This article is the thirty-eighth in a continuing series chronicling the unfolding history of the Obama Administration. The writer's opinions are not offered, leaving the readers to arrive at their own conclusions.
"I am reminded of Lincoln's story.He used to tell a story about a guy who showed up at the White House.Security was a little more lax at that time.He insists on seeing the President during his office hours.Says, I am the guy who got Lincoln elected.And he kept on badgering whoever was at the door.And finally Lincoln lets him in.And Lincoln says, so, sir, I understand you are responsible for me having this job.He says, that's right. And Lincoln says, I forgive you."__Barack Obama, President of the United States, at a DCCC finance event, August 16, 2010
Day555/Aug1st/Sunday: The President signed into law:
H.R. 5900, the "Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010," which extended through September 30, 2010, authorities to collect taxes that fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, and make grants to airports under the Airport Improvement Program; and establishes various requirements related to commercial scheduled air carrier safety and pilot training, including requirements related to pilot fatigue and an electronic pilot records database. Source
Day556/Aug2nd/Monday: The President traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, where he addressed the national convention of Disabled American Veterans (transcript) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) finance event. (transcript).
United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Jennifer Granholm in Detroit, Michigan, at the future site of the Woodward Avenue Light Rail Line. The city of Detroit received a $25 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to fund the first leg of what would be Detroit's first light rail line, connecting Downtown Detroit to the New Center district and eventually to Eight Mile Road. Source
Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo joined Maine Governor John Baldacci in Brunswick, Maine, to kick off the Amtrak Downeaster Expansion project. With a $35 million Recovery Act grant, the Downeaster line which currently runs five times daily between Boston, MA and Portland, ME would be extended to Brunswick, ME, with a stop in Freeport, ME. Source
The United States Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an Affordable Care Act Update: Implementing Medicare Costs Savings. According to the report, provisions for which implementation has already advanced along with the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts would save nearly $8 billion within two years; in the next 10 years $575 billion would be saved. [For more information, read the full CMS report or see the timeline on HealthCare.gov to learn more about what's changing and when under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act]. Source
Day557/Aug3rd/Tuesday: The President signed the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office of the White House. The Act reduced the disparity between federal criminal penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses from a 100:1 ratio to an 18:1 ratio. Source
The President hosted a Town Hall in the East Room of the White House as part of his Forum with Young African Leaders, an event that brought 115 young leaders from civil society and the private sector from more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to Washington, D.C. to meet with their American counterparts and U.S government officials. Transcript of the President's Remarks Video
The President met with high-level officials from thirty-two African countries, the African Union, and other regional organizations as part of the ninth annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum.The President applauded trade growth between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa under AGOA, but urged African officials to make their economies even more competitive by combating corruption, lowering trade barriers between each other, and improving infrastructure. The President noted that his new policy on global development will complement AGOA by focusing on economic growth and good governance and that the U.S. will make targeted investments where the conditions for growth are right in order to help create the next generation of emerging markets. Source
The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:
Timothy Charles Scheve, of Pennsylvania, to be a Member of the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board for a term expiring September 14, 2010
The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of Texas and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by Hurricane Alex beginning on June 30, 2010, and continuing. Federal funding was made available to affected individuals in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, Webb, and Zapata. Assistance offered included grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding was also made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Alex in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Maverick, Starr, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. Source
The President signed into law:
H.R. 4861, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service as the Steve Goodman Post Office Building
H.R. 5051, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service as the Zachary Smith Post Office Building
H.R. 5099, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service as the Michael C. Rothberg Post Office
S. 1789, the "Fair Sentencing Act of 2010," which reduced the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences; eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine; and increases monetary penalties for major drug traffickers. Source
The President issued a Presidential Memorandum to the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff and the heads of Executive Branch departments and agencies, directing them to suspend cash awards, quality step increases, bonuses, and similar discretionary payments or salary adjustments to any politically appointed Federal employee, commencing immediately, and continuing through the end of Fiscal Year 2011. Source
National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Mike Hammer declared in a released statement: "The United States is concerned by the detention on July 31 of Russian citizens who were participating in rallies throughout Russia to demonstrate their support for Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees to Russian citizens the right of assembly." Source
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the United States Treasury Department and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to challenge their refusal to grant a license that would allow the groups to file a lawsuit challenging the government's asserted authority to use lethal force against U.S. citizens located far from any battlefield without charge, trial or judicial process of any kind. Source
Day558/Aug4th/Wednesday: The President's 49th birthday.
The President delivered remarks to the AFL-CIO Executive Council Meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Transcript Video
The President delivered remarks and presented the 2010 Citizens Medal to 13 winners from across the country at an event in the East Room of the White House. The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. Transcript Video
The 13 winners were:
Roberta Diaz Brinton, who devoted her time and talents to improving science and technology education for Los Angeles students.
Daisy Brooks, who opened Daisy's Resource and Developmental Center in Chicago, Illinois, to serve as a dormitory, school, and catalyst for young women to improve their lives.
Betty Chinn, who provided meals twice a day to the homeless.
Cynthia Church, who founded Sisters on a Mission, Inc, an African-American breast cancer support network in Delaware.
Susan Retik Ger, who found cause in educating and training Afghan widows and their children.
Mary K. Hoodhood, who founded Kid's Food Basket, which provides meals to thousands of children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.
Kimberly McGuiness, who through persistent letters, phone calls, and visits to state legislators helped spur the passage of Georgia's Deaf Child's Bill of Rights.
Jorge MuÃ±oz, who gave his time, energy, and resources to feeding the hungry.
Lisa Nigro, who began with a wagon full of coffee and sandwiches that gave way to a restaurant for homeless men and women, expanding with partner organizations to provide housing, job training, and vital support to Chicagoans affected by poverty.
MaryAnn Phillips, an American citizen living in Germany, who volunteers with Soldiers Angels at Landstuhl Air Force Base, spending countless hours at the bedsides of wounded soldiers and their families, caring for them, encouraging them, and grieving with them.
Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam, who through her vision to offer land restoration and maintenance service opportunities became a reality with the birth of the Student Conservation Association.
Myrtle Faye Rumph, who for decades lent her talent and compassion to impacting the lives of at-risk youth.
George Weiss, Jr., a veteran of World War II and the United States Marine Corps, who In 1979 founded the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad, which (as of this day) consists of more than 125 volunteers who have performed final military honors for more than 55,000 deceased veterans. Source
The President met with United States Senator Mitch McConnell in the Oval Office of the White House. Source
The President traveled to Chicago, Illinois where he celebrated his 49th birthday at the Graham Elliot Restaurant with Valerie Jarrett , University of Chicago Hospital Vice-President Dr. Eric Whitaker and The Parking Spot President and CEO Marty Nesbitt. Source
The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:
Jeffrey Thomas Holt, of Tennessee, to be United States Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee for the term of four years Bio
Steven Clayton Stafford, of California, to be United States Marshal for the Southern District of California for the term of four years Bio
The President posthumously nominated Vietnam-era Air Force commander John D. Lavelle for reinstatement to the rank of general after the United States Pentagon announced Lavelle, more than 38 years after being removed from command and demoted for allowing unauthorized bombing of the runway at Dong Hoi so the North Vietnamese MiGs couldn't land, had been cleared through declassified information that proved he had been only following the orders of former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. Source
United States Rural Business Service Administrator Judith Canales hosted a Recovery Summer event at Schillingbridge Winery & MicroBrewery in Pawnee City, Nebraska. The Schillings worked with their local lender, the State Bank of Table Rock, who provided a loan of $81,707 guaranteed by USDA Rural Development through its Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan program and the Recovery Act. Source
A panel of United States Government scientists released a report (pdf) which said that the vast majority of the oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed, much in the process of being degraded.
Canadian Superior Court Justice Christopher Speyer denied a U.S. extradition request for Abdullah Khadr, 29, who had been held in Canada on a U.S. warrant since December 2005 for allegedly purchasing weapons for Al-Qaeda and plotting to kill Americans abroad. Speyer ruled a self-incriminating statement Khadr gave to American agents while in custody in Pakistan was "manifestly unreliable" and ordered Khadr's immediate release from custody. Source
Day559/Aug5th/Thursday: The President delivered remarks on the economy at the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in Chicago, Illinois. Among the President's remarks, he announced: ""a new $250 million Export-Import Bank loan guarantee for Ford. And what this does -- what this does is, this helps Ford export -- this will help Ford export more than 200,000 cars and trucks overseas, and that means more production and more manufacturing jobs right here in the United States of America." Transcript
The President delivered remarks at the Renaissance Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, expressing his pleasure that the United States Senate had just voted to confirm Elena Kagan as the nation's 112th U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Transcript
The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:
Scott C. Doney, of Massachusetts, to be Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bio
Jacob J. Lew, of New York, to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget Bio
Nancy E. Lindborg, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Bio
Wilfredo Martinez, of Florida, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the State Justice Institute for a term expiring September 17, 2010 Bio
Wilfredo Martinez, of Florida, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the State Justice Institute for a term expiring September 17, 2013. (Reappointment) Bio
Kevin Glenn Nealer, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2011 Bio
Allison Blakely, of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the National Council on the Humanities for a term expiring January 26, 2016 Bio
David B. Buckley, of Virginia, to be Inspector General, Central Intelligence Agency Bio
Cora B. Marrett, of Wisconsin, to be Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation
Donald Kenneth Steinberg, of California, to be Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Bio
The President sent this nomination withdrawal to the United States Senate:
The President congratulated the Kenyan people and government on holding a peaceful, transparent, and credible constitutional referendum. Source
Dr. Christina Romer announced her plans to step down as chair of the Obama Administration's Council of Economic Advisers, effective September 3, 2010, to resume her position as professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Source
United States Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited George J. Igel & Company, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, a family-owned company working on four Recovery Act projects in the area, and he hosted a roundtable discussion with local contractors and workers who benefitted from Recovery Act transportation projects. Source
Federal Highways Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau joined United States Congressman Solomon Ortiz in Brownsville, Texas for a groundbreaking on the State Highway 550 Highway Construction Project, which was benefiting from $34 million in Recovery Act funding to improve safety and relieve congestion by providing tolled through lanes for freight traffic and non-tolled access roads for local traffic. Source
United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan attended a Recovery Summer event with U.S. House Representative Tom Perriello in Halifax County, VA for a $15 million dollar loan/grant to build a new wastewater treatment plant in Halifax County, Virginia. Merrigan announced new Recovery Act support for water and wastewater infrastructure projects in rural communities. Source
The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced an end of its policy of releasing information about back taxes and other debts owed by taxpayers in the coming tax season. The information, called debt indicators, had been included on acknowlegements the IRS sent to tax preparers when electronically-filed returns were received by the agency and served as a warning that some or all of the person's refund might be held back to cover old debt, including back taxes, unpaid child support or delinquent federal student loans. Source
The United States Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees released a new report that demonstrated how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was helping to reduce costs and extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 additional years.
The U.S. Census Bureau was accused by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Public Citizen Litigation Group of discrimination in its hiring of more than a million temporary workers to conduct the 2010 census, saying it ignored a warning from a federal agency that its hiring practices might violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Source
United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested or indicted 14 Somali-Americans in two cities as part of a sweeping investigation in the recruitment of young men for a terrorist group in Somalia. "These indictments and arrests in Minnesota, Alabama, and California shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to al-Shabab from cities across the United States," Holder said at a news conference. C-Span Video
United States Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the Defense Department "demands that Wikileaks return immediately to the US government all versions of documents obtained directly or indirectly" from Pentagon databases or records. Wikileak's disclosure "of a large number of our documents has already threatened the safety of our troops, our allies and Afghan citizens who are working with us to help bring about peace and stability in that part of the world," he said." The only acceptable course is for Wikileaks to take steps immediately to return all versions of all of these documents to the U.S. government and permanently delete them from its website, computers and records." Source
The President and British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke by telephone. Prime Minister Cameron updated the President on his recent visits to India and Turkey. Both discussed Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the Prime Minister noting his recent constructive meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The two leaders also reviewed the security situation in the region and progress in Afghanistan. The President and the Prime Minister also discussed ongoing efforts to advance peace in the Middle East, and agreed on the need for the parties to move to direct talks as soon as possible. Source
The President signed in law:
H.R. 4684, the "National September 11 Memorial & Museum Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2010," which requires the U.S. Treasury to strike medals in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 (911), terrorist attacks on the United States and the establishment of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
S. 1053, which extends the authority of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Inc., to construct the National Law Enforcement Museum on Federal lands in the District of Columbia. Source
The President proclaimed the week of August 8 through August 14, 2010, as National Health Center Week. Source
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Valley Meat Company, a Modesto, California, meat company, was recalling about one million pounds of ground beef patties and bulk ground beef produced by Valley Meat Company from October 2, 2009 to January 12, 2010, after the meat was linked to seven illnesses from the e.coli 0157:H7 bacteria and distributed to retail and food service firms in California, Texas, Oregon, Arizona, and internationally. The products bore the establishment number "EST. 8268" and production codes 27509 through 01210. Source
United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a national media conference call to announce 138 Recovery Act Business & Industry loan guarantees for rural businesses in 38 states, Puerto Rico and American Samoa. Source
United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff toured the new West Side bus terminal in Bloomington, Illinois, which provides bus service to students and faculty at three area colleges, funded in part by a $2 million Recovery Act grant. Source
The United States Federal Communications Comission (FCC) abandoned closed-doored talks with lobbyists aimed at reaching a compromise on ways to regulate Internet traffic, saying they couldn't reach a solution. The agency abandoned the talks a day after news reports that two participants, Verizon and Google, had reached a separate agreement on Internet traffic rules that would allow the phone giant to carry some broadband traffic at faster speeds. Source
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected government claims that federal agents have an unfettered right to install Global Positioning System (GPS) location-tracking devices on anyone's car without a search warrant. Source
The United States Supreme Court declined to block the prosecution of Canadian Omar Khadr, the last Western detainee at Guantanamo Bay, whose war crimes trial was set to open August 10, 2010. "The application for stay presented to the chief justice and by him referred to the court is denied," the court said in a brief order that gave no details as to why the request was denied. Source
The week's West Wing Week was released.
Day561/Aug7th/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, the President discussed the new Medicare Trustees report showing Medicare to be on much stronger footing as a result of the reforms in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Among his remarks, the President said, "Seniors who fall into the "doughnut hole' the gap in Medicare Part D drug coverage are eligible right now for a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescriptions. Now, I know for people facing drug costs far higher than that, they need more help. That's why we negotiated a better deal with the pharmaceutical companies for seniors. So starting next year, if you fall in the doughnut hole, you'll get a 50-percent discount on the brand-name medicine you need. And in the coming years, this law will close the doughnut hole completely once and for all." Transcript Video
United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff attended a groundbreaking for the Normal Multimodal Transportation Center in Normal, Illinois, which was using a $22.2 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to build the new transportation center designed to incorporate easy access to numerous modes of transportation, including Amtrak, intercity bus, local transit cars, shuttles, taxis, and bicycle and pedestrian paths. Source
Day562/Aug8th/Sunday: Nothing to report. Perhaps the President spent the day wishing he was in Spain with Michelle and the girls.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner, White House Counsel Robert Bauer, and National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, joined by other senior Obama Administration officials, met with BP executives Bob Dudley and Lamar McKay to discuss a range of issues regarding the ongoing clean up and recovery efforts in the Gulf. Source
United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced at a Pentagon news conference his initiative to reform the way the Pentagon does business and to eliminate duplicative, unnecessary overhead costs. Money saved with these efficiencies would go back into funding needed military capabilities. "To be clear, the task before us is not to reduce the department's top-line budget," Gates said. "Rather, it is to significantly reduce its excess overhead costs and apply the savings to force structure and modernization." Gates insisted the disbanding of Joint Forces Command and other job cuts were necessary so that the military had enough money to repair itself after several years of war, and that among his biggest priorities was trimming by 10 percent the number of contractors that support the military. Transcript C-Span Video
Day564/Aug10th/Tuesday: The President delivered a statement from the White House Rose Garden to the press urging the United States House of Representatives to pass a package of critical relief to states to save approximately 160,000 teacher jobs across the country. Transcript Video
The President participated in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House and received the credentials from foreign Ambassadors recently posted in Washington, D.C. The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an ambassador's service in Washington. Source
The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of Kansas and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes during the period of June 7 to July 21, 2010. Federal funding was made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes in the counties of Atchison, Brown, Butler, Chase, Clay, Cloud, Comanche, Doniphan, Ellis, Franklin, Greenwood, Harvey, Jewell, Kiowa, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Miami, Mitchell, Morris, Norton, Osage, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Republic, Riley, Rooks, Rush, Smith, Wabaunsee, Washington, and Woodson. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. Source
The President signed into law:
H.R. 2765, the "Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act," or the SPEECH Act of 2010 which amended title 28, United States Code, to prohibit recognition and enforcement of certain foreign judgments
H.R. 5874, which provided supplemental appropriations to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) of the Department of Commerce to help support efforts to reduce patent pendency and reform USPTO operations to make them more effective
S. 1749, the "Cell Phone Contraband Act of 2010," which prohibits providing or attempting to provide cell phones and similar wireless devices to Federal prisoners and possessing, obtaining, or attempting to obtain such devices by Federal prisoners. Source
H.R. 1586, the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Bill, which appropriated funds for education jobs; extended and modified certain increased Federal medical assistance for States; accelerated the sunset of certain temporary increases in food assistance benefits; limited the use of foreign tax credits by U.S. corporations with foreign operations; and rescinded appropriated funds for several Federal programs. Source
The President released a statement on the passing of former United States Senator from Alaska Ted Stevens in an airplane crash in Alaska: "A decorated World War II veteran, Senator Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform. Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Senator Stevens in this terrible accident." Source
Day565/Aug11th/Wednesday: The President met with his national security team on Iraq in the Situation Room of the White House. Source
The President delivered remarks and signed the Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010. Of the Act, the President said, "The Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010 will create jobs, help American companies compete, and strengthen manufacturing as a key driver of our economic recovery. And here's how it works. To make their products, manufacturers"often have to import certain materials from other countries and pay tariffs on those materials. This legislation will reduce or eliminate some of those tariffs, which will significantly lower costs for American companies across the manufacturing landscape - from cars to chemicals; medical devices to sporting goods. And that will boost output, support good jobs here at home, and lower prices for American consumers." Transcript Video
The President declared a major disaster existed in the State of Wisconsin and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding during the period of July 20-24, 2010.Federal funding was made available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding in the counties of Grant and Milwaukee. Federal funding was also made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. Source
The President signed into law:
H.R. 5872, the "General and Special Risk Insurance Funds Availability Act of 2010," which provided the Department of Housing and Urban Development an additional $5 billion in commitment authority to guarantee loans that are obligations of the General and Special Risk Insurance Funds
H.R. 5981, which allowed the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) increased flexibility in charging and establishing mortgage insurance premiums for certain loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Source
A Guantanamo Bay military jury sentenced 51-year-old Ibrahim al-Qosi, a one-time cook for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, to 14 years in prison, the first detainee to be sentenced by a Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp military tribunal since President Barack Obama took office. Source
Day566/Aug12th/Thursday: The President issued this Presidential Memorandum to the United States Secretary of State and U.S. Secretary of Defense:
SUBJECT: Continuation of U.S. Drug Interdiction Assistance to the Government of Colombia
Pursuant to the authority vested in me by section 1012 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2291-4), I hereby certify, with respect to Colombia, that (1) interdiction of aircraft reasonably suspected to be primarily engaged in illicit drug trafficking in that country's airspace is necessary, because of the extraordinary threat posed by illicit drug trafficking to the national security of that country; and (2) that country has appropriate procedures in place to protect against innocent loss of life in the air and on the ground in connection with such interdiction, which shall at a minimum include effective means to identify and warn an aircraft before the use of force is directed against the aircraft. Source
The Obama Administration's Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage, co-chaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), delivered a series of recommendations to the President. Their findings, which reflected input from 14 federal agencies and departments as well as hundreds of stakeholders and CCS experts, stated that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is viable and concluded there are no insurmountable technical, legal, institutional, or other barriers to the deployment of CCS technology. The report also concluded that CCS can play an important role in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions while preserving the option of using coal and other abundant domestic fossil energy resources. They also noted that widespread cost-effective deployment of CCS would occur only if the technology is commercially available at economically competitive prices and there is a supportive national policy frameworks, such as a cap on carbon. Source
The United States Occupation, Safety and Heath Administration (OSHA) announced BP agreed to pay a record $50.6 million fine for safety violations found in 2009 at its refinery in Texas City, Tex., where 15 workers died in a 2005 explosion. BP also agreed to take immediate steps to protect those currently working at the refinery and spend at least $500 million on safety measures there. Source
United States Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the military believed it identified the additional 15,000 classified documents that whistleblower website WikiLeaks promised to release. Morrell declined to identify the documents other than to say that their exposure would be ever more damaging than the thousands already published. Morrell said the "only responsible course of action for them is to immediately remove all the stolen documents from their website and expunge all classified material from their computers" and that additional publications would be "the height of irresponsibility" and "would compound a mistake that has already put far too many lives at risk." Source
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Esther Salas denied bail for Eliyahu Weinstein after an assistant U.S. Attorney told her the government considered Weinstein a serious flight risk. The Lakewood real estate developer was charged with having "masterminded" a $200 million scheme to defraud his investors, charges that could net him more than 50 years in prison. Source
Day567/Aug13th/Friday: The President signed the Southwest Border Security Bill in the Oval Office of the White House. Source
The President proclaimed August 14, 2010, as the 75th Anniversary of the Social Security Act and called upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that recognize the historic legacy of the Social Security Act, as well as the vital safety net it provided to millions of Americans. Source
The President spoke with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai via video teleconference. The two leaders spoke for one hour and discussed a number of topics, including the successful Kabul Conference, the upcoming Afghan parliamentary elections, renewal of the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Declaration, anti-corruption efforts, civilian casualties, and regional relations. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and General David Petraeus also participated in the video teleconference from Kabul. Source
The President had an off-the-record lunch with White House reporters of the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, Politico, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and USA Today, according to the New York Times' Peter Baker, who turned down the invitation. Source
The President, in a statement release on the national elections in Rwanda, congratulated, "" the people of Rwanda on their national election on August 9. We note reports from the National Electoral Commission that official results have been tallied and President Paul Kagame won reelection with roughly 93% of the vote. We remain concerned, however, about a series of disturbing events prior to the election, including the suspension of two newspapers, the expulsion of a human rights researcher, the barring of two opposition parties from taking part in the election, and the arrest of journalists. Source
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill ella, a new type of morning-after contraceptive that reduces the chance of pregnancy up to five days after sex as a prescription-only birth control option. Source
The United States Justice Department announced Internet radio host Hal Turner, 47, was convicted in federal court in Brooklyn of threatening to assault or murder a federal official or judge. Turner had been arrested in June 2009 for an Internet posting that declared of three federal judges who had upheld Chicago's handgun ban, "Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed." Source
United States Judge for the Northern District of California Jeffrey S. White revoked the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) approval of genetically altered sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the scientifically engineered crops affect other food. White declined a request to issue an injunction that would have imposed a permanent ban on the biotech beets, which the Monsanto Company developed to resist its popular weed killer, Roundup. Source
United States Civil Rights Commission members shouted at each other over the U.S. Justice Department's decision to drop most charges in a 2008 incident in which black militants confronted voters at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, polling place, leading to charges of voter intimidation. Some commission members accused the Justice Department of "stonewalling" the commission's investigation into the dismissal, and called a Justice Department's response to requests for information "breathtaking and insulting." One commission member dismissed those complaints as the "last gasps of a conservative majority of this commission." Source
The week's West Wing Week was released.
Day568/Aug14th/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, the President promised to protect Social Security from Republican leaders in Congress who, according to the President, have made privatization a key part of their agenda. In light of the financial crisis, gambling Social Security on Wall Street makes no sense, the President said. Transcript Video
The President and his family traveled to Florida's Gulf Coast for a weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida.
The President spoke from the United States Coast Guard Panama City District Office on efforts that succeeded in containing the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and reminded Americans beaches along the Gulf Coast are open and that Gulf seafood is being tested and confirmed to be safe to eat. Transcript Video
Day569/Aug15th/Sunday: The President and his family departed Panama City, Florida and returned to the White House. Source
A new rule that applies to debit card purchases went in effect. Banks were required to ask debit card customers whether they wanted to opt in or opt out of overdraft protection. Banks could still automatically charge an overdraft fee for non-sufficient funds on a check or an automatic withdrawal for bill payments. Source
The President traveled to Los Angeles, California where he delivered remarks at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) finance event at the home of John Wells, producer of television shows such as The West Wing, ER and China Beach. Source Transcript
United States Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act grant awards of $46 million to 45 States and the District of Columbia to help improve the oversight of proposed health insurance premium increases, take action against insurers seeking unreasonable rate hikes, and ensure consumers receive value for their premium dollars. Source
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the drug midodrine, sold under the name ProAmatine by the Irish pharmaceutical firm Shire Development Inc., and used to treat low blood pressure, should be withdrawn from the market because no follow-up studies had been done to show it had clinical benefits. It was the first time that the FDA had taken such an action against a drug approved on a fast track basis. The agency said patients who use midodrine should stop taking it and consult their doctors about other types of anti-hypotension treatment. Source
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagreed with a study published this day by JAMA, the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association, that found the Gulf of Mexico oil spill still posed threats to human health and seafood safety. "We don't agree that's currently a problem,'' said Vicki Seyfert-Margolis, from the office of the chief scientist of the FDA. She said federal officials have a "mussel watch'' program to test for such contamination in all shellfish, and so far it has not found any problems. Source JAMA Article
The United States Interior Department announced a ban of "categorical exclusions" for deepwater drilling reviews until it investigates how the exemptions are granted. "Our decision-making must be fully informed by an understanding of the potential environmental consequences of federal actions permitting offshore oil and gas development," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. Source
The White House Internship Program announced it would accept applications until 11:59PM EDT Sunday, October 3, 2010. To learn more about the program and to apply visit the White House Internship Program's page.
[Author's note: all days in these chronicles are full days. The Obama Inauguration on January 20, 2009 was a half-day, so not counted.]