What’s Up June 5, 2013?

· Rash of Kentucky lawyer suicides concerns colleagues

Varied reasons cited for deaths in recent years; bar president urges lawyers to watch out for each other

One was a former University of Kentucky basketball player who practiced in Leitchfield, Ky. Another had been commonwealth’s attorney in Kenton County.

A third was a Louisville lawyer who helped battle the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville over cases of priest abuse — and whose Facebook photos still show him snowboarding, scuba diving and sightseeing with his family.

Jim Dinwiddie, Harry Rankin and Ross Turner all died in a similar way: They killed themselves.

So did Michael Jamison and Brent Travelsted of Bowling Green, Tod Megibow of Paducah, William P. Whalen Jr. of Fort Wright, Finis Raymond Price III and Dan Thomas Schwartz of Louisville, David Andrew of Crescent Springs, Leroy “Lee” Rowland of Lexington and Brad Goheen of Calvert City.

They are among at least a dozen lawyers in Kentucky who have committed suicide since 2010, including three in Louisville and three in Northern Kentucky. Half died in the past 12 months. All were men, their average age 53, and most were trial lawyers.

Kentucky doesn’t track suicides by occupation. But citing his recollection from 38 years of practice — and amid studies that show lawyers are six times more likely to kill themselves than the general population — Kentucky Bar Association President Doug Myers said the number of suicides among the state’s 17,500 lawyers is “disproportionate” and “disconcerting.”

Myers, who was so concerned that he wrote about the issue in a recent edition of the bar association’s quarterly journal, said in an interview that he doesn’t remember any similar spate of suicides by lawyers earlier in his career.

In a recent post, legal blogger Shannon Ragland, publisher of the Kentucky Trial Court Review, called the suicides by “middle-aged trial lawyers” an “apparent epidemic” and said the issue deserves serious attention and study by the KBA and the Kentucky Justice Association, the state trial lawyer group.

‘Broken-hearted idealists’

The KBA’s Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program offers confidential help to attorneys with depression, but citing its confidentiality rules, director Yvette Hourigan said she couldn’t say how many — if any — of the lawyers who have killed themselves in recent years had sought its aid. Story Continued

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· ‘I’m going to pitch a show for Bravo. We can call it Project Pantsuit’: Hillary Clinton takes aim at her own signature style at CFDA Fashion Awards

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Hillary Clinton had America’s fashion elite in stitches last night, during her hilarious speech at the CFDA Fashion Awards.

The former Secretary of State, who got a standing ovation as she took to the podium at New York’s Lincoln Center, took aim at her penchant for pantsuits.

She told the assembled crowd: ‘I’m going to be pitching Andy [Cohen] on a new show for Bravo… we can call it Project Pantsuit.’

Presenting Project Pantsuit: Hillary Clinton had the style set in stitches with her speech at the CFDA Awards

Mutual appreciation: Mrs Clinton presented longtime friend Oscar de la Renta with the Founder’s Award. He said in his speech that he hoped she would be America’s next president

Mrs Clinton was in attendance to present Oscar de la Renta with the prestigious Founder’s Award.

The jokes continued when she turned her attention to the veteran designer, who has been dressing her since she became First Lady in 1993.

‘I was then, as I am now, such a fashion icon,’ she quipped.

In all seriousness, she had warm words for her longtime friend.

The lady and her pants: Mrs Clinton looked sensational in Oscar de la Renta trousers with a long, embellished navy coat and dazzling blue earrings

‘His name alone evokes elegance and timeless beauty,’ she said. ‘And his designs give each of us a chance to feel like we’re special, too.’

In turn, Mr. de la Renta had nothing but praise for Mrs Clinton.

Bravo! Andy Cohen hosted the CFDA Awards and made plenty of jokes at designers’ expense

‘I hope that she’s going to be our next president,’ he said, as he accepted his award.

Mr. Cohen, who hosted the event, is likely to have been both delighted and relieved by Mrs Clinton’s witty retort.

Earlier, during rehearsals, he tweeted: Rehearsing for the @CFDA Awards tonight. No pressure – I’m sure Mrs Clinton will enjoy my routine about her! #SeemedFunnyWhenWeWroteIt [sic].’

Naturally, Mrs Clinton, 65, was wearing one of her friend’s designs. She sported a pair of Oscar de la Renta pants with a long, embellished navy coat and dazzling blue earrings.

Guests at the event who might have hoped to party with Mrs Clinton afterwards though, were left sorely disappointed.

According to WWD, CFDA organizers were forced to rearrange the evening’s itinerary in order that she and Mr. de la Renta could leave early to join their respective spouses at the 90th birthday party of Henry Kissinger.

As far as the style set was concerned, the rest of the event was worth sticking around for. The designers behind Proenza Schouler took home the Womenswear Designer of the Year title for the third time.

Design duo Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, who also won the award in 2007 and 2011, had their award presented to them by Kerry Washington.

As they picked up the award, they told the crowd: ‘We were not expecting that.’

Hat trick: Lazaro Hernandez (left) and Jack McCollough (right) pose with Kerry Washington after winning the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award for the third time

Winning teams: Accessory Designer of the Year Phillip Lim pictured with Rose Byrne (left) and menswear designer of the year Thom Browne with actor Dan Stevens (right)

Also among the big winners at America’s ‘fashion Oscars’ were Thom Browne, who won the Menswear Designer of the Year award, and Phillip Lim, who won the Accessory Designer of the Year title.

Vera Wang was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, by her former mentor Ralph Lauren.

According to the the DKNYPRGirl Twitter handle, Mr. Lauren was holding his one-time protégée’s hand all night because she had been so nervous.

She told him in her speech: ‘I thank you for always believing in me. To all the women and men I dress, thank you for your trust.’

Trophies are the new black: Pamela Love triumphantly holds up her Swarovski Awards for Accessory Design (left); Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci (with actress Jessica Chastain, right) won the International Award

While the event honored design talent, it was wall-to-wall with supermodels and A-listers.

Among the guests in attendance were Jessica Chastain, Rose Byrne and Sofia Vergara. Models included Victoria’s Secret beauties Karlie Kloss, Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel and Alessandra Ambrosio, as well as their former Angel-mate Miranda Kerr.

The Olsen Twins and Nicole Richie were among the more famous fashion designers on the red carpet, as well as Tory Burch, Betsey Johnson and Jenna Lyons. Story Continued

Obama nominations set up potential Senate battle over judgesBy Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer, NBC News – Setting the stage for what is likely to be a months-long struggle with Senate Republicans, President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated two attorneys and a judge to fill the vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – considered to be the nation’s second-most powerful court since so many federal regulations are litigated before that court.

Accusing Senate Republicans of obstructing his judicial nominees with “blatant” political maneuvers, Obama called for an up-or-down vote on the three. “The Senate is tasked with providing advice and consent,” the president said in remarks at the White House. “They can approve a president’s nominee or they can reject president’s nominee. But they have a constitutional duty to promptly consider judicial nominees for confirmation.”

Noting that his first-term nominees overall waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of former President George W. Bush, Obama said, “time and again, congressional Republicans cynically used Senate rules and procedures to delay, and even block, qualified nominees from coming to a full vote.”

During his nomination of three judges to fill the remaining vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, President Obama calls Republican opposition to confirm his judicial nominees “political obstruction.”

“I recognize that neither party has a perfect track record here,” Obama said but added, “what’s happening now is unprecedented. For the good of the American people it has to stop.”

Obama’s picks for the D.C. Court of Appeals are:

Cornelia “Nina” Pillard, a former Justice Department official in the Clinton administration who now teaches at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington;

Patricia Ann Millett, an appellate lawyer who has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court. Millett served in the Justice Department for years before joining a law firm in Washington.

Judge Robert Wilkins, a federal trial court judge in Washington and a former public defender.

Last month, the Senate unanimously confirmed Sri Srinivasan, Obama’s nominee to the D.C. Circuit, and with eight active-duty judges, some Republicans argue the court now has enough judges to handle its workload.

In March, Caitlin Halligan, another Obama nominee to the court, withdrew after Senate Republicans blocked her from a getting a confirmation vote. The National Rifle Association opposed Halligan due to her involvement while Solicitor General for the state of New York in a lawsuit against gun manufacturers.

Prior to the Srinivasan confirmation vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “You have a majority on that court that is wreaking havoc with the country,” Reid adding that with further GOP delays perhaps the judges on that court will issue more opinions in the next couple of weeks favorable to the Republicans – as that court did in January when it ruled that Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional.

Commenting Monday on reports that Obama would nominate three people to fill the vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, Sen. Charles Grassley, R- Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said, “It’s hard to imagine the rationale for nominating three judges at once for this court given the many vacant emergency seats across the country, unless your goal is to pack the court to advance a certain policy agenda. No matter how you slice it, the D.C. Circuit ranks last, or almost last, in nearly every category that measures workload.” Story Continued

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· Michelle Obama confronts protester, threatens to leave fundraiserFirst lady Michelle Obama experienced a rare face-to-face encounter with a protester late Tuesday – approaching the activist and threatening to leave a fundraiser if the person did not stop interrupting her speech.

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Obama was addressing a Democratic Party fundraiser in a private Kalorama home in Northwest Washington when Ellen Sturtz, 56, a lesbian activist, interrupted her remarks to demand that President Obama sign an anti-discrimination executive order.

Obama showed her displeasure – pausing to confront Sturtz eye to eye, according to witnesses.

“One of the things that I don’t do well is this,” she said to applause from most of the guests, according to a White House transcript. “Do you understand?”

A pool report from a reporter in the room said Obama “left the lectern and moved over to the protester.” The pool report quoted Obama as saying: “Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”

Obama’s suggestion that she would leave was not included in the official White House transcript.

The audience responded by asking Obama to remain, according to the pool report, which quoted a woman nearby telling Sturtz, “You need to go.”

Sturtz was escorted out of the room. She said in an interview later she was stunned by Obama’s response.

“She came right down in my face,” Sturtz said. “I was taken aback.”

Sturtz said she told Obama she was happy to take the microphone to plead her case, which, Sturtz said, appeared to fluster the first lady.

“I said I want your husband to sign the executive order,” Sturtz said. “Her husband could sign this order tonight and protect 22 percent of the work force in this country.”

Sturtz said she paid $500 to attend the fundraiser, part of a protest cooked up by the gay rights group GetEqual, which gained notice in Obama’s first term for hectoring him during speeches and demanding more action on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Sturtz, who gave $5,000 to the Democratic Party and Obama’s campaign in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, said she was devoting herself to full-time activism now pressing the White House on the employment discrimination issue.

The proposed executive order that prompted Sturtz’s outburst would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBT activists, many of whom hailed Obama for his vocal support for same-sex marriage rights in the months leading up to his reelection in 2012, have been increasingly dismayed that the White House has not yet acted on the proposed order.

The issue has been building for years, pushed by gay rights advocates who argue that more than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce is employed by federal contractors. Advocates for the executive order have attempted to exert more quiet pressure, highlighting cases of discrimination by some firms and connecting workers to administration officials to make personal appeals.

White House officials have said they back legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but have declined to say whether the executive order is pending.

Metro Weekly, a gay newspaper, reported in 2012 that, as a presidential candidate in 2008, then-Sen. Obama had pledged to a Houston LGBT group that he would support a “formal written policy” of non-discrimination. Story Continued

· Secret Man Caves Found in EPA Warehouse

A warehouse maintained by contractors for the Environmental Protection Agency contained secret rooms full of exercise equipment, televisions and couches, according to an internal audit.

EPA’s inspector general found contractors used partitions, screens and piled up boxes to hide the rooms from security cameras in the 70,000 square-foot building located in Landover, Md. The warehouse — used for inventory storage — is owned by the General Services Administration and leased to the EPA for about $750,000 per year.

The EPA has issued a stop work order to Apex Logistics LLC, the responsible contractor, ensuring the company’s workers no longer have access to the site — EPA security officials escorted contractor personnel off the premises on May 17 — and ending all payments on the contract.

Since awarding the contract in May 2007, EPA has paid Apex Logistics about $5.3 million, most of which went to labor costs. Conditions at the facility “raise questions about time charges made by warehouse employees under the contract,” the report said.

“The warehouse contained multiple unauthorized and hidden personal spaces created by and for the workers that included televisions, refrigerators, radios, microwaves, chairs and couches,” the IG report said. “These spaces contained personal items, including photos, pin ups, calendars, clothing, books, magazines and videos.”

The agency has completed an inventory of the warehouse’s contents and segregated all surplus furniture. EPA has committed to conducting an agency-wide review of all warehouse and storage facility operations.

In addition to the secret rooms, the IG found an incomplete and inaccurate recordkeeping system; numerous potential security and safety hazards, including an open box of passports; and “deplorable conditions” — such as corrosion, vermin feces and “pervasive” mold.

EPA acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in a letter to the inspector general the agency has taken “immediate, aggressive actions” in response to the findings.

“The EPA is committed to addressing the previous conditions at the warehouse and implementing institutional protections to ensure those conditions do not recur at this facility or any other used by the agency,” Perciasepe wrote. Story Continued

– The government has reached a size where this happens along with the current IRS scandals and the implication is the government is too large. PdC

· Obama appoints Susan Rice as national security adviser

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Hailing her longtime role as a “trusted adviser,” President Barack Obama formally named U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his next national security adviser on Wednesday.

Obama tapped Rice, a target of Republican criticism in recent months, to succeed Tom Donilon; the president also nominated Samantha Power, a longtime foreign policy adviser, to take over Rice’s role at the United Nations.

“I am absolutely thrilled that she’ll be back at my side leading my national security team in my second term,” Obama said of Rice, a longtime confidant whose role in publicly explaining the administration’s initial assessment of last year’s terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, has made her a lightning rod for criticism.

President Barack Obama stands with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, his choice to be his next national security adviser, right, current national security adviser Tom Donilon, who is resigning, second from right, and Samantha Power, his nominee to be the next UN Ambassador, left, Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at the White House.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled to serve our country as your national security adviser,” Rice said at a White House event to formally announce the shake-up, just the latest instance of staff turnover on Obama’s foreign policy and national security teams in his second term.

Rice also told Obama she was “deeply grateful for [his] enduring confidence,” a seeming nod toward the whirlwind of controversy around her role in the Benghazi explanation, which helped scuttle her chances of becoming secretary of State.

Republicans who targeted Rice over the handling of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi reacted with the knowledge they have no role in confirming her for the post. “Obviously I disagree [with Obama’s] appointment of Susan Rice as Nat’l Security Adviser, but I’ll make every effort to work [with] her on [important] issues,” Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, one of Rice’s foremost critics on Benghazi, wrote on Twitter.

Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican with designs on seeking his party’s presidential nomination in 2016, was sharply more critical.

“I can’t imagine that we would be keeping Ambassador Rice in any significant position, much less promoting her to an important position,” he said on Fox News.

Power is not without controversy, either. She stepped down from the Obama campaign after referring to Hillary Clinton, then Obama’s opponent in the Democratic primary, as a “monster.”

NBC News’ Chuck Todd joins Morning Joe to report on the breaking news that Susan Rice has been tapped by President Obama to replace Tom Donilon as National Security Adviser.

Republicans have vocally criticized Rice for emerging on the Sunday morning talk show circuit on the weekend following the Benghazi attack, where she asserted that the attacks were the spontaneous outgrowth of protests related to an anti-Islamic video. In the months since then, senior Republicans have demanded more information about how the talking points provided to Rice were drafted; many in the GOP have suggested the talking points were motivated by electoral politics, since the attack occurred during the height of last fall’s presidential campaign.

The furor was enough to prompt Rice to withdraw her name from consideration to become Obama’s next secretary of state earlier this year.

Had the president nominated Rice to become secretary of state, she would have been forced to undergo bruising confirmation hearings; her new appointment as national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation. She complained about the “very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive” process of confirmation hearings.

Last month, Vice President Joe Biden praised Rice and her role in the Obama administration, saying she had “the absolute, total, complete confidence of the president.” Story Continued

· AP source: Obama to name Samantha Power to UN post 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House official says President Barack Obama will name former aide Samantha Power as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Power will replace Susan Rice, who will take over as Obama’s national security adviser. The official says Obama will announce both appointments from the White House Wednesday afternoon.

Power is a longtime Obama adviser who worked on his 2008 presidential campaign and ran the human rights office in the White House. She left the administration in February but was considered the favorite to replace Rice at the U.N.

The official insisted on anonymity in order to confirm the appointment before it was publicly announced. Story Continued

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