Obama to Support Efforts to End Conversion Therapy for Gay and Transgender Youth

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The death of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide in December after her parents forced her to attend conversion therapy, has initiated a lot of reactions, perhaps the largest of which is a whitehouse.gov petition that calls for an end to conversion therapy on gay and transgender youth. The petition has garnered more than 120,000 signatures—enough for President Obama to make a response and take action to forbid mental health practitioners from working to “repair” LGBT youth.

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50 Years After Bloody Sunday, a Push for Racial Fairness in Sentencing

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I caught up with State Sen. Vincent Hughes on Sunday afternoon by phone — he had spent the weekend in Selma, Alabama, joining the 50th anniversary celebration of the “Bloody Sunday” march that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and was driving with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to the airport to return home.

“Pretty powerful,” Hughes, the Philadelphia Democrat, told me. “Pretty powerful to stand on the same ground where, 50 years ago, people were beat in the head … just to secure the right thing, was just a powerful thing.”

“People took charge of their own destiny, and they changed the country in a meaningful way,” Patrick added. “That’s an important lesson about the power we have when we look up instead of looking down.” Read more »

Ramsey-Led Policing Commission Makes Recommendations

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair,  the President's Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair, the President’s Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The presidential task force on 21st century policing led by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has issued its “interim” report. Ramsey will hold a press conference on the findings this morning with Philly media.

NBC News reports:

In a report released Monday, Obama’s task force on police reform did not embrace proposed policies like requiring police officers to wear body cameras or linking federal funding for local police departments to requirements all of their officers undergo racial bias training.

The 11-person task force, chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a professor of criminology at George Mason University, instead recommended less sweeping changes.

Its “overarching recommendation” was for Obama to create a so-called National Crime and Justice Task Force to suggest more ideas. The report also urged, as civil rights leaders have long demanded, that police departments collect more precise data about the race and other demographic characteristics of people who are stopped and arrested.

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Gov. Wolf to Obama: Help Prevent Oil Train Accidents

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Every week, as many as 70 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation pass through Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf says. Many are en route to Philadelphia.

Wolf wrote a letter to President Barack Obama Friday, asking him for help preventing a tragic accident involving the trains. Here’s the letter:

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Is President Obama Really Christian?

Reverend Dr. Luis Leon (R) looks on as United States President Barack Obama (C) prepares to leave St John's Episcopal Church after an Easter service, in Washington, 31 March 2013. Photo by: Drew Angerer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Reverend Dr. Luis Leon (right) looks on as United States President Barack Obama (center) prepares to leave St John’s Episcopal Church after an Easter service, in Washington, on March 31,  2013. Photo | Drew Angerer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Forget the Oscars. Here’s how Erick Erickson, the blogger-activist recently labeled by The Atlantic as America’s “most powerful conservative,” entertained himself this weekend:

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Former Comcast Exec Gets Permanent Secret Service Job

In this July 10, 2009 file photo, Secret Service Agent Joseph Clancy, right, holds the door open for President Barack Obama upon arrival at the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, a day after bitingly critical questioning by Congress about a White House security breach. There had been increasing calls for her departure during the day. Pierson will be replaced by Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the president's protective detail who retired in 2011.

In this July 10, 2009 file photo, Secret Service Agent Joseph Clancy, right, holds the door open for President Barack Obama upon arrival at the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. 

Joseph Clancy, the Comcast executive plucked by President Obama to be interim director of the Secret Service in the wake of some notable security breaches, has been picked to take the job on a permanent basis.

“White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted last fall when Mr. Clancy was named interim chief that Mr. Clancy is trusted by both the president and first lady Michelle Obama, who were said to be livid about the White House security breaches,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Mr. Clancy was the head of the agency’s Presidential Protective Division until 2011, when he left the government for a job in corporate security at Comcast Corp. In his last Secret Service post, Mr. Clancy traveled alongside Mr. Obama in his personal detail.”
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Cohen: Net Neutrality Could Scuttle Time Warner Merger

Comcast is the focus of a big Page One story today in the Wall Street Journal, focusing on the company’s power in Washington, net neutrality, and the proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. It mostly covered well-worn ground, but we learned a few things, too. Three things that we learned:

President Obama’s favored net neutrality rules could scuttle the merger. The FCC is expected to vote in February whether or not to regulate Internet providers like a utility, as the president supports but Comcast opposes. If the FCC proceeds, Comcast Vice President David Cohen said Comcast will  “see what the order is and to then make a judgment about whether it is sufficiently bad for the broadband business that it would cause us not to go through with the transaction, or whether we’d go through with the transaction and simply have to be more conservative in our investment plans.”
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Obama Wants to Help Create Comcast’s Competitors

If Comcast really is militantly left-wing, why on earth is President Obama making life so hard for the company?

He already came out in favor of a net neutrality plan Comcast opposes. Now he’s explicitly calling for the creation of more broadband Internet service providers — essentially, a bunch of competitors for the Philadelphia-based company.

Gizmodo calls it “Obama’s Plan to Loosen Comcast’s Stranglehold on Your Internet”, and reports:

The first step, as outlined in a new White House report, is to get rid of state laws that favour the big broadband players, and stifle new competition:

“19 states currently have barriers in place limiting community broadband and protecting incumbent providers from competition. President Obama believes that there should be a level playing field for community-based solutions and is announcing today a series of steps that the Administration will be taking to foster consumer and community choice.”

The first step will be the Administration filing a letter with the FCC asking it to address these laws — something the FCC is already looking at doing. Furthermore, though, the report calls on the federal government to remove “all unnecessary regulatory and policy barriers to broadband build-out and competition, and [the President] is establishing a new Broadband Opportunity Council of over a dozen government agencies with the singular goal of speeding up broadband deployment and promoting adoptions for our citizens.”

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N.J Senator Rips Obama for Cuba Actions

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez is furious at President Obama for a historical deal with Cuba that paves the way for the normalization of the relationships between the two countries.

Here’s the backstory: U.S. contractor Alan Gross has been held by the Cuban government since 2009. Today, the administration of Raul Castro agreed to free Gross — and another man, held by the Cuban government for 20 years — in exchange for three Cubans convicted of espionage in 2001.

The deal, which should be announced this afternoon, paves the way for a huge change in U.S.-Cuba relations. Obama is expected to announce a loosening of travel restrictions, and start discussions on re-opening the U.S. embassy there. It was closed in 1961.

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