Full Text Obama Presidency April 14, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Passover

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement from the President on Passover

Source: WH, 4-14-14 

Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world.

On Tuesday, just as we have every year of my presidency, my family will join the millions taking part in the ancient tradition of the Seder.  We will enjoy the company of friends and loved ones, retell a timeless story, and give thanks for the freedom we are so blessed to enjoy.

Yet even as we celebrate, our prayers will be with the people of Overland Park, Kansas and the family and friends of the three innocent people who were killed when a gunman, just one day before Passover, opened fire at a Jewish community center and retirement home on Sunday.  As Americans, we will continue to stand united against this kind of terrible violence, which has no place in our society.  We will continue to come together across faiths to combat the ignorance and intolerance, including anti-Semitism, that can lead to hatred and violence.  And we will never lose faith that compassion and justice will ultimately triumph over hate and fear.

For that is one of the great lessons of the Exodus.  The tale of the Hebrew slaves and their flight from Egypt carries the hope and promise that the Jewish people have held in their hearts for thousands of years, and it is has inspired countless generations in their own struggles for freedom around the globe.

In America, the Passover story has always had special meaning.  We come from different places and diverse backgrounds, but we are bound together by a journey from bondage to liberty enshrined in our founding documents and continued in each generation.  As we were so painfully reminded on Sunday, our world is still in need of repair, but the story of the Exodus teaches us that with patience, determination, and abundant faith, a brighter future is possible.

Chag Sameach.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 13, 2014: President Obama’s Statement on the Shooting the Overland Jewish Community Center in Kansas

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by President Obama on Today’s Shooting in Kansas

Source:  WH, 4-13-14

This afternoon we heard reports of a horrific shooting in Overland Park, Kansas.  Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends who lost a loved one and everyone affected by this tragedy.  I have asked my team to stay in close touch with our federal, state and local partners and provide the necessary resources to support the ongoing investigation. While we do not know all of the details surrounding today’s shooting, the initial reports are heartbreaking. I want to offer my condolences to all the families trying to make sense of this difficult situation and pledge the full support from the federal government as we heal and cope during this trying time.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement Discusses Efforts to Address the Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine, Russia Sanctions

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Discusses Efforts to Address the Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine

Source: WH, 3-6-14
President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Ukraine in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White HousePresident Barack Obama delivers a statement on Ukraine in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, March 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama delivered a statement on efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine from the Brady Press Briefing Room….READ MORE

Statement by the President on Ukraine

Source: WH, 3-6-14

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Before Jay takes some of your questions, I wanted to provide a brief update on our efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Since the Russian intervention, we’ve been mobilizing the international community to condemn this violation of international law and to support the people and government of Ukraine.

This morning I signed an executive order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.

According to my guidance, the State Department has also put in place restrictions on the travel of certain individuals and officials.  These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea.  And they also give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on Russia’s actions.

We took these steps in close coordination with our European allies.  I’ve spoken to several of our closest friends around the world, and I’m pleased that our international unity is on display at this important moment.  Already, we’ve moved together to announced substantial assistance for the government in Kyiv, and today in Brussels, our allies took similar steps to impose costs on Russia.  I am confident that we are moving forward together, united in our determination to oppose actions that violate international law and to support the government and people of Ukraine.

And that includes standing up for the principle of state sovereignty.  The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law.  Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine.  In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.

While we take these steps, I want to be clear that there is also a way to resolve this crisis that respects the interests of the Russian Federation, as well as the Ukrainian people.  Let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected, including ethnic Russians.  Begin consultations between the government of Russia and Ukraine, with the participation of the international community.  Russia would maintain its basing rights in Crimea, provided that it abides by its agreements and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  And the world should support the people of Ukraine as they move to elections in May.

That’s the path of de-escalation, and Secretary Kerry is engaged in discussions with all of the relevant parties, including Russia and Ukraine to pursue that path.  But if this violation of international law continues, the resolve of the United States, and our allies and the international community will remain firm.  Meanwhile, we’ve taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to the security and democracy of our allies in Eastern Europe and to support the people of Ukraine.

One last point — there’s been a lot of talk in Congress about these issues.  Today, once again, I’m calling on Congress to follow up on these words with action, specifically to support the IMF’s capacity to lend resources to Ukraine and to provide American assistance for the Ukrainian government so that they can weather this storm and stabilize their economy, make needed reforms, deliver for their people, all of which will provide a smoother pathway for the elections that have already been scheduled in May.

Today the world can see that the United States is united with our allies and partners in upholding international law and pursuing a just outcome that advances global security and the future that the Ukrainian people deserve.  That’s what we’re going to continue to do in the days to come until we have seen a resolution to this crisis.

Thanks very much.  And Jay and Ben and others will be happy to take your questions.

END
1:10 P.M. EST

Statement by the Press Secretary on Ukraine

Source: WH, 3-6-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks on Ukraine
March 06, 2014 7:06 PM

President Obama Speaks on Ukraine

As President Obama has made clear, the United States is pursuing and reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – actions that constitute a threat to peace and security and a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and that are inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act.

Pursuant to the President’s guidance, today the State Department is putting in place visa restrictions on a number of officials and individuals, reflecting a policy decision to deny visas to those responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  This new step stands in addition to the policy already implemented to deny visas to those involved in human rights abuses related to political oppression in Ukraine.

In addition, the President has signed an Executive Order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine; threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; contributing to the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine; or purporting to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without authorization from the Ukrainian government in Kyiv.  This E.O. is a flexible tool that will allow us to sanction those who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the situation deteriorate.

These actions build upon the previous actions the United States has taken, including suspending bilateral discussions with Russia on trade and investment; suspending other bilateral meetings on a case-by-case basis; putting on hold U.S.-Russia military-to-military engagement, including exercises, bilateral meetings, port visits, and planning conferences; and our agreement with G-7 nations to suspend for the time being our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June.  Depending on how the situation develops, the United States is prepared to consider additional steps and sanctions as necessary.

At the same time, as the President has said, we seek to work with all parties to achieve a diplomatic solution that de-escalates the situation and restores Ukraine’s sovereignty.  We call on Russia to take the opportunity before it to resolve this crisis through direct and immediate dialogue with the Government of Ukraine, the immediate pull-back of Russia’s military forces to their bases, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and support for the urgent deployment of international observers and human rights monitors who can assure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians, and who can support the Ukrainian government’s efforts to hold a free and fair election on May 25.

As we follow developments in Ukraine closely, the United States reaffirms its unwavering commitment to our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty.  We will continue to pursue measures that reinforce those commitments, to include the provision of additional support to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission and our aviation detachment in Poland.

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Full Text Obama Presidency March 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Russia President Vladimir Putin’s Military Action in the Ukraine

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Russia President Vladimir Putin’s Military Action in the Ukraine

Source: WH, 3-4-14

Q    Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, Mike.

Q    Do you have response to President Putin’s press conference this morning?  Is Chancellor Merkel right that he’s lost touch with reality?  And have you spoken with him again personally?

THE PRESIDENT:  I haven’t spoken to him since I spoke to him this past weekend.  But obviously, me and my national security team have been watching events unfolding in Ukraine very closely.  I met with them again today.  As many of you know, John Kerry is in Kyiv as we speak, at my direction.  He’s expressing our full support for the Ukrainian people.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been working with our partners and with the IMF to build international support for a package that helps to stabilize Ukraine’s economy.  And today we announced a significant package of our own to support Ukraine’s economy, and also to provide them with the technical assistance that they need.  So it includes a planned loan guarantee package of $1 billion.  It provides immediate technical expertise to Ukraine to repair its economy.  And, importantly, it provides for assistance to help Ukraine plan for elections that are going to be coming up very soon.

As I said yesterday, it is important that Congress stand with us.  I don’t doubt the bipartisan concern that’s been expressed by the situation in Ukraine.  There is something immediately Congress can do to help us, and that is to help finance the economic package that can stabilize the economy in Ukraine, help to make sure that fair and free elections take place very soon, and as a consequence, helps to deescalate the crisis.

In the meantime, we’re consulting with our international allies across the board.  Together, the international community has condemned Russia’s violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.  We’ve condemned their intervention in Crimea.  And we are calling for a de-escalation of the situation, and international monitors that can go into the country right away.

And, above all, we believe that the Ukrainian people should be able to decide their own future, which is why the world should be focused on helping them stabilize the situation economically and move towards the fair and free elections that are currently scheduled to take place in May.

There have been some reports that President Putin is pausing for a moment and reflecting on what’s happened.  I think that we’ve all seen that — from the perspective of the European Union, the United States, allies like Canada and Japan, and allies and friends and partners around the world — there is a strong belief that Russia’s action is violating international law.  I know President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations, but I don’t think that’s fooling anybody.

I think everybody recognizes that although Russia has legitimate interests in what happens in a neighboring state, that does not give it the right to use force as a means of exerting influence inside of that state.  We have said that if, in fact, there is any evidence out there that Russian speakers or Russian natives or Russian nationals are in any way being threatened, there are ways of dealing with that through international mechanisms.  And we’re prepared to make sure that the rights of all Ukrainians are upheld.  And, in fact, in conversations that we’ve had with the government in Kyiv, they have been more than willing to work with the international community and with Russia to provide such assurances.

So the fact that we are still seeing soldiers out of their barracks in Crimea is an indication to which what’s happening there is not based on actual concern for Russian nationals or Russian speakers inside of Ukraine, but is based on Russia seeking, through force, to exert influence on a neighboring country.  That is not how international law is supposed to operate.

I would also note just the way that some of this has been reported, that there’s a suggestion somehow that the Russian actions have been clever strategically.  I actually think that this has not been a sign of strength but rather is a reflection that countries near Russia have deep concerns and suspicions about this kind of meddling, and if anything, it will push many countries further away from Russia.

There is the ability for Ukraine to be a friend of the West’s and a friend of Russia’s as long as none of us are inside of Ukraine trying to meddle and intervene, certainly not militarily, with decisions that properly belong to the Ukrainian people.  And that’s the principle that John Kerry is going to be speaking to during his visit.  I’ll be making additional calls today to some of our key foreign partners, and I suspect I’ll be doing that all week and in through the weekend.

But as I indicated yesterday, the course of history is for people to want to be free to make their own decisions about their own futures.  And the international community I think is unified in believing that it is not the role of an outside force — where there’s been no evidence of serious violence, where there’s been no rationale under international law — to intervene in people trying to determine their own destiny.

So we stand on the side of history that I think more and more people around the world deeply believe in — the principle that a sovereign people, an independent people are able to make their own decisions about their own lives.  And Mr. Putin can throw a lot of words out there, but the facts on the ground indicate that right now he’s not abiding by that principle.  There is still the opportunity for Russia to do so, working with the international community to help stabilize the situation.

And we’ve sent a clear message that we are prepared to work with anybody if their genuine interest is making sure that Ukraine is able to govern itself.  And as I indicated before, and something that I think has not been emphasized enough, they are currently scheduled to have elections in May.  And everybody in the international community should be invested in making sure that the economic deterioration that’s happened in Ukraine stops, but also that these elections proceed in a fair and free way in which all Ukrainians, including Russian speakers inside of Ukraine, are able to express their choice of who should lead them.

And if we have a strong, robust, legitimate election, then there shouldn’t be any question as to whether the Ukrainian people govern themselves without the kinds of outside interference that we see Russia exerting.

All right, thank you very much, everybody.

Full Text Obama Presidency February 28, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement Warning Russia Against Military Intervention in the Ukraine

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on Ukraine

Source:  WH, 2-28-14

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

5:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody.

Over the last several days, the United States has been responding to events as they unfold in Ukraine.  Throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future.  Together with our European allies, we have urged an end to the violence and encouraged Ukrainians to pursue a course in which they stabilize their country, forge a broad-based government and move to elections this spring.

I also spoke several days ago with President Putin, and my administration has been in daily communication with Russian officials, and we’ve made clear that they can be part of an international community’s effort to support the stability and success of a united Ukraine going forward, which is not only in the interest of The people of Ukraine and the international community, but also in Russia’s interest.

However, we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine.  Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.

It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people.  It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws.  And just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world.  And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.

The events of the past several months remind us of how difficult democracy can be in a country with deep divisions.  But the Ukrainian people have also reminded us that human beings have a universal right to determine their own future.

Right now, the situation remains very fluid.  Vice President Biden just spoke with Prime Minister — the Prime Minister of Ukraine to assure him that in this difficult moment the United States supports his government’s efforts and stands for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic future of Ukraine.  I also commend the Ukrainian government’s restraint and its commitment to uphold its international obligations.

We will continue to coordinate closely with our European allies.  We will continue to communicate directly with the Russian government.  And we will continue to keep all of you in the press corps and the American people informed as events develop.

Thanks very much.

END
5:09 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency January 31, 2014: President Barack Obama Issues Presidential Proclamation for National African-American / Black History Month 2014

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Presidential Proclamation — National African American History Month, 2014

Source: WH, 1-31-14

NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH, 2014

- – - – - – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Americans have long celebrated our Nation as a beacon of liberty and opportunity — home to patriots who threw off an empire, refuge to multitudes who fled oppression and despair. Yet we must also remember that while many came to our shores to pursue their own measure of freedom, hundreds of thousands arrived in chains. Through centuries of struggle, and through the toil of generations, African Americans have claimed rights long denied. During National African American History Month, we honor the men and women at the heart of this journey — from engineers of the Underground Railroad to educators who answered a free people’s call for a free mind, from patriots who proved that valor knows no color to demonstrators who gathered on the battlefields of justice and marched our Nation toward a brighter day.

As we pay tribute to the heroes, sung and unsung, of African-American history, we recall the inner strength that sustained millions in bondage. We remember the courage that led activists to defy lynch mobs and register their neighbors to vote. And we carry forward the unyielding hope that guided a movement as it bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Even while we seek to dull the scars of slavery and legalized discrimination, we hold fast to the values gained through centuries of trial and suffering.

Every American can draw strength from the story of hard-won progress, which not only defines the African-American experience, but also lies at the heart of our Nation as a whole. This story affirms that freedom is a gift from God, but it must be secured by His people here on earth. It inspires a new generation of leaders, and it teaches us all that when we come together in common purpose, we can right the wrongs of history and make our world anew.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2014 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Full Text Obama Presidency January 8, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

Source: WH, 1-8-14

As Americans, we believe that everyone who works hard deserves a chance at opportunity, and that all our citizens deserve some basic measure of security.  And so, 50 years ago, President Johnson declared a War on Poverty to help each and every American fulfill his or her basic hopes.  We created new avenues of opportunity through jobs and education, expanded access to health care for seniors, the poor, and Americans with disabilities, and helped working families make ends meet.  Without Social Security, nearly half of seniors would be living in poverty.  Today, fewer than one in seven do.  Before Medicare, only half of seniors had some form of health insurance.  Today, virtually all do.  And because we expanded pro-work and pro-family programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, a recent study found that the poverty rate has fallen by nearly 40% since the 1960s, and kept millions from falling into poverty during the Great Recession.

These endeavors didn’t just make us a better country.  They reaffirmed that we are a great country.  They lived up to our best hopes as a people who value the dignity and potential of every human being.  But as every American knows, our work is far from over.  In the richest nation on Earth, far too many children are still born into poverty, far too few have a fair shot to escape it, and Americans of all races and backgrounds experience wages and incomes that aren’t rising, making it harder to share in the opportunities a growing economy provides.  That does not mean, as some suggest, abandoning the War on Poverty.  In fact, if we hadn’t declared “unconditional war on poverty in America,” millions more Americans would be living in poverty today.  Instead, it means we must redouble our efforts to make sure our economy works for every working American.  It means helping our businesses create new jobs with stronger wages and benefits, expanding access to education and health care, rebuilding those communities on the outskirts of hope, and constructing new ladders of opportunity for our people to climb.

We are a country that keeps the promises we’ve made.  And in a 21st century economy, we will make sure that as America grows stronger, this recovery leaves no one behind.  Because for all that has changed in the 50 years since President Johnson dedicated us to this economic and moral mission, one constant of our character has not: we are one nation and one people, and we rise or fall together.

Full Text Obama Presidency December 26, 2013: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Statement on Kwanzaa

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement from the President and the First Lady on Kwanzaa

Source: WH, 12-26-13 

Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today marks the beginning of the week-long celebration of African American culture through family activities and community festivities that bring attention to Kwanzaa’s seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Though each principle represents the essence of this holiday, they also represent the shared values that bind us as Americans.

As families and communities across our country come together today to light the Kinara, our family sends our hopes for a prosperous and healthy new year.

Full Text Obama Presidency December 5, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Death of Nelson Mandela

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the Death of Nelson Mandela

Source: WH, 12-5-13 

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

5:25 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.  I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.  It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.  But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real.  He achieved more than could be expected of any man.  Today, he has gone home.  And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth.  He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.

Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa — and moved all of us.  His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better.  His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives.  And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable.  As he once said, “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life.  My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid.  I studied his words and his writings.  The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears.  And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.

To Graça Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us.  His life’s work meant long days away from those who loved him the most.  And I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family.

To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal, and reconciliation, and resilience that you made real.  A free South Africa at peace with itself — that’s an example to the world, and that’s Madiba’s legacy to the nation he loved.

We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.  So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set:  to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.

For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.  May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace.

END
5:30 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency November 27, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Annual Thanksgiving Proclamation

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s Annual Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving offers each of us the chance to count our many blessings — the freedoms we enjoy, the time we spend with loved ones, the brave men and women who defend our Nation at home and abroad.

This tradition reminds us that no matter what our background or beliefs, no matter who we are or who we love, at our core we are first and foremost Americans.

Our annual celebration has roots in centuries-old colonial customs. When we gather around the table, we follow the example of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags, who shared the fruits of a successful harvest nearly 400 years ago.

When we offer our thanks, we mirror those who set aside a day of prayer. And when we join with friends and neighbors to alleviate suffering and make our communities whole, we honor the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln, who called on his fellow citizens to ‘fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.’

Our country has always been home to Americans who recognize the importance of giving back. Today, we honor all those serving our Nation far from home. We also thank the first responders and medical professionals who work through the holiday to keep us safe, and we acknowledge the volunteers who dedicate this day to those less fortunate.

This Thanksgiving Day, let us forge deeper connections with our loved ones. Let us extend our gratitude and our compassion. And let us lift each other up and recognize, in the oldest spirit of this tradition, that we rise or fall as one Nation, under God.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 2013, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.

I encourage the people of the United States to join together — whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors — and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

Full Text Obama Presidency November 23, 2013: Fact Sheet: Iran Nuclear Weapons Program Deal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Fact Sheet: First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Source: WH, 11-23-13 

The P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union) has been engaged in serious and substantive negotiations with Iran with the goal of reaching a verifiable diplomatic resolution that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

President Obama has been clear that achieving a peaceful resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is in America’s national security interest.  Today, the P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings that halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects.  These are the first meaningful limits that Iran has accepted on its nuclear program in close to a decade.  The initial, six month step includes significant limits on Iran’s nuclear program and begins to address our most urgent concerns including Iran’s enrichment capabilities; its existing stockpiles of enriched uranium; the number and capabilities of its centrifuges; and its ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor.  The concessions Iran has committed to make as part of this first step will also provide us with increased transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program.  In the past, the concern has been expressed that Iran will use negotiations to buy time to advance their program.  Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community’s concerns.

In return, as part of this initial step, the P5+1 will provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief to Iran.  This relief is structured so that the overwhelming majority of the sanctions regime, including the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place.  The P5+1 will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously.  If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the limited relief and impose additional sanctions on Iran.

The P5+1 and Iran also discussed the general parameters of a comprehensive solution that would constrain Iran’s nuclear program over the long term, provide verifiable assurances to the international community that Iran’s nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful, and ensure that any attempt by Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon would be promptly detected.  The set of understandings also includes an acknowledgment by Iran that it must address all United Nations Security Council resolutions – which Iran has long claimed are illegal – as well as past and present issues with Iran’s nuclear program that have been identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  This would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program, including Iran’s activities at Parchin.  As part of a comprehensive solution, Iran must also come into full compliance with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its obligations to the IAEA.  With respect to the comprehensive solution, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.  Put simply, this first step expires in six months, and does not represent an acceptable end state to the United States or our P5+1 partners.

Halting the Progress of Iran’s Program and Rolling Back Key Elements

Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5%:

·         Halt all enrichment above 5% and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.

Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium:

·         Dilute below 5% or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase.

Iran has committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity:

·         Not install additional centrifuges of any type.

·         Not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.

·         Leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow, so they cannot be used to enrich uranium.

·         Limit its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines, so Iran cannot use the six months to stockpile centrifuges.

·         Not construct additional enrichment facilities.

Iran has committed to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5% stockpile:

·         Not increase its stockpile of 3.5% low enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of the six months than it is at the beginning, and any newly enriched 3.5% enriched uranium is converted into oxide.

Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track.  Iran has committed to:

·         Not commission the Arak reactor.

·         Not fuel the Arak reactor.

·         Halt the production of fuel for the Arak reactor.

·         No additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.

·         Not install any additional reactor components at Arak.

·         Not transfer fuel and heavy water to the reactor site.

·         Not construct a facility capable of reprocessing.  Without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.

Unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program 

Iran has committed to: 

·         Provide daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordow.  This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring.  This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and shorten detection time for any non-compliance.

·         Provide IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities.

·         Provide IAEA access to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities.

·         Provide IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.

·         Provide long-sought design information for the Arak reactor.  This will provide critical insight into the reactor that has not previously been available.

·         Provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor.

·         Provide certain key data and information called for in the Additional Protocol to Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Modified Code 3.1.

Verification Mechanism

The IAEA will be called upon to perform many of these verification steps, consistent with their ongoing inspection role in Iran.  In addition, the P5+1 and Iran have committed to establishing a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation and address issues that may arise.  The Joint Commission will also work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s activities at Parchin.

Limited, Temporary, Reversible Relief

In return for these steps, the P5+1 is to provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture.  If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the relief.  Specifically the P5+1 has committed to:

·         Not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments under this deal, to the extent permissible within their political systems.

·         Suspend certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue.

·         License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.

·         Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels – levels that are 60% less than two years ago.  $4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments.

·         Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.

Humanitarian Transaction

Facilitate humanitarian transactions that are already allowed by U.S. law.  Humanitarian transactions have been explicitly exempted from sanctions by Congress so this channel will not provide Iran access to any new source of funds.  Humanitarian transactions are those related to Iran’s purchase of food, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices; we would also facilitate transactions for medical expenses incurred abroad.  We will establish this channel for the benefit of the Iranian people.

Putting Limited Relief in Perspective

In total, the approximately $7 billion in relief is a fraction of the costs that Iran will continue to incur during this first phase under the sanctions that will remain in place.  The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are inaccessible or restricted by sanctions.

In the next six months, Iran’s crude oil sales cannot increase.  Oil sanctions alone will result in approximately $30 billion in lost revenues to Iran – or roughly $5 billion per month – compared to what Iran earned in a six month period in 2011, before these sanctions took effect.  While Iran will be allowed access to $4.2 billion of its oil sales, nearly $15 billion of its revenues during this period will go into restricted overseas accounts.  In summary, we expect the balance of Iran’s money in restricted accounts overseas will actually increase, not decrease, under the terms of this deal.

Maintaining Economic Pressure on Iran and Preserving Our Sanctions Architecture

During the first phase, we will continue to vigorously enforce our sanctions against Iran, including by taking action against those who seek to evade or circumvent our sanctions.

·         Sanctions affecting crude oil sales will continue to impose pressure on Iran’s government.  Working with our international partners, we have cut Iran’s oil sales from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2012 to 1 million bpd today, denying Iran the ability to sell almost 1.5 million bpd.  That’s a loss of more than $80 billion since the beginning of 2012 that Iran will never be able to recoup.  Under this first step, the EU crude oil ban will remain in effect and Iran will be held to approximately 1 million bpd in sales, resulting in continuing lost sales worth an additional $4 billion per month, every month, going forward.

·         Sanctions affecting petroleum product exports to Iran, which result in billions of dollars of lost revenue, will remain in effect.

·         The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings remain inaccessible or restricted by our sanctions.

·         Other significant parts of our sanctions regime remain intact, including:

o   Sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and approximately two dozen other major Iranian banks and financial actors;

o   Secondary sanctions, pursuant to the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) as amended and other laws, on banks that do business with U.S.-designated individuals and entities;

o   Sanctions on those who provide a broad range of other financial services to Iran, such as many types of insurance; and,

o   Restricted access to the U.S. financial system.

·         All sanctions on over 600 individuals and entities targeted for supporting Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile program remain in effect.

·         Sanctions on several sectors of Iran’s economy, including shipping and shipbuilding, remain in effect.

·         Sanctions on long-term investment in and provision of technical services to Iran’s energy sector remain in effect.

·         Sanctions on Iran’s military program remain in effect.

·         Broad U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran remain in effect, depriving Iran of access to virtually all dealings with the world’s biggest economy

·         All UN Security Council sanctions remain in effect.

·         All of our targeted sanctions related to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, its destabilizing role in the Syrian conflict, and its abysmal human rights record, among other concerns, remain in effect.

A Comprehensive Solution

During the six-month initial phase, the P5+1 will negotiate the contours of a comprehensive solution.  Thus far, the outline of the general parameters of the comprehensive solution envisions concrete steps to give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful.  With respect to this comprehensive resolution:  nothing is agreed to with respect to a comprehensive solution until everything is agreed to.  Over the next six months, we will determine whether there is a solution that gives us sufficient confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful.  If Iran cannot address our concerns, we are prepared to increase sanctions and pressure. 

Conclusion 

In sum, this first step achieves a great deal in its own right.  Without this phased agreement, Iran could start spinning thousands of additional centrifuges.  It could install and spin next-generation centrifuges that will reduce its breakout times.  It could fuel and commission the Arak heavy water reactor.  It could grow its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to beyond the threshold for a bomb’s worth of uranium. Iran can do none of these things under the conditions of the first step understanding.

Furthermore, without this phased approach, the international sanctions coalition would begin to fray because Iran would make the case to the world that it was serious about a diplomatic solution and we were not.  We would be unable to bring partners along to do the crucial work of enforcing our sanctions.  With this first step, we stop and begin to roll back Iran’s program and give Iran a sharp choice:  fulfill its commitments and negotiate in good faith to a final deal, or the entire international community will respond with even more isolation and pressure.

The American people prefer a peaceful and enduring resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and strengthens the global non-proliferation regime.  This solution has the potential to achieve that.  Through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do its part for greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.

Full Text Obama Presidency November 23, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Iran Nuclear Weapons Interim Deal

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran’s Nuclear Program

Source: WH, 11-23-13

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Today, the United States — together with our close allies and partners — took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.

Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy.  Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community.  So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.

These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged.  I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall.  Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s Foreign Minister.  And we have pursued intensive diplomacy — bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.

Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.

While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal.  For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.  Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles.  Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium.  Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited.  Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor.  And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.

These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon.  Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.  Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program.  And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.

On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions.  We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions.  But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously.  And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.

Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution.  We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding:  Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy.  But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.

In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to.  The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.

If Iran seizes this opportunity, the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations.  This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect.  If, on the other hand, Iran refuses, it will face growing pressure and isolation.

Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today.  Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress.  However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions -– because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.

That international unity is on display today.  The world is united in support of our determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Iran must know that security and prosperity will never come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons — it must be reached through fully verifiable agreements that make Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons impossible.

As we go forward, the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies –- particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions.

Ultimately, only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program.  As President and Commander-in-Chief, I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  But I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict.  Today, we have a real opportunity to achieve a comprehensive, peaceful settlement, and I believe we must test it.

The first step that we’ve taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we’ve made with Iran since I took office.  And now we must use the months ahead to pursue a lasting and comprehensive settlement that would resolve an issue that has threatened our security — and the security of our allies — for decades.  It won’t be easy, and huge challenges remain ahead.  But through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.

Thank you very much.

History Buzz November 22, 2013: President Barack Obama Proclaims Day of Remembrance for John F. Kennedy on 50th Anniversary of his Assassination

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Obama Proclaims Day of Remembrance for JFK

Source: USA Today, 11-22-13

Political Headlines June 3, 2013: President Barack Obama & Politicians’ Comments on Senator Frank Lautenberg’s Death

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Politicians Mourn Loss of Sen. Lautenberg

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-3-13

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

“It’s no mystery that Sen. Lautenberg and I didn’t always agree. In fact, it probably is more honest to say we very often didn’t agree, and we had some pretty good fights between us over time — battles on philosophy and the role of government, but never was Sen. Lautenberg to be underestimated as an advocate for the causes that he believed in and as an adversary in the political world. I think the best way to describe to Frank Lautenberg in the way he would probably want to be described to all of you today is as a fighter.”

Governor Christie On Senator Lautenberg: I Give Him Praise On A Life Well Lived from Gov Chris Christie on Vimeo.

President Barack Obama

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg, a proud New Jerseyan who lived America’s promise as a citizen, and fought to keep that promise alive as a senator. … He improved the lives of countless Americans with his commitment to our nation’s health and safety, from improving our public transportation to protecting citizens from gun violence to ensuring that members of our military and their families get the care they deserve. Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Bonnie, the Lautenberg family, and the people of New Jersey, whom Frank served so well.”

Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“The entire Senate is saddened today by the loss of our colleague, Senator Frank Lautenberg. The Senate’s last remaining World War II veteran, Frank was a patriot whose success in business and politics made him a great American success story and a stand-out even within the fabled Greatest Generation. Elaine and I send our condolences to Bonnie, the Lautenberg children, and the entire Lautenberg family.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

“Senator Lautenberg was a model of leadership and service to me since before I even considered entering elected office. He was a passionate advocate for New Jersey and a crucial and tireless partner who always delivered for the people of Newark. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lautenberg family.”

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham

“It was with great sadness I learned of Senator Lautenberg’s passing.  He was a fine man who served his nation honorably in World War II.  He was a true gentleman who will be missed by his family, friends, and colleagues in the United States Senate.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

“Today, we mourn the loss of Sen. Lautenberg, the Senate’s last remaining WWII vet whose lifetime of service leaves a legacy we must uphold.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“I am deeply saddened at the loss of my friend, Frank Lautenberg. History will show him to be one of the most productive Senators ever.”

Arizona Senator John McCain

“RIP Senator Frank Lautenberg, the last WWII veteran to serve in the US Senate. We salute his years of service to his state and nation.”

Vice President Joe Biden

“Everything about Frank is what makes this country great…. He was one of the most productive senators I ever served with…. He could have won, but I think he knew, he knew that his health would not permit it. But he never complained, he never explained. As my dad would say, he just went out and did the job. I’m going to miss him a lot.”

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee Passing the Immigration Overhaul Bill

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President

Source: WH, 5-21-13 

I congratulate the Senate Judiciary Committee on completing its work on S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.   Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Leahy and a bipartisan group of eight Senators, the legislation that passed the Judiciary Committee with a strong bipartisan vote is largely consistent with the principles of commonsense reform I have proposed and meets the challenge of fixing our broken immigration system. The process for considering this legislation has been open and inclusive with multiple hearings, and more than a hundred amendments were considered and adopted, in many cases with bipartisan support.  I applaud the Committee members for their hard work, especially “Gang of Eight” members Senators Schumer, Durbin, Graham and Flake.  None of the Committee members got everything they wanted, and neither did I , but in the end, we all owe it to the American people to get the best possible result over the finish line.  I encourage the full Senate to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor at the at the earliest possible opportunity and remain hopeful that the amendment process will lead to further improvements.

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