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Hi, all.  In today’s report we feature the following:

• The President awards the National Medals of Science and the National Medals of Technology.

• The President meets with equal pay advocates after Senate Republicans defeat the Paycheck Fairness Act.

• The fight for the New START Treaty:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and ranking member Richard Lugar (R-IN) report to the press on a breakfast meeting hosted by the Committee for House and Senate leadership on Nov. 17.  All three urge the Senate to recognize the extreme importance of ratifying the New START treaty.  Temporizing, says Sen. Lugar, is inexcusable.

• Today’s National Entrepreneurship Week report is on a partnership between the Small Business Administration and several American universities to provide veterans with the help they need to start, run or expand a business.

• Following  a directive from the President,  CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) on Nov. 17 issued new rules protecting hospital patients' rights to choose their visitors.

• The Vice President's "It Gets Better" message.

From the White House:

Honoring Science, Technology and Innovation

President Obama awards the National Medals of Science and the National Medals of Technology and Innovation in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. November 17, 2010.

Remarks by the President in Presenting National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation

THE PRESIDENT:  

.... I believe one of the most important jobs that I have as President is to restore science to its rightful place. (Applause.)  That means strengthening our commitment to research. It means ensuring that our government makes decisions based on the best evidence, rather than politics.  It means reforming and improving math and science education -- and encouraging the private sector to inspire young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.  

And it means fostering a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship -- from incentives in clean energy to tax breaks to start-ups.  I’d also point out that’s not just a job for government.  Creating this climate depends on all of us, including businesses and universities and nonprofits.

One of the most important ways in which we can restore science to its rightful place is by celebrating the contributions of men and women like all of you.  Because that’s how we’ll excite a new generation to follow in your footsteps.....

You know, Carl Sagan once said, "Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge."  That way of thinking -- that combination of curiosity and skepticism, the sense of wonder and the willingness to test our assumptions -- it’s what, at root, we are honoring today.  It’s what has spurred countless advances and conferred untold benefits on our society. And it’s an idea that has driven our success for as long as we have been a nation....  

So it is now my privilege to present the National Medals of Science and the National Medals of Technology and Innovation.

[The citations are read and medals are presented.]

Yakir Aharonov.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Yakir Aharonov, Chapman University, for his contributions to the foundations of quantum physics and for drawing out unexpected implications of that field ranging from the Aharonov-Bohm effect to the theory of weak measurement.  

Stephen J. Benkovic.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Stephen J. Benkovic, Pennsylvania State University, for his research contributions in the field of bioorganic chemistry, which have changed our understanding of how enzymes function and advanced the identification of targets and strategies for drug design....

Esther M. Conwell.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Esther M. Conwell, University of Rochester, for her broad contributions to understanding electron and hole transport in semiconducting materials, which helped to enable commercial applications of semiconductor and organic electronic devices, and for extending her analysis to studying the electronic properties of DNA....  

Marye Anne Fox.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Marye Anne Fox, University of California San Diego, for her research contributions in the areas of organic photochemistry and electrochemistry, and for enhancing our understanding of excited-state and charge-transfer processes with interdisciplinary applications in material science, solar energy conversion, and environmental chemistry....

Susan Lee Lindquist.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Susan Lee Lindquist, Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for her studies of protein folding, demonstrating that alternative protein conformations and aggregations can have profound and unexpected biological influences, facilitating insights in fields as wide-ranging as human disease, evolution, and biomaterials....  

Mortimer Mishkin.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Mortimer Mishkin, National Institutes of Health, for his contributions to understanding the neural basis of perception and memory in primates, notably the delineation of sensory neocortical processing systems, especially for vision, audition, and somatic sensation, and the organization of memory systems in the brain....  

David B. Mumford.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to David B. Mumford, Brown University, for his contributions to the field of mathematics, which fundamentally changed algebraic geometry, and for connecting mathematics to other disciplines such as computer vision and neurobiology....

Stanley B. Prusiner.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Stanley B. Prusiner, University of California San Francisco, for his discovery of prions, the causative agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and other related neurodegenerative diseases, and his continuing efforts to develop effective methods for detecting and treating prion diseases....

Warren M. Washington.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Warren M. Washington, National Center for Atmospheric Research, for his development and use of global climate models to understand climate and explain the role of human activities and natural processes in the Earth’s climate system, and for his work to support a diverse science and engineering workforce....

Amnon Yariv.  The 2009 National Medal of Science to Amnon Yariv, California Institute of Technology, for foundational contributions to photonics and quantum electronics, including the demonstration of the semiconductor distributed feedback laser that underpins today’s high-speed, optical fiber communications....

Harry W. Coover.  The 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation to Harry W. Coover, Eastman Chemical Company, for his invention of cyanoacrylates -- novel adhesives known widely to consumers as "super glues" -- (laughter) -- which today play significant roles in medicine and industry....

Helen M. Free.  The 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation to Helen M. Free, Miles Laboratories, for her seminal contributions to diagnostic chemistry through development of dip-and-read urinalysis, which gave rise to a technological revolution in convenient, reliable, point-of-care tests and patience self-monitoring....  

Steven J. Sasson.  The 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation to Steven J. Sasson, Eastman Kodak Company, for the invention of the digital camera, which has revolutionized -- (laughter) -- which has revolutionized the way images are captured, stored, and created, creating new opportunities in commerce, education, and global communication....

THE PRESIDENT:  This picture better be good.  (Laughter and applause.)  

Federico Faggin, Marcian E. Hoff Jr., and Stanley Mazor.  The 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation to Federico Faggin, Marcian E. Hoff Jr., and Stanley Mazor, Intel Corporation, for the conception, design and application of the first microprocessor, which was commercially adopted and became the universal building block of digital electronic systems, significantly impacting the global economy and people’s day-to-day lives....  

http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

Background on the ceremony here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

The White House Blog, Nov. 17, 2010:

President Obama Meets with Equal Pay Advocates

Posted by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls

....  Today, only Democratic senators voted to support Paycheck Fairness for women -- not a single Republican voted to allow the Senate to move forward. It is notable that the first vote after the election in which the American people sent a clear message that they want Washington to work better, the Republicans blocked a common sense measure aimed simply to help ensure that women get the pay they deserve.

This afternoon, I participated in an inspiring meeting with leading advocates for women and girls who have been working tirelessly for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. This meeting included women who have dedicated their careers to the fight for equal rights for women, including Lilly Ledbetter, who became a relentless advocate for equal pay after fighting her own battle against discrimination. I was joined by senior women in the Administration including Melody Barnes, the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, and Tina Tchen, Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss today’s Senate vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Administration’s ongoing efforts to promote equality and economic security for American women and their families.

Shortly after the start of the conversation, President Obama joined the meeting and offered thanks to Lilly and the advocates for their incredible hard work and dedication. He expressed his disappointment and frustration, but noted the Administration’s past support of the bill and our commitment to closing the wage gap. Watch a video from the meeting:

President Obama Meets with Leading Equal Pay Advocates

Despite today’s vote, the Administration will continue its fight for equal pay for women – an issue that in these trying economic times is even more pressing given American families’ reliance on women’s income. The National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, with representatives from the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Office of Personnel Management, ("OPM") continues its pursuit of pay equity for women. The agencies are strengthening their own enforcement efforts and working together, building regional partnerships to promote earlier and more effective collaboration on investigations. And with leadership from OPM, we will continue to improve the federal government’s role as a model employer.

This Administration will keep fighting to improve the economic security for women and their families. This includes working hard in this session and the next Congress we will keep fighting for things such as an extension of emergency unemployment insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other measures we have supported that must now be extended. The President is committed to working with the women who joined us today and people around the country to support women and their families.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

Office of the Press Secretary, Nov. 17, 2010:

Statement by the President on the Paycheck Fairness Act

I am deeply disappointed that a minority of Senators have prevented the Paycheck Fairness Act from finally being brought up for a debate and receiving a vote.  This bill passed in the House almost two years ago; today, it had 58 votes to move forward, the support of the majority of Senate, and the support of the majority of Americans.  As we emerge from one of the worst recessions in history, this bill would ensure that American women and their families aren’t bringing home smaller paychecks because of discrimination.  It also helps businesses that pay equal wages as they struggle to compete against discriminatory competition.  But a partisan minority of Senators blocked this commonsense law.  Despite today’s vote, my Administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

State Department, Nov. 17, 2010:

Secretary Clinton Holds a Press Availability With Senators Kerry and Lugar

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a press availability with Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., November 17, 2010.

Remarks on the new START Treaty

SECRETARY CLINTON: .... Now recently some have suggested we should hit the pause button; that it is too difficult to do this treaty in a lame duck session. I strongly disagree. This is exactly what the American people expect us to do, to come together and do what is necessary to protect our country. We can and we must go forward now on the New START Treaty during the lame duck session. We have an opportunity to ratify this treaty and to lock in consensus on modernization funding.

And perhaps most importantly, and I want to stress this because I’m not sure that everybody really understands that when the prior treaty expired we lost the ability to have inspectors on the ground. We need to get our inspectors back into Russia after a gap of nearly a year. As our intelligence and defense colleagues have repeatedly noted, we are much better off with New START than without it. Jim Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, said yesterday, the earlier, the sooner, the better. We need the stability, transparency, and predictability that New START will provide by giving us insight into Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal. That is a rationale that previous presidents and congresses of both the Republican and the Democratic Parties have repeatedly and overwhelmingly supported.

This is also a treaty that is critical to our bilateral relationship with Russia. We have enhanced our cooperation to the benefit of our country on Iran, on Afghanistan, on nuclear nonproliferation, on counterterrorism, and on counternarcotics. That’s why our entire military leadership, as well as six former secretaries of state, five former secretaries of defense, three former national security advisors, and seven former commanders of U.S. Strategic Command support this treaty and support it now. Now, we look forward to the Senate quickly completing its advice and consent process.

And I want to stress how the American people want to see Republicans and Democrats working together on behalf of national security. That’s why in 1991, under a Republican president, the Senate approved the START Treaty by a vote of 93 to 6. That’s why in 2002, under a Republican president, the Senate approved the Moscow Treaty, which included no verification measures by 95 to nothing. I had the privilege of voting for that treaty. This treaty deserves the same overwhelming bipartisan support.

SENATOR KERRY: .... The American people have just expressed their will in a very divisive, difficult election year. They asked the United States Congress to do its business. They asked the Congress to get rid of the politics. They asked us to protect American interests. And it is this Congress that has done the work on this treaty. It is these senators, elected here and now, who have a constitutional responsibility now to deal with this treaty. It is this Congress that has done its homework, analyzed the treaty, gone to the hearings. These are the senators who have the responsibility to vote. And the President and the Secretary of State, the Vice President, who has been deeply engaged in this, are asking the United States Senate to do its job.

Now, let me just say I talked yesterday with a number of senators on the other side of the aisle, and we discussed the outstanding issues. As of now, there is no substantive disagreement on this treaty. What separates apparently the sense of ability to move forward is a question about money out 10 years into the future, for modernization. As of now, the President has put $80 billion on the table for modernization and an additional 4.1 billion to meet the request of Senator Kyl. And so, Senator, in a way, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the President of the United States, the Secretary of State have all said we’re committed to the modernization. As to next year, the House of Representatives will be run by the Republicans, and we would hope that a Republican leader in the Senate can get an agreement from a Republican in the House as to what is going to go forward with respect to that.

So we stand ready to negotiate. We have two weeks. We’re going to be out of here over the course of the Thanksgiving break. We stand ready to work on any day during that period of time. We have at least two weeks before this might come before the Senate. I refuse to believe that the door shouldn’t remain open, that we can’t find the good faith to negotiate on behalf of our country in order to deal with the modernization funding and in order to resolve any outstanding questions. The national security of our country demands nothing less than that effort, and we are committed to providing it....

SENATOR LUGAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Madam Secretary. Let me simply summarize this point of view. We’re talking today about the national security of the United States of America. The point is not simply a debate among senators at this point, it is a voice of the American people that has to inform senators that this treaty must be ratified and must be ratified in this session of the Congress. Why? Because, as Senator Kerry and Secretary Clinton have pointed out, since December 5, last December 5, we’ve had no boots on the ground to inform us of what, in fact, is occurring with regard to the nuclear weapons of Russia.

This is very serious. In my office, we have a scorecard that says at the beginning of the so-called Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, there were 13,300 nuclear warheads aimed at us, our cities, our military installations, everything we have – 13,300. I’ve stated frequently to my constituents any one of those warheads could obliterate the city of Indianapolis and there are thousands still there. The American public might have forgotten about it. The senators may have forgotten about it. We are deeply concerned about North Korea and Iran and other programs in which there are maybe one, two, five, 20. But we’re talking about thousands of warheads that are still there, an existential problem for our country. To temporize at this point I think is inexcusable.

Now I have supported the modernization of our nuclears. I’ve supported all the efforts of the President, Senator Kerry, and to work with others in the Republican Party essentially, but we are at a point where we are unlikely to have either the treaty or modernization unless we get real. That’s the point of our meeting today, and I appreciate the Secretary sharing so vividly her impressions of indefatigable travel. I appreciate the chairman’s patience through the hearings, through negotiations. We thank each one of you for helping us share this with the American people....

SECRETARY CLINTON: .... Nobody knows more about this issue than Senator Lugar. And for anyone to think that we can postpone it or we can avoid it is, I’m afraid, vastly underestimating the continuing threat that is posed to our country. So we hope our friends in the Senate will bring this up, pass this treaty, and then I can inform the Russians that it’s now their turn to do the same, which they’ve told us they will intend to do.

QUESTION: Secretary, do you believe that you have enough votes to get this treaty passed? And don’t you think that the Republicans are trying to go after the START for political reasons, which has nothing to do (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that both Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar are experts at dealing with their Senate colleagues.... The Administration will stand with them, will do whatever it takes, literally around the clock, to reach out, to answer questions, to have discussions, because we – this is not an issue that can afford to be postponed. So we think once we take that message with the urgency that you’ve heard from the three of us, we will get the votes and we will pass this treaty. Thank you all very much....

Full transcript here: http://www.state.gov/...

National Entrepreneurship Week:

Vetrepreneurs: Helping Our Vets Start Their Own Businesses

Posted by Jonah Czerwinski, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; he also serves as Director of the VA Innovation Initiative at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

[Links for all programs described are listed at the end of the article.]

National Entrepreneurship Week follows Veterans Day, the annual moment for Americans to honor all who served.  This week, let’s remember that Military Veterans gain valuable experience from their service to our country, making them a sought-after member of the American workforce.  They are innovative, dedicated, and trained in the most cutting-edge technologies.  Their leadership skills often drive them to entrepreneurship in America’s start-up economy where more jobs are created than in any other sector.

Entrepreneurship is an attractive option for Veterans, but the challenges of starting a new business can be tough.  Therefore, across the federal government, a wide array of options serves Veterans interested in overcoming these barriers and starting their own businesses – call them Vetrepreneurs.

Through a partnership between the Small Business Administration (SBA) and several of America’s top universities, Veterans can now receive high-quality training, networking, and mentoring through the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for service-disabled Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program provides training to women veterans interested in learning about entrepreneurship and starting, running or growing a business.  And Operation Endure & Grow is a new program providing National Guard and Reserve members, and their families, online training focused on the fundamentals of both launching and growing a small business.  The Veteran Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC) offers outreach, counseling, training, and online assistance for Vetrepreneurs.

Financial assistance is also available, through programs such as the Patriot Express Loan program and the Military Reservists Economic Injury Disaster loans, both managed by the SBA.

Several other opportunities exist, too.  But because no single, one-stop-shop resource exists to help Vetrepreneurs navigate these and other services, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – through the VA Innovation Initiative – is investing in the concept of an "Integrated Business Accelerator" to provide a single, end-to-end resource to guide Veterans from the first steps in considering a start-up, to establishing a new business, to finding ways to grow and expand a successful operation.

For those small businesses already run by Veterans, competing in the Federal marketplace against large and established companies can be a major challenge to growth.  Veteran-owned small businesses can enhance their ability to compete for federal contracts by participating in a Mentor-Protégé Program through SBA or VA.  The Federal Contractor Certification (FCC) Program likewise trains Veterans to compete in the contracting process.  Additionally, monthly Vendor Day Counseling Sessions educate all businesses on contracting with VA, which spends $15 billion every year in acquisitions serving the mission.  Veterans can also take advantage of a new online contracting tutorial.

This administration – as with all Americans – is committed to honoring our Veterans in meaningful ways.  These opportunities illustrate real ways in which your government and others do their part for Vetrepreneurs.  But even more can be done.  Stay tuned for more exciting news in the New Year.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

Entrepreneurship Boot Camp: http://whitman.syr.edu/...

Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE): http://www.whitman.syr.edu/...

Operation Endure & Grow: http://www.whitman.syr.edu/...

Veteran Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC):  http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/ovbd/OVBD_VBOP.html

Patriot Express Loan: http://www.sba.gov/...

Military Reservists Economic Injury Disaster: http://www.sba.gov/...

VA Innovation Initiative: http://www4.va.gov/...

Federal Contractor Certification (FCC) Program: http://www4.va.gov/...

Vendor Day Counseling Sessions: http://www4.va.gov/...

Online contracting tutorial for veterans:  http://www.sba.gov/...

The White House Blog, Nov. 17, 2010:

New Rules Require Equal Visitation Rights For All Patients

Posted by Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement

Earlier this year, President Obama called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create new rules for Medicare and Medicaid hospitals that would allow patients the right to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay. The Presidential Memorandum instructed HHS to develop rules that would prohibit hospitals from denying visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued that rule – a rule that will let patients decide whom they want by their bedside when they are sick – and that includes a visitor who is a same-sex domestic partner. The rule presents an important step forward in giving all Americans more control over their health care.

The new rules:

Require hospitals to explain to all patients their right to choose who may visit them during their inpatient stay , regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), or other type of visitor, as well as their right to withdraw such consent to visitation at any time.

Require hospitals have written policies and procedures detailing patients’ visitation rights , as well as the circumstances under which the hospitals may restrict patient access to visitors based on reasonable clinical needs.

Specify that all visitors chosen by the patient must be able to enjoy "full and equal" visitation privileges consistent with the wishes of the patient.

Update the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) , which are the health and safety standards all Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals and critical access hospitals must meet, and are applicable to all patients of those hospitals regardless of payer source.

CMS finalized the rules based on thousands of comments from patient advocates, the hospital community, and other stakeholders. The rules will be effective 60 days after publication.

For more information about the rules, visit CMS’ website: http://www.cms.gov/... ....

The Presidential Memorandum on Hospital Visitation is here:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

From the White House:

Vice President Biden: It Gets Better

Posted by Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement

The life that lies ahead is so much greater than the difficulties that lie behind you. It will get better," said Vice President Biden in a video message, joining thousands of Americans that have come together to share their messages of hope and encouragement for LGBT youth who are struggling as part of the It Gets Better Project. http://www.itgetsbetterproject.com/

Vice President Biden wanted to share his message of support following the tragic suicides of so many young people due to bullying and taunting. Like President Obama, he wanted to speak directly to youth out there that are experiencing incredible pain and feelings of isolation because they may be or are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

If you are a young person who’s been bullied or harassed by your peers, or you’re a parent or teacher who knows a young person being bullied or harassed, here are a few resources that can help:

The Trevor Project http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LBGTQ youth by providing resources and a nationwide, 24 hour hotline.  If you are considering suicide or need help, call: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).
BullyingInfo.org http://www.findyouthinfo.gov/...

BullyingInfo.org is a project of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP) focused on providing tools and resources for youth, parents, teachers and mental health providers to prevent and address bullying.

It Gets Better Project http://www.itgetsbetterproject.com/

Vice President Biden’s video is just one of thousands of videos submitted by people across the country to inspire and encourage LGBT youth who are struggling.  You can watch more videos at ItGetsBetterProject.com.
For even more information and resources visit or call:

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) http://www.glsen.org/

Matthew Shepard Foundation http://www.matthewshepard.org/

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) http://community.pflag.org/

National Suicide Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255)

http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

Originally posted to Kat 4 Obama on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 09:37 AM PST.

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