All Articles Tagged "Obama"
In response to the unrest spurred by the grand jury decision in the Darren Wilson case, President Obama has pledged $263 million to outfit police officers with body cameras. But the militarization of local police forces will continue.
The government funds ($74 million of it) will help supply 50,000 cameras, with state and local governments footing part of the bill. The cameras will fit onto the lapels of the police uniform. Studies have shown that complaints against police dropped like a stone (88 percent) when cops wear the cameras. Back in September, members of the Ferguson police department began wearing cameras. Chicago will also test the program within the next 60 days.
President Obama also announced an effort to come up with some “common standards” for handing over and training officers in the use of military-style equipment. Local forces have been getting things like tanks in the years since the September 11 attacks; the program is a popular one. That program is not likely to change in any meaningful way.
As a result, The New York Times characterizes Obama’s announcement as “limited,” though we would argue that it actually is a pretty big step. “The limited nature of the White House response also reflects the reality that transferring military-style surplus gear to police departments remains politically popular in Congress and in the municipalities,” the paper says.
One of the major demands from civil rights groups has been widespread use of police body cameras. It appears that the beginning steps are being taken in that direction.
According to the President, there is a “simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and many communities of color,” which makes clear that the problem goes beyond Ferguson. President Obama made the announcement after speaking with a collection of leaders including Rev. Al Sharpton and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio.
Attorney General Eric Holder also commented on the Justice Department’s plans to announce new guidance on racial profiling from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Back in October, The Guardian broke down the $172,669 that the Ferguson police department spent since August to fortify itself. That included nearly $25,000 on 650 tear gas canisters, sting grenades and smoke grenades; $18,000 on bean bag rounds and pepper balls; $77,500 on riot gear helmets, shields, shin guards and batons; and $2,300 on plastic handcuffs.
And while the police will argue that this equipment is all in the name of keeping the peace, it’s clear that members of the force don’t know how to properly use some of the equipment they’ve been given and other members use it unnecessarily. Outside of Ferguson, there was this story out of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that describes how a 75-year-old man (he’s White) was greeted by an armored vehicle and 24 armed officers in order “to seize and remove tractors and wooden pallets” to pay an $80,000 civil court judgment. Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Bean was unapologetic about the use of the heavy machinery, calling it “necessary now” as part of law enforcement. While the man was called “argumentative” and has filed complaints and, based on the description in the article, was unruly, excessive much?
So what were the ratings on such a circumscribed broadcast? According to Deadline, the initial numbers show network primetime ratings were disrupted as people went to other networks to hear the 17-minute speech.. NBC’s Biggest Loser was substantially impacted by Obama’s speech. so too was the start of the NFL game.
Maybe the White House’s social media promotion helped ratings. The White House previewed the address the day before it was to air on television in a minute-long Facebook video post, reports NBC Atlanta affiliate 11 Alive.
“Hi everybody,” the president said while leaning on his Oval Office desk. “Tomorrow night, I’m going to be announcing, here from the White House, some steps that I can take to fix our broken immigration system.”
The video got a whopping 1.5 million views on Facebook in its first four hours.
The actual speech got mixed reviews. The New Yorker praised the speech. “It was direct and to the point; it had some uplifting moments, particularly at the end; and it was relatively short—about fifteen minutes,” reports the magazine.
Bloomberg meanwhile called the speech incoherent.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 11, 2014
A whopping 34 million-plus people tuned in to watch President Obama’s speech on the terror group ISIS on Wednesday night, according to the Nielsen company. During the speech, Obama promised to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. The speech, however popular for viewing, got mixed reviews from the Hill. And, as with most things, responses were divided along party lines.
“The speech was immediately criticized by some of Obama’s fiercest foreign policy opponents. Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dubbed the speech ‘fundamentally unserious’ on Fox News. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), using another acronym for ISIL, said on CNN that ‘the president really doesn’t have a grasp for how serious the threat from ISIS is,’” reports Politico.
But Senate Democrats praised the speech. According to Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Obama’s plan was a “forceful strategy.”
The particular speech pulled in a larger audience than several previous speeches by the president, even one on Iraq in 2010 and another on health care in 2009. The latest speech was carried on 14 different television outlets.
But it was not Obama’s most popular televised speech. Two speeches he delivered on television in 2009 had more viewers. One he gave on the stimulus plan reached 49.4 million viewers, and another to a joint session of Congress had 52.3 million viewers. The latter was Obama’s biggest audience.
“On the broadcast networks on Wednesday, NBC had about twice as many viewers as its primary news competitors. It averaged 10.4 million viewers compared with 5.4 million for ABC and five million for CBS,” reports The New York Times.
Looking at the cable news numbers, Fox News attracted the largest audience for the speech, with 4.45 million people watching. Surprisingly, CNN, which usually gets a boost in viewers from live news, did not catch up to Fox News’ figures, with 1.83 million. MSNBC even beat them, with 1.9 million, even though NBC was also broadcasting the speech.
Leaders from all over Africa are meeting in DC with President Obama and American leaders for the much-anticipated US-Africa Leaders Summit.
Other countries such as China, Portugal, France, Russia have all taken advantage of business opportunities on the African continent while the U.S. relegated its relationship to one of aid provider. That is until now. President Obama is looking to create that business relationship with the continent.
Of course, as most know, Obama has strong blood ties to Africa as his father was an U.S. immigrant from Kenya. And now he has become the first president to convene a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. But Obama’s efforts to make a real impression in Africa have been hampered.
“Meanwhile, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, determined to stop Obama from doing anything rational, have created a diplomatic logjam. More than 30 ambassador candidates, stifled from representing American interests to about a quarter of the world, are frozen in political limbo, their embassies without steady leadership. The candidates are waiting for the Senate to confirm them, but the Senate Republicans won’t vote,” reports The Root.
According to The Root, there are 13 African nations that do not have American ambassadors. Among those are Sierra Leone, Niger, Namibia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Zambia and Algeria.
“It sends the message that the United States doesn’t care,” says U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Africa Taskforce and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Meeks says he wants the Republicans in the Senate to “stop playing political games” and give Obama the 60-vote threshold he must have to approve these appointments. By doing so, business opportunities between African and Americans, particularly African Americans, will open up.
According to Moses K. Tesi, a professor in the political science department of Middle Tennessee State University and editor of the Journal of African Policy Studies, ambassadors are more than necessary in foreign relations.
An ambassador, Tesi tells The Root, is an on-the-ground liaison between the business communities of both nations as well as a leader in cross-cultural exchanges. Without an ambassador, Tesi cautions, the US will be unable to leverage a more powerful role in Africa’s 54 countries.
It should also be noted that some African leaders — Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki and Central African Republic’s Catherine Samba-Panza — have been excluded from the Summit because of human rights abuses. Experts say they stand to lose a lot by not taking part.
The Summit ends today.
“So sue me,” were the words President Obama said to Republicans last week after explaining his plans to take executive action without the support of the GOP, who he feels are stalling pressing matters such as healthcare reform.
Specifically, Republicans plan to sue President Obama over his decision to delay a requirement in the health care law for businesses to provide coverage to employees. One senior administration official also pointed out that the same lawmakers who are filing a suit against Obama for his action ultimately voted (last July) to do the exact same thing at the exact same time.
House Republicans (led by Speaker John Boehner) plan to move forward with a lawsuit against Obama with claims that he is abusing his executive power. However, it’s been noted a number of times that President Obama has issued far fewer executive orders than other presidents, including those like Ronald Reagan who are highly supported by conservative Republicans.
“That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own,” Boehner said in a statement.
The GOP has been very open about the fact that they hate the sweeping healthcare law, and claim that Obama changed the law’s employer mandate on his own. By the end of the month, the Republican-led House is expected to have voted on a resolution to have authorized legal action to taken against the President in what would be The House v. Obama. The process began today with constitutional lawyers appearing before lawmakers to explain why the lawsuit should and shouldn’t move forward.
The White House released a statement expressing disappointment in the lawsuit, and calls the action taken by the GOP a “political stunt.”
“As the President said today, he is doing his job — lawsuit or not — and it’s time Republicans in Congress did theirs,” the statement said.
Also pointing out how taxpayers dollars are going to be going towards the lawsuit, the White House press secretary adds, “At a time when Washington should be working to expand economic opportunities for the middle class, Republican leaders in Congress are playing Washington politics rather than working with the President on behalf of hardworking Americans.”
Many disagree with the move, including minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who calls the move “another toxic partisan stunt.”
Others question why the lawsuit includes nothing about the immigration reform the President recently took executive action to implement, even though that has been another area which the GOP and Obama have been butting heads.
Some believe it is based solely on the fact that the Republican party blatantly dislikes the President and his reforms, and not so much about protecting the constitution. The GOP, of course, suggests it’s not.
“It’s not about Republicans versus Democrats. This is about the legislative branch that’s being disadvantaged by the executive branch. And it’s not about executive actions. Every president does executive orders. [It’s about Obama] basically rewriting law to make it fit his own needs,” says Boehner.
Mitt Romney has President Obama’s back?
Robert Copeland, police commissioner of Wolfeboro, N.H., admitted to calling President Obama a “n*****,” but refused to apologize, even after facing fury from town residents and a number of other high-profile names. Romney, also a resident of the small town, called for Copeland step down from his position for using the racial epithet, CNN reports. Those calls have been heard: Copeland is gone.
“I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse,” Copeland, 82, wrote in a recent email to his fellow commissioners. “For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”
Jane O’Toole, a resident who just moved to the predominantly-white community of Wolfeboro four months ago, claims she overheard Copeland use the racial epithet to refer to Obama at a local restaurant in March. “She heard him say he hates turning on that television because every time he does, there’s that ‘f***ing n*****’,” Daily Mail wrote.
O’Toole complained to the town manager, which reportedly led to the aforementioned email.
At a town meeting on Thursday, furious residents demanded Copeland apologize and resign for using the slur against the POTUS. Arms crossed and unbending, Copeland refused to budge.
“Comments like these, especially coming from a public official, are not only inexcusable but also terribly, unfortunately, reflects poorly on our town,” O’Toole said at the meeting.
Romney, who owns a home in Wolfeboro, defended the president and urged Copeland to apologize. “The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community: He should just apologize and resign,” Romney told CNN on Sunday. Scott Brown, the former Senator from Massachusetts who’s running in New Hampshire, also called for his resignation.
New Hamphire’s population is 94 percent white and one percent black. Only 20 black residents live in Wolfeboro, a town with 6,300 people. “None of the town police department’s 12 full-time officers is black or a member of another minority,” the Associated Press adds.
Even though the Great Recession came to an end almost five years ago, in June 2009, the gap between the rich and poor is growing at such an alarming rate that President Obama will highlight economic inequality as a priority during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday.
Amazingly, this is one thing all sides of the aisle agree on. Sixty-one percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents think the gap is widening and has to be addressed, reports USA Today.
And two-thirds of people surveyed in a new USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll, feel the gap is increasing. There is hard evidence: The wealthiest one percent of Americans saw its share of income double from less than 10 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent now. Even though the economy is improving, conditions are not improving for Americans across the board. About six in 10 people revealed in the poll that their family income is lagging behind the cost of living. Another third say they are just breaking even. Only seven percent feel they are ahead.
But Americans don’t just want talk. They want action. An overwhelming 82 percent want the government to reduce poverty. The President is expect to lay out his plan during the speech.
Obama says he understands the concerns. Last month during a speech he warned that higher inequality and lessening upward mobility “pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.”
One way to improve conditions would be through an increased minimum wage, which Obama is pushing for and several states have already adopted. Seventy-three of those polled favor the minimum wage boost from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. They–63 percent–also want federal benefits for the long-term unemployed to be extended. Unfortunately, these proposals have both stalled in Congress.
People are divided on government aid to the poor. Some 49 percent agree government aid allows people to escape poverty. But 44 percent, say it makes people too dependent on government assistance.
However, only a third surveyed back the traditional Republican view that the private sector must step up. Instead 54 percent say increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations to support programs for the poor would reduce poverty.
Despite the obvious inequality, Americans still believe in the American dream, found the USA Today survey. Sixty percent continue to believe that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. But a majority complain the country’s economic system “unfairly favors the wealthy.” Still about half say those who are rich are so because they worked harder, not due to more advantages in life.
And Americans don’t blame the poor: “By 50 percent-35 percent, they say poverty is generally a result of circumstances beyond a person’s control, not a lack of effort,” reports USA Today.
Despite the optimism, Americans want the gap closed. Wages have been stagnant for 10 or more years and millions remain unemployed. All of this has hurt Obama’s job-approval rating. Less than half of Americans– 43 percent–approve; 49 percent say he’s doing poorly. This is the lowest his approval rating in the Pew poll since 2009, when Obama was first inaugurated. Just a year ago, he had a 52 percent approval rating.
What do you want to hear in Obama’s State of the Union speech?
From Black Voices
Among today’s talented crop of actors, many don’t have the prestige to boast about their unique connection to both America’s first black president, Barack Obama, and also South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.
But if you’re Idris Elba, such bragging rights come with the territory as one of Hollywood’s leading black actors.
Later this month, the Golden Globe Award-winner will star as the famed South African leader in his highly-anticipated biopic, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”The Weinstein Company release will top another successful year for the 41-year-old, who also took on the lead role in Toyota’s latest spy-themed advertising campaign, “Only the Name Remains,” and starred in the recently concluded season of BBC’s popular crime drama series, “Luther.”
And though he’s reluctant to address recent rumors regarding his love life, the transcontinental heart throb opened up to The Huffington Post about his latest roles, in addition to an update on his health.
How did you get involved with Toyota’s “Only the Name Remains” campaign?
That campaign was a very successful fruit of a relationship between myself and an advertising agency called Burrell. I’ve had a relationship with them and we’ve been trying to find the right sort of thing to do and this Toyota opportunity came by. They know I like cars and they knew that it would be a good fit for me in a campaign like that. So we sat down and talked about what the ideas were and before you know it we had this really great director that came on board and fleshed out the vision for it and the rest is history.
Were you inspired by any spy characters to portray the role?
No, not really. The inspiration was making the car look good and making the characters believable. That was the inspiration. I think the director’s inspiration was obviously the great spy movies, from “James Bond” to “Bourne,” all these films that have this sort of character. For me, I love to drive and some of those stunt sequences I did myself. So I was really excited to have that opportunity.
It’s ironic that you’re portraying a spy throughout the campaign, because it’s been rumored that you may very well go on to become the first black James Bond. Are there any updates on the role?
There’s no truth to that at all, brother. It’s a massive rumor. But, I don’t think that was intentional from my behalf, the whole spy, James Bond thing. The script and the storyline in the commercial was just so well presented that I wasn’t thinking about that rumor.
How did it feel to have President Obama host you at the White House for your Mandela screening?
I mean really, that was a great feeling. That was such a great moment for me to have the opportunity to present that film to the president. The president has oftentimes spoke very, very highly of Mr. Mandela and regards him as a friend and speaks of him fondly. So I felt very proud to play the character and be able to present it to Barack, who loves to watch films. And he has said to me in the past, “You’re one of my favorite actors.” Which is a great, great compliment.
Also, the fact that both of these men are so unique. Mr. Mandela was the first black president in South Africa and Obama being the first black president here, and somehow Idris Elba is connected between these two men. And that really does fill me with a lot of pride.
Read more at BlackVoices.com
President Barack Obama is appointing the woman behind the television series “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” to the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees.
Shonda Rhimes is a Golden Globe winner and three-time Emmy nominee. Her show “Scandal” stars actress Kerry Washington, a major Obama supporter.
Read more at BlackVoices.com
There have been many times when a biopic was made and you wondered how a particular actor got the lead role. You know, you said something like,”they look nothing alike” or “they can’t even act,” that’s why if we could be in the director’s chair these would be our 15 actor picks for biopics.
Zoe Saldana as Phylicia Rashad
Zoe Saldana sure doesn’t look like Nina Simone, but if a director ever casts for a young Phylicia Rashad—she’s it! No word that there is a biopic on Mrs. Cosby, but it would be great to see. Phylicia Rashad’s poise and elegance can surely be pulled off by Zoe.