Tag Archive | "President Barack Obama"

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White House Honors East Hartford Teacher


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The White House recently honored one of Connecticut’s best teachers in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama honored Cara Quinn, one of 55 teachers from across the nation who gathered in the Rose Garden on a sunny afternoon. a East Hartford resident.

Quinn, who is on medical leave, teaches sixth grade at Sunset Ridge School.

During her career, Quinn has developed programs to prepare students for college, including a college immersion experience. She said she focuses not only on academics, but on character development.

“I think its important to nurture students to be globally aware,” she said.

Last October, Quinn was also named Connecticut’s 2015 Teacher of the Year.

“In her classroom, Mrs. Quinn not only teaches the material, she also teaches her students about their community and about their world,” Former Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said in a press release. “She encourages her students to give back through service and inspires them to make a difference.”

A teacher of 11 years, Quinn was chosen from over 100 district-level Teachers of the Year.

Quinn succeeded the 2014 Connecticut Teacher of the Year,  John Mastroianni. He is a music teacher at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford

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President Obama to Preview State of the Union Address


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will preview new policies in his state of the union speech on Wednesday while in Iowa.

There,  he will introduce plans to help “move the middle class forward” with affordable broadband Internet,  according to a White House spokesperson.

Iowa, once called the dirtiest little city in the nation, was selected to highlight the possibilities of every town welcoming broadband internet into their businesses and home.

The president is aiming to use his executive power to accomplish this goal.

“There are some steps we can take through executive actions that allow us to make sure every community can do  what Cedar Falls is doing,” Obama said.

That’s because the Cedar Rapids has internet speed nearly 100 times faster than the national average. And this high-speed internet is for an affordable price, according to a new report issued today by the National Economic Council and Council of Economic Advisers.

The need for broadband is an economic imperative, officials said. And Obama will stress the need for affordable high-speed broadband for all Americans, and how several small cities and towns setting up themselves to compete with world cities.

“This isn’t about streaming videos and movies,” said a White House official in a conference call. “It’s about strengthening the economy and attracting the next generation of start ups.”

He said this is to aid a “nationwide movement” to help Americans develop new skills and find paying jobs because most jobs require access to the internet.

High-speed, low-cost broadband, he said, is paving the way for economic revitalization not just in Cedar Falls, but in places like Chattanooga, TN, Kansas City, MO, and Lafayette, LA — all of which have Internet speeds nearly 100 times faster than the national average.

Nearly forty percent of American households either cannot purchase a fixed 10 Mbps connection or they must buy it from a single provider, the report states.

Also,  94 percent of Americans in urban areas can purchase a 25 Mbps (megabit per second) connection, but only 51 percent of the rural population has access to Internet at that speed.

Last November, the President outlined his plan to keep the Internet open to new competition and innovation by safeguarding net neutrality — which will help ensure no one company can act as a gatekeeper to digital content.

President Obama speaks on the need for affordable high-speed broadband for all Americans, and how certain small cities and towns are taking steps to lay a foundation for broadband access that rivals the most connected cites in the world.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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Congress Begins Showdown on Keystone Pipeline


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Less than one week into the 114th Congress, the Republican-controlled House and Senate symbolized where their priority is: the Keystone XL pipeline.

The GOP-Senate on Monday voted 63-32 to advance the debate on the keystone project, which includes building a pipeline that would carry up to 830,000 barrels of petroleum oil per day from Western Canada, then cut across South Dakota and Nebraska to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. The vote was four short of overriding a veto.

Last Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court allowed a route for the pipeline to cross the Canadian border.The question put forth was whether former Governor Dave Heineman had a right to approve the pipeline route.

The House of Representatives passed a bill 266 to 153, with 28 Democrats in support of the project. Now, the Senate will consider amendments to the bill on Tuesday.

According to the State Department’s environmental review, the Keystone project would contribute about $3.4 billion to the American economy and support 42,000 temporary jobs over its two-year construction period. Of that amount, about 3,900 of them would be in construction. And the rest would be service jobs.

Only about 35 of those jobs would be permanent jobs.

“This is important legislation. It’s long overdue,” said Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) “It’s good news that it’s going to create jobs across our country … and reduce dependence on non-American oil.”

Republicans said they expect to send the bill to the White House next week.

President Barack Obama is expected to make the final decision on the bill. But supposedly, Obama’s advisers strongly oppose the pipeline and have urged him to reject it. Shortly after congress convened last Tuesday, a White House spokesman said the president would veto the bill.

However, the Senate on Monday voted for cloture, a procedure that would break a filibuster usually used to block or delay a senate action on a bill.

There was also a test vote, which indicated that the legislation might have enough bi-partisan support for approval. This also presupposes the senate’s ability to override the president’s veto. And most importantly, it sets the tone for the president’s remaining tenure in office.

Additionally, several Democrats argued against the measure.

Boxer said that the bill is not worth passing because it only offers to create less than 50 long-term jobs. And so this project, she said, is “not ready for prime time.”

“The first bill symbolizes their priorities,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California). “The only people this helps is the Canadian oil interests.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told the Associated Press that the president has delayed this issue long enough. And now, he should consider signing the bill.

The bill has been on the radar since 2005 when the Canadian company TransCanada proposed the pipeline and applied to the State Department for a construction permit in 2008.

Environmentalists are against the bill, citing past oil spills and potential air pollution from this massive project. Others say the additional emissions produced by the pipeline would not be a major contributor to climate change.

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President Obama Lifts Bans on Cuba


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In a move that has been hailed as historic, President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed an executive order to “re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba.”

The move to thaw the relationship with this communist country comes after months of secret talks between the Obama administration and Cuban officials in Canada and the Vatican. Talks culminated with a 45-minute conversation on Tuesday between Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, which detailed ways the United States would end 53 years of enmity that has caused disagreement in Latin America and the Caribbean. Fidel Castro was not involved in these discussions, officials said.

Obama had to forgo Congress. Only Congress, which imposed sanctions on Cuba in 1961, can dismantle them completely. So the president’s move was mostly a symbolic but powerful one, according to a White House official on background call before Obama’s live speech. This move represents the most significant changes to America’s Cuba policy in more than 50 years, including the  Helms-Burton Act enacted in 1996. The Act strengthened the America’s embargo against Cuba.

White House officials believe this is a “step in the right direction.”

“These are the steps that I can take to change these policies,” Obama said in his televised speech from the East Room, emphasizing the limits of his unilateral move to help the U.S. “normalize relations” with Cuba.

Unresolved disputes remain, however. Cubans urged for an end of the U.S. pro-democracy programs in Cuba, which they see as a subversive attempt to overthrow Castro. The White House stood firm on those demands, refusing to disrupt that policy.

Obama’s executive order bodes well for Cuba’s economy because Cuba agreed to release political prisoners, including “a very frail” Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who U.S. officials said was wrongfully imprisoned. The order now allows travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba.

Former Florida Governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, challenged Obama’s move toward Cuba, saying to USA Today: “I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship.”

Bush has  favorable ratings in  large Cuban-American constituencies in Florida.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Cuban American, said he would do all he can as the incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block Obama’s plan. More specifically, Rubio said he would block anyone Obama nominates to serve as ambassador to Cuba.

While politicos plan to make moves in Congress, most Americans will now be able to travel to Cuba. Previously, there was a ban on all travel to Cuba. Now, government officials and academicians can travel there for research purposes.

“With the changes I’m announcing today, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and Americans will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island,”  Obama said.

Other benefits to Americans in this move also allow Cuban Americans to send remittances to their family, U.S. embassies can now be in Cuba, and more businesses can have easier trade relations.

Travel for tourist activities are still banned.

According to Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY) on a West Virginia radio station the embargo on Cuba just hasn’t worked.

“If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working,” Paul said.

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Cuba and the release of American Alan Gross, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Protest Erupts After Grand Jury Acquits Police for Killing Michael Brown


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

The nation is reacting to a  St. Louis County grand jury’s verdict after they refuse to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager.

The jury said that 28-year-old Darren Wilson will not be indicted for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown with six shots in an August confrontation, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch said lateMonday night.

In Washington, President Barack Obama called for peaceful protests.

“We need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction,” Obama said. “But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.”

As protesters took to the streets in Ferguson, The Hartford Guardian encourages readers across the country to  on Twitter.

According to reports, crowds of protesters filled streets near the Ferguson police station following the announcement. And police car and stores were set on fire, other stores were looted, gunfire was heard and bricks were hurled. Police said they had been fired on and responded with smoke bombs and pepper spray before using tear gas.

Police later said they came under heavy automatic weapon fire, and some buildings were left to burn because of the danger. County police said an officer suffered a gunshot wound, but it was unclear if it was because of the protest violence.

Protests sprang up in cities from New York to Los Angeles and remained mostly peaceful. At least half a dozen commercial airline flights into St. Louis were diverted out of concerns about the unrest.

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In Wake of Obama’s Executive Action, Advocates Warn About Scams


By New America Media

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday his plan to take executive action on immigration. His plan would revise enforcement priorities to focus on recent arrivals and those who had committed serious crimes. It would expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and create a new deferred action program for parents of U.S.-citizen or legal-permanent-resident children who have lived in the country for more than five years. It would also revise the legal immigration system, with a special focus on science, technology and entrepreneurs.

There is no new application available yet, however, and advocates are warning immigrants to stay tuned to trusted media sources and community groups to get accurate information.

Any time immigration reform is in the news, advocates warn, immigrant families are vulnerable to scam artists and unscrupulous individuals who promise to help them in exchange for a fee.

Earlier this year, NAM reported that the San Francisco District Attorney’s office had seen a spike in immigration fraud cases in 2013, prompting it to launch a multilingual campaign to educate immigrant families about how to avoid scams.

NAM found that some people were seeking immigration advice from unqualified individuals, and that translation issues were contributing to the confusion.

For example, in most Latin American countries the term “notario” means lawyer. But in the United States, a notary just means someone who is licensed by the state to witness and sign documents.

“Notaries can’t represent a person in court, they can’t assist them in a formal legal process; they can only fill out forms. But anyone can fill out a form,” said Diana Otero, coordinator of the immigration program at Catholic Charities of San Mateo. She says immigrants need to get help from attorneys or qualified people that know how to deal with the immigration process.

Vanessa Sandoval, program director with Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN) in San Jose, offered this advice to undocumented immigrants who go to notaries to complete immigration work. She spoke with Maria Antonieta Mejia.

Why aren’t notaries a good alternative to immigration attorneys?

They do not have a degree to practice law and they do not have the legal right to offer those services. What they are doing is taking money from people offering services they are not qualified to perform. The result, in many cases, is deportation.

How do you determine whether someone is qualified to help with immigration work?

In the United States, practicing attorneys – those licensed by the American Bar Association or the State Bar Association – and non-profit organizations certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals have the right to offer legal services. No one else.

What recourse is there for victims of immigration fraud?

The first thing to do is report the person to the proper authorities. There are dedicated attorneys at the DA’s office focused on investigating fraud cases. You can also report that notary directly to Immigration or file a civil suit.

Where should immigrants look first for help?

Start with non-profit organizations. In San Jose, there are more than seven organizations certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals that offer this type of service. If an organization does not have the capacity to help, it can offer recommendations for private attorneys.

For more information about SIREN, please visit siren-bayarea.org.

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Some People Need to Get a Clue About the Minimum Wage


By Ann- Marie Adams

Remember those ‘Hey Mon’ skits on the 1990s comedy show, In Living Color?

Keenen Ivory Wayans and others created a sketch that is now etched in our collective memory: a hard-working Jamaican family where each member had more than two jobs. The over-the-top skit was hilarious.

Recently, I watched those skits again. Minutes into a 4-minute skit, I stopped laughing. That’s because I realized the family  had mostly Dr_AnnMarie_Adamsminimum-wage jobs: valet, bus boy, waiter, cook, waitress, hostess, deliveryman, laundry woman among others. Indeed, the harsh reality emerged through the laughter: they had to work multiple  jobs because one low-paying job couldn’t pay the bills for a family of four. It was a luxury for most immigrants and other working-class Americans to have just one job. In 2014, many more Americans are faced with the same—and some would argue a more acute—scenario.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionOn March 5, President Barack Obama will visit New Britain to push the Democrats’ plan to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Several New England governors, namely Connecticut’s Dannel P. Malloy, Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick, Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee and Vermont’s Peter Shumlin will gather to discuss “the importance of raising the minimum wage and giving a hardworking Americans the raise they deserve,” according to a White House press release.

They event will be held at Central Connecticut State University’s William Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain, where the president will deliver his remarks.

Republicans balked at the idea of increasing the minimum wage, saying it would cause job cutbacks. That twisted logic is interesting—to say the least. According to their argument, the federal government can’t afford to raise the minimum wage because businesses would prefer to have their employees figure out a way to live on less than $400 a week as they work 40 hours or more to barely survive in the richest country on earth.

This may be obvious to some of us already on earth; but I feel that it is necessary for someone to tell these people that the proposed $10.10 an hour, which amounts to about $404 a week, still wouldn’t be able to pay an individual’s rent and light bill in a city such as Hartford, where a decent one-bedroom apartment is about $850. The current minimum wage in Connecticut is $8.50. So many struggling full-time workers sometimes opt for a food bank or welfare to get by in this economy.

I’m not quite sure why Republicans in Congress decided to take a hard stance on the minimum wage—since they abhor the idea of increasing the welfare rolls. Recently, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal opined during a governor’s association meeting at the White House that Obama “seems to be waving the white flag of surrender on the economy by focusing on raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25.”

I’m still trying to figure out what the heck that means. I don’t think Americans and the world can take any more idiocy before spring.

Most Americans have now tuned out the politically tinged bickering leading up to the 2014 election because we want to hear sensible discussions about how this country will address problems faced by a third of the country’s 316 million people. About 30 percent of the U.S. population lives below or barely above the poverty line, which is mainly caused by structural inequality. According the reports, 55 percent of minimum wage earners are women. And about 20 percent are over 60.

Some people no longer have the option of having more than one job like Wayans illustrated in the 1990s comedy sketch. The country is still emerging from the Great Recession, which produced a sizable number of unemployed and long-termed unemployed people—still looking for just one job. If they do get a minimum wage job, they should at least be able to pay thier rent and light bill.

For those who want to use up airtime to defend the current federal or state minimum wages below $10, I say this: Let’s leave the nonsense out of this debate. Or get a clue.

Dr. Ann-Marie Adams is the founder and editor of The Hartford Guardian. Follow her at @annmarieadams.

Photo courtesy of dailykos.com

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Government Shuts Down, Obamacare Begins Today


Updated Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 4: 54 p.m.

By Ann Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — More than 7,000 Connecticut workers will not be paid because of a government shut down early Tuesday morning.

The partial government shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1 comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill reached an impasse over the Affordable Care Act, scheduled to launch today.

Connecticut Congressional delegation said this move by House Republicans was “a cavalier willingness to shut down the government for pure political posturing.”

In a video released by the White House early Tuesday, President Barack Obama said: “Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility. It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again.”

This is the first partial government shutdown in 17 years. And historically, marginalized communities are likely to the feel the brunt of damage caused by a shutdown.

Although federal workers will not be paid as a result of this halt to federal operations, essential employees will still work, and about 2,000 Armed Service workers will get paid.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today released the following statement, calling on House Republicans to stop thier obstruction and pass a resolution that funds the government and increases the debt ceiling.

“This morning, House Republicans failed to meet a most basic responsibility of a member of Congress: to fund the government operations and programs that they themselves have authorized.  Consequently, the federal government has shut down and the American people are suffering the consequences.  So, now, citizens of Connecticut who work for the federal government will not be paid,  federal contractors will be laid off, new loans to Connecticut small businesses won’t be made, and the list goes on and on.  As much as we can, the state will work to mitigate the disruption caused by this wanton act of ideological excess,” Malloy said.

Malloy joined other  governors and sent a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders, saying that  House Republicans “would be wise heed our call made on behalf of all Americans.”

Some Republicans say Obamacare will bankrupt the country. Opponents of Obamacare said the healthcare law would result in “more Americans under the control of Wall Street.”

healthcarereform Because of the lapse in federal government appropriations, most federal services such as IRS and Social Security Administration will be closed. And only a “skeletal staff” will be at the White House on Tuesday. White House and Congressional aides will be on furlough.

Congressman John B. Larson released the following statement after House Republicans on Monday voted to send a Continuing Resolution that threatens healthcare for millions  of Americans to the U.S. Senate with less than four hours left to avoid a federal government shut down:

“I am disappointed tonight that House Republican leadership continues to play hostage politics with our economy and move towards a government shutdown. It is truly a shame that our economic certainty has taken a back seat to ideology.”

The Small Business Administration announced it will be closed until further notices. All upcoming events, webinars and meetings have been cancelled.  And during this time, the District Office will not be able to respond to requests.

Connecticut officials will, however, proceed with the launch of Affordable Care Act, known also as Obamacare. The government-run health exchange will allow the state’s 35,000 uninsured residents, most of whom are people of color, to begin enrollment—if they so desire. Coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014.

Obamacare was signed into law on March 23, 2010.  The shut down was a Republican tactic used to force President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate to delay or defund parts of the law. Tea Party Republicans voted 44 times to repeal the law.

However, these moves did not stop the process, which will unfold today in an effort to make insurance available for most uninsured people in America. The digital ribbon cutting for the insurance marketplace today allows Americans to shop for insurance online.

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President Obama Signs Law to Restore Lower Student Loan Rates


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Calling it a “sensible and reasonable approach” to student loans, President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill into law that would make it more bearable to borrow student loans.

Flanked by Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Oval Office, Obama praised the compromise to tackling the soaring student loan debt of $1 trillion and then cautioned that “our job is not done.”

The Obama administration theorizes that this law is a “good compromise” for all students through the 2015 academic year.

“Feels good signing bills. I haven’t done this in a while,” Obama said, alluding to the difficulty he’s faced getting Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House, to approve his legislative priorities, such as gun control and budget deals.

“Hint, hint,” he added to laughter.

Without this new law, the rates on new subsidized Stafford loans would remain doubled at 6.8. There was an increase on  July 1 when Congress couldn’t agree on how to keep rates at the previous 3.4 percent.

But not everyone was happy. While Connecticut’s House delegation all voted to approve the House version of the student loan bill, Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal defiantly opposed the bill, saying they were concerned about the eventual increase in rates that would make it unaffordable.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said the bill’s  is not the end of the issue. She said she is looking forward to when Congress modifies the program again before there is another hike in the  interest rates.

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama signs the bipartisan bill to cut student loan interest rates, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The bill has been awaiting Obama’s signature since earlier this month, when the House gave it final congressional approval after a drawn-out process to reach a compromise in the Senate.

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Obama Signs Student Loan Deal, Says Job Isn’t Done

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte Etier Central Connecticut State University

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President Barack Obama to Visit University of Hartford


HARTFORD — President Barack Obama is coming to University of Hartford next Monday.

According toh White House officials, he will visit a campus that is contiguous with the capital city of Hartford and will be a move to help celebrate Wednesday’s historic passage of a “xxs gun control law in ConnecticutThe White House announced the event in a statement Tuesday:

“On Monday, April 8, President Obama will travel to the University of Hartford where he will continue asking the American people to join him in calling on Congress to pass common-sense measures to reduce gun violence. Additional details on the President’s event at the University of Hartford will be forthcoming.”

This would be Obama’s second trip since the tragic shooting on Dec. 14 in Newtown, CT.

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