By Jueseppi B.
How the Sequester Will Hurt Shipbuilders
Unless Congress takes action soon, our economy will be hit with harmful automatic cuts (known as the sequester) over the next few weeks that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs. These cuts have already forced the Navy to cancel deployment and delay repair of certain aircraft carriers, and postpone building on additional vessels.
Speaking at Newport News Shipbuilding in Viginia yesterday, President Obama called on Congress to prevent these arbitrary cuts with balanced deficit reduction.
Find out what these cuts mean for businesses like Newport News Shipbuilding.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks to highlight the devastating impact the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., Feb. 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
In Case You Missed It
Here are some of the top stories from the White House blog:
President Obama: I Look Forward to Working with Governors to Reignite America’s Economic Engine
In meetings with the National Governors Association, the President and Vice President stressed the need for all elected officials to work together to solve our nation’s biggest problems.
Let’s Move Anniversary News: Recipe Partnership Makes It Easy for Families to Eat Healthier at Home
Five of America’s largest media companies have identified thousands of recipes that meet USDA’s MyPlate guidance, making it easier for home cooks to prepare healthy, delicious meals for their families.
Policy Statement for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices Announced
With yesterday’s publication of the policy statement on Countering Improvised Explosive Devices, the Obama Administration both recognizes the progress we have made, and rededicates ourselves to the next phase in our efforts to implement measures to discover, prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate IED attacks and their consequences.
All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST).
9:30 AM: The President and the Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing.
10:00 AM: The President meets with senior advisors.
11:00 AM: The President delivers remarks at the unveiling of a statue of Rosa Parks.
11:00 AM: The Vice President delivers remarks on the Administration’s proposals to reduce gun violence.
11:00 AM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney.
6:00 PM: The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden host a reception in honor of Black History Month.
7:30 PM: The President delivers remarks at the Business Council dinner.
Voting Rights Challenge By Supreme Court
From The Grio via The Associated Press:
by carrie heals
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s conservative justices voiced deep skepticism Wednesday about a section of a landmark civil rights law that has helped millions of Americans exercise their right to vote.
In a fast-paced, 70-minute argument, the court’s liberals and conservatives engaged in a sometimes tense back and forth over whether there is an ongoing need in 2013 for a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure requires states with a history of discrimination, mainly in the Deep South, to get approval before making changes in the way elections are held.
Chief Justice John Roberts asked the government’s top Supreme Court lawyer whether the Obama administration thinks Southerners “are more racist than citizens in the North.”
The answer from Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was no.
The question, and others like it from the conservative justices, largely echoed the doubts they first expressed four years ago in a similar case that ended without resolving the constitutionality of the latest renewal of the voting rights law in 2006. They questioned whether there remain appreciable differences between the places covered by the law and those that are not. They also wondered whether there was any end in sight for a provision that intrudes on states’ rights to conduct elections and which was regarded as an emergency response to decades of state-sponsored discrimination in voting, despite the Fifteenth Amendment’s guarantee of the vote for black Americans.
While the justices and lawyers uniformly praised the effectiveness of the advance approval requirement since it took effect in 1965, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the country passed other important laws that also ran their course. “Times change,” he said.
If Kennedy sides with his four more conservative colleagues, there would be a five-justice majority to cut back on the law or get rid of it entirely.
As his administration was defending the voting rights law, President Barack Obama was across the street unveiling a statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, who in 1955 famously refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., to a white man. The court will have to decide whether the conditions that gave rise to that seminal event are, like the statue, a part of history, or whether they persist in parts of the nation.
The court’s four liberal justices appeared uniformly to be willing to defer to the decision by Congress that more progress needs to be made before freeing states from the special federal monitoring.
Those justices aggressively questioned Bert Rein, the lawyer representing Shelby County, Ala., in its challenge to the law.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged some parts of the South had changed, but asserted that recent voting rights lawsuits in Alabama suggested that Shelby County, near Birmingham, has not made sufficient progress.
“Why would we vote in favor of your county whose enforcement record is the epitome of the reasons that cause this law to be passed in the first place?” Sotomayor said.
Justice Elena Kagan chimed in that any formula devised by Congress “would capture Alabama.”
In court papers, Rein argued that “dire local conditions” that once justified strict federal oversight of elections no longer exist.
The Obama administration and civil rights groups acknowledge the progress, but also argue that Congress was justified in maintaining the advance approval, or preclearance, provision when the law was last renewed in 2006.
Advance approval has been successful because it requires the governments to demonstrate that their proposed election changes will not discriminate, the law’s advocates say. “It moved the burden from victims to perpetrators,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the head of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.
Just last year, federal judges in Washington refused to sign off on two separate Texas plans to institute a tough photo identification law for voters and redistricting plans for the state’s congressional delegation and Legislature. Also, South Carolina’s plan to put in place its own voter ID law was delayed beyond the 2012 election and then allowed to take effect only after the state carved out an exception for some people who lack photo identification.
Opponents say those examples should not be enough to save the measure. Advance approval is strong medicine that has been upheld in the past as an emergency response to longstanding discrimination, lawyer Bert Rein said in his brief for Shelby County.
Congress overstepped its authority when it renewed the law and its formula that relied on 40-year-old data, without taking account of dramatic increases in the voter registration and participation by minorities, or of problems in places not covered by the law, Rein said.
The advance approval was adopted in the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to give federal officials a way to get ahead of persistent efforts to keep blacks from voting.
The provision was a huge success, and Congress periodically has renewed it over the years. The most recent time was in 2006, when a Republican-led Congress overwhelmingly approved and President George W. Bush signed a 25-year extension.
The requirement currently applies to the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. It also covers certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota, and some local jurisdictions in Michigan and New Hampshire. Coverage has been triggered by past discrimination not only against blacks, but also against American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaskan Natives and Hispanics.
Among the covered states, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas are siding with Shelby County, while California, Mississippi, New York and North Carolina argue that the law should be upheld.
Nearly 250 of the 12,000 state, county and local governments covered by the law have used an escape hatch to get out from under the special oversight by demonstrating that they and smaller places within their borders no longer discriminate in voting.
Thousands more jurisdictions also may be eligible, said voting rights expert Gerry Hebert. But that list probably does not include Shelby County, because one of its cities, Calera, defied the voting rights law in 2008 and provoked intervention by the Justice Department in the Bush administration.
A decision is expected by late June.
The case is Shelby County, Ala., v. Holder, 12-96.
More on Ms.Rose Parks Induction into Statutory Hall later…..
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 27, 2013
Remarks by the President at Dedication of Statue Honoring Rosa Parks — US Capitol
United States Capitol
11:45 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Leader Reid, Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi, Assistant Leader Clyburn; to the friends and family of Rosa Parks; to the distinguished guests who are gathered here today.
This morning, we celebrate a seamstress, slight in stature but mighty in courage. She defied the odds, and she defied injustice. She lived a life of activism, but also a life of dignity and grace. And in a single moment, with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America — and change the world.
Rosa Parks held no elected office. She possessed no fortune; lived her life far from the formal seats of power. And yet today, she takes her rightful place among those who’ve shaped this nation’s course. I thank all those persons, in particular the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, both past and present, for making this moment possible. (Applause.)
A childhood friend once said about Mrs. Parks, “Nobody ever bossed Rosa around and got away with it.” (Laughter.) That’s what an Alabama driver learned on December 1, 1955. Twelve years earlier, he had kicked Mrs. Parks off his bus simply because she entered through the front door when the back door was too crowded. He grabbed her sleeve and he pushed her off the bus. It made her mad enough, she would recall, that she avoided riding his bus for a while.
And when they met again that winter evening in 1955, Rosa Parks would not be pushed. When the driver got up from his seat to insist that she give up hers, she would not be pushed. When he threatened to have her arrested, she simply replied, “You may do that.” And he did.
A few days later, Rosa Parks challenged her arrest. A little-known pastor, new to town and only 26 years old, stood with her — a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. So did thousands of Montgomery, Alabama commuters. They began a boycott — teachers and laborers, clergy and domestics, through rain and cold and sweltering heat, day after day, week after week, month after month, walking miles if they had to, arranging carpools where they could, not thinking about the blisters on their feet, the weariness after a full day of work — walking for respect, walking for freedom, driven by a solemn determination to affirm their God-given dignity.
Three hundred and eighty-five days after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, the boycott ended. Black men and women and children re-boarded the buses of Montgomery, newly desegregated, and sat in whatever seat happen to be open. (Applause.) And with that victory, the entire edifice of segregation, like the ancient walls of Jericho, began to slowly come tumbling down.
It’s been often remarked that Rosa Parks’s activism didn’t begin on that bus. Long before she made headlines, she had stood up for freedom, stood up for equality — fighting for voting rights, rallying against discrimination in the criminal justice system, serving in the local chapter of the NAACP. Her quiet leadership would continue long after she became an icon of the civil rights movement, working with Congressman Conyers to find homes for the homeless, preparing disadvantaged youth for a path to success, striving each day to right some wrong somewhere in this world.
And yet our minds fasten on that single moment on the bus — Ms. Parks alone in that seat, clutching her purse, staring out a window, waiting to be arrested. That moment tells us something about how change happens, or doesn’t happen; the choices we make, or don’t make. “For now we see through a glass, darkly,” Scripture says, and it’s true. Whether out of inertia or selfishness, whether out of fear or a simple lack of moral imagination, we so often spend our lives as if in a fog, accepting injustice, rationalizing inequity, tolerating the intolerable.
Like the bus driver, but also like the passengers on the bus, we see the way things are — children hungry in a land of plenty, entire neighborhoods ravaged by violence, families hobbled by job loss or illness — and we make excuses for inaction, and we say to ourselves, that’s not my responsibility, there’s nothing I can do.
Rosa Parks tell us there’s always something we can do. She tells us that we all have responsibilities, to ourselves and to one another. She reminds us that this is how change happens — not mainly through the exploits of the famous and the powerful, but through the countless acts of often anonymous courage and kindness and fellow feeling and responsibility that continually, stubbornly, expand our conception of justice — our conception of what is possible.
Rosa Parks’s singular act of disobedience launched a movement. The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of Montgomery helped a nation see that to which it had once been blind. It is because of these men and women that I stand here today. It is because of them that our children grow up in a land more free and more fair; a land truer to its founding creed.
And that is why this statue belongs in this hall — to remind us, no matter how humble or lofty our positions, just what it is that leadership requires; just what it is that citizenship requires. Rosa Parks would have turned 100 years old this month. We do well by placing a statue of her here. But we can do no greater honor to her memory than to carry forward the power of her principle and a courage born of conviction.
May God bless the memory of Rosa Parks, and may God bless these United States of America. (Applause.)
11:55 A.M. EST
President Barack Obama arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Md., following a trip to Newport News, Va., Feb. 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
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