President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Brady Briefing room at the White House. President Obama took full responsibility and apologized for a US drone strike that targeted a suspected al Qaeda compound in Pakistan but inadvertently killed an American and Italian being held hostage by the group
President Barack Obama holds a jersey while posing for a picture with head coach Bill Belichick (L), owner Robert Kraft (R) and members of the National Football League Super Bowl champions New England Patriots during an event at the White House. President Obama honored the Super bowl XLIX champion Patriots who defeated the Seattle Seahawks 33-27 in overtime
On This Day – Pete Souza: “The President shows off his dance moves as he and the First Lady waited backstage during an intermission of daughter Sasha’s dance recital at Strathmore Arts Center in North Bethesda, Maryland.” June 16, 2013
10:0 am PT: President Obama departs Palm Springs
5:30 pm ET: Arrives White House
The Week Ahead
Tuesday: President Obama will travel to TechShop Pittsburgh to deliver remarks on the economy. Following this, he will travel to New York City to attend the DNC LGBT Gala and take part in another DNC Event.
Wednesday: The President will host the first ever White House Maker Faire and meet with students, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch new businesses, learn vital skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and fuel the renaissance in American manufacturing.
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.
Paul Krugman: Yes He Could – Health Care And Climate: President Obama’s Big Deals
You should judge leaders by their achievements, not their press, and in terms of policy substance Mr. Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction. First, health reform is now a reality — and despite a shambolic start, it’s looking like a big success story. Remember how nobody was going to sign up? First-year enrollments came in above projections. Remember how people who signed up weren’t actually going to pay their premiums? The vast majority have.
Then there’s climate policy. The Obama administration’s new rules on power plants won’t be enough in themselves to save the planet, but they’re a real start — and are by far the most important environmental initiative since the Clean Air Act….Put it all together, and Mr. Obama is looking like a very consequential president indeed.
Colin H. Kahl: No, Obama Didn’t Lose Iraq: What The President’s Critics Get Wrong
As the senior Pentagon official responsible for Iraq policy during the first three years of the Obama administration, I had a front-row seat for the internal deliberations over how to end the war. Through the first half of 2011, there was a vigorous debate within the administration about whether U.S. forces should remain in Iraq beyond December, and if so, in what numbers and with what missions. Ultimately, at great political risk, President Obama approved negotiations with the Iraqi government to allow a force of around 5,000 American troops to stay in Iraq to provide counterterrorism support and air cover and to train the Iraqi army. But, as commander in chief, he was unwilling to strand U.S. forces in a hostile, anti-American environment without the legal protections and immunities required to ensure soldiers didn’t end up in Iraqi jails. These protections, which are common in nearly every country where U.S. forces operate, were guaranteed under the 2008 status of forces agreement negotiated by the Bush administration; Obama simply demanded that they continue under any follow-on accord. Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, told
U.S. negotiators that he was willing to sign an executive memorandum of understanding that included these legal protections. But for any agreement to be binding under the Iraqi constitution, it had to be approved by the Iraqi parliament. This was the judgment of every senior administration lawyer and Maliki’s own legal adviser, and no senior U.S. military commander made the case that we should leave forces behind without these protections. Even Sen. John McCain, perhaps the administration’s harshest Iraq critic, admitted in a December 2011 speech discussing the withdrawal that the president’s demand for binding legal immunities “was a matter of vital importance.” Moreover, because the 2008 security agreement had been approved by the Iraqi parliament, it seemed both unrealistic and politically unsustainable to apply a lower standard this time around. Unfortunately, Iraqi domestic politics made it impossible to reach a deal. Iraqi public opinion surveys consistently showed that the U.S. military presence was deeply unpopular
Matthew Lee: Kerry: US Open To Cooperation With Iran On Chaos In Iraq
Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration is willing to talk with Iran over deteriorating security conditions in Iraq and is not ruling out potential U.S.-Iranian military cooperation in stemming the advance of Sunni extremists. Kerry also says U.S. drone strikes “may well” be an option.
In a Monday interview with Yahoo! News, Kerry said Washington is “open to discussions” with Tehran if the Iranians can help end the violence and restore confidence in the Iraqi government. Asked about possible military cooperation with Iran, Kerry said he would “not rule out anything that would be constructive.” However, he stressed that any contacts with Iran would move “step-by-step.”
New data show the number of students without health insurance on California State University campuses dropped by 60% after health insurance enrollment, defying concerns that not enough young people would sign up for health insurance. According to a poll released Thursday, at the 15 largest CSU campuses, between 25% and 30% of students were uninsured before enrollment began, and 10% were uninsured after. The drop accounts for 60,000 students who became insured, and illustrates the late surge of young people who signed up for policies. “These students proved that the folks we’re calling young invincibles do want health insurance,” said William Covino, president of Cal State Los Angeles. Walter Zelman, chair of the Cal State L.A. Public Health Department and director of the project, said that he believes the 10% uninsured rate among the students is “virtually unheard of in California.”
He pointed out that the 60% drop in the number of uninsured CSU students is vastly higher than the 26% reduction in the number of uninsured nationwide that was reported by a Gallup poll this month. CSU students were perhaps more likely to sign-up for insurance than expected because many are low-income and therefore qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health program that was expanded under the federal health care law. Natasha Buranasombati, 23, signed up for an insurance plan through Covered California. A recent Cal State L.A. grad, she’d been off her parents’ insurance for a few years, and couldn’t afford a plan on the individual market. She now pays $117 a month for her new plan. “The issue is not invincibility, it’s affordability,” Zelman said.
Bloomberg: Taliban Fighters Warn Foreign Investors To Leave Pakistan
Pakistan’s military began a full-scale operation in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan, prompting insurgents to warn foreign investors, airlines and multinational companies to leave the country. “We’re in a state of war,” Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, said in a statement today. “Foreign investors, airlines, and multinational companies should cut off business with Pakistan immediately and leave the country or else they will be responsible for their damage themselves.”
The army said yesterday it would target local and foreign terrorists in North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border the U.S. has called the “epicenter” of terrorism. The operation, long sought by the U.S., comes a week after militants attacked the country’s biggest international airport. As Islamic militants capture cities in Iraq and the U.S. draws up plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, public opinion in Pakistan is shifting in favor of stronger action against fighters who were previously seen locally as more of a threat to America’s interests. The Taliban wants to impose its version of Islamic Shariah law in Pakistan, which includes a ban on music and stricter rules for women.
LA Times: Actors, Musicians Are Big Beneficiaries Of Obamacare
In 2011, actress Lynda Berg didn’t make enough money to qualify for health insurance through her union. And, on her own, she had trouble finding a plan she could afford because she’s a survivor of breast cancer, considered a preexisting condition. The uncertainty of not having a health plan was stressful and at times expensive, she recalls. A few years ago she fell and broke her hand and elbow and ended up paying $4,000 for her medical care. But all that has changed for Berg, 59. In March, she went online, signed up for a policy through Covered California, the state’s new health insurance marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act, and now is getting medical care. More than most people, workers in the area’s vast entertainment industry are poised to benefit from the federal health law.
“When people think Hollywood, they think George Clooney and Meryl Streep, but that’s not the average person in this town,” said Dan Kitowski, director of health services for the western region of the Actors Fund, a national nonprofit that does Affordable Care Act outreach. Actress Berg, who lives in Beverlywood, now pays a premium of $145 a month for her Blue Shield of California plan. She’s using her coverage to get prescriptions for $5 a month that she was paying more than $100 to fill before. She plans to head to the doctor’s office soon for a checkup she’s been putting off. “It’s a tremendous blessing to actors and anyone who doesn’t have insurance,” she said. “Even if you get a plan with a large deductible, at least you have that safety net … and you’re not in debt for the next seven years.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday $70 million in funding available during Fiscal Year 2014 to tribal communities across the nation to improve Indian housing conditions and stimulate community development for low and moderate income families. The grants are available through HUD’s Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program for a wide variety of community development and affordable housing activities. Read HUD’s ICDBG Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The purpose of the ICDBG program is to develop viable Indian and Alaska Native communities, including decent housing, suitable living environments, and economic opportunities. Recipients can use the funding to support rehabbing or building new housing or to buy land for housing. They can use it toward infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer facilities. Recipients can also spur economic development including commercial and industrial projects.
This has included community and health centers, energy conservation projects, or new businesses such as shopping centers, manufacturing plants, restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations. “Housing and infrastructure needs in Indian Country are severe and widespread, and far exceed what has been provided to tribes and their designated housing entities. This funding will go directly to the Native American and Alaska Native communities that are working hard every day to improve housing for the families who need it most,” said Rodger Boyd, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Native American Programs. “HUD invests in people and neighborhoods across the country that promote development at the local level by those local leaders who know their communities best. This year we are committed to not only expanding housing opportunities but also helping to ensure healthier environments for those affected by mold.”
Eliza Griswold: Can General Linder’s Special Operations Forces Stop the Next Terrorist Threat?
On a searing morning this spring, Brig. Gen. James B. Linder leaned against the red-webbing seats of a C-130 as it flew over the Sahara. On his camouflaged knee, he balanced two dog-eared Moleskine notebooks and a map of Africa. Linder, who is in his early 50s, commands the United States Special Operations forces in Africa. He was on his way to visit a detachment of 12 Army Green Berets training with African troops to fight Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Niger. Through the plane’s scratched plexiglass portholes, dunes crested like waves in an ocean of sand, and hot blasts of wind buffeted the fuselage.
An hour’s flight to the south, his team of Special Forces was deployed along the Nigerian border, where the militant group Boko Haram was targeting children in its bid to establish an Islamic state. “My job is to look at Africa and see where the threat to the United States is,” Linder said as he unfolded his map and traced circles around the territories where he knew extremist groups were operating. “I see Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Libyan problem set, Al Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, Benghazi and Darna.”
NYT: Starbucks To Provide Free College Education To Thousands of Workers
Starbucks will provide a free online college education to thousands of its workers, without requiring that they remain with the company, through an unusual arrangement with Arizona State University, the company and the university will announce on Monday. The program is open to any of the company’s 135,000 United States employees, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State. For a barista with at least two years of college credit, the company will pay full tuition; for those with fewer credits it will pay part of the cost, but even for many of them, courses will be free, with government and university aid. Starbucks is, in effect, inviting its workers, from the day they join the company, to study whatever they like, and then leave whenever they like — knowing that many of them, degrees in hand, will leave for better-paying jobs.
In a low-wage service industry, Starbucks has for decades been unusual, doing things such as providing health insurance, even for part-timers, and giving its employees stock options. (Like other food and drink chains, it has also been accused of using improper tactics in fighting unionization drives.) Whether in spite of those perks or because of them, the company has been highly successful; its stock, which closed Friday at $74.69, has grown in value more than a hundredfold since it went public in 1992. The president of Arizona State, Michael M. Crow, something of an evangelist for online education, was scheduled to join Mr. Schultz and Arne Duncan, the education secretary, to announce the program on Monday in Manhattan. Arizona State has one of the largest online degree programs in the United States, with 11,000 students and 40 undergraduate majors, and one of the most highly regarded.
I’m here in Florida visiting my father, Ed Reich, who, at the young age of 100 and a half, just came up with one of the most incisive assessments I’ve heard of what’s happened in Iraq: “George W. Bush and the crooks he hired are responsible for this. If they hadn’t lied to the American people about weapons of mass destruction we wouldn’t have lost nearly 5,000 American lives and god knows how many Iraqi lives, and stirred up this hornet’s nest. Obama has spent his entire administration cleaning up Bush’s shit, like someone with a giant pooper scooper.” Dad has lived during the administrations of 17 presidents. “Bush was the worst,” he says. “Reagan the second worst.”
The Supreme Court says federal law does not allow a “straw” purchaser to buy a gun for someone else, even if both are legally eligible to own firearms. The justices ruled Monday that the federal background check law applied to Bruce James Abramski, Jr. when he bought a Glock 19 handgun in Collinsville, Virginia, in 2009 and later transferred it to his uncle in Easton, Pennsylvania. Federal officials brought charges against Abramski because he assured the Virginia dealer he was the actual buyer of the weapon, even though he had already agreed to buy the gun for his uncle.
Sen. Barack Obama greets supporters a campaign rally at Kettering High School June 16, 2008 in Flint, Michigan
Sen. Barack Obama, former U.S. vice president Al Gore and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm appear on stage together after Gore spoke endorsing him at a rally at Joe Louis Arena June 16, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan
President Obama picks up a fly he swatted during an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood in the East Room of the White House, June 16, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama gives a fist-bump to personal aide Reggie Love in the Oval Office of the White House on June 16, 2009. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is at left (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama arrives to speak the American Nurses Association House of Delegates June 16, 2010 in Washington, DC.
President Obama walks with his daughter Malia as they follow First Lady Michelle Obama into the Strathmore Music Center June 16, 2013 in Bethesda, Maryland. The Obama’s were attending a dance performance with where their daughter Sasha was performing.
BBC: US-born radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a key al-Qaeda leader, has been killed in Yemen, the country’s defence ministry said. Unnamed US officials confirmed the reports, but have not provided details. Awlaki, of Yemeni descent, has been on the run in Yemen since December 2007. The US had named him a “specially designated global terrorist” for his alleged role in a number of attacks and US President Barack Obama is said to have personally ordered his killing. More here
Jake Tapper: The list of senior terrorists killed during the Obama presidency is fairly extensive:
Osama bin Laden in May …. Anwar al-Awlaki today …. Earlier this month al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri …. In August, ‘Atiyah ‘Abd al-Rahman, the deputy leader of al Qaeda…
In June, one of the group’s most dangerous commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri … In Yemen that same month, AQAP senior operatives Ammar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, and Ali Saleh Farhan ….. In Somalia, Al-Qa’ida in East Africa (AQEA) senior leader Harun Fazul….
…. Going back to August 2009, Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan leader Baitullah Mahsud was killed in Pakistan …. In September of that month, Jemayah Islamiya operational planner Noordin Muhammad Top was killed in Indonesia, and AQEA planner Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed in Somalia .. Then in December 2009 in Pakistan, al Qaeda operational commanders Saleh al-Somali and ‘Abdallah Sa’id were killed.
In February 2010, in Pakistan, Taliban deputy and military commander Abdul Ghani Beradar was captured; Haqqani network commander Muhammad Haqqani was killed; and Lashkar-e Jhangvi leader Qari Zafar was killed …. In March 2010, al Qaeda operative Hussein al-Yemeni was killed in Pakistan, while senior Jemayah Islamiya operative Dulmatin was killed during a raid in Indonesia.
In April 2010, al Qaeda in Iraq leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were killed …. In May, al Qaeda’s number three commander, Sheik Saeed al-Masri was killed …. In June 2010 in Pakistan, al Qaeda commander Hamza al-Jawfi was killed.
Remember when Rudy Giuliani warned that electing Barack Obama would mean that the U.S. played defense, not offense, against the terrorists?
ThinkProgress: Audience boos gay servicemember for wanting to serve openly. “Any kind of sexual activity has no place in the military” says Rick Santorum, apparently planning to raise an army of monks and kick all the married officers out of the military. Watch it:
MSNBC: Senior al-Qaida operative Ilyas Kashmiri, regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous militants, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike, Pakistani intelligence officials and a militant group confirmed Saturday.
A fax from Kashmiri’s Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami militant group said Saturday that Kashmiri was “martyred” in the strike at 11:15 p.m. Friday in South Waziristan. It vowed revenge against America.
The Pakistani official also said Saturday that Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in the strike … Kashmiri is one of five most-wanted militant leaders in Pakistan and his apparent death is another blow to al-Qaida just over a month after Osama bin Laden was killed.
BBC: ….According to a recent Associated Press report, his name figured among the top five al-Qaeda and Taliban militants US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned during her meetings with the Pakistani leadership a week ago.
He was one of the most active al-Qaeda leaders, and was believed to have had a role in some high-profile attacks against Pakistani and US interests in Pakistan. It is believed that the capabilities of his 313 Brigade will suffer a setback now that he is gone.
What is more, the Pakistani government has admitted to agreeing to set up joint intelligence teams with the Americans to hunt down wanted militant leaders, and many would be led to believe the Pakistani intelligence operatives had a role in leading the Americans to Kashmiri, unless the Pakistanis or the Americans claim otherwise.
President Obama greets 9/11 families and elected officials from the New York area at Ground Zero
A signed message from President Obama is seen on a pamphlet during his meeting with 9/11 family members
Paul Krugman: After reading John Yoo’s attack on the president for not taking Osama alive and bringing him to Gitmo, I thought I might take a minute to explain something I sometimes say … the Bush administration saw torturing people as a plus, not a cost … not because they’re sadists, but because it suited their self-image.
From day one of the War on Terror (TM), it was clear that the Bush people reveled in the notion that they were tough guys, willing to Do What Needs to be Done. They were all wannabe Kiefer Sutherlands. Far from showing qualms about suspending the rule of law and using torture to extract information, they obviously enjoyed the idea that they were willing to go all the way, unlike those wimpy liberals…..
…And so they are, inevitably, deeply upset that someone who isn’t a tough guy by their standards seems to be doing a better job of getting the terrorists than they did.
Krugman: ….isn’t the GOP showing a stunning lack of grace in this whole affair?
It’s particularly striking if you remember the atmosphere from 2001 through until 2004 or so. Back then, any hint of criticism of Bush’s War on Terror, or even a failure to show sufficient enthusiasm for his leadership, led to accusations that you were unpatriotic and somehow warped by your partisanship.
Now Obama actually gets his man – and does it in what seems to have been a truly gutsy fashion – and all we get is carping.
I can’t actually say I’m surprised, but it’s still kind of amazing.
It’s hard to believe this was only a week ago …. think of all that has happened since:
Michael Hirsh (National Journal): Ever so gingerly, even as they praised President Obama’s success against Osama bin Laden, some former senior Bush administration officials have sought to take a little credit for the mission themselves. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, interviewed by MSNBC this week, even called the operation “a good story for continuity across two presidencies.”
That assessment couldn’t be further from the truth.
Behind Obama’s takedown of the Qaida leader this week lies a profound discontinuity between administrations – a major strategic shift in how to deal with terrorists. From his first great public moment when, as a state senator, he called Iraq a “dumb war,” Obama indicated that he thought that George W. Bush had badly misconceived the challenge of 9/11. And very quickly upon taking office as president, Obama reoriented the war back to where, in the view of many experts, it always belonged. He discarded the idea of a “global war on terror” that conflated all terror threats from al-Qaida to Hamas to Hezbollah. Obama replaced it with a covert, laserlike focus on al-Qaida and its spawn….
…Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once famously lamented that “we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror.” Neither he nor other senior members of the Bush administration ever developed those “metrics.” But by any metric, Barack Obama has just tallied a major victory.
David Rothkopf (Foreign Policy): …..let’s try to put this week in perspective by highlighting a few winners, a few losers…The winners who have thus far emerged from the shootout at the Abbottabad corral include, in reverse order of the size of the win:
….The Families of U.S. Service Men and Women in Afghanistan: They’re coming home sooner now. This was their mission too. You can hardly beat that … and because there are so many of you, that’s why you edge out those folks at the pointy end of the spear who completed the mission.
….Barack Obama: His finest hour. Decisive. Cool. Able to both strike hard and do so with the kind of American values and restraint that elevated the mission and stands in stark contrast to the bombast and recklessness of some of his predecessors.
….The Planet Earth: A day without bin Laden is a better day for everyone.
Washington Post: …..When bin Laden’s corpse was laid out, one of the Navy SEALs was asked to stretch out next to it to compare heights. The SEAL was 6 feet tall. The body was several inches taller.
After the information was relayed to Obama, he turned to his advisers and said: “We donated a $60 million helicopter to this operation. Could we not afford to buy a tape measure?”
Thank Edwina ;-)
Daily Texan: Meet Rick Perry. He’s been the governor of the great state of Texas since Dec. 21, 2000. Meet Hannah Treadway. She’s my little sister, who lives with my family in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and was born on July 20, 1999.
Gov. Perry and Little Sister Hannah seem like they have a lot in common – strong leadership skills, great hair and my best guess is that they’re both into watching cartoons.
…I decided it would be a fun exercise to test how closely they align or differ on policy issues … I’m going to write out the question I asked my little sister, and then I’m going to put two answers. One will be the response my little sister gave me, and one will be a quote from our governor….
Question 1: What is Juarez, Mexico?
Answer 1: “It’s a place in Mexico. My dad says it’s not very safe.”
Answer 2: “Juarez is reported to be the most dangerous city in America.”
If you guessed that it was Hannah’s dad that told her that Juarez is not very safe, you are correct. In February, Perry delivered the second answer to reporters, but in fairness, it was an honest mistake that any politician who doesn’t speak in front of the media very often could have made. Now, moving on to question two.
Question 2: Who is responsible for the BP oil spill?
Answer 1: “From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.”
Answer 2: “BP.”
Answer 2 belongs to my naive 11-year-old sister, who in her youth thinks oil companies that skirt regulations are accountable for their mistakes. Fortunately our governor, in all his experience, has enough perspective to realize that it could have just been God’s fault.