Tag Archives: 2020

Obama wants to double spending on clean energy R&D

President Barack Obama said over the weekend that he’ll ask Congress to double spending on research and development into clean energy by 2020.

But the request is unlikely to be fulfilled.

Republican lawmakers who rule Congress scoff at the science behind climate change and dismiss Obama’s pleas for the issue to be dealt with urgently.

In an unusual twist in Obama’s final year in office, the GOP chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees have said they will not hold a customary hearing on the president’s budget proposal the day after they receive it.

Obama plans to unveil the spending blueprint public on Feb. 9, just as New Hampshire voters head to the polls in the first presidential primary of the race to succeed him.

“Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, outlining his wish for the increased spending.

Federal spending on clean energy R&D would jump from $6.4 billion this year to $12.8 billion by 2020 under Obama’s proposal, administration officials said. Spending would increase by about 15 percent in each of the five years of the pledge. If approved, the budget that takes effect Oct. 1 would provide $7.7 billion for clean energy R&D across 12 federal departments and agencies for the 2017 fiscal year.

Obama’s proposal is part of the “Mission Innovation” initiative he announced at last year’s U.N. climate conference in Paris.

Some 20 countries, including the U.S., China, India and Brazil, have committed to double their respective budgets for this type of research over five years.

The White House said Obama wants oil companies to pay a $10 fee on every barrel of oil to help raise money for spending on clean transportation to combat climate change.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., immediately declared the president’s proposed oil tax “dead on arrival.” 

Barbara Walters looks back at past ‘American Scandals’

Though the fog of time may have clouded certain details, a parade of past scandals that each seized the public’s attention ring familiar to this day.

There’s Lyle and Erik Menendez, privileged sons who offed their parents in their Beverly Hills, California, home in 1989. Jean Harris, the girls’ school headmistress whose lover, celebrity diet doctor Herman Tarnower, was found shot dead after she visited him in 1980, landing her in prison with a murder conviction. Televangelist Jim Bakker and wife Tammy Faye, who built a faith-based empire before sexual and financial misdeeds wrecked their PTL Club money-machine and put him in the slammer.

Barbara Walters was there to cover these and other shocking events. Now the veteran journalist is updating the stories on American Scandals, a nine-segment series on Investigation Discovery.

“We had thousands of past ABC News 20/20 stories to choose from, and we brought some of them up-to-date by talking with subjects we could get to, as well as the people around them,” Walters said recently. “We’re exploring what is their life like now? What have they learned? And what can we learn from them?”

Fresh interviews supplement archival footage — some never before aired — which, viewed from as much as 30 years, often takes on new significance. “Footage from the past can look very different when viewed in the present,” Walters noted.

The series begins with the still-unsolved murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, whose lifeless body was found in the basement of her Colorado home in 1996, placing her parents, John and Patsy, under instant suspicion. Walters now talks with John, whose daughter would today be 25, about the lingering mystery and scrutiny that have plagued him ever since and that haunted his wife to her grave in 2006.

In its second episode, Scandals revisits perhaps the most galvanizing murder case of modern times — the vicious 1994 stabbings of Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson, the ex-wife of O.J. Simpson. Walters interviews Simpson houseguest Kato Kaelin, 56, who now pronounces his host (acquitted in that trial but currently serving time on an unrelated robbery conviction) guilty of the murders.

Walters also takes a new, perhaps gratuitous, look at one of the era’s most despised figures, Mark David Chapman, who at age 60 is remembered all too well for gunning down John Lennon in front of his New York apartment in 1980. Walters interviewed  the assassin in 1992 and for Scandals has landed what she says is the first-ever interview with Chapman’s longtime wife, Gloria.

Another enduring couple: Mary Kay Letourneau, the former schoolteacher and married mother of four who was twice jailed for her affair with a sixth-grade student. Now 53, Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, 32, have been married for a decade with two teenage daughters of their own.

“My God, they’re still together!” said Walters, who interviewed the pair a few months ago. “They’re an old married couple!”

Though reigning for decades as one of ABC News’ biggest stars, Walters said she’s glad to find a berth on niche-cable network Investigation Discovery, which affords her room for weekly hour-long explorations.

“We don’t have a newsmagazine anymore,” she said, referring to ABC. “We have 20/20, but — they’re gonna mind my saying this — it’s changed,” having narrowed the general-interest format Walters presided over.

“What Investigation Discovery gives me is the opportunity to present a whole interview and bring it up-to-date,” she said.

Other episodes include a look at actor Robert Blake, who was tried and acquitted of the 2001 murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley.

On another, she sits down with Kimberly Mays, who was switched at birth in 1978 at a Florida hospital with another newborn, resulting in a notorious custody battle between her biological parents and Robert Mays, who raised her. “We searched all over and found her living in poverty in Clearwater, Florida,” said Walters.

That points to the effort required to produce American Scandals, she added proudly. “They’re difficult to do. You can’t just pull out an old interview and throw it on the air.”

Currency affairs: Campaign underway to place female face on $20 by 2020

Who’s in your wallet?

Unless traveling with cash from another country, the portraits on your paper money are all males. 

But they are not all dead presidents — that’s Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, Ben Franklin on the $100 and Salmon P. Chase on the $10,000 bill.

So that’s one argument that can be set aside in the debate over whether Harriet Tubman’s portrait should be on the $20 bill instead of Andrew Jackson’s mug.

A nationwide nonprofit grassroots group, Women On 20s, petitioned President Barack Obama to place a woman’s likeness on U.S. currency. The goal is to accomplish this by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

Women On 20s conducted multiple rounds of online voting, from which Tubman emerged the winner on Mother’s Day.

Some 30 women were considered during the caucus phase of the selection process, which involved 100 historians, academics and museum curators as advisers.

Primary voting took place March 1–April 5, with voters selecting the top candidates from a field of 15: Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Tubman.

Voters nominated three women to the final ballot: Roosevelt, Tubman and Parks.

And, because of strong public sentiment to have a choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller was added to the final ballot. Jackson, who has been on the $20 since 1928, fought for the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and renewed a policy of military action to drive the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole and Cherokee nations from their homelands.

In the final vote, Tubman, the escaped slave, Union spy, abolitionist and conductor on the Underground Railroad, won the popular vote.

“Our paper bills are like pocket monuments to great figures in our history,” Women On 20s executive director Susan Ades Stone said in a statement. “Our work won’t be done until we’re holding a Harriet $20 bill in our hands in time for the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020.”

The group submitted the petition to the White House on May 12 and urged the president to instruct Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to change the $20 and have a new bill in circulation before the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, has introduced the Women on the Twenty Act. Senate Bill 925 would direct the treasury secretary to convene a panel to recommend a woman whose likeness would be featured on a new $20 bill.

“Our paper currency is an important part of our everyday lives and reflects our values, traditions and history as Americans,” Shaheen said. “It’s long overdue for that reflection to include the contributions of women. The incredible grassroots support for this idea shows that there’s strong support for a woman to be the new face of the $20 bill.”

Did you know?

The Secretary of the Treasury may order new portraits and designs on currency. The federal Commission on Fine Arts reviews all the designs.

By U.S. Code, the people featured on paper currency have to be deceased for at least two years.

They also must be recognizable to the general public.

— L.N.


Senator backs campaign to put female face on $20

The first woman to serve as both governor and U.S. senator is backing a campaign to put a female face on the $20 bill.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen filed legislation this week that would create a citizens panel to recommend an appropriate choice to the treasury secretary. She is hoping to build on the work of Women on 20s, a national campaign pushing for new $20 bills by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities that we sometimes don’t think about to point out the significant contributions women have made in U.S. history,” Shaheen said. “And this is one of those opportunities.”

The current portrait of former President Andrew Jackson has stared out from the face of the $20 since 1928. But paper currency is redesigned every seven to 10 years to thwart counterfeiters, and the latest $20 notes entered circulation in 2003. Changes can be ordered by the treasury secretary or president without an act of Congress, and Shaheen’s bill wouldn’t compel either to do so. Still, she and campaign supporters hope it will boost public support for redesigning the currency and spur broader conversation about the achievements of American women.

Barbara Ortiz Howard founded Women on 20s last year to honor historic women by making them visible in everyday lives. With help from experts in women’s history, the group compiled a list of 15 candidates that was narrowed to four finalists after a month of online voting: former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, escaped slave and leading abolitionist Harriet Tubman, civil rights icon Rosa Parks and former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller. More than 230,000 people voted in the first week after the finalists were announced April 6, said the group’s executive director, Susan Ades Stone.

Stone said voting will continue as long as interest remains high, though the group may approach the White House in the next few weeks.

“The name of the winner is not what this is about. What it’s about is showing that there’s wide support for a woman on our paper currency,” she said. “We are not under any illusions that the person who comes out of our polling will be the person who ends up on a bill because there is a process and that process usually involves empaneling a group of experts to make certain design choices.”

In a speech in Missouri last year, President Barack Obama described getting a letter from a young girl suggesting a long list of women to put on currency, and he said he thought that was “a pretty good idea.” Although others have started online petitions urging the change, none has reached the 100,000-signature threshold required for an official White House response, Stone said.

Shaheen, a Democrat, became the first woman elected governor of New Hampshire in 1996 and the first woman in the nation to serve as both governor and U.S. senator when she was elected to Congress in 2008. She contrasted the current social-media-driven campaign to the effort that led to the release of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coins in 1979.

“That was really before we had the social media we have today, but I remember a lot of people weighing in on that,” she said. “But paper currency is still really the currency of choice … so I think this is an important way to recognize women’s contributions just as we recognize men’s contributions.”

According to the Department of the Treasury, Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on $1 silver certificates in 1886, 1891 and 1896. Given that the $20 is overdue for an update, the cost of redesigning it to include a female portrait would be nominal, Shaheen said. Although she declined to pick one woman, Shaheen said some of her top choices include Tubman, Roosevelt, former first lady Abigail Adams and Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, a New Hampshire Democrat, said she is proud to support the legislation.

“Although half of America’s population are women, we have yet to see a face on paper currency that exemplifies the women leaders in our society,” Kuster said. “It’s far past time to honor the important women who helped shape our nation’s history.”

On the Web…

For more, go to Women on 20s.