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President Obama Signs a New Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers


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"Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming."

Those were President Obama's words to the audience in the East Room of the White House this morning, before he signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

At the signing, the President explained how, because of their "passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of [their] cause, our government — government of the people, by the people, and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer."

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Office of the Vice President Announces Staff Changes


Washington, DC – The Office of the Vice President announced today that Melanie Kaye, Director of Communications to Dr. Jill Biden departed the White House.  Kaye is succeeded by James M. Gleeson, who most recently worked in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“It has been a pleasure to have Melanie serve as my Director of Communications,” said Dr. Jill Biden.  “Her incredible dedication and remarkable skills have helped us bolster our Joining Forces initiative for our country’s military families, honor teachers and bring attention to the importance of education for our children and country’s future, improve access to quality health care, and promote the empowerment of women and girls.  I am so grateful for Melanie’s invaluable advice over the past three years as well as her kindness and integrity.  Joe and I wish her all the best.”

James Gleeson comes to the White House from the U.S. House of Representatives where he served as Communications Director to Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.  From passage of the Affordable Care Act and efforts to find budget solutions during the Simpson-Bowles Commission and the Super Committee, to the pursuit of commonsense immigration reform and economic policies to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class, James helped coordinate House Democrats’ communications strategy and messaging efforts since 2009.

Before moving to D.C., James was an Account Manager for a political consulting firm in Denver, Colorado.  Prior to that, he served in the Colorado State House as a Legislative Aide to then-Majority Caucus Leader Michael Cerbo, and as a Policy Strategist for the Autism Society of Colorado.

James attended Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife Kelly Berens Gleeson. 

Muere lapidada una mujer tras ser acusada de adulterio en Siria


Un mujer fue lapidada el pasado viernes en el norte de Siria por el grupo radical Estado Islámico (IS), que la halló culpable de “adulterio”, en la primera condena de este tipo emitida por los yihadistas en ese país, informó el Observatorio Sirio de Derechos Humanos.

La lapidación tuvo lugar en …

Aprueban lectura obligatoria de la Biblia en las escuelas de Sao Paulo


La Cámara municipal de Nueva Odessa, interior de Sao Paulo, aprobó una ley que exige la lectura de la Biblia en las escuelas públicas.

El proyecto de ley es de la autoría del concejal Vladimir Antonio da Fonseca (SDD), que es evangélico. A simple vista el proyecto parlamentario “no se opone …

Denuncian la grabación de un video pornográfico dentro de una iglesia en Austria


Una denuncia anónima ha provocado que un sacerdote se indignara ya que una actriz de cine para adultos de 24 años usó el interior de la iglesia en Hoersching, Austria, para filmar un video pornográfico.

Las películas fueron rodadas en junio y terminaron en el Internet donde se destaca que las …

Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete by Louis Constant Wairy


Language: English

As Trinidad & Tobago’s Military Hunts Down a Killer, Some Wonder Who’s ‘Guarding the Guards’

Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force conduct an exercise on Chacachacare Island in conjunction with U.S. forces. (DoD photo by Army Capt. Daisy C. Bueno, courtesy the USASOC News Service's flickr page, used under a CC BY 2.0 license.)

Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force conduct an exercise on Chacachacare Island in conjunction with U.S. forces. DoD photo by Army Capt. Daisy C. Bueno, courtesy the USASOC News Service's Flickr page. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Nearly three years ago, Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar declared a “limited” state of emergency, ostensibly in an effort to combat a surge in the crime rate. There was rampant debate at the time over whether this extreme step, which trampled upon civil rights — most notably those of young, poor, black males from disadvantaged communities – was an effective (or even legal) way to stem the tide of violence.

The state of emergency was lifted in December 2011, but the past few weeks have been a kind of déjà vu. After a soldier was shot dead in Laventille, an area widely regarded as a hotbed of gang warfare, the country's military, which complained of being under siege in these “hotspots”, launched a manhunt for the suspected killer. They have allegedly been going about their business without warrants or police assistance.

The acting commissioner of police has made his position clear: soldiers performing the duties of police officers is illegal and any military officers found to be flouting the law or physically abusing citizens will be arrested. But in a country where the citizenry's confidence in law enforcement is dwindling, many are questioning whether the prime minister's promise to “unleash the dogs of war” on criminals — essentially policing at any price — is helping to create a dangerous climate in which military dictatorships and police states can thrive.

Crime in Trinidad and Tobago has been on the increase over the past decade or more thanks to the rise of gun-toting gangs fueled by the illicit drug trade. Now, amidst allegations that the government has actually been sanctioning these criminal elements by putting them on the state's payroll, citizens are more skeptical than ever about crime and how it is being dealt with.

Wired868, one of the few local blogs keeping a constant eye on political issues, predicted even before the military raids came to light that “there is just one problem here; and it lies in the distribution of resources”:

In October 2013, National Security Minister Gary Griffth told the Trinidad Guardian that he had discovered ‘persons involved in criminal activity who had state contracts’ particularly in the Life Sport programme [an initiative of the country's Ministry of Sport, which was intended to give young people in disadvantaged communities access to sporting activities as an option to getting involved in crime]. If this is true, then there is a real possibility that the State is funding both sides of the ‘War’ it declared and this puts our Police Service in a very precarious situation [...]

We must review the extent to which our development agenda fosters criminality, thus, making criminals not an anomaly but an inevitability [...] accepting extra judicial killings in lieu of justice is not and cannot be the answer.

The post quoted statistics from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service website to explain why crime management that happens outside the rule of law is counter-productive. The Caribbean country averages 25 extrajudicial killings per year for the last 15 years, but has already passed that number in 2014:

If in fact these extra judicial killings were removing those responsible for the scourge of crime shouldn’t a reduction in murders be a logical expectation? [...] Those who represent the law cannot feign ignorance to its diktats. One cannot expect to ignore the law to engage those who ignore the law.

We have buckled to acceptance not because we condone killing but precisely the opposite—because we do not. This is the contradiction. That is the double standard…That is why it will not work.

A post written by Mr. Live Wire, one of Wired868′s most prolific bloggers, addressed the behaviour of members of the country's armed forces, pointing out that the manhunt for Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas's killer allegedly went regional:

In Trinidad and Tobago, farce is wearing camouflage these days as soldiers have apparently taken control of Laventille in the search for the killer of Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas while also kicking in doors and kicking down residents as far as Toco without warrants or any legal authority.

On Wednesday, the Trinidad Guardian alleged that ‘men in camouflage worn by T&T military’ snatched Duane Skeete—whose brother is wanted for ‘questioning in relation to Thomas’ murder—in Grenada on Wednesday with the assistance of Grenadian soldiers. Relatives have not heard from Skeete since.

Surely a coordinated arrest on foreign soil could not have occurred without the blessing of Chief of Defence Staff, Major Kenrick Maharaj. Did National Security Minister Gary Griffith or Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the head of the National Security Council, approve this?

Was Skeete removed from Grenada in a military helicopter? Does Teteron [headquarters of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment] have its own Guantanamo wing?

In short, Trinidad and Tobago appears to be under martial law.

The government has, thus far, not issued a definitive statement about the goings-on, but with the precedent set by 2011′s state of emergency and the nation's security forces appearing to ignore proper procedure, many are wondering, in the words of a calypso by King Austin, “who's going to guard the guards”?

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco
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Consultabile il numero di giugno-luglio di Ritagli


È uscito il numero di giugno-luglio di Ritagli, la rassegna stampa bimestrale di cultura che prende in considerazione periodici, cataloghi, pubblicazioni, siti internet. In ogni numero vengono individuate aree tematiche di carattere culturale, storico, scientifico, artistico e letterario, e proposti approfondimenti, ricostruzioni storiche, letture critiche, analisi. Nel nuovo numero, sono presenti le seguenti sezioni: Il cattolicesimo tra storia, cultura e politica; L’ecosistema della comunicazione pubblica e i social network; Verso nuove forme di governo del territorio; Scienza e ambiente; Letteratura e scienza; La cultura in carcere; Uno sguardo tra le mostre.
La rassegna è consultabile alla voce “Periodici”.

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The President Gives an Update on the Situation in Ukraine


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This morning, President Obama made a statement on the current situation in Ukraine, in the wake of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 being shot down last week over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.

Following his press statement on Friday, the President restated today that "our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts. We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists."

He also noted that international investigators are already on the ground, prepared and organized to conduct "the kinds of protocols and scouring and collecting of evidence that should follow any international incident like this." President Obama then called on Russia — and President Vladimir Putin in particular — to "insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, [and] grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full, and unimpeded access to the crash site."

At the beginning of his statement, the President also took a moment to address the situation in Gaza. He reiterated that Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas, but that we also have "serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives."

"That is why it now has to be our focus, and the focus of the international community," he said, "to bring about a ceasefire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians — both in Gaza and in Israel."

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Совещание по социально-экономическому развитию Самарской области


В ходе поездки в Самарскую область Владимир Путин провел совещание по социально-экономическому развитию региона.

FACT SHEET: The Vice President’s Address to the 115th National Conference of the Veterans of Foreign Wars


“We have a lot of obligations as the government— obligations to the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly, our children. But we only have one sacred obligation, only one truly sacred obligation, and that's to equip and support those who we send to war and care for and protect them and their families when they return from war.  That's the only truly sacred obligation. “

AUGUST 27, 2013

Our government’s sacred obligation is to support our troops and care for them when they come home.  One of the most powerful ways we can uphold that obligation is to provide our veterans with the access to the resources and training necessary for them to succeed. The following bullets highlight major actions that the Administration is taking to live up to our sacred obligation.

Skills – Job Driven Training and American Opportunity

The Administration’s work to train veterans and their families with job driven trainings include:

Developing, diversifying, and expanding models for rapid, effective job training: The Department of Defense (DoD) is working to bridge the gap between the skills veterans obtain in military service and the skills needed in the civilian workforce in several ways. The IT Training and Certification Partnership, a public-private partnership with organizations including Cisco, Microsoft, and Oracle will enable thousands of Servicemembers to gain industry-recognized, nationally-portable certifications necessary for high-demand technology professions before they transition from military service. 

Accelerated Learning Competition.  To ensure that Veterans can take full advantage of innovative learning models, the VA will sponsor a $10 million competition to identify leading practices among alternative learning models, and evaluate the employment outcomes of accelerated learning programs (ALPs) for post-9/11 Veterans. The competition will be a multi-staged event leading to direct funding of Veteran participation in IT-centric ALPs, including coding bootcamps.  This two-year demonstration project will start in FY15, with the help of funding through the VA Center for Innovation, and has the potential to scale to other communities based on demonstrated outcomes and the availability of resources.

Outreach to ALPs regarding eligibility requirements for GI Bill® and VR&E. The VA is keenly interested in the viability of innovative learning models, such as accelerated learning programs (ALPs), for employment of our Veterans, especially in growing sectors like information technology. Recognizing that many institutions in the emerging field of accelerated learning are not familiar with the process by which programs can be approved for GI Bill® eligibility or be eligible for the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) program, VA is sending a letter to ALPs with a fact sheet on the GI Bill® accreditation process through State Approving Agencies, as well as a fact sheet on the VR&E eligibility process.

Making Apprenticeships Work: Through a new partnership between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor, employers now have a fast-track for their veteran employees to access their GI Bill® benefits for registered apprenticeships, helping more than 9,000 veteran apprentices receive the benefits they have earned.

Maximizing Business Engagement to Train and Hire Veterans: The Veteran Employment Training Service (VETS) in the DOL is establishing a Job Development Unit, to make the connection between commitments from national and regional employers seeking to hire veterans and local business engagement teams at American Job Centers. In addition, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program at the VA will work with the DOL to develop a more standardized process for how vocational rehabilitation counselors serving veterans with service-connected disabilities can effectively use labor market information, employer partnerships, and information from state Workforce Investment Boards to connect veterans with disabilities to in-demand training and employment opportunities.

Making it easier for qualified Servicemembers to earn a Commercial Driver’s License: For the first time, all 50 States and the District of Columbia, now waive the skills test for qualified Servicemembers and veterans applying for a State Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).  For four years, the Administration has worked state-by-state, partnering with the Department of Defense (DoD), other Federal agencies and outside stakeholders to make it easier for military truck drivers to earn a CDL. The waiver process saves the CDL applicant time and money, making it easier to transfer the skills learned in the military to civilian life and a job.  To date more than 6,000 service personnel have taken advantage of the Skills Test Waiver.  

Economic Competitiveness for Veterans

The Administration is committed to increasing the economic competitiveness of veterans and their families.  

Veteran Employment Center: On April 23, the First Lady and Dr Biden announced the Veterans Employment Center, the single authoritative on-line source for connecting transitioning Servicemembers, veterans and their families to meaningful career opportunities. The VEC is the first government-wide product that brings together a reputable cadre of public and private employers with real job opportunities, and provides our military community with the tools to translate their military skills into plain language and build a profile that can be shared – in real time – with employers who have made a public commitment to hire veterans. The VEC lists over 1.5 million private and public sector jobs and employers have made commitments to hire over 150,000 individuals from the military community.

Federal Government Hiring: In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13518 and launched the Veterans Employment Initiative.  Since then, the federal government is setting the example, hiring more than 300,000.  In FY2013, there were a total of 162,839 new hires within the federal government.  Of these, 50,502 were veterans.  This equates to 31% veterans of all federal new hires in FY2013. 


FY 2006

FY 2007

FY 2008

FY 2009

FY 2010

FY 2011

FY 2012

FY 2013

Federal New Hires









Veteran New Hires









% of All Employees










Joining Forces

In June 2012, the President issued his challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.  Efforts to encourage private sector hiring have been led by First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and their Joining Forces initiative.  Since this time, businesses have exceeded this goal by hiring and training more than 540,000 veterans and their spouses. 

The Administration’s work for veterans and their families through Joining Forces initiatives include:

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: Most military children will attend six to nine different school systems from kindergarten to 12th grade, and they may find that they have to retake certain academic classes or are unable to join an extra-curricular activity or sports team.  DoD works with state policymakers and other state leaders to address school transition challenges such as these through the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (the compact), developed in 2007 with the assistance of the Council of State Governments.   The compact helps ensure that the children of military families are afforded the same opportunities for educational success as other children and are not penalized for frequent moves.  The Compact provides for a consistent policy in the areas of eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation in every school district and in every state that chooses to join.  As of July 2014, 48 states have enacted legislation adopting the Compact.  The other two states (New Hampshire and New York) have both passed legislation which is awaiting their Governors’ signatures.

Facilitating Military Spouse Transition through Licensure Portability: Military spouses are highly-skilled and tremendously talented and they should have the opportunity to build careers and work in the fields they have chosen.  However, military spouses report that their career paths are often disrupted by frequent moves.  Many military spouses who work in licensed professions can face lengthy re-employment delays and financial expenses due to variable, state-specific conditions and processes for professional licenses in their new state. As of July 2014, 47 states have passed legislation that facilitates military spouse transition through one or more aspects of licensure portability.  DoD continues to work with the other three states (Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania) to enact legislation in support of this issue.

Facilitating Licensure and Academic Credit for Transitioning Servicemembers:  Transitioning Servicemembers leave the military with documented training and experience that can prepare them for civilian employment; however, this documentation is not always used by state entities to qualify them for licenses required for their occupation or to provide them academic credit. Reported unemployment rates of separating Servicemembers that are higher than national averages have brought attention to supporting issues such as expedited licensure and increased academic credit recognition to alleviate this problem. DoD is working with states to help ease the transition of separating Servicemembers in the areas of education and employment.  As of July 2014, 46 states have passed some sort of legislation that facilitates separating Servicemembers to receive licensure and/or academic credit for military education, training and experience. 

Principles of Excellence

The Principles of Excellence were announced on April 27, 2012 by President Obama in Executive Order 13607, to ensure that student veterans, Servicemembers, and family members have information, support, and protections while using Federal education benefits. To date, more than 6,000 educational institutions have signed on. Tools developed to provide more information to students and increase oversight of programs offered by educational institutions are discussed below:

GI Bill® Comparison Tool: The GI Bill® Comparison Tool makes it easier to research colleges and employers providing training under the GI Bill®. It displays median borrowing amounts, graduation rates, and loan-default rates by school and indicates whether or not the school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program or has agreed to adhere to the Principles of Excellence. Further, the tool allows veterans, Servicemembers, their spouses, and dependents to estimate the amount of funding they may receive under the Post-9/11 GI Bill®. As of July 15, 2014, there nearly 300,000 visits to the Web site.

GI Bill® Feedback System: The GI Bill® Feedback System is a centralized online reporting system that allows veterans, Servicemembers, and eligible dependents to report negative experiences with educational institutions. VA serves as the intermediary to resolve complaints between the student and school. Submitted complaints may be reviewed by state and Federal law enforcement agencies including the Department of Justice.  As of July 15, 2014, there were over 1,700 complaints submitted.

8 Keys to Veterans’ Success on Campus: Developed by ED and VA, in conjunction with more than 100 education experts, the 8 Keys to Veterans' Success on Campus are eight concrete steps that institutions of higher education can take to help veterans and Servicemember’s transition into the classroom and thrive once they are there. Over the past year, the number of commitments has steadily increased as more colleges and universities have affirmed their commitment to take the necessary steps to assist veterans and Servicemembers in transitioning to higher education, completing their college programs, obtaining career-ready skills, and achieving success.

Podcast: Glaser, Cuomo, and the Refusals That Made the Story


by Nicole Collins Bronzan

Justin Elliott (@JustinElliott) was doing his poking around a year ago when he uncovered a story he hadn’t even known existed, he tells Assistant Managing Editor Eric Umansky (@ericuman) in this week’s podcast.

Looking into the relationship between Howard Glaser, a mortgage industry lobbyist, and Andrew Cuomo, now New York’s governor, he filed a Freedom of Information request for Glaser’s emails in that capacity. The state denied the request, citing Glaser’s role as a consultant in Cuomo’s  investigation into the mortgage industry during his time as attorney general — a previously unreported fact.

It was a surprising twist on the revolving door between government and industry, Elliott says: “Howard Glaser was on both sides of that door at the same time, and not only that, at least two of the companies that Andrew Cuomo was investigating as attorney general were actually acknowledged clients of Glaser.”

Umansky takes a moment to “savor the deliciousness” of that turn of events. “In the course of objecting to and fighting our open records request,” he says, “their argument for that actually turned out to be revealing another story to us.”

In the end, one of Glaser’s clients ended up getting immunity, Elliott says, which may have made sense for the investigation, but it’s never been reported that Cuomo ever used any information obtained as part of the deal with the due diligence firm Clayton. “It’s not clear why this deal was made,” he says.

Meanwhile, Glaser had a prominent role in news reports about Cuomo's investigations, including the story that broke the news of the 2007 deal with Clayton, Elliott says– but without mention of his role consulting for the attorney general’s office. “If you read the New York Times story, which we link to in our story, who’s quoted in it? None other than Howard Glaser, as a mortgage consultant,” he says. “Story doesn’t mention the fact that Glaser had worked for both Clayton and Cuomo.”

Asked for answers about all this, Glaser instead began a Twitter campaign against ProPublica and its founding funder weeks before the article was published, Elliott says.

That “prebuttal” of the story actually worked against him in the end, Umansky says, calling it one of the “great moments in PR management.” In response to Glaser’s tweets, “a number of reporters started tweeting about their interest in seeing what the story was.”

By publishing time, ProPublica’s publicity team already had a head start, thanks to Glaser.

“So, you know, it takes a village,” Umansky says.

For their full discussion, listen to the podcast on SoundCloudiTunes or Stitcher, and read Elliott's investigation here.