Obama Administration

10 things you need to know today: July 25, 2014

The aftermath of an Israeli airstrike. 

The aftermath of an Israeli airstrike. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The Week

Israeli tank fire kills 15 in a U.N. school, Obama calls for closing overseas tax loopholes, and more

1. Protests rock the West Bank ahead of a “day of rage”
Israel deployed thousands of security forces around Jerusalem after Palestinian leaders called for a “day of rage” on Friday following massive overnight protests in the West Bank. Israeli tank shells reportedly hit a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people. Dozens of Palestinians had sought shelter there from fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian faction that runs Gaza. Israel said it did not target the school. [NBC News, USA Today]


2. Obama urges Congress to close overseas tax loopholes for businesses
President Obama on Thursday called on Congress to close loopholes allowing businesses to use foreign partnerships to avoid taxes at home, even when their headquarters and main operations remain in the U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said he was all for asking companies to pay their fair share, but that Obama administration policies were “punitive and restrictive to businesses.” [CBS News]


3. Ukraine’s prime minister submits his resignation
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk resigned on Thursday after two parties quit the government coalition, forcing new elections to renew a parliament unchanged since the ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich in February. The country’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, backed Yatseniuk’s departure, saying forcing new elections would purge the chamber of “Moscow agents.” [Reuters]


4. Air Algerie wreck blamed on weather
The wreckage of a chartered Air Algerie jetliner was found Thursday in Mali. The plane was carrying 110 passengers and six crew members when it left Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, for Algiers early Thursday. There did not appear to be any survivors. Burkina Faso’s top military leader, Gen. Gilbert Diendere, said fierce thunderstorms that were pounding the Sahara as the plane flew over probably played a role in the crash. [The New York Times]


5. Amazon losses climb due to big investments to woo customers
Amazon.com reported its biggest quarterly loss since 2012 on Thursday. The world’s largest online retailer lost $126 million, far higher than the average analyst’s forecast of $66.7 million. Amazon’s sales climbed by 23 percent to $19.3 billion, but CEO Jeff Bezos’ strategy of investing heavily in services and gadgets to inspire customer loyalty hurt profits. Amazon stock fell by more than 11 percent on the news. [Bloomberg News]


6. One killed, two wounded in Pennsylvania psychiatric hospital shooting
A gunman killed one person and wounded two others during a Thursday shooting at the psychiatric unit of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in the Philadelphia suburb of Darby, Pennsylvania. The suspect — a patient — entered Dr. Lee Silverman’s office with a female caseworker and allegedly opened fire. Silverman, who was wounded, pulled his own gun and wounded the assailant after the caseworker was killed. [The Associated Press]


7. Arizona officials defend controversial execution
Arizona prison officials denied Thursday that the two-hour execution of double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood had been “botched.” State officials said that Wood was brain-dead during 90 minutes of gulping and snorting before he was declared dead. Wood’s attorneys unsuccessfully asked a judge to stop the procedure as Wood got a second round of lethal-injection drugs. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the process “torture.” [The Arizona Republic]


8. U.S. considers screening refugees in Honduras to discourage illegal immigration
The Obama administration is considering screening thousands of young people in Honduras to see if they should be allowed to enter the U.S. as refugees or on emergency humanitarian grounds. It would be the first such move involving a country linked by land to the U.S. The White House is seeking ways to discourage young Hondurans from joining the wave of undocumented child immigrants streaming over the U.S.-Mexico border. [The New York Times]


9. Pope meets with Sudanese Christian sentenced to death for her faith
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death by an Islamist judge for refusing to renounce her faith, met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday. Ibrahim was convicted for apostasy for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity. She insisted she had been raised Christian, and was released last month under international pressure. The pope thanked her for staying true to her faith, a Vatican spokesman said. [The Washington Post]


10. Fifty Shades of Grey trailer debuts
The first trailer of the film adaptation of author E.L. James’ wildly popular, bondage-themed Fifty Shades of Grey books made its debut on NBC’s Today on Thursday. NBC only aired part of the steamy clip, in which the Christian Grey character tells paramour Anastasia Steele to stay away from him because she wouldn’t understand his quirky tastes. “Enlighten me,” she replies. The film opens Feb. 13. [AceShowbiz]

10 things you need to know today: June 21, 2014

The U.S. is sending additional judges and attorneys to Texas to expedite asylum claims.

The U.S. is sending additional judges and attorneys to Texas to expedite asylum claims. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

The Week

The Obama administration addresses illegal immigration, an Egyptian court sentences more than 180 to death, and more

1. Obama administration announces new measures to counteract illegal immigration
The United States will not tolerate a surge of women and children crossing the Mexico border into Texas, administration officials said on Friday as they announced new measures to stymie the recent immigrant influx. Many of those crossing the border are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and the White House said it will invest $9.6 million to help those countries repatriate their citizens. The administration is also sending additional immigration judges and attorneys to Texas, in order to expedite asylum claims. More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors, and 39,000 adults with children have been apprehended along the border so far this year. [The Washington Post]


2. Egypt court sentences more than 180 to death in mass trial
In what is considered the largest mass trial in recent Egyptian history, a court handed down more than 180 death sentences today, stemming from an August attack on a police station that killed one officer and one civilian. Those sentenced to death include the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie. However, the international community has condemned the mass death sentences, saying Egypt’s government is becoming increasingly politicized. One man sentenced, Mustafa Youssef, “was born blind,” noted his lawyer. “How would he kill, burn and loot?” [The Associated Press]


3. Ukraine begins unilateral ceasefire as Russia redeploys troops to border
Following weeks of fighting, new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko instigated a week-long, unilateral ceasefire on Friday, although he was quick to note that while forces would not take offensive action against pro-Russian militants, they would still defend themselves against any attacks. During the week, separatists have a chance to turn in weapons, although the Donetsk People’s Republic gave no sign of relenting as the ceasefire began. Meanwhile, U.S. officials said that Russia had sent tanks and heavy artillery back across the border on Friday, although Moscow claimed it was merely bolstering troops on its side of a border steeped in fighting. [The Washington Post]


4. U.N.: Number of displaced people reaches more than 50 million
For the first time since World War II, more than 50 million people are living under forced displacement, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. At least 51.2 million people, roughly the equivalent of the entire population of Spain, are currently seeking refuge or asylum, and at least half of that number are children. And with renewed violence in Iraq, the U.N, says the number may increase this year. “We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars,” Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says. “Peace is today dangerously in deficit.” [NPR]


5. Iran, six powers remain in stalemate after nuclear settlement talks
Saying Iran will not reach an agreement until six big powers “abandon excessive demands,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif left this week’s nuclear talks in a stalemate. The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany met with representatives from Tehran in an attempt to broker a deal to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for more regulations on the country’s nuclear work. The major powers are aiming for a July 20 deadline, in the midst of renewed fears of Middle East wars. [Reuters]


6. Report: Pentagon, VA not assessing success rate of PTSD treatments
A report released on Friday by the Institute of Medicine says neither the Department of Veterans Affairs nor the Pentagon is tracking the success of PTSD treatments offered to troops. The VA spent more than $3 billion on PTSD care in 2012, but it failed to study whether the treatments actually helped soldiers. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s treatments “appear to be local, ad hoc, incremental, crisis-driven, with little planning devoted to the development of a long-range approach to obtaining desired outcomes,” the IOM reports. While five percent of all troops report cases of PTSD, the number is much higher for those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Time]


7. Presbyterian Church will allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages
Changing its constitution’s definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Thursday to allow ministers in states that have legalized same-sex marriages discretion to perform the nuptials. Actually changing the language in the church’s Book of Order to reflect the amendment requires a year-long ratification process, and conservative members of the General Assembly may still push against that measure. “There were some of us with tears of joy, and some of us with tears of grief,” Rev. Susan De George, a lesbian minister of the Hudson River Presbytery, in New York, said of the vote. [The New York Times]


8. Scientists discover new species of Neanderthal in Spain
Researchers published a description in the journal Science on Thursday of a new, Neanderthal-esque prehistoric human species. The remains, found in a cave in northern Spain, do not dramatically alter the current theory of human evolution. They do, however, suggest that there were several isolated, unique human species existing at the same time in different parts of the world, which may have eventually fought for the same land. [The Washington Post]


9. Disney taps Rian Johnson to write, direct Star Wars: Episode VIII
With production just barely underway on Star Wars: Episode VIIDisney and Lucasfilm have already selected director Rian Johnson to helm the next film in the series. Best known for Looper, a sci-fi action film featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, Johnson also directed several episodes of Breaking Bad and was on the shortlist for the Star Trek reboot. [Variety]


10. Peanut the mutt wins ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ title
As far as titles go, “World’s Ugliest Dog” sounds like one most canines would rather not win, but that’s too bad for 2-year-old mutt Peanut. Peanut’s owner, Holly Chandler, entered the dog in the 25th annual competition in California to bring attention to the traumas of pet abuse, and she said she will use the $1,500 prize to pay for other injured animals’ veterinary expenses. While Peanut is healthy now, he was seriously burned as a puppy, resulting in the unsightly, hairless patches all over his body that earned him Friday’s victory. [The Associated Press]

Shinseki resigns…

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki pauses while speaking at a meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Friday, May 30, 2014, in Washington. | AP Photo


President Barack Obama said Friday that he had reluctantly accepted the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, giving in to growing calls from lawmakers and veterans’ advocates that he step down in the wake of widespread reports that VA hospitals falsified waiting lists.

“I want to reiterate: he is a very good man,” Obama said of Shinseki. However, the president said the decorated retired Army general concluded “he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction…I regret that he has to resign under these circumstances.”

The secretary had set in motion several firings and disciplinary actions, the president said, and more changes were coming — significant ones. “There is a need for a change in culture …that makes sure bad news surfaces quickly so things can be fixed,” he said.

Shinseki “is deeply disappointed in the fact that bad news did not get to him and that the structures weren’t in place for him to identify this problem quickly and fix it,” the president said. “His priority now is to make sure that happens, and he felt like new leadership would be — would serve our veterans best, and I agree with him.”

Obama said Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who’s only been in that job for three months, will step in temporarily as VA secretary while the administration looks for a permanent head for the department.

In that post, “I want someone who is spending every minute of every day figuring out, have we called every veteran that’s waiting?” the president said.

Obama also he recognizes that, regardless of personnel moves, he is the one ultimately responsible for the failures at the VA.

“This is my administration; I always take responsibility for whatever happens,” he said, adding that he’s been deeply concerned about veterans’ issues since serving on the Veterans Affairs committee in the Senate.

Key lawmakers said they welcomed Shinseki’s departure, but had no warning of it before the president spoke.

“Leadership matters; calling for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation did not come lightly to me, but accountability starts at the top and the step taken today is just the beginning,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Ks.) said. “We now need accountability and true reform within the VA all across the country. For this to occur, we need a fresh perspective and a leader who is willing to shake up the VA’s bureaucratic culture.”

House Veteran Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said he’d received no heads up from the administration or Shinseki about the announcement, which Obama delivered at a hastily-called press conference just after meeting with the VA secretary.

Shinseki becomes the highest-profile member of the Obama administration to be forced out — a major departure for Obama, who has consistently stuck by aides in crisis.

But from the beginning, this one was different: a CNN report revealed efforts to conceal the extent of the backlog processing veteran’s health claims at a facility in Phoenix, casting doubt on the success often touted over the past year by Shinseki and the White House about VA efforts cutting the backlog in half. CNN’s report cited up to 40 veterans’ deaths as attributable to not being seen in time at health facilities, with thousands more left waiting for care while VA officials racked up bonuses by appearing to move cut the backlog.

Heading into the midterms, the GOP has been trying to use the controversy as the latest reminder of what they say is a dysfunctional, failed Obama administration — which they’re looking to hang on Democratic Senate and House candidates across the country.

Filling the spot won’t be easy. Between the depth of the problems and the scrutiny over fixing them, there’s no clear path to success.

Obama’s statement came immediately after what the president had earlier described as a “serious conversation” he had planned to have with Shinseki about the secretary’s “capacity” to adequately handle the problems in the department.

“I’ll have a serious conversation with him about whether he thinks he’s prepared and has the capacity to take on the job of fixing it, because I don’t want any veteran to not be getting the kind of services they deserve,” the president said during the excerpt of an interview with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan that was taped on Thursday and aired on Friday.

Shinseki on Friday delivered to the president an internal audit on the situation at the VA.

Obama had come under increasing pressure to fire Shinseki over the VA scandal. An interim inspector general report released this week detailed “systemic” problems in the department, prompting a flurry of lawmakers on the left and right to call for the secretary’s resignation. The IG review came after reports that said at least 40 veterans died while waiting for health care in the Phoenix VA system.

During a speech earlier Friday morning at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans annual conference in Washington, Shinseki had apologized for what he acknowledged were systemic problems inside the VA health system but gave no sign he would step aside amid calls for his resignation.

Shinseki said then that he was removing the leadership of the Phoenix VA center that has been ground zero of the scandal, suspending bonuses for senior leaders and endorsing action by Congress to enhance VA’s ability to fire some workers.

“This situation can be fixed,” he said.

The secretary also acknowledged that it has been a “challenging” time for the department.

“The past few weeks have been challenging for everyone at VA because we take caring for veterans so very seriously,” he said near the beginning of his remarks. “We’ve done tremendous work together these past five years.”

Fox News Finds A Way To Blame Obama For Conservative Filmmaker’s Confession To Breaking The Law

megyn kelly d'souza

Think Progress

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly had conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza on her show for his first interview after he pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance law. Calling it a sympathetic interview would be an understatement, because Kelly used nearly the entire time to suggest that President Obama is the real person to blame.

“[T]he Obama administration gets to call one of its top critics a convicted felon,” Kelly began the segment. “Is this what they wanted all along?” In January, D’Souza was indicted for illegal donations to a Republican’s campaign, where he used fake donors to exceed donation limits.

“Your defense in this case was not I didn’t do it,” Kelly said. “It was, I didn’t do it with intent, I didn’t do it with the right requisite of mind, and it’s selective prosecution of the government who doesn’t go after anybody for this kind of crime except coincidentally one of the president’s biggest critics.”

Watch part of the interview:

An array of Fox News hosts have come to the conservative activist’s defense in the past, including Sean Hannity calling him a “victim,” The Five panning the charges as liberals “redescovering their inner Stalin,” and Neil Cavuto calling it “conservatives under attack.” But that was before D’Souza pleaded guilty himself to the charges in federal court, admitting he “knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids.” Kelly’s interview only made one passing mention of the fact that D’Souza had actually knowingly broke the law. Kelly asked him, “why’d you do it.”

“I shouldn’t have done it,” he said.

Cenk Uygur Flips Off GOP, Fox over Benghazi (Explicit Language)

Cenk Uygur


The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur is getting sick and tired of Fox News and the Republican Party focusing so much on Benghazi, launching into an incredibly profane tirade last night telling them to maybe focus on bigger Obama administration problems and shouting “Fuck you, move the fuck on!”

Uygur started out by saying he is “so fucking bored by this.” He made it clear he’s been critical of the White House on Benghazi in the past, and believes they likely fudged talking points here and there, but in the grand scheme of problems the Obama administration has, this doesn’t crack the top five.

He cried, “Get the fuck outta here with Benghazi! It’s a tiny little fucking thing, man! ‘Oh, they changed it from ‘attacks’ to ‘demonstrations.’ Who gives a fuck about that?! Move the fuck on already, man!”

Uygur turned the table on Republicans, asking, “How about the fucking nearly 3000 people who died under your fucking watch?!” He said the “gross incompetence of the fucking Republicans” should at least have warranted Benghazi levels of curiosity and told the rest of the media to just “stop talking about what Fox News is talking about!”

Watch the video below, via The Young Turks:

House GOP Leaders Take Up The Banner Of Obamacare Trutherism


AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Anything to cast aspersion on the POTUS’ signature achievement.  Looks like a simple case of ACA envy to me…


“After two delays by the Administration, on March 31st Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges ended open enrollment with a purported 7.1 million signed up,” McCarthy’s release begins. “President Obama declared that ‘the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.’ But this is hardly the end of the story.”

McCarthy’s office then outlined five data points it wanted to know about, alleging that the Obama administration “has refused to provide key information that would shed light on the true number of enrollees.” Those are:

  • How many effectuated enrollment (signed up and paid a premium)
  • How many paid their first month’s premium but not their second or third
  • How many were previously uninsured
  • How many young and healthy signed up (affecting rates)
  • How many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud)

At least two of those have been explicitly explained in the enrollment reports released by the Obama administration — and updated data will presumably be included in the March report expected Thursday.The February enrollment report included information on the last two: the demographics of enrollees and data on how many were eligible for financial assistance. First, 25 percent of the 4.2 million people who had enrolled through February were ages 18 to 34, the crucial “young and healthy” group. Second, 83 percent of those who signed up for a plan were eligible for financial help.

On the premium question, the administration has insisted that, because people pay insurance companies directly, only insurers have that information. Outside estimates have put the number at 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid. As for how many enrollees were previously uninsured, HealthCare.gov and most of the state websites didn’t collect that particular data point. Independent estimates put the number at one-third or so, although it seems that the uninsured comprised a bigger share of the late enrollment surge. They were also covered via Medicaid, which isn’t included in the 7 million number.

The question about whether people paid their second and third premiums appears new, and it’s unclear why that has now become a concern for the GOP.

Some of these questions are not wholly without basis. The demographics of Obamacare enrollees are important for the law’s long-term fiscal sustainability. People do need to pay their premiums for their coverage to take effect. One of the law’s stated goals was covering the uninsured.

But the framing of the House GOP’s release — “Debunking Obamacare’s 7 million Enrollees ‘Success’ Story”, insinuating that “the true number of enrollees” isn’t known — makes clear that its goal is to undermine the law’s unexpected patch of good news since open enrollment ended.

TPM raised these issues with McCarthy’s office, which still asserted that the administration “cannot let the American public know how many were previously uninsured, how many actually signed up for coverage they need, and how many weren’t kicked off of coverage they previously enjoyed.”

“Just because they gave us some data two months ago does not mean they gave us any clear and final data on enrollment when the President trumpeted the law as a success in the Rose Garden on live television,” Mike Long, a McCarthy spokesman, said in an email. “To proclaim ‘Mission Accomplished’ based solely on the number of clicks, without regard of knowing how those 7.1 million were affected, makes light of the seriousness that is health coverage of Americans.”

“House Republican leadership and various Committees have requested this information through hearings and by passing legislation. We’ve been stonewalled each time.”

Fox News Pundit Shuts Down Network’s Hysteria Over Benghazi: ‘It’s Gone, Baby. It’s In Your Head’

Juan Williams

Fox News contributor, Juan Williams

It’s about time Juan Williams stop playing a “shill” and stand up to Fox News’ pundits.

Think Progress

Fox News’ Juan Williams tersely dismissed the GOP’s year-long effort to implicate the Obama administration in a so-called “cover-up” of the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sep. 11, 2012, telling off a panelist who suggested that the debate over the incident was still ongoing.

During a heated discussion on Fox News Sunday, former Bush administration official Karl Rove regurgitated GOP claims that “someone constructed a lie” that the incident resulted from “a spontaneous reaction to a video no one saw” and suggested Obama refused to scramble necessary military assets to save the U.S. personnel. Conservative commentator Brit Hume agreed, adding, “the list of questions that remain unanswered to this day are what make this a legitimate topic of conversation. I’m sorry to say this is not over.”

Williams disputed these charges point by point and explained that months of Republican-led Congressional hearings had been unable to uncover any evidence of a cover up. “It’s gone, baby. It’s in your head. That’s the only place,” he added. Watch it:

Rick Perry Seeks Obamacare Funding For Texans – While Continuing Attack On Obamacare

rick perry obamacare funding

Texas Gov. Rick Perry continues his strident attack on Obamacare as he seeks funding under the law for Texans. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)


The Huffington Post

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), a longstanding Obamacare critic, is negotiating a $100 million health care deal with the Obama administration, Politico reported on Tuesday.

The Community First Choice Program, aimed at improving the quality of health services for the elderly and disabled, was approved by the Texas legislature earlier this year. Perry health aides are now looking to the Obama administration for funding.

Perry has been a strident Obamacare critic from the beginning, but his spokesman explained that the funding pitch is about aiding people with disabilities, independent of a health insurance mandate.

“Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people, Texas was implementing policies to provide those with intellectual disabilities more community options to enable them to live more independent lives, at a lower cost to taxpayers,” Havens said in a statement. “The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare.”

According to Politico, 12,000 Texans are expected to benefit from the program in its first year, beginning in September 2014.


Obama Administration Becomes The Third To Install Solar Panels On White House Grounds

Think Progress

The White House will soon be one of the newest — and certainly most high profile — home in D.C. with solar panels.

A White House official confirmed to the Washington Post Thursday that installation had begun on fitting the President’s residence with solar panels, an effort the official said was “part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.” The panels will be American-made, though the official did not confirm which company they would be purchased from.

The Obama administration announced in Oct. 2010 that it would install 20 to 50 solar panels on the residence after a campaign headed by 350.org and solar company Sungevity urged the president, along with other world leaders, to add solar panels to government buildings.

On Thursday, 350.org leader Bill McKibben commended the president on the move, despite the nearly three years it took for installation to begin.

“Better late than never — in truth, no one should ever have taken down the panels Jimmy Carter put on the roof way back in 1979,” McKibben said. “But it’s very good to know that once again the country’s most powerful address will be drawing some of that power from the sun.”

Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the White House roof when he was president in the late 1970s. When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, one of hisfirst actions as president was to have the panels, which his chief-of-staff allegedly said Reagan felt were “just a joke,” removed. The panels ended up at Unity College in Maine, where they were installed on the roof of the school’s cafeteria.

But as famous as the Carter installation — and subsequent Reagan removal — was, it was George W. Bush administration that installed the first active solar electric system at the White House (Carter’s panels were largely symbolic, though they were used for heating water). In 2002, multiple solar grids were installed on the White House grounds. The installation was done quietly, with far less fanfare than Carter’s, but the panels provided energy to several White House operations. According to a New York Times article from 2003, “a grid of 167 solar panels on the roof of a maintenance shed has been delivering electricity to the White House grounds. Another solar installation has been helping to provide hot water. Yet another has been keeping the water warm in the presidential pool.”

It’s unclear still how much power the Obama administration’s solar panels will provide to the White House, but the White House official said the panels will help which will help “demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades,” and that the panels are estimated to pay for themselves in energy savings within eight years.

Obama pledged during his June climate speech at Georgetown University that the federal government would consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and admittedly, 20 to 50 solar panels won’t contribute a substantial amount to that goal. But the administration’s decision to begin installation now is well-timed: a new report has found Americans who want to install solar power on their households are facing record-low costs, so Americans who might be inspired to install solar panels themselves can do so historically inexpensively.


A Brief History of White House Solar Panels

1. 1979 – President Jimmy Carter Installs 1st White House Solar Panels

The White House

President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the presidential mansion amid the Arab oil embargo, which had caused a national energy crisis. The Democratic president called for a campaign to conservative energy and, to set an example to the American people, ordered the solar panels erected in 1979, according to the White House Historical Association.

Carter predicted that “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

2. 1981 – President Ronald Reagan Orders Solar Panels on the White House Removed

The White House

President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, and one of his first moves was to order the solar panels removed. It was clear Reagan had a completely different take on energy consumption. “Reagan’s political philosophy viewed the free market as the best arbiter of what was good for the country. Corporate self-interest, he felt, would steer the country in the right direction,” the author Natalie Goldstein wrote in “Global Warming.”

George Charles Szego, the engineer who persuaded Carter to install the solar panels, reportedly claimed that Reagan Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan “felt that the equipment was just a joke, and he had it taken down.” The panels were removed in 1986 when work was being done on the White House roof below the panels.

3. 1992 – White House Solar Panels Moved to Maine College

Jimmy Carter Library

Half of the solar panels that once generated energy at the White House were installed on the roof of the cafeteria at Maine’s Unity College, according to Scientific American. The panels were used to warm water in summer and winter.


4. 2010 – President Barack Obama Orders Solar Panels Reinstalled on White House

The White House

President Barack Obama, who made environmental issues a focus of his presidency, planned to install solar panels on the White House by spring of 2011. He also announced he will also install a solar hot water heater on top of the living quarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

“By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the president is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States,” said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Administration officials said they expected the photovoltaic system will convert sunlight into 19,700 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.


‘He’s 47 percent Negro’: Anti-Obama Arizona protest turns racist

Anti-Obama protesters in Arizona use racist language [KNXV-TV]


So, when does this end?  When he has completed his term?  Perhaps, as some have speculated, those exhibiting Obama Derangement Syndrome will make it their life’s work to discredit every productive act he has been credited for during his time in office.

The Raw Story

A protest against an appearance by President Barack Obama in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday was marked by several instances of racist language directed at Obama, theArizona Republic reported.

“He’s 47 percent Negro,” 77-year-old Ron Enderle shouted at one point, later telling the Republicthat he was “ashamed” to have Obama as Commander-in-Chief.

According to the Republic, at one point critics of Obama sang “Bye Bye Black Sheep” and at least one sign in the crowd read “Impeach the Half-White Muslim.”

While Obama’s appearance at Desert Vista High School dealt with mortgage finance reform, one demonstrator told KNXV-TV that she didn’t think the president could solve that situation.

“I’ve got friends that they had to give their homes up because they have to go to foreclosure, and that’s not right,” Terri Ballway said to KNXV.

But while the demonstration also drew opponents of the Obama administration’s heavy deportation policy against undocumented immigrants and the Keystone XL pipeline, there were also supporters of the president in the crowd.

“He’s already helped me tremendously, personally because my daughter is a freshman in college and she was able to get the one-time money, and also my son is able to continue his health insurance until he’s 26 years old,” another resident, Delia Donlon, told KMSB-TV.

Watch KNXV’s report on the demonstrations both for and against Obama, aired Tuesday.