Obama Administration Announces New Policies to Promote Conservation and Build Resilience to Climate Change, with a focus on Pacific Islands

President Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. When he declared National Oceans Month in June, he stated, “Oceans and their nearby regions are also highly vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate -- a once-distant threat that is now very present and is affecting ecosystems and shoreline communities on every coast. Rising sea levels, coastal storms, and a growing risk of erosion and flooding are looming realities faced by seaside towns.”(photo by James Watt).
President Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. When he declared National Oceans Month in June, he stated, “Oceans and their nearby regions are also highly vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate — a once-distant threat that is now very present and is affecting ecosystems and shoreline communities on every coast. Rising sea levels, coastal storms, and a growing risk of erosion and flooding are looming realities faced by seaside towns.” (photo by James Watt).

The Obama Administration has announced nearly $40 million in new programming to enhance resilience to climate change and advance clean-energy development by building regional, national, and local capacity in the Pacific Islands to prepare for and help mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. These steps come as sea level rise and the increased strength and frequency of catastrophic weather events pose an existential threat to places most vulnerable to their impacts, such as the Pacific Islands. In addition, and consistent with the theme of this year’s World Conservation Congress, the Administration is announcing policies to promote conservation and combat climate change by protecting wildlife, oceans, and lands.

(See the New York Times, Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun, Sept. 4, 2016, which describes how US coastal communities are already being impacted.)

The announcement coincided with the World Conservation Congress, which the United States hosted for the first time, President Obama addressed leaders from Pacific Island Conference of Leaders and the World Conservation Congress before traveling to Midway Atoll in the newly expanded Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

At Midway, the President discussed the reality that climate change is already altering the structure and function of ecosystems, changing the distribution and abundance of plants and animals, and in many cases limiting the ability of lands and waters to provide critical services to communities.

Throughout the week, senior Administration officials, including Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, attended the World Conservation Congress to discuss these steps and hear directly from leaders in government, business, NGOs, Indigenous groups, and youth groups on a broad range of topics related to conservation and climate change.

Building Regional, National, and Local Capacity to Prepare for Climate Change

The United States announced new investments over the coming years to build regional, national, and local capacity in the Pacific Islands to enhance resilience to climate change.

  • Building Regional Capacity through the Institutional Strengthening in Pacific Island Countries to Adapt to Climate Change (ISACC) ProgramUnder this program the United States intends to invest up to $5 million to support regional organizations, which are critical to address the collective needs of Pacific Islands. The program will leverage the substantial regional expertise and professional networks of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). The program will embed climate-adaptation coordinators from the three partner organizations in eight Pacific Island countries to provide technical assistance and train key staff of national climate-change agencies.
  • Building National Capacity through the Climate Ready Program: The United States will be launching a new program to enhance the resilience of Pacific Island nations. Under the Climate Ready program, USAID is announcing $9 million to help national governments develop and implement policies that promote resilience, enhance access to climate finance, and improve national capacity to manage and monitor adaptation programs. Climate Ready will engage in twelve Pacific Island nations: the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
  • Building Local Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation: To enhance the capacities of communities and governments in the Pacific Islands to reduce the risk of disasters, the United States is announcing $15 million in disaster risk reduction programs next year, and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Pacific Island countries to prepare for natural disasters in the face of a changing climate.

In addition, seven new local recipients have been awarded a total of over $1.7 million by the Pacific American Climate Fund, which overall has provided 22 grants valued at $9.5 million to civil- society organizations across the Pacific Islands, to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.  Specifically, the grants will support community-based farmers in Fiji, a women’s council in the Federated States of Micronesia, and vulnerable communities in Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Palau.

Finally, USAID will continue its ongoing community-based initiatives that help particularly at-risk communities better prepare for and respond in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.  For example, in Vanuatu, USAID helped to reintroduce indigenous preparedness practices, such as safe water collection and food-preservation techniques that, in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam, enabled affected communities to survive until the arrival of international assistance.  In Papua New Guinea, USAID supports community- and provincial-level DRR investments that enable community members and policy makers to identify and mitigate the increasing effects of climate-change-induced hazards.  In Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, USAID trains school-aged children and community members in climate change and community preparedness.  And across the Pacific, USAID is investing to develop strong, local Red Cross Societies to help countries better manage disasters and to ensure that community-preparedness work is sustainable and fully institutionalized.

  • Contributing to the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Facility: The United States will contribute $8 million to a World Bank multi-donor trust fund to support the creation of a disaster and climate risk insurance facility for Pacific Islands (“the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) Facility”). The PCRAFI multi-donor trust fund will establish a long-term, sustainable insurance facility to provide climate- and disaster-risk insurance products to the Pacific Islands countries. It will also support technical assistance to these countries and related regional organizations to bolster capacity to assess and manage climate and disaster risks, with the overall objective of strengthening the financial resilience of Pacific Islands to climate and natural disaster risks.

Expanding Research on Climate Migration and Relocation

The United States is committed to engaging with the international research community to understand how to build a comprehensive approach to reduce the risk of climate-related displacement and manage the consequences of unplanned migration while also harnessing the opportunities of voluntary, planned migration and community relocation.  This research can help facilitate migration and community relocation as effective adaptation and coping strategies to the effects of climate change.

  • Symposium on Climate Migration: The Council on Environmental Quality, in collaboration with Hawaii and Alaska Sea Grant College Programs, the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai’i Manoa, and the National Sea Grant Law Center, will host a Symposium on Climate Displacement, Migration, and Relocation in December 2016. The Symposium will provide an opportunity for stakeholders, researchers, policy experts, indigenous leaders, and local, State, and Federal, government officials to explore legal and policy opportunities and challenges arising from climate displacement. This includes questions about how to plan for and implement voluntary migration and community-led relocation as adaptation strategies to the impacts of climate change, both domestically and in the context of the Pacific Islands.

Facilitating the Transition to a Cleaner Energy Future

Although they are not large emitters of greenhouse gases, the Pacific Islands are committed to combating climate change and to making major changes in their energy profiles as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions within the Paris Agreement.  The United States is committed to helping the Pacific Islands increase their resources and technical expertise in order to develop a comprehensive approach to energy transformation.

  • Energy Excelerator Targeting Half a Billion Investment in Clean Energy: The Energy Excelerator, a public-private partnership financed through the U.S. Navy and located in Hawaii, is setting the goal of achieving half a billion dollars in total private, follow-on investment in companies in its accelerator program, including those developing clean-energy technologies for the Pacific Islands, by September 2017. This effort builds upon the $350 million already raised by the accelerator’s 42 companies to create innovative clean-energy technologies to support Pacific Islands in transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, agriculture, and transportation. (Of the 42 companies, 23 are already actively deploying solutions in the Pacific Islands.)
  • Developing a New Pacific Energy Transition Program: The U.S. Department of Energy and the State Department are announcing the creation of a new Energy Transition Initiative Pacific Program to assist Pacific Islands with their transition away from imported fuels. Building on U.S. government technical assistance delivered to Caribbean nations under the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, and ongoing successful Energy Transition Initiative efforts in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, this new effort will bring the lessons learned and technical assistance to the Pacific Islands, including those setting ambitious targets to deploy clean energy.  To initiate this process, the Department of State, Department of Energy, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the Pacific Community (SPC) are announcing they will host a workshop to provide regional governments with concrete strategies for implementing an Energy Transition Initiative model in their countries, to identify specific areas for follow-on technical assistance and/or advisory support, and to facilitate access to Green Climate Fund and sources of finance for clean-energy projects. This workshop will support IRENA’s Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Lighthouses Initiative‎.

Promoting Conservation

The United States is continuing our leadership in addressing conservation challenges across the continent and globe, from the Hawaiian Islands, known as the “extinction capital” of the world, to Africa, where elephant poaching is a gruesome reality.  New, innovative approaches to conservation, including conservation finance and mapping technology, are taking hold, alongside of long-tested strategies like land protection and smart public-land management.

Releasing the State of Conservation in North America Report: The Department of Interior is releasing the State of Conservation in North America Report, which highlights progress in protecting 12 percent of all land in North America under the highest protection standards. The analysis and information in the report create a baseline for progress in protecting important ecosystems and can offer a catalyst for future conservation actions in the United States and with international partners.

Signing an Arrangement with the Vietnam Biodiversity Agency: The United States Geological Service will establish a partnership and conclude an arrangement with the Vietnam Biodiversity Agency to offer scientific and technical support of their effort to revise the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Law.  The arrangement will be a “Project Annex” to the 2010 MOU signed by DOI and the country of Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which provided a framework for the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge with respect to earth sciences and effective management of natural resources.

Launching the Next Generation Conservation Ambassadors Program:The Department of Interior will also launch an international mentorship partnership, Next Generation Conservation Ambassadors, which will involve matching subject-matter experts from the Department of the Interior with young people working on various conservation-related topics in other countries. Topics may include but are not limited to water management, historical preservation, land management, relationships with indigenous people, climate change, wildlife monitoring, and habitat restoration. Mentors will provide input, counsel, and guidance for one year. This program will provide avenues to share our expertise and knowledge with emerging young leaders from other countries, furthering a vision for comprehensive, collaborative approaches toward addressing climate change.

Restoring Humpback Whale Populations around the Globe: NOAA will announce its final decision to remove 10 populations of humpback whales from the endangered species list, including almost all the populations found around North America.  This is continued evidence that U.S. efforts to protect and restore thousands of endangered animals and plants are working.

Supporting the Expansion of Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas: In 2015, NOAA and partners launched a multi-year effort to provide a foundation of publicly accessible baseline data and information from the deepwater areas of central and western U.S. Pacific Islands marine protected areas (MPAs). Recent and planned expeditions using vessels such as NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer are informing priority MPA science and management needs such as the identification and mapping of vulnerable marine habitats like high-density, deep-sea coral and sponge communities.  To continue to support the global expansion of large-scale MPAs, NOAA vessels in 2017 will total more than 200 days at sea; include complementary work across multiple research vessels;; and improve fundamental understanding of at least four existing MPAs.

Issuing a Unified Strategy with the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC): NOAA’s Ocean Service will later this month conclude a formal unified strategy with the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC), ensuring closer coordination between the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) and international ocean observing and data networks such as the Global Ocean Observation System (GOOS) and the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS).  This will improve the acquisition, delivery and application of information on change in the marine environment, and support marine conservation and decision-making at the national, regional, and global levels.

Announcing New Grants to Combat Wildlife Trafficking: USAID and partner organizations will announce the grand prize winners of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, whose innovative technology has the best potential to strengthen forensic evidence, reduce consumer demand or address the corruption that fuels poaching and illegal trafficking.  The Fish and Wildlife Service will announce $1.3 million in grant funding for combating wildlife trafficking. Up to 13 grants will contribute to efforts to reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife products. The grant program was developed as part of the Implementation Plan which resulted from President Obama’s 2015 release of the National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking.

White House: Economy Adds 151,000 Jobs in August; Unemployment Rate, Labor Force Participation Rate Hold Steady

Jobs 0816

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in August. You can view the statement HERE.

 The economy added 151,000 jobs in August following robust job growth in both June and July as the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent. U.S. businesses have now added 15.1 million jobs since early 2010, and the longest streak of total job growth on record continued in August. So far in 2016, job growth has averaged a solid 182,000 jobs a month, well above the pace of about 80,000 jobs a month needed to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate, and hourly earnings for private-sector workers have increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, much faster than the pace of inflation. Nevertheless, more work remains to sustain faster wage growth and to ensure that the benefits of the recovery are broadly shared, including investing in infrastructure, implementing the high-standards Trans-Pacific Partnership, and raising the minimum wage. 

FIVE KEY POINTS ON THE LABOR MARKET IN AUGUST 2016

  1. U.S. businesses have now added 15.1 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010.Today, we learned that private employment rose by 126,000 jobs in August, following a robust average gain of 232,000 jobs in June and July. Total nonfarm employment rose by 151,000 jobs in August, below the monthly average for 2016 so far but substantially higher than the pace of about 80,000 jobs per month that CEA estimates is necessary to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate given the impact of demographic trends on labor force participation.The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent in August. The labor force participation rate remained at 62.8 percent, the same rate as in October 2013 despite downward pressure from demographic trends. So far in 2016, nominal earnings for private-sector workers have increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, well above the pace of inflation (1.3 percent as of July, the latest data available).
  2. As the labor market has strengthened, the share of employees quitting their jobs has recovered to roughly its pre-recession average.The quits rate tends to fall in recessions and rise in recoveries, since workers are generally more likely to choose to leave a job if there are job opportunities available elsewhere. As such, a higher quits rate is a sign of a stronger labor market. The chart below plots data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) on both quits (voluntary separations) and layoffs and discharges (involuntary separations). The quits rate plummeted in the Great Recession as the layoffs and discharges rate rose sharply. Since then, as the labor market has recovered, the layoffs and discharges rate has fallen well below its pre-recession average, and the quits rate was near its pre-recession average as of June 2016 (the most recent data available). Nevertheless, the quits rate is still below its level in the early 2000s, part of a broader, decades-long trend ofdeclining labor market fluiditywhose causes and consequences continue to be debated by economists.
  3. Workers in nearly all private industries have seen their unemployment rates recover and fall below their pre-recession averages.The headline unemployment rate recovered to its pre-recession average of 5.3 percent in June 2015 and has since fallen even further, holding steady at 4.9 percent in August 2016. As shown in the chart below, the impact of the Great Recession varied across industries, with mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction workers, manufacturing workers, and construction workers in particular seeing large increases in their unemployment rates. As of August, however, unemployment rates for workers in 9 of the 11 major private industries have fallen below their respective pre-recession averages. The two exceptions are education and health services workers, whose unemployment rate has essentially recovered to its pre-recession average of 3.3 percent, and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction workers, whose unemployment rate nearly recovered before increasing since mid-2014 amid falling oil prices and production (see point 4 below).Jobs 0816-2
  4. Employment in the mining and logging industry, which includes oil and gas extraction, has fallen sharply in recent months amid low oil prices.While the decline in oil priceshas benefitted consumers and the economy overall, it has weighed heavily on mining and logging employment, which has fallen by 25 percent since September 2014. Oil and gas workers make up more than half of the mining and logging industry; however, this sector represents just 0.5 percent of total U.S. nonfarm employment. The level of mining and logging employment is closely correlated with the price of oil, with shifts in employment usually following price changes, as the chart below shows. Since 2000, mining and logging employment has been most closely correlated with the price of oil eight months before, suggesting that the recent slight moderation in oil prices since the beginning of 2016 may translate into a slowdown in the pace of employment losses in the months ahead.
  5. The distribution of job growth across industries in August was broadly consistent with the pattern over the past year, though some industries saw below-trend growth.Above-average gains relative to the past year were seen in transportation and warehousing (+15,000) and State and local government (+24,000), while mining and logging (which includes oil extraction) posted a smaller loss (-4,000) than in recent months. On the other hand, several industries, including professional and business services (+25,000, excluding temporary help services), health care and social assistance (+36,000), private educational services (+2,000), and utilities (-1,000) saw weaker-than-average growth. Slow global growth has weighed on the manufacturing sector, which is more export-oriented than other industries and which posted a loss of 14,000 jobs in August.Across the 17 industries shown below, the correlation between the most recent one-month percent change and the average percent change over the last twelve months was 0.82, in line with the average correlation over the last year.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data as they become available.

Hillary Clinton Announces Aggressive New Plan to Address Unjustified Price Hikes in Life-Saving Drugs

Hillary Clinton announced a new plan to protect Americans from unjustified price hikes of long-available prescription drugs with limited competition, like EpiPens and pyrimethamine, the drug for a disease related to AIDS that Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of by more than 5,000% © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton announced a new plan to protect Americans from unjustified price hikes of long-available prescription drugs with limited competition, like EpiPens and pyrimethamine, the drug for a disease related to AIDS that Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of by more than 5,000% © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hillary Clinton has announced a new plan to protect Americans from unjustified price hikes of long-available prescription drugs with limited competition, like EpiPens and pyrimethamine, the drug for a disease related to AIDS that Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of by more than 5,000%.  After speaking out against excessive prices for prescription drugs throughout the campaign and, last week, calling for Mylan to lower its EpiPen price, Clinton believes that Mylan’s recent actions have not gone far enough to remedy their outrageous price increase. So today, Clinton is proposing a new set of strong tools – including a consumer protection group – that will let the government take effective action in such cases where public health is put at risk by an unjustified, outlier price increase for a treatment long available on the market with limited competition.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen far too many examples of drug companies raising prices excessively for long-standing, life-saving treatments with little or no new innovation or R&D,” Clinton said. “It’s time to move beyond talking about these price hikes and start acting to address them. All Americans deserve full access to the medications they need — without being burdened by excessive, unjustified costs. Our pharmaceutical and biotech industries are an incredible source of American innovation and revolutionary treatments for debilitating diseases. But I’m ready to hold drug companies accountable when they try to put profits ahead of patients, instead of back into research and innovation.”

Today, building off the comprehensive plan she offered earlier in the campaign last year, Clinton is calling for action to protect consumers from unjustified prescription drug price increases by companies that are marketing long-standing, life-saving treatments and face little or no competition. She’ll start by convening representatives of Federal agencies charged with ensuring health and safety, as well as fair competition, to create a dedicated group charged with protecting consumers from outlier price increases. They will determine an unjustified, outlier price increase based on specific criteria including: 1) the trajectory of the price increase; 2) the cost of production; and 3) the relative value to patients,among other factors that give rise to threatening public health.

Should an excessive, outlier price increase be determined for a long-standing treatment, Clinton’s plan would make new enforcement tools available including:

  • Making alternatives available and increasing competition: Directly intervening to make treatments available, and supporting alternative manufacturers that enter the market and increase competition, to bring down prices and spur innovation in new treatments.
  • Emergency importation of safe treatments: Broadening access to safe, high-quality alternatives through emergency importation from developed countries with strong safety standards.
  • Penalties for unjustified price increase to hold drug companies accountable and fund expanded access: Holding drug makers accountable for unjustified price increases with new penalties, such as fines – and using the funds or savings to expand access and competition.

Her plan will establish dedicated consumer oversight at our public health and competition agencies.  They will determine an unjustified, outlier price increase based on specific criteria including: 1) the trajectory of the price increase; 2) the cost of production; and 3) the relative value to patients, among other factors that give rise to threatening public health.

In combination with her broader plan – which addresses the costs facing consumers from both long-standing and patented drugs – these new tools to address price spikes for treatments available for many years will lower the burden of prescription drug costs for all Americans.

This plan would impact the many examples we’ve seen over the past year of drug companies raising prices excessively for drugs that have been available for years – from Turing raising the price of pyrimethamine for AIDS patients by over 5,500 percent, to Mylan raising the price of the EpiPen by more than 400 percent. This is not an isolated problem: Between 2008 and 2015, drug makers increased the prices of almost 400 generic drugs by over 1,000 percent. Many of these companies are an example of a troubling trend—manufacturers that do not even develop the drug themselves, but acquire it and raise the price.

The immediate protections she is offering today build on her broader plan to lower prescription drug costs for all Americans that she released last year.

The full fact sheet is available here.

Hillary Clinton Unveils New Comprehensive Mental Health Policy Agenda

 This week, Hillary Clinton announced her comprehensive plan to support Americans living with mental health problems and illnesses © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This week, Hillary Clinton announced her comprehensive plan to support Americans living with mental health problems and illnesses © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This week, Hillary Clinton announced her comprehensive plan to support Americans living with mental health problems and illnesses. Recognizing that nearly a fifth of all adults in the United States — more than 40 million people — are coping with a mental health problem, Hillary’s plan will integrate the mental and physical health care systems. Her goal is that within her time in office, Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment. Hillary has been talking about mental health policy throughout her campaign, since hearing directly from American parents, students, veterans, nurses, and police officers about how these challenges keep them up at night.

According to a Fact Sheet provided by the Hillary for America campaign, Hillary will convene a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year as President. In addition, her comprehensive agenda on mental health will:

  • Integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment opportunities. Hillary’s plan will foster integration between the medical and behavioral health care systems (including mental health and addiction services), so that high-quality treatment for behavioral health is widely available in general health care settings. Hillary will expand reimbursement structures in Medicare and Medicaid for collaborative care by tasking the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to create and implement new such payment models.
  • Promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention. The overall rate of suicide increased by 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, and is now at its highest level in 30 years. Hillary will direct all relevant federal agencies, including Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Education, to research and develop plans for suicide prevention in their respective settings, and create a cross-government initiative headed by the Surgeon General to coordinate these efforts. She also believes we must redouble our efforts around early screening and intervention – and that means training pediatricians, teachers, school counselors, and other service providers throughout the public health system, to identify mental health problems at an early age and recommend appropriate support.
  • Enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which Hillary co-sponsored, requires that mental health benefits under group health plans be equal to benefits for other medical conditions, and the Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans in the individual and small group markets to offer mental health coverage as an essential health benefit. But while the right laws are on the books, they are too often ignored or not enforced. As part of her commitment to fully enforcing the mental health parity law, Hillary will launch randomized audits to detect parity violations, and increase federal enforcement. She will also enforce disclosure requirements so that insurers cannot conceal their practices for denying mental health care and strengthen federal monitoring of health insurer compliance with network adequacy requirements.
  • Improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level offenders. As many as 1 in every 10 police encounters may be with individuals with some type of mental health problem, and our county jails today house more individuals with mental illness than our state and local psychiatric hospitals. She will dedicate new resources to help train law enforcement officers in responding to conflicts involving persons with mental illness, and increase grant funding to support law enforcement partnerships with mental health professionals. She will also increase investments in local programs such as specialized courts, drug courts, and veterans’ treatment courts, which send people to treatment and rehab instead of the criminal justice system, and direct the Attorney General to issue guidance to federal prosecutors, instructing them to prioritize treatment over incarceration for low-level, non-violent offenders. Finally, she will work to strengthen mental health services for incarcerated individuals and ensure continuity of care so that they get the treatment they need, which will improve outcomes for them after they reenter society and will reduce recidivism.
  • Improve access to housing and job opportunities. As president, Hillary will expand community-based housing opportunities for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities. Hillary will launch a joint initiative between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and HHS to create supportive housing opportunities for thousands of people with mental illnesses and disabilities, who currently reside in or are at risk of entering institutional settings. The employment rate for people with serious mental illness is below 20 percent, even though many of these adults want to work and more than half could succeed with appropriate job supports. Hillary will work with private employers and state and local mental health authorities to share best practices around hiring and retaining individuals with mental health problems, and in adopting supported employment programs. She’ll also expand HHS’s “Transforming Lives Through Supported Employment” program, which already assists states and communities in providing supported jobs to people with mental illness.
  • Invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments. Hillary believes we need a pioneering, multi-sector effort to transform our knowledge of this field—from mapping the human brain to generating new insights into what drives our behavior to investing in clinical and services research to understand the interventions that work best and how to deliver them to patients. As president, Hillary will significantly increase research into brain and behavioral science research. She will provide new funding for the National Institutes of Health; build on cross-collaborative basic research efforts like the BRAIN initiative; scale up critical investments in clinical, behavioral, and services research; and integrate research portfolios with pioneering work on conditions like PTSD and traumatic brain injury already underway at DoD, the VA, and HHS. She will develop new links with the private and non-profit sectors to ensure that federal government efforts are aligned with those of other sectors to ensure that progress occurs as quickly as possible. She will also commit to brain and behavioral science research based on open data.

The full comprehensive proposal is available on HillaryClinton.com here.

As Trump Attempts to ‘Clarify’ Signature Immigration Policy, Clinton Agrees has Remained Same: Inhumane, Undoable, UnAmerican

Hillary for America campaign blasts Donald Trump’s charade to “soften” stance on immigration, stating, “as Trump attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas, he and his own campaign have continued to reaffirm that the defining policy proposal of his candidacy remains the same as it's always been: forcibly remove 16 million people from this country.”
Hillary for America campaign blasts Donald Trump’s charade to “soften” stance on immigration, stating, “as Trump attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas, he and his own campaign have continued to reaffirm that the defining policy proposal of his candidacy remains the same as it’s always been: forcibly remove 16 million people from this country.”

After a whirlwind visit to Mexico to meet with President Peña Nieto, Donald Trump is slated to give a speech on immigration which is supposed to clarify what policy he might implement as President, after a week of attempting to couch his extreme policies in “softened” rhetoric.

“But make no mistake: Trump will always be Trump, and he is the same today as he was on the first day of his presidential campaign,” the Hillary for America campaign stated.”At his campaign launch, he stood in Trump Tower and told the world that, when it comes to immigrants from Mexico, ‘they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.’

“From the first days of his campaign, Donald Trump has painted Mexicans as ‘rapists’ and criminals and has promised to deport 16 million people, including children and U.S. citizens. He has said we should force Mexico to pay for his giant border wall.  He has said we should ban remittances to families in Mexico if Mexico doesn’t pay up. What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions.”  

The HFA campaign continued, “While Trump may try to disguise his plans by throwing in words like ‘humane’ or ‘fair,’ the reality is that Trump’s agenda echoes the extreme right’s will – one that is fueling a dangerous movement of hatred across the country.

“So as Trump attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas, he and his own campaign have continued to reaffirm that the defining policy proposal of his candidacy remains the same as it’s always been: forcibly remove 16 million people from this country.”

The campaign wants to remind voters of Trump’s position on immigration, and also state Clinton’s position, which has been “pants-on-fire” mischaracterized by Trump as “open-borders” but is a detailed plan for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path for legalization and keeping families together:

TRUMP: “I don’t think it’s a softening… I’ve had people say it’s a hardening, actually.” [Anderson Cooper 360, CNN, 8/25/16]

  • TRUMP:“I will tell you we are tougher maybe than ever in a certain respect.” [NH1 News, 8/25/16]

Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence: “Nothing has changed about Donald Trump’s position on dealing with illegal immigration… It is going to be fair. It is going to be tough. But there will be no path to legalization, no path to citizenship unless people leave the country.” [State of the Union, CNN, 8/28/16]

Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway: “It is this week what it’s always been.” [New Day, CNN, 8/25/16]

  • Conway:“He’s said no path to legalization, no path to citizenship and no amnesty. You can return home, and if you would like to go stand in line, like everybody else is… stand in line, wait your turn, go through the normal courses. Then that would be evaluated on a case by case basis.” [Good Morning America, ABC, 8/26/16]

Campaign Spokeswoman Katrina Pierson: “…he hasn’t changed his position, he has changed the words that he is saying.” [New Day, CNN, 8/25/16]

  • Pierson:“There is not a different message. He is using different words to give the message, because everyone on the news is saying that he is a bigot and that he is a racist because of the words he uses.” [New Day, CNN, 8/25/16]

Rick Perry: “Donald Trump is not softening his position on immigration.” [Fox & Friends, FOX, 8/30/16]

Donald Trump Jr.: “He wasn’t softening on anything. He didn’t change his stance on anything.” [CNN, 8/30/16]
No matter who surrounds Trump, his hateful rhetoric about immigrants and dangerous policies remain. He would deport an estimated 16 million, including every single undocumented immigrant and U.S. citizens born here to undocumented parents…

TRUMP: “We’re going to take people that are here illegally, and we’re going to move them out. Got to move them out. We’re a country of laws, and we’ve got to remain that way.” [Florida GOP Sunshine Summit, Orlando FL, 11/13/15]

TRUMP: “We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out.” [Republican Primary Debate, Houston TX, 2/25/16]

TRUMP: “We’re going to keep the families together… but they have to go,” [Meet the Press, 8/16/16]
Send a deportation force into schools, workplaces and homes in communities across America…  

TRUMP: “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely…’” [Washington Post, 11/11/15]

TRUMP: “We’re rounding them up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they’re going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn’t sound nice, but not everything is nice, somebody has to do it.” [60 Minutes, CBS, 9/27/15]

TRUMP: “You know if you back to the early 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower… he moved out 1.5 million people and brought them back to where they came from. They were here illegally. I think — it really does have big precedent.” [Hannity, Fox News, 11/10/15]

TRUMP: “…Eisenhower had the exact same situation and he moved out one and a half million people and very few people talked about it and it was a tough situation, but what he did is he did it. And, you know, I like Ike.” [Mornings With Maria, 11/6/15]
Rescind DACA and DAPA…

TRUMP: “I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration. Immediately.” [Presidential Announcement Speech, New York NY, 6/16/15]

TRUMP: “I’m also going to cancel all unconstitutional orders, executive orders, you’ve been hearing about that. We have a little bit of an excessive executive order president and empower the rank and file ICE officers and border patrol officers to finally do the jobs that they were meant to do.” [Roast N’ Ride, Des Moines IA, 8/27/16]
End birthright citizenship and deport U.S. citizens…

The Trump Campaign’s report Immigration Reform That Will Make America Great Again calls for an end to birthright citizenship, saying it “remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.”

Sean Hannity: “One of the important aspects when you hear about his plan — you hear about his plan you hear about visas, you hear about people overstaying them. You hear, for example, no birth-right citizenship, correct?”

TRUMP: “Right.” [Hannity Town Hall, Fox News, Austin TX, 8/24/16]

Bill O’Reilly: “But here is a scenario, ok?  Illegal immigrant mother and father living in Los Angeles, two children who are American citizens, born here.  If you’re president do you order authorities to take that family into custody?”

TRUMP: “We have no choice.  I’m sorry, Bill.  We have to bring them out.” [O’Reilly Factor, Fox News, 8/24/15]
Subject all immigrants to religious tests and ban the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims from entering the country…

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” [Donald Trump Press Release, 12/7/15]

TRUMP: “Take a look at [FDR’s] presidential proclamations back a long time ago, 2525, 2526, 2527. What he was doing with Germans, Italians, and Japanese because he had to do it.” [Trump on Morning Joe, NBC News, 6/27/16]

TRUMP: “On immigration, we will temporarily suspend immigration from any place where adequate screening cannot be performed. Extreme vetting. Remember. Extreme vetting. All applicants for immigration will be vetted for ties to radical ideology, and we will screen out anyone who doesn’t share our values and love our people.” [Trump Campaign Speech, Charlotte NC, 8/18/16]
And build a giant concrete wall along our southern border.

TRUMP: “We’re going to build a wall. It’s going to be a real. It’s going to be a wall that is powerful and that people aren’t going to be going under or up or around or anything else.” [Erin Burnett Outfront, CNN, 11/12/15]

TRUMP: “It’ll be a real wall… I think the height could be 35 to 45 feet. That’s a good height.” [Hannity Town Hall, Fox News, Austin TX, 8/24/16]
What’s more, Trump has deployed lie after lie about Hillary Clinton’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform in an attempt to deceive and exploit voters so they buy into his dark, dystopian, and fabricated view of immigration in America.

Washington Post’s Fact Checker – “Four Pinocchios” for Falsely High Crime Statistics: “Trump’s wild rhetoric over deporting all unauthorized immigrants for bringing crimes like murder into the U.S. underscores a common public misperception that violent crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration. He continues to assert that crime is spiking because of illegal immigration, this time in California, but this claim remains unsupported…Four Pinocchios.” [Fact Checker, Washington Post, 5/13/16]

PolitiFact.com – “Pants on Fire” for a False TV Ad: “Trump’s television ad purports to show Mexicans swarming over ‘our southern border.’ However, the footage used to support this point actually shows African migrants streaming over a border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, more than 5,000 miles away. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.” [Politifact.com, 1/4/16]

Washington Post’s Fact Checker – “Four Pinocchios” for Another False TV Ad – this Time on Social Security: “The Republican presidential nominee makes a bizarre claim that undocumented immigrants will collect Social Security under a Clinton presidency… The broad assertion in this ad is just not supported by facts, and thus earns Four Pinocchios.” [Fact Checker, Washington Post, 8/20/16]

PolitiFact.com – Trump’s Claim “False” That Undocumented Immigrants Will Take Americans’ Jobs: “Trump says Clinton is ‘proposing to print instant work permits for millions of illegal immigrants to come in and take everybody’s jobs, including low-income African-Americans.’… The green cards would be available to students who are already legally in the United States. And given their level of education and expertise, they would not be taking jobs of low-income Americans. Nor is the program aimed at millions of students. We rate the statement False.” [Politifact.com, 8/18/16]

PolitiFact.com – No, Trump, Clinton Will Not Create “Open Borders”:“Trump said Clinton’s immigration platform would ‘create totally open borders.’ This is a huge distortion of Clinton’s proposals… We rate this claim False.” [Politifact.com, 6/23/16]

Clinton Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Governor Mike Pence recently said that there is a very clear contrast between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s immigration policies. He is absolutely correct.

Unlike Trump, Clinton has promised that she will fight for comprehensive immigration reform within her first 100 days that offers a pathway to full and equal citizenship, fixes the family visa backlog, and protects our borders and national security. She will:

  • Fight for comprehensive immigration reform legislation with a path to full and equal citizenship.
  • Defend President Obama’s DACA and DAPA executive actions.
  • Do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families.
  • Conduct humane, targeted immigration enforcement.
  • End family detention.
  • Close private immigrant detention centers.
  • Ensure families can buy into Affordable Care Act exchanges, regardless of immigration status.
  • Promote naturalization.
  • Remove the 3- and 10-year bars to keep families together.

Hillary Clinton: “The truth is, too many people today feel left out and left behind.  That’s not the America we want to be.  Instead of demonizing hard-working immigrant families, we should be giving them a real path to citizenship.” [Clinton Remarks, 1/21/16]

“We won’t be fooled by Trump’s attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas. Donald Trump will be who he has always been: Donald Trump,” the Hillary for America campaign stated.

Clinton Global Initiative Has Been Catalyst to Solving World’s Most Intractable Problems

Hillary Clinton addressing the Clinton Global Initiative in 2014, as President Bill Clinton looks on © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton addressing the Clinton Global Initiative in 2014, as President Bill Clinton looks on © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

For a few precious days each year for the past 10 years, I have had the privilege of stepping into what felt as an alternate universe – a place of possibility and progress, where the intractable challenges of all time, like health care, religious wars, systemic poverty, racism and sexism, global warming, had solutions, not just pie-in-the-sky ideas, that were being implemented. Year after year, we could see the faces of people whose lives were saved or improved – many even attended the annual meeting to talk personally – and we could measure the progress.

This was the Clinton Global Initiative, an extraordinary gathering of Movers and Shakers of the world – senior ministers of government, CEOs of multinational corporations and financial institutions, wealthy philanthropists, along with the NGOs (nongovernmental organization) worker bees who are the ones who actually labor to improve lives in their local communities. They included among them Nobel laureates like Mohammed Yunus of Bangladesh, who transformed his society using microfinance. They had the scions of billionaires like Warren Buffet’s son, Peter Buffet, Co-chair, NoVo Foundation, which committed $30 million over five years to help rebuild the education systems and address violence against women and girls in post-conflict West Africa; the Nike Foundation that financed programs empowering girls (“The Girl Effect”), Sophie Gasperment, CEO of BodyShop who sponsored a new approach to stop child sex trafficking.

This was not charity. This was a nonprofit institution that figured out how to create sustainable development. The model has since been used by the Obama Administration, in the design of Strong Cities, Strong Communities program which forged public-private partnerships to spur economic development in cities like Detroit, for example, in programs forging public-private partnerships to cultivate adoption of clean, renewable energy, and in Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” initiative and the “Joining Forces” program to incentivize companies to hire veterans returned from war.

At the first Clinton Global Initiative, Condoleezza Rice shared the stage with Al Gore. Over the years, other prominent Republicans – including Republican candidates for president (John McCain, Mitt Romney), made appearances if not in person, by videolink. But that pretty much stopped after Florida Governor Charlie Crist was photographed hugging President Clinton at a session on climate change; the photo was blasted on page 1 all over Florida, and he was drummed out of the Republican Party and Florida politics.

Former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson at 2014 CGI speaks of need for carbon tax © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson at 2014 CGI speaks of need for carbon tax © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Sure I gagged when I heard Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs say “We are doing God’s work,” but there was former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson calling for a tax on carbon. “We need a national policy to unleash the markets, unleash innovation, that will lead to new technologies and change behavior – business and consumer behavior.”

“We started CGI to create a new kind of community built around the new realities of our modern world, where problem-solving requires the active partnership of government, business, and civil society,” President Bill Clinton stated when he announced changes to the Clinton Foundation and that this year’s Clinton Global Initiative would be the last. “We’ve brought together leaders from across sectors and around the world both to talk about our challenges, and to commit publicly to actually do something about them.  It was something different, but our bet paid off: there was a hunger for the chance to make an impact that brought together people and organizations with the resources to make a difference with people who have the knowledge and experience to turn good ideas into action.  Corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations began combining their strengths and finding entirely new approaches to old problems.  CGI quickly became an embodiment of what works best in the 21st-century world, and what has been behind all of the Clinton Foundation’s work since the very beginning: networks of cooperation.

“This partnership model, which may seem self-evident today, was simply not how philanthropy and corporate responsibility worked over a decade ago.  Today, members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made more than 3,500 commitments that are already improving over 430 million lives in more than 180 countries.  These projects will continue to make an impact around the world and in the U.S.  The idea that working together beats going it alone has caught on well beyond our CGI community.”

Edward Norton, Actor, Activist, Co-Founder, CrowdRise; Sean Parker, Chairman, The Parker Foundation; and J. Craig Venter, Co-Founder, CEO, and Chairman, Human Longevity, Inc. discuss promising solutions that aim to achieve shared prosperity and opportunity over the next decade at the 2015 CGI © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Edward Norton, Actor, Activist, Co-Founder, CrowdRise; Sean Parker, Chairman, The Parker Foundation; and J. Craig Venter, Co-Founder, CEO, and Chairman, Human Longevity, Inc. discuss promising solutions that aim to achieve shared prosperity and opportunity over the next decade at the 2015 CGI © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative have been the greatest force for good in a very disturbed, unsettled, increasingly dark world – it makes Jimmy Carter’s Habitat for Humanity look like the Cub Scouts.

And because Clinton Global Initiative has been such a gamechanger in actually making progress against the most intractable challenges facing the planet today, the Republicans have been trying to kill it forever. That’s because the Republicans realize that their power and control depends upon persistent income inequality, suffering and despair, and an underclass of voiceless, unrepresented people. They don’t want real solutions to anything. They want to be able to throw a few dollars at a problem for their own sense of redemption, while actually committing pay-for-play in accommodating their donors, like Dirty Fuels and the NRA.

Now Donald Trump, desperate to turn the tide on his disgraceful, despicable campaign, has been searching for something, anything, to distract. So far, that has been Clinton’s emails and Benghazi. But even that could only go so far. So now it is Clinton Foundation and his trumped up scandal of pay-for-play without a single instance of actual wrongdoing. He has accused Hillary Clinton of “selling her office” to the detriment of national security.

Trump’s wet dream is that a special prosecutor, a la Ken Starr, would be appointed, with likely the same tactics as Starr used – locking up people until they gave the evidence he wanted. And when nothing was found to show the Clintons did anything illegal in the Whitewater land deal, Starr (the guy who had to resign his post at Baylor over ignoring sexual assault on campus) simply shifted gears to go after Clinton’s adultery. (Clearly, this is another case of projection by Donald Trump, who attacks opponents for the impropriety that he commits, including pay for play, which he has boasted of mastering, as when he got New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to reduce a $30 million tax bill on his failed Atlantic City casinos to a mere $5 million.)

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, with Queen Rania of Jordan, after being awarded the Clinton Global Citizen award in 2013 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, with Queen Rania of Jordan, after being awarded the Clinton Global Citizen award in 2013 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

CGI was so successful precisely because it brought on board leaders in government, industry, finance and philanthropy, together with NGOs and entrepreneurs. So why should it be a surprise that these same people – the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Bill and Melinda Gates – would also meet with the Secretary of State? Cause and effect are mixed up. These weren’t unknown money people who only after making a donation to the Clinton Foundation, not only got a meeting with Secretary of State they wouldn’t otherwise have had, but also some action that somehow was counter to the interests of the United States.

The Clinton Global Initiative has had stunning success in creating new programs to bring clean water, seeds, medicine, health care including training midwives (delivering birth was the most dangerous thing a woman could do), solar energy, education. Their projects have saved millions of children from death from disease and hunger, addressing issues such as child brides, human trafficking, drought, famine. And we haven’t even started on global warming, protecting the ocean, education, entrepreneurship, conflict resolution.

The programs have not just fostered new insights and new partnerships that could produce solutions to problems, but have changed cultures of countries and corporations and societies. Walmart – the company progressives love to hate – introduced sustainability throughout its delivery chain, resulting in tens of thousands of fewer trucks on the road spewing carbon emissions contributing to global warming, Goldman Sachs devised a new sort of bond to help fund repair of coral reefs. A company found investors for a process to turn algae production into fuel to power US Naval ships instead of diesel.

It is remarkable to hear Queen Rania of Jordan, a regular at CGI, speak about the need to improve access to education and jobs for women, and for young people generally, and (in 2010). I recall one panel discussion with HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Kingdom of Bahrain, President Bill Clinton, Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority together with Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel, talking about peace in the Middle East that was probably the closest the two intransigents had ever been to actual agreement. Or hear Bill Gates talk about having cut the number of child deaths in half, with a goal of reducing the number even further – to a mere 3 million a year, “where child in low income country can survive as well as a child in middle income country.”

It literally restores faith in a way that praying in church can’t possibly.

CGI has paved the way for a generational change in outlook through its CGI University, bringing college-age people together to channel their vision, their entrepreneurism, their talents and energies on these problems of health, education, global warming, poverty.

Hult Prize Winners of $1 million in start-up capital, IMPCT, for Playcares child care franchise model for Brazilian neighborhoods © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hult Prize Winners of $1 million in start-up capital, IMPCT, for Playcares child care franchise model for Brazilian neighborhoods © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Last year’s Hult Prize at CGI– a competition for young entrepreneurs to solve a problem around a particular theme or problem (the winner gets $1 million in start-up capital), went to IMPCT for a project to create small play-based daycare franchises, owned and operated by a local entrepreneur to serve 20 nearby families with affordable early education, right in Brazilian slum neighborhoods, enabling mothers to work, children to have a decent place to learn, and create new pathways to entrepreneurship for women.

Chelsea Clinton announces a collaboration for commitment to action during the 2015 CGI © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Chelsea Clinton announces a collaboration for commitment to action during the 2015 CGI © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The unique aspect of Clinton Global Initiative is that every participant must make a commitment, and that commitment is monitored for implementation and measured for success. (You can’t even trace Donald Trump’s so-called “charitable contributions” or what went purely to get a tax deduction, or in the case of his recent adoration for veterans groups, to buy votes.)

The CGI provided a unique forum, a unique space, for these various entities to meet, even serendipitously, and partner together on “commitments.” I heard this same thing over and over. The conference offers a showcase for the “idea” people to pitch to the people who can fund and implement – so you see extraordinary collaborations.

So far, besides a couple of requests for meetings (which Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin said needed to go through official channels), a request for help with a visa (denied), or introduction to an ambassador by a Lebanese Nigerian who wanted to convey some information about an upcoming election in Lebanon, there has been no evidence of inappropriate action on Secretary Clinton’s part – that is, something that went counter to US interests, or specifically benefited the Clinton Foundation or them personally.

The billions of dollars that have been funneled into these projects went into the projects, not into the Clintons’ pockets.

Ah, but the appearance, the perception, we are told.

Trump is trumping this whole thing up because he is absolutely desperate, and this (thanks to Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, whose entire attack hinged on Hillary’s connections with corporations and special interests), is his last straw (well, along with the conspiracy that Hillary is sick).

As a result, we aren’t hearing anything about Hillary Clinton’s proposal for a rapid response to pandemics and bolster health infrastructure – issues that have been tackled at CGIs – or how she would promote small businesses in minority communities, which she announced last week. Or any of her specific plans to create jobs, fight ISIS, make communities safer and more successful.

And yet, Donald Trump has run his campaign as an infomercial, has clearly directed campaign spending directly to his own companies, family members and friends, has as  his “advisers” his biggest donors (Carl Icahn, Robert Mercer), has refused to be transparent about what he owns and what he owes (like the millions he is in hock to with banks owned by the Chinese government), has clearly bought favors and would very likely bring these practices directly into the Oval Office, making or breaking deals through the prism of what benefits his own personal business interests.

Trump said years ago that he thought it would be possible for a presidential campaign to actually earn money, and that is exactly what he is doing. And there is no indication whatsoever that he wouldn’t do the same if he actually was in the Oval Office.

President Bill Clinton greeting President Barack Obama, at the 2014 CGI © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Bill Clinton greeting President Barack Obama, at the 2014 CGI © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

No one has been so scrutinized, analyzed, dissected as much as Hillary Clinton. If the same level of analysis was applied to anyone else (like Donald Trump, Jill Stein), I doubt they would pass muster. We actually don’t know anything about Donald Trump’s real income or supposed success as a businessman, whether he contributes to charity or whether he uses his “contributions” to buy politicians. He has said himself that no one knows the system better than he does. And these attacks on the Clinton Foundation and the Clintons is yet the latest example of “projection” – attacking the opponent for the very thing that you are doing. Trump has admitted to being a master at rigging the system.

And the real tragedy is that the Clintons are planning to shut down Clinton Global Initiative altogether and dramatically curtail the Clinton Foundation. Instead, they should do what any other president would do – resign as members of the Board and have a “blind trust” while Hillary Clinton is president.

Some Examples of Clinton Global Initiative Commitments 

Here are some examples of the more than 3,000 CGI commitments:

Reaching 1 New Person with Clean Water Every 10 Seconds, Commitment by: World Vision, Partners: Procter & Gamble, Sesame Workshop, Coca-Cola, Grundfos, United Solar Initiative, University of North Carolina Water Institute, Denver Mattress, Kohler, Water Now, Water4, Well Spring for the World, Drexel University, Design Outreach, Desert Research Institute, Messiah College. In 2015, World Vision and partners committed to reaching one new person every ten seconds with clean water and sanitation on or before 2020, directly impacting 13 million people in 36 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. To do so, World Vision will form committees in each of the communities in which they work which are responsible for managing the community’s water points, which may include traditional boreholes with a hand pump, mechanized boreholes with solar power, protected springs, and rainwater harvesting. As girls and women bear the burden of collecting water globally, World Vision will specifically engage women in leadership positions within the committees. This commitment scales upon World Vision’s 2011 commitment to provide water, sanitation and hygiene solutions in 10 African countries.

Books For All: A Digital Library for 5 Million People: Commitment by: Worldreader; Partners: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Penguin Random House, Inc., Longhorn Publishers, Pratham, Microsoft, Rosetta Books, Cisco Foundation, Vodafone Group Foundation, Hesperian Books. In 2014, Worldreader committed to provide 5 million people with increased access to digital books in the next three years. The organization will quadruple the size of its digital library by 20,000 book titles, adding titles in English and local languages, with a particular focus on STEM and health content, as well as increase the number of distribution channels available by creating Android-based and web browser mobile reading applications. Worldreader announced today that as of March 2015, 4,230 books have been added to its global library, with a focus on reading materials that are about girls’ empowerment and STEM. Worldreader has reached 489,725 more readers since the CGI commitment was realized.

African Rhino Protection Program, Commitment by: United Postcode Lotteries, Partners: Peace Parks Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, South African National Parks, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, Government of South Africa

Partnership to Map Air Pollution Across California Cities, Commitment by: Aclima, Partner: Google

Healthy Honey Bees: Linking Food Security & the Environment, Commitment by: Monsanto Company, Partners: National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance, Western Growers, American Honey Producers Association, American Beekeeping Federation, Eastern Kentucky University, National Cotton Council of America, Project Apis m., The Keystone Alliance, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Field to Market

And there are more than 3000 more.

_______________

© 2016 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

Clinton Warns that Trump Presidency Would Bring Ascendancy of White Supremacists

Hillary Rodham Clinton accepting the historic nomination for President by Democratic Party, at Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 2016 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Rodham Clinton accepting the historic nomination for President by Democratic Party, at Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 2016 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

At a speech in Reno on Thursday, August 25, Hillary Clinton highlighted Donald Trump and his advisors’ embrace of a hate movement – the disturbing “alt-right” political philosophy.  This “alt-right” brand is embracing extremism and presenting a dystopian view of America, Clinton said, which should concern all Americans regardless of party. Clinton argued that Trump’s embrace of this ideology, cemented by hiring the former head of a leading “alt-right” website Breitbart.com as his campaign CEO, dovetails with a troubling history of hateful behavior: Trump was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for racial bias in the 1970’s and started his presidential campaign calling Mexicans criminals, drug traffickers and rapists.

Clinton contrasted Donald Trump’s divisiveness with her vision of an America that is stronger together. Clinton said, “So no one should have any illusions about what’s really going on here.  The names may have changed. Racists now call themselves ‘racialists.’  White supremacists now call themselves ‘white nationalists.’  The paranoid fringe now calls itself ‘alt-right.’  But the hate burns just as bright. […] this isn’t just about one election.  It’s about who we are as a nation.  It’s about the kind of example we want to set for our children and grandchildren.”

Here are Clinton’s remarks, as transcribed and highlighted:

Now I have to begin by saying my original plan for this visit was to focus on our agenda to help small businesses and entrepreneurs.  This week we proposed new steps to cut red tape and taxes, to make it easier for small businesses to get the credit they need to grow and hire.  I want to be a small business president. My father was a small businessman. And I believe that in America, if you can dream it, you should be able to build it.

We’ll be talking a lot more small business and about our economic plans in the days and weeks ahead.

But today, here in this community college devoted to opening minds and creating great understanding in this world and the place we live.  I want to address something I hear from Americans all over our country.  Everywhere I go, people tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric coming from my opponent in this election.  I understand that concern because it’s like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for President of the United States from one of our two major parties.

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoiaHe is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican party. His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.

In just the past week, under the guise of ‘outreach’ to African Americans, Trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described black communities in such insulting and ignorant terms. ‘Poverty.  Rejection.  Horrible education.  No housing.  No homes.  No ownership.  Crime at levels nobody has seen.’ ‘Right now,’ he said, ‘you walk down the street and get shot.’  Those are his words.

But when I hear them, I think to myself how sad. Donald Trump misses so much, he doesn’t see. This is a man who clearly doesn’t know about Black America and doesn’t care about Black America.

Donald Trump misses so much.  He doesn’t see the success of black leaders in every field, the vibrancy of the black-owned businesses, or the strength of the black church.  He doesn’t see the excellence of historically black colleges and universities or the pride of black parents watching their children thrive. He apparently didn’t see Police Chief Brown on television after the murder of five of his officers conducting himself with such dignity.

And he certainly doesn’t have any solutions to take on the reality of systemic racism and create more equity and opportunity in communities of color and for every American.

It really does take a lot of nerve to ask people he’s ignored and mistreated for decades, ‘What do you have to lose?’ Because the answer is everything.

Now, Trump’s lack of knowledge or experience or solutions would be bad enough.  But what he’s doing here is more sinister.  Trump is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters.

It’s a disturbing preview of what kind of President he’d be.

And that’s what I want to make clear today: A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far, dark reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military.  Ask yourself, if he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

Now, I know that some people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.  They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself – that there’s a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere.

Because after all, it’s hard to believe anyone – let alone a nominee for president – could really believe all the things he says.

But here’s the hard truth, there is no other Donald Trump.  This is it.

And Maya Angelou, a great American who I admire very much, she once said: ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’  Well, throughout his career and this campaign, Donald Trump has shown us exactly who he is.  And I think we should believe him.

When he was getting his start in business, he was sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to black and Latino tenants.  Their applications would be marked with a ‘C’ – ‘C’ for ‘colored’ – and then rejected.  Three years later, the Justice Department took Trump back to court because he hadn’t changed.

And the pattern continued through the decades.

State regulators fined one of Trump’s casinos for repeatedly removing black dealers from the floor.  No wonder the turnover rate for his minority employees was way above average.

And let’s not forget that Trump first gained political prominence leading the charge for the so-called ‘Birthers.’  He promoted the racist lie that President Obama is not really an American citizen – part of a sustained effort to delegitimize America’s first black President.

In 2015, Trump launched his own campaign for President with another racist lie.  He described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.  And he accused the Mexican government of actively sending them across the border.  None of that is true.

Oh, and by the way, by the way, Mexico’s not paying for his wall either. If he ever tries to get it built, the American taxpayer will pay for it. We’ll be stuck with the bill.

But there has been a steady stream of bigotry coming from him.

We all remember when Trump said a distinguished federal judge born in Indiana couldn’t be trusted to do his job because, quote, ‘He’s a Mexican.’  Think about that.  The man who today is the standard bearer of the Republican Party said a federal judge, who by the way, had a distinguished career, who had to go into hiding because Mexican drug gangs were after him, who has Mexican heritage but who just like me was born in this country, is somehow incapable solely because of his heritage.  Even the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, described that as ‘the textbook definition of a racist comment.’

To this day, Trump has never apologized to Judge Curiel.

But for Trump, that is just par for the course.

This is someone who retweets white supremacists online, like the user who goes by the name ‘white-genocide-TM.’  Trump took this fringe bigot with a few dozen followers and spread his message to 11 million people.

His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on white supremacist websites.

The Trump campaign has also selected a prominent white nationalist leader as a delegate in California.  And they only dropped him under pressure.

When asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would disavow the support of David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump wouldn’t do it.  Only later, again under mounting pressure, did he backtrack.

And when Trump was asked about anti-Semitic slurs and death threats coming from his supporters, he refused to condemn them.

Through it all, he has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones.

You remember, he said that thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks.  They didn’t.

He suggested that Senator Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.  Perhaps in Trump’s mind, because Mr. Cruz was a Cuban immigrant, he must have had something to do with it.  And there is absolutely, of course, no evidence of that.

Just recently, Trump claimed that President Obama founded ISIS.  And then he repeated that over and over again.

His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health.  All I can say is, Donald, dream on.

But, but my friends– but my friends, this is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel. They said in October I’d be dead in six months.

It’s also what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs.  He even said, and this really is just so disgusting, he even said that the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there. I don’t know what actually happens in somebody’s mind or how dark their heart must be, to say something like that.

But Trump didn’t challenge those lies.  He went on Jones’ show and said, ‘Your reputation is amazing.  I will not let you down.’

This from the man who wants to be President of the United States.

I’ve stood by President Obama’s side as he made the toughest decisions a Commander-in-Chief has to make.  In times of crisis, our country depends on steady leadership, clear thinking, calm judgment, because one wrong move can mean the difference between life and death. I know we have veterans here and I know we have families – mothers and spouses and children of people who are currently serving.

The last thing we need in the Situation Room is a loose cannon who can’t tell the difference, or doesn’t care to, between fact and fiction, and who buys so easily into racially-tinged rumors.  Someone so detached from reality should never be in charge of making decisions that are as real as they come.

That is yet another reason why Donald Trump is simply temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States.

Now, I hear and I read some people who are saying that his bluster and bigotry is just over-heated campaign rhetoric – an outrageous person saying outrageous things for attention.  But look at his policies. The ones that Trump has proposed, they would put prejudice into practice.

And don’t be distracted by his latest efforts to muddy the waters.  He may have some new people putting new words in his mouth, but we know where he stands.

He would form a deportation force to round up millions of immigrants and kick them out of the country.

He’d abolish the bedrock constitutional principle that says if you’re born in the United States, you’re an American citizen.  He says that children born to undocumented parents in America are ‘anchor babies’ and should be deported.  Millions of them.

He’d ban Muslims around the world from entering our country just because of their religion.

Think about that for a minute.  How would it actually work?  People landing in U.S. airports would line up to get their passports stamped, just like they do now.  But in Trump’s America, when they step up to the counter, the immigration officer would ask every single person, ‘What is your religion?’

And then what?  What if someone says, ‘I’m a Christian,’ but the agent doesn’t believe him?  Do they have to prove it?  How would they do that?

Really, ever since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, America has distinguished itself as a haven for people fleeing religious persecution, believing in religious freedom and religious liberty.  Under Donald Trump, America would distinguish itself as the only country in the world to impose a religious test at the border.

Now come to think of it, there actually may be one other place that does that.  The so-called Islamic State.  The territory ISIS controls.  What a cruel irony that someone running for President would equate us with them.

Don’t worry, some will say, as President, Trump will be surrounded by smart advisors who will rein in his worst impulses.

So when a tweet gets under his skin and he wants to retaliate with a cruise missile, maybe cooler heads will convince him not to.

Well, maybe.

But look at who he’s put in charge of his campaign.

Trump likes to say he only hires the ‘best people.’  But he’s had to fire so many campaign managers it’s like an episode from the Apprentice.  And the latest shake-up was designed to – quote – ‘Let Trump be Trump.’  So to do that, he hired Stephen Bannon, the head of a right-wing website, called Breitbart.com, as campaign CEO.

Now to give you a flavor of his work, here are a few headlines they’ve published. And I’m not making this up.

‘Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.’

‘Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?’

‘Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield’

‘Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.’

That one came shortly after the Charleston massacre, when Democrats and Republicans alike were doing everything they could to heal racial divides that Breitbart and Bannon tried to inflame.

Just imagine – Donald Trump reading that and thinking: ‘this is what I need more of in my campaign.’

Now Bannon has nasty things to say about pretty much everyone.  This spring, he railed against Speaker Paul Ryan for, quote ‘rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second.’  No wonder he’s gone to work for Trump – the only Presidential candidate ever to get into a public feud with the Pope.

It’s truly hard to believe, but according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, Breitbart embraces ‘ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right.’ This is not conservatism as we have known it, this is not Republicanism as we have known it. These are racist ideas.  Race-baiting ideas.  Anti-Muslim, anti-Immigrant, anti-women  –– all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’

Now, Alt-Right is short for ‘Alternative Right.’  The Wall Street Journal describes it as a loose, but organized movement, mostly online, that ‘rejects mainstream conservatism, promotes nationalism and views immigration and multiculturalism as threats to white identity.’

So the de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump Campaign represents a landmark achievement for this group.  A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party.

This is part of a broader story — the rising tide of hardline, right-wing nationalism around the world.

Just yesterday, one of Britain’s most prominent right-wing leaders, a man named, Nigel Farage, who stoked anti-immigrant sentiments to win the referendum to have Britain leave the European Union, campaigned with Donald Trump in Mississippi.

Farage has called for the bar of legal immigrants from public school and health services. Has said women, and I quote, ‘are worth less than men,’ and supports scrapping laws that prevent employers from discriminating based on race. That’s who Donald Trump wants by his side when he is addressing an audience of American voters.

And the grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin.  In fact, Farage regularly appears on Russian propaganda programs.  Now he’s standing on the same stage as the Republican nominee.

Trump himself heaps praise on Putin and embraces pro-Russian policies.  He talks casually of abandoning our NATO allies, recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, giving the Kremlin a free hand in Eastern Europe.  American Presidents from Truman, to Reagan, to Bush and Clinton, to Obama, have rejected the kind of approach Trump is taking on Russia.   And we should, too.

All of this adds up to something we have never seen before.  Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, a lot of it rising from racial resentment.  But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone.  Until now.

On David Duke’s radio show the other day, the mood was jubilant.  ‘We appear to have taken over the Republican Party,’ one white supremacist said.  Duke laughed. ‘No, there’s still more work to do,’ he replied.

So no one should have any illusions about what’s really going on here.  The names may have changed. Racists now call themselves ‘racialists.’  White supremacists now call themselves ‘white nationalists.’  The paranoid fringe now calls itself ‘alt-right.’  But the hate burns just as bright.

And now Trump is trying to rebrand himself as well.  But don’t be fooled.

There’s an old Mexican proverb that says ‘Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.’

But we know who Trump is.  A few words on a teleprompter won’t change that.

He says he wants to ‘make America great again,’ but more and more it seems as though his real message seems to be ‘Make America hate again.’

And this isn’t just about one election.  It’s about who we are as a nation.  It’s about the kind of example we want to set for our children and grandchildren.

Next time you see Trump rant on television, think about all the children listening across America.  Kids hear a lot more than we think.

Parents and teachers are already worrying about what they call the ‘Trump Effect.’  They report that bullying and harassment are on the rise in our schools, especially targeting students of color, Muslims, and immigrants.   At a recent high school basketball game in Indiana, white students held up Trump signs and taunted Latino players on the opposing team with chants of ‘Build the wall!’ and ‘Speak English.’  After a similar incident in Iowa, one frustrated school principal said, ‘They see it in a presidential campaign and now it’s OK for everyone to say this.’

We wouldn’t tolerate this kind of behavior before and we wouldn’t tolerate it in our own homes.  And we shouldn’t stand for it in a presidential candidate.

My friends, this is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump.  It’s a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this.

Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits in the convention hall and told any racists in the Party to get out.

The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that Muslims ‘love America just as much as I do.’

In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters that they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat.  Senator McCain made sure they knew – Barack Obama, he said, is an American citizen and ‘a decent person.’

We need that kind of leadership again.

We can have our disagreements, and believe me, I understand that. I think that’s healthy. We need good debates, but we need to do it in a respectful way, not finger pointing and blaming, and stirring up this bigotry and prejudice.

Every day, more Americans are standing up and saying ‘enough is enough’ – including a lot of Republicans.  And I am honored to have their support in this campaign.

And I promise you this: with your help, I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.  For those who vote for me and for those who vote against me.  I will be a president for all Americans.

Because I truly believe we are stronger together.

This is a vision for the future rooted in our values and reflected in a rising generation of young people. The young people in America today are the most open, diverse, and connected generation we have ever seen.

How many of you saw any of the Olympics? Right? I was so proud, I always get so carried away whenever the Olympics are on. And you look at the diversity of our athletes – look at our fabulous Olympic team representing the United Stated of America. Ibtihaj Muhammad, an African-American Muslim from New Jersey, won the bronze medal in fencing with grace and skill.  Would she even have a place in Donald Trump’s America?

And I will tell you, when I was growing up, in so many parts of our country, Simone Manuel wouldn’t have been allowed to swim in the same public pool as Katie Ledecky.  And now together on our swimming team they’re winning Olympic medals as teammates.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we have a person to waste. We want to build an America where everyone has a place. Where if you work hard and do your part you can get ahead and stay ahead. That’s the basic bargain of America. And we cannot get to where we need to be, unless we move forward together and stand up against prejudice and paranoia. And prove, again, that America is great because America is good.

Thank you all so very much, let’s go out and win the election. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”

Obama Honors National Park Service Centennial as Republicans Try to Privatize, Capitalize, Shortchange

Just a few of the 5 million visitors a year who marvel at Grand Canyon National Park. Obama is honoring the National Park Service on its centennial and has designated 22 national monuments during his tenure; Republicans want to allow logging and uranium mining at the Grand Canyon © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Just a few of the 5 million visitors a year who marvel at Grand Canyon National Park. Obama is honoring the National Park Service on its centennial and has designated 22 national monuments during his tenure; Republicans want to allow logging and uranium mining at the Grand Canyon © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com

(see Update below)

It is beyond infuriating that Republicans, who every four years call themselves the “Party of Lincoln,” can claim the Clean Air and Clean Water acts and the EPA which were signed when Richard Nixon was president, and that on this, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, we all can thank President Theodore Roosevelt, a (Progressive) Republican, for America’s “best idea” – our national park system.

That’s because these are under attack by today’s Republicans – the party of Donald Trump. Today’s Republicans bear as little resemblance to the party of Lincoln or Roosevelt as George Wallace to the Democratic party.

Republicans are so infuriated by the 22 national monuments and preserves Obama has designed during his time in office using his powers under the Antiquities Act (265 million acres of public lands and waters — more than any administration in history), that they have tried to repeal it and take the power to preserve lands from for the use of all Americans, equally, into the hands of greedy developers (a la Donald Trump).

Trump is probably thinking, “Donald J. Trump will be the president who dispatches the $19 trillion national debt – I only need to sell off Yellowstone, and maybe Yosemite,” (no doubt to the cheers of Peter G. Peterson, who is obsessed with the national debt, see www.pgpf.org/.)

As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof noted in his annual paean to the national parks, fresh from his hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, the most democratic place in America isn’t the voting booth, but the national parks.

“Even in the Great Depression, an impoverished America could afford to work on building paths like the John Muir Trail, yet today we can’t afford to maintain them properly,” Kristof writes. “Our predecessors pretty much invented the idea of national parks and wilderness trails, bequeathing us an inheritance of incalculable wealth. And on our watch, as we mark the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, we’re squandering it.”

Our national parks system are overwhelmingly popular – indeed, the number of annual visits to non-local parks (not even counting if New Yorkers climb the Statue of Liberty), equates to one per person.

According to a study by Linda J. Bilmes and John Loomis published in US News, the national park system is valued at $92 billion a year, but total revenue, including Congressional appropriation comes to a mere $3 billion a year. Meanwhile, Congress has cut its funding for NPS by 15 percent over the last 15 years (after factoring inflation), while its backlog of overdue maintenance projects amounts to $12 billion a year (and rising).

“Consequently, the agency is fighting an uphill battle to keep parks pristine and unspoiled as visitor numbers climb and climate change stresses natural resources in the parks.”

Despite opposition from Republicans – or perhaps because of it – Obama has during his tenure designated more national monuments using his power under the Antiquities Act than any prior president (much as he has had to resort to Executive Orders to get anything else done): Obama not only has saved natural treasures for generations to come, but has used the designations to tell a more complete story of America’s heritage, so that more of our community can feel the same sense of pride: So, in addition to preserving natural settings  like Browns Canyon National Monument, New Mexico, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Sand to Snow National Monument, California, Obama designated monuments honoring Black-Americans (Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers Monument, Ohio;  Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument), Hispanics (Cesar Chavez National Monument ), workers (Pullman National Monument, Illinois), women (Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, Washington, DC), and the latest one, LGBT Stonewall National Monument, New York. (See a full list of monuments designated under the Antiquities Act, going back to Theodore Roosevelt, who designated the first National Monument, Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming, in 1906. www.npca.org/resources/2658-monuments-protected-under-the-antiquities-act.)

“Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights.  I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country – the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.  That we are stronger together.  That out of many, we are one.  That’s what makes us the greatest nation on earth.  And it’s what we celebrate at Stonewall – for our generation and for all those who come after us,” Obama said at the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service and national park system has been under assault by Republicans, who not only have tried to repeal the President’s power under the Antiquities Act, but regularly introduce bills to remove impediments to private/corporate access and use of federal lands.

“This includes three dangerous new bills that would allow millions of acres of national forests to be auctioned off by the states for mining, logging, drilling, road construction and more. This would happen with no regard for current environmental protections, and could cut off access to our shared public lands,” writes The Wilderness Society’s Alan Rowsome, Senior Director, Government Relations for Lands.

Grand Canyon National Park is celebrating its 100th birthday, but potential uranium mines and logging of old growth ponderosa pine forest just outside the boundary directly threaten water quality, human health, wildlife connectivity and cultural heritage protected by this most wondrous preserve. Because the Republican-controlled Congress has refused to act on legislation Rep. introduced by Raul Grijalva, the Wilderness Society is calling for Obama to proclaim a Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument.

Republicans have even blocked donations of land:  for example, the National Park Service was set to receive 87,500 acres of pristine land in the Maine Woods from a non-profit organization started by the founder of Burt’s Bees, which would be used to designate a new national monument and, eventually, a new national park.

Who is responsible for blocking the acquisition? Believe it or not, the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who has led a crusade to overturn the Antiquities Act.

“When he learned that President Obama used the Antiquities Act to protect 704,000 amazing acres as the Basin and Range Monument in Nevada, Representative Bishop called that ‘shameless.’ He even said that the Antiquities Act was ‘evil in the flesh’,” writes The Wilderness Society’s Alan Rowsome. “When he was informed that Basin and Range was home to many Native American artifacts, including cave paintings, he replied ‘Ah, bull crap. That’s not an antiquity’.”

The anti-National Parks furor is bound up with climate denial and a fervent effort to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which is itself wrapped up in a goal of preserving the status quo for the Capitalists who currently control the economy. Of course, clean, renewable energy would be a new capitalist endeavor, creating a new generation of millionaires, but that would displace the current Power Brokers whose wealth is tied to fossil fuels.

But setting aside land does not only mitigate against climate change, the national parks are also victims.

As Obama wrote after personally visiting two national parks: National Parks — spectacular natural treasures that are available to everybody, not just the lucky few — have been called America’s best idea. Under my administration, we’ve protected more than 265 million acres of public lands and waters — more than any administration in history. I’ve been proud to build on the work of the giants of conservation and environmental protection who came before me, like President Lincoln who first protected the Yosemite Valley in 1864, and President Teddy Roosevelt, who spoke so eloquently about why our strength and future as a nation relied on protecting our precious natural resources.

But there is more we must do to protect our parks and to protect this planet for generations to come. Make no mistake: The biggest challenge we are going to face in protecting them is climate change.

That’s why we’ve worked so hard to jump-start a clean energy revolution and to build a solar industry that’s growing by leaps and bounds. That’s why we’re tackling carbon pollution through the Clean Power Plan here in America and by rallying the whole world to tackle climate change together through the Paris Agreement.

Climate change is no longer just a threat; it’s already a reality. Yosemite meadows are drying up. Bird ranges are shifting further north. Alpine mammals are being forced further upslope to escape higher temperatures. We’re also seeing longer, more expensive, and more dangerous wildfire seasons — fires that are raging across the West right now.

In the coming years and decades, rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers at Glacier National Park and no more Joshua trees at Joshua Tree National Park. Rising seas could destroy vital ecosystems in the Everglades and at some point might even threaten landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Doing nothing to stop those changes is not the example we want to set for the next generation.

We have to take seriously the idea that these treasured places could be marred or lost to history. We can’t deal with it later or think that it’s somebody else’s problem. And we can’t let climate change deniers carelessly suggest that we don’t need to get serious about the carbon pollution being released into our atmosphere or that we should scrap an international climate treaty that we spent years putting together. We can’t afford to go backward.

And much the same as clean, renewable energy is no threat to America’s capitalist model, national parks and monuments may be communally owned and enjoyed, but are also very much part of the Capitalist fabric: Headwaters Economics calculated that in 2015, non-local park visits totaled 307,247,267, spending amounted to $16.9 trillion, visitor spending (alone) supported 251,997 jobs and $8.1 trillion in income. There are whole towns, as well as tens of thousands of small businesses, that depend upon their proximity to a national park (as was dramatically demonstrated when Republicans shut down government in 2013.)

This does not even take into consideration the public health benefits of national parks, the value to families, to the benefits of personal experience. Priceless to be sure, if not incalculable.

Signing a proclamation honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Obama declared, “NPS parks and programs strive to tell our diverse stories, allowing us to learn from the past and help write our country’s next great chapters. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, let us thank all those who — through their dedication to the mission of the NPS — help our country build on the legacy left by all those who came before us. As we look to the next century and embrace the notion that preserving these public spaces in ways that engage, reflect, and honor all Americans has never been more important, let us summon the foresight and faith in the future to do what it takes to protect our National Parks for generations to come.” (see 2016parkservice.prc.rel.pdf)

Update: Marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, President Obama designated  the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine as our 413th national park site. The park is more than 87,500 acres in size and sits along the East Branch of the Penobscot River in Maine. In addition, Obama will more than quadruple the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine protected area.

 

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© 2016 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

Gavin Newsom to DNC: ‘Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the American Dream is built on two fundamental lies’

California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom addresses the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom addresses the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom delivered a powerful speech to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016, arguing for Hillary Clinton as the best candidate for president to uphold fundamental American values: liberty, diversity, opportunity, while Donald Trump offers a “hostile takeover of the American Dream.” Here is hjighlighted transcript:

I’m proud to be a Democrat from the great state of California! Proud because today’s California is strong and getting stronger. A jet-propelled engine of job creation, the home court for creativity around the world. We’ve done it not just through innovation but by inclusion. Pro-immigrant, pro-environment, pro-women, pro-worker. Proudly pro-gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender.

We aren’t the Golden State despite our values, but because of them. We don’t tolerate diversity, we celebrate it. Those values — liberty, diversity, opportunity — are fundamentally American values. Those values are under attack, not just by enemies abroad, but by a GOP that moved its fearmongering fringe to center stage. 

What Trump presented last week wasn’t political discourse, it wasn’t even political incorrectness. What Trump presented last week was defeatist and retreatist. Never has a speech been so long, with so little substance, science, humanity, humor, or hope. His hostile takeover of the American Dream is built on two fundamental lies: That America is a dark and desperate place, and that he has any kind of a plan to make it better. Trump strangled the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan and replaced “tear down that wall” with the cynical bigotry of “build that wall.” Contempt for the Constitution, inhumane mass deportation, malice toward different views and different hues. Those are disqualifications from any office, let alone the highest office in the land.

While it’s refreshing to finally see an openly gay man speak at a Republican convention, it doesn’t remove the stain of selecting Mike Pence, America’s most anti-LGBTQ governor. Pence supported overt discrimination and even advocated diverting taxpayer dollars to so-called “conversion therapy.” That’s not “praying away the gay;” it’s emotional torture against our most innocent citizens, our children. Telling them that to live, they must lie. About who they are, and who they love. That’s fundamentally un-American. The age-old choice has never been more clear: We can live our fears or live our dreams.

Hillary Clinton has dedicated her life to putting the American Dream within reach. She believes in diversity over division. The hard work of pluralism over the “illusion of differences.”

And as a father of four, I want to say something to all the children who are watching and listening at home. When you hear people say that you and your family don’t matter because of who you are, or where you came from, or what you look like, or who you love, I want you to know one thing: The people in this room, and all across the country, believe that you matter.

Hillary Clinton believes you matter. We believe that you belong here. We need you here. We believe that you can be whoever you are, and become whatever you want to be. And we’re going to fight for you, not just over the next 100 days, but over the next 100 years. Because, no matter what people tell you, that’s what America is about, and that’s what makes America great.

General John Allen to DNC: ‘With Hillary Clinton as our Commander-in-Chief, America will continue to lead in this volatile world’

General John Allen (Ret.) flanked by veterans addresses the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
General John Allen (Ret.) flanked by veterans addresses the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In remarks to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016, General John Allen (Ret.), flanked by a battery of generals, admirals and veterans, laid out the stakes in this presidential election, drawing contrasts between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. “With Hillary Clinton as our Commander-in-Chief, the United States will continue to be that indispensable, transformational power in the world. “ Here is a transcript:

My fellow Americans, I stand with you tonight as a retired four-star general of the United States Marine Corps, and I am joined by my fellow generals and admirals, and with these magnificent young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. They went there and risked their lives because they love this country. They are here before you because this is the most consequential race for the Presidency in memory.

The stakes are enormous. We must not, we could not stand on the sidelines. This election can carry us to a future of unity and hope, or to a dark place of discord and fear. We must choose hope.

Every American, in uniform or out, in the White House or at home, must be a force for unity in America, for a vision that includes all of us: every man and woman, every race, every ethnicity, every faith and creed, every gender orientation – all of us together pursuing our common values.

From the battlefield to the capitals of our allies, friends, and partners, the free peoples of the world look to America as the last best hope for peace and for liberty for all humanity, for we ARE the greatest country on this planet.

So we stand before you tonight to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States of America.

We trust her judgment. We believe in her vision for a united America and we believe in her vision of America as the just and strong leader against the forces of hatred, chaos, and darkness. We know that she – as no other – knows how to use all instruments of American power, not just the military, to keep us all SAFE and FREE.

I tell you without any hesitation or reservation that Hillary Clinton will be EXACTLY the kind of Commander-in-Chief America needs today. I know this because I served with her. I know this as the former Special Envoy to the Global Coalition against ISIS.

With her as our Commander-in-Chief, America will continue to lead in this volatile world. We will oppose and resist tyranny as we defeat evil. America will defeat ISIS and protect the homeland. America will honor our treaty obligations. We will lead and strengthen NATO, the Atlantic Alliance, and our allies in East Asia and around the world whom we have solemnly sworn to defend. America will stop the spread of nuclear weapons and keep them from dangerous states and groups. Our armed forces will be stronger. They will have the finest weapons and equipment. They will have the support of the American people, and the American military will continue to be THE shining example of America at our very best. Our veterans will be thanked by a grateful nation, and they will be cared for in the manner they deserve for the sacrifices they have made for all of us, for this great country, and for world peace.

But I also know that with her as our Commander-in-Chief, our international relations will NOT be reduced to a business transaction. Our armed forces will NOT become an instrument of torture, and they will NOT be ordered to engage in murder or carry out other illegal activities.

With Hillary Clinton as our Commander-in-Chief, the United States will continue to be that indispensable, transformational power in the world.

To our allies and our friends and our partners: We are with you. America will not abandon you. To those acting against peace, civilization, and the world order: We will oppose you. And to our enemies: We will pursue you as ONLY America can. You will fear us. To ISIS and others like you: We will defeat you.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is THE moment. This is THE opportunity for our future and that of the world. We MUST seize this moment to elect Hillary Clinton as President of the United States of America.