Obama Urges Governors To Increase Funding For Education

President Barack Obama urged governors across the country to invest more State resources in education, as he noted that a highly skilled workforce is crucial for the U.S. to remain competitive with other nations, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, Obama made his pitch at a White House meeting with governors in Washington as part of the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. The President and first lady hosted a black-tie event for the politicians on February 26.

The AP reported that the President sympathized with the governors whose State budgets have been significantly diminished by the economic downturn, but noted that this was no reason to cut resources from schools.

“The fact is that too many states are making cuts in education that I think are simply too big,” Obama said at the event. “Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state than the decisions you make about where to invest. Budgets are about choices.”

CNN reported that the President also spoke to how the economic outlook is improving from the early days of his Administration, noting “our recovery is gaining speed.”

A Letter From Barry

Dear Joe:

Joe, as you know, my popularity numbers have been dropping faster than a free-falling safe. I’ve tried all the usual stuff like blaming my predecessor for everything, making up personal experience stories and flat out lying. The economy is in the toilet, and we are fighting so many wars that they even want me to give back my Peace Prize.  I’ve tried the liberal-standard “deny, deflect, delay” schemes and nothing has worked, so I’m in a bind. You know we even got the kids a dog and he really likes peeing in the Rose Garden. Michelle is really fond of all the servants, and I’m hooked on being able to play golf on all the best courses and not having to worry about inconvenient tee times. My Messiah image is getting shopworn, and people are talking about me being a one-term president.

You, on the other hand, have been a constant source of much amusement with your gaffes and have earned the reputation of being the village idiot. Hillary said, “It takes a village.” People can’t wait to see which foot you will put in your mouth next.

I’ve got a healthcare bill that I convinced the Congress to ram through, never thinking in my wildest dreams that anybody would actually read it. Well, they did read it, and I look like an idiot. I’ve got Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder hanging around my neck like an anchor, but he’s “one of my people” so he’s untouchable. What I really need is a way to deflect attention from my lack of accomplishment and experience.

I’ve got the Occupy Wall Street bunch, which I initially supported. I even made a statement in support of them. Well, it turns out I backed the wrong horse in that race, because they are showing themselves to be nothing more than dope-smoking weirdos who don’t even want a job. Let’s face it: Defecating on a police car or stealing from a church is not something that looks good on a resume. Hey, even the American Nazi Party endorsed them! Luckily, Nancy (God Bless Them) Pelosi and Maxine Waters also praised them; so I can have my mouthpiece, Jay Carney, say something like, “What the President really meant,” thereby deflecting the blame.

I keep saying that we need to tax the millionaires, but the fact of the matter is that they are becoming an endangered species because of the lousy economy. Back in 2007, there were 400,000 of them; but in 2009, they dropped to just 235,000. I know what you’re going to tell me is that there are still enough of them to fill my re-election campaign coffers but I’ve got to protect what I’ve got, because the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t look like there are going to be any new millionaires anytime soon. The number of people 16 and older who have been unemployed for more than a year averaged 1.3 million in the past three recessions, but in 2010 there were 4.3 million. Twenty -Ten, Joe, that’s on my watch!! So how do I deflect that?

Joe, I have to cut this short because I have a 10 a.m. tee time. I’ll only be able to play 18 holes because Michelle wants me to take her out on a date night later on. Jeez, there’s not enough time to squeeze all this in. So let me get right to the point: I need you to take one on the chin for the home team. There’s no easy way to say it so I’ll come right out with it. Joe, I’m dumping you as my Vice President. There, I said it. You’re an old politician so you know it’s not personal, just business.

Look at what Hillary can bring to the table once you announce that you are stepping down for health reasons or because you want to spend more time with your family — you know the line. The most important thing is that she hasn’t been associated with the disastrous economic policies. Another thing is that she is going to be bringing the older white folks with her, and we need those votes — especially the women’s. She’ll also be bringing Bill. Lots of younger women like him, and he likes lots of younger women. More votes.

As you know, I’ll be going on another vacation with Michelle, the kids, the mother- in- law and about 50 close friends next week. Will that give you enough time to make your announcement, or do I need to get some of my Chicago friends to make you an offer you can’t refuse?

I’m also still searching all 57 states for any remaining golf courses I may have missed, so my time is limited.

Remember: It’s just business,

Barry

BARACK


–Frank Grochowski

Gold Prices Rise As Euro Increases Ahead Of ECB Financing

The price of gold rose on February 28, as a drop in the value of the American dollar coupled with gains made by the euro pushed the precious metals market skywards, Bloomberg reported.

According to the news outlet, the dollar fell versus the euro prior to the European Central Bank (ECB) allotting a second round of unlimited three-year funds to help bolster the region's banks.

"I like the $1,700 to $2,000 range based on the macroeconomic factors as they exist today," Chuck Jeannes, chief executive officer at producer Goldcorp Inc., told Bloomberg in an interview. "It’s certainly set the table for a much higher gold price."

Reuters reported that the euro climbed to a three-month high against the dollar ahead of the expected cash injection from the ECB, as the financial institution is expected to contribute 500 billion euros to help deal with the euro zone debt crisis.

Bloomberg reported that gold for April delivery, the most actively traded contract on the Comex in New York, rose 0.3 percent to $1,781.10 an ounce early in the morning on February 28. 

White House Money Helped Fund NYPD Surveillance

Millions of dollars in White House money has helped to fund New York Police Department programs that placed entire American Muslim neighborhoods under constant surveillance, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the money is part of a little-known grant that was initially intended to help law enforcement combat drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President Barack Obama and Former President George W. Bush Administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region.

The AP reported that part of this funding was redirected to help pay for the NYPD's wholesale surveillance of places where Muslims eat, work, shop and pray.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that this surveillance was initially done in 2005 with the permission of then-Governor Richard Codey, according to the State's records. The NYPD was given open-ended authority to operate in New Jersey in limited circumstances.

According to the newspaper, a letter was filed by several lawmakers in the State of New Jersey to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, calling for a probe of the surveillance.

"I am deeply concerned by reports that the NYPD’s law enforcement efforts focused on individuals who were not suspected of any criminal activity," wrote Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representative Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). "While I strongly support credible efforts to prevent terrorism, I have grave concerns about any program that targets communities with no credible law enforcement intelligence."

Obama Adviser Defends President On Gas Prices

The rising cost of gas has prompted a public outcry in the U.S., something that the White House has looked to push back against as an adviser defended President Barack Obama over the pain at the pump argument made by the GOP, The Washington Times reported.

According to the news outlet, Obama spoke to the lack of Presidential power when it comes to energy prices in his weekly address on February 26, but Republicans attacked this notion, prompting a reply from one of the President's campaign advisers.

"There are a series of people that want [to] tell you that there are very easy magic-bullet solutions to the problems that we face. We know that’s not true," Robert Gibbs said in an interview with CNN.

Gibbs also spoke to the potential move by the White House to tap the nation's emergency oil supply, the Strategic Petroleum Reserves. This move would help to ease rising prices and was suggest by Democratic Congressmen, according to the Times.

Reuters reported that the national average cost for a gallon regular gasoline rose to $3.69, according to a survey of gas stations across the U.S.

Gun Ownership Difficult Despite Rulings By High Court

In 2008, following a court case that challenged the restrictive gun laws in Washington, D.C., the Supreme Court ordered local government officials to make it possible for law-abiding residents to own a gun, Fox News reported.

According to the news outlet, this ruling was a landmark 2nd Amendment win for guns rights advocates, but there has been growing disagreement among local residents about whether the decision made a difference.

Emily Miller, a senior opinion editor at The Washington Times and also a victim of a crime, decided to get a gun following the High Court's decision. She encountered many problems and in the end it took her five months and cost $500, plus the price of the firearm.

"These gun control measures are so counterproductive because they are not stopping the criminals from getting guns," Miller said. "They are stopping the law-abiding people from getting guns to protect themselves."

According to her article in the Times, Miller noted that there is a 22-page handgun restriction packet that is provided by the District of Columbia, but this information contains only three bullet points for guidance on legal transport of the firearm. 

Seven States Sue To Block Mandate For Contraception

Seven States filed a lawsuit to block the Federal government's requirement that religious organizations provide health insurance coverage that includes access to contraception for women, free of charge, NewsCore reported.

According to the news outlet, the attorneys general of Florida, Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Nebraska and Ohio jointly filed the lawsuit in a Nebraska U.S. District Court. Two private citizens, two religious non-profit organizations and a Catholic school also joined the States against the contraception mandate, part of President Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare reform.

NewsCore reported that the lawsuit asks a Federal judge to declare the mandate unConstitutional and enjoin the government from enforcing the law.

"The President's so called 'accommodation' was nothing but a shell game: the mandate still requires religious organizations to subsidize and authorize conduct that conflicts with their religious principles," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement. "The very 1st Amendment to our Constitution was intended to protect against this sort of government intrusion into our religious convictions."

POLITICO reported that Democratic House leaders recently used a hearing to again accuse House Republicans of ignoring women in the debate over the contraception mandate. 

California Judge Rules Government Cannot Deny Benefits To Same-Sex Spouses

A Federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the U.S. government cannot deny health benefits to the wife of a lesbian court employee by relying on legislation from 1996 that bars government recognition of same-sex unions, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said that because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminates against same-sex married couples, the government’s refusal to give health insurance to the wife of Karen Golinski is unjustified.

“The Court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law … by, without substantial justification or rational basis, refusing to recognize her lawful marriage to prevent provision of health insurance coverage to her spouse,” White said in his decision.

The AP reported that Golinski, a staff lawyer for the 9th Circuit, has been trying to get spousal benefits for her wife since 2008.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that DOMA was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, and denies joint tax filing, Social Security survivors’ benefits and hundreds of other marital rights to same-sex partners.

Obama Sends Apology Letter To Karzai Following Quran Incident

The Afghan President’s office announced that it had received a letter from President Barack Obama apologizing for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the statement from President Hamid Karzai’s office said the U.S. ambassador delivered the letter on February 23. In the apology, Obama expressed his “deep regret for the reported incident” and offers his “sincere apologies.”

The statement from Karzai’s office noted that Obama wrote: “The error was inadvertent; I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”

CBS News reported that two U.S. troops have been shot to death and four more wounded, as an Afghan soldier turned his gun on his allies in apparent anger over the Quran-burning incident.

A statement from the International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan, the international coalition in the nation, confirmed that the two American soldiers were killed in the Eastern part of the country by an individual “wearing an Afghan National Army uniform.”

Consumer Watchdog Launches Inquiry Into Overdraft Fees

The newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched an inquiry into fees that were charged by banks when consumers overdraw their accounts, a practice that lands financial institutions billions of dollars, MarketWatch reported.

“Overdraft practices have the capacity to inflict serious economic harm on the people who can least afford it,” Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, said in a statement.

According to the news outlet, banks typically provide overdraft “protection” when their customers overdraw their accounts. The institutions covers the transaction but also charge fees as high as $35 for each overdraft.

The unintended consequence, according to MarketWatch, is that a large percentage of bank profits from overdrafts come from low-income consumers who overdraw their accounts, as a type of short-term loan because they can’t cover living expenses.

The Associated Press reported that banks have marketed overdraft protection services aggressively, as they told consumers that opting out of the service “may prevent you from completing everyday transactions including…medical or health emergencies.” Certain financial institutions increased their fee income through a practice known as “re-ordering,” as they would collect all transactions in a given day and then apply them in order from largest to smallest.