Monthly Archives: April 2010

President Obama Makes Statement on Economy and Oil Spill

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by: Jessie Lee


REUTERS: ANOTHER OIL RIG OVERTURNS IN GULF COAST… DEVELOPING…

That Economic Heartbeat is Growing Stronger

President Obama comments on the first quarter 2010 GDP numbers in the Rose Garden of the White House, April, 30, 2010. President Obama is joined by representatives and workers from two U.S. manufacturers, Itron, a Washington state based manufacturer of smart energy meters, and A123 Systems, a Massachusetts based advanced battery manufacturer, that are expanding production and hiring as a result of Recovery Act investments in innovation and technology. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Earlier today, President Obama delivered remarks on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico before talking about the economy. He explained that while BP is ultimately responsible for the costs of cleanup operations, the government has been discussing the response effort with BP and is prepared to help affected communities.

He announced that there are now five staging areas to protect sensitive shorelines along with federal response personnel in the area and response vessels and aircraft on the scene. The President also said that Secretary Salazar will conduct a thorough review of the oil spill and report on additional precautions and technologies that should be required to prevent future accidents.

So, let me be clear.  I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security, but I’ve always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment.  The local economies and livelihoods of the people of the Gulf Coast as well as the ecology of the region are at stake.  And we’re going to continue to update the American people on the situation in the Gulf going forward.

The President then discussed the GDP report released today, which shows that the economy grew at a rate of 3.2 percent as opposed to last year during the quarter when it shrank at a rate of 6.4 percent. He explained that the number shows that the “economic heartbeat is growing stronger,” but that he measures progress by a different pulse – “the progress the American people feel in their own lives day in, day out.” The President stated that “the work of moving the economy forward remains our focus every single day.”

Now, government can’t replace every job that has been lost. That’s not government’s role.  It is America’s business all across the country — the private sector, businesses — that have always been and will always be the engines of our job creation.  Our task, then, is to create the conditions necessary for those businesses to open their doors, expand their operations, and ultimately hire more workers.

That’s precisely what we’ve tried to do by cutting taxes for small businesses; by backing thousands of loans supporting billions of dollars in lending; and by making targeted investments in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest -– areas like clean energy.

He talked about Itron and A123 Systems, both companies that were able to capitalize their growth by taking advantage of the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit in the Recovery Act, which helped several companies hire more workers, add equipment, boost output, and promote American business in the clean energy industry.

In fact, this program was so successful that it was oversubscribed by a ratio of three to one.  That’s why I’ve called for an additional $5 billion in investment into these projects to accelerate the creation of clean-energy jobs in America’s factories.  Because every time a new factory or plant opens or expands in America, it becomes important to more people than the workers it employs; it becomes an economic lifeline to a community, capable of supporting dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of jobs indirectly.

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First Lady Michelle Obama & Congressional Spouses Paint Murals and Plant Butterfly Garden at DC Elementary School

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama plants a garden with Leonn Dickson, 10, left, Vladimir Leon, 10, and Farhana Alam, 9, students at Marie H. Reed Learning Center during a service project in Washington, on Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

AP~First Lady Michelle Obama brandished a paintbrush Thursday to add a little color to a mural at an elementary school in northwest Washington and demonstrate the value of community service.

Obama joined a group of congressional spouses at the Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, where they painted murals of butterflies and flowers around a courtyard and helped plant a butterfly garden and a vegetable plot.

The event came a day after the Congressional Club’s annual luncheon.

“It’s so good that everybody has made a commitment to step out of our tea dresses and away from the crystal and to roll up our sleeves and be ready to paint and to get a little dirty,” said Obama, who arrived wearing canvas low-top sneakers and with her sleeves rolled up.

The first lady joked that school officials were taking a risk by entrusting their walls to well-intentioned but “not necessarily artistic people.”

Obama and the lawmakers’ spouses worked with students from the Reed Center and young people from two after-school programs that were recently honored at the White House: the Sitar Art Center and Higher Achievement, an academic enrichment program for middle school students. The students had outlined and painted the backgrounds for the murals ahead of time.

Adams Morgan is largely an immigrant neighborhood, and English is a second language for many students at the Reed Center. The school offers a dual-language Spanish-English program.

“I’m really excited because this is my dream come true,” fourth-grader Farhana Alam said before the first lady’s arrival. “I really wanted to see the president, but at least I could see his wife. My next dream is to go to the White House and shake hands with the president and make friendship with his daughters.”

Remarks by the First Lady at Congressional Service Event

Photos from AP, Reuters and our friends at Obama Foodorama, which has additional coverage of the event.

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The First Lady used black, red and yellow paint to fill in one of the outlined butterflies. Underneath, she wrote a message: Dream big dreams! (Photo courtesy of Obama Foodorama)

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Childhood Obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama, Students, Uncategorized

Al Franken To Hold Fundraiser Featuring Fellow Saturday Night Live Veterans

Posted by: Audiegrl


Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is set to reunite with some fellow Saturday Night Live veterans at a Democratic fundraiser this weekend in Los Angeles.

The event, taking place at the renowned House of Blues, will be hosted by Dan Aykroyd and his wife Donna, who are expected to be joined by former SNL regulars Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Proceeds from the first reception — which will cost between $2,400 and $4,800 a person — will go to “Franken MVPs,” a new PAC that splits donations between Franken’s personal 2014 Senate reelection campaign and other leadership PACs, the Tribune reports.

A less expensive event is also scheduled to take place later in the night, featuring the same notable guests from the entertainment and political world.

Sen. Franken also pulled some strings with his SNL connections last month, when he borrowed “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers for a Minneapolis fundraiser.

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GOPer Ken Blackwell Talks ‘Obama’s Power Grab‘ — And Jon Stewart Tears Him Down

Posted by: BuellBoy

TPM~If you think Jon Stewart hasn’t taken down enough Republicans lately…

Last night he had on Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council and former Republican candidate for president Ken Blackwell, who has written a book called “The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.”

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President Obama Honors 2010 National Teacher of the Year

Posted by: WillieBeyond
Written by Sarah Brown Wessling

Is this where I pinch myself?

2010 National Teacher of the Year award recipient Sarah Brown Wessling (C) of Johnson Community School District in Iowa speaks as President Barack Obama (R), and Education Secretary Arne Duncan (L) listen during a Rose Garden ceremony April 29, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. Presenting the award has been a presidential tradition since Harry Truman. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

Earlier today, I was honored to join President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Dr. Biden in the Rose Garden of the White House to accept the National Teacher of the Year award.

I couldn’t be more overwhelmed and humbled by this honor. I was joined by the most remarkable assemblages of teachers – the 2010 State Teachers of the Year – I have known. Each is gifted and passionate about the work he or she does; yet, together we are galvanized in our shared vision of what teaching and learning can be. My family, my administrators, some of my own teachers and former students, along with many representatives from the State of Iowa were also in attendance. In front of us all is the collective responsibility to create hope and opportunity for every child in this country.

I think there is a misconception about this honor, that its purpose is to differentiates one teacher from another. Rather, this honor is about our similarities, about what unites us. It’s the deliberateness I share with Daniel, the design I share with Kate, the attention to students I share with Melissa, the pursuit of ideas I share with Ed – all of these teachers here and from home. It is about the purpose I share with each educator standing here today.

If you were to come into my classroom, the first thing you would notice is that my desk is in the back corner, despite the building design to make it otherwise. This placement is but an outward sign of an implicit philosophy, that teaching must be learner-centered.

“The desk in the back of the room” displaces hierarchies, creates an environment where a teacher becomes a lead learner, and evolves into a web of interdependence where the classroom walls become boundless. When we embrace this open-model of learning, the consumers of our curriculum will become designers of their own learning.

It is in these moments of learning that I fondly think of my students. I am here because my students couldn’t be. When we listen to them, their message is clear: Labria would say she deserves worthy learning experiences; Robert would want to be seen as an individual, not as a number or the score on an exam; Meredith would clamor for innovative curriculum; Jasmina would say she deserves passionate teachers. They all would say we need 21st century teachers, not just adults teaching in the 21st century.

Our dream for our students is the same dream we have for our own children, to be recognized for their strengths, to learn from their weaknesses and to be seen as a person of infinite potential.

We are facing tough times in education when it may be difficult to find what to hold onto, but each learner is a story. I see the world in stories and I believe it is these stories that will sustain and teach us. They will challenge and sometimes confuse us. But in the same way that I believe in the transformative power of language to unite us, I am certain that the stories of our students will sustain us.

The 2010 Teachers of the Year are here because our students couldn’t be, because their stories compel us to be here, because we couldn’t be anywhere else.

Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, and the recipient of this year’s National Teacher of the Year Award.

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Lawsuits Over AZ Immigration Law Filed By Police Officer, Latino Group

Posted by: BuellBoy

AP~Anger mounted Thursday over an Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration as a police officer filed one of the first lawsuits challenging the law and activists gathered outside an Arizona Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, chanting “Boycott Arizona.”

The lawsuit from 15-year Tucson police veteran Martin Escobar is one of two filed Thursday, less than a week after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law that’s sparked fears it will lead to racial profiling despite the governor’s vow that officers will be properly trained.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government may challenge the law, which requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

Escobar, an overnight patrol officer in a heavily Latino area of Tucson, argues there’s no way for officers to confirm people’s immigration status without impeding investigations, and that the new law violates numerous constitutional rights.

Tucson police spokesman Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said Escobar is acting on his own, not on behalf of the department.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders also filed a lawsuit Thursday, and is seeking an injunction preventing authorities from enforcing the law. The group argues federal law pre-empts state regulation of national borders, and that Arizona’s law violates due process rights by letting police detain suspected illegal immigrants before they’re convicted.

“Mexican-Americans are not going to take this lying down,” singer Linda Ronstadt, a Tucson native, said at a state Capitol news conference on another lawsuit planned by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Immigration Law Center.

At least three Arizona cities – Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson – are considering legal action to block the law. In Flagstaff, police are investigating a threatening e-mail sent to members of the city council over their opposition to the law. The author said council members should be “arrested, tried in court, found guilty of treason and hanged from the nearest tree!”

About 40 immigrant rights activists gathered outside Wrigley Field in Chicago Thursday as the Cubs open a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. A small plane toting a banner criticizing the law circled the stadium, and activist George Lieu said they’ve sent a letter to Cubs management asking them to stop holding spring training in Arizona.

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Arizona Boycott Goes Viral As State’s Tourism Industry Tries to Fight Back

BNet.com/Barbara E. Hernandez~While Arizona tourism tries to resist the tidal wave of anti-Arizona sentiment triggered by the state’s passage of a tough new law that targets illegal immigrants, it may be a losing battle when stacked up against viral social media and negative word-of-mouth. Worse, the state looks to lose 3.8 million visitors a year from Mexico, whose citizens are now leery of police stops and harassment.

The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association set up its own Facebook page, called “Don’t Boycott AZ Tourism” most likely to battle the three other “Boycott Arizona” Facebook pages already in use, a petition site and a general Arizona-bashing. The Facebook page, which has the sub-headline of “Don’t punish 200k tourism employees for politics,” so far has 802 followers. The primary Boycott Arizona page has more than 11,000. That’s what the Arizona hospitality industry is up against — a very aggressive and antagonistic social media campaign oppposed to Arizona’s controversial new anti-immigrant laws.

So far it’s working. The American Immigration Lawyers Association notified JW Marriott in Scottsdale that it will cancel a 300-plus person event, saying, “We didn’t feel it was appropriate to have a meeting in (the) state.”

At the Arizona Inn in Tucson, 12 customers canceled reservations or said they wouldn’t come to the state because of the recent law.

“This is a very scary situation that the police can now just come up to you for no reason and ask for papers,” Joy Mann, a prospective guest who had previously stayed at the inn, wrote . . . in an e-mail message. “My son is a construction worker and is very suntanned. I cannot ask him to join us there now, as I would fear for him.”

The law may have even more consequences for international tourism. Visitors to Arizona spent $18.5 billion and supported about 167,000 jobs in 2008. Out of the 37 million visitors staying overnight, about 3.8 million came from Mexico, the largest single source of international visitors. The new anti-immigrant laws that may mean being pulled over by police and required to prove immigration status, will affect those visitors most. On Tuesday, Mexico issued a travel advisory for its citizens, telling them, “It must be assumed that every Mexican citizen may be harassed and questioned without further cause at any time.”

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SNL’s Seth Meyers Slams Arizona’s Immigration Law, Calls It ‘Fascist’

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