By Jueseppi B.
White House Schedule – May 30, 2014
President Barack Obama on Friday gets a status report on his My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, lunches with Vice President Joe Biden and then heads to FEMA headquarters for a briefing on hurricane preparedness. And speaking of lunches: Obama’s Thursday lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was left off his public schedule. (Love those White House curve-balls)
From the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report: “The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force was established to develop a coordinated Federaleffort to improve significantly the expected life outcomes for boys and young men of color (including Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans) and their contributions to U.S. prosperity, so that all youth have an equal opportunity at the American dream. It is important to note that there is significant diversity within and among these groups of the population. Differences of language status, income, disability, sexual orientation and many other factors influence the identity and experience of these young people, just as any other population.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30th, 2014
WEEKEND GUIDANCE AND SCHEDULE FOR
FRIDAY, MAY 30th, 2014
In the morning, the President will meet with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki in the Oval Office to receive an update on the situation at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This meeting will be closed press.
Later in the morning, the President will meet with the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to receive a 90-day report on its progress. There will be a stills only pool spray of this meeting in the Roosevelt Room.
Friday May 30th, 2014. All Times EDST
10:15 AM: The President meets with Secretary Shinseki, Oval Office.
11:00 AM: THE PRESIDENT meets with the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, Roosevelt Room.
1:00 PM: THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet for lunch, Private Dining Room.
1:45 PM: The Vice President ceremonially swears in Suzi Levine as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, The White House.
2:15 PM: THE PRESIDENT attends a hurricane preparedness meeting, FEMA Headquarters, Washington, DC.
Briefing Schedule; 1:00 PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, The Brady Briefing Room.
1:00 PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, The Brady Briefing Room.
From The Hill:
Judgment day for Shinseki?
By Justin Sink
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is widely expected to lose his job as the White House seeks to quell a rising controversy over mismanagement at his agency.
White House press secretary Jay Carney offered little support for Shinseki’s position on Thursday, repeatedly brushing aside questions about whether President Obama had the four-star general’s back.
Instead, Carney reiterated the president’s pledge to seek “accountability” for secret waiting lists at VA facilities that may have contributed to the deaths of veterans.
Carney said Obama expected a preliminary report from Shinseki “by the end of this week,” setting up Friday as a possible time for Shinseki’s dismissal.
The White House desperately wants to put to rest a controversy that is only dragging on Obama’s already low approval numbers and adding to the pessimism that Democrats can hold on to the Senate this fall.
The political stakes have been highlighted by the wave of Democrats in tough reelection races turning on Shinseki. Nearly a dozen Senate Democrats have called for his resignation, and almost all of them are up for reelection in 2014.
The calls, and a damning interim report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General on Wednesday, have led to a feeling that it is inevitable Shinseki will go. The report said that found a Phoenix-area VA clinic claimed veterans waited 24 days for care when in fact they were kept from booking a primary care appointment an average of 115 days.
“This is sort of the sad stage of the process where the embattled official is twisting in the wind and almost everyone, including usually that embattled official, the president and advisers knows that person’s utility is finished,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “The question is when and how the resignation should occur.”
Many think the when will be Friday, a traditional news “dumping” ground where stories can be buried at a time when fewer people are paying attention.
“Presidents are always looking for the time this is a little less visible,” said Princeton University presidential historian Julian Zelizer . “The less news coverage, the more you can get the story to move on, and that’s good for this administration, especially during midterm season.”
Obama has repeatedly shown a reluctance to fire Cabinet members, a tendency that could still save Shinseki.
Obama stood by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after the botched rollout of ObamaCare, and Attorney General Eric Holder amid questions over the Justice Department’s handling of the Fast and Furious gunrunning program and the subpoena of journalist’s phone records.
But in comments on the scandal last week, Obama indicated Shinseki had a shorter rope.
“Once we know the facts, I assure you — if there is misconduct, it will be punished,” Obama said. “I have said to Ric — and I said it to him today — I want to see what the results of these reports are and there is going to be accountability.”
White House officials have stressed that Obama’s primary interest is in fixing the problem for veterans as quickly as possible. If the president believes Shinseki’s removal would disrupt triage efforts designed to make sure that vulnerable veterans receive care, he may hold off — despite the political damage.
The White House will also want to find a replacement for Shinseki if he is to be fired.
“You need a good replacement ready,” said Zelizer. “You need someone when that man or woman is announced who will generate some kind of excitement and confidence the VA will look good.”
Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and the leader of the political action committee supporting his reelection effort, told CNN Thursday it might make more sense strategically to keep Shinseki aboard.
“If the president were to just fire Shinseki, it’s not like Senate Republicans are going to let you put some new head of the VA in to deal with the problem,” Burton said. “They’re going to extract their pound of flesh and they’re going to make it as difficult as possible for him.”
Still, a White House official characterized the administration’s approach to the VA scandal as different from the controversies surrounding Holder or Sebelius.
While stressing that the president preferred his response to be thoughtful and measured, the official described Shinseki’s status as probationary awaiting the results of the VA’s internal investigation.
Carney, asked Thursday about Obama’s reluctance to fire people, said the president was “clear that he believes accountability’s important” — another sign that Shinseki’s days could be numbered.
“Obama hasn’t really defended him in the way he defended other Cabinet officials,” Zelizer noted.
Thank you The Hill.
From The Hill:
President Obama extends minority youth outreach
By Justin Sink
President Obama will ask members of his administration to commit to tutoring at-risk youth as he releases a new White House report outlining ways the government and private sector can help young men of color.
Obama will make the call to action during a Cabinet meeting Friday, and point interested Americans to a new White House website that will connect them with mentoring opportunities in their communities.
The push is the latest part of Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, a bid by the president to improve outcomes for minority men who are more likely to live in single-parent homes, be born into poverty, or have negative interactions with the criminal justice system.
In February, Obama announced $200 million in philanthropic commitments designed to improve child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, third grade literacy, and school discipline reform.
He also ordered a 90-day review, which concluded earlier this week, asking top administration officials to recommend ways government and the private sector could help at-risk youth.
Those recommendations include eliminating suspensions and expulsions in preschool and other early learning settings, public and private initiatives to increase reading time outside of school, improving access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, and increasing awareness of youth summer employment opportunities.
White House Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Munoz called the report “a call to action really to every sector” and said it reflected an intensive review process at every level of the federal government.
Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said the coming weeks would also see “a series of announcements from the philanthropic community, the business community, the non-profit community” supporting goals outlined in the report.
“America prospers not only when hard work and responsibility are rewarded, but when we all work together,” Jarrett said.
Thank you The Hill.
From Medill News Service:
Co-champions crowned at 2014 National Spelling Bee
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — And then there were two.
Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe made history as they were crowned co-champions of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Sweat beading on their foreheads under dozens of bright studio lights, the boys battled it out until only one word remained – feuilleton.
“Ansun, if you spell this word correctly, we’ll declare both you and Sriram co-champions,” said Dr. Jacques Bailly, former bee winner and official pronouncer. Both boys had misspelled one of their words, which is what set up the final result.
Sujoe traced the word – which means a part of a European newspaper – on the back of his placard before spelling it unhesitatingly. The crowd went wild, confetti sprayed the stage and both boys grinned as they shook hands.
“The competition was with the dictionary, not each other,” said fifth-time competitor Sriram Hathwar as he accepted half of the shining trophy. The 14-year-old of Corning, New York, tied for third place in 2013.
“I was pretty happy when I made the finals and now I’m even happier that I’m co-champion,” said Ansun Sujoe, an eighth-grader from Fort Worth, Texas and second-timer at the bee.
The competition began at the Gaylord National Convention Center in Maryland on Tuesday with a computerized written round. On Wednesday, 281 spellers, ranging in age from 8 to 15, took the stage for rounds two and three. They were whittled down to 46 for the semifinals Thursday and then again to a lucky dozen for the final competition that evening.
The audience alternatively buzzed and held its breath as words such as witloof, Weissnichtwo and rasgado were given to the kids. A quick ding of a bell signaled if they were incorrect. One misspelling on stage meant they were out of the competition for good.
In between the bizarre words and intense pressure, the quirks stood out.
Eighth-grader Kate Miller of Abilene, Texas “air-typed” the words and even hit enter as she spelled. Jacob Williamson, 15, of Bonita Springs, Florida, screamed, threw his fists in the air and jumped up and down on stage each time he got a word he knew.
“My parents have always said I’m probably the least nervous person up here,” Williamson said after the finalists were announced. In round 10 of the finals, he screamed, “I know it, I know it, I totally know it!” before misspelling kabaragoya.
Many spellers scribbled the words on trembling palms with their fingers and then recited the correct letters immediately. Others asked for definitions, pronunciations, parts of speech and language of origin before they hesitatingly attempted their words.
“Can I take a deep breath please?” asked Neha Seshadri, 13, of Detroit, Michigan as she stood at the microphone. “Now back to business,” she said before spelling taiga correctly.
This isn’t the first time on the national stage for many of the kids – 78 of them are repeating for a second time or more.
The sense of camaraderie is clear – the spellers high-fived each other and clapped enthusiastically after every victory. When the decisive ding of the bell signaled an incorrect spelling and the kid walked off stage, the others stood and clapped to show their support.
“I think I’ve left part of my heart on this stage. I think I did that my first year here,” one said.
Several spellers asked for a sentence from Jacques Bailly, but only if it met a certain criteria.
“I know this one, but can you use it in a funny sentence please?” asked one speller during his first time on stage.
The funny sentences began as an experiment in 2009. Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, said they kept the plan to themselves at first and didn’t even mention it to ESPN.
“Over time, kids have come to appreciate it and expect it,” Kimble said. She said they hired two professional comedy writers, whose names they wouldn’t disclose, to come up with the funny sentences that appeared more frequently in the later rounds of competition.
Bailly said it’s a way to cut the tension as a young speller stands on a national stage surrounded by beaming lights and clicking cameras.
“The sentence is probably the piece of information that has the least clear purpose,” Bailly said. “It’s the place where we can sort of have a little fun and relax a little bit.”
Hathwar and Sujoe will each get the $30,000 cash prize and their own engraved trophy.
“Each year was better than the last,” Hathwar said. “But now that I have the trophy, it’s the best.”
Statements and Releases
FACT SHEET & REPORT: Opportunity for All: My Brother’s Keeper Blueprint for Action
The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report to the President can be found HERE.
Over the past five years, the hard work and grit of the American people pulled our economy back from the brink of collapse. We are now moving forward again. But there is more work to do, and for decades opportunity has lagged behind for some, including millions of boys and young men of color. Boys of color are too often born into poverty and live with a single parent. And while their gains contributed to the national high school graduation rate reaching an all-time high, in some school districts dropout rates remain high. Too many of these boys and young men will have negative interactions with the juvenile and criminal justice system, and the dream of a college education is within grasp for too few. Our society can and will do more to help remove barriers to all young people’s success, because America prospers not only when hard work and responsibility are rewarded but also when we all pull forward together.
Rebuilding that core American value—community—is why the President launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative designed to determine what works to help young people stay on track to reach their full potential.
The Administration is doing its part by identifying programs and policies that work, and recommending action that will help all our young people succeed. Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, the President’s Task Force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans, through online and in-person listening sessions, who are already taking action. Cities and towns, businesses, foundations, faith leaders and individuals have made commitments to helping youth get a strong start in school and life and later connect them to mentoring, support networks and specialized skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. As President Obama has said, “We are stronger when America fields a full team.”
Today, the President met with his Cabinet to discuss the Task Force’s initial assessments and recommendations and the President called on the American people to get engaged through mentorship opportunities nationwide.
Vice President Biden to Travel to Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic
Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic during the week of June 16, 2014. In each country, the Vice President will meet with key leaders to discuss the full range of bilateral, regional and global issues. While in Brazil, the Vice President will attend the June 16th match in Natal between the United States and Ghana, and continue on to Brasilia to meet with President Rousseff and Vice President Michel Temer. In Colombia, the Vice President will meet with President Santos to follow-up on the bilateral and regional prosperity and security agenda. In the Dominican Republic, the Vice President will meet with President Danilo Medina to discuss a broad range of bilateral issues, as well as regional cooperation.