With the mid-term elections heating up and a dozen issues being promoted as The Most Important Issue of Our Day, it is easy to lose track of an issue that really deserves our attention: Climate Change. It is, quite literally, an issue that we ignore at our own peril.
In New York City on Sunday, the People's Climate March will serve to remind people of this vitally important issue and at least get it right-pathed even if it can't be immediately addressed.
In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.
With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history. We'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.
"What I have come to focus on is that in life and as a professional, the principles for which you stand are more important than the office that you hold. I'm very proud to have worked to vindicate the principles of the constitution, and I hope to continue to have those opportunities in the future."
The president addressed the nation on the ISIL threat Wednesday night.
President Barack Obama:
As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We've targeted al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We've done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.
Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We can't erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. And that's why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL -- which calls itself the "Islamic State." [...]
I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve.
But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. And that's why I've insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.
... in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. [...]
Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved -- especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America's core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.
Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. [...]
America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.
Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a Commander-in-Chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform -- pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and servicemembers who support our partners on the ground.
By now most of us should recognize the photos of Marina Silva, currently the Socialist Party candidate for President of Brazil, who may possibly defeat Workers' Party President Dilma Rousseff, in the upcoming elections. She's been attracting a lot of press attention here, with two recent features in the Wall Street Journal.
I've written about Ms. Silva on Black Kos before, in "Through a glass darkly: A United States lens on Brazilian Politics and Race." If she wins, she would become Brazil's first black female President. Several US news outlets have incorrectly stated she would be Brazil's first black president - but that is not exactly correct. It depends on whose racial lens one is looking through, and Silva, is "afro-descendente" (African descended) but so have been other Brazilian Presidents (see my previous article). Silva does fill out the census as "black".
While searching for news pieces from Brazil, on Silva, and Brazilian perspectives I happened upon a Brazilian website with a major feature on Silva. The article emphasized her Afro-Brazilian heritage, which is not surprising since the site is called Black Women of Brazil.
Fascinated, I spent the next 6 or 7 hours reading the features there, which ran the gamut from politics, culture, health, Afro-Brazilian religion and more.
In this week's address, the Vice President discusses our continued economic recovery, with 10 million private sector jobs created over 54 straight months of job creation. Yet even with this good news, too many Americans are still not seeing the effects of our recovery.
As the Vice President explains, there's more that can be done to continue to bolster our economy and ensure that middle class families benefit from the growth they helped create, including closing tax loopholes, expanding education opportunities, and raising the minimum wage.
A federal judge has blocked Ohio's cuts to early voting and its elimination of same-day voter registration-a major voting rights victory in the nation's ultimate presidential battleground state.
Judge Peter Economus ruled Thursday that the cuts violated the Voting Rights Act's ban on racial discrimination in voting, as well as the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. He issued an injunction barring them from going into effect before the November election, and directed Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to add a second Sunday of early voting.[...]
Voting rights advocates cheered.
"This ruling will safeguard the vote for thousands of Ohioans during the midterm election," said Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project, which brought the case. "If these cuts had been allowed to remain in place, many voters would have lost a critical opportunity to participate in our democratic process this November. This is a huge victory for Ohio voters and for all those who believe in protecting the integrity of our elections."
"Today's outcome represents a milestone in our effort to continue to protect voting rights even after the Supreme Court's deeply misguided decision in Shelby County," said Attorney General Eric Holder, during a speech about the Justice Department's investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri police department. The Justice Department had filed a supporting brief in the Ohio challenge.
Of course, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State plans to appeal. We outnumber them and the only hope they have to remain in power is to disenfranchise us. Another reminder of why the presidency --- and the Senate, where judicial nominations are confirmed --- are so important.
A federal judge ruled Thursday that BP was grossly negligent in helping cause the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, and that the oil company is liable for 67 percent of the blame.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said in his decision that BP's conduct was "reckless," while the conduct of Halliburton and Transocean - the other two companies involved in the spill - was "negligent." While BP was 67 percent responsible for the spill, Transocean, an offshore drilling company that owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, was 30 percent responsible, and Halliburton, the contracting company that was responsible for cementing the Macondo well, was only 3 percent responsible. [...]
The ruling opens BP up to a fine of $18 billion - the maxiumum penalty under the Clean Water Act - which the company could be charged if Judge Barbier later rules that, as U.S. prosecutors say, the disaster spilled more than 4 million gallons into the Gulf. BP told the Wall Street Journal that it plans to appeal the decision.
The wheels of justice spin slowly but with good government and strong laws, people can often prevail in the courts.
The shirt is free if you volunteer one hour or you can pay $9 for it and we will use that to pay a Ferguson youth for one hour of work organizing his/her community.
#HealSTL - The struggle continues in Ferguson
In this week's address, the President wished Americans a Happy Labor Day weekend, highlighted the important economic progress we've made, and reaffirmed his commitment to accelerate our progress and ensure that our growing economy fuels a strong middle class.
To do this, the President reiterated that Congress should do right by hardworking Americans across the country and raise the minimum wage, and he praised the 13 states and Washington, D.C. as well as employers large and small who have heeded his call and taken action to provide their citizens and employees a fair wage.
The President underscored that America built the world's greatest middle class by making sure that everyone who's willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead - an economic patriotism worth remembering this Labor Day, and every day.
August 28th was the final day of a week-long call to action by Rev. William Barber, his call for a Moral Week of Action.
The topic was Voting Rights and was marked by a rally encouraging people to vote their dreams, not their fears.
(Note: Reverend Barber speaks at 11:27)
More video from the rally and all 7 days of the Moral Week of Action can be found here: Livestream
The date August 28th was chosen because it was the date in 1955 that a 14 year old black boy, Emmitt Till, was murdered in Mississippi for speaking to a white woman. His murder galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and inspired Rosa Parks to protest in Montgomery AL and was also the day that Martin Luther King led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and shared his dream.
Moral Mondays, the familiar North Carolina protests, are being expanded to Moral Week of Action, a seven-day protest of the state legislature in Raleigh starting Friday.
The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP and a leader of Moral Mondays, said in a video posted Monday that the peaceful protests have attracted attention from people in Missouri.
"We've been asked about coming down to Ferguson and having some conversations with people," Barber said. "They've said that the Moral Monday movement is a model that they need in that community."
North Carolinians frustrated with what has happened in Ferguson should turn to local elections, he said.
"You've got a lot of young people that say they're angry about what they saw in Ferguson, so let them know this," he said. "Mayors and city councils hire police chiefs. People elect mayors and city councils. So if you're concerned about who the police chief is, you need to be organized and registered to vote."
Today was the first day of the seven days of protest, culminating in a major rally on the anniversary of the March on Washington on Aug 28.
A broad coalition of faith, labor, and social justice organizations will hold events in 12 mostly Southern states-Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin-with a different social justice theme every day. Friday kicked off with discussions of labor rights, fair and living wages, and economic justice. The weekend will feature actions on education and criminal justice, then equal protection under the law. A "Youth Moral Monday" will start the work week, then women's rights will take the stage on Women's Equality Day (August 26), followed by health care and environmental justice actions, and finally voting rights.
For many months after the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act's website, it was widely stated as incontrovertible fact that Obamacare was the primary reason Democrats were likely to lose control of the Senate.
But new ad data compiled by Bloomberg News tells a very different story. In three of the top-tier Senate races - North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana - spending on spots about the health law has fallen sharply:
The party's experience across the country shows that Republicans can't count on the issue to motivate independent voters they need to oust Democrats in Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska...
Some GOP candidates, such as Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Scott Brown in New Hampshire, have even vaguely claimed the newly insured should somehow continue to enjoy the law's benefits after it is repealed - again, without saying how. Others, such as Terri Lynn Land in Michigan and Tom Cotton in Arkansas, won't say whether the Medicaid expansion moving forward in their states should be rolled back.
Why has this disappeared as a campaign issue? Because the horror stories about premiums skyrocketing were just stories, wishful thinking by Republicans who have no qualms about sacrificing the lives of their constituents on the altar of their anti-government ideology.
The headlines were all too predictable when Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced in June that it would request an average 12.5 percent premium increase for its Connecticut market. "Now EVEN MORE States Report Double-Digit Premium Hikes," the conservative Daily Caller trumpeted.
But that wasn't the whole story. It never is with Obamacare premium news, though that hasn't stopped news outlets from blaring headlines like that one from the Daily Caller whenever an insurance company announces its proposed rates for next year. Skyrocketing premiums are one of the last anti-Obamacare talking points that conservatives have to hold onto.
But then on Monday, the conclusion of the Connecticut story came. State insurance regulators had rejected Anthem's proposed 12.5 percent premium hike. So after some revisions, the company would instead lower its premiums ever so slightly on average -- 0.1 percent -- in 2015, the Connecticut Mirror reported.
"I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown's death, but I ask for the public's patience as we conduct this investigation. The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me. No matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries, the Justice Department is resolved to preserve the integrity of its investigation. This is a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, not just in Ferguson, but beyond.
We should all be troubled by the bs we see leaking out of Ferguson. Efforts to smear Michael Brown and divert the focus from the pursuit of justice continue.
I kept reading this sentence from the autopsy report of Dr. Michael M. Baden, reported in the New York Times:
One of the bullets shattered Mr. Brown's right eye, traveled through his face, exited his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired.
Across the nation today, people who believe in and demand justice will be gathering.
Groups on the ground in St. Louis are calling for nationwide solidarity actions in support of Justice for Mike Brown and the end of police and extrajudicial killings everywhere. On Saturday at 1pm -- one week after the murder of Mike Brown by a Ferguson police officer--we in St. Louis will gather at the location that Mike was shot in the Canfield Apartment buildings. We ask that you gather at the places in your community on Saturday where police and extrajudicial killings have occurred to memorialize lives that have been lost and demand justice by ending systemic violence upon communities of color.
In this week's address, with schools getting ready to open their doors again over the next few weeks, the President talked directly to students and parents about the importance of preparing for an education beyond high school.
In today's economy, some higher education continues to be the surest ticket to the middle class, but for too many families across the country, paying for higher education is a constant struggle. The President and First Lady know this first hand -- they only finished paying off their student loans ten years ago -- and that's why they have made it a priority to help make college more affordable for families. They have taken action to reform student loans, expand grants and college tax credits, help make loan payments more manageable, and have proposed plans to make sure colleges also do their part to bring down costs. And just this week, as part of the President's Year of Action, the administration announced a new series of commitments to support students who need a little extra academic help getting through college.
A few weeks ago I had planned to write a piece about the upcoming anniversary of a case of police brutality that had a slightly different end to it than we have come to expect from the criminal injustice system in America. The unarmed black man assaulted by police didn't die. Not only did he not die, he went on to sue the NYC and the NYPD and won "the largest police brutality settlement in New York City history". His primary police assailants were put on trial, and the officer responsible for the sodomizing, Justin Volpe is still incarcerated. Sadly, the others involved are not.
That man was Abner Louima, and the anniversary of his brutal attack, beating and sodomizing while in NYPD custody was on August the 9th, 1997.
But August the 9th is now the anniversary of yet another attack, this time ending in death, of an unarmed young black teenager, at the hands of police. Michael Brown.
States led by anti-abortion governors and legislatures have been passing a broad array of measures over the past few years aimed at making the procedure more difficult for women to obtain.[...]
[A] federal district court judge in Alabama this week struck down as unconstitutional a portion of state law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges. Last week, a federal appeals court panel struck down a similar law in Mississippi. And a third law of the same type is awaiting a ruling in Wisconsin.[...]
Admitting-privileges legislation would impose stricter requirements on facilities where abortions are performed than on facilities that perform much riskier procedures," says Jeanne Conry, former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
"As an example, the mortality rate associated with a colonoscopy is more than 40 times greater than that of abortion," she says, yet gastroenterologists who perform such procedures outside of the hospital setting do not face similar requirements "in the context of safety."
Judge Myron Thompson explains in his opinion striking down the law, it "would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama's five abortion clinics." As Thompson interprets the Supreme Court's precedents, his court "must determine whether, examining the regulation in its real-world context," it imposes an obstacle to women's right to choose an abortion that "is more significant than is warranted by the State's justifications for the regulation."
A provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that allows young people to remain on their parents' insurance may have increased the use of mental health services among that demographic, a new study suggests. The findings make a case for an expansion of mental health services for the Millennial generation.
Researchers collected data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health and surveyed more than 20,000 people from 2008 - two years before the ACA provision went into effect - to 2012. They found that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who screened positive for mental disorders or substance abuse sought mental health services at a rate five percentage points greater than that of adults in the 26- to 35-year-old age bracket. Out-of-pocket payments for mental health visits among young people also decreased by more than 12 percentage points, according to the study.
Today I authorized two operations in Iraq -- targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death. [...]
To stop the advance on Erbil, I've directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city. We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad. We're also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.
Second, at the request of the Iraqi government -- we've begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain. As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis. And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect. Countless Iraqis have been displaced. And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women.
ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide.
I've said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there's a crisis in the world. So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain -- with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help -- in this case, a request from the Iraqi government -- and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That's what we're doing on that mountain.
I've, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there. Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive. Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, "There is no one coming to help." Well today, America is coming to help. We're also consulting with other countries -- and the United Nations -- who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.
I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these. I understand that. I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that's what we've done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there's no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.
More on the humanitarian crisis and the president's statement ...
"I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world - partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect."
President Obama in August will welcome leaders from across the African continent to the Nation's Capital for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. This Summit, the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, will build on the President's trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and it will strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world's most dynamic and fastest growing regions. Specifically, the August 4-6 Summit will advance the Administration's focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlight America's commitment to Africa's security, its democratic development, and its people. At the same time, it will highlight the depth and breadth of the United States' commitment to the African continent, advance our shared priorities and enable discussion of concrete ideas to deepen the partnership. At its core, this Summit is about fostering stronger ties between the United States and Africa.
The theme of the Summit is "Investing in the Next Generation." Focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government's responsibility and work, and this Summit is an opportunity to discuss ways of stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation.
The Republican Party is making a point of not mentioning "Impeachment". In fact just yesterday, Famously Insane Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said this:
"I think Congress has to sit down, have a serious look at the rest of this constitution, and that includes that 'i' word that we don't want to say,"
He was talking about the other "I" word, "Immigration" and making sure that President Obama knew that trying to fix the immigration crisis via executive order (yes, the same crisis that Speaker Boehner (R-OH) begged him to fix via executive order) would trigger Impeachment.
Why is Rep. King so adamant about this? Because he is the author of HR 5272, aka, The Republican Party Suicide Note. He was bursting with pride over it:
"The changes brought into this are ones I've developed and advocated for over the past two years," he told CQ Roll Call. "It's like I ordered it off the menu."
Well, as one who wants the Republican party to shrink into Irrelevance (another great "I" word!), seeing them following the lead of Steve King would be something I would order off the menu.
In two days, Congress leaves Washington for a month, and the President noted that there is still time to get things done. But rather than voting on bills that would provide resources to fight wildfires in the West, or prevent the Highway Trust Fund from running out of money, the President pointed out that Republicans in Congress are focused on one issue.
"The main vote that they've scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job."
And they voted Thursday, 225 to 201, to do just that.
The president to Congress:
"Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time...Let's get some work done together."