Celebrating the beauty and diversity of our country on this #InternationalWomensDay with some of the many fierce and promising girls here at DC’s Cardozo Education Campus. I loved visiting this school because it tells the American story in so many ways. Three years ago, Cardozo established its International Academy with only 150 students, but today it boasts nearly 400 who are thriving in and out of the classroom. By embracing young immigrants and their diverse cultures and contributions, Cardozo is a model for our entire country. The girls I met with today are ready to take on the world. We’ve just got to make sure that the world is ready for them.
Ted Johnson: Michelle Obama Interview: How FLOTUS Used Pop Culture Stardom To Make An Impact
“What I have never been afraid of is to be a little silly, and you can engage people that way,” Obama says in an interview with Variety in her upstairs White House office, decorated in an eclectic mix of abstract art and framed mementos from her tenure. “My view is, first you get them to laugh, then you get them to listen. Has it worked? A case in point: The Carpool Karaoke segment highlighted one of Obama’s key initiatives, Let Girls Learn, a worldwide plan of action to promote girls’ access to education. She and Corden also sang “This Is for My Girls,” According to Nielsen, digital sales of “This Is for My Girls” climbed a whopping 1,562% in the week after the segment aired. And it generated almost 40 million views on YouTube. Her first major push to engage the entertainment community came in June 2011, when she appeared at the Writers Guild of America, West to talk about her initiative to support military families, called Joining Forces, and to encourage content creators to incorporate stories about military families in their shows and movies. “Army Wives” creator Katherine Fugate says that shows like “Glee” and “Grey’s Anatomy” followed suit by featuring episodes with military characters. She credits the first lady’s ability to connect with audiences — and with people individually.
“For so many people, television and movies may be the only way they understand people who aren’t like them,” she says. “And when I come across many little black girls who come up to me over the course of this 7½ years with tears in their eyes, and they say: ‘Thank you for being a role model for me. I don’t see educated black women on TV, and the fact that you’re first lady validates who I am….’”She adds, “My mom says it all the time: ‘People are so enamored of Michelle and Barack Obama.’ And she says, ‘There are millions of Michelle and Barack Obamas.’ We’re not new. We’re not special. People who come from intact families who are educated, who have values, who care for their kids, who raise their kids — if you don’t see that on TV, and you don’t live in communities with people like me, you never know who we are, and you can make and be susceptible to all sorts of assumptions and stereotypes and biases, based on nothing but what you see and hear on TV. So it becomes very important for the world to see different images of each other, so that, again, we can develop empathy and understanding.”
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers the commencement speech after being presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters at City College in New York City. This is the final commencement speech of her tenure as First Lady. In her speech Mrs. Obama celebrated City College’s diverse student body and the struggles that many students endured on the road to graduation
Friday afternoon announcements in Washington are usually aimed at attracting as little attention as possible, but last Friday was different. President Obama’s decision to nominate Eric Fanning — an openly gay man — to head a branch of the military which only four years ago did not allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, was both historic and attention-grabbing. And it underscored an often-overlooked feature of the Obama presidency: Obama has presided over the most demographically diverse administration in history, according to a new analysis of his top appointments. The majority of top policy appointments within the executive branch are held by women and minorities for the first time in history. The shifts are significant enough, experts say, that they may have forever transformed the face of government. The Obama White House, by contrast, has established specific programs to boost diversity among appointees.
For the 1st time ever the majority of top exec branch posts aren't held by white men. Here's how @POTUS @vj44 did it wapo.st/1KsI5Xk
The Presidential Personnel Office targets historically black colleges and universities, as well as minority-serving institutions, as part of a new campus recruitment program. It has a liaison to identify candidates by working with leaders from underrepresented groups, including those who are LGBT or have disabilities. The impact of Obama’s diversity efforts could reverberate for decades in people such as Michael Blake, a son of Jamaican immigrants who was homeless as a child but worked on Obama’s two presidential campaigns and in the White House as associate director of public engagement. Last year, Blake won election to the New York State Assembly, with the help of a lot of other Obama alumni, including Marlon Marshall, who is now Hillary Rodham Clinton’s director of state campaigns and political engagement. Blake’s campaign slogan was about his transformation: “No House to the White House.” Obama, Blake said, has helped create a new network of people of color now climbing the ranks of government. “He did that,” Blake said. “He grew that.”
Venture capitalists will pledge concrete measures to bring greater diversity to their predominantly white male profession during a high-profile event at the White House. For its part, the National Venture Capital Association is making a commitment “to advance opportunity for women and underrepresented minorities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” the trade group says in a letter to President Obama that was exclusively shared with USA TODAY. The trade group’s task force, formed in December, to tackle the profession’s lack of diversity “is committed to developing both near and long-term solutions to effect positive change,” the letter reads.
It was signed by 45 venture capital firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Battery Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners. Among the steps the National Venture Capital Association is promising to take: to conduct and share research that measures diversity at venture capital firms and their portfolio companies, develop model human resources policies to encourage more inclusive work environments and participate in programs to encourage women and minorities to pursue careers as entrepreneurs or venture capitalists. These are just initial steps to address the yawning racial and gender gap, said Silicon Valley venture capitalist Kate Mitchell.
Wesley Lowery: Police Shot And Killed More People In July Than Any Other Month So Far This Year
More people were shot and killed by on-duty police officers in July than in any other month so far in 2015. At least 103 people were shot and killed by police officers last month, according to a Washington Post database tracking all fatal on-duty police shootings this year. That is 13 more fatal police shootings than March, the second most deadly month, during which 90 people were shot and killed by police. As of today, The Post has tracked 570 fatal police shootings.
California restored voting rights Tuesday to tens of thousands of criminals serving sentences under community supervision, reversing a decision by a state official that they could not participate in elections. Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced the settlement between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which sued on behalf of nearly 60,000 convicts who became ineligible to vote when then Secretary of State Debra Bowen determined in 2014 that community supervision was equivalent to parole. Her decision stemmed from a 2011
realignment of the state’s criminal justice law that aims to reduce overcrowding in state prisons by sending people convicted of less serious crimes to county jails or alternative treatment programs. A judge later overturned Bowen’s policy, stating that community supervision and parole are different. Bowen’s office appealed the decision, but Padilla, a fellow Democrat, decided to let the court ruling stand. Earlier this summer, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have extended the right to vote to roughly 40,000 convicts on probation or parole.
President Barack Obama’s daughter Sasha hides behind the sofa as she sneaks up on him at the end of the day in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. Photo by Lawrence Jackson
President Barack Obama talks with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice outside the Oval Office upon arrival from the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama participates in a discussion with moderator Takunda Chingonzo at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. Photo by Pete Souza
First Lady Michelle Obama talks with President Ali Bongo Ondimba of the Gabonese Republic during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama talks with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough after meeting with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 5, 2013. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama greets group and poses for a photo in the Rose Garden of the White House, August 5, 2009. Photo by Lawrence Jackson
This morning, the Senate confirmed three federal judges. On the one hand, they are not unique; like all of the President’s judges and judicial nominees, they have the necessary intellect, experience, integrity, and temperament. But they are special in that each of them is a trailblazer on their courts:
Judge Darrin Gayles, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, is the first openly gay African American man to be confirmed as a lifetime-appointed federal judge in our nation’s history.
Judge Salvador Mendoza, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, is the first Hispanic judge to serve on his court.
Staci Yandle, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is the first African American to serve on her court and the first openly gay lifetime-appointed federal judge in Illinois.
President Obama has now appointed more female judges and more Hispanic judges than any other President: wh.gov/lHujw
Today’s confirmations also set historic milestones: For the first time in history, the Senate has confirmed two openly gay judges on the same day. President Obama has now appointed more female judges than any other President, breaking the record previously set by President Clinton. President Obama also has now appointed more Hispanic judges than any other President, breaking the record previously held by President George W. Bush. As we’ve said before, these “firsts” — and these milestones — are important, not because these judges will consider cases differently, but because a judiciary that better resembles our nation instills even greater confidence in our justice system, and because these judges will serve as role models for generations of lawyers to come. Congratulations to our newest federal judges, who we are confident will serve with honor, distinction, and fidelity to the rule of law.
On This Day – Pete Souza: “Another snowstorm blanketed Washington for the second time in a few days. Because it was a Saturday, I hung around the White House thinking that the President might venture out in the snow with his daughters. Here they are playing in the Rose Garden in the midst of the storm.” Feb. 6, 2010
Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):
8:00AM: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the National Prayer Breakfast
12:00PM: Press Secretary Jay Carney holds a Press Briefing
1:00PM: Vice President Biden speaks on Infrastructure Investment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2:15PM: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Martelly of Haiti
Join the team that cares about getting America covered: ofa.bo/f3v
Sy Mukherjee: Conservatives Seize on Report To Argue Obamacare Is a Job Killer – But The Author Says They’re Wrong
On Wednesday, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Doug Elmendorf refuted the claim that the Affordable Care Act is a job killer — a misleading takeaway from his agency’s new report that is being touted by Obamacare critics. Testifying before the House Budget Committee on the CBO’s newly released economic projections for the next decade, Elmendorf addressed the report’s finding that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the labor participation rate and the total number of hours worked by an equivalent of 2 million jobs in 2017. According to Elmendorf, that statistic is being taken out of context to suggest that Obamacare will eliminate jobs.
If someone says, ‘I decided to retire or stay home and spend more time with my family and spend more time doing my hobby,’ they don’t feel bad about it — they feel good about it. And we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.” Elmendorf also noted that the ACA is actually expected to boost the economy in the near-term by making health insurance and medical care affordable for the poorest Americans, giving them the freedom to spend money in other areas of the economy. “On balance, CBO estimates that the ACA will boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years,” states the report.
Under questioning today before the House Budget Committee from Dem Rep. Chris Van Hollen, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf confirmed that in reality, his report suggests Obamacare will reduce unemployment: The CBO report found that Obamacare — through subsidizing health coverage – would reduce the amount of hours workers choose to work, to the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers over 10 years. This was widely spun by Republicans as a loss of 2.5 million jobs. To counter this, Van Hollen cited the report’s findings on Obamacare’s impact on labor demand, rather than supply.
On page 124, the report estimates that the ACA will “boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years because the people who will benefit from the expansion of Medicaid and from access to the exchange subsidies are predominantly in lower-income households and thus are likely to spend a considerable fraction of their additional resources on goods and services.” This, the report says, “will in turn boost demand for labor over the next few years.” “When you boost demand for labor in this kind of economy, you actually reduce the unemployment rate, because those people who are looking for work can find more work, right?” Van Hollen asked Elmendorf. “Yes, that’s right,” Elmendorf said.
TPM: Iran Is Apparently Adopting Universal Health Care: RouhaniCare
The quasi-official Twitter account for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the country would be adopting a universal health care system to “extend medical insurance to all Iranians.” In English at least, the new government is also adopting a nickname that would sound familiar to American ears: RouhaniCare.
Washington Post: Boehner Urges Allies To Consider Linking Military Benefits To Debt Limit
A new break in the GOP’s debt-ceiling strategy emerged at a private lunch on Wednesday, where House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) encouraged his allies to consider linking a restoration of recently cut military benefits with a one-year extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority.
“He was very warm to it, seeing it as something that can get us out of this fix,” said one attendee, who like the others requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “I think this could be a way for us to get through the debt ceiling, but the speaker is going to spend the next few days taking the temperature of his members.”
Sean Sullivan: Biden To Raise Money For Alex Sink In Florida Special Election
Vice President Biden will travel to Florida next week to attend a fundraising event for Democrat Alex Sink’s campaign for Congress, Biden’s office confirmed Wednesday, marking the White House’s first direct involvement in a special election seen as harbinger of the November midterms.
Sink is running against Republican David Jolly in a Tampa-area swing district. They are competing to success long-serving Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R), whose death last year led to the special election.
Justin Snow: Obama Nominates Second Gay Black Judge To Federal Bench
After his first attempt to nominate an out African-American judge to the federal bench was blocked by Sen. Marco Rubio, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday his intent to try again. According to a release from the White House, Obama will nominate Darrin Gayles to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Gayles, who has served as a circuit court judge for Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit since 2011 and previously served as a county judge for the same circuit from 2004 to 2011, was endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund for his bid for re-election in 2012. If confirmed, Gayles, much like Thomas before him, would become the first out black man in the nation’s history to serve on the federal bench.
Miami Herald: Obama Nominates Four For Federal Judgeships Including Gay Miami-Dade Judge Darrin Gayles
President Barack Obama has nominated four people to serve as federal judges in Florida’s middle and southern districts. Three of those nominated Wednesday are currently circuit judges and one is an attorney in private practice. All four must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
According to a White House announcement, Obama chose Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Beth Bloom and Darrin Gayles for South Florida. Nominees for Florida’s middle district are Putnam County Circuit Judge Carlos Eduardo Mendoza and Orlando attorney Paul Byron.
Anyone who has ever picked up a tabloid knows full well how the 1 percent flouts the laws that bind the rest of us. One night in 2004, 16-year-old Eric Bradlee Miller got drunk on a bottle of vodka, stole a pickup truck at a convenience store, then plowed into a car, killing the driver. Almost ten years later, Ethan Couch, also 16, packed several friends into his father’s pickup, stole two cases of beer from a Walmart, and proceeded to scream down a local thoroughfare until he collided with a disabled vehicle, killing its driver and three passersby. Miller’s grandfather, with whom he lived, had wanted to hire a private lawyer but couldn’t afford the expense, and so the court appointed one instead. The lawyer advised Miller to plead not guilty and take the case to trial, where he was convicted of murder and handed a 20-year sentence.
Couch’s parents hired two prominent local defense attorneys who advised him to plead guilty and wallow in contrition before the judge. Most famously, they enlisted a psychologist to testify that Couch suffered from an obscure malady known as “affluenza,” in which wealthy parents render their children blameless by failing to discipline them. Prosecutors had asked for 20 years; the judge—the same one who sentenced Miller—set Couch free. The only catch was that the teenager would have to spend part of his probation in a California rehab facility with a half-million-dollar annual tab. The only way to bring about the ideal of equal protection under the law is to boost spending on lawyers for the poor and middle class, and to prevent the affluent from spending freely. We must, in effect, socialize the legal profession.
AP: House Conservatives Rule Out Immigration This Year
Conservative Republicans on Wednesday ruled out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate. several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.
“I think it’s a mistake for us to have an internal battle in the Republican Party this year about immigration reform,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told reporters at a gathering of conservatives. “I think when we take back the Senate in 2014 one of the first things we should do next year after we do certain economic issues, I think we should address the immigration issue.” Labrador’s comments were noteworthy as he was one of eight House members working on bipartisan immigration legislation last year. He later abandoned the negotiations.
The Senate last June passed a bipartisan bill that would tighten border security, provide enforcement measures and offer a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally. The measure has stalled in the House where Speaker John Boehner and other leaders have rejected a comprehensive approach in favor of a bill-by-bill process.
Luke Harding: How Snowden Went From Loyal NSA Contractor To Whistleblower
At the time, the figure who most closely embodied Snowden’s rightwing views was Ron Paul, the most famous exponent of US libertarianism. Snowden supported Paul’s 2008 bid for the US presidency. He was also impressed with the Republican candidate John McCain. He wasn’t an Obama supporter as such, but he didn’t object to him, either. Once Obama became president, Snowden came to dislike him intensely. He criticised the White House’s attempts to ban assault weapons. He was unimpressed by affirmative action. Another topic made him even angrier. The Snowden of 2009 inveighed against government officials who leaked classified information to newspapers – the worst crime conceivable, in Snowden’s apoplectic view. In January of that year, the New York Times published a report on a secret Israeli plan to attack Iran. The Times said its story was based on 15 months’ worth of interviews with current and former US officials, European and Israeli officials, other experts and international nuclear inspectors.
TheTrueHOOHA’s response, published by Ars Technica, is revealing. In a long conversation with another user, he wrote the following messages: “WTF NYTIMES. Are they TRYING to start a war?” “They’re reporting classified shit” “moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this? those people should be shot in the balls” “that shit is classified for a reason” “it’s not because ‘oh we hope our citizens don’t find out’ its because ‘this shit won’t work if iran knows what we’re doing'” For the rest of the journey, Greenwald read the latest cache, mesmerised. Sleep was impossible: “I didn’t take my eyes off the screen for a second. The adrenaline was so extreme.” From time to time Poitras would come up from her seat in the rear and grin at Greenwald. “We would just cackle and giggle like schoolchildren. We were screaming and hugging and dancing with each other up and down,” he says. Their celebrations woke up some of their neighbours; they didn’t care.
The report estimated that — thanks to an increase in insurance coverage under the act and the availability of subsidies to help pay the premiums — many workers who felt obliged to stay in a job that provided health benefits would now be able to leave those jobs or choose to work fewer hours than they otherwise would have. In other words, the report is about the choices workers can make when they are no longer tethered to an employer because of health benefits. The cumulative effect on the labor supply is the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers by 2024. Some workers may have had a pre-existing condition and will now be able to leave work because insurers must accept all applicants without regard to health status and charge premiums unrelated to health status.
Some may have felt they needed to keep working to pay for health insurance, but now new government subsidies will help pay premiums, making it more possible for them to leave their jobs. The report clearly stated that health reform would not produce an increase in unemployment (workers unable to find jobs) or underemployment (part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week). It also found “no compelling evidence” that, as of now, part-time employment has increased as a result of the reform law, a frequent claim of critics.
President Obama calls Senators from the Oval Office. Feb. 6, 2009. Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, is seated (Photo by Pete Souza)
Snow blankets the White House south grounds during a blizzard Feb. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a child of a supporter after speaking at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with, from left, Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, Senior Advisor David Plouffe and Speechwriting Associate Director Jonathan Lovett in the Oval Office, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama confers with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough as he talks on the phone in the Oval Office, Feb. 6, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
REI Chief Executive Officer Sally Jewell is congratulated by outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after she was nominated by President Obama to be the next Secretary of the Interior, Feb. 6, 2013