Saturday, June 9, 2012

House Minority Leader on Legislative Agenda

Rep. Pelosi News Conference

Washington, DC
Thursday, June 7, 2012
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) meets with members of the media to discuss legislation in Congress and answer questions from the media. She discussed the health care bill,  jobs legislation, transportation legislation and the agenda by House Democrats.
Updated: Thursday at 11:34am (ET)

Speaker Boehner Discusses Jobs and the Economy

Speaker Boehner Press Conference

Washington, DC
Thursday, June 7, 2012
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) meets with members of the Capitol Hill press in his weekly press conference. He answered questions on the state of the economy, jobs legislation, student loans and the upcoming decision by the Supreme Court on the Health Care law..
Updated: Thursday at 11:41am (ET)

Clinton sparks campaign commotion with comments on taxes and “recession”



In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, former President Bill Clinton addressed chatter arising from his praise of Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital, and pointed out that the loss of thousands of public jobs could have been avoided had Obama's jobs plan passed.
Former president Bill Clinton roiled the presidential campaign Tuesday with comments in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo in which he called for continuing all the current income tax rates into early 2013, as opposed to President Obama who wants income tax rates on higher-income people to go up at the start of 2013. Clinton also said the economy is still in a recession.
It was the second time in a week that Clinton had appeared to go “off message” from the Obama campaign and to put distance between himself and the president. In comments on CNN last week, Clinton defended GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney’s role as head of Bain Capital, praising Romney as a man who “had a sterling business career.”

But Clinton said in another interview Tuesday with NBC's Brian Williams that “I’m trying to help the president win re-election because I think he’s done a better job than most people know. I think the health care bill is a step in the right direction... I think his economic policy is dramatically better than the one articulated by Gov. Romney and his supporters."
Clinton also told Williams that he was "aghast" at the media reaction to his comments about Romney.
But Republicans were quick to seize on the apparent divide between Clinton and Obama, citing Clinton’s comments in his interview with CNBC as evidence that Obama is out of step on the tax question and that even the Democratic Party’s elder statesman thinks the economy is in dismal shape.

Bill Clinton ruffled some feathers at the White House when he defended Mitt Romney's role at the private equity firm Bain Capital. CNBC's Maria Bartiromo asked him about that in an exclusive interview.

“I don't have any problem with extending all of it now, including the current spending level,” Clinton said in his interview with Bartiromo. “They're still pretty low, the government spending levels. But I think they look high because there's a recession. So the taxes look lower than they really would be if we had two and a half, three percent growth. And the spending is higher than it would be if we had two and a half, three percent growth because there are so many people getting food stamps, so many people getting unemployment, so many people are Medicaid.”
Within a few hours of Clinton’s frankly downbeat assessment airing on CNBC, Clinton’s spokesman Matt McKenna felt compelled to issue a statement seeking clarify or perhaps revise the former president’s remarks: “Two questions have been raised regarding President Clinton's interview on CNBC today. First, on extending the Bush tax cuts, as President Clinton has said many times before, he supported extending all of the cuts in 2010 as part of the budget agreement, but does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again. In the interview, he simply said that he doubted that a long-term agreement on spending cuts and revenues would be reached until after the election.”
And McKenna explained further that Clinton’s comments on the economy simply stressed the need "to keep the expansion going."
McKenna said that Clinton had said federal revenues were lower than they would normally be “because there was a recession and we're still living with the aftermath of it” – not that America is now in a recession.
Clinton did say in his comments to Bartiromo that “the real issue is not whether they (the current income tax rates) should be extended for another few months. The real issue is whether the price the Republican House will put on that extension is the permanent extension of the tax cuts, which I think is an error.”
Clinton also said that Obama is correct in not wanting to make any commitments in his negotiating with congressional Republicans on tax policy “that will constrain our ability to have long-term debt reduction plan” because by 2014 or 2017 “when the economy grows,” interest rates will “go through the roof.”
It was noteworthy that Clinton did not seem to foresee the economy growing until 2014 at the earliest.

Doctor's report on Lincoln assassination discovered by researcher

AP Photo/Library of Congress
Dr. Charles A. Leale was the first doctor to treat President Abraham Lincoln after he was shot at a Washington theater on the night of April 14, 1865. Helena Iles Papaioannou, a researcher with the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project has discovered an original copy of Dr. Leale's clinical 21-page report from the night Lincoln was shot.

Researchers at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library are marveling over the historical equivalent of buried treasure: an up-to-now undiscovered account of the night Lincoln was assassinated, written by the first doctor to treat him.

Dr. Charles Leale was a 23-year-old army surgeon who was in attendance at Ford's Theatre when John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box and shot Lincoln days after the conclusion of the Civil War. 
Abraham Lincoln researcher Helena Iles Papaioannou discovered Leale's account while searching the records of the surgeon general in the National Archives in Washington, DC. The 21-page report is Leale's own retelling of the tragedy, written just hours after the president died the following morning.
"What is remarkable about this newly discovered report is it's immediacy and poignancy," said Daniel Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project. "You can sense the helplessness Leale and the other doctors felt that night, but it does not have the sentimentality or added layers of later accounts."
The young doctor was sitting just 25 feet away from the Lincoln box, giving him a front-row seat to the tragedy. He then became the first doctor to treat Lincoln, supervising his care until the president's own doctor arrived.
The National Archives has re-discovered a long-forgotten note written by the doctor who first evaluated Abraham Lincoln after the 16th president was shot in Ford's Theater. NBC's Pete Williams reports.
"The theatre was well filled, and the play 'Our American Cousin' progressed very pleasantly until about half past ten," Leale wrote, "when the report of a pistol was distinctly heard."
"About a minute after, a man of low stature with black hair and eyes was seen leaping to the stage beneath, holding in his hand a drawn dagger."
Leale described how Booth had become entangled in the flag draping the front of Lincoln's box in his leap to the stage. Booth broke his leg in the fall.
"I then heard cries that the 'President has been murdered,' Leale wrote, adding that calls of "kill the murderer" and "shoot him" began echoing through the theatre.

AP Photo/Alexander Gardner
Dr. Charles Leale rushed to the upstairs balcony where Abraham Lincoln had been seated after hearing the president had been shot. He was the first to administer aid immediately following the shooting.

"I immediately ran to the President's box and as soon as the door was opened was admitted and introduced to Mrs. Lincoln, when she exclaimed several times, 'O doctor, do what you can for him, do what you can!'"
Leale said that Lincoln's breathing was "intermittent" and that he could find no pulse. Using a finger, he removed a clot of blood from the bullet wound and said Lincoln's breathing became "more regular."
The doctor described in great detail how he and others carried Lincoln from the box, down the stairs of the theatre and across the street to the Peterson house across the street.
"We placed the President in bed in a diagonal position, as the bed was too short.  As soon as we placed him in bed we removed his clothes and covered him with blankets. While covering him I found his lower extremities very cold from his feet to a distance of several inches of above his knees. I then sent for bottles of hot water, and hot blankets, which were applied to his lower extremities and abdomen."
Leale said Mary Todd Lincoln entered the room "three or four times" during the evening and that the president's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, remained at his bedside throughout the night. Unmentioned in the report, but well known to history, is the fact that the First Lady was eventually expelled and kept from the room, her grief was so intense.
After hours of futile efforts to save the fallen president, Leale described Lincoln's final moments.
"At 7:20 a.m. he breathed his last, and 'the spirit fled to God who gave it.'"
Leale had received his medical license only six weeks earlier. At the time of the assassination, he was in charge of a wounded officers' ward at the United States Army hospital in Armory Square in Washington. He had been present on the lawn at the White House a few evenings earlier, when Lincoln delivered what would become his final speech to a crowd celebrating the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.  Booth was present on the lawn that night as well, and many historians believe he solidified his decision to kill the President that evening.
Researchers at the Lincoln Library say that in the ensuing years, Leale rarely discussed his role in the drama. Indeed, it was not until 1909, 44 years after the assassination, that he spoke publicly about the events at Ford's Theatre.

 New York Public Library Digital Collection
Mourners gather along the street as Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession passes Union Square.

The Page Romney Interview: MRIs of the Soul and Bain Capital

See Mark Halperin’s colloquy with Mitt Romney on how he feels about David Axelrod’s view of presidential campaigns, the workers who lost their jobs at companies Bain invested in and the attacks he expects from the Obam

Governor Mitt Romney Talks to TIME

In an exclusive interview with TIME's Mark Halperin, Romney pushes back on President Obama's Bain attack and predicts he can drive unemployment down to six percent by the end of his first term
Campaign 2012

First Lady Campaigns in Battleground States of Pennsylvania & Virginia

First Lady Campaign Rally in Dale City, VA

Manassas, VA
Thursday, June 7, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama was back on the campaign trail this week, holding solo public rallies in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Thursday, she was at a campaign rally at the VFW Post 1503 in Dale City, Virginia where she defended her husband’s record on women's rights and the economy.
“Protecting women’s health is a mission that has nothing to do with politics,” she said. A Quinnipiac University released a new poll Thursday showed President Obama leading Mitt Romney 47 percent to 42 percent in Virginia.
Later in the day, she stopped at Mom’s Apple Pie Bakery in Occoquan, Virginia before attending a fundraiser at a private residence in Washington, DC.
Wednesday, the First Lady Michelle Obama attended a fundraising reception in New York City. The $250-per-ticket 2012 Women for Obama event was held at the Pierre Hotel with proceeds benefiting the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties. Caroline Kennedy as well as Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richard were in attendance.
She later traveled to Pennsylvania where she spoke to campaign supporters at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. "It all boils down to one simple question: will we continue the change we’ve begun and the progress we’ve made, or will we let everything we’ve fought for slip away,"she said.
This was the First Lady's third visit to Pennsylvania, a state with 20 electoral votes which her husband carried in 2008 by 11 points over John McCain, 55 to 44 percent.  He was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the Keystone State since 1964.

Congress To-Do List
Before Congress leaves for summer recess, President Obama is calling on them to take action to create jobs and help the middle class.

Reward American Jobs,Not Outsourcing

To Do:
Pass legislation to attract and keep good jobs in the United States by rewarding companies who bring jobs back to America with lower taxes and pay for it by eliminating tax incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas.
American manufacturers have added more than 400,000 total jobs in the last two years—the strongest growth since the late 1990s— and their continued strength is vital to creating an economy built to last that makes things the rest of the world buys.

Expand Refinancing for Responsible Homeowners

To Do:
Pass legislation to cut red tape so hard working, responsible homeowners who are paying their mortgage can refinance at today’s low interest rates.
Part of the basic American promise is that if you work hard and act responsibly, home ownership should be an achievable dream. While government can’t fix the housing crisis alone, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to wait for the market to hit bottom to get some relief and get back on their feet.

Invest in Tax Credits for Small Business Jobs

To Do:
Pass legislation to help hard working small business owners create jobs by giving them a tax credit for new hires and tax relief for investments they make.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and create two out of every three new jobs in America. They spur economic development in communities across our country and give millions of families and individuals the opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Invest in Clean Energy Manufacturing

To Do:
Pass legislation to invest in American clean energy manufacturers who create American jobs through innovative new technologies and fuels that reduce our reliance on foreign oil and lead to more secure energy sources.
Our dependence on foreign oil has long endangered our economy and national security, sending billions of dollars overseas. To create an economy that’s built to last, we need to take control of our own energy future by out-innovating and out-building our global competitors.

Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work

“The American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away. But we can’t stop there. We have to … start building an economy that lasts into the future — an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer security… If we want [companies] to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth.”
                                                                  — President Barack Obama, Sept 8, 2011

Celebrating the class of 2012

Hear from inspiring students at colleges and universities across the U.S.

Nightly’s annual commencement compilation features highlights from graduation ceremonies around the nation, and profiles students who are about to embark on the next phase of life after reaching an educational milestone. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

It's that time of year again, when NBC Nightly News honors college graduates across the country with our commencement round-up. It's an annual tradition, and also a labor of love. Producer Amber Payne, editor Scott Feinstein, associate producer Jessica Blank, and associate producer Chiara Sottile spent hundreds of hours gathering the moments that best captured the sentiments of the Class of 2012.
This year our team reached out to 422 schools and combed through more than 220 tapes. We thank the dozens of schools who sent us recommendations and features on their best and brightest students.  We also thank the schools that shared their time-honored rituals and traditions with us.  We had a great time learning about and looking through footage of hoop rolling, candlelight ceremonies, and wishing wells. 
On senior class day at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., the young women march through the Alumnae Arch,while they are cheered on by a gauntlet of beaming alumnae all dressed in white. It's an emotional event that symbolizes the seniors leaving the college and entering into greater service in the world beyond the gates of Spelman.
Centre College graduates in Danville, Ky., walk through an iconic campus building to present a coin engraved with the Centre seal to the person who has made the greatest impact on their senior year. 
After commencement at Eureka College in Illinois, the seniors form a circle, taking hold of an ivy vine.  Students then snip it between each student, signifying their leaving their circle of friends and professors. Graduates take their sprigs, so that whatever their travels, the knowledge they acquired at Eureka-- like those sprigs of ivy -- may take root elsewhere. 
We also met some outstanding students -- bright, optimistic, and ready to change the world in their own unique ways. Some of the most impactful material came from our sit-down interviews with students at the Institute of American Indian Arts, West Point Academy, Spelman College, the University of Virginia, and Wesleyan University.
We hope you enjoy the above interactive feature where you can hear more from the Class of 2012.

To create the musical backbone for this piece, we worked with some incredible artists.  Here's the playlist for the songs you heard tonight. Click here to learn more about who you heard.  
Commencement 2012 Soundtrack:
  • "The Lake" by Aunt Martha
  • "Collector" by Here We Go Magic
  • "Daydreaming" by Di Johnston
  • "Higher Than the Stars" by Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • "Little Jealousy" by Sonia Montez
  • "Tumbleweed" by Great American Canyon Band
Special thanks to designer and animator Michael Cole, art director Madeline Sturm and our team of loggers and wranglers of packages: Dexter Mullins, Erica Ayisi, Craig Stanley, David Walters and Janelle Richards.

Nuclear headache: What to do with 65,000 tons of spent fuel?

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Most spent nuclear fuel is stored in pools like this one, with rods typically under 30 feet of water.

In a blow to the nuclear energy industry, a federal appeals court on Friday threw out a rule allowing plants to store spent nuclear fuel onsite for decades after they've closed, and ordered regulators to study the risks involved with that storage -- 65,000 tons now spread across the country, and growing at 2,000 tons a year.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission "apparently has no long-term plan other than hoping for a geologic repository," the unanimous ruling stated. "If the government continues to fail in its quest to establish one, then SNF (spent nuclear fuel) will seemingly be stored on site at nuclear plants on a permanent basis. The Commission can and must assess the potential environmental effects of such a failure."
Nuclear plants have been storing spent fuel onsite for decades and the NRC recently said, barring a repository, they may continue to do so even after they shut down.
That regulation was challenged by New York and other Northeast states, as well as environmentalists.
The New York attorney general's office said the ruling means the NRC cannot license or relicense any nuclear power plant until it examines those risks.
That process could take a couple of years, Geoff Fettus, an attorney who argued in court on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, told
CNBC's Brian Shactman takes a look at how the nuclear industry has been altered one year after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

"This is a game changer," he said. "The opinion is quite clear that the agency must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and do a substantive, searching environmental review of well established legal standards."
The Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the industry, said it was disappointed with the ruling but urged the NRC to "act expeditiously to undertake the additional environmental analysis."
In recent years, the industry had hoped for a "nuclear renaissance" based on smaller reactors with fewer mechanical parts and less nuclear waste. But Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster last year was a major setback in building public support.
Nuclear plant operators have been paying $750 million a year to the Energy Department for construction of a central repository. It was being built under Nevada's Yucca Mountain, but engineering issues and a political backlash in Nevada killed the project after $12 billion was spent.
In January, a panel commissioned by President Barack Obama reported that a first step must be to find a site that isn't forced on a particular region by the federal government.
"The need for a new strategy is urgent," the panel wrote in its report, "not just to address these damages and costs but because this generation has a fundamental, ethical obligation to avoid burdening future generations with the entire task of finding a safe, permanent solution for managing hazardous nuclear materials they had no part in creating."

Attorney General Holder names 2 prosecutors to investigate possible leaks

Charles Dharapak / AP
Attorney General Eric Holder arrives on Capitol Hill.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday appointed two United States attorneys to investigate possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information from the White House and Congress.
The appointment came the day President Barack Obama at a news conference rebutted accusations that his administration leaked information about a terrorist “kill list” and cyber warfare to make himself look tough in an election year.
Holder issued a statement saying Ronald C. Machen Jr., the attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod J. Rosenstein, from the District of Maryland, will lead separate criminal investigations already under way by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated,” Holder said in the statement.
“Machen and Rosenstein are fully authorized to prosecute criminal violations discovered as a result of their investigations and matters related to those violations, consult with members of the Intelligence Community and follow all appropriate investigative leads within the Executive and Legislative branches of government,” Holder said.
The accusations about the Obama leaks surfaced in two articles in The New York Times last week.
Obama on Friday said that such leaks dealt with the safety of the American people, its military and its allies.
"The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive," he said. "It's wrong and people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office."
On Capitol Hill, a lawmaker said there were indications a high-level individual was involved in the media disclosures.
"Someone from a very senior clearance level has provided information, that's very clear in the preliminary review," Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Reuters.
Rogers did not speculate on who the leaker might be.
The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, said he did not believe anyone had been targeted in early investigations into the leaks.
The recent spate of disclosures included the revelation that a plot by the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda to bomb an airliner had been foiled because of penetration by a double agent, details about the joint American-Israeli computer virus called Stuxnet that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, and an account of Mr. Obama’s role in approving a “kill list” of terrorism suspects for drone strikes, The New York Times reported.
For the first time, Israel has admitted to engaging in cyber warfare "consistently and relentlessly" according to a Sunday report from the Israel Defense forces. But the IDF stopped short of admitting it participated in creating or using the Stuxnet computer virus against Iran. Amb. Michael Oren discusses.