President Obama has threatened to veto a bill that would strengthen screening for Syrian refugees entering the country. The White House released a statement defending the current screening process and criticizing the new bill for its potential to cause "significant delays and obstacles" for the current vetting process, saying: "Given the lives at stake and the critical importance to our partners in the Middle East and Europe of American leadership in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis ... [Obama] would veto the bill."
The bill, which sets high standards for admission, requires the FBI director to certify a background check for each refugee and sign-offs by top security officials that certify the refugee is not a threat. Republican House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul called for a "pause" in refugee admittance, but President Obama seems to have no intention of doing so. He tweeted Wednesday: "Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values. That's not who we are. And it's not what we're going to do." House Speaker Paul Ryan stressed that though the new screening process would be rigorous, the refugees would not be subjected to religious tests. The chamber will vote on the bill later this week. Discuss
President Barack Obama announced to Congress today that he plans to send 300 U.S. soldiers to Cameroon in order to gather intelligence. Ninety troops have already been deployed to the country earlier this week. A government official said the decision was "part of a broader regional effort to stop the spread of Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations in West Africa.” Obama said the troops will stay in the country until “no longer needed,” and will be equipped with weapons for protection and security. Cameroon shares a border with Nigeria, where extremist Islamic organization Boko Haram has killed thousands and abducted hundreds. The country is part of a coalition supporting Nigeria in fighting the terrorist group. On Sunday, two suicide bombers—thought to be associated with Boko Haram—killed at least nine people and injured 29 in a village in northern Cameroon. Discuss
Following the tragic shooting at an Oregon college yesterday that left 10 people dead, President Obama addressed gun violence in America. During the speech (which you can watch below), he said, “America will wrap everyone who’s grieving with our prayers and our love,” but added, “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America—next week, or a couple of months from now."
As he as done following other mass shootings, President Obama said that in order to address on-going gun violence, the nation must implement more effective gun safety laws.
When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.
He also asked media outlets to publish information on how gun violence in America differs from other developed countries. As we recently showed in this info graph, the United States has far more deaths from guns than most other developed countries. Discuss
Today, President Obama became the first U.S. president to visit a federal prison while in office. During his tour at a medium-security male prison near Oklahoma City, Obama met with six nonviolent drug offenders. He said the U.S. justice system needs to better distinguish between violent criminals and young people who do “stupid things.” “"When they describe their youth and their childhood, these are young people who made mistakes that aren't that different than the mistakes I made," he said. “The difference is, they did not have the kind of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes.” During his remaining time in office, Obama hopes to see reduced sentences for nonviolent offenders, restored voting rights to those who have served their sentences, limited use of solitary confinement and more. Prison reform has become a bipartisan issue, with both Democrats and Republicans acknowledging that the American justice system has numerous serious problems. Currently, there are 2.2 million Americans in jails and prisons. And the system disproportionately affects minorities—roughly one in three black males can expect to serve time behind bars at some point in their life. Discuss
President Obama had strong words when asked about numerous sexual assault and rape accusations levied at Bill Cosby. At a White House press conference, the President was asked if the comedian’s Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian recognition, which he was awarded in 2002—could be revoked. Recently released court documents showed that Cosby admitted to acquiring sedatives with the intention of using them on a woman he intended to have sex with. Obama said there is no legal precedent for revoking a medal. And though he said he can not “comment on the specifics of cases where there might still be, if not criminal, then civil issues involved,” the president continued:
I'll say this: if you give a woman—or a man, for that matter—without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape. I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape.
Numerous politicians and victim advocates have asked that the White House revoke the honor from Cosby. Discuss
President Obama gave a stirring eulogy at the funeral for the Rev. Clamenta Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston who was one of the nine people killed by a racist shooter last week at one of the church’s prayer meetings. “We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith,” Obama said. Read More