President Barack Obama talks with Nelson Manela’s daughters Zindzi and Zenani Mandela prior to a screening of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” in the White House Family Theater, Nov. 7, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today and tomorrow: The President has no public events scheduled.
Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House. In the evening, he will depart Washington, DC en route Stockholm, Sweden.
Wednesday: The President will arrive in Stockholm. While there, he will hold a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Reinfeldt. He will then participate in an event honoring Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue in Stockholm and tour an expo featuring clean energy innovations at the Royal Institute of Technology. In the evening, he will take part in a dinner with Nordic Leaders.
Thursday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the King and Queen of Sweden. He will then depart Stockholm en route Saint Petersburg, Russia where he will attend the G-20 Summit.
Friday: Attends the G-20 Summit. Returns to Washington, DC on Friday evening.
Secretary John Kerry will be on five Sunday shows today: NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN.
Text of the draft legislation from the President of the United States to the speaker of the House and president of the Senate regarding authorization for the use of the U.S. armed forces in connection with the conflict in Syria.
Whereas, on August 21, 2013, the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria, killing more than 1,000 innocent Syrians;
Whereas these flagrant actions were in violation of international norms and the laws of war;
Whereas the United States and 188 other countries comprising 98 percent of the world’s population are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons;
Whereas, in the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, Congress found that Syria’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States;
Whereas the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1540 (2004), affirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security;
Whereas, the objective of the United States’ use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction;
Whereas, the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, and Congress calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process; and
Whereas, unified action by the legislative and executive branches will send a clear signal of American resolve.
SEC. ___ AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES
(a) Authorization. — The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to –
(1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors), within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or
(2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.
(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements. –
(1) Specific Statutory Authorization. — Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) Applicability of other requirements. — Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
The funny thing about a dog that chases a car? Sometimes it catches the car and has no idea what to do next.
Over the last several days, members of Congress have spoken out with a variety of opinions about U.S. policy towards Syria, but lawmakers were in broad agreement about one thing: they wanted President Obama to engage Congress on the use of military force. Few expected the White House to take the requests too seriously.
Why not? Because over the last several decades, presidents in both parties have increasingly consolidated authority over national security matters, tilting practically all power over the use of force towards the Oval Office and away from the legislative branch…..
That is, until this afternoon, when President Obama stunned everyone, announcing his decision to seek “authorization” from a co-equal branch of government.
It’s one of those terrific examples of good politics and good policy.
For much of the past week, Congress has grown louder and louder with calls that President Barack Obama go through them for any authorization of military action in Syria.
Saturday, Obama gave them their wish.
Congress is now the “dog that caught the car,” tweeted former senior White House adviser and chief Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod.
Obama blinked, but he blinked with a dare. He is daring Congress to say no to limited action against a dictator for the brutal use of chemical weapons against his own people — an attack that the U.S. says killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.
Slate: Obama’s Gamble – Seeking Congressional Approval For His Syria Strike Was Risky And Right.
President Obama is taking a monumental gamble with his Rose Garden statement on war with Syria, but it’s a worthwhile one.
In recent days he and Secretary of State John Kerry have made a powerful case that Bashar al-Assad’s regime launched the chemical weapons that killed more than 1,000 civilians …. Obama has also made a strong case that a military response is the proper action … to enforce a long-standing global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
However, this rationale for military strikes puts him in a box. The organizations charged with enforcing international law are not joining in the attack. The U.N. Security Council is “paralyzed,” as Obama said in today’s speech, because Russia will certainly veto any resolution to use force….
….. To gain some measure of legitimacy, Obama at least needs domestic support…. Maybe we will learn – contrary to the experience of the past decade – that a democracy can go to war in a full and open vote without deceit.
He moves himself, and the country, out of a corner, with two important choices.
The two crucial parts of his announcement:
1) No rush about doing whatever needs to be done with Syria. This is a punitive rather than a preventive action, which should be undertaken with deliberation and — if and when it happens — by surprise.
2) Recognizing the higher wisdom — for himself, for the country, for the world — of taking this to the Congress.
This is the kind of deliberation, and deliberateness, plus finding ways to get out of a (self-created) corner, that has characterized the best of his decisions. It is a very welcome change, and surprise, from what leaks had implied over the past two weeks.
Nelson Mandela was released from the hospital on Sunday while still in critical condition to his Johannesburg home which has been set up to provide intensive care, South Africa’s president said. ‘‘His home has been reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care there,’’ the statement said. ‘‘The health care personnel providing care at his home are the very same who provided care to him in hospital. If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done.’’
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is feted around the world as a towering figure of reconciliation. Despite being jailed for 27 years for his prominent role in opposing white racist rule, Mandela was seemingly free of rancor on his release in 1990, becoming the unifying leader who steered South Africa through a delicate transition to all-race elections that propelled him to the presidency four years later. The United Nations has recognized Mandela’s birthday as an international day to honor themes of activism, democracy and responsibility embodied by the former leader.
The Arab League is due to meet Sunday amid a flourish of diplomatic activity aimed at strengthening the group’s public stance for U.S.-led strikes on Syria. President Barack Obama’s unexpected announcement Saturday that he would wait to put U.S. military action to the U.S. Congress could change the stance of Arab leaders.
The meeting of Arab foreign ministers Sunday, two days earlier than planned, came at the request of Gulf states, Arab League and Saudi government officials said. An Arab League meeting last Tuesday on Syria identified Mr. Assad as the culprit in the Aug. 21 attack in a Damascus suburb.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have helped to arm and fund rebels fighting Mr. Assad’s regime behind the scenes, U.S. and Gulf officials say. Publicly and privately, they long have pushed the U. S. and international community for tougher action. Saudi Arabia shares some tribal ties with Syria and wants to contain Mr. Assad and his allies Iran and Hezbollah. Qatar has been more active than other Gulf states in supporting Arab Spring revolutions.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday that fresh laboratory tests show that Sarin nerve gas was used in an Aug. 21 attack in Syria that killed more than 1,400 people, the first time that U.S. officials have pinpointed what kind of chemical weapon was used.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Kerry said blood and hair samples from emergency workers in east Damascus had tested positive for Sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent. He said that U.S. officials learned of the lab results in the past 24 hours, citing the evidence as yet another reason for Congress to pass President Obama’s request to authorize the use of military force against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Think Progress: Poverty Has Same Effect On The Brain As Constantly Pulling All Nighters
The mental strain of living in poverty and thinking constantly about tight finances can drop a person’s IQ by as much as 13 percent, or about the equivalent of losing a night of sleep, according to a new study. It consumes so much mental energy that there is often little room to think about anything else, which leaves low-income people more susceptible to bad decisions.
One of the study’s authors, Harvard economist Sandhil Mullainathan, told the Washington Post, “Poverty is the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day.”
Poverty has other negative impacts. The chronic stress of growing up in poverty has been found to impair children’s brains, particularly in working memory. A study of veterans found that poverty is a bigger risk factor for mental illnessthan being exposed to warfare. The mental stress of being poor is also a major reason for why low-income people tend to have negative health outcomes like high blood pressure and cholesterol or elevated rates of obesity and diabetes.
First Lady Michelle Obama talks with children attending Camp Noah as they make trail mix at the McAlpine Park Recreation Center in Birmingham, Ala., July 18, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern)
11:25: The President delivers a statement on the Affordable Care Act
12:25: First Lady Michelle Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule visit Urban Alliance Chicago
3:0: The President participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony (closed press)
Steve Benen: Jobless claims show sharp improvement, reach three-month low
Last week’s report on initial unemployment claims was unexpectedly discouraging, making the good news this morning that more reassuring.
The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits dropped 24,000 to 334,000 in the week that ended July 13, hitting the lowest level of new claims since early May, signaling a slower pace of layoffs, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims to fall to 341,000 from an original estimate of 360,000 in the prior week. However, it’s difficult to precisely measure claims this month because of distortions from events such as annual auto plant shutdowns and the July 4 holiday, they said…. The four-week average of initial claims, a less volatile gauge, declined 5,250 to 346,000.
Philip Bump: Those of you who are old enough may remember a time when Barack Obama was plagued with scandal. “Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill,” Politico yelped. The suffix “-gate” was added to various words. So what happened to the scandals? For the most part, they’ve been hollowed out. The scandal: Benghazi. What it was: The death of four Americans at a diplomatic (read: CIA) outpost in the Libyan city of Benghazi last September 11th bubbled for a while. The release of emails suggesting a cover-up kicked conspiracy theories into high gear.
How real it was in the first place: Not very. Current status: Last rites administered Those emails reported by ABC News were only part of the story. The White House released the full email chain, making it clear that the administration’s involvement in drafting a set of post-attack talking points wasn’t what opponents suggested. (We even declared the scandal dead the same week.)
President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office before a phone call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, July 18, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Chris Mizelle, Director for Russia and Central Asia, NSS; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
News from New York: it looks as if insurance premiums on the individual market are going to plunge thanks to Obamacare. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; in fact, the New York experience perfectly illustrates why Obamacare had to look the way it does. And it also illustrates why conservatives should be terrified about this legislation, as it takes effect. Americans may have had a lot of misgivings in advance, thanks to vast, deliberately spread misinformation. But I agree with Matt Yglesias — unless the GOP finds even more ways to sabotage the plan, this thing is going to work, it’s going to be extremely popular, and it’s going to wreak havoc with conservative ideology.
Conservatives are right to be hysterical about this: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make Americans’ lives better. What could be worse?
Abby Ohlheiser: House Republicans followed up on the Obama administration’s decision to delay the implementation of the employer mandate for one year by voting to make that decision a law, and to extend that delay to all individuals, too. It’s a more limited protest vote than what we’re used to seeing from the House GOP on Obamacare: There have been 38 legislative attempts to revoke either all or part of the health care reform law since 2011.
On Wednesday, both votes to delay passed easily: 264 – 161 for the employer mandate, and 251 – 174 for the individual mandate. They will not become law: President Obama would veto both bills if they made it to his desk.
Steve Benen: Key ‘Obamacare’ provision delayed until 2015
News from the Obama administration about the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act caused quite a stir last night, but it’s worth pausing to appreciate the extent of the impact …. I think some of the reactions to the one-year delay have been a little excessive. Maybe it’ll be easier to tackle this in Q&A form.
* What’s the employer mandate? In practical terms, the policy name is a bit of misnomer — there is no actual “mandate.” Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees are told they need to offer health care coverage to their employees, but those who choose not to pay a fairly modest tax penalty. As of last night, that penalty won’t kick in, at the earliest, before 2015.
* Won’t this mandate discourage those businesses from hiring? It’s been an important part of the criticism, but Obamacare extends all kinds of breaks to these employers to help subsidize the insurance and soften the blow of increased costs.
Spandan (The People’s View): How the Professional Left’s Blind Obama Hatred Got them Played by a Far-Right Nutjob
Some outlets reported last week that NSA leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden was caught into a bit of hypocrisy: public chat records indicate that back in the ancient times of 2009, he wanted leakers “shot in the balls.” Yeah, he said that. But that’s not all he said. Oh, no. The Technology site Ars Technica posted extensive public chat logs from Snowden, then using the monkier TheTrueHOOHA, that confirms what I had suspected since finding his campaign contributions to Glenn Greenwald’s straight crush Ron Paul.
So let’s talk about this man that has been granted hero status by the Left’s loudest prognosticators and provocateurs….
As we watch the Republicans in states like North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Texas attempt to pass draconian bills affecting things like women’s right to chose and citizen’s access to the ballot, I can’t help but say that I smell a sense of desperation. Its almost as if they know they are a dying beast and are in a hurry to do as much damage as possible prior to their demise.
Despite a heavy period of news that included the Boston Marathon bombings and the Jodi Arias trial, MSNBC’s second-quarter ratings plunged to their lowest level since 2007.
…. “The Rachel Maddow Show” suffered its lowest-rated quarter in terms of total viewers since 2008. And June alone was the lowest rated month ever for Maddow in both total viewers and in the 25-54 group.
—-> New host Chris Hayes continues to pull in sluggish ratings for “All In With Chris Hayes,” which in its first full quarter on air provided MSNBC with the lowest-rated 8 p.m. hour in the 25-54 demographic since 2006.
Visiting Robben Island – The rock quarry labor camp where Nelson Mandela was forced to work as a prisoner
The First Lady: Today, our family visited Robben Island for an experience we will never forget. Robben Island is located off the coast of South Africa, and from the 1960s through the 1990s, this Island housed a maximum security prison. Many of the prisoners there – including the guide for our visit, a man named Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada – were activists who worked to bring down Apartheid, the South African government’s policies that discriminated against people of color. Under Apartheid, people of different races were separated in nearly every part of South African society. They were forced to attend separate schools, live in separate neighborhoods, even swim at separate beaches – and in nearly every case, the neighborhoods, schools and other facilities for black people were much worse than the ones for white people.