Posts Tagged ‘White House’

Obama announces his Brain Initiative

US President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room at the White House announce his administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative.

Making good on a promise first hinted at during his State of the Union speech in February, President Obama on Tuesday unveiled the broad outlines of a scientific initiative aimed at mapping the human brain. The project’s ambitious goals include understanding how the brain forms memories and controls human behavior; how it becomes damaged by conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and autism; and how it can be repaired when afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses.


About 35,000 were expected for the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn

MIAMI – President Obama plans to visit a tunnel project at the Port of Miami on Friday to promote a series of proposals that White House officials think could appeal to Republicans.

President Obama Holds Meeting With The Sultan of Brunei

Among them: $4 billion to invest in rebuilding roads and bridges that businesses depend on. Seed money to encourage companies to invest in ports and other points of commerce. Even tax cuts designed to attract investors – at home and abroad – to such projects.

“There is no reason this should be  a Democratic tunnel or a Republican tunnel,” Josh Earnest, White House principal deputy press secretary, said aboard Air Force One. “These are projects that are helpful to the economy and shouldn’t break down on partisan lines.”

Yet Republicans welcomed Obama to Miami with an attack on his economic philosophy and lampooned his proposals.

Writing in the Miami Herald, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) said Obama needs to listen to people in Florida “to get a true sense of the effect more tax increases and spending hikes will have on our nation’s middle class.”

He wrote, “He would learn that many aspects of policies like Obamacare have ended up hurting many middle-class families instead of helping them. He would find that the expanding role of our government has created uncertainty by establishing rules that many small businesses can’t afford to follow.”

And Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said, “Have they said yet how they’re going to pay for all of this? That matters, of course. Last time, I think he wanted to tax the same people that were supposed to create the jobs.”

The White House says the proposals won’t add a dime to the deficit, meaning they will have to be offset by either spending cuts or tax increases. The details are expected on April 10, when the president will release his fiscal 2014 budget. Obama also has a much larger infrastructure plan on the table: a $40 billion  “Fix it First” plan to spur the hiring of construction workers and the building of roads and bridges across the country.

A complicating factor is sequestration – the deep spending cuts now spreading through the federal government. Rather than invest in infrastructure, the cuts are reducing investment. Aboard Air Force One, Alan Kruger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, warned that the country had spent less on infrastructure compared to global competitors.

But not all hope for bipartisan compromise is loss. Last month, after the unveiling of the “Fix it First” plan, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed that the nation needs to spend more in this area.

“The president talked about infrastructure, but he didn’t talk about how to pay for it,” he said. “And it’s easy to go out there and be Santa Claus and talk about all the things you want to give away, but at some point somebody has to pay the bill.”

He added, “I’m committed to working to find a funding source so that we can begin to repair America’s aging infrastructure.”

The president’s proposal on Friday has several parts. It would spend $4 billion on local and state projects. It would invest $10 billion in an “infrastructure bank” that would then make loans to private companies looking to invest in building projects. It would finance new tax-free bonds that make it easier for states and localities to raise money and offer other tax subsidies totaling $7 billion.


Collected from-

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., joined three other Republican senators threatening to filibuster any new restrictions on guns Thursday.

The two senators added their signatures to a letter previously signed by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, vowing to protect the Second Amendment.

The letter, which was originally sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on March 22, outlines the senators’ intent to “oppose any legislation that infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms.”

In a statement released Thursday, Rubio said he will oppose any legislation that could be used as a vehicle to impose new restrictions on “responsible, law-abiding gun owners.”

“We should work to reduce tragic acts of violence by addressing violence at its source, including untreated mental illness, the lack of adequate information-sharing on mental health issues, and the breakdown of the family,” Rubio said.

Rubio and Inhofe joined the filibuster effort on the same day that President Obama urged Congress not to forget the heartbreak of the Newtown elementary school massacre and “get squishy” on tightened gun laws.

“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten,” Obama said at the White House, standing amid 21 mothers who have lost children to shootings. “I haven’t forgotten those kids.”

More than three months after 20 first-graders and six staffers were killed in Newtown, Conn., Obama urged the nation to pressure lawmakers to back what he called the best chance in over a decade to tame firearms violence.

Following Thursday’s White House event, Cruz accused the president of using the Newtown school shooting for political gain.

“It is saddening to see the president today, once again, try to take advantage of this tragic murder to promote an agenda that will do nothing to stop violent crime, but will undermine the constitutional rights of all law-abiding Americans,” Cruz said in a statement.

At the same time, gun control groups were staging a “Day to Demand Action” with more than 100 rallies and other events planned from Connecticut to California. This was on top of a $12 million TV ad campaign financed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that has been pressuring senators in 13 states to tighten background-check rules.

SDLP leader John Hume taking a break during final deliberations of the Good Friday Agreement in April, 1998

SDLP leader John Hume taking a break during final deliberations of the Good Friday Agreement in April, 1998

Northern Ireland still requires “urgent work” and faces “more tests to come”, US president Barack Obama has said, ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next month.

In a statement issued by the White House yesterday evening, Mr Obama said that the people of Northern Ireland and their leaders had “travelled a great distance over the past 15 years” and “traded bullets for ballots, destruction and division for dialogue and institutions, and pointed the way toward a shared future for all.”

The president warned of further challenges ahead.

“There are still those few who prefer to look backward rather than forward – who prefer to inspire hate rather than hope. The many who have brought Northern Ireland this far must keep rejecting their call,” he said.

Every citizen and political party “needs to work together in service of true and lasting peace and prosperity,” he said. He promised that the US would continue to support the people and political leaders of Northern Ireland.

“I pledge our continued support for their efforts to build a strong society, a vibrant economy and an enduring peace,” he said.

Mr Obama will visit Northern Ireland in June when he attends the G-8 summit of world leaders in Fermanagh. The president said he would reaffirm America’s support for Northern Ireland during that visit.

US secretary of state John Kerry said in a separate statement that the progress made in Northern Ireland was “significant and inspiring” but the promise foreseen in the agreement was “incomplete.”

He described the 15th anniversary as “a call to action to consolidate the gains of the last 15 years.”

“This is an appropriate moment for all parties to rededicate themselves to achieving a shared future and to healing the divisions of the past,” he said.

“A spirit of cooperation and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law are essential to achieving these goals and a necessary condition for unlocking the full economic potential of Northern Ireland.”

The 65-page Good Friday Agreement was signed on April 10th 1998, establishing theNorthern Ireland Assembly and a political framework to advance the Northern Irish peace process.

Mr Obama discussed the peace process with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at meetings during the official St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington last week.


President says US should be ashamed if Newtown was being forgotten already and rejects criticism he has delayed on reform

Barack Obama rejected criticism on Thursday that he has delayed too long on gun reform, allowing memories of the Newtown shooting to fade and allowing time for opponents to regroup.

In a speech at the White House, attended by parents of gun victims, he said bluntly that the United States should be ashamed if the horror of Newtown was already being forgotten.

The president’s comments were part of National Day to Demand Action, organised jointly with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the campaign to put pressure on Congress to pass “commonsense” reforms driven by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

There have been complaints from gun reform activists that Obama has squandered an opportunity for action in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown shooting in December.

But Obama disputed that the country had moved on from Newtown. “Less than 100 days ago that happened. And the entire country was shocked, and the entire country pledged we would do something and this time would be different. Shame on us if we have forgotten. I have not forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we have forgotten,” he said.

Obama said he expected votes in the Senate on gun reform measures soon after Congress returns from its Easter break on 8 April. The relatively modest package of measures he proposed in January has already been scaled back, with a ban on military-style automatic weapons effectively scuppered and even background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental problems in the balance.

One of the criticisms of Obama is that instead of asking vice-president Joe Biden to oversee a task force looking at proposals for reform in January and then leaving Congress to come up with a draft bill, he should have pushed his own set of proposals when emotions were still raw.

The president at the White House, accused opponents of reform of trying to run down the clock. He called for members of the public who back gun reform to put pressure on their members of Congress, most of them back in their districts and home states for the Easter break.

Among those in the audience at the White House were the families of Newtown victims Grace McDonnell, Lauren Rousseau and Jesse Lewis, as well as the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed in Chicago, and Nardyne Jeffries, the mother of Washington shooting victim Brishell Jeffries.

Obama acknowledged he had read an article “in the news just the other day wondering has Washington missed its opportunity, because as time goes on after Newtown, somehow people start moving on and forgetting”

This was not the case, he said. “Let me tell you, the people here, they don’t forget. Grace’s dad is not forgetting. Hadiya’s mom hasn’t forgotten. The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we’ve moved on to other things, that’s not who we are.”

It was an extremely emotional event, with people behind him, some of them families of victims, weeping throughout. “We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and to make sure that what we said was not just a bunch of platitudes. That we meant it,” Obama said.

“Tears are not enough. Expressions of sympathy are not enough. Speeches are not enough. We have cried enough. We have known enough heartbreak. What we are proposing is not radical. It is not taking away anyone’s gun rights. It is something if we are serious we will do. Now is the time to turn that heartbreak into something real.”

Several Republicans have threatened to filibuster gun reform measures in the Senate. Without 60 of the 100 senators needed to break a filibuster, almost all of the packages proposed by Obama could fall. Obama reiterated he still wanted a ban on military-style assault weapons, even though the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, has effectively said it has no chance.

Democrats see the best chance of getting something into law as background checks to ensure guns are not sold to the mentally unstable and checks at gun shows to ensure someone does not have a criminal background. Republicans favour increased security at schools, the line backed by the National Rifle Association.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns put out its first ad in its $12m television campaign Thursday with interviews with family members of those killed at Newtown. The ad campaign is targeting 13 states during the recess.

Bloomberg said: “We cannot afford to wait for another tragedy – it’s long past time for elected officials to listen to their constituents and pass reforms like comprehensive background checks that we know will save lives.”

His co-chair on Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Thomas Menino of Boston, echoed this. “The Senate now has the opportunity to take a vote that the American people are demanding to make our neighborhoods safer. The time has come to pass legislation and make reform a reality.”

The coalition is hiring dozens of organisers and opening campaign offices in 10 states. More than 140 events were scheduled for Thursday in 29 states.