You have to see this …


Yesterday 1/29/2010

the President stood in front of a gathering of House Republicans and took questions for more than an hour, urging them to put aside partisanship and work together for the good of the country. MSNBC described it as going straight into “the lion’s den.”

He was inspiring.

We’ve highlighted some of the key moments and trust me, it’s worth checking out.

Watch the video

Once you do, please pass this along to everyone you know.

This is the sort of honest dialogue and political courage that we all need to move our country forward.

Let’s do it together,

Mitch

Mitch Stewart
Director
Organizing for America

P.S. — There’s our own Q&A session for OFA supporters with President Obama coming up on Thursday, February 4th. Click here to submit a question now:

http://my.barackobama.com/HouseVideo

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Lilly ledbetter … getting paid less still stinks


It’s our anniversary!

Urge Your Senators to Support the Paycheck Fairness Act!

Take Action!

Tell your Senators to do the right thing and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Take Action Now

It’s been one year since the signing of the Act that bears my name — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Because of you and the thousands of supporters like you, workers can bring acts of pay discrimination to court.

But my job isn’t over and neither is yours. Today, women still earn, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s why for the last year I’ve been traveling the country, fighting for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, the essential companion legislation to the Ledbetter Act. It’s passed the House, but remains stalled in the Senate.

We need your voice now! Urge your Senators to quickly pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Why is the Paycheck Fairness Act so important?

It would empower women to negotiate for equal pay, create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. It would also strengthen penalties for equal pay violations — provisions that would have helped me.

In other words, this bill gives teeth to the protections against pay discrimination. And women, who are still shortchanged in the workplace, deserve just that.

Please take action today and urge your Senators to quickly pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Thanks again for all your support. And thanks for celebrating our anniversary with me!

Lilly LedbetterBest Wishes,


Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his commitment to passing “a comprehensive energy and climate bill… because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”

With the President’s support, we can win the fight for comprehensive legislation in 2010and the first step is making sure that the word gets out about his commitment. That’s why we’ve put together a short video sharing what President Obama said about clean energy and climate in last night’s State of the Union.

President Obama calls for comprehensive clean energy and climate  legislation -- Watch Now!

We’re already closer to winning this fight than many thought possible. The vast majority of Americans are on our side. The U.S. House already passed a comprehensive bill last summer. Our movement is strong and growing — with over 250,000 handwritten letters to the Senate last year, 55,000 posts on the Repower America Wall, and much more.

And as our video shows, we have a President who understands that a clean energy revolution can create millions of American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help keep our planet healthy for future generations.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Opposition from the fossil fuel industry is fierce, but we have a campaign plan to win. Together, we can make 2010 the year we begin to Repower America — and the first step is to help spread the word about Obama’s commitment to comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation:

Watch the State of the Union clean energy clips — and make sure everyone you know sees the video too.

We’ll need you with us every step of the way over the coming months. We are so close to making history — so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Thanks,

Maggie L. Fox
Chief Executive Officer
Climate Protection Action Fund

Washington State news … WA wins $590mil for high-speed Rail


LES BLUMENTHAL:  Staff writer 1/28/2010

WASHINGTON – Plans for a high-speed rail corridor between Portland and Seattle will receive a boost today when the Transportation Department announces $590 million in funding for the project.

Both Washington and Oregon have bought trains capable of traveling at 125 mph. But because of safety and freight traffic concerns, the trains are limited to 79 mph maximum and are plagued by slowdowns and erratic schedules

The higher speeds may still be years off, but the funding will be used to eliminate bottlenecks in the corridor and improve on-time arrivals.

“Anybody who travels the I-5 corridor in our state knows that we need to find new, efficient options to get commuters and commerce moving,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “This funding is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for to help make these improvements a reality.”

Murray, chairwoman of the Senate transportation appropriations subcommittee, learned of the funding in a phone call Wednesday from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Even though they had sought $1.3 billion, state officials said they were more than pleased with the amount and are already working on an application for the next round of funding.

“If that’s the number, that’s a big chunk,” said Scott Witt, director of the Washington Department of Transportation’s rail and marine program.

Congress provided $8 billion for high-speed rail corridors in the $787 billion stimulus and economic recovery bill it approved almost a year ago. President Barack Obama will travel today to Florida, where he is expected to announce funding for 13 high-speed rail corridors in 31 states.

Since 1994, Washington and Oregon have invested nearly $1.1 billion in the Cascades high-speed rail corridor. State officials said earlier that the federal funding would help pay for needed improvements in an effort to get train speeds to 110 mph.

But Witt said even with the federal funding the trains won’t reach 110 mph. Instead, the money will help the trains better keep to their schedule. About 64 percent of trains on the Portland to Seattle route arrive on time. Witt said that will increase to about 90 percent.

“They will run on time,” he said. “It’s about consistency of service.”

The $590 million is a good start, Witt said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “As the president said, this is a down payment.”

Built in Spain, the Talgo trains are equipped with a suspension system that allows them to lean into curves.

The passenger trains currently share track with freight trains on the BNSF mainline and sometimes face backups. The Amtrak Cascades route between Eugene, Ore., and Seattle had a 64 percent average on-time performance in 2008. The Portland-Seattle line carried 750,000 passengers in 2008, an 82 percent increase over 10 years ago.

Corridor improvements could reduce travel time from Portland to Seattle by almost an hour, from three hours and 25 minutes to two hours and 30 minutes.

The state wants to alleviate the congestion with a 19.2-mile inland “bypass” that runs through South Tacoma, Lakewood, past Fort Lewis and DuPont before rejoining the tracks in the Nisqually area. It’s expected to reduce the Seattle-Portland run by six minutes.

But Lakewood officials have voiced concern over the plan since it was unveiled in 2006. The route will run through neighborhoods and intersect streets where there’s currently no train traffic, except slow-moving freight trains that use it a couple of times a week. Lakewood also won’t get a stop on the Amtrak route.

On Jan. 19, the Lakewood City Council passed a resolution asking the state and federal governments to withhold funding until its concerns are addressed.

“Lakewood has taken issue with the state’s decision to avoid an environmental review for this project in light of serious traffic and safety concerns,” according to the city’s Web site. Lakewood officials say the local fire and school districts plan to issue similar resolutions.

Washington state and California officials have had preliminary discussions about a high-speed rail line between San Diego and Vancouver, B.C., using trains that could travel 200 mph. By some estimates, the corridor could cost between $10 million and $45 million per mile.

Les Blumenthal: 202-383-0008

lblumenthal@mcclatchydc.com

Staff writer Brent Champaco contributed to this report.

Cancel Haiti’s $1 Billion Debt …


Although the media’s attention on Haiti is starting to wane, the country is still amidst crisis.

Click here to sign your name

Call on Treasury Secretary Geithner to help cancel Haiti’s $1 billion debt.

The incredible outpouring of concern, aid and assistance coming from all over the world continues to offer hope, but for many of us the question lingers: “What else can I do?”

One important way to help Haitians build a better tomorrow is to convince global creditors to cancel Haiti’s crushing $1 billion international debt. Doing so will help make sure that every possible future dollar goes towards rebuilding a stronger Haiti, not to servicing old debts.

Thankfully, the United States has already forgiven Haiti’s past debts and now only gives assistance in the form of grants. We need Haiti’s other creditors – the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and countries like Taiwan and Venezuela – to follow our lead and do the same.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has the power to help make that happen.

Please tell Secretary Geithner to work to secure the cancellation of Haiti’s $1 billion debt and ensure emergency assistance is provided in the forms of grants, not debt-incurring loans. Even before the earthquake hit, Haiti – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere – faced tremendous challenges. But there was also hope. Recent years have brought a more stable government and tenuous gains in the fight against poverty.

Haiti needs an international effort to make sure that, as it begins the long road to recovery, it is not burdened with un-payable debts. We must also be vigilant that any new aid from the IMF and other sources doesn’t come in the form of loans that would create new debt for Haiti.

It all starts by calling on Secretary Geithner to use his influence to persuade international lending institutions and countries to do the right thing and drop Haiti’s debt.

Take action now.

Thank you for lending your voice,

– The Change.org Team in partnership with ONE