Posts Tagged ‘drones

17
Feb
15

A Tweet Or Two

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This is the perfect response to a white feminist who believes it is her right to dictate to a Black woman what she should do with her life and career. Bravo, Jessica Williams!

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Continue reading ‘A Tweet Or Two’

15
Feb
15

A Tweet Or Two

This is a MUST read

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Today is the last day. Go Get Covered

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22
Jan
15

The Youtube Interview With President Barack Obama

18
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama greets baseball fans during a Washington Nationals vs. Chicago White Sox baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:0: Live from the First White House Makers Faire

10:45: President Obama views “Maker Faire” projects devoted to using science and technology to advance business, South Lawn

11:30: Delivers remarks at the White House Maker Faire, East Room

12:15: Meets with economists for lunch, Roosevelt Room

12:45: Jay Carney briefs the press

3:0: The President meets with members of the Congressional Leadership

5:10: Meets with Secretary of State Kerry

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President Barack Obama and Press Secretary Jay Carney disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Wednesday night, June 17, 2014. It was Carney’s last flight on Air Force One as White House Press Secretary. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead

Thursday: The President will award Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.

Friday: The President will meet with Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand.

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President Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall, Tuesday, June 17

You can see a video of the President’s remarks here

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NYT: Obama Is Said To Consider Selective Airstrikes On Sunni Militants

President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen, rather than the widespread bombardment of an air war, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. Such a campaign, most likely using drones, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days or longer, and would hinge on the United States’ gathering adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad. Even if the president were to order strikes, they would be far more limited in scope than the air campaign conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are

dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians. At a meeting with his national security advisers at the White House on Monday evening, the official said, Mr. Obama was presented with a “sliding scale” of military options, which range from supplying the beleaguered Iraqi Army with additional advisers, intelligence and equipment to conducting strikes targeting members of the militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Much of the emphasis at the meeting, the official said, was on how to gather useful intelligence about the militants. They are not wearing uniforms or sleeping in barracks; and while there may be periodic convoys to strike, there are no columns of troops or vehicles.

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David D. Kirkpatrick: Brazen Figure May Hold Key To Mysteries

Ahmed Abu Khattala was always open about his animosity toward the United States, and even about his conviction that Muslims and Christians were locked in an intractable religious war. During the assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, Mr. Abu Khattala was a vivid presence. Witnesses saw him directing the swarming attackers who ultimately killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Afterward, he offered contradictory denials of his role, sometimes trying to say that he did not do it but strongly approved. He appeared to enjoy his notoriety. Captured by military commandos and law enforcement agents early on Monday, Mr. Abu Khattala may now help address some of the persistent questions about the identity and motives of the attackers.

The thriving industry of conspiracy theories, political scandals, talk show chatter and congressional hearings may now confront the man federal investigators say played the central role in the attack. On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls — images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world. As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.

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(Dislike the title. Intriguing article.)

Ben Geman: Obama’s Coded Climate Politics

President Obama’s climate speech Saturday got plenty of press for its lengthy assault on global-warming denial. But what excited an aggressive wing of the climate movement were just a few cryptic words elsewhere in the commencement address at the University of California (Irvine): “You need to invest in what helps, and divest from what harms.” Activists pushing universities and other institutions to dump their financial holdings in coal and oil-and-gas companies believe they heard an unmistakable White House endorsement.

“People are thrilled about it,” Jamie Henn of 350.org, one of the groups leading the divestment movement, said of Obama’s comments Saturday. “Students will be taking the president’s message to their college presidents and boards of trustees,” he said of the fossil-fuel-divestment campaign, which also includes the Energy Action Coalition, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, the Sierra Student Coalition, and groups on specific campuses. The founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, a high-profile climate activist, has been a major divestment advocate.

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NYT: U.S. Defends Prosecuting Benghazi Suspect In Civilian Rather Than Military Court

Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday sharply criticized the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute the suspected leader of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, in the civilian criminal justice system, arguing that he should be questioned and tried by the military. The White House quickly pushed back. “Some have suggested that he should go to Gitmo,” said Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman. “Let me rule that out from the start.” “We have had substantial success delivering swift justice to terrorists through our federal court system,” she added. Greg Doherty, the brother of one of the attack’s victims, Glen A. Doherty, said he supported the decision to try Mr. Abu Khattala in a civilian court. “I think that’s what we should do with criminals, which is try them,” he said.

The Obama administration has sought to close the Guantánamo prison and refused to send newly captured prisoners there, instead using federal courts to prosecute terrorism cases that arose after Mr. Obama took office. The military commissions system, which the Bush administration established and Congress revised in 2009, has struggled. Appeals courts have vacated the convictions of the only two Guantánamo detainees who were tried for war crimes before a military commission — as opposed to pleading guilty without a trial and giving up a right to appeal — because of flaws that would likely not have been a problem in civilian court.

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Daily Beast: Why Delta Force Waited So Long To Grab A Benghazi Ringleader

The mission to capture Ahmed abu Khatallah, one of the ringleaders of the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya was more than a year in the making. In the months leading up to the raid, teams from the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force, practiced the extradition on a mock-up of abu Khatallah’s compound at Fort Bragg, according to a U.S. military contractor familiar with the planning for the mission. Eventually, it was a Delta Team with embedded FBI agents on Sunday that snagged the man wanted for the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The Obama administration has come under withering criticism because the whereabouts of abu Khatallah have been generally known.

But other U.S. officials, who spoke to The Daily Beast anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the press, said the mission to grab abu Khatallah had been planned for more than a year. Indeed, the Benghazi ringleader had been in the sights of Delta Force operators at the end of August, according to these sources, but no order was given at the time. A senior administration official told The Daily Beast that the delay in apprehending the suspect was due in part to requests from the Justice Department to gather appropriate evidence to prosecute him in criminal court. The practice and patience paid off, apparently. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday’s raid resulted in no casualties. “Khatallah currently faces criminal charges on three counts, and we retain the option of adding additional charges in the coming days,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement Tuesday.

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CBS Local: New York, Chicago, Hawaii Bid For Obama Presidential Library

At least six locations in three different states, including New York, entered official bids by Monday’s deadline in an effort to house Barack Obama’s presidential library. Columbia University, where Obama got his undergraduate degree, pitched a West Harlem site.
Four of the confirmed bidders are from Chicago, the president’s hometown, and a fifth was expected. Obama’s birth state of Hawaii also offered an oceanfront location in Honolulu.

While the Obama Foundation, which is planning the library, declined to confirm the bids it has received, planners for the six widely reported potential locations all confirmed they had submitted proposals. All see the library and museum as a potential driver of economic development. The University of Chicago cited a study it commissioned that concluded the library would draw 800,000 visitors a year and create 1,900 permanent jobs.

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Simon Maloy: Stop Treating War-Crazy Buffoons As Experts! They Got It Wrong, Remember?

If you were asked to identify a single moment that best captures the failure of elite media outlets to act as agents of accountability, you could do worse than David Gregory asking Paul Wolfowitz on “Meet the Press” this weekend what we should do, “as a policy matter,” to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005, was one of the chief visionaries and supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he got just about everything wrong, from the cost of the war to the presence of WMD. And he doesn’t particularly care. In an interview with the Sunday Times last March, Wolfowitz made the argument that even though they got it wrong on WMD in 2003,

everything they said was happening (but wasn’t) would likely have happened later. “We would very likely either have had to go through this whole scenario all over but probably with higher costs for having delayed, or we’d be in a situation today where not only Iran was edging towards nuclear weapons but so was Iraq and also Libya.” What price did Wolfowitz pay for his part in the biggest American foreign policy disaster of that last generation? George Bush nominated him to the presidency of the World Bank. While at the World Bank he violated ethics rules and caused a scandal that paralyzed the institution. He was forced to resign after governments around the world called for him to be fired.

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Travis Waldron: In Landmark Decision, U.S. Patent Office Cancels Trademark For Redskins Football Team

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins, ruling that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits the protection of offensive or disparaging language. The U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning. “We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its opinion.

“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”

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Sen. Harry Reid The Awesome!

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Bonus

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On This Day

President Obama walks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi backstage at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama meets with Senior Advisors in the Oval Office in the White House, June 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama (background in Oval Office) chats before a lunch with members of the press in his private dining room, on June 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama listens to Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office for Health Reform, in a meeting on health care reform in the Roosevelt Room in the White House, June 18, 2009. From left: OMB Director Peter Orszag, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, DeParle, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (Photo by Pete Souza)

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After playing a round of golf, President Obama has a drink with Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, at Joint Base Andrews, June 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, June 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, before the start of a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, June 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama waits with advisors before a bilateral meeting during the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; President Obama; Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; and Caroline Atkinson, Special Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama with Sasha and Malia during a visit to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains National Park in Ireland, on June 18, 2013.

President Obama walks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada on the grounds of Lough Erne Resort during the G8 Summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

28
May
14

The Commander-In-Chief At West Point

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President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Class of 2014

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Transcript Of President Obama’s Address At West Point

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PM Carpenter: Obama’s West Point Address, In Two Words

Magnificently sane.

In a few more words, Obama’s address, grounded in a mature appreciation of our limits, called for multilateralism–diplomatically whenever possible, militarily if inescapable; it called, given al Qaeda’s fragmentation and dispersal, for global “partners” to suppress it; and, in a direct shot at his Republican critics, it called for a world-involved America that leads by example at home–not through climate-change denialism, or unratified treaties, or the obscenities of a Gitmo that the propagandists and paranoids won’t close.

Because Obama’s speech was so magnificently sane, let the carping and slander begin.

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Underclassmen listen from the back of the stadium as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York

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Gavin White, a West Point graduate who lost a leg in Afghanistan, is recognized by President Barack Obama during the commencement ceremonies for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

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CNN: Obama Outlines Foreign Policy Vision Of “Might And Right”

President Barack Obama on Wednesday outlined a foreign policy vision of “might doing right,” arguing that modern pragmatism requires both a strong military and the diplomatic tools of alliances and sanctions to exert influence and provide global leadership. He told graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that after the nation’s “long season of war and divisions about how to move forward,” they now would represent America with the duty “not only to protect our country, but to do what is right and just.” “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” he said, referring to a tenet of conservative ideology.” But what makes us exceptional is not flouting international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions,” Obama said in arguing that true leadership involves not only having the world’s most powerful military, but in doing the right thing.

“America must always lead on the world stage,” Obama said, and the military “always will be the backbone of that leadership,” but U.S. military action “cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.” In a sign of the sentiments of the cadets, Obama got big applause when he noted they were the first West Point graduates in more than a decade unlikely to be stationed in a war zone. Overall, Obama said, “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world,” and he contended that “those who argue otherwise — who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away — are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.” “The question we face — the question each of you will face — is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe,” Obama told the cadets.

On Wednesday, Obama reiterated his policy that the United States will used military force, “unilaterally if necessary,” when its people are threatened, its livelihood is at stake or allies are in danger, but he said the threshold was higher when global issues “do not pose a direct threat” to the nation. “In such circumstances, we should not go it alone,” he said. “Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions, isolation; appeals to international law and — if just, necessary, and effective — multilateral military action.” Such a collective approach “is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, and less likely to lead to costly mistakes,” Obama said.

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President Barack Obama is presented with the Class Battle Ring from Class President Jeffrey Ferebee

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President Barack Obama hands out diplomas to the graduating class of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

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21
May
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama greets graduating Joplin High School seniors before their commencement ceremony at Missouri Southern State University’s Leggett & Platt Athletic Center in Joplin, Mo., May 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:45: President Obama makes a statement in the briefing room after a meeting with Sec. Eric Shinseki

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11:35: The President participates in an ambassador credentialing ceremony

12:45: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:10: The President honors the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, East Room

4:10: The President delivers remarks on the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument Designation, Department of Interior

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Washington Post: Obama: ‘In Five Years It Will No Longer Be Called Obamacare.’

Just about everyone calls the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” — even the White House. But is President Obama returning to his old stance that the health-care law should not have his name attached to it?

At a fundraiser in Potomac, Md., Monday night, Obama backed off the term that his administration shunned, and then embraced.

“First of all, in five years it will no longer be called Obamacare, because when something is working, they’re definitely not going to — there will be a whole renaming process similar to National. (Laughter.) I don’t know if it will be “Reagancare,” but it will definitely be — it will be something different,” Obama told the crowd.

(For those of you outside the Washington area, Obama was referring to Washington National Airport, which was renamed Reagan National Airport in 1998).

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NYT: Memo Approving Targeted Killing Of U.S. Citizen To Be Released

Facing the potential defeat of an appeals court nominee, the Obama administration decided Tuesday to publicly release much of a classified memo written by the nominee that signed off on the targeted killing an American accused of being a terrorist. The solicitor general, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., made the call to release the secret memo — and not appeal a court order requiring its disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act — and informed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. of his decision this week, according to two administration officials. The White House was informed Tuesday. But the memo will not be released right away because officials said they needed time to redact it and to prepare an appeal asking the court not to reveal classified sections of a federal appeals court ruling last month requiring that most of the memo be made public. The memo was written by David J. Barron, a Harvard Law professor and former acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, who is Mr. Obama’s choice to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

As a Justice Department lawyer, Mr. Barron wrote two memos concluding that it would be lawful to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a United States citizen living in Yemen, based on intelligence agencies’ conclusion that he was a senior operational terrorist plotting attacks against the United States and that his capture was not feasible. The lawsuit focused on the second and longer of those memos. Mr. Awlaki was killed by an American drone strike in September 2011. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, had promised to slow down Mr. Barron’s confirmation if the administration did not allow senators to view all of Mr. Barron’s memos or release redacted versions to the public. Libertarian-leaning senators in both parties had expressed reservations about the nomination, and some conservatives also argued that he was too liberal on other issues. A spokesman for Mr. Paul said the senator would still take the Senate floor on Wednesday for a filibuster-style protest of Mr. Barron’s nomination. Last year, Mr. Paul used the nomination of John O. Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency to stage a nearly 13-hour filibuster.

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Philly.com: U.S. Judge Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban In Pa.

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriages, a landmark ruling that appeared to clear the way for the Commonwealth to become the latest state to legalize gay marriage. The decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III marked the first and most significant to date in a series of court challenges to the state’s 1996 ban. “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them onto the ash heap of history,” Jones wrote in the 39-page opinion. “By virtue of this, ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.”

“What a great day!” said Mark Aronchick, one of the plantiffs lawyers in the case. “The court, in a bell-ringing opinion, has explained in crystal clear language why the promises of our Constitution extend to all Pennsylvanians. We urge the commonwealth to take whatever steps are necessary to allow marriages to proceed and the celebrations to begin immediately.” In Philadelphia, Register of Wills Ron Donatucci’s office immediately began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Guy Sabelli, the city’s marriage license supervisor, said 12 female couples and 6 male couples had obtained licenses by the time the office closed at 5:30 p.m. The office reopens at 8 a.m. Wednesday with extended hours until 7 p.m.

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TPM: WTF?

I’m not sure why this isn’t a bigger deal. I hadn’t heard about it other than in this brief passage tucked away in a Politico article about the House GOP agriculture bill. But it takes a small program intended provide meals to children in the school lunch program during the summer months and says it can now only be used to benefit kids in “rural areas”.

In other words, “urban” kids are now out of luck.

Here’s the passage in question ..

And in a surprising twist, the bill language specifies that only rural areas are to benefit in the future from funding requested by the administration this year to continue a modest summer demonstration program to help children from low-income households — both urban and rural — during those months when school meals are not available.

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ThinkProgress: President Obama Is Set To Create His Largest National Monument So Far

On Wednesday, President Obama will create his second national monument of the year, designating the Organ Mountains in New Mexico a protected area. The Organ Mountains, located at the southern end of New Mexico, will be the 11th and largest national monument of Obama’s presidency. The White House says that the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will create $7.4 million in new annual economic activity in the region, a finding that first appeared in a 2013 report.

That report also found the monument would double the number of outdoor recreation and tourism jobs in the region and contribute $560,000 in state and local tax revenue. The monument encompasses a total of 496,000 acres, land which contains Native American petroglyphs in its canyons and is one of the most botanically diverse mountain ranges in New Mexico, home to about 870 vascular (i.e. plants with roots, stems, and leaves) plant species and a recorded 210 species of birds.

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Brentin Mock: EPA Takes On Three Villains At Once: Pollution, Climate Change, And Racism

You may have read something recently about the air being racist, which is of course ridiculous. It is true that if you are white in America you will tend to breathe air of a more premium quality. A recent study from the University of Minnesota found that black and brown Americans are more often trapped in neighborhoods laden with nitrogen dioxide than their white fellow Americans. This is not news to us. Our abnormally high asthma and cancer rates testify to this. President Obama’s first Environmental Protection Agency chief, Lisa Jackson, promoted environmental justice to top priority status in the agency’s overall mission in 2009. The resulting strategy, which the EPA began rolling out in March, is called Plan EJ 2014, and its primary goal is to end the culture of entitlement among polluters that dump toxic byproducts into the air, soil, and water of marginalized communities. Why is this a big deal?

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Because if you believe that the health and lives of people of color are no less precious than white people’s, this plan helps bring environmental laws in harmony with those values. If you think that clean air is Don Sterling (I like black people. I feed them with oxygen and give them wind. I just don’t want them breathing me.), then you want to know who the Adam Silver is who can commission a smack down. Because civil rights protections in America have been taking a beating lately. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, we now have weakened voting rights protections, weakened affirmative action policies, and we were this close to losing valuable housing discrimination protections (which would have had negative implications for environmentalists).
While civil rights have been getting pushed backwards, environmental justice is been slowly rolling along progressively. That’s no small feat, especially for an agenda that was attacked almost immediately upon Obama claiming the White House in 2009.

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ABC News: Biden: Punish Russia If It Meddles In Ukraine

Russia must be punished if it seeks to derail Ukraine’s presidential election this weekend, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday. Speaking during a tour of Eastern European nations, Biden urged European allies to use their influence and “promote a stable and positive environment” so Ukrainians can vote unhindered on Sunday. “If Russia undermines these elections … we must remain resolute and impose greater costs to Russia and (be) equally resolute to invest in the NATO alliance,” Biden said after talks with Romanian President Traian Basescu. The U.S. and the EU have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and have threatened to target entire sectors of the Russian economy if Russia tries to grab more land from Ukraine.

Biden urged Romania to develop its natural gas resources, which analysts say could be exported it to other countries in the region, including neighboring Moldova, which is 100 percent dependent on Russian gas. Romania imports about one-fifth of its natural gas from Russia and has its own supplies in the northwest Transylvania region. “We need to ensure that Russia can no longer use its energy resources as a weapon against anyone in the region,” Biden said. “The development of a secure, diverse and inter-connected energy market is the next great step for our European colleagues.”

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ThinkProgress: Chipotle Asks Customers To Keep Guns Away From Its Stores

On Monday, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. formally requested that customers refrain from bringing guns into its restaurants. The announcement came after gun rights advocates entered a Texas restaurant with “military-style assault rifles.”

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America distributed a petition calling for firearms bans in stores like Chipotle after “open-carry gun activists” entered a Chipotle in Dallas.

According to Chipotle, “the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” It remains unclear whether or not the chain is implementing a complete ban on all firearms, but the official statement also claims that the company has previously adhered to local gun rights laws.

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Caroline F. Pearson: Avalere Analysis: Exchange Enrollment Outpaces Expectations In 22 States

A new analysis from Avalere Health finds that exchange enrollment meets or exceeds expectations in 22 states (44%), even after accounting for any attrition due to nonpayment of premiums. Assuming 15 percent of enrollees do not take the final enrollment step and pay their premiums, over 6.8 million people who enrolled through April 19 will have coverage effective as of May 1.

“The large uptick in enrollment in March and early April brought many states over the finish line in terms of projected enrollment for 2014,” said Caroline Pearson, Vice President at Avalere. “Even after accounting for potential non-payment, enrollment exceeds 100 percent of projections in nearly half of states.”

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The White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show: The Full Show:

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Paul Pillar: The President Strikes A Nerve

President Obama has gotten much attention from a single extended response he gave to a question about his foreign policy from Ed Henry of Fox News in a press conference in Manila. The apparently strongly felt need, on the part of some of the president’s hardline critics, to strike back at his remarks and to try to discredit them indicates that he spoke some embarrassing truths. Garden-variety disagreement with the substance of the president’s policies and what he has said to support them would never have stimulated this kind of response. The president made several perceptive observations about the less productive aspects of current discourse in Washington about Ukraine, Syria, and other difficult issues, but if there was a single “ouch” line that made the critics most uncomfortable it may have been Mr. Obama’s comment that “for some reason many who were proponents of what I consider to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven’t really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over again.”

It must be painful for Mr. Obama’s opponents to be reminded how right he was about this issue while so many others—Democrats as well as Republicans—were wrong. If subsequent commentary by the critics were to be believed, the main takeaway from the president’s remarks was that he was accusing his political opponents of being warmongers. But the president explicitly acknowledged, in referring to debates over Syria and Ukraine, that the opponents he has in mind have disavowed wanting to send U.S. troops into such conflicts. Mr. Obama’s main point was instead that after making such disavowals, the critics either (1) fail to spell out what other action they have in mind, beyond what the administration already is doing; or (2) to the extent they do mention an alternative, fail to assess carefully the likely consequences both good and bad, and instead just make unsupported assertions that acting more boldly or aggressively will somehow help to solve the problem at hand.

More here

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WPRI: 91% In RI Pay First Premiums For Obamacare Plans

The vast majority of individuals who signed up for private insurance plans through Rhode Island’s new Obamacare marketplace finished the process by paying their first premiums, the agency’s leader confirmed Friday. Christine Ferguson, executive director of HealthSource RI, said 91% of the 27,968 individuals who signed up for private plans during the open enrollment period from Oct. 1 to March 31 paid their first premiums by the April 23 deadline. Analysts have pointed to that percentage as a key test of whether the enrollment figures were as strong as they looked. A total of 25,879 individuals had signed up for a private plan through HealthSource RI and paid their first premiums as of April 30, the agency said. In addition, more than 70,000 people have now used the marketplace to sign up for Medicaid, the government insurance plan for low-income Americans, far more than were expected to do so.

Ferguson also confirmed that HealthSource RI is “in very serious discussions” with executives at UnitedHealth Group Inc. to have United start selling plans for individuals on the Rhode Island marketplace this fall. “I will say that there’s a very good chance that United will,” she said. Executives at United, the nation’s largest health insurer, have signaled in recent weeks that they plan to start selling Obamacare plans in more states during the next open enrollment period this fall. While United is already selling plans to small businesses through HealthSource RI, the marketplace currently has only Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Neighborhood Health Plan offering individual plans.

More here

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Amy Lynn Smith: Obamacare Success Stories Keep Coming, With A Rosy Forecast For 2015

So much good news, it’s hard to know where to begin. In Michigan, 272,539 people signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov, in addition to thousands more who have enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Plan, the state’s Medicaid expansion program that launched April 1. Numbers don’t lie, but even more compelling are the stories of people like Karen Marshall of Oak Park, Mich. Until about four years ago, she’d always had health insurance through work. But when she lost her job, she couldn’t get even the most expensive private insurance because the insurance company claimed she had a pre-existing condition.

Marshall has always considered herself fortunate to be healthy, but she never felt luckier than she did after getting health insurance that kicked in on January 1, 2014. On a trip the week before, she slipped on the ice and fell, breaking her wrist in three places. She saw an orthopedic surgeon on January 3 and had surgery the following week. Everything was covered by her insurance, leaving her only having to pay her deductible and her $6,000 out-of-pocket maximum for the year. She’s now had two surgeries, one hospitalization, and has physical therapy and follow-up visits ahead.

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On This Day

Sen. Barack Obama greets supporters during a campaign rally at the St. Pete Times Forum, May 21, 2008 in Tampa, Florida

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President Obama and the Pittsburgh Steelers pack care packages for distribution by the USO during an event on the South Lawn of the White House May 21, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama meets with Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the Oval Office on May 21, 2009. The President nominated Judge Sotomayer to the U.S. Supreme Court on May 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (left) and Senior Advisor David Axelrod review President Obama’s address on national security outside the Oval Office on May 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama delivers an address on national security at the National Archives May 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama prepares to take a group photo with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the East Room of the White House, May 21, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama meets with Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete in the Oval Office Thursday, May 21, 2009. This was the President’s first meeting with an African Head of State. A bust of Martin Luther King is at far left (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama chats with journalists in a dining room located in the in the White House Navy Mess, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama’s personal secretary, Katie Johnson, tries on a Pittsburgh Steelers football helmet outside the Oval Office, May 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is reflected in a mirror during a impromptu drop-by visit with speechwriters in David Axelrod’s office in the West Wing of the White House on May 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama surprises members of the Office of the Staff Secretary in the West Wing of the White House during an impromptu drop-by visit on May 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama shares a laugh with Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., left, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., right, and others during a meeting in the Oval Office, May 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama disembarks Air Force One upon his arrival at Joplin Regional Airport in Joplin, Mo., May 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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@PeteSouza: ‘POTUS receives update this am on Oklahoma tornado aftermath from Sec Napolitano et al’ May 21, 2013

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