Tag Archives: New Year

Dan Pfeiffer, The White House


whitehousebannerIt’s not exactly a secret that Washington hasn’t worked as well as it should. Between the constant gridlock and partisanship, most people just tune this town out. That was especially true this year when the government literally shut down.

Yet, even in spite of all that, thanks to the grit of the American people, this country continues to move forward. After the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, folks are getting back to work and the economy is getting stronger.

And late this year, Washington took a cue — and managed to make some progress itself.

While it’s too early to declare a new era of bipartisanship, what we’ve seen recently is that Washington is capable of getting things done when it wants to. And there’s an opportunity next year for this town to do its job and make real progress.

Here are just a couple areas where there’s been progress made recently — check them out, and then take a look at our full 2013 year-in-review.

For the first time in years, both parties in Congress came together and passed a budget. This budget doesn’t include everything that everyone wanted — but our economy will grow a little faster, be a little fairer for middle-class families, and create more jobs because of it.

Our businesses created 2 million jobs in 2013. That’s more than 8 million private-sector jobs in just over 45 months.

The economy is growing. Just last week we learned that, over the summer, our economy grew at 4.1% — its strongest pace in almost two years.

We’ve cut the deficit in half since 2009. That’s four years of the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II — and it means we’re improving our nation’s long-term fiscal position while strengthening our economy.

We produce more oil in the U.S. than we import from abroad. Thanks to an all-of-the-above strategy, we’re reducing our reliance on foreign oil — and that means lower energy costs for consumers.

The American auto industry is thriving. Last month, the auto industry added more than fifteen thousand jobs. And just a few weeks ago, the United States sold its final stake in General Motors.

Americans are getting better health coverage. Since October 1st, more than 1 million Americans have selected new health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces. And millions more are getting better health care thanks to increased protections and benefits.

There’s a little less gridlock in Congress. Leaders in Congress took action so that executive and judicial nominees (except to the Supreme Court) can be confirmed with a simple majority vote. Now we’re filling critical vacancies, and the government will work better for Americans because of it.

So while the politics in Washington can be frustrating and change takes time, that’s no excuse for inaction. In the New Year, we need to help American businesses continue creating jobs, make sure Americans are ready for those jobs, and make sure those jobs offer the wages and benefits that give families a fair shot at financial security.

We also need to look out for those who are searching for a job. Congress needs to extend unemployment insurance, something we’ll be making a priority when members come back to work.

There’s a lot of unfinished business, but there are also things we can build on. If you saw some things in this list that you think more people should know about, then pass them on.

Thanks, and happy holidays.

Dan

Dan Pfeiffer Senior Advisor The White House @Pfeiffer44

Harassing scientists needs to stop — now


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The Virginia Supreme court just agreed to hear a disturbing case. The question: whether to hand over the private emails of climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann to people who have been trying to destroy him professionally for a decade—all because they disagree with his research.1

When Dr. Mann’s scientific findings angered the oil industry, an industry “think tank” sued for access to Dr. Mann’s private correspondence.2 Another “think tank” compared him to a convicted child molester.3 His research has been twisted again and again by the media.

Researchers are often ill-equipped to deal with media or politicians. That’s where we come in—to help them defend their science in the court of public opinion. Thanks to you, UCS is the first place many scientists turn when they’re targeted.

There are only a few days left, and we need you with us to help provide scientists the training and resources they need to stand up to attacks and effectively counter misinformation in 2014. Make a tax-deductible donation today.

Sadly, Dr. Mann is just one of many scientists under threat. Luckily, they can count on UCS members to have their backs. In fact, thanks to you, we’re often the first group scientists turn to when dragged into court or defamed in the media:

  • Climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe was called a “babe” by Rush Limbaugh and sued by a Koch-affiliated group for access to her emails.4 We provided Dr. Hayhoe with extensive media training in order to handle the firestorm she faced.
  • Researcher Dr. Shaun Marcott was sent hate mail and online bloggers twisted his groundbreaking findings to obscure the facts.5 We helped Dr. Marcott overcome the misreports and take his actual findings directly to Congressional leaders.

For Dr. Mann, we were able to fact check the court filings in his case. We’re here to support researchers as they defend their work—and these scientists are counting on you to stand with them.

Help do even more for scientists in 2014—make your year-end gift before December 31!

The climate deniers aren’t resting—so neither can we. Almost every day, there’s a new need to stand up for scientific facts or to expose the money and influence behind a lobbyist, ideologue, or corporation out to undermine scientists in pursuit of their own private interest. That won’t change in the New Year, so I’m glad you’re on our side.

Kathleen Rest Sincerely, Kathleen Rest Kathleen Rest, PhD, MPA Executive Director

P.S. I wanted to share something Dr. Hayoe told us: “I received a lot of advice about how to respond to the attacks, but the Union of Concerned Scientists was the group that had my best interests as a scientist at heart.” Hearing that scientists value our work always inspires me, and I hope you understand the powerful impact you have as a part of this community. Thank you for considering a year-end gift today.

1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/local/wp/2013/10/09/prince-william-foia-case-on-global-warming-headed-for-virginia-supreme-court/ 2. http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/abuses_of_science/va-ag-timeline.html 3. http://blog.ucsusa.org/cei-compares-climate-scientist-to-a-child-molester 4. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/01/newt-dumps-leading-climate-scientist 5. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/03/response-by-marcott-et-al/

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

BioMarin said No to her friend with Cancer


The first thing I have to say is thank you. More than 140,00 people — including you — have signed my petition to help save the life of my friend Andrea Sloan.

Andrea is in desperate need of a new cancer drug made by pharmaceutical company BioMarin, but they say she’s “not eligible” for any of their current trials. Andrea needs access to the drug under a “compassionate use” program, and because of our petition, it’s looking like that could really happen.

Just last week, a leaked internal email from BioMarin proved that they are taking this petition seriously and really considering helping Andrea.

Now is the time to turn up the pressure on BioMarin. Can you share my petition on Facebook to help it gain more signatures and momentum?

We are so close to getting Andrea the medicine she needs. She has dedicated her life to helping others — I know we can do what it takes to help her.

Thank you,

Carol Carter
Lake Dallas, TX

P.S. Have you seen this video that Andrea made explaining compassionate use? Click here to watch, and feel free to share that as well!

Tell Randolph County school board to reverse its ban on “Invisible Man”


Black literature is under attack.Invisible Man book coverDemand Randolph County reverse its ban on Invisible Man at tonight’s meeting.Join Us

It took just one letter from an angry parent to convince a North Carolina school district to remove Ralph Ellison‘s Invisible Man from school libraries in the county. A short board meeting prompted by a single letter — describing one of the most significant pieces of Black literature in American history as “filthy” — was all that five members of the Randolph County Board of Education needed to feel justified in voting to ban the novel last week.1 It’s just the kind of quiet injustice — and officially-sanctioned bias — that happens behind closed doors in towns across the country all of the time. But this time, we have an opportunity to push back.

Just days after Randolph’s decision made national headlines, the school board called an emergency special meeting for tonight regarding the ban.2 If a couple of bad press hits is enough to make Randolph reconsider, imagine how powerful thousands of our voices can be.

The Board is meeting TONIGHT. Will you join us in demanding that the school board reverse its decision and return Invisible Man to library shelves? It only takes a moment.

This isn’t the first time in recent months that books by Black authors depicting American racism have been attacked. Earlier this month, the president of the Ohio Board of Education called Toni Morrison‘s The Bluest Eye “pornographic.”3 And in July, a Detroit-area school district came under fire for dumping a collection of over 10,000 volumes of invaluable Black books and artifacts.4 Enough is enough.

Banning Black stories not only alienates Black students, it denies all students the opportunity to engage with and discuss important themes like racial enmity in society and the development of personal identity. For elected officials concerned with the education of our young people, it’s particularly perverse that Randolph’s school board failed to recognize the irony of banning a book that’s about silencing critical voices and the ways in which racist culture restricts individuals from reaching their full human potential.

Please join us in calling on the Randolph County school board to reverse its book ban at tonight’s meeting. Together we can send a message about the critical value of Black literature in our schools.

Thanks and Peace,

–Rashad, Arisha, Matt, Kim, Hannah, Johnny and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
September 25th, 2013

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References

1. “Invisible Man Banned: Ralph Ellison’s Landmark Novel Banned From School Libraries,” Huffington Post, 09-19-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2956?t=9&akid=3136.1174326.F-YN-i

2. “Board to reconsider its ‘Invisible Man’ ban,” Asheboro Courier-Tribune, 09-20-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2957?t=11&akid=3136.1174326.F-YN-i

3. “ACLU to Ohio schools leader: Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ not porn,” News Channel 5, 09-12-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2958?t=13&akid=3136.1174326.F-YN-i

4. “Discarded Black history books incite protests in Detroit,” Amsterdam News, 08-10-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2959?t=15&akid=3136.1174326.F-YN-i