allowed to buy a gun under current law.
Kevin Drum: …. there’s a little piece of me that admires such naked chutzpah. Issa is basically saying that it’s OK to release little pieces of the interviews that are ripped out of context to create a false impression of White House involvement, but it would be reckless to release full transcripts that pretty clearly shows the White House had nothing to do with any of this.
Bill Scher (The Week): Why conservatives can’t whitewater Obama – The Republican Noise Machine is falling on deaf ears
Twenty years ago, conservative media mavens seemed able to turn any minor flap into scandal gold …. yet today, no matter how loud conservatives scream “Benghazi,” “Solyndra,” “Fast and Furious” and even “Intim-O-Gate” (Glenn Beck’s failed attempt to brand the IRS and leak investigation controversies), President Obama glides past. His poll numbers remain relatively stable.
There is not really a “what did the president know” drumbeat, and no suggestion he warrants independent investigation. Calls for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation died down following his meeting with Washington media bureau chiefs. Benghazi lightning rod Susan Rice just got a promotion, and her Republican antagonists are pledging cooperation.
What happened to the Republican Noise Machine? Here are three reasons it’s sputtering….
Mediaite: …. Stephen Colbert sent up the NSA’s expansive surveillance programs, saying, “Millions of Americans whose privacy has been invaded were shocked to learn that anything on the internet was ever private.”
“Now, I have to admit, at first I found this program to be a shocking breach of the public trust,” Colbert said of PRISM. “The intimate details I share from my Gmail account are no business of big government. They are for one purpose only: so I can get targeted ads for boner pills.”
“But then I learned that PRISM targets only foreigners!” Colbert put up a photo of the Statue of Liberty. “Evidently that torch of freedom is only for Americans. For the rest of the world, she’s holding a boom mic.”
Washington Post: The CIA’s deputy director plans to retire and will be replaced by White House lawyer and agency outsider Avril D. Haines, Director John O. Brennan said Wednesday.
Haines, who will succeed career officer Michael Morell on Aug. 9, has served for three years as President Obama’s deputy counsel in charge of national security issues and as legal adviser to the National Security Council. Although she has never worked inside the intelligence agency, “she knows more about covert action than anyone in the U.S. government outside of the CIA,” Brennan said in his first interview since becoming CIA director in March.
Steve Benen: ….. Wisconsin Republicans are poised to approve a rather remarkable piece of legislation. The state Senate, led by an enraged Senate President Mike Ellis, pushed through an anti-abortion measure that would, among other things, require women in Wisconsin to have an ultrasound before terminating an unwanted pregnancy….
…. It is a profound example of big government run amok: the bill Scott Walker intends to sign puts politics between people and their doctors, on purpose, requiring invasive medical procedures to satisfy the agenda of a right-wing culture war.
…. This is, of course, exactly the kind of right-wing agenda voters rejected in 2012, when Republicans were slammed for having launched a “war on women,” giving Democrats a crucial gender-gap advantage.
Greg Sargent: House GOP stomps all over Republican rebranding
Consider what the House GOP is up to right now. House Republicans recently passed an immigration amendment, pushed by anti-reform diehard Steve King, that would effectively mandate the deportation of the “DREAMers” who were taken to the U.S. as children. House Republicans are planning a vote next week on a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, after defeating amendments that would exempt cases of rape or incest. And yesterday, House Republicans approved a version of the 2012 National Defense Reauthorization Act that contains what The Advocate calls “three controversial, antigay amendments, one of which is aimed at delaying repeal implementation of don’t ask, don’t tell.”
ThinkProgress: Connecticut is on the cusp of enacting a major new law to protect people who are homeless from discrimination.
Last week, Connecticut lawmakers passed the “Homeless Person’s Bill Of Rights” at the literal 11th hour — 11:30pm on June 5th, one half hour before the legislative session ended. The bill, SB 896, a landmark piece of legislation to protect homeless individuals’ rights, adds homeless people as a protected class who can’t be discriminated against in employment, housing, or public accommodations. It also includes protections for homeless people to move freely in public spaces, such as parks and sidewalks, without being singled out for harassment by law enforcement officers.
TPM: A survey released Wednesday by a Republican-aligned pollster found Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) earning the support of nearly half of voters and claiming a decisive 12-point edge in the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election.
The automated survey from Harper Polling showed Markey with the support of 49 percent of Massachusetts voters, while Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez trailed with 37 percent support. Harper launched in December with the intention to rival Democratic-leaning outlets such as Public Policy Polling that have long owned the automated poll market.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama present a birthday cake to Assistant Usher Reggie Dickson following a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony and dinner, June 13, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama gestures to lipstick marks on his collar – the aunt of American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez kissed the president’s collar and left the lipstick marks just before he gave his remarks at an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month event