Category Archives: National Security

Nearly 500 Retired Top Military, National Security Officials Endorse Joe Biden

Memorial Day Commemoration, North Hempstead, Long Island, NY nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. The generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.”

Today, nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. In an open letter, the generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation.
 
Read the full letter below and see the full list of signatures here:

National Security Leaders for Biden: An Open Letter To America

To Our Fellow Citizens:
 
We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”
 
We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs.

We believe that Joe Biden is, above all, a good man with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is guided by the principles that have long made America great: democracy is a hard-won right we must defend and support at home and abroad; America’s power and influence stem as much from her moral authority as it does from her economic and military power; America’s free press is invaluable, not an enemy of the people; those who sacrifice or give their lives in service of our nation deserve our respect and eternal gratitude; and America’s citizens benefit most when the United States engages with the world. Joe Biden will always put the nation’s needs before his own.
 
Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.
 
We believe America’s president must be honest, and we find Joe Biden’s honesty and integrity indisputable. He believes a nation’s word is her bond. He believes we must stand by the allies who have stood by us. He remembers how America’s NATO allies rushed to her side after 9/11; how the Kurds fought by our side to defeat ISIS; and how Japan and South Korea have been steadfast partners in countering North Korean and Chinese provocations. Joe Biden would never sell out our allies to placate despots or because he dislikes an allied leader.
 
While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.
 
We know Joe Biden has the experience and wisdom necessary to navigate America through a painful time. He has grappled with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges for decades, learning what works – and what does not – in a dangerous world. He is knowledgeable, but he also knows that listening to diverse and dissenting views is essential, particularly when making tough decisions concerning our national security. Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision – as any American president should.
 
Finally, Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
 
The next president will inherit a nation – and a world – in turmoil. The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.
 
Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.

Growing Number of Republicans Come Out in Support of Biden for President

Former DHS official Miles Taylor in a Lincoln Project ad decries Donald Trump’s national security leadership. “His first term has been dangerously chaotic. Four more years of this are unthinkable.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-featurs.com

As the Republican National Convention 2020 unfolds with stunning ferocity, mendacity, and fear-mongering, basically offering an Alice Through the Looking Glass Orwellian alternative reality, more and more Republicans, including Presidential appointees, legal experts and Congressmen and elected officials have allied against Trump for his corruption and abuse of the Presidency. These include former Governors John Kasich and Christine Todd Whitman and former Secretary of State Colin Powell who appeared at the Democratic National Convention in support of Joe Biden.

The growing list of administration officials supporting Biden over Trump also includes a former Homeland Security official Myles Taylor, who in a Washington Post op-ed, wrote,Trump showed vanishingly little interest in subjects of vital national security interest, including cybersecurity, domestic terrorism and malicious foreign interference in U.S. affairs…. Because the commander in chief has diminished America’s influence overseas, today the nation has fewer friends and stronger enemies than when Trump took office…. Trump has also damaged the country in countless ways that don’t directly involve national security but, by stoking hatred and division, make Americans profoundly less safe.

“The president’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic is the ultimate example…His first term has been dangerously chaotic. Four more years of this are unthinkable.”

And former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, in declaring his support for Biden for president, stated, “And so, it is because of my conservatism, and because of my belief in the Constitution, and in the separation of power, and because I am gravely concerned about the conduct and behavior of our current president that I stand here today – proudly and wholeheartedly – to endorse Joe Biden to be our next president of the United States of America. (Watch Senator Flake’s remarks HERE.

Former Governor of Ohio John Kasich is among a long and growing list of Republicans endorsing Joe Biden for president over Republican Donald Trump © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Republican Members of Congress Endorse Biden

On the first day of the Republican National Convention, former Republican Members of Congress, including former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, announced their support for Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. In a strong rebuke to the current administration, these former members of Congress cited Trump’s corruption, destruction of democracy, blatant disregard for moral decency, and urgent need to get the country back on course as a reason why they support Biden. These former Members of Congress are supporting Joe Biden because they know what’s at stake in this election and that Trump’s failures as President have superseded partisanship.
 
With the support of these Members of Congress, the Biden for President is launching Republicans for Biden, a national effort to engage Republicans who are supporting Biden this fall. The campaign will encourage Republicans to organize their communities for Biden using the Vote Joe app and other relational organizing tools. More information is at joebiden.com/republicans or by texting GOP to 30330.
 
Republicans endorsing Joe Biden include:

  • Senator Jeff Flake (AZ)
  • Senator Gordon Humphrey (NH)
  • Senator John Warner (VA)
  • Congressman Steve Bartlett (TX)
  • Congressman Bill Clinger (PA)
  • Congressman Tom Coleman (MO)
  • Congressman Charlie Dent (PA)
  • Congressman Charles Djou (HI)
  • Congressman Mickey Edwards (OK)
  • Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (MD)
  • Congressman Jim Greenwood (PA)
  • Congressman Bob Inglis (SC)
  • Congressman Jim Kolbe (AZ)
  • Congressman Steve Kuykendall (CA)
  • Congressman Ray LaHood (IL)
  • Congressman Jim Leach (IA)
  • Congresswoman Susan Molinari (NY)
  • Congresswoman Connie Morella (MD)
  • Congressman Mike Parker (MS)
  • Congressman Jack Quinn (NY)
  • Congresswoman Claudine Schneider (RI)
  • Congressman Christopher Shays (CT)
  • Congressman Peter Smith (VT)
  • Congressman Alan Steelman (TX)
  • Congressman Jim Walsh (NY)
  • Congressman Bill Whitehurst (VA)
  • Congressman Dick Zimmer (NJ)

Republican Presidential Appointees, Legal Experts Support Biden

On August 25, as the Republican National Convention was underway, former Republican Presidential Appointees and legal experts came out in support of Joe Biden and against President Trump in light of the corruption and abuse of power that has pervaded the current administration. Trump has used the presidency to enrich himself — spending countless tax dollars at his own properties. Members of his administration have failed to divest themselves from conflicts of interest as promised. And, Trump has weaponized the Executive Branch against its core mission, including using the U.S. Justice Department to protect the president and his friends, over the American people and the rule of law. Trump has welcomed wealthy special interests into the Oval Office and to the highest levels of his administration to develop and guide policy.
 
As President, Biden is dedicated to restoring even-handed justice and the principle that no person is above the law. He would:

  • Return basic honesty and integrity to the U.S. Department of Justice and to Executive Branch decision-making;
  • Restore ethics in government;
  • Rein in Executive Branch financial conflicts of interest;
  • Reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics and make it easier for candidates of all backgrounds to run for office.

Republican appointees endorsing Joe Biden include:

  • Donald B. Ayer, Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General (H.W. Bush Administration)
  • Alan Charles Raul, Former Vice Chairman of the White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (W. Bush Administration), General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget (H.W. Bush Administration), General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (H.W. Bush Administration), and Associate Counsel to the President (Reagan Administration)
  • Charles Fried, Former U.S. Solicitor General (Reagan Administration), Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Stuart Gerson, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice (H.W. Bush Administration), Debate Prep Advisor to President H.W. Bush, W. Bush Presidential Transition Staff
  • Peter Keisler, Former U.S. Acting Attorney General (W. Bush Administration), Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice (W. Bush Administration)
  • Paul Rosenweig, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Homeland Security (W. Bush Administration), Privacy and Security Expert
  • Robert Shanks, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice (Reagan Administration)
  • J.W. Verret, Former Chief Economist and Senior Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Trump Presidential Transition Staff

Meanwhile, an alternate Republican Conservative convention is underway this week of Never Trump groups. A “Convention on Founding Principles,”put on by Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn’s Stand Up Republic and the eclectic think tank, the Niskanen Centeris running as counter-programming to the Republican convention. The event is being live-streamed and available for viewing on Facebook and YouTube.

And the Lincoln Project continues to produce amazing videos, ads, social media campaign. “The Lincoln Project is holding accountable those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would put others before Americans.”

The stated mission of the Lincoln Project: Defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box.

“We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party. Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.” (lincolnproject.us)

Tammy Duckworth Tells DNC: ‘As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet’

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, speaking to the Democratic National Convention, offered some of the most damning accusations against the incumbent Donald Trump, calling him “Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.” She said, “As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet. He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego. He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights. Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies. Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who lost both legs when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq, addressed the Democratic National Convention on Joe Biden’s longtime and genuine support for active military, their families, and veterans, both because he lived the experience and because he brings a genuine compassion, dignity, integrity to leadership. She offered some of the most damning accusations against the incumbent Donald Trump, calling him “Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.

“As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet.
He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego. He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights. Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies. Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency.”
 
Here are Senator Duckworth’s highlighted remarks:

Good evening. I’m Tammy Duckworth.

When I first enlisted in the Army, I was eager to serve my country… yet anxious whether I’d be able to earn my way into the ranks.

But I earned my wings and later commanded my own air assault unit, learning that serving—and leading—in the military is both a privilege and a sacrifice. 

To be a commander, you must always put your Troops first—because one day, you may order them to sacrifice everything for our great nation.

To do that, leaders must command their Troops’ respect—and be worthy of their pledge to protect and defend our Constitution, no matter the cost. 

But military service doesn’t just take sacrifice from those in uniform—it’s required from their families, too.

My husband Bryan was the one who rushed to Walter Reed after I was wounded in Iraq. 

He was the one holding my hand, waiting for me to wake up… 

…when I finally did, he was my rock, getting me through those hours…  weeks… months of unspeakable pain and unending surgeries. 

He was my anchor as I relearned to walk, helping me through every step… every stumble.  

Our military spouses hold their families together… praying for their loved one’s safety wherever they’re deployed, serving as caregivers to our disabled servicemembers, then picking up the pieces and starting again whenever the next tour… or the next war… arises.

Joe Biden understands these sacrifices, because he’s made them himself. 

When his son Beau deployed to Iraq, his burden was also shouldered by his family. 

Joe knows the fear military families live with because he’s felt that dread of never knowing if your deployed loved one is safe. 

He understands their bravery because he had to muster that same strength every hour of every day Beau was overseas.

That’s the kind of leader our servicemembers deserve: one who understands the risks they face and who would actually protect them by doing his job as Commander-in-Chief.

Instead they have a Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.

As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet.

He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego.

He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights.

Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies.

Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency. 

He has common sense.

He can command… from both experience and from strength.

Donald Trump doesn’t deserve to call himself Commander-in-Chief for another four minutes—let alone another four years.

Our troops deserve better.

Our country deserves better.


If you agree, text “MORE” to 3-0-3-3-0 to elect Joe Biden: a leader who actually cares enough about America to lead.

DNC: National Security Advisors Testify to Joe Biden’s Leadership Qualities to Address Nation’s Historic Challenges

Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General who refused to enact Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban and alerted the White House to a compromised Michael Flynn, told the Democratic National Convention, “Public servants promise to defend our Constitution. Uphold our laws. And work on behalf of the American people. But from the moment President Trump took office, he has used his position to benefit himself rather than our country. He’s trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention was themed “Leadership Matters” drawing a stark contrast between the lack of leadership of the incumbent, and the experience, integrity, competence and compassion to address the historic challenges facing the nation that former Vice President Joe Biden brings to the office of president.

“A moment like now demands real leadership. A leader who has the experience and character to meet the moment. A leader who will unite us, tell us the truth, take responsibility, listen to experts and be an example for the nation. Strong people and strong countries rise up during crises, don’t shy away from what is tough, and lead with competence. With Joe Biden as our president, we will restore honesty and integrity to our government, and stake out a renewed leadership role in the world. And we will create more justice, more fairness and more equality for all.”

Here are highlights from the evening’s speakers:

FORMER SECOND LADY OF THE UNITED STATES DR. JILL BIDEN

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors. The rooms are dark and the bright young faces that should fill them are confined to boxes on a computer screen.”

“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.” 

“There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it…He does it for you.” 

FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL SALLY YATES

“Public servants promise to defend our Constitution. Uphold our laws. And work on behalf of the American people. But from the moment President Trump took office, he has used his position to benefit himself rather than our country. He’s trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.”

“We need a president who respects our laws and the privilege of public service. Who reflects our values and cares about our people. We need a president who will restore the soul of America.” 

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (New York)

“But if we’re going to win this battle for the soul of our nation, Joe can’t do it alone. Democrats must take back the Senate. We will stay united, from Sanders and Warren to Manchin and Warner—and together, we will bring bold and dramatic change to our country.”

 FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JIMMY CARTER

“Joe has the experience, character, and decency to bring us together and restore America’s greatness. We deserve a person with integrity and judgment, someone who is honest and fair, someone who is committed to what is best for the American people.”

FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BILL CLINTON

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple. At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos. Just one thing never changes—his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there.”

“Our party is united in offering you a very different choice: a go-to-work president. A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy. A man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide. Our choice is Joe Biden.”

ADY BARKAN, HEALTHCARE ACTIVIST

“Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people’s health insurance. With the existential threat of another four years of this president, we all have a profound obligation to act, not only to vote, but to make sure that our friends, family, and neighbors vote as well.”

FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY

“Donald Trump pretends Russia didn’t attack our elections. And now, he does nothing about Russia putting a bounty on our troops. So he won’t defend our country. He doesn’t know how to defend our troops. The only person he’s interested in defending is himself.”

“Joe’s moral compass has always pointed in the right direction, from the fight to break the back of apartheid to the struggle to wake up the world to genocide in the Balkans. Joe understands that none of the issues of this world—not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis—none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Other speakers testifying to Biden’s leadership and presidential qualities included Colin Powell and a gaggle of national security advisors who have served in prior administrations, and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy and former Ambassador to Japan, and her son, Jack Schlossberg, JFK’s grandson.

Cuomo Pleads with CDC to Allow Coronavirus Testing in Private Labs to Better Monitor, Contain Spread

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours Northwell Labs with Dr. Dwayne Breining, the Executive Director, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael J. Dowling © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Update: After tour of Northwell Labs, Governor Cuomo announced FDA approval for Northwell to test novel coronavirus: “After days of advocating the FDA and the federal government to expand testing capacity for the novel coronavirus in New York State and working with Northwell and Wadsworth to expedite the process, we just received word that Northwell Laboratories has been authorized to test under Wadsworth’s emergency use authorization. Manual testing of 75 to 80 samples per day will begin at Northwell immediately, but we still need automated testing approved so we can perform thousands per day.

“While this approval is a good first step, the FDA must increase the testing capacity for the State and private labs, because the more tests we run, the more positive people we will find and the better we can control and contain the virus. It’s one thing for the federal government not to have the testing capacity in place themselves – that was bad enough – but there’s no excuse for them not to be authorizing existing labs to do the work.” 

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo took the Center for Disease Control and federal government to task for failing to authorize private laboratories to test for the coronavirus, and for failing to authorize automated testing which could increase exponentially the number of people tested.

Testing is critical to finding people infected with the coronavirus in order to contain the spread of the infection, he said during a tour of Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island, where as many as 1000 tests could be done a day using state-of-the-art automated testing devices which can analyze as many as 120 samples at one time.

Northwell’s laboratory is the most sophisticated lab in New York State and one of the most advanced in the nation. But  as yet, CDC  has not authorized private labs to do the tests, and has not authorized the automated testing systems that Northwell has, Cuomo said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, flanked by Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael J. Dowling at Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island, urged CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“CDC has not authorized the use of this lab, which is just outrageous and ludicrous,” the Governor scolded. “CDC, wake up, let the state’s test. Let private labs test. Let’s increase as quickly as possible our testing capacity so we identify the positive people so we can isolate them and we’re successful in our containment.”

The state is “continuing to test people and are working with hospitals and local governments to give them the resources they need to contain the spread of this virus,” Governor Cuomo said. “We mobilized quickly but the federal government has been slow off the mark and they continue to be slow. That’s unacceptable – we need them to approve these private labs today so we can stay ahead of this evolving situation. Worse than the virus right now is the fear pandemic – and getting these additional facilities online will ensure we have more facts that will help keep people calm.”

The Northwell Lab on Long Island would be the first private lab in the state to handle coronavirus testing.

“This is an extraordinary facility,” the Governor said, flanked by his state Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, and Northwell Health CEO Michael J. Dowling.

“We are trying to contain spread of virus and to do that, we are testing as many as possible, to  find the positives and isolate them.” If the spread of infection is not contained, he warned, more disastrous measures, such as China and Italy have been forced to undertake – massive quarantines of millions of people – “would be very disruptive to society and the economy.”

Cuomo said that the level of fear surrounding coronavirus (the disease associated with the virus is COVID-19) is unwarranted. “There is more fear, anxiety than facts would justify. This isn’t Ebola, or SARS. This is a virus we have a lot of information on. Johns Hopkins has been tracking 100,000 cases and what happens.”

Most people who become infected will experience mild symptoms like a cold or flu and can recover at home. But for vulnerable populations – the elderly, people who have medical conditions – the disease is dangerous and can be deadly.

The best “weapon” against the disease is to reduce situations that create density.

Cuomo said he is speaking with business leaders across the state to encourage them to offer liberal sick leave so that people who are sick, who feel symptoms, stay home but are still paid; he also is encouraging businesses as well as state and local government offices,  to stagger workers in shifts if possible; and to allow work-at-home where feasible.

Individuals also have a role in keeping themselves safe, he said – wash hands frequently, don’t shake hands, just as in any flu season. He advises people who take mass transit to let a train pass if the cars are too packed, and to move to less crowded cars.  “Reduce density, proximity.”

The single best thing government can do is to test. “The more positives we identify, the more we can isolate to stop the spread.”

The Governor confirmed 16 additional cases of novel coronavirus in New York State since his last update yesterday, bringing the statewide total to 105 confirmed cases on Sunday morning. Of the new cases, 12 are in Westchester County, one in New York City in the Bronx, one in Nassau, one in Suffolk, and one in Ulster.

Of the 105 total individuals in New York State who tested positive for the virus, 82 are in Westchester; 12 are in New York City; five are in Nassau; one in Suffolk; two in Rockland; one in Ulster and two in Saratoga counties.

Cuomo criticized the CDC for being unprepared, even as the outbreak became clear in China by December (“It is delusional not to expect people to come from China”), and only recently allowing states to do their own testing. New York has the Wadsworth lab, but now is asking the CDC to authorize the state to utilize private labs, like Northwell Laboratories.

Technicians at the $60 million Northwell Laboratory on Long Island, the most sophisticated private lab in the state and one of the most advanced in the country. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Not to be using this laboratory, not to be using the other private labs around the state makes no sense whatsoever. Not to be using automated testing, which means rather than a person manually handling a test tube and a test, the machines we saw that handle 120 samples at a time place them in a machine, the machine runs the test. Of course you should be using that technology. And it’s one thing for the CDC not to have the testing capacity in place themselves, but that was bad enough. For the CDC not to be authorizing existing labs to do the work, there’s no excuse for that.” 

Cuomo also criticized the federal government for creating unnecessary confusion, which fuels fear. “The President of the United States says anyone who wants a test can have a test. Vice President of the United States says we don’t have the testing capacity. People say, how can you say both things? You can’t say both things. We don’t have the testing capacity that we need. Not everyone who wants a test can have a test.

“We have to prioritize the people who get the tests to fit our capacity, right. You can’t ask more people to come in and get tested until you know you have the capacity to test them. The number of people coming in for a test must equal the number of tests you can perform. That’s why in New York we have a standard protocol that’s in place all across the state, prioritizing who can get tested to fit our testing capacity. 

A state of the art machine like this at Northwell Labs, Long Island, automates the analysis of 120 test samples at one time, vastly increasing the capacity to test individuals suspected of carrying the coronavirus © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Once we increase our testing capacity and we can perform more tests, then we can change the prioritization of those people coming in for the tests. We have a statewide protocol because we don’t want people shopping tests. I don’t want someone from Nassau driving to Suffolk, driving to Manhattan, driving to Westchester because you have different rules on who can get a test. Everyone, everywhere in this state has the same rules, doesn’t matter where you go. Hopefully, the CDC acts responsibly and acts quickly and we raise the capacity, we bring a great facility like this online with the automated testing. We can then get testing per day to about 1000 tests. And then we can calibrate the prioritization to the capacity.”

The $60 million Northwell Laboratory on Long Island, is the most sophisticated private lab in the state and one of the most advanced in the country. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 The Governor also addressed price gouging, which is happening across the state and the nation, “symptomatic of fear.”

“It’s unethical, exploitative of fear and illegal,” he said. “To make a few extra bucks on hand sanitizer, they would jeopardize their license to do business. There is an increased penalty for price gouging.” He said that consumers can call a hot line, that state police  are investigating and the state Attorney General has the power to prosecute.

The state’s Division of Consumer Protection has created an online consumer complaint form, where New Yorkers can report suspected price gouging or concerns about improper delivery of quantity. (Consumers who wish to file a complaint can visit https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.)

Also, travel insurance companies and travel agents will offer New York residents and businesses the ability to purchase coverage when making travel plans that would allow them to cancel a trip for any reason, including for reasons related to COVID-19.

The Department of Financial Services issued guidance allowing travel agents and travel insurers to offer this type of coverage after DFS received consumer complaints that such polices were not available in New York State. This new action is designed to provide reassurance to New York businesses and residents who are seeking to make plans that may involve travel to locations that are not currently under travel advisories due to COVID-19.

Six global and national insurance companies have agreed to offer “cancel for any reason” coverage to travelers, including: Allianz, Nationwide, Starr Indemnity, Berkshire, Crum & Forster, and Zurich.

DFS also directed New York State travel insurance issuers to proactively reach out to individuals and businesses who bought their policies to let them know what is covered. (Read a copy of the DFS Insurance Guidance Letter)

Yesterday, the Governor announced that he declared a state of emergency to help New York more quickly and effectively contain the spread of the virus. The state of emergency declaration allows, among other things:

Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and other essential resources

Allowing qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses to conduct testing

Expedited procurement of testing supplies and equipment

Expedited personnel onboarding

Expedited leasing of lab space

Allowing EMS personnel to transport patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals

Providing clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation   

 “We do not want to have to do massive close downs, massive quarantines, and we don’t want members of the vulnerable population getting sick. That is why we are doing what we are doing,” Cuomo said.

“So in sum, CDC let’s move, authorize the State to authorize private labs, get this most sophisticated lab in the State, one of the most sophisticated labs in the country, get this lab to work. Why you wouldn’t makes absolutely no sense.

“And to New Yorkers, we understand the facts. Keep this in perspective. We don’t want a lot of people getting this virus. We don’t want to take more drastic measures. But, if you get the virus, you will get sick, you will recover, you most likely won’t even go to the hospital. And the only the people who we really have to worry about are the vulnerable populations – senior citizens, people with compromised immune systems.

“So keep it all in perspective. I know there’s a whole frenzy about it, the facts do not justify the frenzy, period. The biggest problem we have in this situation is fear, not the virus. The virus we can handle. It’s the fear. And the fear is just unwarranted.”

__________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Sanders to Trump on Coronavirus: Stop Playing Politics With Our Health and National Security

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous,” declared Senator Bernie Sanders after Trump appointed Mike Pence to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus: 

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous. By picking Vice President Mike Pence to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic, Trump has not only chosen someone completely unqualified, but the president has made clear that he’s more concerned about his own politics than the health and safety of the country.

“In my view, the Trump administration must take immediate action. First, they must replace Mike Pence with an expert on pandemics and disaster response. Second, the Trump administration must stop releasing misleading, unscientific, and false information about whether the coronavirus is controlled or when it will be controlled. Third, they must immediately staff their response team with experts and scientists to help us address a pandemic based on facts – Steve Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow are political cronies, not scientists. In addition, Trump must sign the full $8.5 billion in coronavirus response funding proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer.

“We need a president who does not play politics with our health and national security. Besides passing Medicare for All so everyone can see a doctor or get a vaccine for free, my administration will greatly expand funding for the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health, work with the international community, including with the World Health Organization, and invest in research and technology to make vaccines available quickly,” Sanders stated.

With Latest North Korean Missile Test, Biden Attacks Trump for Foreign Policy Failures

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a hotly contested race for President, attacked Donald Trump for his failed foreign policy in the wake of yet another missile test by North Korea. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a hotly contested race for President, attacked Donald Trump for his failed foreign policy in the wake of yet another missile test by North Korea.  Foreign policy is Biden’s greatest strength among the Democratic rivals for 2020. Here is his statement:

This morning, North Korea fired two missiles in a deliberate attempt to provoke its neighbors and intimidate the United States — again. It was the 12th such test the regime has conducted since May in violation of UN resolutions, and which President Trump has down-played. After the latest round of denuclearization talks collapsed almost immediately in Stockholm earlier this month, these tests are a stark reminder that Donald Trump — a self-proclaimed deal maker — has achieved nothing but a string of spectacular diplomatic failures that are making the American people less safe.    

His “love letters” to murderous dictator Kim Jong Un have delivered little more than made-for-TV moments. North Korea today has more fissile material and more capability than when talks began, and Trump has given away our leverage — including suspending military exercises with our allies and granting Kim co-equal status at two summits with the president of the United States of America — for practically nothing in return. Now a more confident Kim is ticking up the pace of his violations because he believes he can pressure Trump to bend to his will. There is no deal, because there is no strategy and no patience for the kind of tough, hard diplomacy that actually produces results.

It’s a pattern we see over and over again. Donald Trump talks a big game, promises the greatest deal ever, then gives away America’s best negotiating tools in exchange for a photo op for himself. He only cares about his own self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. And every single time, it’s the American people who end up paying. 

He pulled us out of the successful Iran nuclear deal, promising he’d get a better one. He hasn’t. And now, Iran has taken its nuclear program out of the deep-freeze and ramped up its aggressive acts across the region — and Trump has no strategy to deal with these predictable responses.

He pulled us out of the Paris climate accord and dismisses climate change as a hoax. In less than a week, we will officially notify our departure from Paris, even as California is on fire and states throughout the Midwest are still recovering from record flooding over the summer.

He scuttled negotiations with the Taliban that might have opened the door to a peace settlement, reportedly because he didn’t get the Camp David moment of glory he wanted. Meanwhile he’s significantly weakened our negotiating position by imposing a possibly politically-motivated timeline for removing our troops from Afghanistan, without extracting any concessions from the Taliban in return.

His vaunted Middle East peace deal has yet to emerge. He gave away our strongest asset to take on ISIS by precipitously withdrawing our troops from Northeast Syria. He promised to get tough with China, saying trade wars were “good and easy to win.” But at more than a year in, what do we have to show for it? Nothing but pain for American farming and manufacturing, and vague promises that would only restore trade levels with China back to where they were before Trump’s irresponsible trade war.

The American people can’t afford four more years of Donald Trump’s art of no deals.

Biden: Baghdadi Was Win for National Security Professionals But Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy Makes Nation Vulnerable to Terrorism

Vice President Joe Biden on the assassination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, praised the skill and commitment of our military, intelligence, and national security professionals “beyond compare,” but criticized Donald Trump saying, “He has no strategy for securing our nation against terrorist threats. He has no strategy for anything. Every day that Donald Trump directs American national security is a dangerous day for the United States.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, candidate for the 2020 candidate for President, issued a statement criticizing Trump’s “lack of strategy to secure our nation against terrorist threats.”

The successful operation to take Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi off the battlefield was a win for American national security. And it’s an important reminder of the skill and commitment of our military, intelligence, and national security professionals. They are beyond compare. 
 
I’m glad President Trump ordered the mission. But as more details of the raid emerge, it’s clear that this victory was not due to Donald Trump’s leadership. It happened despite his ineptitude as Commander-in-Chief. 

It’s been reported that Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw our troops from northern Syria forced the planning for the mission to be accelerated and the timeline compressed. His erratic behavior made it harder and more dangerous for the special forces carrying it out. And they had to fly through territory that is now hostile to the U.S., taking fire along the way—including territory we controlled just weeks ago. 

Trump has also made it less likely we will be able to successfully replicate a mission like this in the future. The operation leveraged a limited presence of U.S. counterterrorism capabilities in the region, which he keeps trying to dismantle. It was made possible by the work of intelligence professionals, who he has relentlessly attacked. It relied on allies he has belittled, undermined, and in some cases betrayed and abandoned.  

Trump’s total disregard for our alliances and partnerships endanger any future intelligence sharing or cooperation. In fact, the first people he saw fit to thank after our brave troops were the Russians and the Iranian-backed Syrian government. All this makes us less safe and less prepared for whatever terrorist leader emerges next.
 
And make no mistake, the threat is not gone. One man does not constitute an organization, and Trump has opened a path for ISIS to reconstitute itself under new leadership by withdrawing troops from the region. In doing so, he has given up our best asset to keep the pressure on ISIS during a dangerous period of organizational chaos. His fixation on keeping troops in the region to defend the oil fields betrays his true priorities—profit seeking—and will surely serve as a tool for future terrorist recruitment. And with his decision to slash humanitarian assistance to the region, it’s more likely that ISIS will be able to insinuate itself back into areas where we had successfully rooted it out. 

There is a difference between deploying hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to the Middle East indefinitely, and keeping small numbers of special operations and intelligence assets in place to maintain local partnerships and keep pressure on terrorists. That’s the smart, strong, and sustainable strategy we pioneered during the Obama-Biden Administration. That’s the effective policy we put in place, which laid the groundwork to end ISIS’s territorial caliphate. That’s the way we built the very relationships that ultimately delivered this victory.
 
Now, Trump wants to tear it all down and walk away.
 
He has no strategy for securing our nation against terrorist threats. He has no strategy for anything. Every day that Donald Trump directs American national security is a dangerous day for the United States. 

Trump Chairing Security Council, Calls for New Sanctions Against Iran, Accuses China of Interfering in US Election

Donald Trump chairs the United Nations Security Council meeting, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

During a Security Council meeting on counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Donald Trump, chairing the meeting, cited chemical weapons being used in Syria, aided by Russia and Iran, but proceeded only to chastise Iran, and used Iran’s support of terrorism in the region to justify pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reimposing economic sanctions on Iran.

“The regime is the world’s leading sponsor of terror and fuels conflict across the region and far beyond.  A regime with this track record must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon.

“For this reason, I announced earlier this year that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

“This horrible, one-sided deal allowed Iran to continue its path towards a bomb and gave the regime a cash lifeline when they needed it the most.  They were in big, big trouble.  They needed cash.  We gave it to them.”

“After that, the United States will pursue additional sanctions, tougher than ever before, to counter the entire range of Iran’s malign conduct.  Any individual or entity who fails to comply with these sanctions will face severe consequences.

“I ask all members of the Security Council to work with the United States to ensure the Iranian regime changes its behavior and never acquires a nuclear bomb.”

Donald Trump arrives last at the Security Council meeting to little fanfare© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In his remarks to the Security Council, Trump went on to thank Iran, Russia, and Syria “for — at my very strong urging and request — substantially slowing down their attack on Idlib Province and the 3 million people who live there in order to get 35,000 targeted terrorists.  Get the terrorists, but I hope the restraint continues.  The world is watching.

“Thank you also to Turkey for helping to negotiate restraint.  Anything the USA can do to help resolve this problem in order to save perhaps even hundreds of thousands of lives, maybe more, we are willing and able.  We are available to help.”

Donald Trump, sitting next to UN Secretary General António Guterres © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.commeeting, Sept. 26, 2018

Without missing a beat, Trump then accused China (not Russia) of interfering in the upcoming US midterm elections – by retaliating against US-imposed tariffs with tariffs on products impacting Trump’s voter base including farmers.

“China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration.  They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first President ever to challenge China on trade.  And we are winning on trade.  We are winning at every level.  We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.”

Meanwhile, he overstated the progress being made with denuclearizing North Korea.

“As I also mentioned yesterday, we have seen the results of historic efforts to open new pathways to peace on the North Korean Peninsula — on the Korean Peninsula.  And that’s something we are extremely proud of.

DDonald Trump chairs the Security Council meeting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I am pleased to say that North Korea has not conducted a missile test since last November.  It has not conducted a nuclear test since last September.  And the hostages have been returned to us.  And very importantly, the remains of American heroes are now returning home.

“In June, I held a historic summit with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore, where he reaffirmed his commitment to complete denuclearization.  Last week, Chairman Kim reiterated that commitment to President Moon at their third summit, and to me in a very strong letter form.

“I think we will make a deal.  But unfortunately, to ensure this progress continues, we must enforce existing U.N. Security Council resolutions until denuclearization occurs.”

John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser and a hard-liner on Iran, and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly listen as Donald Trump calls for renewed sanctions against Iran © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But he expressed concern that “some nations” (without naming Russia) are already violating these U.N. sanctions.  This includes illegal ship-to-ship transfers, which must end immediately.  The safety of the Korean Peninsula, the region, and the world, depends on full compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions.  Very, very important.

“But most importantly, I believe that Chairman Kim Jong Un, a man I have gotten to know and like, wants peace and prosperity for North Korea.  Many things are happening behind the scenes — away from the media, which nobody knows — but they are happening nevertheless and they are happening in a very positive way.  So I think you will have some very good news coming from North Korea in the coming months and years.

“I also very much appreciate what President Moon of South Korea had to say about me last night in television interviews.  Working with President Moon has been my great honor.  And likewise, working with President Xi of China and Prime Minister Abe of Japan has been a pleasure and an honor.”

Donald Trump chairs the Security Council meeting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trump finished with flourishes of glory: “Each of us follows in the footsteps of countless world leaders, diplomats, and public servants who came here to the United Nations with the same noble goal: to build a future worthy of the patriots — true, true patriots — who sacrificed their lives for our nation and for our future.

“To be successful, we need a commitment of every nation represented in this chamber.  Acting together, we can replace the horrors of war with the blessings of safety and the beautiful promise of peace.”

But speakers afterward countered Trump that the way to foster nonproliferation was to save the Iran Nuclear Agreement and build upon it.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Teresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Security Council meeting, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

French President Emmanuel Macron said there needed to be a long-term strategy to manage the Iran issue and that it could not be done with just sanctions and containment. During a press briefing, Macron said that crippling Iran’s economy would be counterproductive and he would look to mitigate the impact of US sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron greets members of the African delegation at the Security Council meeting, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And in his General Assembly address, Iran President Hassan Rouhani declared the current US administration “seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual.”

“What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfillment of obligations,” Rouhani said.

In his General Assembly address, Iran President Hassan Rouhani declared the current US administration “seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rouhani said Iran was pleased other countries did not “acquiesce” to the US demands to break the deal.

Unilateral sanctions “constitute a form of economic terrorism and a breach of the right for development,” Rouhani declared.

____________________________

© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Defense Secretary Mattis tells USMMA Grads: ‘Always Run the Ethical Midfield; Don’t Celebrate Victimhood’

US Merchant Marine Academy Class of 2018 send caps in the air © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & PhotoFeatures

Act ethically, with integrity. That was the running theme for the 82nd commencement exercises at the  U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, Long Island, NY, notably sounded by Defense Secretary James N. Mattis who delivered the commencement address.

“Always run the ethical midfield” and “Don’t celebrate victimhood” were two of the lessons Secretary Mattis offered the 187 newly sworn merchant marine and military officers in the Class of 2018. Four additional midshipmen will graduate later.

“You need to be a life-long learner, so you are as strong when destiny does tap you on the shoulder to lead your crew or team through the rocks and shoals of life as you are today,” said Mattis.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis delivers commencement address to the 187 US Merchant Marine Academy graduates © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mattis spoke of sacrifice and honor, saying, “This country is like a bank, you have to put something in if you take something out.” And to the graduates’ families, he said, “The only way our democracy will continue is if you raise young men and women like this who will commit to serve the country.”

He chastised those who would whine or complain or take up the mantel of “victimhood.”

“There are rocks and shoals ahead for you, whether you go into US Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Marines- especially for leaders. By that choice you are now going to be in a position where others count on you – those rocks and shoals are not just to avoid making bad choices, learning from mistakes, but you are there to assure your subordinates, those who signed a blank check to the American people, counting on you to lead them wisely and well… We need you today, probably more than any time, as you join industry under great competition, but need highly disciplined deck officers.

“And those going into other armed forces. We need those who are willing to go far from comfort, well lit avenues of life – you will go into uncomfortable situations – physically uncomfortable, even danger.

“As small as the Merchant Marine may be, it is essential to defense. You sustain our army, our ships – ferry supplies, soldiers [as well as essential commerce],” Mattis said, whose own father was a mariner from 1935-1949. “It’s in my blood to wander the world…These are turbulent times on land and sea.”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis delivers commencement address to the 191 US Merchant Marine Academy graduates, with US Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby (USMMA ’79), USMMA Superintendent James A. Helis, US Congressman Tom Suozzi, Major General Troy D. Kok © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, the USMMA is the only one of the nation’s five federal  service academies authorized to carry a battle standard as part of its color Guard, perpetuating the memory of the 142 Cadet-Midshipmen who lost their lives during World War II, carrying supplies to the fighting forces.

“War and sea are unforgiving environments,” Mattis said. “The lessons here will apply,” he said.

“Always run the ethical midfield.

“Be the men and women of integrity, honor, intelligence, dedication and competence. You don’t want to be anything less, because at end of day, have to live up to that standard.

“Take responsibility. In a country that is sometimes not known for this, remember who brought you up. Don’t celebrate victimhood. Life as leader is hard, embrace it, put to use when hard times come, take disappointment in stride, don’t fall into cynicism (in the armed services that’s another word for cowardice).

“Keeping your grace, your courage under pressure and not taking hold of victimhood.

“Chart your course through strong ethical waters – we need leaders who are ethical, source of strength, lifelong learners.

“Hold something sacred. The tradition of this service will only last as long as you embrace it.” 

Mattis held up as a model of “moral courage” Captain Leonard LaRue who rescued 14,000 Korean refugees who had huddled along beaches, at great peril to his own men

US Defense Secretary James Mattis, after giving commencement address to the 191 US Merchant Marine Academy graduates, accepts a memento of his father’s own service in the Merchant Marine, a USMMA alum, from Mark H. Buzby, US Maritime Administrator (USMMA ’79), with USMMA Superintendent James A. Helis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Before he could get to safe anchorage, 5 babies of refugees were born, not a single life lost. He was a leader not concerned with putting all on line, stoically dealt with it. Remember him. Don’t let his example be lost on compose heap of events.”

These themes of ethics and leadership were sounded with great maturity by the Valedictorian, Midshipman Matthew Thomas Pari: “We were taught lessons on leadership and success – from leaders good and bad as well as experiences at sea,” who proceeded to share these lessons: 

USMMA 2018 Valedictorian Matthew Thomas Paris, Sarasota, FL © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Get angry and get over it –never lose control- can cause lapses in judgment – cause you to lose respect of followers or get fired – respect is lost more quickly than gained; be open to disagreement; have goals, set crystal goals; know everyone’s name, “they are more likely to follow you, work for you, respect you, so make everyone feel valuable”.

He added “Be consistent – in the ocean of leadership, use consistency as your vessel for respect and success. Show up for work, on time, be consistent in work ethic, discipline, expectations, be consistent and no one can question you.”

And finally, “Do not let your position affect your ego. You are all replaceable – don’t think you are invincible, right, entitled, because of position. You must work to earn respect, successes in life.”

“Look left, right – your days zero, your sea partners, study buddies, best friends, people couldn’t tolerate , these friendships are built strong enough to keep us afloat,… Never forget the journey, those by our side and those not with us today, during high and low points, remember who we are – Kings Pointers – resilient, intelligent, skilled men and women joining armed forces and maritime industry, joining those who came before, some who left lives on battlefield. We’ve gone through many storms here, come out stronger than before.”

Captain Nancy Wagner, Class of ’78, the first class that admitted women, the Distinguished Alumnus, spoke of her 40 years as a merchant mariner. She was one of the first eight female graduates, was the first female in Kings Point history to earn her Unlimited Master’s license in 1985, and became the country’s first female ship pilot in 1990.

Captain Nancy Wagner, member of the first USMMA class to admit women, gives remarks as the Distinguished Alumnus. She was also one of the first eight female graduates, was the first female in Kings Point history to earn her Unlimited Mzstger’s license in 1985, and became the country’s first female ship pilot in 1990 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I never actually dreamed I would go to Kings Point,” she said, noting that her father was the USMMA class of 1945. “As little girls when I grew up were not allowed, but opportunity came and I took it, timing is everything – along with 3 four letter words: work, risk, and luck.

“When opportunity comes, seize it. Remember that. You control your own destiny, life is what you make it. You have unlimited opportunity due to your diploma, and your license – never ever let it expire – You worked too hard to get it.

“You are future leaders of maritime industry and our country, soon to begin your voyage with opportunities as well as obstacles, Hold steady as she goes – never deviate from your goals, your dreams. Persevere until you satisfy your ambition.

“Be proud but humble, you represent Kings Point in all you do, live by motto acta non verba, deeds not words, and give back.”

USMMA graduates ensure a steady stream of merchant marine officers who support the nation’s economic and security requirements in times of peace and war. Graduates from this year’s class represent nearly every state, as well as Malaysia and the Republic of Korea.

USMMA Superintendent James A. Helis (with Defense Secretary James Mattis) tells graduates, “Go out and lead and change the world. Be the leaders of character that our nation needs, and those who sail and serve with you deserve.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rear Adm. James A. Helis, Ph.D., superintendent of the Merchant Marine Academy encouraged the class, which has endured some unusual challenges during their academy years, to enjoy the day. “Take in this moment,” said Helis. “You’ve earned it.”

He went on to challenge the graduating midshipmen to embrace their leadership role in the future. “Leading is both a challenge and a privilege. Rise to the challenge. Embrace the privilege,” said Helis. “Go out and lead and change the world. Be the leaders of character that our nation needs, and those who sail and serve with you deserve.”

USMMA 2018 Class President Christian Robert Wittendorf, Grander IN © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Here we are. We did it,” said Class President Christian R. Wittendorf, of Granger, Ind., as he reflected on the journey of the class. “All the studying and striving has paid off. We have come to what every Kings Pointer dreams of and strives towards: the day we walk across this stage into the next chapter of our lives.”

As part of the commencement exercises 64 graduates were either sworn in as active duty officers in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, or will be sworn in at a later date. The remaining U.S. graduates will serve as Navy reservists in the Strategic Sealift Officer Program while working aboard deep sea vessels, offshore supply vessels, tugs, towing vessels, and international flag vessels.

USMMA Class of 2018 give a cheer © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Each congressionally-nominated graduate received a Bachelor of Science Degree and an unlimited merchant marine officer license from the United States Coast Guard, and an Officer’s Commission in the U.S. Navy or other branch of the military. In exchange for their education each has the option of sailing as a Merchant Marine Officer while serving in the reserves of any branch of the U.S. military, or serving on active military duty.

Here are more 2018 USMMA commencement highlights:

US Merchant Marine Academy Legacy Class of 1968 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is the only one of the five service academies authorized to carry a battle standard © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is the only one of the five service academies authorized to carry a battle standard © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Defense Secretary James Mattis congratulates Dominic Dean DiGiorgi of Southampton, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Defense Secretary James Mattis congratulates Nicholas Joseph Castelli of Miller Place, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Defense Secretary James Mattis congratulates Lawrence Daniel Balsamo of Island Park, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Defense Secretary James Mattis congratulates Samantha Elizabeth Drake of Centereach, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Merchant Marine Academy Class of 2018 send caps in the air © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

USMMA graduates serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as licensed Merchant Marine Officers and commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Merchant Marine Academy. The Academy, which was established under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, was dedicated as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is administered by the Maritime Administration under the auspices of the Department of Transportation.

_____________________________________

© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin