28.6.09

Capitol Hill Style

As I manage my applications for next year, I am already thinking about what I will wear if I am successful to intern on the Hill.
Step forward Belle and 'Capitol Hill Style.' This blog has been invaluable in sorting out the many outfit ideas which are rushing through my head, as well as interesting pieces of info which I may need to survive!

27.6.09

The Week in round-up

The world mourns the passing of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Like many of my generation, I heard the news on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. At first I thought, "What has happened?" and further investigation broke the news of his death.
Both Twitter and Facebook were awash with the news, with literally everyone's status updates saying, "OMG Michael Jackson has died." It has been a complete shock, especially ahead of his 50 dates to begin in London in three weeks. A friend purchased tickets for the event and is absolutely devastated by his death.
Rest in peace Michael.


On another note, the House of Representatives has passed the historic Climate Bill, 219 to 212. A cap and trade solution will be established, with the aim to cut greenhouse gases by 17% by 2020. It also creates guidelines for making alternative energy sources and cleaner technologies. Speaker Pelosi is credited for her outstanding efforts in sheparding the bill through the House. The Senate is now scheduled to consider the Bill.

23.6.09

Nine dead in DC Metro crash

The subway train that plowed into another, causing a crash that killed seven and injured scores of others in the nation's capital, was part of an aging fleet that federal officials had sought to phase out due to safety concerns, an investigator said Tuesday.

But the Metrorail transit system "was not able to do what we asked them to do," and the old trains kept running despite the 2006 warnings, said Debbie Hersman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The rush-hour crashed sent more than 70 people to area hospitals and killed at least seven people. The three-decades-old Metro system, a pride of the District of Colombia tourism industry, shuttles tourists and local commuters from Washington to Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced Tuesday that seven had died in the crash. Earlier, the District of Columbia Fire Department Web site announced that three bodies had been found in addition to the six fatalities reported Monday.

Fenty said two victims were hospitalized in critical condition.
Hersman said investigators expect to recover recorders from the train was struck, providing valuable information that might help determine why the crash occurred. But the train triggered the collision was part of an old "thousand-series" fleet that was not equipped with the devices, she said at a news conference.

Earlier, Hersman told The Associated Press that the NTSB had warned in 2006 that there were safety problems related to trains rolling back on their tracks.
"When the train rolled back, the operator was not able to stop it," she said. Hersman said the NTSB recommended that the thousand-series fleet be phased out or retrofitted to make them more crashworthy.

(The Huffington Post)

19.6.09

Offical Bo Portrait

I really want this dog!

15.6.09

Axelrod on Journalism

President Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod divulged a few secrets of his college days today as he told 1,300 journalism and other DePaul University graduates to "chase their passions” and not “succumb to the pull of the pull of the practical.”

Axelrod’s remarks came as Iranians protested suspicious official election returns and doctors gathered in Chicago, where Obama will address them Monday.

After the speech, Axelrod told reporters, “Iran has to consider whether to go down a path to isolate them from the rest of the world.”

But he largely stayed away from current events in his comencement address at Allstate Arena in Rosemont to DePaul’s College of Communications and other schools. He focused on his own experiences in journalism and politics and why he thought these students should “explore and experiment, take some chances.”

“You are as noble and unfettered and as free as you will ever be to pursue your passions and chase your dreams,” Axelrod said.

He smiled and added, “You may say, ‘That’s easy for you to say — you work for the president of the United States . . . The day that I walked across the stage, that day a million years ago, the last thing I ever dreamed was that I would be walking every morning to an office 20 feet from the president.”

Axelrod said when he was the age the graduates are now, he couldn’t wait to become a journalist — so much so that he ignored his studies in favor of newspaper internships.

“You ever have one of those dreams where you’re suddenly taking a final and you panic because you never attended a class? I’m here to tell you I lived my dreams,” he said.

Last month, Obama’s stance in favor of legal abortion provoked hundreds of protesters to picket his commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame. But no protest signs greeted Axelrod, only a standing ovation and a vote of confidence from DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider, who credited Axelrod with setting a positive tone in the Obama campaign.
“He is your last lesson,” Holtschneider told the graduates. “About four hours ago, in Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized liberal democracies . . . saying [people] cannot speak their will or mind. Today’s honoree, I think, is a living answer to that charge. If there ever was an election built around a popular, bottom-up movement, this was it.”

Axelrod was a University of Chicago graduate, but he told the graduating students and their families that as soon as he graduated, he bought season tickets for DePaul’s men’s basketball team.

“To show you how old I am, DePaul was a national powerhouse then,” Axelrod said.
He also got in a dig at Rosemont, where the Blue Demons play, saying, “It’s great to be home in Illinois, in the world’s greatest city. I mean Chicago, not Rosemont.”

DePaul communications Prof. Barbara Willard praised Axelrod’s skill in “branding” and “honing Obama’s message.”
“His main focus of the campaign was on the president’s voice,” Willard said. “The message, theme and tone of the campaign remained consistent.”

Axelrod spoke of his start in journalism.
“In those days, superb reporting played a historic role in uncovering the truth, shining a bright light on events like Vietnam and Watergate,” Axelrod said. “Journalists heped save the republic, and I wanted to be a part of that. But, over time, things changed. By the mid-1980s, journalism was becoming more business than calling. The front office began to take over the newsroom. The emphasis went from veracity to velocity, from reporting to receipts.”
He said that’s when he went into politics.

Axelrod said he hoped this generation could find new ways of doing journalism on the Internet and other media.
For instance, the student speaker at the commencement, Gabriel Vargas, earned a degree in computer-game development.

“Your generation changed politics forever,” Axelrod said. “There’s no reason you can’t do the same wth journalism, radio and the Internet or any other field.”

He warned the grads not to neglect their lives in favor of their careers. After Bill Clinton becamew the Democratic nominee for president and offered Axelrod the job of communications director, Axelrod turned down the dream to spend more time with his wife and three children.
“Had I taken that job, I wouldn’t have neen introduced later that year to a splendid young guy from the South Side with the unusual name of Barack,” he said.

After his speech, Axelrod spoke about Iran.
“We have grave concerns about the nuclear program in Iran,” he said.
Axelrod said the administration’s strategy in Iran “was never predicated on a regime” and that the United States will seek dialogue with whoever emerges the winner of Iran’s election.
He also spoke about Obama’s visit to Chicago Monday, where the presidentn will speak to the American Medical Association’s annual convention. He said Obama will seek to convince doctors that changes to the health-care system to make it more affordable to patients will mean less paperwork for doctors and generally is in their best intertest.

(The Chicago Sun-Times)

12.6.09

You're excused!



At yesterday's town hall event, the President writes a note excusing a girl from class to see him speak. Classic!

10.6.09

Presidential Memorabilia


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a collector of presidential memorabilia. Ever since my first visit to the US in 2001 my suitcases have contained books and sweet reminders of the places I've visited.

I am lucky enough to own a flag flown over the US Capitol, items from the Kennedy Administration, and my most recent purchase, a set of the Obama White House Easter Egg Roll eggs. (pictured above)
The other items I found on Ebay- you can find some of the more rarer items here, and some are quite inexpensive!

9.6.09

Mrs. O in London

The First Lady and first daughters are still in London, last night visiting a pub for a 'fish and chip' supper, as well as stopping by the Harry Potter set. They visited the Houses of Parliament and the Big Ben clocktower earlier in the day, as well as stopping by to see Sarah Brown at No.10.

They visited Westminster Abbey today, and my friend who works there was lucky enough to see them. "Mrs. O wore yellow!" was one of her remarks.

8.6.09

The Obama's Brit Trip

From BBC News:

US First Lady Michelle Obama and her children have visited the Houses of Parliament, the BBC understands.

It is thought she visited Big Ben with daughters Sasha and Malia after flying to the UK on Monday morning.

Mrs Obama stayed in Paris on Sunday for sightseeing after her husband, President Barack Obama, returned to the US following an official visit.

Downing Street said that Mrs Obama had not spoken to or met Prime Minister Gordon Brown or his wife.

It would not comment when asked if Number 10 had facilitated the visit, the BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent James Landale said.

Earlier, large numbers of police and security guards had been witnessed underneath Big Ben.

Well they could have paid me a visit!! :P

6.6.09

Mrs O unseen

From the WH FLickr photostream, Mrs. O welcomes a new baby of one of the staff. Looking fierce in orange, and what appears to be a tulip-style skirt.

Dr.B


In celebration of Dr. B's 58th birthday, here are some pictures that I certainly haven't seen before. Enjoy! :)

5.6.09

Speaker Pelosi and the 20th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square



Twenty years ago today, thousands of Chinese students, workers, and citizens marched in peace in Tiananmen Square. They called for democratic reform, freedom of speech and assembly, and an end to corruption. The People's Liberation Army, the People's Army, was used against the people, crushing demonstrators in Tiananmen Square and crushing dissent throughout China -- killing thousands. Today, the spirit of Tiananmen lives on in those continuing the struggle both in China and around the world.

Last week, I led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to China. While China has made great economic progress in the last twenty years, it is a country that remains full of contradictions and complexities. While its leaders have astonishing political power, they continue to censor the internet, lock up citizens who organize peacefully, and try to prevent 1.3 billion people from learning the truth about history.

The topic of human rights was discussed in our high level meetings and in my speeches. In Shanghai, our first meeting was with Catholic Bishop Jin to discuss the status of religious freedom in China.

In Beijing, I delivered a letter calling on the Chinese government to release certain prisoners of conscience. One of those individuals is Liu Xiaobo. Liu spent five years in prison and in re-education-through-labor camps for supporting the Tiananmen students and questioning the one-party system. Late last year, Liu was again arrested for being one of the organizers of Charter '08, an online public petition for democracy and the rule of law that called for new policies to improve human rights and democracy in China. About 5,000 people signed it. Imagine the courage of those who signed such a petition. Liu continues to be held without charges, and is reportedly under residential surveillance at a location outside of his residence, in violation of China's Criminal Procedure law.

In Hong Kong, we met with democracy, human rights, and labor leaders. But what I saw in China last week is that despite continued repression, the spirit of Tiananmen continues to inspire people there and abroad. Throughout China, workers and farmers are fighting back. They might not know about June 4th, as the Chinese government continues to censor news on the news (Wired's Threat Level blog compiled sites authorities have blocked which include Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, and the Huffington Post, among others), but they have similar concerns.
Two of the issues which have been priorities of my service in Congress -- promoting human rights and protecting the environment -- are coming together in the discussion about China. Environmental damage adversely impacts the poorest people in the world and this is especially true in China. It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 protests each year in China and the number continues to increase.

My friend Han Dongfang, one of the heroes of Tiananmen, explained to me that the Chinese people aren't fighting under a banner of democracy this time. They are defending their land from unlawful seizure. They are fighting corruption at the local levels. They are fighting against the poison that is being dumped into their air, land, rivers, and lakes. They do not have the proper channels to address their grievances. They are calling for a government that is accountable to the people. They are calling for openness and transparency. They are calling for justice. All of these things are what we mean when we talk about fighting for human rights.

As a Member of Congress in 1991, I visited China and unfurled a banner in Tiananmen Square dedicated to those who died for democracy there. That was one of the proudest moments of my career. It was my opportunity to express the concern that I had for the human rights situation in China and Tibet. On last week's trip, as Speaker of the House, I had the opportunity to speak directly to the President of China and other top leaders on the issues of freedom and human rights.

On Tuesday, the House passed a resolution recognizing the 20th anniversary of the brutal suppression of protesters and citizens in and around Tiananmen Square -- expressing sympathy to the families of those killed, tortured, and imprisoned in connection with the protests, calling for the Chinese government to allow full and fair investigations and to release those imprisoned for participating in the 1989 demonstrations.

With this, the United States Congress says to the people of China and freedom-loving people everywhere: Your cause is our cause. We will never forget, and we will continue to push for freedom in China, so that one day the world's most populous country can finally be called the world's largest democracy.
(Taken from The Huffington Post)

4.6.09

Two First Ladies

Mrs. O lunched with former First Lady Nancy Reagan today, following the President signing a bill creating the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission.

Mrs. O wears a striped T-shirt and floral cardigan from Gap (on sale for $24.99!), and white textured pencil skirt. A single strand of pearls and diamond bangles accessorized the look.