President Barack Obama meets children at Mount Pleasant Primary School in Newport, Wales. President Barack Obama visited the school with Prime Minister David Cameron, before attending a two-day NATO summit at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport
Wales Online: Nato Summit 2014: Barack Obama And David Cameron Visit Newport’s Mount Pleasant Primary School
Hundreds of wellwishers greeted American President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron as they arrived at a primary school in Newport this morning. Mr Obama’s car was adorned with an American and Welsh flag, and he greeted the smiling youngsters of Mount Pleasant Primary School in Welsh saying “bore da” – “good morning” – and then listened to a welcome message, thanking him for being the first serving US president to visit Wales. When a smiling Mr Obama walked into a Year 6 class speaking Welsh, the pupils’ nervous chatter turned to delighted smiles.
Some onlookers had brought ladders while others stood on walls or even on the back of bikes to try to get the best view. Local resident Sally Pyrah-Barnes, 47, said the day felt like a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. “It’s good Barack Obama took time out from the summit to acknowledge the local city and the local kids,” she said. Among the crowds gathered outside was college student Jay Singh, 16. He said: “It’s pretty surreal, Barack Obama being in Rogerstone. It’s great that he’s come here and shows Newport has plenty to offer and it’s not just about Cardiff. Mrs Green added: “We both like Obama. He seems to have his finger on the pulse.”
President Barack Obama speaks with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron during the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport, in Wales
President Barack Obama, is seated at a table with, from left to right: France’s President Francois Hollande; Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko; British Prime Minister David Cameron; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as they meet about Ukraine
Secretary of State John Kerry passes a document to President Barack Obama as British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaks at a meeting of NATO leaders regarding Afghanistan
President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron bow their heads for a moment of silence for service members killed in Afghanistan
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks with President Barack Obama as they arrive for a group photo
President Barack Obama stands with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and British Prime Minister David Cameron as he arrives for a NATO summit
On This Day: President Barack Obama looks out a cell window as he and First Lady Michelle Obama tour the Maison des Esclaves Museum on Gorée Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
10:50 CT: The President delivers remarks on the economy, Lake Harriet Band Shell, Minneapolis
12:20 CT: Departs Minneapolis
3:45 ET: Arrives White House
5:0 ET: Meets with Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D Gibson and Rob Nabors
8:45 ET: Attends the Marine Barracks Evening Parade
“Cynicism’s popular these days, but hope’s better.”
Jonathan Cohn: Health Care Spending Down – One More Promising Sign About Obamacare
People tell me I worry too much. Maybe they are right. Back in April, I wrote a big article warning that we might be on the verge of another surge in health care spending. To critics of the Affordable Care Act, this apparent turn to health expenditure normalcy proved that the law had done little to control costs—and that it would eventually lead to much more spending. But the worrisome reports came with a huge asterisk. They were based on preliminary estimates and a whole lot of guesswork. As economists like David Cutler and Peter Orszag pointed out, other data points were more encouraging. Among other things, the cost of the federal government’s Medicare program was still rising very slowly. That suggested the health care industry really was reinventing itself and becoming more efficient—thanks, at least in part, to incentives that Obamacare had introduced.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis issued new estimates for how the economy and its component parts performed in the first quarter of 2014. The headlines were all about the economy shrinking. But that was expected, as QED’s Danny Vinik pointed out, given some one-time factors. The real surprise was health care. The supposed surge in health care spending was nowhere to be found. On the contrary, relative to the previous quarter, health care spending actually fell by 1.4 percent. it sure doesn’t look like Obamacare is bankrupting the country, as the critics always said it would. Better still, the law really may be nudging health care in the direction of more efficiency.
Benjamin Bell: Obama Calls Boehner Lawsuit Threat A ‘Stunt’ (Videos At Link)
Despite Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s threat this week to sue President Obama over his use of executive orders, the president refused to apologize for his actions during an exclusive interview with ABC News and took the Republican Party to task for what he described as its attempt to interfere with the basic functions of government. “You notice that he didn’t specifically say what exactly he was objecting to,” the president said when asked about the suit by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview Thursday in Minnesota.
“I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing,” the president added later. What I’ve told Speaker Boehner directly is, ‘If you’re really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, why don’t you try getting something done through Congress?’” the president said. “You’re going to squawk if I try to fix some parts of it administratively that are within my authority while you’re not doing anything?” Obama said, directing his comments toward Republicans.
Chemi Shalev: America’s Bye-Bye Bash For President Peres Was Both Bittersweet And Over-The-Top
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer hosted a gala dinner for President Shimon Peres at the Israeli Embassy on Wednesday, attended by a formidable representation of Washington’s high and mighty. He gave a witty and humorous speech in which he included his personal impressions of the meetings held earlier that day at the White House: “You could not imagine a better relationship than the one between Peres and President [Barack] Obama,” he said. And Dermer should know. He has the right perspective. He is far more familiar than most people with the far frostier relationship between Obama and Dermer’s own superior, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And “far frostier” is probably an understatement. For Obama, Peres might be the last vestige of the kind of Israel that the American left fell in love with until the Six-Day-War, the polar opposite of Netanyahu’s present-day Israel, adored most fervently by Obama’s enemies in the conservative right-wing.
In Obama’s eyes, Peres seeks peace and pursues it, while Netanyahu pays lips service and then runs for his coalition’s life. Why couldn’t things have been the other way round, with Peres as prime minister and Bibi as President, Obama may have wondered, and Peres would probably join him. Peres’ has also been Obama’s chief defender against the waves of criticism and sometimes hostility directed at the U.S. President in Israel. “I learned from Ben Gurion that one must judge people based on their record, not their image,” Peres told Haaretz. “I think Obama is being judged unjustly, based on an image that he did not create – but was created for him. I think people ignore his record. Tell me one thing in which he hasn’t been consistent in his attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people. He’s just added a billion dollars to the military aid for our anti-missile defense. What do people want from him?”
Mike Lillis: Democrats: No Bluff, Obama Will Go It Alone On Immigration
The Obama administration is “not bluffing” in its intent to take executive action on immigration policy if House Republicans don’t act soon, top Democratic leaders warned Thursday. President Obama has delayed any potential changes to his deportation policy to allow House GOP leaders time to bring legislation to the floor this summer. But if the Republicans don’t act in July, the Democrats say, unilateral changes by Obama are inevitable. “We’re at the end of the line,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. “We’re not bluffing by setting a legislative deadline for them to act.
“Their first job is to govern,” Menendez added, “and in the absence of governing, then you see executive actions.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) piled on. Noting that a year has passed since the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill with broad bipartisan support, he urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a similar bill to the floor. “I don’t know how much more time he thinks he needs, but I hope that Speaker Boehner will speak up today,” Durbin said. “And if he does not, the president will borrow the power that is needed to solve the problems of immigration.”
BBC: EU signs pacts with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have signed partnership agreements with the European Union, in a move strongly opposed by Russia. The pact – which would bind the three countries more closely to the West both economically and politically – is at the heart of the crisis in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said making Ukraine choose between Russia and the EU would split it in two. A ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine is due to end on Friday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in Brussels to sign the pact, said he would take a decision on an extension to the truce when he arrived back in Kiev later on Friday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would welcome an extension, but not if it were simply an ultimatum for separatists to lay down their arms. Meanwhile the United Nations refugee agency said there had been a sharp rise in the numbers of displaced people in eastern Ukraine in the past week, with 16,400 people fleeing the area. The total number internally displaced has reached 54,400, while a further 110,000 people left Ukraine for Russia this year.
Ariane de Vogue: One Year After Top Court’s Ruling Gay Marriage Is Legal In 19 States
It’s the one year anniversary of a major Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. A lot can happen in a year. In United States v. Windsor, the justices didn’t squarely address the issue of a state ban on gay marriage. Windsor, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, invalidated part of a federal law that denied benefits to same sex couples legally married in their states. But since June 26, 2013 , federal judges have adopted Kennedy’s equal protection language to strike down bans across the country. The latest ruling came Wednesday when the 10th Circuit Court ruled that Utah’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Look at the statistics: A year ago same sex couples could marry in 10 states and DC. Today, that number has ballooned to 19 states and DC. Almost 44 percent of the country lives in states where same sex marriage is legal, according to Human Rights Campaign. The Supreme Court ruling fueled a social movement of such rapid pace that even veterans of social movements were taken by surprise: Here’s what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who as a young lawyer fought the battle against gender discrimination, said recently in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: : “I haven’t seen a social change that rapid – ever.”
Health wonks and Dem operatives are quietly mulling the possibility of a new batch of health plan cancellations in October — just before the midterms. Dems believe a round of “cancellation” headlines could greet this development. They think headlines will be out of sync with the actual problem, perhaps dramatically so. But as the gap between last fall’s “horror stories” and subsequent hard data about Obamacare has showed, press coverage of the law tends not to err on the side of proportionality or restraint. According to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the possibility of more cancellations resides in the fact that an untold number of people may have renewed policies before January 1st,
meaning they did not have to meet Obamacare’s minimum standards. Those people with current plans that don’t comply could get cancellation notices 90 days before the end of this year, i.e., in October. “So much of this debate has been driven by anecdote, which can be misleading,” Levitt says. “When there is no data available to see whether the anecdotes are generalizable, they get reported anyway. This could be another example of a relatively small number of negative anecdotes being used by opponents of the law to discredit it.”
Greg Sargent: The GOP Is Now Officially The Party Of ‘Get The Hell Out’
Exactly one year after the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that built a compromise on an exchange of increased enforcement for legalization for the 11 million, Republicans have now officially abandoned any pretense of a willingness to participate in solving the immigration crisis. Instead, they have committed the party to a course premised on two intertwined notions: There are no apparent circumstances under which they can accept legalization of the 11 million; and as a result, the only broad response to the crisis they can countenance is maximum deportations.
This means it’s now all in Obama’s hands to decide what he can do unilaterally to ease the pace of deportations and address the current unaccompanied migrant crisis. One way to understand what happened here is to trace the evolution of GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chair of the Judiciary Committee. Now fast forward to yesterday. Goodlatte effectively declared immigration reform dead as long as Obama is in office, blaming his decision to defer the deportation of DREAMers for the current crisis of unaccompanied migrants crossing. This tells the entire story. Goodlatte was an early proponent of a form of legalization for the 11 million that could have been the basis for compromise.
10:55: President Obama meets with Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand
1:0 Josh Earnest briefs the press
Parade: The President and Michelle Obama on Work, Family, and Juggling It All
… On Monday, June 23, the President and Mrs. Obama will host a Working Families summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss the need for affordable childcare and paid family leave, raising minimum wage, and achieving equal pay for all. In an interview conducted by Parade, the Obamas opened up about their personal connection to these issues and what they hope to accomplish during their remaining time in the White House.
President Barack Obama and wife Michelle have never been your typical working stiffs. With four Ivy League degrees between them, they’ve enjoyed high incomes and strong job security. But before and during college, they each worked minimum-wage jobs. And there was a time when they felt the same kind of financial aches and marriage strains that today’s dual-income families know all too well. As a young married couple in Chicago, they were mired in student debt, juggling multiple jobs and two kids, and bickering over who did what housework. “I wouldn’t fold,” remembers the president. “I didn’t separate, and Michelle’s point was, that’s not laundry.”
TPM: Obama Administration To Extend Family Leave To Same-Sex Couples
The Obama administration announced that it would direct the Department of Labor to begin issuing regulations to extend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to same-sex couples, according to a White House official.
After the Supreme Court’s struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last year, Attorney General Eric Holder and other members of the administration began to reviewing relevant statutes and laws to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples. The administration said that its extension of FMLA is simply part of that process. The new regulations will clarify that an employee is eligible to take leave to care for a same-sex spouse in the instance of an illness, regardless of whether that employee lives in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.
Paul Krugman: Veterans and Zombies – The Hype Behind the Health Care Scandal
…. it’s important to understand that the Veterans Affairs scandal, while real, is being hyped out of proportion by people whose real goal is to block reform of the larger system.
…. A scandal is a scandal, and wrongdoing must be punished. But beware of people trying to use the veterans’ care scandal to derail health reform.
And here’s the thing: Health reform is working. Too many Americans still lack good insurance, and hence lack access to health care and protection from high medical costs — but not as many as last year, and next year should be better still. Health costs are still far too high, but their growth has slowed dramatically. We’re moving in the right direction, and we shouldn’t let the zombies get in our way.
Ukraine announced Friday that it has regained full control of its border with Russia, which the government has set as an important precondition for a unilateral ceasefire in its conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the east.
The sealing off of the border, which could not be independently verified, would be significant because it would rob the rebels of an important supply route for new fighters and weapons.
The announcement that troops had recaptured the border area near the village of Izvaryne in the Luhansk region comes as President Petro Poroshenko is set to unveil the details of his 14-point peace plan.
For years black academics criticized the Obama administration for not targeting programs to the African American community. Obamacare didn’t count – even though it has disproportionately affected people of color. All of his talk about income inequality didn’t matter, neither did his proposal for universal pre-K. What they wanted to see were initiatives that directly (and only) affected African Americans.
Then along came the announcement about President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program targeting boys of color. It didn’t take long for many of the same critics to go after that one because it didn’t include girls. As I see it, this is what most efforts to target a specific community will eventually face…the “what about me?” syndrome.
That’s not to say that its wrong to initiate and promote targeted programs. Sometimes they’re needed. Its more about the fact that when they are proposed, we need to remember WHY they’re targeted and – by definition – will exclude.
ThinkProgress: Governor Scott Walker Accused Of ‘Criminal Scheme’
New federal court documents released Thursday reveal that Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is the subject of a “Joe Doe” investigation. Prosecutors allege Walker was part of a “criminal scheme” to circumvent state election laws. While the courts are still mulling a motion by the dark money outside groups at the center of the allegations to stop the investigation, the facts of the case are yet another demonstration of the folly of the Supreme Court’s assumptions in the infamous Citizens United ruling.
The documents show that prosecutors believe illegal coordination occurred in the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall elections and that groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth worked with Scott Walker’s campaign arm (“Friends of Scott Walker”) to arrange undisclosed spending by an array of pro-Walker tax-exempt organizations. They note that several individuals were working both for Friends of Scott Walker and Wisconsin Club for Growth at the time, and that Walker himself boasted of the coordination in an email to Karl Rove.
Esquire: Prosecutor Is Closing In on Gov. Christie
Indictments against four cronies are near certain, sources say. Only question is if David Samson, Christie’s longtime mentor, will flip.
“It’s over, it’s done, and I’m moving on.” – Chris Christie, reassuring potential donors in Utah on June 14th
Back on planet Reality, meanwhile, Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, wades through the sewage of Christie’s stewardship. Two sources with intimate knowledge of the case say Fishman’s pace is quickening – he has empaneled a second grand jury, and the U.S. Justice Department has sent assistant prosecutors and FBI agents to work the case.
“What’s taking the most time,” according to one source, “is separating what’s viable from all the bad stuff they’re finding that may not be viable.”
In an exclusive interview, the MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell reveals how he survived a head-on car crash, and why afterwards he cut himself off from the negative litany of the news cycle.
“What a stupid way to die,” Lawrence O’Donnell thought to himself.
A split-second earlier, the host of MSNBC’s 10 p.m. program, The Last Word, had been gazing down at a map on his iPhone, following the progress of his taxi, a Chevy van, as he and his older brother Michael rode to dinner on the resort island of Tortola. It was around 7:45 p.m., Saturday, April 12, the start of what promised to be a lovely vacation in the British Virgin Islands with his big brother, a Boston lawyer.
The vacation didn’t happen. Instead, O’Donnell, 62, underwent a life-altering crucible that he’s still trying to make sense of, while figuring out how to explain it to viewers when he returns to his show on Monday night after two-and-a-half months off the air.
President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with National Security Staff in the Situation Room of the White House, June 20, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Vice President Biden on the Colonnade of the White House outside the Oval Office, June 20, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with a bipartisan group of mayors to discuss the economy and local efforts to create jobs and spur economic growth, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 20, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
A World War Two veteran greets President Barack Obama as they participate in the 70th French-American commemoration D-Day ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France on Friday, June 6, 2014
Continuing live streaming from France
President Obama travels from Normandy to Paris this afternoon where he will meet with embassy staff and family members. He then returns to Washington – he is scheduled to arrive at 8:45 PM ET.
The President’s address this morning
An Image or Two from France
@Stcrow: AWKWARD FAMILY PHOTO – President Obama, Queen Elizabeth, Petro Poroshenko, President-Elect of Ukraine (left) and Putin on right
President Obama and Russian President Putin pose during a group photo for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Benouville June 6, 2014. Between Obama and Putin are (L-R) Britian’s Queen Elizabeth, French President Francois Hollande and Danish Queen Margrethe II
President Obama with Prince Charles at Sword Beach this morning
President of France Francois Hollande speaks while flanked by President Barack Obama, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a luncheon for Heads of State at Chateau de Benouville in Benouville
Steve Benen: Job creation remains steady, 217k jobs added in May
Once in a while, the expectations for the new jobs report and the actual data line up remarkably well.
The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 217,000 jobs in May, which is almost exactly what economists expected. The overall unemployment rate, meanwhile, remained at 6.3% – still at its lowest point since September 2008, nearly six years ago.
… All told, over the last 12 months, the U.S. economy has added over 2.38 million jobs overall and 2.36 million in the private sector. What’s more, May was the 51st consecutive month in which we’ve seen private-sector job growth. The year isn’t quite half over, but 2014 is currently on track to be the best year for U.S. job creation since 1999.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk towards Marine One as they leave Normandy for Paris on June 6, 2009. Seeing them off are National Security Advisor James Jones, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Senior Advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets the staff of the U.S. Embassy at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris, France on June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama lifts a baby while meeting the staff of the U.S. Embassy at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris, France, June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tours the Centre Pompidou modern art museum in Paris, June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama shakes hands with French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a bilateral meeting in Caen, France, June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
June 6, 2009 – Pete Souza” “After his speech in Normandy, a crush of people tried to get close to the President to shake his hand. I noticed this guy waiting patiently and then literally being pushed back into the crowd. I felt bad for him, and mentioned the incident to the President’s trip director, Marvin Nicholson. Marvin pulled the guy out of the crowd, found him a wheel chair, and brought him over to meet the President. He was a French veteran. The man’s face shows his emotion.”
President Obama gives a ‘thumbs-up’ to a group of World War II veterans sitting behind him on stage following his speech at the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France, June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
American D-Day veteran Clyde Combs gets a hug from President Obama at the Normandy American Cemetery on June 6, 2009 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France
President Obama embraces his great uncle Charles Payne following the President’s speech at the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France, June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets his great uncle Charles Payne and his wife Melanie, who is reacting to seeing First Lady Michelle Obama, before the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings, June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia before the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings, June 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama adjusts Dick Van Dyke’s tie during the Ford’s Theatre reception in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Sunday, June 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks on the phone with Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy aboard Air Force One, June 6, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks across the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., June 6, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Trip Director Marvin Nicholson watches as President Obama signs items after delivering remarks at the LGBT Leadership Council Gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., June 6, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama views a math project during a tour of Mooresville Middle School in Moorseville, N.C., Thursday, June 6, 2013