Political Musings November 29, 2013: Post-Presidential life & legacy focus of Barbara Walters’ interview with Obamas

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History Buzz November 28, 2013: Thanksgiving’s history goes beyond 1621

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Thanksgiving’s history goes beyond 1621

Source: Lexington Dispatch, 11-28-13

The politicians’ tradition of citing Gov. William Bradford’s thanksgiving proclamation in 1621 — observed again this year by the president in his proclamation — has also contributed to the general impression that there was a “first” Thanksgiving….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Wishing the American People a Happy Thanksgiving

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Wishing the American People a Happy Thanksgiving

Source: WH, 11-28-13

Remarks of President Barack Obama

Weekly Address — Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

Hi, everybody.  On behalf of all the Obamas – Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo, and the newest member of our family, Sunny – I want to wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

We’ll be spending today just like many of you – sitting down with family and friends to eat some good food, tell stories, watch a little football, and most importantly, count our blessings.

And as Americans, we have so much to be thankful for.

We give thanks for the men and women who set sail for this land nearly four centuries ago, risking everything for the chance at a better life – and the people who were already here, our Native American brothers and sisters, for their generosity during that first Thanksgiving.

We give thanks for the generations who followed – people of all races and religions, who arrived here from every country on Earth and worked to build something better for themselves and for us.

We give thanks for all our men and women in uniform – and for their families, who are surely missing them very much today.  We’re grateful for their sacrifice too.

We give thanks for the freedoms they defend – the freedom to think what we want and say what we think, to worship according to our own beliefs, to choose our leaders and, yes, criticize them without punishment.  People around the world are fighting and even dying for their chance at these freedoms.  We stand with them in that struggle, and we give thanks for being free.

And we give thanks to everyone who’s doing their part to make the United States a better, more compassionate nation – who spend their Thanksgiving volunteering at a soup kitchen, or joining a service project, or bringing food and cheer to a lonely neighbor.  That big-hearted generosity is a central part of our American character.  We believe in lending a hand to folks who need it.  We believe in pitching in to solve problems even if they aren’t our problems.  And that’s not a one-day-a-year belief.  It’s part of the fabric of our nation.

And we remember that many Americans need that helping hand right now.  Americans who’ve lost their jobs and can’t get a new one through no fault of their own.  Americans who’ve been trapped in poverty and just need that helping hand to climb out.  Citizens whose prayers and hopes move us to act.

We are a people who are greater together than we are on our own.  That’s what today is about.  That’s what every day should be about.  No matter our differences, we’re all part of one American family.  We are each other’s keeper.  We are one nation, under God.  That core tenet of our American experience has guided us from the earliest days of our founding – and it will guide us to a future that’s even brighter than today.

Thank you, God bless you, and from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

Political Musings November 27, 2013: Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey at White House ceremony

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Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey at White House ceremony

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The next National Thanksgiving Turkey and winner of this year’s annual presidential pardon is… Popcorn. On Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 President Barack Obama with the help of his daughters Malia and Sasha conducted this year’s…READ MORE

Political Headlines November 27, 2013: President Barack Obama names Popcorn the National Thanksgiving Turkey at annual pardon ceremony

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha name Popcorn the National Thanksgiving Turkey at annual pardon ceremony

Source: NY Daily News, 11-27-13

U.S. President Barack Obama gives the annual presidential pardon to the national Thanksgiving turkey at the White House in Washington November 27, 2013. John Burkel (L), Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and the president's daughters Malia (R) and Sasha (C) are pictured watching the pardon. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS)

GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

I now pronounce you… pardoned: U.S. President Barack Obama gives the annual presidential pardon to the national Thanksgiving turkey with daughers Sasha (left) and Malia (right).

First daughters Malia and Sasha were on hand for the tradition on National Thanksgiving Turkey Wednesday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 27, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey

Source: WH, 11-27-13

U.S. President Barack Obama gives the annual presidential pardon to the national Thanksgiving turkey at the White House in Washington November 27, 2013. John Burkel (L), Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and the president's daughters Malia (R) and Sasha (C) are pictured watching the pardon. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS)

GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

President Barack Obama along with daughters, Malia and Sasha pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey during a ceremony at the White House’s North Portico, Nov. 27, 2013

North Portico

1:30 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody, and happy Thanksgiving.

The office of the presidency — the most powerful position in the world — brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities.  This is not one of them.  (Laughter.)  But the White House Turkey Pardon is a great tradition.  And I know Malia loves it — as does Sasha.

Generally speaking, Thanksgiving is a bad day to be a turkey.  Especially at a house with two dogs.  So I salute our two guests of honor — Caramel and Popcorn — for their bravery. They came all the way from outside Badger, Minnesota to be with us.  They, like my Chief of Staff, are Vikings fans.  (Laughter.) I’m not sure that they know — (turkeys gobble) — uh-oh.  (Laughter.)  See.  I’m not sure they know that that my Bears are heading to Minnesota on Sunday, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m going to give them a break.  (Laughter.)

We are also excited to have students from Badger High School here.  (Applause.)  Where are you guys?  There they are, right there.  And finally, let me say thank you to John Burkel,  chairman of the National Turkey Federation.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

Now, 80 turkeys on John’s farm competed for the chance to make it to the White House, and stay off the Thanksgiving table. It was, quite literally, the hunger games.  (Laughter.)  and then, after weeks of vocal practice and prepping for the cameras, the two tributes, Caramel and Popcorn went head-to-head together for America’s vote as top gobbler.

The competition was stiff, but we can officially declare that Popcorn is the winner — (applause) — proving that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in politics.  (Laughter.)   As for Caramel, he’s sticking around, and he’s already busy raising money for his next campaign.  (Laughter.)
On a more serious note, later today, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and I will bring a couple less fortunate turkeys to a great organization that works to help out our neighbors here in D.C. who need it most.  And I want to thank Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, for donating those dressed birds for the fifth year in a row.  This is a reminder that this is a season to not only be thankful for the incredible blessings that we have, but also to remember the neediest and generously serve those who are not as fortunate.

This is a quintessentially American holiday, and during this time we give thanks to our friends and our family, for citizens who show compassion to those in need, and for neighbors who help strangers they’ve never met.  We give thanks for the blessings of freedom and opportunity that previous generations worked so hard to secure for.  And we give thanks for the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform who serve our nation around the world.

For those of you who are watching, you keep us safe.  You make us proud, and you remind us of our own obligations to build on the work of our predecessors and leave something better for our own kids.

So on behalf of the Obama family, I want to wish everybody a very happy Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow, as we gather with our own friends and family, we’ll count ourselves lucky that there’s more to be thankful for than we can ever say, and more to be hopeful for than we can ever imagine.

And now, before these turkeys get away — with the power vested in me, I want to grant Popcorn a full reprieve.  Come on. (Laughter.)  Popcorn, you have a full reprieve from cranberry sauce and stuffing.  We wish you well.  And we’re going to give Carmel a break as well.

All right?  (Laughter.)  Congratulations, everybody.  (Applause.)   Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  See you, Popcorn. (Applause.)  Get out of the rain.  (Laughter.)

END
1:35 P.M. EST

RELATED LINKS

History Buzz November 27, 2013: A History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon

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History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

A History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon

Source: NYT, 11-27-13

Until 1989, turkeys sent to the White House for Thanksgiving usually suffered a different fate.

Political Musings November 27, 2013: Obama expresses openness to piecemeal immigration bill during fundraising trip

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Obama expresses openness to piecemeal immigration bill during fundraising trip

By Bonnie K. Goodman

During a three-day fundraising trip to West-Coast of the United States, on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 President Barack Obama delivered a speech pushing for immigration reform while at a stop in San Francisco, California. The President was urging…READ MORE

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.

History Buzz November 26, 2013: Abraham Lincoln, father of the Thanksgiving holiday

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Abraham Lincoln, father of the Thanksgiving holiday

Source: Detroit Free Press , 11-26-13

It was Lincoln who issued an 1863 proclamation calling on Americans to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving,” partly to celebrate victories in the then-raging Civil War. “He’s the father of the whole idea….READ MORE

On this day in history… November 26, 1941: FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

History_Dates

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

On this date in history: FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving

Source: Daily Press, 11-26-13

On Nov. 26, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. In the 17th century, Thanksgiving became an annual custom in New England, and the first national American….READ MORE

Political Musings November 25, 2013: Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House Saturday November 23, 2013, in Washington about the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran (photo credit: AP/Susan Walsh)

The P5+1 world superpowers came to an interim deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions late Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 during the their third round of talks on the issue in Geneva…READ MORE

Political Headlines November 24, 2013: Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(GENEVA) — Iran and six world powers reached a preliminary deal Sunday morning to freeze key parts of Tehran’s nuclear program in return for temporary relief on economic sanctions….READ MORE

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

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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 Weekly Address: Working with Both Parties to Keep the Economy Moving Forward

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Working with Both Parties to Keep the Economy Moving Forward

Source: WH, 11-23-13

Watch the Video

Weekly Address: Working with Both Parties to Keep the Economy Moving Forward

Weekly Address: Working with Both Parties to Keep the Economy Moving Forward

Remarks for President Barack Obama

Weekly Address

The White House

November 23, 2013

Hi, everybody.  Over the past couple months, most of the political headlines you’ve read have probably been about the government shutdown and the launch of the Affordable Care Act.  And I know that many of you have rightly never been more frustrated with Washington.

But if you look beyond those headlines, there are some good things happening in our economy.  And that’s been my top priority since the day I walked into the Oval Office.

After decades in which the middle class was working harder and harder just to keep up, and a punishing recession that made it worse, we made the tough choices required not just to recover from crisis, but to rebuild on a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.

Five years later, we have fought our way back.  Our businesses have created 7.8 million new jobs in the past 44 months.  Another 200,000 Americans went back to work last month.

The American auto industry has come roaring back with more than 350,000 new jobs – jobs churning out and selling the high-tech, fuel-efficient cars the world wants to buy.  And they’re leading the charge in a manufacturing sector that has added jobs for the first time since the 1990s – a big reason why our businesses sell more goods and services “Made in America” than ever before.

We decided to reverse our addiction to foreign oil.  And today, we generate more renewable energy than ever, more natural gas than anybody, and for the first time in nearly 20 years, America now produces more oil than we buy from other countries.

We decided to fix a broken health care system.  And even though the rollout of the marketplace where you can buy affordable plans has been rough, so far, about 500,000 Americans are poised to gain health coverage starting January 1st.  And by the way, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.

And one more thing: since I took office, we’ve cut our deficits by more than half.  And that makes it easier to invest in the things that create jobs – education, research, and infrastructure.

Imagine how much farther along we could be if both parties were working together.  Think about what we could do if a reckless few didn’t hold the economy hostage every few months, or waste time on dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act rather than try to help us fix it.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll keep talking about my plan to build a better bargain for the middle class.  Good jobs.  A good education.  A chance to buy a home, save, and retire.  And yes, the financial security of affordable health care.  And I’ll look for any willing partners who want to help.

Because of your hard work and tough sacrifices over the past five years, we’re pointed in the right direction.  But we’ve got more work to do to keep moving that way.  And as long as I’m President, I’ll keep doing everything I can to create jobs, grow the economy, and make sure that everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.  Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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: US marks President John F. Kennedy assassination’s 50th anniversary with memorials

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

US marks JFK assassination’s 50th anniversary

Source: NY Daily News, 11-22-13

People attend a ceremony in Dallas on Friday. Kennedy was killed 50 years ago this day during a presidential motorcade in the city.

LARRY W. SMITH/EPA

People attend a ceremony in Dallas on Friday. Kennedy was killed 50 years ago this day during a presidential motorcade in the city.

John F. Kennedy assassination’s 50th anniversary marked nationwide as Obama says the late president ‘moved people in a way that still resonates with us today’

At Arlington National Cemetery, 85-year-old Jean Kennedy Smith, the slain President’s last surviving sibling, laid a wreath at her brother’s grave as other Kennedys joined her….READ MORE

Political Musings November 22, 2013: Senate Democrats go extreme pass nuclear option preventing filibusters for nominees

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Senate Dems go extreme pass nuclear option preventing filibusters for nominees

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After earlier this week the Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s third judicial nominee for the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, prompting Senate Democrats to invoke on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 what is called the “nuclear option”….READ MORE

History Buzz November 22, 2013: Remembering President John F. Kennedy’s life and speeches

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Remembering JFK’s life and speeches

Source: Deseret News, 11-22-13

Here are two lists that honor JFK, from the most defining moments of his life, to his best speeches….READ MORE

History Buzz November 22, 2013: John F. Kennedy Remembered on 50th Anniversary of Assassination

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

JFK Remembered on 50th Anniversary of Assassination

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States.  President Obama has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at government buildings to honor the late commander-in-chief, who was 46 at the time of his death…READ MORE

Full Text History Buzz November 22, 2013: Former President George W. Bush’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Former President George W. Bush’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

Source: USA Today, 11-22-13

Today we remember a dark episode in our Nation’s history, and we remember the leader whose life was cut short 50 years ago.

John F. Kennedy dedicated himself to public service, and his example moved Americans to do more for our country. He believed in the greatness of the United States and the righteousness of liberty, and he defended them.

On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I join our fellow citizens in honoring our 35th President.

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 Musings November 21, 2013: Obama honors John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Political Musings November 21, 2013: George W. Bush hails post-presidential life in interview with Jay Leno

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

George W. Bush hails post-presidential life in interview with Jay Leno

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 

In what was a definite turnaround, Former President George W. Bush (2001-09) was Jay Leno’s honored guest while President Barack Obama was the late night talk show host’s punch line on the Tuesday evening Nov…

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Full Text History Buzz November 19, 2013: President Barack Obama Reflects on Gettysburg Address on its 150th Anniversary

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Obama Reflects on Gettysburg Address on its 150th Anniversary

On the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, President Obama took pen to paper to write his own tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s famous words….READ MORE

President Obama’s Handwritten Essay Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

Source: WH, 11-19-13

Here’s the full text of President Obama’s essay:

In the evening, when Michelle and the girls have gone to bed, I sometimes walk down the hall to a room Abraham Lincoln used as his office.  It contains an original copy of the Gettysburg address, written in Lincoln’s own hand.

I linger on these few words that have helped define our American experiment: “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Through the lines of weariness etched in his face, we know Lincoln grasped, perhaps more than anyone, the burdens required to give these words meaning.  He knew that even a self-evident truth was not self-executing; that blood drawn by the lash was an affront to our ideals; that blood drawn by the sword was in painful service to those same ideals.

He understood as well that our humble efforts, our individual ambitions, are ultimately not what matter; rather, it is through the accumulated toil and sacrifice of ordinary men and women – those like the soldiers who consecrated that battlefield – that this country is built, and freedom preserved.  This quintessentially self-made man, fierce in his belief in honest work and the striving spirit at the heart of America, believed that it falls to each generation, collectively, to share in that toil and sacrifice.

Through cold war and world war, through industrial revolutions and technological transformations, through movements for civil rights and women’s rights and workers’ rights and gay rights, we have.  At times, social and economic change have strained our union.  But Lincoln’s words give us confidence that whatever trials await us, this nation and the freedom we cherish can, and shall, prevail.

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