Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Washington Watch: Week 13

As We Dance: The Sequester Festers

It seems the media can cover ONLY ONE major story a week....and then it's on to the next one. The Sequester is old news. The HuffPo has run a couple of reports on the lack of major media coverage even though there ARE people suffering as the result of this latest government stalemate.

At the beginning of the month (April 3) the Huffington Post reported Sequestration Effects: Cuts Sting Communities Nationwide, concluding:
"On the national level, sequestration may be defined by canceled White House tours and long lines at airports that never materialized. But on the local level, it is beginning to sting."
The cuts listed included:

"Organizations and companies have begun laying off workers, while many more have decided not to staff vacant positions.
Schools on military bases are contemplating four-day weekly schedules.
Food pantries have closed, as have centers that provide health services.
Farmers have been forced to go without milk production information, causing alarm in the dairy industry and the potential of higher milk prices.
Workers at missile-testing fields are facing job losses.
Federal courts have closed on Fridays.
Public Broadcasting transmitters have been shut down.
Even luxury cruises are feeling the pinch, with passengers forced to wait hours before debarking because of delays at Customs and Immigration."
This past week, the HuffPo found that the media paid a little more attention to the sequester in their report:  In Flight Delays, Cable Finds A Sequestration Story Worth Covering, saying -
"Since sequestration's $85 billion in federal spending cuts went into effect last month, food pantries have closed, contractors have been furloughed, unemployment benefits have been reduced, low-income children have lost their Head Start spots and national parks have had to reduce their offerings. Low-income Americans have been hit particularly hard by many of these indiscriminate cuts.Yet the sequestration-related issue that has received the most attention in the national media is the closure of a number of air traffic control towers and the furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration workers, which have led to flight delays."
So what's the deal? Are people just sick of bad news? Are people so mistrustful of government they don't know what to believe? Are people back to work and recovering from the recession and BUSY? Are those most affected lacking a voice in the media to espouse their concerns?

My guess is ALL of the above. Some say the results of sequestration are just starting to take effect and there will be more of an uproar as more Americans are affected by the budget cuts. Don't expect a resolution until then.

Never Forget: "The Four Young Girls in Birmingham"

This past week, the House of Representatives voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to four African-American girls killed in a Birmingham church almost fifty years ago. The tragic event, which signaled a significant escalation of civil rights era violence, happened on September 15, 1963. The girls: Addie Mae Collins, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were attending Sunday School at the 16th Street Baptist Church when a bomb killed them and injured 22 other churchgoers.

Although much has been written about the event, according to the Washington Post, there was little recognition to the girls themselves. The Post reports:
"Over the years, the “four little girls,” as they’re known by some, have received fewer honors — there’s a Chicago scholarship program named for them and a memorial at Birmingham City Hall.
That changed Wednesday, when the House approved a bill honoring the four girls with the medal. The measure is cosponsored by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who began pushing for the honor earlier this year with other members of the Alabama congressional delegation.
During a congressional trip in late February to visit key landmarks in the civil rights movement, aides said Sewell and her colleagues personally lobbied House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who spoke in support of the bill on the House floor Wednesday.
The honor “is a strong reminder of how many people fought and died in the Civil Rights Movement so that this country could live up to its founding ideals of equality and opportunity,” Cantor said."
The bill must be approved by the House and Senate and signed by the President. Supporters are hoping to award the honor on September 15 of this year, which the Post notes is also a Sunday.

First Dad Tells Daughters: Just Try It!

Media reports Barack Obama's ruse to stop his daughters getting a tattoo. During an interview with NBC's The Today Show, the President said:
“What we’ve said to the girls is, ‘If you guys ever decide you're going to get a tattoo, then mommy and me will get the exact same tattoo. In the same place,’” Obama said with a smile. “And we'll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo.

You Can't Keep a Politician Down...or Off Twitter

Ex-New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned his office after the revelation of illicit tweets by him to women who weren't his wife, is talking about throwing his hat into the political ring again.  Weiner announced he is thinking about running for New York City mayor. In an extensive article in New York Times Magazine, Weiner emerges from a self-imposed exile. The report says his political action committee (PAC) has spent $100K on polling and research for a potential run.

Catalina Camia, of USA TODAY describes recent interviews given by Weiner in which he says there may be more lewd tweets out there than previously reported, AND in a shocker -- he is BACK ON TWITTER!


President Obama's First Term

A Look Back at Week 13 - 2009:

As the Administration completes the first one hundred days, the President continues his campaign promise of bringing change, common sense, and competence to Washington. Addressing middle-class concerns such as improving credit card practices, and access to student loans, Obama kept up his pace which included meeting with a world leader, as well as students at a Southeast D.C. High School. The President added another item to his packed agenda with concerns rising over the Swine Flu outbreak. He assured the public that he is personally monitoring the possible spread of the disease, and that his Administration will make every effort to keep Americans healthy. --more--

  • The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – “Connecting Deeds to Needs.”  Students from the SEED school in Washington, DC were excited to see entertainer Usher at their school, however their most enthusiastic applause was for their President, Barack Obama. The school of mostly African-American students, located in the Southeast section of the city, is a campus and dormitory for college-bound teenagers which includes public service as a key part of its curriculum. The President—joined by former President Bill Clinton, Congressional leaders, and community activists—addressed the students after a rousing introduction from Senator Edward Kennedy. --more--
  • Obama meets King Abdullah of Jordan. The President held a one-on-one meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan in the Personal Dining Room at the White House, followed by an expanded meeting in the Oval Office. King Abdullah, the first Arab leader to meet Obama in the White House, offered “warm thanks on behalf of many Arabs and Muslims who really had an outstanding response to the President's outreach to the Muslim Arab world.” First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Abdullah’s wife—Queen Rania in the Yellow Oval Room in the White House Residence. --more--
  • Obama Returns to Iowa on Earth Day. The Obama Administration celebrated Earth Day with the President in Iowa laying out his vision for creating a new clean energy economy, including independence from foreign oil, reduced pollution of our air and water, and finally addressing climate change. --more--
  • Sojourner Truth Statue Unveiled. The National Congress of Black Women fought for over a decade to get a statue of Sojourner Truth, abolitionist and woman's rights activist, in the U.S. Capitol Building. The project (originally started by their late president, Dr. C. Delores Tucker) became reality at an unveiling ceremony at the Capitol Visitors Center's Emancipation Hall. Guests for the event included the First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who years ago co-sponsored legislation with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to bring the statue to the Capitol. --more--


And Finally.....back to 2013:

Future Scientists (and Presidents?)

From "President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., while looking at exhibits at the White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room, April 22, 2013. The sports-loving grade-schoolers created a new product concept to keep athletes cool and helps players maintain safe body temperatures on the field." (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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