Monday, July 21, 2014

Read: President Obama's statement on Ukraine and Gaza

The following was released by the White House (unedited here) 
 THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  I want to make a brief statement about the tragedy in Ukraine.  Before I do, though, I want to note that Secretary Kerry has departed for the Middle East.  As I’ve said many times, Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas.  And as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.  I’ve also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.  And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.


     So Secretary Kerry will meet with allies and partners.  I’ve instructed him to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.  The work will not be easy.  Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved.  Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation to hostilities.  We don’t want to see any more civilians getting killed.


     With respect to Ukraine, it’s now been four days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.  Over the last several days, our hearts have been absolutely broken as we’ve learned more about the extraordinary and beautiful lives that were lost -- men, women and children and infants who were killed so suddenly and so senselessly.


Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families around the world who are going through just unimaginable grief.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a number of leaders around the world whose citizens were lost on this flight, and all of them remain in a state of shock but, frankly, also in a state of outrage. 


     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. 


Now, international investigators are on the ground.  They have been organized.  I’ve sent teams; other countries have sent teams.  They are prepared, they are organized to conduct what should be the kinds of protocols and scouring and collecting of evidence that should follow any international incident like this.  And what they need right now is immediate and full access to the crash site.  They need to be able to conduct a prompt and full and unimpeded as well as transparent investigation.  And recovery personnel have to do the solemn and sacred work on recovering the remains of those who were lost.


Ukrainian President Poroshenko has declared a demilitarized zone around the crash site.  As I said before, you have international teams already in place prepared to conduct the investigation and recover the remains of those who have been lost.  But, unfortunately, the Russian-backed separatists who control the area continue to block the investigation.  They have repeatedly prevented international investigators from gaining full access to the wreckage.  As investigators approached, they fired their weapons into the air.  These separatists are removing evidence from the crash site, all of which begs the question -- what exactly are they trying to hide?


Moreover, these Russian-backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site, oftentimes without the care that we would normally expect from a tragedy like this.  And this is an insult to those who have lost loved ones.  This is the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations.


Now, Russia has extraordinary influence over these separatists.  No one denies that.  Russia has urged them on.  Russia has trained them.  We know that Russia has armed them with military equipment and weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons.  Key separatist leaders are Russian citizens.  So given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia and President Putin, in particular, has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation.  That is the least that they can do. 


President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation.  And I appreciate those words, but they have to be supported by actions.  The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site.  The separatists and the Russian sponsors are responsible for the safety of the investigators doing their work.  And along with our allies and partners, we will be working this issue at the United Nations today. 


More broadly, as I’ve said throughout this crisis and the crisis in Ukraine generally, and I’ve said this directly to President Putin, as well as publicly, my preference continues to be finding a diplomatic resolution within Ukraine.  I believe that can still happen.  That is my preference today, and it will continue to be my preference.


But if Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and to back these separatists, and these separatists become more and more dangerous and now are risks not simply to the people inside of Ukraine but the broader international community, then Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community, and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase. 


Now is the time for President Putin and Russia to pivot away from the strategy that they’ve been taking and get serious about trying to resolve hostilities within Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and respects the right of the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions about their own lives.


And time is of the essence.  Our friends and allies need to be able to recover those who were lost.  That's the least we can do.  That's the least that decency demands.  Families deserve to be able to lay their loved ones to rest with dignity.  The world deserves to know exactly what happened.  And the people of Ukraine deserve to determine their own future. 



Remarks by President Obama at signing of executive order on LGBT workplace discrimination

The following is a press release from the White House today (unedited here - scroll to the bottom to read the order Obama signed)
THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome to the White House, everybody.  I know I'm a little late.  But that's okay because we've got some big business to do here. 


Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming.  You organized, you spoke up, you signed petitions, you sent letters -- I know because I got a lot of them.  (Laughter.) And now, thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government -- government of the people, by the people, and for the people -- will become just a little bit fairer.


AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen.  (Applause.) 


THE PRESIDENT:  It doesn’t make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are --  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.  And that’s wrong.  We’re here to do what we can to make it right -- to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction. 


In a few moments, I will sign an executive order that does two things.  First, the federal government already prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Once I sign this order, the same will be explicitly true for gender identity.  (Applause.)   


And second, we’re going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.  (Applause.)    America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people. 


Now, this executive order is part of a long bipartisan tradition.  President Roosevelt signed an order prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry.  President Eisenhower strengthened it.  President Johnson expanded it.  Today, I'm going to expand it again. 


Currently, 18 states have already banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  And over 200 cities and localities have done the same.  Governor Terry McAuliffe is here; his first act as governor was to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  (Applause.)  Where did Terry go?  Right back here. 


I’ve appointed a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public servants to positions across my administration.  They are ambassadors and federal judges, special assistants, senior advisors from the Pentagon to the Labor Department.  Every day, their talent is put to work on behalf of the American people.


Equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business.  That’s why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place.  It is not just about doing the right thing -- it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent.  And there are several business leaders who are here today who will attest to that. 


And yet, despite all that, in too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense.  There are people here today who’ve lost their jobs for that reason.  This is not speculative, this is not a matter of political correctness -- people lose their jobs as a consequence of this.  Their livelihoods are threatened, their families are threatened.  In fact, more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers.  So I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American. 


Now, Congress has spent 40 years -- four decades -- considering legislation that would help solve the problem.  That's a long time.  And yet they still haven’t gotten it done.  Senators Terry [Tammy] Baldwin and Jeff Merkley are here.  They have been champions of this issue for a long, long time.  We are very proud of them.  I know they will not stop fighting until fair treatment for all workers is the federal law of the land.  Everyone thanks them for that.  (Applause.)   


But I’m going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act.  The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all.




THE PRESIDENT:  Amen.  Amen.  (Applause.)  Got the “amen” corner here.  (Laughter.)  Well -- (sings) -- (laughter.)  You don't want to get me preaching, now.  (Laughter.)     


For more than two centuries, we have strived, often at great cost, to form “a more perfect union” -- to make sure that “we, the people” applies to all the people.  Many of us are only here because others fought to secure rights and opportunities for us. And we’ve got a responsibility to do the same for future generations.  We’ve got an obligation to make sure that the country we love remains a place where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started out, or what your last name is, or who you love -- no matter what, you can make it in this country. 


That’s the story of America.  That’s the story of this movement.  I want to thank all of you for doing your part.  We've got a long way to go, but I hope as everybody looks around this room, you are reminded of the extraordinary progress that we have made not just in our lifetimes, but in the last five years.  In the last two years.  (Applause.)  In the last one year.  (Applause.)  We're on the right side of history. 


I’m going to sign this executive order.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)


(The executive order is signed.)


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

DeLauro co-sponsors bill in reaction to Hobby Lobby case

In a press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, her office announced that  legislation responding to the Hobby Lobby decision has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

"The Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 would prohibit for-profit employers who maintain group health plans for their employees from using religious beliefs to deny employees coverage of any vital health service required by federal law," the release said.

DeLauro "is an original co-sponsor of legislation responding to the Supreme Court's decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Burwell." the release said.

"Last week the United States Supreme Court put corporate desires before the needs of women and families, which is the exact opposite of the Affordable Care Act's intent. Women should be able to make their own health care decisions regardless of where they work and without interference from their bosses. This bill protects employees' rights to health services that an independent, non-partisan body has deemed crucial. It needs to be the law of the land."

The release also said: "The bill keeps in place the existing exemption for religious employers, such as houses of worship, and accommodation for religious non-profits that do not wish to provide contraception."

"Ninety-nine percent of sexually-active women use birth control at least once in their lifetimes, and 58 percent of oral contraceptive users cite non-contraceptive health benefits as reasons for using the pill. Fourteen percent of birth control pill users, more than 1,500,000 women, rely on birth control pills for only non-contraceptive purpose" Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.

McCaskill announces 'Campus Sexual Assault Survey Findings'

The results of "a first-of-its-kind national survey on campus sexual assaults" were announced Wednesday by U.S. Senator and former sex crimes prosecutor Claire McCaskill.

"The massive survey of schools will demonstrate exactly how colleges and universities handle rapes and sexual assaults on campuses—focusing on if and how such crimes are reported and investigated, how students are notified about available services, and the effectiveness of federal oversight and enforcement."

Read the report here:

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Connecticut will have 23 primaries across the state on Aug. 12

In a press release, Sec. of the State Denise Merrill announced registered Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut will be able to vote Aug. 12, "in at least 23 primaries for state elections."

"Republican primaries will be held for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and State Comptroller, as well as a number of state legislative seats and local offices such as Judge of Probate and Registrar of Voters.  Registered Democrats, depending on their geographic location, will be able to cast ballots in primaries for various state house and senate seats, Judge of Probate, and Registrar of Voters," the release said.

Tom Foley and John McKinney are the Republican candidates for governor. (Scroll down to see the full list of candidates in the primaries)

The release also noted: "There is no statewide Democratic primary on the ballot in 2014, nor is there any primary for federal office.  A list of primaries on the ballot for August 12, 2014 can be found below."
“It is important that voters are fully aware of the primaries taking place on August 12th,” Merrill said, also in the release. “We in Connecticut have a number of open seats in our General Assembly on both sides of the aisle, and many candidates lining up to replace outgoing legislators. I encourage registered Democrats and Republicans to find out about the candidates and make their voices heard on primary day by casting ballots.  Critical issues such as our economy and our state budget are at stake and will be impacted by the decisions made by those we choose to represent us in Hartford.  The more than 800,000 unaffiliated voters in Connecticut should also know they can take part in choosing Democratic or Republican candidates by enrolling with either party by August 11th at noon.”
Go to to learn how to register to vote, check registration status, find polling location, download absentee ballot applications, and view candidate lists.
The release also noted the deadline to register to vote in the Aug, 12 primary: Online voter registration and mail-in registration cards must be received by local Registrars of Voters by August 7.
"Voting age citizens and 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the general election can also register in-person at town offices until Monday, August 11th at 12:00 p.m. "
Unaffiliated voters face those same deadlines if they wish to enroll with a party in order to vote in the primaries. Any eligible voter can also register online at
Polls will be open for registered Democrats and Republicans on Primary Day in Connecticut August 12, 2014 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Per the release, these primaries reported to the Office of the Secretary of the State will be on the ballot on August 12(* denotes party endorsed candidate):



*Thomas C. Foley
John P. McKinney
Lieutenant Governor
*Penny Bacchiochi
Heather Somers
David M. Walker
*Sharon J. McLaughlin
Angel Cadena
State Senate – 2
*Shawn Wooden
Eric D. Coleman
Len Walker
State Senate – 20
*Elizabeth B. Ritter
William L. Satti
State Senate – 22
*Anthony J. Musto
Marilyn Moore
State Senate – 23
*Andres Ayala, Jr.
Scott Hughes
Assembly District – 7
*Douglas McCroy
Donna Thompson-Daniel
Assembly District – 23
*Devin R. Carney
Vicki Lanier
Assembly District – 32
*Kathleen G. Richards
Anthony “Tony” Salvatore
Assembly District – 44
*Christine Rosati
Michael Cartier
Assembly District – 47
No Endorsement
Doug Dubitsky
Noah Enslow
Michael P. Meadows
Assembly District – 48
*Linda A. Orange
Jason Paul
Assembly District – 64
*Brian Ohler
Mark Lauretano
Assembly District – 122
*Ben McGorty
Michael C. Vickerelli
Assembly District – 124
*Ernie Newton
Andre Baker
Assembly District – 128
*Christopher Rosario
Christina Ayala
Dennis Bradley
Teresa Davidson
Assembly District – 133
*Cristin McCarthy Vahey
Matt Waggner
Assembly District – 137
*David Watts
Chris Perone
Assembly District – 140
*Bruce Morris
Warren Pena
Assembly District – 142
*Emily Wilson
Fred Wilms
Probate District Plainfield – Killingly – 27
*Andrea Truppa
Anna Zubkova
Probate District Madison – Guilford – 34
*William Bilcheck
Gail S. Kotowski
Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Read Connecticut Supreme Court ruling on release of police information to public and media

According to The Associated Press: "The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that police statewide only have to release basic information about arrests to the public while prosecutions are pending, striking a blow to the media."

Read the court's full ruling here:

Connecticut Commission Public Safety vs FOI 312CR46

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Tom Foley cmpaign first ad of 2014 features his family

In a campaign press release, Today Tom Foley, party-endorsed Republican candidate for governor, released the campaign's first ad of the 2014 election cycle.  

The ad's  script according to the release, is:

Leslie: I’ve never met a more thoughtful, effective person than Tom Foley

Tom’s incredibly smart, he can fix anything

He’s a regular guy, whose ideas and humor bring people together

Tom’s an optimist who gets things done

He’s a great dad, who would make a great Governor

Tom: I’m Tom Foley; Connecticut’s problems can be fixed with smarter policies and new direction

Nobody should be doing better than right here in Connecticut

It’s time to restore prosperity and optimism in our great state.

I’m Tom Foley and I approve this message

  Foley faces state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, in an Aug, 12 GOP primary.