Monday, June 27, 2016

President Obama Praises Washington D.C. Mayor and Council on Minimum Wage Increase

The following statement was issued earlier this evening by the President.

I commend the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the Council of the District of Columbia for raising the District's minimum wage. Since my first call to raise the wage in 2013, 18 states and D.C. have taken action - action that will help over 7 million American workers. In addition, nearly 50 cities and counties - as well as many of our leading businesses - have acted on their own to boost wages for thousands more workers. That's progress.  But we must continue to build on that progress - because no American working full-time in this country should struggle to make ends meet. That's why as long as I hold this office, I will continue to fight for hardworking Americans. And I will keep urging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, so that all Americans have a fair shot to get ahead.  America deserves a raise.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Note: Additional information on the increase is available here.  

Charlie Rangel’s Shadow Still Looms as New Racial Tensions Roil Contest Replace To Him

By Ross Barkan
Democratic elections in New York are often competitions for ethnic power masked by ideological difference—and that’s certainly true in the 13th CD.
For more than a half century, the locus of African-American political power was a congressional district in New York City.

Represented first by Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a civil rights icon weakened by ethical issues and finally bested by Rep. Charlie Rangel, the Harlem-centered district has only known two congressmen since the 1940s. The 86-year-old Rangel, who’s hung on despite his own brush with scandal, is retiring at the end of this year, and nine candidates are battling to replace him in a Democratic primary tomorrow.

On one hand, the race is insignificant: one Democrat will replace another and become a freshman in a marginalized minority party. But viewed through the prism of racial and ethnic pride—and taking into account the departure of a controversial Washington legend—the primary is unusually significant.

Rangel, the charismatic dean of New York’s congressional delegation and a Korean War hero, no longer represents a chiefly black district. After a 2012 redistricting, the 13th Congressional District became majority Latino and extended into the Bronx. This was both a function of New York’s changing demographics and its diminishing federal clout; as the state’s population has shrunk over the decades, it has lost congressional seats, and Rangel has watched as his Harlem fiefdom took on new heavily Hispanic neighborhoods that didn’t view him so reverently.

First elected in 1970, and the definition of a political survivor, Rangel reigned over the district at a very different time for New York and the country. The city was engulfed in a fiscal crisis during Rangel’s early years and Harlem, besieged by crime and later a crack epidemic, was seen as a neighborhood in tragic decline from its golden Renaissance years. As New York’s fortunes started to improve in the 1980s and 1990s, Rangel was credited with rejuvenating Harlem: as a member of a once unassailable House Democratic majority, he was able to rain federal dollars on the neighborhood, and eventually became the first black chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

That came to an end following an embarrassing House censure over ethics violations. Rangel lost his clout—but not his swagger.

All of the candidates vying to replace Rangel are running in his shadow. All are far older now than Rangel was when he first took office in 1971 at the age of 40. And all must grapple with his impressive, though checkered, legacy. Harlem is now one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods, a fact likely unimaginable to Rangel himself when he first entered Congress. New housing, businesses, and people are filling the Manhattan portion of the district. College graduates are coming in droves.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Related story: Charlie Rangel Endorses Assemblyman Keith Wright Ahead of Primary Election 

Why Women Worry About a Clinton-Warren Ticket

By Jackie Kucinich

You’d think the idea of Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren on a Democratic ticket would fire up Democratic women. Instead, it’s making these Ohio voters very nervous.

CINCINNATI, OH — Long before Elizabeth Warren joined Hillary Clinton on the campaign stage on Monday, the senator from Massachusetts had proven herself to be one of most effective surrogates this cycle for the Clinton campaign.

The question Monday was: would she be the vice presidential nominee?

Ohio voters gathered in Cincinnati’s Union Terminal weren’t so sure. It wasn’t her credentials that worried voters. The prospect of two women on the ticket is what gave them pause.

“I’m a little concerned about her being the VP choice, I’m not sure about two women, I don’t know if the county’s quite ready for that,” said Susan Knox, a retired human resources professional from Cincinnati, said. “I wouldn’t be unhappy, but I want to win here.”

Kelly O’Connell, of Cincinnati, agreed, “I don’t know that it’s strategic to have two women on the ticket.” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, she added, would be a good choice, but he might not “ be enough of a draw.”

Maureen Pelletier, an obstetrician, suggested Warren would be an excellent choice for Commerce Secretary. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Improve Access to and Coverage For Breast Cancer Screenings

Jesse Williams BET Humanitarian Award Speech

Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (Listen to the Oral Argument)

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case challenging the constitutionality of a Texas law that imposed new rules for abortion clinics and doctors. The rules forced clinics to close, thereby narrowing access to abortion services.

This program contains the audio recording released by the court. Still images of participants were shown on the screen as they spoke. Justice Thomas did not speak. 

Click here to listen to the oral argument. 

Source: C-SPAN

Statement by the President on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

I am pleased to see the Supreme Court protect women's rights and health today. As the brief filed by the Solicitor General makes clear and as the Court affirmed today, these restrictions harm women's health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman's reproductive freedom. We remain strongly committed to the protection of women's health, including protecting a woman's access to safe, affordable health care and her right to determine her own future. Women’s opportunities are expanded and our nation is stronger when all of our citizens have accessible, affordable health care.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Veep Talk: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel called the Vice President today to thank him for encouraging normalization talks between Israel and Turkey. The Vice President congratulated the Prime Minister for progress toward reconciliation with Turkey, noting the significant positive security and economic benefits for both countries and the wider Eastern Mediterranean region. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

Van Jones: Yes, Brexit Proves Trump Can Win the U.S. Presidency

Supreme Court’s Texas Decision Is the Greatest Victory for Abortion Rights Since Roe v. Wade

By Samantha Allen

Red states like Texas have used “women’s health” as an excuse to gut reproductive rights for the past 20 years. That's all over now.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is the most monumental abortion rights decision in decades. In time, it may prove to be nearly as significant to a rising generation of American women as Roe v. Wade was to their mothers and grandmothers.

In a 5-3 decision authored by Stephen Breyer, the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas abortion restriction passed in 2013 “places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion” and that it “constitutes an undue burden on abortion access.” Accordingly, the Texas law was found to be unconstitutional.

The Texas law, HB 2, required abortion providers to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The law has been stuck in legal limbo since Gov. Rick Perry signed it in 2013, ultimately getting appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.

If the Court had tied 4-4, or ruled in favor of the Texas law, as many as ten of the state’s remaining 19 abortion clinics could have closed, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Now, they will stay open. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

SUNY SA Conducting Blood Drive to Show Solidarity with Orlando

In coordination with the Red Cross, SUNY Student Assembly will be hosting a blood drive to honor the 50 victims who died in Orlando earlier this month. The blood drive will be a display of dedication and solidarity with the LGBT+/MOGII community.

The drive will be held on June 29, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the University at Albany Campus Center Assembly Hall.

SUNY Student Assembly passed a resolution calling for blood donation equality. Members of the LGBT+/MOGII communities were not permitted to donate blood in the aftermath of the shooting due to current FDA regulations. SUNY Student Assembly, among other organizations, currently advocates changing this policy.

Stewart’s Shops, which recently teamed up with SUNY Student Assembly to sponsor the event, will hand out free coupons for ice cream to donors.

Free parking will be available in the Indian Quad Visitors Lot. Posters will be available to direct attendees to the blood drive area.

Contact Tyler McNeil, SUNY Student Assembly Press Secretary at or via cell phone at 1-518-527-7659 for more information.

Source: SUNY Student Assembly

Breast Cancer Motorcycle Ride Aims to Raise Awareness Across New York

On Monday, June 27, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo will launch the first-ever statewide breast cancer motorcycle ride to raise awareness of the disease across New York State. The ride supports Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive “Get Screened, No Excuses” campaign – the nation’s most aggressive effort to eliminate the barriers that often prevent women from getting screened, such as difficulty scheduling mammograms or burdensome insurance hurdles.
Beginning in Kings Park on Long Island, Governor Cuomo, Sandra Lee, and hundreds of participants will ride motorcycles across the state to raise awareness about breast cancer and support families fighting against the disease. Legendary musician Billy Joel will also join the first leg of the ride on June 27. The second and third legs of the ride will take place on Friday, July 8 and Wednesday, July 13.
Each stop along the route will be an opportunity to educate New Yorkers about the importance of early detection and diagnosis and help women find resources – such as mammogram locations – near them. On Monday, the Governor will also sign legislation to expand screening hours at hospitals and eliminate insurance hurdles for mammograms and other diagnostic imaging procedures.
As part of the 2016 Breast Cancer Ride, Harley Davidson is donating a custom motorcycle that will be used by Governor Cuomo throughout the ride and then auctioned off by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to raise money to prevent and cure the disease.
“Early detection is the best possible treatment for breast cancer, but far too many women face burdensome scheduling and insurance barriers that prevent them from gaining access to the diagnostic services they need any deserve,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York State has put forward the most robust plan in the nation to eliminate those hurdles and ensure that nothing stands in between women and their health and we will continue to build on these efforts. When Sandy was diagnosed, she fortunately caught it early and used her story to spread the word that getting screened can truly make a lifetime of difference. This ride is about spreading awareness and sending that message loud and clear, because when it comes to getting screened for cancer, waiting is simply not worth the risk.”
“I’m so grateful to the legislators for passing this bill. Motorcycle rides have always made me feel free — and I am so happy to be hitting the open road in good health,” said Sandra Lee. “I am proud and so inspired by Andrew’s ‘Get Screened, No Excuses’ campaign. And I call upon all governors nationwide to take initiatives in their own states to protect women’s health and to save their lives.”

Stops on First Day of Ride – Monday, June 27 9:30 A.M. – Ride begins in Sunken Meadow Park, Kings Park, NY
11:30 A.M. – Arrives in New York City
1:00 P.M. – Departs New York City
2:00 P.M. – Arrives at Bear Mountain State Park (3020 Seven Lakes Dr., Bear Mountain, NY)
3:00 P.M.: Departs Bear Mountain State Park
4:00 P.M.: Arrives at DEC Regional Headquarters (21 South Putt Corners Rd., New Paltz NY)
5:00 P.M.: Departs DEC Regional Headquarters

“Get Screened, No Excuses” Campaign

Building upon $91 million in investments outlined in the Governor’s State of the State Address to increase awareness and screening for breast cancer, including a public awareness campaign, community outreach programs, patient navigators, and mobile mammography vans, Governor Cuomo recently announced a legislative agreement to ramp up the fight against the disease: 

Require 210 hospitals and hospital extension clinics to offer extended hours of screening for at least four hours per week to help women who have difficulty scheduling mammograms during the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. These hours include 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday or Sunday; 

Eliminate annual deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance payments (“cost-sharing”) for all screening mammograms, including those provided to women more frequently than current federal screening guidelines such as annual mammograms for women in their forties; 

Eliminate cost-sharing for diagnostic imaging for breast cancer, including diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and breast MRIs for women at high risk for breast cancer. As a result, women in need of tests other than standard mammograms will not have to pay any additional out-of-pocket expenses for these most common diagnostic tests;

Adds public employees of cities with a population of one million or more, to the population of public employees in New York State who are currently allowed four hours of leave for screening for breast cancer each year. Current state law requires all public employers to provide their employees with four hours of leave each year for breast cancer screening. Now public employees in New York City will receive the same benefit as all other public employees statewide.

More information on New York State Breast Cancer Screening services is available here

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Supreme Court Strikes Down Strict Texas Abortion Law

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down one of the nation's toughest restrictions on abortion, a Texas law that women's groups said would have forced more than three-quarters of the state's clinics to shut down.

The decision was 5-3.

Passed in 2013, the law said clinics providing abortion services must meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers. And it required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Since the law was passed, the number of clinics providing abortion services in Texas dropped to 19 from 42. Opponents said that number would fall to ten if the Supreme Court upheld the law. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

America's Worst Place to Retire Is In New York: Study

One of upstate New York's top tourist attractions is the worst place in America to retire, according to one study.

Niagara Falls was docked for its high taxes, snowy climate and crime in a study released Monday on the best and worst places for retirees.

The study ranked cities based on nine categories including cost of living, climate, health care, taxes, crime, well-being, walkability and cultural vitality. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 

Sanders Supporters Slowly Come Around to Clinton

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Sanders supporters are slowly (but surely) coming around to Clinton

As Hillary Clinton campaigns Monday morning with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Cincinnati, the newest NBC/WSJ poll finds that Bernie Sanders supporters are slowly -- but surely -- coming to Clinton's side. In the poll, 45% of Sanders supporters have a positive view of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, while 33 percent have a negative view of her (+12). That's an improvement from last month, when it was 38 percent positive/41 percent negative among Democratic primary voters backing Sanders (-3), but it's still a far cry from the 60% positive/15% negative score that Clinton supporters have of Sanders (+45) in this new poll. What's more, in the poll's horserace result showing Clinton leading Donald Trump by five points, 78% of Sanders supporters are picking Clinton, while 10% back Trump and the rest are neither/other/unsure. But in a four-way ballot -- where Clinton's lead is reduced to one point -- 63% of Sanders supporters are behind Clinton, 14% pick the Green Party's Jill Stein, 9% back Trump, and 8% are for Libertarian Johnson. Bottom line: Clinton is a stronger position with Sanders supporters than she was a month ago, but she still has a ways to go. And that helps explain Warren's appearance with Clinton as Sanders continues to hold off of an official endorsement. 

Click here for the full article.

NYC Gay Pride March Celebrates and Pays Tribute

Thousands paraded down 5th Avenue in New York City's 46th annual gay pride march, a celebration of the LGBT community that honored victims of the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando.