“Making Use of America’s Talent”


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We hope this message finds you well. As President Obama’s “Year of Action” continues, Senior White House Officials are joining him in taking this work to the Nation.

Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, recently participated in the New York Regional Forum on Working Families to talk about issues ranging from paid leave to flexible scheduling. Click here to read more about Jarrett’s personal journey to balance the schedules of work and family.

On Monday, May 19th, Dr. Betsey Stevenson, a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers, spoke at the Boston Regional Forum and talked about Making Full Use of America’s Talent. As Dr. Stevenson writes, “Workplaces can change — many already have. Workplaces that offer part-time schedules, scheduling flexibility, or work-from-home options have found that these policies can help recruit and retain workers, increasing productivity.” Click here to read more and be sure to visit www.workingfamiliessummit.org.

In related news, President Obama continued his push for an increase in the minimum wage. Women disproportionately work in low-wage jobs, and more than half of the workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage are women. Read below or click here to learn more.

We couldn’t possibly finish our note without asking you to mark your calendars (May 27th) for the 2014 White House Science Fair! This year, there will be a special focus on girls in STEM. Click here to learn more and stay tuned for updates.

Visit us on the web at www.whitehouse.gov/women and follow @vj44 for updates on all this and more.

Thank you so much for all that you do!

White House Council on Women and Girls

A 21st Century Workplace for Today’s Working Families

Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls shares her thoughts:

Every day in America, there are single moms struggling to take sick children to doctors’ appointments because missing work isn’t an option. Working dads find themselves straining to focus at work, because their employer doesn’t provide paternity leave that would enable them to contribute at home and bond with their new babies. Young women are questioning their ability to thrive in the workplace as they try to balance the needs of their families with their responsibilities at work.

 

Nearly half of America’s workforce is now comprised of women, and three-fourths of households are headed by a working single parent, or two working parents. Still, our workplaces have yet to catch up by implementing policies which empower women, and provide flexibility for parents.

 

Click here to read more.

Making Full Use of America’s Talent

Dr. Betsey Stevenson, Member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, shares her thoughts:

I told a friend recently that I thought that I was failing at everything — my kids weren’t getting enough of me, I wasn’t doing everything that I wanted to at work, and I wasn’t spending enough time with my partner. Her response was to congratulate me for getting my work-life balance just right…

 

Workplace flexibility enabled us to bridge the gap between our care and career responsibilities, but many working women still don’t have this option. Research shows us that women are deterred from entering certain professions with long hours or inflexible schedules because they worry about balancing work and family responsibilities, and are often forced into a less productive career paths as a result. Many workers — both men and women — also lack access to paid family leave and high quality affordable child care, forcing them to make difficult choices between work and family. By limiting career options of some talented workers, we are failing to build an economy that can operate at its full potential and jeopardizing our ability to compete on the world stage. In order to continue making the kind of economic progress we’ve seen in the last 100 years, we’re going to have to reshape the workplaces of today and tomorrow.

 

Click here to read more.

The Benefits of Raising the Minimum Wage for America’s Women

Raising the minimum wage is especially important for women, who are highly concentrated in low-wage jobs and occupations.

Learn more and then share this graphic with others.

Check out the infographic

Announcing the White House Science Fair and Celebrating Girls Excelling in STEM

President Obama checks out a White House Science Fair presentation

President Barack Obama gets down on his hands and knees as he looks at the inner workings of a robot that plays soccer, built by a team from Blue Bell, Pa., as he tours science projects on display in the State Dining Room of the White House. President Obama hosted the White House Science Fair for winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. October 18, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Next week – on Tuesday, May 27 – the White House is going to be filled with robots, science projects, and more. Students from around the country are headed to the 2014 White House Science Fair hosted by President Obama, and we couldn’t be more excited. With students from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, this year’s Fair will include a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work.

Stay tuned, because this week, we’ll be previewing some of the amazing girls who will be presenting their projects at the White House Science Fair. Since day one, the President has been committed to getting more underrepresented groups, including women and girls, excited to excel at STEM subjects. For example, in the Administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition, President Obama granted states competitive preference if they demonstrated efforts to close the STEM gap for girls and other groups that are underrepresented.

The President began the tradition of hosting White House Science Fairs in 2009 when he launched his Educate to Innovate campaign to inspire more girls and boys to excel in STEM subjects. As the President has noted, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.” In the run up to the Science Fair, we also want you to share your stories, and we want to highlight YOUR First Science Fair project. So for this Thursday’s Throw Back Thursday, tweet us a photo of your science fair projects and other STEM work from when you were a kid using #TBTsciencefair!

Follow us here @WhiteHouse and @WhiteHouseOSTP as we plan to join in the fun as well.

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Drinking Chemical Out Of a Tank


By

5 Terrible Things That Happened In A Charleston Jail During The West Virginia Chemical Spill

It’s been over four months since West Virginia was thrown into a state of emergency after roughly 10,000 gallons of coal chemicals leaked in the water supply and left 300,000 people without potable water. The state took immediate action for many of its residents, shutting down schools and calling the National Guard to help distribute water. But in a detailed investigation released today, Think Progress reports on one group that didn’t receive the proper treatment: the 429 prisoners locked in Charleston’s overcrowded jail,entirely dependent on the state to provide them clean water.

The investigation, based on interviews with multiple current and former inmates, their family members and internal documents obtained by Think Progress, paints a dire picture. We’ve pulled out five of the most disconcerting pieces of information. Head over to the blog to read the entire story.

1. Jail officials initially said they provided inmates with a “plentiful supply of water,” then acknowledged later that was untrue. The only article prior to the Think Progress investigation included jail officials claiming they gave inmates eight 8-oz bottles of water per day. When confronted with jail documents instructing guards to give inmates four bottles per day, and inmate allegations that they sometimes received just two, officials openly said that “some of the information provided to the paper was in fact untrue.” The Institute of Medicine recommends men over 19 years old drink at least 12 8-oz bottles of water per day:

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2. Inmates spoke of choosing between chemical-laced tap water or severe dehydration. One inmate, Eric Ayers, initially opted for the latter option. “That lasted about a day,” he said. “I was just extremely exhausted. I got headaches, felt like I couldn’t do anything. My urine was dark yellow, almost orange.” Some started selling bottles of water for $1.60 a piece, while another “saw a guy make coffee out of toilet water.”

3. Jail officials also exaggerated the extent of the flushing process for cleaning out the taps. Prior to the Think Progress investigation, the public thought that the jail went through a “very extensive” flushing process that lasted two to three days–similar to other public facilities. Jail logs show, however, that flushing occurred in a single day, not three. Officials said they followed formal protocol and ran taps for 20 minutes, but here is how one inmate described it: “After two to three minutes they said good to go you can drink the water. It tasted real strong. Just like drinking that chemical out of a tank.”

4. Inmates may have been placed in solitary confinement for getting sick from drinking the polluted water. From the Think Progress report: “In February, inmates say they were notified of a new policy. Anyone that made more than three sick calls in a month would be moved to medical isolation until they saw a doctor. If there weren’t any bunks there, inmates say they could be put in solitary confinement.”

5. The jail where this all took place has been called “the worst in the state” when it comes to overcrowding. South Central Regional Jail houses 476 inmates, which is over 50 percent above the jail’s intended capacity (currently, sixteen inmates are sleeping on mats on the floor). Perhaps as a consequence of this, the jail has also struggled to keep corrections officers on staff; one former administrator acknowledged that “the good people we do get, we work them to death, they burn out, and then they’re gone.” That’s led to a jump in assaults.

BOTTOM LINE: Thanks to breakthrough investigative reporting, the ramifications of the West Virginia chemical spill are still being discovered. When society’s more basic resources — like running water — disappear, it hits the most vulnerable among us the hardest. And when those people are already in a situation that is under-resourced, the negative impacts are magnified.

Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

A Death in St. Augustine … PBS


 

By O’Connell Family
St Augustine, Florida

On September 2, 2010 our beautiful Michelle was taken from us all. Behind she left a precious young daughter, mother, sisters, brothers and many, many friends. Not a soul that knew Michelle believes for a moment that she was distraught in any way, we also know that there is no way under any circumstance she would have left her daughter behind without a mother to care for her.

We undoubtably believe that Michelle’s boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, an officer with the St. Johns County Sherriff’s Department, killed her and claimed she committed suicide. But after Jeremy told his fellow officers his story – that Michelle broke up with him and took her own life – the St. Johns County sheriff’s department effectively stopped their investigation. Jeremy was never treated like a suspect – police treated him like a brother.

No evidence was tested, no family or neighbors were interviewed and no data was downloaded from Michelle’s cellphone despite the fact that she had never shown signs of being suicidal before. Michelle would never have taken her own life. She loved her four-year-old daughter, Alexis too much. She had just received a promotion for a job she was supposed to start the next day. She sent a text to her sister stating she was leaving to get her daughter and less than 5 minutes later was shot and killed.

There are two neighbors who stated they heard a woman cry for help, then a shot, another cry for help, and another shot. They passed FBI issued polygraph tests.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement believes without a doubt that this was a homicide and still State Attorney Brad King refuses to take this case to a grand jury. In March of 2012 the FDLE wrote to King: “It is my office’s opinion based on the facts of this case and your memorandum that this case clearly warrants an Inquest into the death of Michelle O’Connell…”

We are calling on Governor Rick Scott to honor the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s request for a coroner’s inquest into the shooting death of Michelle O’Connell because the evidence is not consistent with a suicide. In ordering this inquest, the message will be sent that the protection of women involved in domestic conflicts will get the full benefit of the law.

Please watch the PBS Frontline documentary: “A Death in St. Augustine”

Read the New York Times investigation “Two Gunshots on a Summer Night”

Read the FDLE request for a coroner’s inquest.

the Senate ~~ CONGRESS 5/22 ~~ the House


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The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00am on Thursday, May 22, 2014.

Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 1:45pm with the time equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees. The final 10 minutes will be equally divided and controlled between Senators Leahy and Paul with Senator Leahy controlling the final 5 minutes.

 At 1:45pm, there will be 2 roll call votes:

–        Confirmation of Executive Calendar 576, David Jeremiah Barron, of Massachusetts, to be United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit and

–        Adoption of the conference report to accompany H.R.3080, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (60-vote threshold).

Senator Menendez asked unanimous consent that at a time to be determined by the Majority leader, in consultation with the Republican Leader, the Senate vote on ratification of Executive Calendar #9 treaty document 112-1, Protocol Amending Tax Convention with Swiss Confederation.

 

By consent, following the vote on H.R.3080, the WRDA conference report, the Senate will proceed to the consideration of Executive Calendar #638, Richard G. Frank, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. With this agreement, at 1:45pm, there could be as many as 3 roll call votes, however, we expect only 2roll call votes.

Senator Rubio asked unanimous consent to take up and pass H.R.4031, Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014. Senator Sanders objected.

 

Senator Sanders asked unanimous consent to take up and pass S.1950, Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. Senator Rubio objected.

At 1:49pm, the Senate began a 15 minute roll call vote on confirmation of Executive Calendar 576, David Jeremiah Barron, of Massachusetts, to be United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit;

Confirmed: 53-45

 

Next:

  1. Adoption of the conference report to accompany H.R.3080, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (60-vote threshold)
  2. Confirmation of Executive Calendar #638, Richard G. Frank, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (voice vote expected)

2:15pm, the Senate began a 10 minute roll call vote on adoption of the conference report to accompany H.R.3080, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (60-vote threshold);

Adopted: 91-7

This will be the last vote of the day.

There will be no further roll call votes this week. The motion to proceed to S.2363, A bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, is the pending business.

Senator Reid asked unanimous consent to take up and confirm Executive Calendar #767  Stanley Fischer, of New York, to be Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a term of four years. On behalf of Senator Paul, Senator Hatch objected.

WRAP UP

Roll Call Votes

1)     Confirmation of Executive Calendar 576, David Jeremiah Barron, of Massachusetts, to be United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit; Confirmed: 53-45

2)     Adoption of the conference report to accompany H.R.3080, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (60-vote threshold); Agreed to: 91-7

 

 

Additional Legislative items

Passed H.R.724, To amend the Clean Air Act to remove the requirement for dealer certification of new light-duty motor vehicles.

 

Passed H.R.862, Coconino National Forest Land Conveyance.

 

Passed H.R.316, Collinsville Renewable Energy Production Act with a committee-reported substitute amendment.

 

Passed S.2198 , The Emergency Drought Relief Act with Feinstein-Murkowski substitute amendment and a Feinstein-Murkowski title amendment.

 

Discharge the Environment and Public Works committee and passed H.R.4032, North Texas Invasive Species Barrier Act of 2014.

 

Passed H.R.1726, To award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers.

 

H.R.4488, To make technical corrections to two bills enabling the presentation of Congressional Gold Medals, and for other purposes.

 

Adopted S.Res.455, designating May 2014 as “Older Americans Month”.

 

Adopted S.Res.456, A resolution recognizing National Foster Care Month as an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges of children in the foster care system, and encouraging Congress to implement policy to improve the lives of children in the foster care system.

Adopted S.Res.457, designating the week of May 18 through May 24, 2014, as “National Public Works Week”.

 

Adopted S.Res.458, Recognizing May as Jewish American Heritage Month and honoring Holocaust survivors and their contributions to the United States of America.

 

Adopted S.Res.459, expressing the sense of the Senate with respect to childhood stroke and recognizing May 2014 as “National Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month”.

 

Adopted S.Res.460, Recognizing the significance of May 2014 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month as an important time to celebrate the significant contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the history of the United States.

 

Adopted S.Res.461, honoring James L. Oberstar as a remarkable public servant who served in Congress with extraordinary dedication and purpose.

 

Adopted S.Con.Res.36, a concurrent resolution permitting the use of the rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the next of kin or personal representative of Raoul Wallenberg.

 

 

Additional Executive items

Confirmed Executive Calendar #638, Richard G. Frank, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Service by voice vote.

 

Confirmed all nominations on the Secretary’s desk in Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy and the following, all by unanimous consent:

 

AIR FORCE

Executive Calendar #803 Col. William P. Robertson – to be Brigadier General

 

ARMY

Executive Calendar #804 Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #805 Maj. Gen. James C. McConville – to be Lieutenant General

 

AIR FORCE

Executive Calendar #806 Lt. Gen. Gregory A. Biscone – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #807 Col. Kathleen A. Cook – to be Brigadier General

Executive Calendar #808 Col. Jeffrey A. Rockwell – to be Major General

 

NAVY

Executive Calendar #809 To be Rear Admiral (Lower Half)

Captain Brian J. Brakke

Captain Richard A. Brown

Captain James S. Bynum

Captain Peter J. Clarke

Captain Scott D. Conn

Captain Brian K. Corey

Captain Richard A. Correll

Captain Marc H. Dalton

Captain Collin P. Green

Captain Dale E. Horan

Captain Mary M. Jackson

Captain James W. Kilby

Captain Roy I. Kitchener

Captain James J. Malloy

Captain Ross A. Myers

Captain Jeffrey S. Ruth

Captain Lorin C. Selby

Captain John W. Tammen, Jr.

Captain Kent D. Whalen

Captain Kenneth R. Whitesell

Captain Charles F. Williams

Captain Jesse A. Wilson, Jr.

Executive Calendar #810 Capt. Timothy C. Gallaudet – to be Rear Admiral (lower half)

Executive Calendar #811 Capt. Steven L. Parode – to be Rear Admiral (lower half)

Executive Calendar #812 Capt. Johnny R. Wolfe, Jr. – to be Rear Admiral (lower half)

 

AIR FORCE

Executive Calendar #813 Maj. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #814  Brig. Gen. Warren D. Berry – to be Major General

Executive Calendar #815 Brig. Gen. Jon A. Norman – to be Major General

Executive Calendar #816 Col. Roosevelt Allen, Jr. – to be Major General

Executive Calendar #817 Col. Richard W. Kelly – to be Brigadier General

Executive Calendar #818 Maj. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, II – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #819 Maj. Gen. Darryl L. Roberson – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #820 Lt. Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #821 Maj. Gen. Karen E. Dyson – to be Lieutenant General

 

AIR FORCE

Executive Calendar #822 Brig. Gen. Christopher F. Burne – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #823 Maj. Gen. Marshall B. Webb – to be Lieutenant General

 

ARMY

Executive Calendar #824 Lt. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas, III – to be Lieutenant General

 

NAVY

Executive Calendar #826 Rear Adm. Thomas S. Rowden – to be Vice Admiral

Executive Calendar #827 Rear Adm. (lh) John F. Kirby – to be Rear Admiral

 

MARINE CORPS

Executive Calendar #828 Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #829 Maj. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr. – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #830 Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #831 Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, Jr. – to be Lieutenant General

Executive Calendar #832 To be Brigadier General

Col. Patrick J. Hermesmann

Col. Helen G. Pratt

 

AIR FORCE

Executive Calendar #833 Lt. Gen. James M. Holmes – to be Lieutenant General

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Last Floor Action:5/21
9:17:34 A.M. -H.R. 3361
DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H.R. 3361.

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