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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  May 9, 2014 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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crimea. a hearty embrace from the russian crowd and there is plenty of criticism surrounding the obama's administration handling of putin. >> we'll simply announce we'll put nato forces where they should be to be responsive to current threats. we need to teach putin that actions have consequences. >> is the world less stable today because barack obama miscalculated so badly on vladimir putin and russia? >> no question about that. >> our girls, rallying behind the nigerian people's desperate to see the girls home. >> i ran from their camp with three other girls, she says, they chased us but we got away. >> we will talk live with white house press secretary jay carney
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about the next step in nigeria and ukraine. shinseki orders a wide ranging view of practices in va hospitals around the current. but the question surrounding deaths of those of phoenix hospital days before he faces lawmakers on capitol hill. we'll take you live to arizona for the very latest on a growing scandal. and very good friday to you, i'm kristen welker in washington. vladimir putin is making his first visit to crimea since his country annexed the region from ukraine arriving by boat. the visit comes hours after the russian president presided over a military parade through red square as they mark victory day
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and defeat of nazi germany. there are reports of fresh violence today and multiple deaths in the southeastern ukraine where forces clashed with pro-russian troops trying to take control of a government building. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel joins me now from donetsk, ukraine. thanks for joining me. i want to start with the reports of violence. what's the latest and talk about putin and the show of force he's exhibiting? >> first on the violence it is mostly centered in the city in southern ukraine, not far from crimea. this violence began yesterday when russian separatists and militias took over the main government building in the center of the city. they were driven out by ukrainian government forces this morning and there's been back and forth gun battles throughout the day in the city. then just a short while ago, about 200 pro-russian gunmen
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were seen leaving from this city heading down, about an hour and a half drive. and pro-ukrainian militias were heading in the same direction. it is about to get dark so there are concerns in the overnight hours it could be quite violet. the other news, the political news, this visit by vladimir putin to crimea, of course crimea was taken over by russian forces and then it was annexed and declared part of russian territory, it had been rumored that putin was going to go. but until he arrived, it was never certain. then, of course, he did arrive making his grand entrance by boat, addressing crowds there. he said that 2014 will go down in history when the people of crimea decided to be reunited with russia. he also called on the international community to respect russia's rights. he said russia respects other country's rights and interests
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but other countries must respect russia's interests including its right to self-determination and correcting historic injustice. that is a vague and quite broad interpretation of events russia believes and mr. putin believes that the collapse of the soviet union was a historic injustice. >> richard engel, thank you for your reporting. we appreciate it. for more now on the crisis in ukraine and other pressing issues i'm joined by white house press secretary jay carney. thanks for joining me. >> thanks for having me, kristen. >> i want to pick up right there, vladimir putin in crimea. isn't this a sign he is feeling ever emboldened right now and does it not support mitt romney, one your critics who said president obama miscalculated putin? >> mr. pud putin's presence in crimea is not helpful.
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the united states does not recognize the illegal annexation of crimea, part of the sovereign nation of ukraine. any effort he engages in that further destabilizes the situation in the rest of ukraine, including in the east and south, is very unhelpful. as you know, kristen, the united states and our partners and allies and europe and g-7 imposed sanctions on russia, raising the cost of the actions that russia has taken to destabilize ukraine and they will rise if they do not keep the commitments they made in geneva when it agreed to work towards stabilizing the situation. >> let me jump in on that point about sanctions. several rounds of sanctions, i believe it's been five so far. do you see any evidence they are having any type of impact president putin said he called his forces back from the border but do you see any sign he's
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done that? >> we have not seen any sign that russian troops have been moved away from the ukrainian border. we've seen positive statements in the past from the russians and from president putin that not turned out to be true. that includes with regards to the statement president putin made that russia does not support the illegal referendum called for separatists in regions of eastern ukraine. >> it looks like it's going to go forward, jay, is that your understanding? >> it's illegal under ukrainian law and does not have the support of russia, which is actively supporting the separatists groups. it remains to be seen what if anything will happen when this referendum takes place if it does, but it will not have any meaning in the law and not be recognized by ukraine, by the united states, we any of our partners and allies. >> i want to move on to nigeria, we're getting two reports today, one o cording to officials, 276
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missing girls who were kidnapped may have been separated, which would make it more difficult to find them. then secondly, we are hearing that the nigerian president is saying that he believes the kidnapped girls are still in nigeria can he address both of those reports? >> we have seen reports about the whereabouts of the nigerian girls abducted. we cannot confirm any individual report. i can't get any into int intelligence he may have. the group may have been separated into smaller groups and we're working as you know right now with the nigerian government providing assistance and advice on military operations, on intelligence matters, on hostage negotiations and law enforcement issues and standing up inner agency teamworking with personnel at our embassy in nigeria in addition individuals are coming from elsewhere, u.s. personnel,
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state, defense department and fbi personnel coming to stand up this inner agency team that will work with the nigerian government and we'll do everything we can to help the nigerian government find the girls and bring them home safely. >> i know u.s. officials are on the ground right now. can you characterize the coordination taking place? there was real concern that the nigerian government, even though this had accepted the united states offers for help might not actually be respective to it once it arrived. >> well, we are providing advice and assistance currently to the nigerian government and glad that president jonathan accepted the offer and we'll work closely with the government providing assistance and advice that we can from all of the different angles i discussed, military law enforcement and the like. what we obviously have noted is that it is nigeria's responsibility, nigerian government's responsibility first and foremost to find the
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girls and bring them home safely. we together with the british and french are eager to provide whatever we can. >> back in 2011, then secretary of state hillary clinton rejected calls to make boko haram a terrorist organization despite urging to do so. was that a mistake given it would have put more resources into fighting boko haram now characterized as a terrorist organization. >> as you just noted we have now decembsignated them as a terror organization and prior to that designated individual leaders of boko haram. >> it took two years for that to happen. why did it take so long? >> we have been working with nigerian government and others in the battle against boko haram and other organizations like it and we'll continue to do that. that predates any designations of individuals or of the organization itself.
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what can not be forgotten. the responsibility for these heinous acts lies entirely with boko haram and its leader. they are hideous in intentions and incredibly dangerous and already responsible for something like 1,000 deaths this year. and we're going to work with all of our partners, including the nigerian government to combat this organization and its leaders. >> jay, let's move onto the benghazi select committee which the house just approved yesterday. it comes on the heels of recently released e-mails by the white house. why did it take so long for e-mails to come out? does it not just add fuel to the critic who's say you're not being completely forthcoming when it comes to how the crisis in benghazi was handled. >> house republicans in what is a blatantly political and partisan effort voted to start another investigation into this matter. presumably because the six
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previous investigations by congress, by republicans, were somehow not adequate. i think if you saw as others have commented, the republicans are fund raising off of this effort. and what you have seen all along is through every investigation, the conspiracy theories that have fueled republican interest in this have all fallen apart. and no documents, including the single e-mail you referenced which was released last week changed any of the facts as we know them. and this will continue to be the case. it's unfortunate that house republicans continue to pursue this in a highly partisan manner and in fact they themselves have acknowledged how political it is and how oriented toward trying to raise money and motivate their base for a mid-term election. >> we're running out -- >> when they could be joining the administration and democrats and providing funding necessary
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to ensure securities for diplomats overseas. the fundamental fact about benghazi, there wasn't adequate security for four americans who died. >> one more yes or no because i want to get to one on the va, should democrats cooperate with the select committee? >> we leave it to leader pelosi and other democrats in the house to make decisions about how they will participate or not participate. but i think the nature of this and the political nature of this investigation has been pretty clear just hearing republicans talk about it in the last several days. >> jay, finally, there are mounting calls for eric shinseki to step down in the wake of reports as many as 40 veterans may have died due to delayed care in phoenix. all week long you have said the president continues to stand by him on this friday, does the president still believe that eric shinseki should stay in his position and should not step down? >> the president has confidence
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in secretary shinseki who has launched a broad investigation into this matter and asked the independent inspector general at veterans affairs to investigate this matter. look, i think general shinseki who is himself a veteran and west point graduate has keenly focused on fixing the problems that exist at the veterans affairs department and working with everyone who wants to make sure it is functioning as effectively as possible for our nation's veterans who deserve so much of our thanks and support give what they've been through on behalf of the american people. on secretary shinseki's watch we've attacked the backlog in veterans affairs for health care and the trend lines are very positive. this comes on top of efforts to ensure that if you suffer from
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kp complications from agent orange or iraq, you are assumed to require care from the va, that is put stress on the system but we're focused on making sure our veterans get the care they deserve. >> jay carney, thank you so much for your time this afternoon. we appreciate it. >> thank you, kristen. >> president obama will be speaking later in the hour in mountain view california as at the continues his push for energy efficiency. we'll carry it live here. dallas residents are cleaning up after a major storm system pushed through the metropolis and heavy flooding over the area. 47 million felt this storm from texas all the way to minnesota. and it's still on the move pushing to the eastern sea board. we'll be right back. >> we've got an abundant gulf moisture coming up. you've got warm air coming in. then on top of that you've got colder air and a jet stream is
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don't miss the memorial day sale. ♪ mattress discounters some of my favorites, of course, paul ryan, we were a great team together. chris christie and jeb bush and rob portman, the list is long, scott walker. there are a lot of fellows and hopefully women as well. i think the best prospects of getting back the white house is with someone who has not run twice before as i have. >> that's mitt romney naming his favorites for the 2016 republican nomination, notably not on that list, himself. joining me now, senior political editor mark murray and
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"washington post" columnist and msnbc contributor, jonathan capehart. thanks for being here. let's start with mark. a lot of establishment rpz on that list. >> he said two interesting things -- one thing he didn't say. first thing was he's looking for practical folks and you're already seeing the establishment versus tea party split and mitt romney not surprisingly would probably align more with the chris christies of the world. do they even run? does someone like scott walker run? he has to win his gub that forrial to get in. he didn't mention ted cruz or rand paul. you're seeing the fault lines that are emerging in the republican party. >> you see the fault lines if ted cruz were to get the nomination, does that mean mitt romney would sit on sidelines. >> i would think so.
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he was pretty definitive when he said we need other people to come into the race, he is especially people who haven't run twice before. he's run twice before. so the american people especially in the last election rendered their judgment and so it wouldn't make any sense for him to run again or the party to have him run again. >> let's hear what he had to say on hillary clinton. he made news there. take a listen and we'll get your reaction on the other side. >> with regards to her career as secretary of state, i think in fact that's going to be an enormous liability for her because this is after all the, if you will, the evidence of her leadership capacity and the four years that she served as secretary of state were not good years for the united states america abroad. she worked hard and shook a lot of hands and people said boy she had been on airplane a lot, a good thing. if you look around the world, whether in asia, latin america, the middle east, north africa, this was not a good time for america. >> jonathan, clearly republicans
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getting their talking points in line should she decide to run. >> this is all about muddying up hillary clinton before she even decides whether or not she's going to jump into the race, belittling her tenure as secretary of state when the biggest thing she was able to do because of her star power as a former first lady and senator, she was known around the world so she shook a lot of hands but that did a lot for america's stature. >> interestingly, mitt romney also made news on the minimum wage, he supports it, joined his former 2012 republican contenders who have also called for increase in the minimum wage. how does that weigh into or play into the current debate right now unfolding in d.c.? >> it gives democrats a talking point, even to say republicans like mitt romney and rick santorum favor raise the minimum wage and republicans will counter janet yellen ended up saying, raising the minimum wage
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does have a cost in jobs sometimes. you have rhetorical back and forth and doesn't seem we're going anywhere unless there is a deal that gets cut. mitt romney, rick santorum, pawlenty, they represented blue states and you have a different need and different kind of voters than you do if you're the governor of texas or a senator from a very conservative state. >> just in time for mother's day, we have a new poll out, let's put out the results. who's your favorite first lady? barbara bush, hillary clinton tied at 27% and michelle obama close 24. laura bush comes in at 17%. gets a little bit more complicated when you break down these numbers into different groups. what do you make of this poll? >> i think you almost have four winners and everybody likes first ladies. michelle obama has a narrow lead over hillary clinton when you look at democrats among african-americans and michelle
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obama has a big lead. when you look at republicans they tend to favor barbara bush over laura bush. these are for the most well liked people on the political stage or ex-political stage. you can't say that about their husbands or a lot of other -- a lot of other people involved in american politics. >> sort of like to see what would happen if all of the women threw their hats into the 2016 ring. get a preview of that. >> i like that idea. >> you're seeing what's interesting with more distance it seems like these women get more popular. >> right, look at where president george h.w. bush's standing is now. when he was tossed out of the white house, his approval rating was low and standing within the party was low. and now i think everyone all americans look back on the george h.w. bush years as he was a nice man. he was a competent man and actually ran the country well. yes, with distance comes greater admiration. >> jonathan capehart, mark
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the girls who escaped the kidnapping further endanking them by providing a stigma in society. joining me on skype from senegal. my first question, what impact do you think naming the girls can be? can it put them in more harm's way? >> i think the risk comes when the girls come back, when the girls escape or rescued because the problem when boko haram kidnapped girls and young women in the past they have often returned either violated or some even with young children or pregnant. when these young girls and women get back they are isolated and ostracized by their communities. the families sometimes have to send them away to bigger cities to get away from the stigma. it's very difficult for them to come back and to be back in their home communities and for
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all of their neighbors to know that they were with boko haram members. >> our ann curry asked john kerry via twitter, do you have any confidence all or some of the girls can be found? the secretary of state responded, too early to conclude. team arriving, very difficult situation. determined to do everything we can to help. what do you make of that exchange? and what is the level of optimism there that these girls are actually going to be found? >> well, i mean, i think that statement was just extremely practical and realistic because it's true, we don't know. at some point because it's been so long we received intelligence that these girls had been split up. it is going to be more difficult to find them. but it doesn't mean it's not possible. the mood -- i spoke to a
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resident in the town yesterday and called him for another reason. as we were about to hang up, he told me the residents of the town are so happy because they had seen a few fighter jets and helicopter flying around above the nearby forest. so they still have hope and still think you know, these girls are going to be rescued and they are extremely excited by the fact that u.s. and other countries are helping nigeria. >> that's encouraging to hear. i want to get your take on some of the latest that u.s. intelligence officials are saying. they say these girls may have been split up into small groups. what can you tell us about that, alexis? >> that is something that we've heard from eyewitnesses on ground in nigeria not long after these girls were taken, parents were hearing from villagers who were seen boko haram militants,
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that these girls were split up in smaller groups. even the girls who escaped, militants were already grouping the girls into smaller groups. that seems extremely accurate and likely. >> thank you so much for your continued reporting and great work on this story. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> court ordered redemption in italy today. silvio berlusconi began at work and avoided a sea of photographers this morning. he was convicted of tax fraud last year and expelled from his seat on italy's parliament. we're moving our company to new york state. the numbers are impressive. over 400,000 new private sector jobs... making new york state number two in the nation in new private sector job creation... with 10 regional development strategies to fit your business needs. and now it's even better because they've introduced startup new york... with the state creating dozens of tax-free zones where businesses pay no taxes for ten years.
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waiting for care while covering up long waiting times on a secret list. family members are outraged and want answers. >> the crisis is personal for sandy pert who lost james not only to skin cancer but to a flawed system at the veterans hospital in phoenix. >> if they knew about this secret waiting list, they need to be held accountable for it. >> that was our kelly o'donnell reporting. jim miklaszewski joins me now live. what is the very latest on this investigation and on this situation? >> well, the igs office for veterans affairs department is looking into this. they are sort of in a lockdown during the investigation. i can tell you while all of the focus is on secret waiting lists and reports and allegations that as many as 40 people may have died while on this secret waiting list instead of getting treatment they needed at the va
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hospital in phoenix, the crux of the problem according to the first -- initial whistleblower is the fact that the va system is overwhelmed. you know, we heard the president say look, we're going to do everything we can to fix this. we heard john boehner on capitol hill say this is a systemic problem. but even this whistleblower said it's more a structural problem. to quote tom brokaw, you know, that greatest generation is now becoming the oldest generation, many of them are veterans, we have all of these veterans that have returned from the wars in iraq and afghanistan who by the way pushed to the front of the list in terms of the kind of treatment that they get. the system has been overwhelmed. now, if there was criminal activity, even secretary shinseki said we're going to get to the bottom of it and take whatever action is necessary, but ultimately, you know, the va is overloaded and quite frankly
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it needs the help of congress and the administration according to officials there. >> mik, while i have you, you've been tracking the latest from nigeria, the crisis there and search for more than 200 girls. what is the latest on the pentagon's efforts to help bring the girls back home? >> i was listening to your previous interview in the heart rendering remarks from a woman who said they remain hopeful. i've got to tell you, we've had a briefing here at the pentagon with rear admiral john kerr by who made it sound there's really a lack of cooperation between the u.s. and nigeria in the term -- in terms of the kind of assistance and help that the u.s. is willing to provide. now, six additional military arrived there today, two more will arrive over the next couple of days. according to john kirby, he said that's the only assistance that nigeria has accepted from the u.s.
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currently there are no active discussions about the use of any kind of surveillance drones and ultimately, admiral kirby urged the nigerian government to use all resources at their disposal. you get a sense that nigeria is not as aggressive as it should be. for many soldiers the war doesn't end once they left the battle field. it can take a long time for the physical and mental wounds to heal. and a new three-part pbs documentary series "coming back" chronicles the stories of the brave men and women as they seek to regain normalcy. >> he lived in the chair for a year and lay in it and we couldn't have the dogs near him
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because the hair could get in the open wounds and couldn't have the ceiling fans because it would dry out huz his scars and needed to keep them moist. there were a lot of rules. >> i felt like a big burden on my family. i thought he would be better off dead. i prayed to god to let me fall asleep and not wake up, it would be easier for the family to get through. >> film maker and author wes moore served in afghanistan in the 82nd airborne and spent time in baltimore with military members that returned home and talks about the series. thanks for joining me. before we get to the pbs documentary, i want your reaction to the va scandal, the news that as many as 40 vets may have died in phoenix waiting for care. >> this has been an incredibly frustrating experience for our veterans community, not just the revelations of what's happened in phoenix but the fact is this is not a new phenomenon, whether
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it's phoenix or happening in colorado or the two most recent discoveries that we found in texas and also in san antonio. our veterans community needs to understand that our country has our back. and i think congress woman tammy duckworth said it best. when the nation called upon our veterans to serve and fight, we raised our hand and didn't ask our country to wait. why now that when veterans are coming back home and we're saying we need support are we then being asked to wait. there are things structural issues that need to be addressed where we look at bills like veterans management accountability act that's up. veterans need to know the country will support them the same way back at home as we do when we're overseas. >> the american legion called on secretary shinseki to resign. do you think he needs to resign? >> i think there needs to be a greater sense of accountability?
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>> is that a yes? >> the american leej orn and other organizations have expressed what all of us feel. if we cannot come up with a system that's better able to address these issues not go from fire to fire there needs to be changes in the leadership that will better reflect ways to think about structural changes that need too take place. we have great respect for general shinseki but the truth is the level of transparency and the level of efficiency that happens within the va system has to be addressed. >> let's get to your documentary "coming back", a three-part series and airs tuesdays may 13th to the 27th. why was it so important to humanize these experiences and challenges of reintegrating back into society. >> a big came from my came from my experiences coming back. i saw the level of disconnect that we had between our society and those who are overseas fighting in wars. we're coming off two of the
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nation's longest wars in our history and less than one half of one percent of our population have direct contact with those wars. as we think about this reintegration process, we want to say, what does that redeployment mean to the 2.6 million people fighting in these wars? by making sure we're not just talking about the numbers and not just talking about the challenges and we're humanizing who are these people that were supposed to be advocating for and supporting but who are these people coming back with extraordinary skill sets to do our nation a great search to better utilize. >> the documentary tackles the issue of suicide if our figures are correct, as many as 22 returning vets commit suicide per day. based on your reporting and this documentary, why are those rates so high and what needs to be done? what more can the government do?
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what more society do to prevent this from happening? >> there's a collection of reasons why the numbers are so high. one thing for a fact, if you look at the veterans unemployment rate and suicide rates they literally track one another. doing a better job about hiring and supporting entrepreneurial endeavors becomes an incredibly important part. in addition we have to do a better job of being able to get rid of the stigma of mental health counseling and support and part of that comes down to the structural supports in things like the va to make sure our veterans are being served and honored and veterans service organizations and bsos who made this part of the mission. helping men and women coming out of uniform now the transition won't be easy for any of us and that's okay but they are not alone in that transition. >> and the documentary is called "coming back" with wes moore. thank you so much for joining us to talk about all of these issues this afternoon. >> thanks so much, appreciate it. >> coming up, honoring women in a big way is closer to reality.
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a decades long campaign has taken a big step forward with a vote in congress. carolyn maloney is a champion of this cause and joins me now. thank you so much for joining me. happy mother's day. >> thank you, thank you for focusing on it. it's long overdue and we had a solid vote in the house, 92% and now moving to the senate where all 20 senators are united, female senators in support of it. >> let's talk about your long fight for this, 17 years to get this bill passed. tell me why it took so long and what happened this year that you were actually able to get this bill passed, to green light this project? >> sometimes it would pass the house and be stopped in the senator pass the senate and be stopped in the house. the ticket this time is we started to work in a truly
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bipartisan way with marsha blackburn and worked totally together securing the support of her leadership and my leadership and pushing the bill through. the important thing is i can't find a museum dedicated to the accomplishments of women, not on the mall where we have everything from stamps to law and order and spies and everything else, surely women should be there but i can't find one in the united states or even in the entire world that's dedicated to the accomplishments of women. i think it's important for young men and women to hear the stories of both female and male leaders when they come to washington. >> thank you so much. just in time for mother's day, we have to turn now to the president who is speaking out in mountain view california at the walmart there about energy efficiency. let's take a listen. >> you replace traditional light bulbs with l.e.d.s and made
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refrigerator cases more efficient and put in a charging station for electric vehicles. all tolled those upgrades created dozens of construction jobs and helped this store save money on its energy bills. that's why i'm here today, more and more companies like walmart are realizing that wasting less energy isn't just good for the planet, it's good for business. it's good for the bottom line -- yes, see, he agrees and it means jobs. [ applause ] >> changing the way we use energy is one of the ways americans have been working so hard to move this country forward. in the wake of the worst financial crisis and economic crisis in generations our business has created 9.2 million new jobs and housing market that was reeling as rebounding and auto industry that was flat lining is now booming, a
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manufacturing sector that had lost a third of its jobs during the 90s and now adding jobs for first time. more than 8 million americans have now signed up for health care coverage through the affordable care act. [ applause ] troops that were fighting two wars are coming home and rather than create jobs and other countries, more companies are choosing to create jobs and invest here in the united states of america. but we've got a long way to go before we get to where we need to be, which is an economy where everybody who works hard, everybody who takes responsibility, has a chance to get ahead and we have a chance to build an economy that works, not just for a few at the top but for everybody. that's our goal, the idea that no matter who you are and what you look like and where you come
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from and what your last name is, if you work hard, if you take responsibility, you can make it here in america. that starts with helping businesses create more good jobs. one of the biggest factors in bringing jobs back to america has been our commitment to american energy over the last five years. when i took office, we set out to break our dependence on foreign oil. today america is closer to energy independence that we have been in decades. we generate more renewable energy than ever with tens and thousands of good american jobs to show for it. we produce more natural gas than anyone and everybody's energy bill is lower because of it. so are our carbon emissions that cause climate change. we set new fuel standards for our cars and trucks so they'll go twice as far on a gallon of gas by the next decade and saves the typical family $8,000 at the
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pump. and for first time in nearly 20 years, america produces more oil here at home than we buy from other countries. so we were producing more traditional energy but we're also becoming a leader in the energy sources of the future. we're becoming a global leader in solar, thanks in part to the investments we've made in the recovery act over the past few years, the cost of solar panels have fallen by 60%. solar installations increased by 500%. every four minutes another american home or business goes solar. and every panel is pounded into place by a worker who's job cannot be shipped overseas. so today no matter where you live or where you do business, solar is getting cheaper and getting easier to use than before. and with more businesses and rural cooperatives and homes choosing solar, prices keep
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coming down. manufacturers keep getting more innovative and more jobs are created. last year jobs in the solar industry increased by 20%. we got more work to do. i want to work with congress to do it. unfortunately congress has not always been as vision nar on these issues as we would like. it can be a little frustrating. in this year of action, wherever i can create my own opportunities for new jobs i'm going to take it. so far i've taken more than 20 executive actions from launching new hubs to attracting more high tech manufacturing jobs to america and reforming job training programs to make sure more americans are getting the skills they need to get the jobs that exist right now. and so today here at walmart, i want to announce a few more steps we're taking that are going to be good for job growth
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and good for our economy and don't have to wait for congress to do. they are going to be steps that generate more clean energy and waste less energy overall and leave our kids and grand kids with a cleaner, safer planner in the process. let me list these out. number one, we know making buildings more energy efficient is one of the easiest cheapest ways to save money and cut down on harmful pollution that causes climate change. it can save our businesses tens and billions of dollars a year on energy bills and they can use that money to grow and high more folks. it would put construction workers back to work, installing new systems and technology. this is what you call, a win-win-win. that's why three years ago i announced what we called the better buildings initiative. it's an ambitious plan to improve the energy efficiency by 20% by the year 2020. already we've got 190 businesses
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and organizations that have signed on. on average they are on track to meet their goal, cutting energy use by 2.5% every single year. together they've already saved $300 million in energy costs. so we know it works. that's why over the past few months i've been picking up the phone and reaching out to more leaders to get them on board and today they are stepping up, from cities and school districts and businesses and universities, you're seeing folks move on energy efficiency. gm is pledging to improve energy efficiency in 31 plants. university of virginia is don't the same thing in its buildings and cities like little rock and kansas city and detroit are replacing regular street lights with more efficient l.e.d.s and at walmart you've committed to reducing energy consumption across 850 million square feet of space. that's a lot. that's enough to cover more than
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half of the city of san francisco. taken together, this is going to make a difference and it's the right thing to do for the planet but also the right thing to do for the bottom line. when you save that money, you can pass that money back to consumers in the form of lower prices or you can use it to create more jobs. folks in the private sector are doing their part to create jobs and reduce pollution and cut waste. i'm making sure the federal government does its part. two years ago i ordered $2 billion in energy upgrades to federal buildings. today i'm ordering an additional $2 pl in upgrades and these will create tens and thousands of construction jobs and save taxpayers billions of dollars. the department of energy is putting a new efficiency standard set of efficient standards in place to save businesses of dollars in energy cost and cut carbon pollution
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and equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road. i want to thank the secretary of energy and secretary donovan of hud here today they've shown extraordinary leadership on these issues. that's worth applauding. [ applause ] so that's the first announcement, cities and schools and businesses and federal government we're going to pledge to waste less energy and we have concrete strategies that we know work. second announcement is about more americans coming together to use more clean energy. last month i called up leaders from a whole range of industries and made the economic case for why solar is a good idea. and they listened. and today more than 300 organizations from home builders to affordable housing oengers to companies like home depot and apple, announced they are going to expand the use of solar energy thereby creating more
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jobs and cutting carbon pollution. we've got public banks like connecticut's green bank and private banks like goldman sachs ready to invest billions in renewable energy. the treasury department and irs are making it easier for renewable energy companies to operate and attract investment and we're going to support training programs at community colleges across the country that will help 50,000 workers earn the skills that solar companies are looking for right now. walmart has already got the most installed on site solar capacity of any company in america. now you've announced plans to double that capacity. and it's all part of your goal to buy or produce kilowatts and could save walmart in energy costs. we know generating more clean energy using less dirty energy
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can be good for business and consumers. it's also good for the world we leave for our children. so together the commitments we're announcing today prove that there are cost effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time. so often when we hear about how we're going to deal with this really serious issue, people say we can't afford to do it, won't be good for the economy. it will be good for the economy long term and if we don't, that will be bad for the economy. rising sea levels and more severe storms, those are bad for the economy. so we can't afford to wait and there's no reason why we can't even go further than we are so far by working with states and utilities and other organizations to change the way we power our economy. climate change is real and we
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have to act now. earlier this week i issued -- we issued a report that was years in the making called the national climate assessment, hundreds of scientists and businesses and experts, not for profits all contributed and they found unequivocally it is not a far off problem in the future. it's happening now and causing hardship now. it's effecting every sector of our economy and our society, more severe floods and violent wildfires. it's already costing states and cities money. here in california you know what's happen and more and more americans do, including many republicans outside of washington. inside washington we still have climate