Full Text Obama Presidency October 30, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Health Care Law, on the Affordable Care Act at Faneuil Hall, Boston

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and Governor Deval Patrick on the Affordable Care Act

Source: WH, 10-30-13

 

U.S. President Barack Obama

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on healthcare at Faneuil Hall in Boston on Oct. 30, 2013.

Faneuil Hall
Boston, Massachusetts

3:50 P.M. EDT

GOVERNOR PATRICK:  How are you?  Good afternoon, everybody.  (Applause.)  How’s Red Sox Nation this afternoon?  (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, fellow citizens, I have the high honor of introducing to you the President of the United States.  (Applause.)  But, of course, you folks already know him.  (Laughter.)  So as the President is standing just offstage, I want to take my time here at the podium — (laughter) — to introduce all of you to him.

In this storied hall today, Mr. President, are the architects and advocates for health care reform in Massachusetts. (Applause.)  This gathering right here is the broad coalition — providers, payers, patients, consumers, policymakers, academics, business and labor, from both political parties, or no party at all — who came together to invent health care reform in Massachusetts and then, importantly, stuck together to refine it as we moved forward.  (Applause.)

You are the leaders who, when we learned a hard lesson or hit a wall, stuck with it and with each other because of the shared value that health care is a public good and that every citizen deserves access to quality, affordable care.  (Applause.)

Quality, affordable care accessible to all improves lives, and in many cases, saves lives.  It gives peace of mind and economic security to working families.  It increases productivity for large and small employers alike.  It creates jobs and contributes to the strength of the Massachusetts economy.  It is a powerful statement of who we are as a commonwealth.  (Applause.)

And by every reasonable measure, it has been a success for us here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  (Applause.)  How do we know?  Virtually, every resident in the commonwealth is insured today.  (Applause.)  More private companies offer insurance to their employees than ever before.  Over 90 percent of our residents have a primary care physician.  Preventive care is up and health disparities are down.  (Applause.)  Most important of all, on a whole range of measures, we are healthier both physically and mentally.

Over all these years, expansion itself has added only about 1 percent of state spending to our budget.  And thanks to the collective, continued hard work of this coalition, premiums are finally easing up.  Premium base rates were increasing over 16 percent just a few years ago.  Today, increases average less than 2 percent.  (Applause.)

And thanks to the President, America can look forward to the successes that Massachusetts has experienced these last seven years.  (Applause.)

The truth is policy only matters when and where it touches people.  I know this policy matters because I’ve met people all across the commonwealth, in every walk of life, whose lives have been improved or saved because of the care our reforms made possible.  A couple of them are here today.

Laura Ferreira — where are you, Laura?  There you are.  Owns her own hair salon and is responsible for providing health insurance to her family of five, including her son, Mason, who’s right here with her.  Mason has a rare genetic condition.  Laura is able to afford his medicine because they found coverage through our Connecter, our version of the ACA marketplace.  This policy matters.  (Applause.)

David Gilloran works as a waiter.  Where are you David?  There you are.  Thank you for being here.  Soon after getting coverage through the Connector, David was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  His treatment was covered, and he is back to his old life and swimming for exercise.  God bless you, David.  (Applause.)

Brian Thurber left his law firm job to become an entrepreneur in Massachusetts.  Brian, where are you?  There he is.  Because he was able to access quality insurance directly through the Connector, he is chasing his entrepreneurial dreams and on his way to becoming a creator of jobs for others without  — being exposed to a health emergency along the way.  Keep going.  Good luck to you.  (Applause.)

Hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts people don’t fear going bankrupt from medical bills, or being thrown off their insurance if they get really sick, or being declared ineligible for insurance because they were seriously ill sometime in the past.

If policy matters where it touches people, Mr. President, this policy matters a lot.  Health care reform is working for the people of Massachusetts, and it will work for the people of America.  (Applause.)

My Republican predecessor signed the legislation to expand health care reform in Massachusetts right here in this room, on this very stage.  His chief legislative partner was the Democratic state senator, Robert Travaglini, who was here then and is here today.  Where are you, Trav?  Thank you.  (Applause.)

So was our beloved Ted Kennedy.  So were many of the members of the coalition who are here again today.  And they have worked right alongside my team and me these last seven years to refine and improve the means while staying true to the ends.  I am proud of what we and they have accomplished, and I think they’re proud, too, and ought to be.  (Applause.)

But our launch seven years ago was not flawless.  (Laughter.)  We asked an IT staffer who has been at our Connector since the beginning what the start of implementing reform was like.  And this is what he said, and I’m quoting:  “We didn’t have a complicated eligibility process back then, but we did have outages caused by traffic peaks.  We experienced some issues with data mapping of plan detail that carriers called us on.  Our provider searches were not good, and the website was a constant work in progress over the first few years.  But other than that, it was smooth.”  (Laughter.)

Any of this sound familiar, Mr. President?

So we started out with a website that needed work.  We had a lot of people with a lot of reasonable questions and not a good enough way to get them the answers.  But people were patient, we had good leadership, and that same coalition stuck with it and with us to work through the fixes, tech surge and all.  Why?  Why?  Because health reform in Massachusetts, like the Affordable Care Act, is not a website.  It’s a values statement.  (Applause.)  It’s about insuring people against a medical catastrophe.  It’s about being our brothers’ and our sisters’ keeper by helping others help themselves.

The website glitches are inconvenient and annoying.  They must be fixed and I am confident they will be.  But I hope you know, Mr. President, that the same folks who pretend to be outraged about the website not working didn’t want the ACA to work in the first place.  (Applause.)  The urgency of fixing what’s not working is, as we all know, about the American people who need simple, reliable and convenient access to information about coverage — not about silencing critics who will never be silenced.

You and the Congress looked to Massachusetts, Mr. President, as a model for how to insure working people, and through that, how to help them lead better, more productive lives.  As you turn to the vital work of making that federal IT system work, we also want to be a model for how to keep your eye on the prize, and how, working together, you put people first.  (Applause.)  The people here, all in this coalition, totally get that.

So, Mr. President, welcome to the capital of Red Sox Nation. (Applause.)  And welcome, also, to the future of affordable, accessible health care for everybody.  (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Boston!  (Applause.)  It’s good to be back in Boston.  (Applause.)  It’s good to be back in Boston because one of America’s best governors introduced me — Deval Patrick.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

It’s good to see Congressman Bill Keating here.  Give Bill a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  I want to praise somebody who’s not here — I just left him — but he wears his heart on his sleeve.  He loves this city so much, and it shows in what he’s been doing for years now — one of America’s best mayors, Tom Menino.  (Applause.)

And it’s good to see all of you.  I was just at the airport — Deval was kind enough to meet me, along with Mayor Menino.  And Mayor Menino went back to city hall to work so he could wrap up in time for the first pitch.  I understand that.  (Laughter.) I am well aware that a presidential visit is not the biggest thing going on today in Boston.  (Laughter and applause.)  I understand that.  I tried to grow a beard, but Michelle, she wasn’t having it.  (Laughter.)

I am also old enough to remember a time when the Red Sox were not in the World Series three times in 10 years.  (Laughter.)  But I know the chance to win one at home for the first time since 1918 is a pretty special thing.  (Applause.)  So I promise we will be done here in time — (laughter) — for everybody to head over to Fenway and maybe see Big Papi blast another homer.  (Applause.)

And maybe the other Sox will do better next year.  (Laughter.)  You can hope.  You can dream.  (Laughter.)

The reason I’m here, though, is because this is the hall where, seven years ago, Democrats and Republicans came together to make health reform a reality for the people of Massachusetts. It’s where then-Governor Mitt Romney, Democratic legislators, Senator Ted Kennedy, many of the folks who are here today joined forces to connect the progressive vision of health care for all with some ideas about markets and competition that had long been championed by conservatives.

And as Deval just said, it worked.  (Applause.)  It worked. Health reform —

PROTESTORS:  Mr. President — don’t punish me.  For our generation, stop the pipeline!  Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  We’re talking about health care today, but we will —

PROTESTORS:  Mr. President —

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no, it’s okay.  That is the wrong rally.  (Laughter and applause.)  We had the climate change rally back in the summer.  (Laughter.)  This is the health care rally. (Applause.)

So health care reform in this state was a success.  That doesn’t mean it was perfect right away.  There were early problems to solve.  There were changes that had to be made.  Anybody here who was involved in it can tell you that.  As Deval just said, enrollment was extremely slow.  Within a month, only about a hundred people had signed up — a hundred.  But then 2,000 had signed up, and then a few more thousand after that.  And by the end of the year, 36,000 people had signed up.

And the community all came together.  You even had the Red Sox help enlist people to get them covered.  And pretty soon, the number of young uninsured people had plummeted.  When recession struck, the financial security of health care sheltered families from deeper hardship.  And today, there is nearly universal coverage in Massachusetts, and the vast majority of its citizens are happy with their coverage.  (Applause.)

And by the way, all the parade of horribles, the worst predictions about health care reform in Massachusetts never came true.  They’re the same arguments that you’re hearing now.  Businesses didn’t stop covering workers; the share of employers who offered insurance increased.  People didn’t get left behind; racial disparities decreased.  Care didn’t become unaffordable; costs tracked what was happening in other places that wasn’t covering everybody.

Now, Mitt Romney and I ran a long and spirited campaign against one another, but I’ve always believed that when he was governor here in Massachusetts, he did the right thing on health care.  And then Deval did the right thing by picking up the torch and working to make the law work even better.  And it’s because you guys had a proven model that we built the Affordable Care Act on this template of proven, bipartisan success.  Your law was the model for the nation’s law.  (Applause.)

So let’s look at what’s happened.  Today, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to abide by some of the strongest consumer protections this country has ever known — a true Patient’s Bill of Rights.  (Applause.)  No more discriminating against kids with preexisting conditions.  (Applause.)  No more dropping your policy when you get sick and need it most.  (Applause.)  No more lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits.  (Applause.)  Most plans now have to cover free preventive care like mammograms and birth control.  (Applause.)  Young people can stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.  All of this is in place right now.  It is working right now.  (Applause.)

Now, the last element of this began on October 1st.  It’s when the Affordable Care Act created a new marketplace for quality, private insurance plans for the 15 percent or so of Americans who don’t have health care, and for the 5 percent of Americans who have to buy it on their own and they’re not part of a group, which means they don’t get as good a deal.

And this new marketplace was built on the Massachusetts model.  It allows these Americans who have been locked out to get a better deal from insurers — they’re pooling their purchasing power as one big group.  And insurers want their business, which means they give them a better deal, and they compete for that business.  And as a result, insurers in the marketplace, they can’t use your medical history to charge you more.  If you’ve been sick, you finally have the same chance to buy quality, affordable health care as everybody else.

A lot of people will qualify for new tax credits under this law that will bring down costs even further, so that if you lose your job, or you start a new business, or you’re self-employed, or you’re a young person trying several jobs until you find that one that sticks, you’re going to be able to be insured — insurance that goes with you and gives you freedom to pursue whatever you want, without fear that accident or illness will derail your dreams.

Now, this marketplace is open now.  Insurance companies are competing for that business.  The deal is good; the prices are low.  But, let’s face it, we’ve had a problem.  The website hasn’t worked the way it’s supposed to over these last couple of weeks.  And as a consequence, a lot of people haven’t had a chance to see just how good the prices for quality health insurance through these marketplaces really are.

Now, ultimately, this website, healthcare.gov, will be the easiest way to shop for and buy these new plans, because you can see all these plans right next to each other and compare prices and see what kind of coverage it provides.  But, look, there’s no denying it, right now, the website is too slow, too many people have gotten stuck.  And I am not happy about it.  And neither are a lot of Americans who need health care, and they’re trying to figure out how they can sign up as quickly as possible.  So there’s no excuse for it.  And I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP.  We are working overtime to improve it every day.  (Applause.)  Every day.

And more people are successfully buying these new plans online than they were a couple of weeks ago, and I expect more people will be able to buy conveniently online every single day as we move forward.  We’re going to get these problems resolved.

Now, in the meantime, you can still apply for coverage over the phone, or by mail, or in person, because those plans are waiting and you’re still able to get the kind of affordable, reliable health insurance that’s been out of reach for too many people for too long.

So I am old enough to remember when there was not such a thing as a website.  (Laughter.)  I know that’s shocking to people.  (Laughter.)  But the point is I’m confident these marketplaces will work, because Massachusetts has shown that the model works and we know what’s being offered by these insurers.  (Applause.)  We know it’s going to work.

And so far, choice and competition in the new national marketplaces have helped keep costs lower than even we projected. In fact, nearly half of all single, uninsured 18-to-34-year-olds may be able to buy insurance for 50 bucks a month or less.  Less than your cellphone bill, less than your cable bill.  (Applause.) And one study shows that nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans may find coverage for 100 bucks a month or less, even if they’re older than 34.

And, frankly, if every governor was working as hard as Deval, or Governor O’Malley in Maryland, or Governor Cuomo in New York, to make this law work for their citizens, as opposed to thinking politically, about 8 in 10 Americans would be getting health insurance for less than 100 bucks a month.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, it’s not just in Massachusetts.  Look at Kentucky.  Governor Steve Beshear, who’s a Democrat, is like a man possessed with helping more people get covered.  He thinks it’s the right thing to do.  Keep in mind I did not win in Kentucky.  (Laughter.)  But there are a lot of uninsured people in Kentucky, and they’re signing up.

Oregon has covered 10 percent of its uninsured citizens already because of the Affordable Care Act.  Ten percent of the uninsured have already gotten coverage.  (Applause.)

Arkansas — I didn’t win that state either — (laughter) — has covered almost 14 percent of its uninsured already.  (Applause.)  That’s already happened.

And you’ve got some Republican governors, like Governor Kasich of Ohio, who’ve put politics aside and they’re expanding Medicaid through this law to cover millions of people.

Now, unfortunately, there are others that are so locked in to the politics of this thing that they won’t lift a finger to help their own people, and that’s leaving millions of Americans uninsured unnecessarily.  That’s a shame.  Because if they put as much energy into making this law work as they do in attacking the law, Americans would be better off.  (Applause.)  Americans would be better off.

So that’s the Affordable Care Act:  Better protections for Americans with insurance; a new marketplace for Americans without insurance; new tax credits to help folks afford it; more choice, more competition; real health care security not just for the uninsured or underinsured, but for all of us — because we pay more in premiums and taxes when Americans without good insurance visit the emergency room.  (Applause.)  We get taxed.

And since we all benefit, there are parts of this law that also require everybody to contribute, that require everybody to take some measure of responsibility.  So, to help pay for the law, the wealthiest Americans –- families who make more than $250,000 a year –- they’ve got to pay a little bit more.  The most expensive employer health insurance plans no longer qualify for unlimited tax breaks.  Some folks aren’t happy about that, but it’s the right thing to do.

Just like in Massachusetts, most people who can afford health insurance have to take responsibility to buy health insurance, or pay a penalty.  And employers with more than 50 employees are required to either provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty — again, because they shouldn’t just dump off those costs onto the rest of us.  Everybody has got some responsibilities.

Now, it is also true that some Americans who have health insurance plans that they bought on their own through the old individual market are getting notices from their insurance companies suggesting that somehow, because of the Affordable Care Act, they may be losing their existing health insurance plan.  This has been the latest flurry in the news.  Because there’s been a lot of confusion and misinformation about this, I want to explain just what’s going on.

One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured, but also the underinsured.  And there are a number of Americans –- fewer than 5 percent of Americans -– who’ve got cut-rate plans that don’t offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident.  Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or use minor preexisting conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy.  So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.

Before the Affordable Care Act, the worst of these plans routinely dropped thousands of Americans every single year.  And on average, premiums for folks who stayed in their plans for more than a year shot up about 15 percent a year.  This wasn’t just bad for those folks who had these policies, it was bad for all of us — because, again, when tragedy strikes and folks can’t pay their medical bills, everybody else picks up the tab.

Now, if you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, you’re able to keep it.  That’s what I said when I was running for office.  That was part of the promise we made.  But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, what we said under the law is you’ve got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage  — because that, too, was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning.

And today, that promise means that every plan in the marketplace covers a core set of minimum benefits, like maternity care, and preventive care, and mental health care, and prescription drug benefits, and hospitalization.  And they can’t use allergies or pregnancy or a sports injury or the fact that you’re a woman to charge you more.  They can’t do that anymore.  (Applause.)  They can’t do that anymore.

If you couldn’t afford coverage because your child had asthma, well, he’s now covered.  If you’re one of the 45 million Americans with a mental illness, you’re now covered.  If you’re a young couple expecting a baby, you’re covered.  You’re safer.  The system is more secure for you and it’s more secure for everybody.

So if you’re getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new marketplace.  That’s what it’s for.  Because of the tax credits we’re offering, and the competition —

PROTESTOR:  Mr. President, ban the Keystone Pipeline!  For our generation, you need to do this!

THE PRESIDENT:  Because of the tax credits that we’re offering and the competition between insurers, most people are going to be able to get better, comprehensive health care plans for the same price or even cheaper than projected.  You’re going to get a better deal.

Now, there’s a fraction of Americans with higher incomes who will pay more on the front end for better insurance with better benefits and protections like the Patient’s Bill of Rights.  And that will actually save them from financial ruin if they get sick.  But nobody is losing their right to health care coverage. And no insurance company will ever be able to deny you coverage, or drop you as a customer altogether.  Those days are over.  And that’s the truth.  (Applause.)  That is the truth.

So for people without health insurance, they’re finally going to be able to get it.  For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it.  For the fewer than 5 percent of Americans who buy insurance on your own, you will be getting a better deal.

So anyone peddling the notion that insurers are cancelling people’s plan without mentioning that almost all the insurers are encouraging people to join better plans with the same carrier, and stronger benefits and stronger protections, while others will be able to get better plans with new carriers through the marketplace, and that many will get new help to pay for these better plans and make them actually cheaper — if you leave that stuff out, you’re being grossly misleading, to say the least.  (Applause.)

But, frankly, look, you saw this in Massachusetts — this is one of the challenges of health care form.  Health care is complicated and it’s very personal, and it’s easy to scare folks. And it’s no surprise that some of the same folks trying to scare people now are the same folks who’ve been trying to sink the Affordable Care Act from the beginning.  (Applause.)  And frankly, I don’t understand it.  Providing people with health care, that should be a no-brainer.  (Applause.)  Giving people a chance to get health care should be a no-brainer.  (Applause.)

And I’ve said before, if folks had actually good ideas, better ideas than what’s happening in Massachusetts or what we’ve proposed for providing people with health insurance, I’d be happy to listen.  But that’s not what’s happening.  And anyone defending the remnants of the old, broken system as if it was working for people, anybody who thinks we shouldn’t finish the job of making the health care system work for everybody -– especially when these folks offer no plan for the uninsured or the underinsured, or folks who lose their insurance each year — those folks should have to explain themselves.  (Applause.)

Because I don’t think we should go back to discriminating against kids with preexisting conditions.  (Applause.)  I don’t think we should go back to dropping coverage for people when they get sick, or because they make a mistake on their application.  (Applause.)  I don’t think we should go back to the daily cruelties and indignities and constant insecurity of a broken health care system.  And I’m confident most Americans agree with me.  (Applause.)

So, yes, this is hard, because the health care system is a big system, and it’s complicated.  And if it was hard doing it just in one state, it’s harder to do it in all 50 states — especially when the governors of a bunch of states and half of the Congress aren’t trying to help.  Yes, it’s hard.  But it’s worth it.  (Applause.)  It is the right thing to do, and we’re going to keep moving forward.  (Applause.)  We are going to keep working to improve the law, just like you did here in Massachusetts.  (Applause.)

We are just going to keep on working at it.  We’re going to grind it out, just like you did here in Massachusetts — and, by the way, just like we did when the prescription drug program for seniors known as Medicare Part D was passed by a Republican President a decade ago.  That health care law had some early challenges as well.  There were even problems with the website.  (Laughter.)  And Democrats weren’t happy with a lot of the aspects of the law because, in part, it added hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit, it wasn’t paid for — unlike the Affordable Care Act, which will actually help lower the deficit.  (Applause.)

But, you know what, once it was the law, everybody pitched in to try to make it work.  Democrats weren’t about to punish millions of seniors just to try to make a point or settle a score.  So Democrats worked with Republicans to make it work.  And I’m proud of Democrats for having done that.  It was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  Because now, about 90 percent of seniors like what they have.  They’ve gotten a better deal.

Both parties working together to get the job done –- that’s what we need in Washington right now.  (Applause.)  That’s what we need in Washington right now.

You know, if Republicans in Congress were as eager to help Americans get covered as some Republican governors have shown themselves to be, we’d make a lot of progress.  I’m not asking them to agree with me on everything, but if they’d work with us like Mitt Romney did, working with Democrats in Massachusetts, or like Ted Kennedy often did with Republicans in Congress, including on the prescription drug bill, we’d be a lot further along.  (Applause.)

So the point is, we may have political disagreements — we do, deep ones.  In some cases, we’ve got fundamentally different visions about where we should take the country.  But the people who elect us to serve, they shouldn’t pay the price for those disagreements.  Most Americans don’t see things through a political lens or an ideological lens.  This debate has never been about right or left.  It’s been about the helplessness that a parent feels when she can’t cover a sick child, or the impossible choices a small business faces between covering his employees or keeping his doors open.

I want to give you just — I want to close with an example. A person named Alan Schaeffer, from Prattsburgh, New York, and he’s got a story to tell about sacrifice, about giving up his own health care to save the woman he loves.  So Alan wrote to me last week, and he told me his story.

Four years ago, his wife, Jan, who happens to be a nurse, was struck with cancer, and she had to stop working.  And then halfway through her chemo, her employer dropped coverage for both of them.  And Alan is self-employed; he’s got an antique business.  So he had to make sure his wife had coverage, obviously, in the middle of cancer treatments, so he went without insurance.

Now, the great news is, today, Jan is cancer-free.  She’s on Medicare, but Alan’s been uninsured ever since.  Until last week — (applause) — when he sat down at a computer and — I’m sure after multiple tries — (laughter) — signed up for a new plan under the Affordable Care Act, coverage that can never be taken away if he gets sick.  (Applause.)

So I just want to read you what he said in this letter.  He says, “I’ve got to tell you I’ve never been so happy to pay a bill in my entire life.”  (Laughter.)  “When you don’t have insurance at my age, [it can] really feel like a time bomb waiting to go off.  The sense of relief from knowing I can live out my days longer and healthier, that’s just a tremendous weight off my shoulders.”

So two days later, Alan goes over to his buddy Bill’s house. He sits Bill down, and his wife, Diana, at their computer.  And after several tries — (laughter) — Alan helped lift that weight from their shoulders by helping them to sign up for a new plan also.  And compared to their current plan, it costs less than half as much and covers more.

See, that’s why we committed ourselves to this cause — for Alan, and Jan; for Bill, Diana.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Annie.

THE PRESIDENT:  For Annie.  For anyone who wrote letters, and shared stories, and knocked on doors because they believed what could happen here in Massachusetts could happen all across the country.  (Applause.)  And for them, and for you, we are going to see this through.  (Applause.)  We’re going to see this through.  (Applause.)  We are going to see this through.  (Applause.)

This hall is home to some of the earliest debates over the nature of our government, the appropriate size, the appropriate role of government.  And those debates continue today, and that’s healthy.  They’re debates about the role of the individual and society, and our rugged individualism, and our sense of self-reliance, our devotion to the kind of freedoms whose first shot rang out not far from here.  But they are also debates tempered by a recognition that we’re all in this together, and that when hardship strikes — and it could strike any of us at any moment  — we’re there for one another; and that as a country, we can accomplish great things that we can’t accomplish alone.  (Applause.)  We believe that.  We believe that.  (Applause.)

And those sentiments are expressed in a painting right here in this very hall:  “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.”  That’s the value statement Deval was talking about.  That’s what health care reform is about.  That’s what America is about.  We are in this together, and we are going to see it through.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

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Full Text Obama Presidency April 20, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: America Stands with the City of Boston

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: America Stands with the City of Boston

Source: WH, 4-20-13

In his weekly address, President Obama spoke to the American people about the act of terror at the Boston Marathon that wounded dozens and killed three innocent people on Monday, and said that through it all, Boston’s spirit remains undaunted and Americans have proven they refuse to be terrorized.  This past week, first responders, race volunteers, doctors and nurses, and the good people of Boston joined together to show the world how Americans respond to evil: with resilience and resolve, and without fear.  And that’s the way Boston and America will move forward together.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
April 20, 2013

On Monday, an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three innocent people at the Boston Marathon.

But in the days since, the world has witnessed one sure and steadfast truth: Americans refuse to be terrorized.

Ultimately, that’s what we’ll remember from this week.  That’s what will remain.  Stories of heroism and kindness; resolve and resilience; generosity and love.

The brave first responders – police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and National Guard – who ran toward danger to help their fellow citizens.

The race volunteers, spectators, and exhausted runners who rushed to help, including troops and veterans who never expected to see such scenes on the streets of America.

The determined doctors and nurses at some of the world’s best hospitals, who have toiled day and night to save so many lives.

The big-hearted people of Boston – residents, priests, shopkeepers – who carried victims in their arms; delivered water and blankets; lined up to give blood; opened their homes to total strangers.

And the heroic federal agents and police officers who worked together throughout the week, often at great risk to themselves, to keep our communities safe.  As a country, we are eternally grateful for the profound sacrifices they make in the line of duty – sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice to defend the people they’ve sworn to protect.

If anyone wants to know who we are; what America is; how we respond to evil and terror – that’s it.  Selflessly.  Compassionately.  And unafraid.

Through days that would test even the sturdiest of souls, Boston’s spirit remains undaunted.  America’s spirit remains undimmed.  Our faith in each other, our love for this country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences we may have – that’s what makes us strong.  That’s why we endure.

In the days to come, we will remain vigilant as a nation.  And I have no doubt the city of Boston and its surrounding communities will continue to respond in the same proud and heroic way that they have thus far – and their fellow Americans will be right there with them every step of the way.  May God bless the people of Boston and the United States of America.

###

Full Text Obama Presidency April 19, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement Following the Capture of the Second Suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: “We’ve Seen the Character of Our Country Once More”

Source: WH, 4-20-13

President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House (April 19, 2013)President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House following the capture of the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, April 19 2013. Seated in the background are Jay Carney, Lisa Monaco, Christine Abizaid, and Ben Rhodes. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After a daylong manhunt that saw police searching door-to-door through Boston, law enforcement officials captured the remaining suspect believed to be responsible for Monday’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He was ultimately found in Watertown, Massachusetts.

In a statement from the James Brady Briefing Room after the arrest, President Obama commended the response from the state and local police and federal investigators….READ MORE

Statement by the President

Source: WH, 4-19-13

10:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight our nation is in debt to the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts.  After a vicious attack on their city, Bostonians responded with resolve and determination.  They did their part as citizens and partners in this investigation.

Boston police and state police and local police across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts responded with professionalism and bravery over five long days.  And tonight, because of their determined efforts, we’ve closed an important chapter in this tragedy.

I’ve been briefed earlier this evening by FBI Director Mueller.  After the attacks on Monday, I directed the full resources of the federal government to be made available to help state and local authorities in the investigation and to increase security as needed.  Over the past week, close coordination among federal, state, and local officials — sharing information, moving swiftly to track down leads — has been critical to this effort.

They all worked as they should, as a team.  And we are extremely grateful for that.  We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all our outstanding law enforcement professionals.  These men and women get up every day, they put on that uniform; they risk their lives to keep us safe — and as this week showed, they don’t always know what to expect.  So our thoughts are with those who were wounded in pursuit of the suspects and we pray for their full recovery.

We also send our prayers to the Collier family who grieve the loss of their son and brother, Sean.  “He was born to be a police officer,” said his chief at MIT.  He was just 26 years old.  And as his family has said, he died bravely in the line of duty, doing what he committed his life to doing — serving and protecting others.  So we’re grateful to him.

Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions.  Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?  How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?  The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers.  The wounded, some of whom now have to learn how to stand and walk and live again, deserve answers.

And so I’ve instructed the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and our intelligence community to continue to deploy all the necessary resources to support the investigation, to collect intelligence, and to protect our citizens.  We will determine what happened.  We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had.  And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.

One thing we do know is that whatever hateful agenda drove these men to such heinous acts will not — cannot — prevail.  Whatever they thought they could ultimately achieve, they’ve already failed.  They failed because the people of Boston refused to be intimidated.  They failed because, as Americans, we refused to be terrorized.  They failed because we will not waver from the character and the compassion and the values that define us as a country.  Nor will we break the bonds that hold us together as Americans.

That American spirit includes staying true to the unity and diversity that makes us strong — like no other nation in the world.  In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions.  But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right.  That’s why we have investigations.  That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.  That’s why we have courts.  And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.

After all, one of the things that makes America the greatest nation on Earth, but also, one of the things that makes Boston such a great city, is that we welcome people from all around the world — people of every faith, every ethnicity, from every corner of the globe.  So as we continue to learn more about why and how this tragedy happened, let’s make sure that we sustain that spirit.

Tonight we think of all the wounded, still struggling to recover.  Certainly we think of Krystle Campbell.  We think of Lingzi Lu.  And we think of little Martin Richard.  Their lives reflected all the diversity and beauty of our country, and they were sharing the great American experience together.

Finally, let me say that even as so much attention has been focused on the tragic events in Boston, understandably, we’ve also seen a tight-knit community in Texas devastated by a terrible explosion.  And I want them to know that they are not forgotten.  Our thoughts, our prayers are with the people of West, Texas, where so many good people lost their lives; some lost their homes; many are injured; many are still missing.

I’ve talked to Governor Perry and Mayor Muska and I’ve pledged that the people of West will have the resources that they need to recover and rebuild.  And I want everybody in Texas to know that we will follow through with those commitments.

All in all, this has been a tough week.  But we’ve seen the character of our country once more.  And as President, I’m confident that we have the courage and the resilience and the spirit to overcome these challenges — and to go forward, as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END     10:11 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: How much grief can we and President Obama take?

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

How much grief can we and Obama take?

Source: Washington Post (blog), 4-18-13

How many times has President Obama had to do this? How many times has he had to console a grieving community and a shocked nation?…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 18, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech to First Responders and Volunteers About their Response to the Boston Marathon Bombing, at Cathedral High School, Boston, MA

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to First Responders and Volunteers in Boston, MA

Source: WH, 4-18-13 

Cathedral High School
Boston, Massachusetts

12:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Well, listen, we just had a wonderful interfaith service, and I want to thank Governor Patrick for helping to organize that.  I want to thank both the Governor and your extraordinary Mayor, Tom Menino — (applause) — for the incredible leadership and cool under pressure, the organization, the mobilization and the courage that they have shown reflective of this great city and reflective of this great Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Now, I’m not going to speak long.  I’m just — he started calling me Reverend Obama, so I know — (laughter) — I know I was — I don’t want to go on any longer than I need to.  The main message, in addition to just giving — having a chance to shake some hands and give some hugs, is just to say how proud the whole country is of you — (applause) — how grateful we are — how grateful we are that in the face of chaos and tragedy, all of you displayed the very best of the American spirit.

You displayed grit.  You displayed compassion.  You displayed civic duty.  You displayed courage.  And when we see that kind of spirit, there’s something about that that’s infectious.  It makes us all want to be better people.  You’ve inspired the entire country.  You’ve inspired the world.  And for that, you should be profoundly proud.

But as Deval and I were talking as we were driving in from the airport, the key is that we hang on to a little bit of that, because it’s right there under the surface every day.  And it expresses itself, obviously, in the Marathon.  It expresses itself in Patriot’s Day.  It expresses itself in all the small interactions, the gestures of kindness and generosity and tolerance and compassion that make up the fabric of our lives.  And we don’t always pay attention to it, and we don’t always celebrate, and it’s certainly not usually on a television screen, it’s not always reported on.  But that’s who we are.

And if there’s anything that was a theme in that interfaith service it’s that out of these ashes, out of the blood that’s spilled and the injuries borne, out of that, we get a chance to see and highlight and appreciate that spirit.  And we’ve got to sustain it, because in all of our lives at some point there are going to be some troubles, and there’s evil in the world, and there’s hardship.  But if that spirit is evident and manifest, and that’s what we’re teaching our kids and that’s what we’re embodying in our own lives, then who can stop us?  Who can touch us?  (Applause.)

So thank you, everybody.  I’m proud of you.  I’m proud of Boston.  And as I just said, I’m looking forward to the 118th Boston Marathon.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

END
12:39 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: President Barack Obama to Boston at the Memorial Service for Boston Marathon Bombing Victims: ‘You will run again’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama to Boston: ‘You will run again’

Source: Politico, 4-18-13

President Barack Obama delivered a message of resilience and recovery as he renewed his pledge that the country would stand by this city still recovering from Monday’s Marathon bombings — and that those responsible would be found.

“We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up, we’ll keep going. We will finish the race,” he said, speaking at the end of the interfaith “Healing Our City” service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 18, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at an Interfaith Memorial Service for Boston Marathon Bombing Victims, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama’s Remarks at Boston Service

Source: NYT, 4-18-13

In Boston, Obama Praises Spirit of City: Mourning the victims of the marathon bombings, President Obama spoke at a church service titled “Healing Our City” at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. He also praised the spirit of the city.

The following is a transcript of President Obama’s remarks at an interfaith memorial service for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston on Thursday, as provided by the White House.

MR. OBAMA: Hello, Boston!

Scripture tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Run with endurance the race that is set before us.

On Monday morning, the sun rose over Boston. The sunlight glistened off the Statehouse dome. In the Common and the Public Garden, spring was in bloom. On this Patriot’s Day, like so many before, fans jumped onto the T to see the Sox at Fenway. In Hopkinton, runners laced up their shoes and set out on a 26.2-mile test of dedication and grit and the human spirit. And across this city, hundreds of thousands of Bostonians lined the streets — to hand the runners cups of water and to cheer them on.

It was a beautiful day to be in Boston — a day that explains why a poet once wrote that this town is not just a capital, not just a place. Boston, he said, “is the perfect state of grace.”

And then, in an instant, the day’s beauty was shattered. A celebration became a tragedy. And so we come together to pray, and mourn, and measure our loss. But we also come together today to reclaim that state of grace — to reaffirm that the spirit of this city is undaunted, and the spirit of this country shall remain undimmed.

To Governor Patrick; Mayor Menino; Cardinal O’Malley and all the faith leaders who are here; Governors Romney, Swift, Weld and Dukakis; members of Congress; and most of all, the people of Boston and the families who’ve lost a piece of your heart. We thank you for your leadership. We thank you for your courage. We thank you for your grace.

I’m here today on behalf of the American people with a simple message: Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city. Every one of us stands with you.

Because, after all, it’s our beloved city, too. Boston may be your hometown, but we claim it, too. It’s one of America’s iconic cities. It’s one of the world’s great cities. And one of the reasons the world knows Boston so well is that Boston opens its heart to the world.

Over successive generations, you’ve welcomed again and again new arrivals to our shores — immigrants who constantly reinvigorated this city and this commonwealth and our nation. Every fall, you welcome students from all across America and all across the globe, and every spring you graduate them back into the world — a Boston diaspora that excels in every field of human endeavor. Year after year, you welcome the greatest talents in the arts and science, research — you welcome them to your concert halls and your hospitals and your laboratories to exchange ideas and insights that draw this world together.

And every third Monday in April, you welcome people from all around the world to the Hub for friendship and fellowship and healthy competition — a gathering of men and women of every race and every religion, every shape and every size; a multitude represented by all those flags that flew over the finish line.

So whether folks come here to Boston for just a day, or they stay here for years, they leave with a piece of this town tucked firmly into their hearts. So Boston is your hometown, but we claim it a little bit, too.

I know this because there’s a piece of Boston in me. You welcomed me as a young law student across the river; welcomed Michelle, too. You welcomed me during a convention when I was still a state senator and very few people could pronounce my name right. (Laughter.)

Like you, Michelle and I have walked these streets. Like you, we know these neighborhoods. And like you, in this moment of grief, we join you in saying — “Boston, you’re my home.” For millions of us, what happened on Monday is personal. It’s personal.

Today our prayers are with the Campbell family of Medford. They’re here today. Their daughter, Krystle, was always smiling. Those who knew her said that with her red hair and her freckles and her ever-eager willingness to speak her mind, she was beautiful, sometimes she could be a little noisy, and everybody loved her for it. She would have turned 30 next month. As her mother said through her tears, “This doesn’t make any sense.”

Our prayers are with the Lu family of China, who sent their daughter, Lingzi, to BU so that she could experience all this city has to offer. She was a 23-year-old student, far from home. And in the heartache of her family and friends on both sides of a great ocean, we’re reminded of the humanity that we all share.

Our prayers are with the Richard family of Dorchester — to Denise and their young daughter, Jane, as they fight to recover. And our hearts are broken for 8-year-old Martin — with his big smile and bright eyes. His last hours were as perfect as an 8-year-old boy could hope for — with his family, eating ice cream at a sporting event. And we’re left with two enduring images of this little boy — forever smiling for his beloved Bruins, and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: “No more hurting people. Peace.”

No more hurting people. Peace.

Our prayers are with the injured -— so many wounded, some gravely. From their beds, some are surely watching us gather here today. And if you are, know this: As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you. Your commonwealth is with you. Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. Of that I have no doubt. You will run again. You will run again.

Because that’s what the people of Boston are made of. Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act. If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us, to shake us from those values that Deval described, the values that make us who we are, as Americans — well, it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it. Not here in Boston. Not here in Boston.

You’ve shown us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love.

Scripture teaches us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” And that’s the spirit you’ve displayed in recent days.

When doctors and nurses, police and firefighters and EMTs and Guardsmen run towards explosions to treat the wounded — that’s discipline.

When exhausted runners, including our troops and veterans — who never expected to see such carnage on the streets back home — become first responders themselves, tending to the injured — that’s real power.

When Bostonians carry victims in their arms, deliver water and blankets, line up to give blood, open their homes to total strangers, give them rides back to reunite with their families — that’s love.

That’s the message we send to those who carried this out and anyone who would do harm to our people. Yes, we will find you. And, yes, you will face justice. We will find you. We will hold you accountable. But more than that; our fidelity to our way of life — to our free and open society — will only grow stronger. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power and love and self-discipline.

Like Bill Iffrig, 78 years old — the runner in the orange tank top who we all saw get knocked down by the blast — we may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race. In the words of Dick Hoyt, who’s pushed his disabled son, Rick, in 31 Boston Marathons — “We can’t let something like this stop us.” This doesn’t stop us.

And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us — to push on. To persevere. To not grow weary. To not get faint. Even when it hurts. Even when our heart aches. We summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on. We finish the race. We finish the race.

And we do that because of who we are. And we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody is there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall. We know that.

And that’s what the perpetrators of such senseless violence — these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build, and think somehow that makes them important — that’s what they don’t understand. Our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences there may be — that is our power. That’s our strength.

That’s why a bomb can’t beat us. That’s why we don’t hunker down. That’s why we don’t cower in fear. We carry on. We race. We strive. We build, and we work, and we love — and we raise our kids to do the same. And we come together to celebrate life, and to walk our cities, and to cheer for our teams. When the Sox and Celtics and Patriots or Bruins are champions again — to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans — (laughter) — the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street.

And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.

Tomorrow, the sun will rise over Boston. Tomorrow, the sun will rise over this country that we love. This special place. This state of grace.

Scripture tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” As we do, may God hold close those who’ve been taken from us too soon. May He comfort their families. And may He continue to watch over these United States of America.

Obama to Visit Boston Thursday, Speak at Service for Bombing Victims

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama to Visit Boston Thursday, Speak at Service for Bombing Victims

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-16-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama is scheduled to travel to Boston on Thursday, three days after the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.

As the city grapples with this tragedy, the president plans to speak at an interfaith service “dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in Monday’s bombing,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 16, 2013: President Barack Obama Calls Boston Bombings ‘an Act of Terrorism’ at Press Briefing

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Calls Boston Bombings ‘an Act of Terrorism’

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-16-13

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Obama on Tuesday said the bombings at the Boston Marathon are being investigated as an “act of terrorism” and vowed that those responsible for the attack would be brought to justice.

“This was heinous and cowardly act, and given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism.  Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror,” the president told reporters at the White House shortly after being briefed by his national security team….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 16, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on the Boston Bombings in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House: “The American People Refuse to be Terrorized”

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: “The American People Refuse to be Terrorized”

Source: WH, 4-16-13

President Obama Delivers a Statement on the bombs in Boston, April 16, 2013President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the explosions that occurred in Boston, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, April 16, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Following a briefing from FBI Director Mueller, Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and homeland security advisor Lisa Monaco, President Obama went to the Brady Press Briefing Room to update Americans on developments in Boston, following two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon.

“We continue to mobilize and deploy all appropriate law enforcement resources to protect our citizens, and to investigate and to respond to this attack,” the President said in a televised address. “Obviously our first thoughts this morning are with the victims, their families, and the city of Boston. We know that two explosions gravely wounded dozens of Americans, and took the lives of others, including a 8-year-old boy.

“This was a heinous and cowardly act. And given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism.  Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror. What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack, or why; whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual.”

The President assured the American people that while it will take time to determine what happened, “we will find whoever harmed our citizens. And we will bring them to justice.”

In addition to highlighting the tremendous acts of heroism by the men and women of the FBI, the Boston Police Department, and other agencies and first responders yesterday, the President praised the kindness, generosity and love that was on display throughout the city of Boston in the aftermath of the bombings. “if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid.”

You can watch the President’s complete statement on YouTube


Learn more:

Full Text Obama Presidency April 16, 2013: Readout of the President Barack Obama’s Briefing on the Boston Bombings

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Readout of the President’s Briefing on the Explosions in Boston

Source: WH, 4-16-13

This morning the President, joined by Vice President Biden, convened a briefing in the Oval Office with his national security team on the ongoing investigation into the explosions in Boston. Participating in the briefing was Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy National Security Advisor For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, and National Security Advisor to the Vice President Jake Sullivan.

In the briefing, which was led by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, the President received an update from Attorney General Holder and FBI Director Mueller on the collaborative efforts underway as part of the investigation, including the agency’s close coordination with state and local law enforcement in Boston. The President also received an update from Secretary Napolitano on coordination underway between DHS and state and local partners across the country to share information, including any additional security steps state and local law enforcement may take.

A photo of the briefing can be found HERE.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 15, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Boston Marathon Bombings — ‘We Will Find Out Who Did This’

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks on the Explosions in Boston

Source: WH, 4-15-13

Watch this video on YouTube

This evening, President Obama made a statement about today’s explosions at the Boston Marathon.

The President explained that he had been briefed by his Homeland Security team, who are continuing to monitor the situation as it unfolds, and had “directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.”

“The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight,” he said. “And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.”

We still do not know who did this or why.  And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.  But make no mistake — we will get to the bottom of this.  And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this.  Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

Today is a holiday in Massachusetts — Patriots’ Day. It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the  earliest days of our nation. And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition.  Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.

You should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings. We’re still in the investigation stage at this point.  But I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.

Transcript: Obama reacts to ‘senseless’ bombings

Source: CNN, 4-15-13

Transcript: Obama reacts to 'senseless' bombings

“Good afternoon, everybody. Earlier today, I was briefed by my homeland security team on the events in Boston. We’re continuing to monitor and respond to the situation as it unfolds. And I’ve directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight. And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.

We don’t yet have all the answers. But we do know that multiple people have been wounded, some gravely, in explosions at the Boston Marathon.

I’ve spoken to FBI Director Mueller and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, and they’re mobilizing the appropriate resources to investigate and to respond.

I’ve updated leaders of Congress in both parties, and we reaffirmed that on days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats – we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.

I’ve also spoken with Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino, and made it clear that they have every single federal resource necessary to care for the victims and counsel the families. And above all, I made clear to them that all Americans stand with the people of Boston.

Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue to do so as we speak. It’s a reminder that so many Americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf every single day, without regard to their own safety, in dangerous and difficult circumstances. And we salute all those who assisted in responding so quickly and professionally to this tragedy.

We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake – we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

Today is a holiday in Massachusetts – Patriots’ Day. It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation. And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition. Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.

You should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings. We’re still in the investigation stage at this point. But I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.

Thank you very much.”

Political Buzz August 28, 2011: Day 2 Hurricane Irene Tears Through New York, Northeast Heading North to Canada — Downgraded to Tropical Storm — President Obama Addresses Nation — Irene Aftermath

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: HURRICANE IRENE HITS EAST COAST– DOWNGRADED TO TROPICAL STORM

Waves generated by Tropical Storm Irene pummel the coast in Westbrook, Conn., Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

Irene downgraded to tropical storm: The National Weather Service downgraded Irene to a tropical storm as the system made landfall over Coney Island in New York. The storm is maintaining winds up to 65 mph.

More than 1 million without power in Mid-Atlantic region: More than a million homes and businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region were still out of power or phone service early Sunday as heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Irene battered the Washington area.
In Virginia and North Carolina, Dominion Resources reported more than 1 million outages, including about 124,000 in northern Virginia as of 4:30 a.m. Power companies reported more than 600,000 outages in Maryland and more than 25,000 in D.C.
The number of outages in Virginia “exceeded our expectations,” a Dominion Power official said.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm.” — U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

“I think it’s safe to say that the worst of the storm…has passed.” — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

“First, let me say that this is a storm that has claimed lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storm. You need to know that America will be with you in your hour of need.
While the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rains. One of our chief concerns before Irene made landfall was the possibility of significant flooding and widespread power outages. And we’ve been getting reports of just that from our state and local partners. Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks.
So I want people to understand that this is not over. Response and recovery efforts will be an ongoing operation, and I urge Americans in affected areas to continue to listen for the guidance and direction of their state and local officials.” — President Barack Obama

Irene Lashes New York Area — NYT

Hurricane Irene rolls up East Coast: From North Carolina to New Jersey, Hurricane Irene’s winds and storm surge fell short of the doomsday predictions. But the storm left several dead before reaching New England in its wake, lashed North Carolina with ferocious winds and triggering emergency steps including unprecedented evacuations and transit shutdowns in New York. — Boston Globe, 8-28-11

In Pictures: Hurricane Irene — CS Monitor

Hurricane Irene: live: Follow live coverage as Irene hits the US mainland after being downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm…. – Telegraph UK

Hurricane Irene: August 27 as it happened: Follow coverage as America’s east coast braced for the impact of Hurricane Irene…. – Telegraph UK

    • After Irene, Focus Shifts to Cleanup and Recovery: Tropical Storm Irene left swaths of New York City, New Jersey, Vermont and other parts of the region flooded in its wake, and millions were still without power Sunday night. President Obama said Sunday evening that despite the impact being less than was originally feared, “I want people to understand that this is not over.”… – PBS Newshour, 8-28-11
    • A Weakened Irene Sweeps Northward: Having cut a path of destruction from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the eastern tip of Long Island that killed at least 16 people in six states and caused an unprecedented shutdown of the transit systems in Philadelphia, Boston and New York, Hurricane Irene quickly lost her ferocity as she moved into New England on Sunday, leaving blue skies and an army of clean-up crews in her wake.
      Though downgraded to a tropical storm at around 9 a.m., Irene still wreaked havoc along the Eastern Seaboard: rail and airline service in the Northeast remained paralyzed, and hundreds of thousands of people were without power. But the storm ended up falling far short of the historic disaster that many people had feared.
      However, President Obama, in a televised address from the Rose Garden at around 5 p.m, cautioned “This is not over.” Irene, he said, remains a “dangerous” storm, even in its weakened state, and many communities would see flooding in the days ahead.
      Also at the news conference was Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, who pledged that the federal government will assist states responding to or recovering from Hurricane Irene. “I urge all Americans to take prudent steps to stay safe,” she said…. – NYT_8-28-11

President Barack Obama’s Statement to the Nation on Hurricane Irene & Statements by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate — AP, 8-28-11

President Obama Signs Delaware Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-28-11

President Obama Signs District of Columbia Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-28-11

President Obama Signs Puerto Rico Disaster Declaration — WH, 8-28-11

    • State-by-state look at dangers and damage caused by Irene: Irene, the hurricane that weakened to a tropical storm, thrashed the East Coast, knocking out power to millions of homes and businesses, destroying piers and killing more than a dozen people. Here’s a state-by-state glance on how it’s affected … – AP, 8-28-11
    • Obama warns Hurricane Irene flooding could worsen: US President Barack Obama on Sunday warned that flooding from Hurricane Irene could worsen as rivers flood their banks and said federal recovery efforts would last a few weeks…. – Reuters, 8-28-11
    • Obama on Irene: ‘This is not over’: Despite Tropical Storm Irene’s weakened punch, President Barack Obama urged those in its path to stay vigilant and warned that the storm’s impact would continue to be felt for some time. “This is not over,” Obama said in a Sunday afternoon statement from the Rose Garden.
      With Irene having unleashed furious wind and rain as it carved its way along the East Coast, the president said emergency officials were most concerned about lengthy power outages and flooding as swollen rivers begin to crest. He urged the public to heed the warnings of local officials in the coming days, and said his administration would continue working with cities and states to ensure they were prepared to respond…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • Irene Remains Dangerous, Obama Warns: As a weakened but still dangerous Tropical Strom Irene pushes up the East Coast, President Obama urged Americans to remain vigilant. “I want people to understand that this is not over,” Obama said in a statement delivered Sunday afternoon in the Rose Garden…. – ABC News, 8-28-11
    • Obama to make statement on Irene: White House: US President Barack Obama will deliver a statement on Irene, the deadly storm that has slammed into the US east coast, on Sunday at 5:00 pm (2200 GMT), the White House said. “This evening, the president will deliver a statement on Hurricane Irene…. – AFP, 8-28-11
    • Obama to make Irene statement Sunday: President Barack Obama will make a statement on Hurricane Irene at 5 pm ET Sunday, the White House announced. The president is expected to thank emergency responders for their work during the storm and provide an update on conditions…. – CNN, 8-28-11
    • Obama Engaged in FEMA Response to Irene: President Obama has received regular briefings about Hurricane Irene’s impact. During the wet and windy weekend in Washington, senior advisors and cabinet officials have updated the president on the response and recovery effort taking place along the east coast…. – ABC News, 8-28-11
    • Obama to meet with top administration members: President Barack Obama is planning to meet again this morning with top members of his administration to discuss Hurricane Irene. He told them yesterday to keep him up to date through the night. Obama held an evening conference call … – AP, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene leads to at least 19 deaths: Hurricane Irene had led to the deaths of at least 19 people in eight states as of Sunday evening…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • In Irene’s wake: Relief despite damage and deaths: As Hurricane Irene approached, spectacular satellite images encouraged some to fear the worst. But now, as the weakened storm moseys from New York into New England, you can’t see a sigh of relief from outer space…. – LAT, 8-28-11
    • FEMA chief urges people to remain at home in Irene’s wake, not sightsee amid potential dangers: The head of the nation’s emergency response agency says people shouldn’t underestimate the danger once Hurricane Irene passes. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate says flooding, weakened trees and downed power…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Sunday morning sees storm’s fury move north: Sunday morning saw a slightly diminished hurricane Irene continuing its move up the East Coast with wind, rain, and coastal storm surges hitting New York and New Jersey…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Irene downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm: Hurricane Irene has now become tropical storm Irene with winds of 65 miles per hour. But officials still predict heavy rains and flooding as Irene works its way north to New England…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Irene update: Did New York dodge a bullet?: The worst of tropical storm Irene has passed New York, and the impact wasn’t as bad as it might have been. But officials say hazards still exist, including heavy flooding…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Irene update: New York Mayor Bloomberg lifts evacuation order: With tropical storm Irene past New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg lifted his evacuation order. But with public transit still shut down, there’s likely to be a tough commute on Monday…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Irene Moves On: Millions Without Power, 14 Dead: Irene, downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, swept through the Northeast today, leaving at least 14 dead in its wake, millions without power and an estimated $7 billion to $13 billion in damages.
      Irene made landfall in Coney Island, N.Y., at 8:45 a.m. this morning as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds, but by 10 a.m. patches of blue sky and sunshine began peeking through in lower Manhattan.
      Philadelphia experienced significant local flooding in several areas, but subways, elevated trains and bus service in the city were beginning to return to activity.
      More than 4.5 million East Coast homes and businesses are without power and thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, according to The Associated Press…. – ABC News, 8-28-11
    • 4M without power as Hurricane Irene heads north: More than 4 million homes and businesses were without power Sunday morning as Hurricane Irene continued to roar up the East Coast and took aim at the New York City area and New England.
      Winds of up to 115 miles per hour whipped across the Eastern Seaboard, ripping power lines from poles and snapping trees in half. Hospitals, emergency call centers and other crucial facilities were holding up, but officials said it could get much worse as Irene churns north.
      More than 1.3 million of the homes and businesses without power were in Virginia and North Carolina, which bore the brunt of Irene’s initial march. Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. had about three-quarters of a million outages combined.
      New Jersey and Pennsylvania each had about three-quarters of a million without power, and hundreds of thousands of other customers were in the dark in New York and Connecticut…. – Boston Globe, 8-28-11
    • Irene Shifts Toward Northeast, Millions Without Power: 3:10 p.m. ET | At least 300,000 in Massachusetts are without power as a weaker Irene moves over the Northeast. Irene is being blamed for 15 deaths in six different storm-affected states.
      Flooding plagued New York City and parts of New Jersey after the height of the storm, but the evacuation order in low-lying parts of New York was lifted at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon…. – PBS Newshour, 8-28-11
    • Of the Big Cities, Philadelphia Is Hard Hit: Having cut a path of destruction from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the eastern tip of Long Island that killed at least 10 people in six states and caused an unprecedented shutdown of the transit systems in Washington, Philadelphia and New York, a weakened but still ferocious Hurricane Irene, now downgraded to a tropical storm, set its sights on a battened-down New England late Sunday morning.
      In Philadelphia, which lies between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, residents in low-lying areas woke up to rising water. Mark McDonald, spokesman for the Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, said water levels were 15 feet above normal in some areas, and were not expected to stop rising until 2 p.m. Sunday. The waters were approaching the highest level ever recorded — 17 feet in 1869, he said. “There are many streams and creeks, and they are all above flood stage now,” Mr. McDonald said by telephone. The storm, which dumped at least six inches of rain on the city, caused the collapse of seven buildings there, he said…. – NYT, 8-28-11
    • Irene’s Damage: Deaths, Flooding, Power Losses State-by-State Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Americans recover, Canadians dig in as Irene crawls toward border: As US cities clear away fallen trees and drain flooded boulevards, Canada’s East Coast is digging in as Irene crawls north. … – National Post, 8-28-11
    • Quebec, Maritimes in path of Irene’s heavy winds, rain: Nova Scotians should prepare for heavy winds while Quebec is on track for serious downpours when Hurricane Irene is scheduled to hit Canada Sunday as a post-tropical storm.
      Eastern Quebec – including Quebec City, Sherbrooke, and the Eastern Townships – and northwestern New Brunswick will receive the worst of Irene’s rainfall, with 50 to 100 mm of rain expected.
      Western Nova Scotia and areas around the Bay of Fundy, meanwhile, have a tropical storm warning and will see wind gusts of up to 120 km/h.
      Wind warnings are in effect for mainland Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, all of New Brunswick except the province’s northwestern corner and for parts of Quebec’s St. Lawrence River valley…. – Globe and Mail, 8-28-11
    • Millions without electricity, billions in damages after Irene hits New York: Tropical Storm Irene unleashed furious wind and rain on New York on Sunday and sent seawater surging into the Manhattan streets. But the city appeared to escape the worst fears of urban disaster — vast power outages, hurricane-shattered skyscraper windows and severe flooding.
      Still, millions of people were without electricity and early damage estimates were in the billions of dollars. At least 18 people had died in the storm…. – Globe and Mail, 8-28-11
    • Bloomberg: ‘We Made Exactly the Right Call’ on Storm Preparations: As New York City lifted evacuation orders Sunday afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg residents to exercise caution as they return home, watching out for fallen trees and downed power lines…. – WSJ, 8-28-11
    • Flight Cancellations in U.S. Resulting From Hurricane Irene Exceed 10300: Irene weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm as it swept through Long Island and Manhattan with winds of 65 miles an hour (105 kilometers), according to the National Weather Service…. – Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene Kills 15 and Leaves 4 Million Without Power: Hurricane Irene killed at least 15 people from Puerto Rico to New York, caused an estimated $3 billion in damage and cut electric power to more than 4 million homes and businesses across the eastern US The deaths were concentrated…. – Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Millions wait for power to come back after Irene: It could take several days to restore power to millions of people left in the dark by Hurricane Irene. The lights went out for more than four million people and businesses, from Folly Beach, S.C., to Portland, Maine. The race to restore power now will hinge on thousands of utility workers…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene: No one ‘dodged a bullet’: That was Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate on Sunday after Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm and apparently produced less destruction than many had feared…. – LAT, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene 2011: FEMA Praised By Governors For Storm Response: Governors of both parties are praising the federal response to Hurricane Irene, giving a much-needed vote of confidence to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has been struggling to regain its good name…. – Huff Post, 8-28-11
    • Federal Government Begins Damage Assessments in Irene’s Wake: US government officials said damage assessments and recovery efforts are under way as Hurricane Irene continues…. – Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Key House Republicans Express Concern Over FEMA Funding Amid Irene: House Republican leaders are calling on the Obama administration to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency doesn’t run out of money as it responds to Hurricane Irene…. – Fox News, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene: NYC Evacuations Lifted as Mayor Says ‘Worst Is Over’ ABC News, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene evacuation defended by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg: The threat of Hurricane Irene failed to stop tourists visiting Manhattan’s Times Square, despite warnings from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg…. – The Guardian, UK, 8-28-11

“My hope is that … we will have less damage than we might have. Let’s all just hope for that.” — Governor Deval Patrick said this morning in an interview with WCVB-TV.

    • Irene arrives as tropical storm; 300k lose power: No longer a hurricane but still packing a powerful punch, Tropical Storm Irene arrived in Massachusetts this afternoon, dumping torrential rains and sending streams over their banks, pounding the shoreline with relentless waves, and toppling tree limbs and power lines, leaving more than 300,000 people without power.
      By about 2 p.m., with the center of the weakened storm moving through Western Massachusetts, the worst of the rains were over in the state, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson. But he cautioned that winds could still gust to 55 miles per hour late this afternoon. Boston Globe, 8-28-11
    • Goodnight Irene: Hurricane Irene pummeled New York City Saturday night and Sunday with nearly twenty-four hours of torrential rains and high winds. The storm left behind severe local flooding, falling trees, and some power outages as surging seas overran beaches…. – Huffington Post, 8-28-11
    • New York mass transit still halted, unclear when will resume: New York City’s mass transit system remained shut down on Sunday afternoon even after Hurricane Irene had roared through, and there was no immediate word on when services would resume…. – Reuters, 8-28-11
    • NYC survives Irene, thinks everyone overreacted CBS News, 8-28-11
    • Irene trudges through New England with 60 mph wind: MIAMI—Tropical Storm Irene is trudging through southern New England with maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph. The storm was centered about 15 miles south of Pittsfield, Mass., on Sunday afternoon and was moving to the north-northeast at about 26 … – Boston Globe, 8-28-11
    • Irate Irene still packs a punch, officials warn: Tropical Storm Irene was running out of steam after battering the Big Apple this morning — flooding parts of Queens and lower Manhattan — but the former hurricane still packed sustained gales of 60 mph…. – Boston Herald, 8-28-11
    • New York’s Long Island feels Irene’s punch: Irene’s New York landfall Sunday morning coincided with high tide to bring the Atlantic Ocean pouring into the streets and houses of coastal Long Island…. – LAT, 8-28-11
    • Christie: Irene damage in the billions: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday damage from Hurricane Irene could be very extensive, “I’ve got to imagine that the damage estimates are going to be in the billions of dollars, if not the tens of billions of dollars,” Christie said on NBC’s “meet the Press”…. – Politico, 8-28-11
    • New Jersey told to brace for flooding in wake of Irene: Gov. Chris Christie warned New Jersey residents Sunday to prepare for record flooding the next two days in the wake of Hurricane Irene. USA Today, 8-28-11
    • Flooding threatens New Jersey after Hurricane Irene: A good news-bad news scenario emerged in New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, with an orderly evacuation preventing possible catastrophe along the coast but torrential rains setting up record inland flooding…. – CNN, 8-28-11
    • Irene slams New Jersey, damage widespread: Hurricane Irene swept along the New Jersey shore early on Sunday, knocking down trees, leaving thousands of people without electrical power and causing flooding….. – Reuters, 8-28-11

“We’re saddened to report four fatalities in Virginia. Our hearts go out to all of those who have lost loved ones.” — Gov.McDonnell at a news conference in Richmond

  • Fallen trees from Hurricane Irene kill four in Virginia: Hurricane Irene killed four people in Virginia on a destructive path that affected half the state’s land mass and two-thirds of the population, Governor Bob McDonnell said on Sunday.
    All four deaths were connected with falling trees in the powerful storm, including an 11-year-old boy who died after being pinned under a tree that fell on his apartment home in Newport News. Reuters, 8-28-11
  • Virginia governor: Dangers from Irene remain: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says that while Hurricane Irene wasn’t as bad as expected, dangers remain. The storm caused four deaths, widespread power outages and flooding before leaving the state early Sunday. … – USA Today, 8-28-11
  • O’Malley, McDonnell talk about Irene on ‘Meet the Press’: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) both appeared on national television Sunday morning to talk about Hurricane Irene, with both showing up on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”… – WaPo, 8-28-11
  • Hurricane Irene leaves power out around D.C. region: By Washington Post Staff More than 1 million homes and businesses were without power or phone service early Sunday after heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Irene battered the Washington area…. – WaPo, 8-28-11
  • Irene leaves slight damage, Washington residents without power: As Hurricane Irene moved on to flood the streets of New York City Sunday, people in the Washington region were dealing with an aftermath of power outages, flooding and trees that continued to fall … – WaPo, 8-28-11
  • Dominion Assessing Damage, Beginning Recovery From Hurricane Irene’s Impact: 1.2 million customers affected; second-largest restoration effort after Isabel Dominion crews in Virginia and North Carolina are assessing damage and working with local emergency personnel today … – MarketWatch, 8-28-11
  • Irene Sweeps Through New York: Tropical Storm Irene swept through the New York City area on Sunday morning lacking anywhere near the force that had been feared, but still causing some deaths, cutting power to more than a million people, toppling trees and flooding some parts of the city and its suburbs.
    Though the storm packed strong winds and heavy rain, it never dealt the kind of punch that prompted area officials to order unprecedented evacuations. In much of New York City, people awoke anxious that they would see destruction out their windows, only to find a scene more typical after a major summer storm.
    But while the city escaped without too much damage, its suburbs appeared not to have fared nearly as well. Wide swaths of Long Island, Westchester County, New Jersey and Connecticut faced blackouts on Sunday, plus blocked roadways and the prospect of further flooding.
    At least three people in the area died in connection to the storm. In New Jersey, a 20-year-old woman was found dead on Sunday morning in her submerged car on a flooded rural road in Salem County, eight hours after she called the police to say she was trapped in her vehicle with water up to her neck. In Spring Valley, N.Y., in Rockland County, a man was electrocuted after coming in contact with a downed power line. And in Prospect, Conn., one person was killed in a fire that investigators believe was sparked by fallen wires…. – NYT, 8-28-11
  • Rains Slow, But Floods Rise in Wake of Hurricane Irene: The heavy rains and high winds of Hurricane Irene have subsided from Delaware to Philadelphia, but dangerous flooding and storm damage led government officials Sunday morning to tell people to stay off the roads…. – NBC Philadelphia, 8-28-11

Political Buzz August 23, 2011: 5.9 Earthquake Shakes Washington & East Coast — Worst Quake Since 1944

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: 5.9 EARTHQUAKE SHAKES WASHINGTON & EAST COAST WORST SINCE 1944

Quake mapping

A map as displayed on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website after the quake. The red square, indicating earthquake activity in the preceding hour, shows the earthquake’s epicenter in Virginia. The blue symbol indicates a quake activity in the preceding 24 hours. (U.S. Geological Survey / August 23, 2011)

Earthquake Strikes East Coast; Epicenter Near Richmond, Va., U.S. Geological Survey Says: An earthquake sent tremors from the nation’s capital to New York City Tuesday afternoon, the result of what officials said was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake based in Virginia. There were no immediate reports of damage.
It is not clear how far the earthquake spread, but tremors were felt throughout New York City office buildings and as far north as Concord, N.H.

Strongest quake since ’44 jars East Coast: Tens of millions of people from Georgia to Canada were jolted Tuesday by the strongest earthquake to strike the East Coast since World War II. Three weeks before the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, office workers poured out of New York skyscrapers and the Pentagon, relieved it was nothing more sinister than an act of nature….. – AP, 8-23-11

“For many people this was a stressful afternoon, but so far we’ve been lucky to avoid any major harm.” — Mayor Bloomberg

Magnitude-5.8 Earthquake Strikes National Capital Area:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck the National Capital Area on Tuesday, August 23, at 1:51p.m. (EDT), causing moderate shaking and potentially significant damage, and was felt throughout Northern Virginia and neighboring areas. No casualties are expected.
The earthquake occurred near Louisa and Mineral, Va., approximately 100 miles southwest of Washington, DC. It was a shallow earthquake, and shaking was recorded all along the Appalachians, from Georgia to New England. There have been several aftershocks.
The earthquake occurred in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, which has produced earthquakes in the past. The most notable was an earthquake that occurred in 1875 that scientists believe was about a magnitude 4.5.
This earthquake is almost as strong as the strongest recorded earthquake in Virginia, a magnitude 5.9, which occurred in May 1897 in Giles County, Va. The strongest recorded earthquake to strike the East Coast was the 1886 Charleston, S.C., earthquake, which was about a magnitude 7.3.
Those who felt the earthquake can go online and report their observations on the USGS Did You Feel It? website. Over 10,000 reports of felt shaking have already been received from more than 3400 zip codes all over the eastern United States.
The earthquake was felt so widely because it was a shallow earthquake, and geologic conditions in the eastern U.S. allow the effects of earthquakes to propagate and spread much more efficiently than in the western United States.
Western rock is relatively young, which means it absorbs a lot of the shaking caused by earthquakes. Thus, western earthquakes result in intense shaking close to the epicenter, but fade more quickly the farther the earthquakes travel.
In the eastern United States, on the other hand, the rock is far older, and so earthquakes can have a much larger and more widespread impact. Earthquake energy can therefore spread farther and have a greater impact…..

  • Quake rocks Washington area, felt on East Coast: A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, DC, and was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where President Barack Obama is vacationing. … – AP, 8-23-11
  • 5.9-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes East Coast: An earthquake sent tremors from the nation’s capital to New York City and New England Tuesday afternoon, the result of what officials said was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake based in Virginia. … NYT, 8-23-11
  • D.C. earthquake shakes White House, Capitol: A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia shook Washington Tuesday. The White House and Capitol were among the Washington buildings that were evacuated…. – WaPo, 8-23-11
  • 5.9 quake hits Va.; Felt along US east coast: One of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded on the East Coast shook buildings and rattled nerves from South Carolina to New England on Tuesday and forced the evacuations of parts of the Capitol, White House and Pentagon.
    There were no immediate reports of deaths, but fire officials in Washington said there were at least some injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake registered magnitude 5.8 and was centered 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va…. – CBS News, 8-23-11
  • Rare quake rattles eastern US seaboard: One of the strongest earthquakes to strike the US east coast in decades rattled offices Tuesday in downtown Washington and caused panicked evacuations from skyscrapers as far away as New York. The Pentagon, the US Capitol and Union Station … – AFP, 8-23-11
  • City Seen as Vulnerable to Quake: In the last 300 years, there have been three earthquakes centered in and around the New York City area about the size of Tuesday’s quake: in 1737, 1783 and 1884. The 1884 quake was a magnitude 5.5 and was centered in Coney Island. … – WSJ, 8-23-11
  • Biggest Virginia Earthquake in Century Rattles Washington, Harms Cathedral: A 5.8-magnitude earthquake, the biggest recorded in Virginia in more than a century, rattled Washington, D.C., and prompted the evacuation of the White House. It shook stones loose from the National Cathedral, shuttered Washington monuments and forced the shutdown of nuclear reactors in Virginia.
    The temblor struck just before 2 p.m. yesterday in Virginia, almost 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of the U.S. capital and 3.7 miles below the earth’s surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. With many buildings evacuated, no serious injuries were reported in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 8-23-11
  • Quake felt in New York City office buildings: Tremors shook New York City office buildings on Tuesday, prompting evacuations of courthouses, City Hall and halting work at the World Trade Center construction site, officials and witnesses said. … – Reuters, 8-23-11
  • 5.9 earthquake rattles Washington, New York City, felt in eastern Canada: A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where President Barack Obama is vacationing.
    The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. There were no immediate reports of injuries…. – AP, 8-23-11
  • 5.9 magnitude earthquake strikes Virginia, shaking felt in New York City: The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter Scale. The epicenter was half a mile deep and centered near Louisa, Va., about 40 miles from Richmond.
    The quake, which hit at 1:51 p.m. and lasted only a few seconds, was felt up and down the Eastern Seaboard – from the Carolinas to Toronto.
    The tips of three spires on the National Cathedral in Washington fell off, part of a building collapsed in Baltimore and a brick chimney crumbled atop a housing project in Red Hook.
    That was the worst of it – except for the panic. More than 12 million people may have felt the quake’s sickening swaying, the USGS said. – New York Daily News, 8-23-11
  • Washington Monument top cracked by earthquake: The National Park Service says engineers have found a crack near the top of the Washington Monument presumably caused by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast. Park service spokesman Bill Line said Tuesday night that…. – AP, 8-23-11
  • The Washington Monument Is Almost Certainly Not Leaning: Amid reports of spotty cellphone service and “localized casualties,” Tuesday’s earthquake gave rise to a completely fantastic rumor that slowly seems to be gaining merit — or at least earnest investigation: That the Washington Monument was tilting…. – The Atlantic Wire, 8-23-11
  • Washington Monument To Remain Closed “Indefinitely” After Quake Causes Cracks: Engineers inspecting the Washington Monument on Tuesday found cracks at the top of the 555-foot obelisk which will keep it closed to visitors indefinitely, the Associated Press reports. The damage, likely caused by the 5.8 earthquake that struck…. – Business Insider, 8-23-11
  • D.C. monuments and museums closed; no major structural damage reported: With the Washington Monument in the background people walk nearby after it was closed to visitors as a security precaution following an earthquake in the Washington area. The 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered…. – Daily Caller, 8-23-11
  • Earthquake Is Felt in New York: The vibrations of an earthquake centered in Virginia were felt in New York City on Tuesday afternoon. Some buildings have been evacuated, including City Hall, the Department of Education headquarters and World Trade Center 7…. – NYT, 8-23-11
  • Quake, centered near Washington, felt along East Coast: An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck Tuesday near the nation’s capital and sent shock waves up and down the East Coast. “It’s one of the largest that we’ve had there,” said US Geological Survey…. – CNN, 8-23-11
  • Major quake hits DC area: A significant earthquake struck central Virginia Tuesday afternoon, shaking homes and buildings up and down the East Coast and forcing evacuations of major DC-area government buildings, including the White House, Pentagon and Capitol. … – Politico, 8-23-11
  • 5.9-magnitude quake jolts eastern U.S. : 2011-08-23: Office workers gather on the sidewalk in downtown Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, moments after a 5.9-magnitude tremor shook the nation’s capital. The quake, centered northwest of Richmond, was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York. … – Washington Times, 8-23-11
  • Earthquake shakes Boston: An earthquake centered in Virginia shook the Eastern Seaboard just before 2 pm, and was felt as a rumble lasting several seconds in the Boston area. Some buildings in the city were evacuated, while officials inspected them, but there were no immediate damage…. – Boston Globe, 8-23-11
  • US Capitol, Pentagon, State Department Evacuated After 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake: The US Capitol, Pentagon, State Department and surrounding buildings all emptied today following a 5.9 earthquake that sent government workers scrambling. Sirens sounded outside US House office buildings on the south side of Capitol Hill…. – ABC News, 8-23-11
  • Quake Listed at 5.9 Rattles East Coast From North Carolina to New York: A 5.9 magnitude earthquake jolted the East Coast … – ABC News, 8-23-11
  • 5.9 earthquake hits Virginia, jolts NY and Carolinas: A magnitude-5.9 earthquake struck Virginia at about 1:50 pm (EDT), the US Geological Survey reported Tuesday. Tremors were felt in New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and the Carolinas. In New York City, some buildings were evacuated…. – LAT, 8-23-11
  • Virginia 5.9 earthquake felt across eastern Canada; no reports of damage: A moderate earthquake centred in Virginia was felt hundreds of kilometres north in eastern Canada. People from Ottawa to Toronto and across into New Brunswick reported feeling the tremor. Toronto police said via Twitter that they had received … – Winnipeg Free Press, 8-23-11
  • 5.9 earthquake shakes Ontario, eastern US: Beginning of Story Content An earthquake centred in Virginia with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 shook a broad swath of the US and Central Canada on Tuesday. The US Geological Survey said the quake was centred near Mineral, Va., about 134 kilometres … – CBC.ca, 8-23-11
  • East-coast earthquake felt in Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York, Washington: The US Capitol building, the Pentagon and other buildings were evacuated, witnesses said. Buildings were also briefly evacuated in New York and Toronto. Emergency services in DC have reported many calls for no injuries. Cellular service was disrupted … – Montreal Gazette, 8-23-11
  • Quake shakes up Eastern Canada, US: Tuesday’s earthquake that was centred in Virginia also shook up a significant part of Eastern Canada. The 5.9-magnitude quake was felt by residents of Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Windsor, Ont…. – Vancouver Sun, 8-23-11
  • What?! An earthquake? East Coast reacts with shock: The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck Virginia on Tuesday gives new meaning to the word “aftershock.” Residents up and down the East Coast had trouble believing what they were feeling — that the earth was literally trembling beneath their feet. … – LAT, 8-23-11
  • Virginia quake: What was the damage on the East Coast?: Virginia quake caused the evacuation of many buildings and triggered the shutdown of two nuclear reactors. Cellphone call volume spiked as people rushed to call loved ones after the Virginia quake…. – CS Monitor, 8-23-11
  • Virginia 5.8 Quake Shakes Buildings From D.C. to Boston: A 5.8 magnitude earthquake, the biggest to strike Virginia in more than a century, hit about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of Richmond, rocking buildings from Washington to Boston and causing office workers in New York City … San Francisco Chronicle, 8-23-11
  • NY, DC briefly shaken by 9/11 memories during earthquake: Workers dashed out of buildings, many of them worried that the tremors from a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the East Coast was a bomb or terrorist attack…. – CNN, 8-23-11
  • 5.9 magnitude quake hits northeastern US and Canada: A 5.9 magnitude earthquake originating in Virginia rocked Washington, DC on Tuesday shortly before 2 pm EST, and seems to have been felt as far north as Quebec City. … – Macleans.ca, 8-23-11
  • Tremors hit Toronto after 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocks Virginia: A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centred in Virginia shook much of Washington, DC, and was felt through much of the northeast. (Aug. 23) A major earthquake in Virginia left little more than shaking bobblehead dolls, swaying blinds and vibrating chairs in … – Toronto Star, 8-23-11
  • Earthquake Rattles New York and Washington DC: Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from buildings in cities from New York to Washington DC. Air and train traffic has been disrupted and two nuclear reactors have been taken offline…. – The Province, 8-23-11
  • White House, Capitol, Pentagon evacuated in wake of earthquake: A 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled Washington on Tuesday afternoon — causing the evacuation of government buildings, cellphone service outages, traffic gridlock and delays in public transportation. … – The Hill, 8-23-11
  • Rare earthquake shakes and shocks Eastern Seaboard: There were no major injuries reported nor severe damage, but the 45-second earthquake that hit the East Coast Tuesday afternoon gave millions of people a thorough and efficient education in what Westerners already know…. – USA Today, 8-23-11
  • Facebook, Twitter report record earthquake messages: Facebook and Twitter proved on Tuesday to be a key source of information on Tuesday’s East Coast earthquake, as cellphone networks struggled with congestion from an overwhelming number of callers. The earthquake hit at 1:51 pm…. – WaPo, 8-23-11
  • DC Earthquake Dominates Social Media Sites: 5 Must-See Stats: News about the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook Washington, DC on Tuesday and was felt in cities throughout the East coast exploded online, spreading rapidly via social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. … – Huffington Post, 8-23-11
  • Virginia quake: Top five political jokes on Twitter: The Virginia earthquake prompted evacuations of the Pentagon, White House, and Congress. And the quake triggered an outpouring of political jokes on Twitter…. – CS Monitor, 8-23-11
  • For central Virginia’s seismic zone, quake is an event of rare magnitude: The state hasn’t suffered a quake of this size since the slightly larger one that rattled Giles County in 1897. “That’s the biggest earthquake in human history in Virginia,” said David Applegate, associate director for natural hazards at the U.S. Geological Survey. And the 5.8 quake Tuesday was as big as anything experts expect in the so-called Central Virginia Seismic Zone…. – WaPo, 8-23-11

American Historical Association’s (AHA) 125th Annual Meeting / Conference

125th Annual Meeting

Daily Updates Available at http://blog.historians.org/

2011 LogoBoston, MA
January 6–9, 2011

Theme: History, Society, and the Sacred

The 2011 Annual Meeting will be held January 6–9, 2011 in Boston with events scheduled in the John B. Hynes Memorial Veterans Convention Center, the Boston Marriott Copley Place (headquarters), and the Westin Copley Place Boston.

Meeting Program

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