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Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Stevie Wonder is presented with his award by U.S. President Barack Obama during an evening of celebration in honor of musician Stevie Wonder's receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in the East Room of the White House February 25, 2009 in Washington, DC.
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Program Note: Tune in to hear more on the budget tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Welcome to my first blog post at the Office of Management and Budget.
In this blog, I want to open up OMB even more to the public and share with you what we’re doing to address the many challenges that we face as a nation. I know that, for many people, blogs are the easiest way of receiving information – so this blog may prove to be useful even if it simply provides a convenient way of keeping up with information from OMB that is already available in other formats. President Obama is committed to ensuring a direct link between citizens and our federal government. Especially in light of our difficult economic times, I am committed to ensuring that OMB’s work is accessible. Although OMB is extensively discussed in the media and elsewhere, the blog will allow me to communicate and explain our work directly.
Today, we’re releasing the overview of the President’s Fiscal Year 2010 Budget.
The context: Twin trillion dollar deficits
So, President Obama releases his budget today. Having been an unofficial consultant on the project because of my uncanny resemblance to Alan Greenspan, I can tell you that the budget is quite sound. I don’t want to completely steal the president’s thunder, but I think you folks in Milwaukee are going to enjoy Beyoncé International Airport.
It was an exciting process to be sure but, let me tell you, you don’t realize how big the federal budget is until you see it first-hand. “It’s as big as a phone book," said Vice President Biden. And I was like, "What's a phone book?"
You’ll be glad to know that, true to President Obama’s pledge, it’s a bi-partisan budget. For every hundred million dollars spent on pashminas for Nancy Pelosi, an equal amount will be spent on Crocs for Orrin Hatch.
Editor's Note: Dr. Eboo Patel, Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and Member of the White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will testify today before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on strategies for “Engaging With Muslim Communities Around the World.”
Interfaith Youth Core
The Washington Post
There is a foreign element threatening America. He believes the Qur'an promotes violence. He creates videos of Muslims committing terrorist acts and hopes mainstream media plays them. He is committed to the clash of civilizations - Islam vs. the West. Britain, our primary ally, denied him entry, claiming he was a threat to public order. Now he wants to come here.
This foreign element does not speak Arabic. He does not pray five times a day. He does not have a beard. He is not even a Muslim. He is Geert Wilders, a Member of Parliament from a right-wing party in the Netherlands. Why he's so interested in amplifying Osama bin Laden's message that Islam promotes violence and division I don't know.
And why he's being invited to screen his offensive film Fitna in the ornate LBJ room in the U.S. Capitol confuses me too. My friend Keith Ellison, an African-American Congressman from Minnesota and a Muslim, compared it to screening the horribly racist film The Birth of the Nation in the White House.
CNN Financial News Producer
The total number of Americans drawing unemployment benefits has hit a new record high of 5.1 million.
New claims for benefits rose unexpectedly to 667,000 in the week ended Feb. 21 - holding at a 26-year high. But the number of people receiving unemployment checks for one week or more - known as “continuing claims” - rose to a record 5,112,000 in the week ended Feb. 14. That’s an increase of 114,000 from the preceding week and the highest number since the government started keeping records back in 1967.
New home sales fell 10% in January, sinking to the lowest level on record.
From Rep. Loretta Sanchez
When President Obama gave his address to Congress Tuesday night, I thought he did a great job outlining his plan to get the American economy back on track and restore much-needed fiscal discipline to Washington.
I was especially moved by his challenge to the American people: to complete at least one year of education or training after high school, with the goal of putting the U.S. back on top of the world in 2010. My mother and father instilled in my siblings and me the critical importance of education early on, but not all families do this. That is why it is the responsibility of our communities and our government to not only emphasize the importance of higher education, but to also make it a possibility for every American. I’m glad President Obama has chosen to make these priorities a central part of his agenda.
President Obama was also honest about the great economic challenges that lie ahead of us – many of these unprecedented. And just like the President, I know our great nation will once again recover from the mess we are in. We can debate who and what is responsible until we are blue in the face. But what matters most at this point is how we are going to go about recovering, and achieve the best solutions.
Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”
In Session Anchor
Black History Month 2009 ends this week, after an incredible year of triumph. Barack Obama became the nation’s first African-American president (200 years after the birth of the president who freed the slaves); and he’s brought with him to Washington the first African-American attorney general to head the Department of Justice, long charged with securing the civil rights of black folk, but never before under the leadership of one.
Inside the White House, black women are serving in key positions. Of course, there is the first lady, but there others as well, including a senior advisor to the president and the social secretary, an office steeped in tradition.
Even before this, there have been signs of great progress. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell before that, and countless others in public and private life fulfilling Dr. King’s dream. Even the Republican Party is reaching out to black folks; Michael Steele has become chairman of the Republican National Committee.
But the dream is not yet fulfilled.
We live in a country that is warehousing African-Americans in prison; by some estimates as many as 200,000 young black men are behind bars. We still have lynchings in this country. We have schools that are still segregated despite laws that require they not be, schools that are so poorly funded we end up leaving generations of black children behind. Change comes; but it comes slowly.
So, while we celebrate the accomplishments of black folk, we must continue also to speak honestly about the challenges that remain. We have come a long way. But we still have a long way to go.
The date: Friday, February 20, 2009. The time: 12:20pm.
The setting: another ordinary day in Van Nuys, California.
At that moment, a surveillance camera records two men crossing from the sunlight into the shadows along Victory Boulevard.
They are engaged in friendly conversation. They seem to be smiling and laughing. The one wearing a dark suit and white shirt tucks his hands inside his coat pockets. The other is clad in jeans and a long sleeve sweater. Both have sunglasses on as they approach the Bijan Jewelry store.
A second security camera captures the two peering into the window. The man in jeans appears to press the buzzer. He then takes a few steps away from the storefront before circling back to his buddy, who barely budges on the sidewalk. They wait a few seconds more before the door opens and they enter the empty showroom.