Pope Sends First Tweet

It looks like you can teach an 84-year-old a new trick. Pope Benedict XVI launched the Vatican’s news information portal via Twitter on Tuesday using, what else? An iPad.

This is the latest in a series of moves from the Vatican to improve communication both internally and with the public. But don’t be fooled by all the “Benedictus” handles on Twitter, the Pope does not have a personal account. The papal tweet was sent from @news_va_en.

Check out the pontiff working the touch screen in this video released on the Vatican’s YouTube Channel. Yes, the Vatican’s been on YT since 2005.

VP Biden Addresses CURE Gala

David Axelrod, Susan Axelrod, Lauren Axelrod and Peter Sagal

David & Susan Axelrod with daughter Lauren and NPR's Peter Sagal

Vice President Joseph Biden shared his deeply personal story of brain trauma at the annual Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) fundraising gala on Tuesday. He told the Chicago crowd gathered at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom about the life-threatening aneurysm and two subsequent seizures he suffered in 1988. Biden called epilepsy “a terrible lightning storm in the brain.”

“It’s amazing what we don’t know about how the brain functions,” Biden said. “For the first time in human history, significant resources and human capital are being applied to unlock how to catch that lightning.” REUTERS has more on the story.

CURE was founded in 1998 by Susan Axelrod, wife of former White House senior Adviser David Axelrod, and other parents frustrated with their inability to protect their children from the devastation of seizures and the side effects of medications. The Axelrod’s daughter, Lauren, lives with the disease.

“There is no lonelier feeling — and many of you have experienced it — when you know your child has a chronic illness which can’t be controlled,” David Axelrod explained.

Epilepsy affects over 3 million Americans of all ages and some 50 million people worldwide. It can develop at any age and may be a result of head injury, brain tumor, stroke and many other unknown causes.

“I can only image what it’s like to stare at your child while their eyes roll back in their head,” Biden said, quoted in The Chicago Tribune. “But the truth is, I believe with every fiber of my being that (a cure) is just around the corner.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn were among the 900 people attending the gala that raised almost $800,000 for the nonprofit organization. In addition to the Vice President’s keynote speech, the event featured Peter Sagal, Host of NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.” Since its founding, CURE has raised $15 million to fund epilepsy research and has has awarded over 107 cutting-edge projects.

More information about CURE can be found at cureepilepsy.org. WHCI is proud to support the work of CURE and if you would like to donate, please click HERE. The video below premiered at the annual CURE gala and features poignant, personal stories of families who have battled epilepsy.

Prince Edward Welcomed to Washington

HRH The Prince Edward with Elizabeth and Rep. Dennis Kucinich

It isn’t every day that a member of the British royal family walks the halls of the US Capitol.

Washington welcomed HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, with a reception Monday evening by honorary co-hosts Sen. Roger Wicker, Sen. Mary Landrieu, Sen. Kay Hagan, and Sen. Thad Cochran. The Queen’s youngest son is the international champion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a program founded by his father, Prince Phillip, more than fifty years ago. The award is designed to encourage youth around the world between the ages of 14 and 25 with character and self-esteem development through volunteering and physical challenges.

“We hear a lot about young people going wrong and very rarely do we actually give credit to the vast majority of young people want to go right. And here’s just one program that does that,” said Prince Edward. “At the end of [the program] they get recognized for their achievements and that’s a mark that will then hopefully open doors for them wherever they go.”

The program is now in 132 countries and has helped more than 800,000 youth become leaders in their communities. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – Young Americans’ Challenge was founded in the US in 2007, and is currently in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

Josh Randle, the President and Executive Director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the US, explains: “To earn a bronze, silver or gold award, participants spend approximately 1 hour each week on each activity, culminating with the adventurous journey component. The award is non-competitive, it’s non-academic but rather it aims to develop one’s entire self, creating responsible and experienced citizens and encouraging selfless service to others.”

Prince Edward is traveling to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and New York City to share the program’s mission, and to encourage and develop support from additional states, as well as other local and national youth programs, universities, and businesses.

“I’m proud to say that my state of Mississippi is among one of the 21 states to have embraced the award,” said Sen. Roger Wicker. “The award has achieved excellent momentum since it was launched four years ago here in the United States. I’m very excited about the work that has been done and the work that is to come.”

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan is starting to work towards her own Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. In traveling the country and talking to young people she hears time again the biggest issue facing teens today is peer pressure.

“I think that says something huge. Why is peer pressure an issue? Because they don’t have the self-confidence to stand up to it. And how do we develop that self-confidence so they do have that and they’re able to stand up against peer pressure? By giving them opportunities for self-improvement. To have that sense of accomplishment that many people don’t get until they’re much older. And that’s what this program is all about, that’s what the Miss America Organization is all about: earning that sense of accomplishment.”

Attending the royal reception were Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – US Board Members Sam Haskell and Lanny Griffith; British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald; Rep. Dennis Kucinich and wife, Elizabeth; Greta Van Susteren and John Coale; POLITICO’S Roger Simon and Marcia Kramer; Ellie Schafer, White House Visitor’s Office; Nathan Naylor, Veterans Affairs; AP’s Kimberly Dozier; Juleanna Glover; Ed Henry; and Michael & Meryl Chertoff.

For more information about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program in the United States go to www.usaward.org.

Norah O'Donnell Heads to CBS

Norah O'Donnell and husband Geoff Tracy at Chef Geoff's Tysons Premier Party

CBS announced that Norah O’Donnell is leaving her post as a bureau reporter for NBC to take on CBS’s chief White House correspondent position.  Additionally, O’Donnell will become the principal substitute anchor for Face the Nation.  Chip Reid, who currently holds the position of chief White House corresponent for CBS, will see his role shift to that of national correspondent “with greater editorial range,” according to CBS.

Norah O’Donnell is an Emmy award winning reporter who joined NBC News in 1999 after a stint as a reporter for Roll Call and serving as a contributor and analyst for MSNBC.

Click HERE to read Politico‘s full story.

Alec Baldwin: NYC Mayor?

With New York Rep. Anthony Weiner’s political future unknown, perhaps the most interesting development is the possibility of actor Alec Baldwin trading in “30 Rock” for the Gracie Mansion. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not running in 2013 and now that Weiner, the leading candidate, is in texting turmoil that leaves the field wide open. Read The Daily exclusive here to see what the actor’s friend said about Baldwin stepping in as a high profile Democratic candidate.

Ailes: Clinton to Fox?

In a recent interview, Fox News President Roger Ailes seemed to shift from his traditionally conservative stance and may have developed a bit of a soft spot for some top Democrats. In an interview with Howard Kurtz, Ailes – the man who put Sarah Palin back on television – even said he’d hire Hillary Clinton: “She looks unhappy at the State Department. She’d get ratings.” See the full story on The Daily Beast here.

Full Rep. Anthony Weiner Press Conference Video

At approximately 4 o’clock eastern time on Monday, June 6th Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted to sending the many lewd photos that have by now made him infamous in the media.  He has also said that he does not plan to resign and apologized to his family and constituents for his mistake.  Below is the full coverage of the conference from Politico.

Bob Bauer Resigns and Kathryn Ruemmler Named New White House Counsel

Bob [Bauer] is a good friend and has served as a trusted advisor for many years. Bob was a critical member of the White House team. He has exceptional judgment, wisdom, and intellect, and he will continue to be one of my close advisors,” said President Obama in a statement announcing the change of staff. Bauer will go back to the private sector to resume his position at Perkins Coie and will work on Obama’s reelection campaign. He will officially leave the White House at the end of June.

Kathryn Ruemmler currently serve’s as Bauer’s deputy and has been at the White House since January of 2010. Ruemmler will be the third White House counsel for this administration (after Bauer and Greg Craig). Prior to the White House, she served at the Department of Justice and, at the office of Latham & Watkins, and was a co-lead prosecutor in the Enron investigations.

For the full announcement go here.