background preloader


Facebook Twitter

'I'm no threat' – will Obama pardon one of the world's longest-serving political prisoners? | World news. Any day now, monarch butterflies will begin their epic migration from Canada to Mexico. It is one of the wonders of the world: insects whose distinctive orange and black wings barely stretch four inches flying on thermal currents up to 3,000 miles in search of a warm spot to spend the winter.

The phenomenon has entranced Oscar López Rivera since his childhood days in rural Puerto Rico. If he ever gets the chance, he says, one of his great ambitions is to trace the monarchs’ route, all the way from the Canadian border, across the US great plains into northern Mexico. “The monarch is fascinating to me,” he says. “The length of their journey and what they do to survive: how can an insect so small go so far?” That’s an achingly powerful question when you consider who is posing it. For the past 35 years, López Rivera has been unable to fly, his wings clipped.

López Rivera is one of the US’s, and the world’s, longest-serving political prisoners. Then along came Vietnam. President Obama Has Now Commuted the Sentences of 348 Individuals. Today, the President announced 42 additional grants of clemency to men and women serving years in prison under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws. The individuals receiving a presidential commutation today have more than repaid their debt to society and earned this second chance.

To date, the President has commuted the sentences of 348 individuals -- more than the previous seven Presidents combined. He remains committed to using his clemency power throughout the remainder of the Administration to give more deserving individuals that same second chance. As the President has said, part of this effort includes lifting up the stories of the men and women who have been granted clemency and are now making the most of their second chances. Watch the stories of Norman Brown, Ramona Brant, and Phillip Emmert, three clemency recipients who served unduly harsh sentences for drug crimes. You can read more about their stories here. President Obama: A Nation of Second Chances. Sinkhole of bureaucracy | The Washington Post. The nightmare cases are the “reemployed annuitants.” A government worker retires. Then un-retires. Then gets another job with the government. Then retires again. The law allows that.

But it is a heck of a mess to deal with. “I’m working on one, and it’s going on three weeks,” said an employee sitting near McCandless. When all the data are entered into the computer, it is onto Step 5. That process now takes, on average, at least 61 days. Those three process their files digitally, not on paper. The first time, work began in 1987. “The reports [from the contractor] just asserted that they had written X lines of code. . . . “I had no idea [if] they were making progress from month to month.

In 1996, two years after Smith left the government, officials finally pulled the plug on that project. First it tried revamping the system in-house. President Obama grants early release to 61 more federal drug offenders. President Obama pauses as he speaks at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma in July 2015. (Evan Vucci/AP) President Obama commuted the sentences of 61 inmates Wednesday, part of his ongoing effort to give relief to prisoners who were harshly sentenced in the nation’s war on drugs. More than one-third of the inmates were serving life sentences. Obama has granted clemency to 248 federal inmates, including Wednesday's commutations.

White House officials said that Obama will continue granting clemency to inmates who meet certain criteria set out by the Justice Department throughout his last year. The president has vowed to change how the criminal justice system treats nonviolent drug offenders. Since the Obama administration launched a high-profile clemency initiative, thousands more inmates have applied. [Here are the 61 people whose sentences Obama just commuted] Byron Lamont McDade is among the prisoners who received clemency from the president on Wednesday. U.S.

PJ Crowley: How Obama learned the limits of American power. Image copyright Getty Images It's been a long and complicated eight years for America's foreign policy under Barack Obama, but the chastened president is still a believer in US leadership, as PJ Crowley writes. In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama the idealistic internationalist cared deeply about what the world thought of US policy and power and committed himself to repairing America's standing in the world. The United States was the indispensable nation, but needed to develop effective partnerships to solve the world's problems and share the burden of administering an interconnected and interdependent global system. Obama remains a true believer in the importance of US leadership. But he recognises the limits of American power, understanding that there are intractable problems that even the world's most influential nation can't solve.

The president rejected what he called the "Washington playbook", that the answer to every situation is military force. Image copyright AFP. Lyndon Baines Johnson's Great Society at 50 | The Washington Post. The shift The Great Society did not just seek to redistribute wealth. Johnson also set out to shift power in America — from states to Washington, from the legislative branch to the executive, from corporations to federal regulators, from big-city political machines to community groups. That latter concept of “community action” — funding residents of poor communities so they could organize and mobilize — was one of the Great Society’s most controversial ideas.

The concept was to put the poor in a position to help themselves, but it frequently played out in tense and even violent confrontations with the existing local power structure. It also created a new generation of up-and-coming leaders, rising from the ranks of those who had previously been disenfranchised. “My mother was clearly the person Lyndon Johnson had in mind with civic action, and she took full advantage of that,” said Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas who served as U.S. trade representative in the Obama administration. President Obama’s Interview With Jeffrey Goldberg on Syria and Foreign Policy.

Friday, August 30, 2013, the day the feckless Barack Obama brought to a premature end America’s reign as the world’s sole indispensable superpower—or, alternatively, the day the sagacious Barack Obama peered into the Middle Eastern abyss and stepped back from the consuming void—began with a thundering speech given on Obama’s behalf by his secretary of state, John Kerry, in Washington, D.C. The subject of Kerry’s uncharacteristically Churchillian remarks, delivered in the Treaty Room at the State Department, was the gassing of civilians by the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. Obama, in whose Cabinet Kerry serves faithfully, but with some exasperation, is himself given to vaulting oratory, but not usually of the martial sort associated with Churchill.

Obama believes that the Manichaeanism, and eloquently rendered bellicosity, commonly associated with Churchill were justified by Hitler’s rise, and were at times defensible in the struggle against the Soviet Union. “Free riders? Limit Executive Power Now, Before Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton Can Take Of... An op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times points out that, thanks to precedents set by President Obama, “whoever prevails in November will inherit a sweeping power to use lethal force against suspected terrorists and militants, including Americans.”

Let me put things more starkly: Under current precedent, the commander in chief can give a secret order to kill an American citizen with a drone strike without charges or trial. Should Donald Trump have that power? The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer and Brett Max Kaufman don’t think so, and propose several specific reforms that would limit the next president’s ability to wage drone warfare. Obama should be transparent about the rules that govern drone strikes, “release the legal memos that purport to justify drone strikes away from battlefields,” and “make it the country’s default practice to acknowledge all drone strikes — not just those carried out on conventional battlefields, as in Iraq and Syria.” This is a no-brainer. Katie Beirne Fallon, Obama’s top legislative aide, exits. President Barack Obama walks with White House Legislative Affairs Director Katie Fallon near the White House in Washington. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File photo) Even in a White House striving to be family friendly, there are limits.

President Obama announced Friday that his top legislative aide, Katie Beirne Fallon, is stepping down after two years in the post. Fallon, who helped improve his troubled interactions with congressional Republicans and helped broker deals on issues ranging from the budget to last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, had returned to work full time last August after having twin boys in the spring. In a statement, Obama noted that Fallon had remained popular on Capitol Hill even at a time when partisan differences remain stark.

Campaign 2016 Email Updates Get the best analysis of the presidential race. You’ve signed up for email updates on this story. Please provide a valid email address. [For working parents, White House is “the ultimate on-call job”] Sen. Fidel Castro blasts Obama's Cuba trip. In a full page column titled "Brother Obama," published in the Cuban communist-party newspaper Granma, the former Cuban president rejected Obama's visit and words of reconciliation. "We don't need the empire to give us anything," Castro wrote, referring to the United States, in his acidly critical and rambling column. In 2008, Fidel Castro turned power over to his brother Raul following a mystery intestinal illness that nearly killed him.

While officially retired, Fidel Castro, 89, still wields enormous influence in Cuba and observers study his sporadic columns and appearances for insights into Cuba's opaque political system. During his two-day visit, the first of any U.S. president to Cuba in 88 years, Obama was seen frequently with Cuban President Raul Castro. In addition to a bilateral meeting and a joint news conference, the men dined together at a state dinner and attended a U.S.

-Cuba baseball game. Obama did not meet with Fidel Castro during the trip. Obama invokes 'future of hope' for Cuban people. US President Barack Obama has invoked "a future of hope" for Cuba in an unprecedented live TV address delivered from the Grand Theatre in Havana. Mr Obama said he had come to Cuba "to bury the last remnants of the Cold War" after decades of conflict. He told Cuban President Raul Castro that he did not need to fear a threat from the US nor from "the voice of the Cuban people". Mr Obama is the first sitting president to visit Cuba in 88 years. In his keynote speech on the last day of his three-day visit to Communist-run Cuba, Mr Obama said it was time for the United States and Cuba to leave the past behind and make a "journey as friends and as neighbours and as family, together" towards a brighter future.

He urged Cubans to "leave the ideological battles of the past behind" and to define themselves not through their opposition to the US but just as Cubans. Image copyright Reuters "For all the politics, people are people and Cubans are Cubans," he said. Image copyright AP Image copyright AFP. FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communi... Gun violence has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country. Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence—and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place.

Over the same period, hundreds of thousands of other people in our communities committed suicide with a gun and nearly half a million people suffered other gun injuries. Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been shot to death protecting their communities. And too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident. The President and Vice President are committed to using every tool at the Administration’s disposal to reduce gun violence. 1. Attorney General Loretta E. 2. The Attorney General convened a call with U.S. 3. 4. New Actions by the Federal Government. What President Obama's executive actions on guns can do. Image copyright Reuters The White House has announced numerous executive actions aimed at decreasing gun violence in the US. President Obama has said the actions are in his executive authority and that they will save lives.

The president said he recognises that the measures will not prevent all violence or mass shootings in the country. "This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country," Mr Obama said. What do the executive actions include? All sellers must be licensed and conduct background checks, overturning current exemptions to some online and gun show sellersStates must provide information on people disqualified due to mental illness or domestic violenceFBI will increase workforce processing background checks by 50%, hiring more than 230 new examinersCongress will be asked to invest $500m (£339m) to improve access to mental healthcareThe departments of defence, justice and homeland security will explore "smart gun technology" to improve gun safety Who will be affected? Obama vetoes Obamacare repeal bill.

The bill goes back to the Republican-led Congress, which does not have the votes to override the veto. Obama's veto was expected, but it marks the first time Republicans have been able to get a bill that would repeal his signature health care law to the White House, after more than 60 votes to roll back all or part of the law. In his veto message, Obama stressed the number of times congressional Republicans have tried to "repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act.

" "Rather than re-fighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs," Obama wrote. "Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto," he added.

House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged to hold an override vote. "But here's the thing. US rejects Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Image copyright AP US President Barack Obama has announced he is rejecting an application to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Speaking from the White House, he said it would not have served the "national interests" of the US. Its construction has been hotly disputed for seven years, with environmentalists saying it would do irreparable damage. But the president said the pipeline had taken on an "overinflated role" in the climate change debate. The proposed pipeline would have run 1,179-miles (1,897km) taking 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska.

But Mr Obama said it would not have: lowered petrol pricescreated long-term jobsaffected energy dependence "The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy," he said. Republican presidential candidates condemned the news, with Jeb Bush calling it an attack on the US economy. It took more than seven years, but Barack Obama has finally got to "no". What does the President need to know? If Obama believes in mass confiscation of guns, why doesn't he just say it?

Cabinet secretaries versus the White House staff. Has America already had a female president? - BBC News. Pope urges 'humane' US migrant response - BBC News. The nuke detectives. Obama's strong words on Charleston shooting: 'I refuse to act as if this is the new normal' | US news. Bush-era surveillance powers to expire as US prepares to roll back NSA power | US news. Kerry: US concerned by China's actions in South China Sea - BBC News. A Point of View: Is the US president an elected monarch? - BBC News. Barack Obama lands the zingers at White House correspondents' dinner | US news. White House releases report on NSA surveillance six years later.

Videos & Radio