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
At The White House Correspondents' Dinner this weekend, director Steven Spielberg debuted a sneak peek of his latest presidential biopic, Obama. And from the looks of this preview, just like in Lincoln, Obama star, Daniel Day Lewis’ transformation is stunning. To see the other completely serious moments from the event (including what Barack looks like with Michelle’s bangs), you can watch here … Discuss
A new info-graphic from design group Pitch Interactive charts the causalities of drone attacks in Pakistan on a timeline dating back to 2004. The interactive chart pulls in data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the New America Foundation and shows the number of fatalities (and identifies who was killed—high profile targets, combatants, civilians or children), the location of the attacks and when they took place. As the Economist points out, there is a noticeable spike in attacks in late 2009, when the drone program was ramped up … Discuss
President Obama landed in Israel today—the first visit to the nation in his presidency. White House officials say that the two-day trip isn’t a mission to discuss any specific peace initiative between Israelis and Palestinians, but is rather an effort in “deepening the relationship” with the Israeli people. Obama was immediately greeted by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and told reporters waiting at the tarmac, “I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our two nations … We stand together because we share a common history. We stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land.” The president only briefly mentioned Israel’s “neighbor” (and didn’t mention the Palestinians by name). He went on to say, “I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people,” and referred to Israelis as “the sons of Abraham and daughters of Sarah” … Discuss