President Obama

President Obama Truth Bombs Republican Claims About Religious Freedom




President Obama has a pointed word or two for Republicans and their peculiar definition of Religious Freedom that is something some people have, and others do not.

He spoke Sunday evening a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York, the annual Democratic National Committee LGBT Gala at Gotham Hall, alluding to the recent case of Kim Davis as he told the crowd that,

“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions. But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”

“And that even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes. That’s not how we move America forward.”

Ouch. Those words could have come right out of the mouth of Thomas Jefferson, who said, that “our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions,” and they were aimed right at the heart of the Republican message for 2016. There is not a candidate among them who does embrace discrimination in the name of religion.

Obama said that marriage equality can no longer be a wedge issue, because the country has made its decision and moved on from there:

“The good news is they probably won’t use marriage equality as a wedge issue like they did in 2004 because the country has come too far. In fact, America has left the leaders of the Republican Party behind.”

The President did not ignore the ridiculous posturing of the GOP’s 2016 presidential hopefuls, alluding to Ben Carson when he said,

“One of their leading candidates argued that going to prison turns you gay. Well, you think I’m — I shouldn’t go into this? No, I mean, I’m just stating the facts.”

He nailed Ted Cruz (R-TX), who pretends to be the Religious Freedom candidate, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who wants to occupy that same narrow-minded piece of real estate:

“Another candidate boasts that he introduced an amendment to end nationwide marriage equality — which isn’t even an accomplishment at all. A third says Americans should just disobey the Supreme Court’s ruling entirely. I’m sure he loves the Constitution — except for Article III. And maybe the Equal Protection Amendment. And the 14th Amendment, generally.”

Obama didn’t have to end the list of portions Republicans don’t approve of there. Safer to say the only parts they do like are the Second and Tenth Amendments. But he made his point, and throughout the night’s speech, he offered nothing but facts in the face of the relentless Republican assault on our freedoms.

He also tried to make sense of something all of us have noticed, that Republicans seem to be running against 2008, and not 2015, but Obama had a slightly different explanation:

In their world, everything was terrific back in 2008 when we were in the midst of a spiral into the worst financial crisis and economic crisis since the Great Depression, when unemployment and uninsured rates were rising and when our economy was shedding jobs each month, and we were mired in two wars, hopelessly addicted to foreign oil, and bin Laden was still at large,” Obama said.

Those were the Golden Years, apparently. And then, I came in and messed it all up.

You got to give these folks credit for chutzpah. And so since everything was doing so well back in 2007-2008, now if we can just repeal Obamacare, and gut Wall Street reform, and shut down our government over women’s access to health care, and deny that the planet is getting warmer, they’ve got a plan to get us back on track.

But the central theme of the evening was LGBT rights and the president hammered the point home:

Time after time, the cynics told us that we were foolish to keep believing, that we were naïve to hope, that change was too messy or not possible at all. And if you admit it, there were some in this room here who were skeptical that everything that needed to happen would happen. The cynics were wrong. Tonight, we live in an America where ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is something that ‘don’t exist.’

We live in an America where a growing share of older generations recognize that love is love, and younger generations don’t even know what all the fuss was about. And tonight, thanks to the unbending sense of justice passed down through generations of citizens who never gave up hope that we could bring this country closer to our founding ideals — that all of us are created equal — we now live in America where our marriages are equal as well.

We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions. But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights,” he said. “Even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes. That’s not how we move America forward.

President Obama wasted no time in denouncing ridiculous Republican talking points about so-called Religious Freedom, which is really just religious tyranny in disguise, the use of the Bible as a weapon to bully women, gays, and minorities – religious and ethnic.

The night’s speech was more than a simple list of Obama accomplishments, though it was that too. Americans will remember, as will historians one day, that it was President Obama who fought to move us forward as a people and as a nation, and Republicans who sought to anchor us in a dark and ugly past.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Republicans And The Media Get It Wrong: Obama Wasn’t Late To Meet The Pope


attribution: NONE


H/t: Ted

There is a story being circulated that Pope Francis’s plane was forced to circle in a holding pattern because President Obama was running late. The truth is that the President arrived on time.

There is a story being circulated that Pope Francis was forced to wait for President Obama because the President was running late.

The Atlantic reported, “A source on the ground at Joint Base Andrews said several government officials told him the reason the plane started circling was that Obama and Biden are running late to the greeting ceremony. Ooops. Seems like even the bishop of Rome has to adjust his schedule around Beltway traffic.”

However, according to the official press schedule released by the White House for the day, President Obama was not scheduled to greet the Pope at the airport until 4 PM ET, “4:00PM THE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY, THE VICE PRESIDENT and DR. BIDEN greet His Holiness Pope Francis.”

The pool reported at the event noted, “The Alitalia plane – “Shepherd One” – carrying Pope Francis touched down at Joint Base Andrews at 3:49 p.m. He emerged at 4:05 p.m., descending the steps for a red carpet greeting from POTUS, FLOTUS and others.”

The event was scheduled for 4 PM, and President Obama was on time. The idea that the President would be late to meet Pope Francis at the airport is more Obama bashing from the media and the right.

Let’s kill this falsehood before it has a chance to get off the ground. Sorry, Republicans but those pesky facts and clocks say that President Obama was not late to greet Pope Francis.

Jason Easley

10 things you need to know today: September 23, 2015

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


1. Pope Francis starts historic U.S. tour
Pope Francis arrived in the U.S. Tuesday for a six-day visit — his first to America as head of the Catholic Church. President Obama and his family greeted Francis on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews. Obama will host an elaborate welcome ceremony Wednesday morning. The pope flew to the U.S. from Cuba, where he wrapped up his visit with a call for a “revolution of tenderness.” Francis will make history Thursdayas the first pope to address a joint session of Congress. Later he will travel to New York and Philadelphia.

Source: The Washington Post

2. EU forces members to take in migrants needing protection
European Union ministers on Tuesday approved a plan requiring member nations to take in a share of 120,000 migrants arriving in Greece and Italy over the next two years. The move applies to people “in clear need of international protection.” The decision came over the objections of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Leaders from the 28-nation bloc will hold an emergency summitWednesday to continue discussing the wave of migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe from Syria, Iraq, and other countries torn by war and poverty.

Source: The New York Times, The Associated Press

3. Chinese leader arrives in U.S. for potentially tense visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrived in Seattle Tuesday to start what could be a tense U.S. trip. In the first speech of his visit, Xi promised that his government would not “engage in cyber-theft.” The Obama administration blamed China for a summer cyberattack that compromised personal data on nearly 22 million government workers, although China denies involvement. Xi headsThursday to Washington, D.C., where he will meet with President Obama.

Source: The Washington Post, The Seattle Times

4. Hillary Clinton announces opposition to Keystone XL pipeline
Hillary Clinton came out in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, after declining to take a position on the controversial project for months. The Democratic presidential frontrunner said squabbling over the pipeline had become “a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change.” In July, Clinton said she did not want to “prejudge” the Obama administration’s environmental impact review, but now she says she opposes the pipeline proposal because it is not “in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”

Source: NBC News

5. L.A. council proposes spending $100 million on homelessness crisis
Los Angeles’ elected leaders on Tuesday announced plans to declare a “state of emergency” regarding the city’s growing homelessness problem. The proposal calls for spending $100 million on housing and other services for the homeless. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration also proposed this week to use nearly $13 million in excess tax revenue for short-term housing measures. Councilman Gilbert Cedillo said if L.A. wants to host the Olympics and show off to the world, “we shouldn’t have 25,000 to 50,000 people sleeping on the streets.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

6. Senate GOP proposes fix to prevent government shutdown
Senate Republicans moved to avert a looming government shutdown on Tuesday by proposing a temporary measure to keep federal agencies funded through Dec. 11. Democrats are expected to block the first version of the bill because it would cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, but that provision is expected to be dropped. If that happens, the bill could pass would bipartisan support, delaying a showdown over spending until the fall.

Source: The New York Times

7. CEO promises to lower drug price after hike sparks outrage
Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli said Tuesday his company would lower the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim in response to anger over an overnight hike in the cost of a single pill from $13.50 to $750. Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis, a condition that affects patients with immune systems compromised by AIDS, chemotherapy, or pregnancy. Turing bought the drug from Impax Laboratories for $55 million in August. Shkreli said the price hike was supposed to pay for research on toxoplasmosis treatments with fewer side effects.

Source: NBC News

8. VW board leaders grill CEO over emissions cheating scandal
Volkswagen board leaders on Wednesday held an emergency meeting in Germany to question CEO Martin Winterkorn about the use of software in 11 million diesel cars worldwide to cheat on emissions tests. The board is due to decide by Friday whether to extend Winterkorn’s contract. He has indicated no plan to quit over the scandal, although he has made several public apologies and pledged the “utmost transparency” in ongoing investigations.

Source: Reuters

9. Judge says companies had no right to royalties forHappy Birthday song
A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled Tuesday that the companies that collected royalties for the Happy Birthday to You song for decades did not have valid copyright claims. Warner/Chappell had charged for use of the song since 1988 after buying the successor to the firm that claimed the original 1935 copyright. The judge said the rights applied to piano arrangements, not the song. “Happy Birthday is finally free after 80 years,” said Randall Newman, a lawyer for plaintiffs who included filmmakers making a documentary on the song.

Source: Los Angeles Times

10. Famed Yankees catcher Yogi Berra dies
Baseball legend Yogi Berra died Tuesday of natural causes at his home in New Jersey. He was 90. The Hall of Fame catcher helped the New York Yankees reach the World Series 14 times in 18 seasons, winning a record 10 World Series championships. The three-time American League MVP — later a manager and coach — played in more World Series games than any other player. He also delighted fans with a seemingly endless stream of malapropisms, or “Yogi-isms,” including, “It’s deja vu all over again,” and “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Source: The Associated Press

Harold Maass

Obama To Sign Executive Order On Paid Sick Days



President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order on Labor Day requiring that federal contractors provide their employees with paid sick leave, the latest in a string of executive actions aimed at raising the bar in the U.S. workplace. 

According to the White House, the order will give roughly 300,000 workers under federal contracts up to seven paid sick days per year. Workers will earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. The rules will start with new federal contracts signed starting in 2017.

“Many parents are forced to choose between taking an unpaid day off work — losing much needed income and potentially threatening their jobs — and sending a sick child who should be home in bed to school,” the White House said in a statement.

Although most U.S. workers do receive paid sick days through their jobs, roughly 39 percent of private-sector workers do not, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The workers who don’t have paid sick leave are disproportionately employed in low-wage industries like restaurants and retail.

The White House has named expanding paid leave as one of its top priorities. After the president highlighted the issue in his State of the Union address in January, The Huffington Post pointed out that if the president wanted to bring paid leave to more workers, the easiest way to do so would be to issue an executive order like the one slated to be signed Monday. Last month, The New York Times reported that a draft of an executive order related to sick leave was circulating at the Labor Department.

The executive branch has a long history of using its contracting power to influence labor policy in the private sector, stretching back at least to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Obama administration has grown aggressive with the tactic over the past two years. It issued an executive order setting a minimum wage of $10.10 under federal contracts, and another that effectively strips federal contracts from firms found to have committed wage theft.

In announcing the executive order, the White House also called on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation guaranteeing sick days for workers. Unlike most developed nations, the U.S. does not have a law requiring businesses to offer employees paid sick leave. Democrats have sponsored sick-leave legislation but it has gone nowhere in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Family Values @ Work, a leading advocacy group on the issue, praised the White House for the executive order. “Such a move is precisely the government’s role: to create model standards for the rest of the country to follow and to make sure taxpayer dollars are used wisely,” said Ellen Bravo, the group’s director.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a lobby for small businesses, wasn’t as keen on the announcement. “Mandatory paid leave is a great benefit for workers whose employers offer it,” Jack Mozloom, the group’s director, said in a statement. “For workers whose employers can’t absorb the cost, it’s an arbitrary expense that will ultimately result in shorter hours, lower pay or disappearing jobs.”

Dave Jamieson

To Honor Native Americans, Obama Renamed The Nation’s Highest Mountain. These People Are Upset.

Idiocracy, personified…


On Sunday, President Obama announced that he would restore the name of the nation’s tallest mountain, currently called Mount McKinley, to Denali. The move, which comes in advance of the President’s trip to Alaska, was described as a show of respect to Native Americans and the original name they gave to the peak.

The name of the mountain was officially changed from Denali to Mount McKinley in 1917, at the suggestion of a gold prospector. William McKinley, who never visited Alaska, was America’s 25th president. Naming the mountain after McKinley, seemingly at random, was viewed by many as an expression of cultural imperalism.

But not everyone was happy about the change back. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who represents the state where McKinley was born, said he was disappointed with the decision and blasted Obama for not deferring to Congress.

“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans,” said Bob Gibbs, Congressman from Ohio. Gibbs also called the move unconstitutional and an effort to “ignore an act of Congress… to promote [Obama’s] job killing war on energy.” (In his upcoming trip to Alaska, Obama will also discuss climate change.)
The sentiment was echoed by House Speaker John Boehner, also of Ohio, who said he was “deeply disappointed in this decision.”

Continue reading>>>

Republicans Routed As House Democrats Set To Give Obama Total Victory On Iran Deal


Barack Obama is flanked by Democratic caucus chairman, John Larson, and the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, as he calls on Democratic members of Congress to vote for his healthcare bill. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters


President Obama has a liberal firewall in the House of Representatives as Nancy Pelosi has kept her Democrats together, and they are ready to deliver total victory for the president on the Iran deal.

Politico reported:

But Obama’s backstop in the House, where the Democratic Caucus is dominated by liberals, is holding firm.

Close to 40 House Democrats have come out in favor of the deal since it was first announced in mid-July, while 16 senators have voiced their support. And there are dozens of additional Democrats who’ve signaled in interviews and statements that they are inclined to back Obama’s deal, which aims to stop Tehran’s development of a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Most notably, not one of the 151 House Democrats who signed a May letter in support of the broad outlines of the agreement have announced opposition to the final product.

House Democrats are resisting a multi-million dollar effort to turn them against the deal. The dye was cast long ago on the fate of the Iran deal because of two key factors.

House liberals were outraged when Speaker John Boehner attempted to humiliate President Obama by going behind his back and inviting Netanyahu to address Congress. Boehner and Netanyahu’s behavior backfired and unified House Democrats around their president. Any chance that Boehner had of getting Democratic votes for a resolution of disapproval of the Iran deal was destroyed the moment he disrespected the president.

The second factor is the structure of the agreement to allow a vote on the Iran deal. The White House made it nearly impossible to kill the Iran deal by only agreeing to give Congress the ability to pass a resolution of disapproval. President Obama knew that he would veto any resolution of disapproval and that the odds are practically zero that Republicans would be able to muster the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override his veto.

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) announcement of opposition to the deal has not been followed by a wave of Democrats joining him. It is doubtful that Mitch McConnell will be able to get enough votes in the Senate to override the president’s expected veto, but even if he does, Obama’s ironclad support in the House means that Republicans will lose.

There will be a great deal of media generated wringing of hands and speculative coverage of the Iran deal resolution vote, but the unless House Democrats budge, Obama wins no matter what else happens.

The president is well on his way towards achieving a major victory for peace, as House Democrats are signaling that they’ve got Obama’s back.

Jason Easley

Obama Leaves Republicans Reeling After Standing Firm On GOP Death To America Comparison


Was the comparison unfair?  I would say it was spot on!


President Obama hit Republicans hard on CNN when he explained why his comparison to the GOP Iran deal opposition to the extremists who shout death to America is factually correct.


Transcript via CNN:

ZAKARIA: In your speech at American University you made a comparison. You said that Iran’s hard-liners were making common cause with Republicans. It’s come under a lot of criticism. Mitch McConnell says even Democrats who oppose the deal should be insulted. The “Wall Street Journal” says this rhetoric shows that you’ve abandoned the hope of getting any Republicans or even moderate Democrats, and you are targeting this message to the hard core of House Democrats who are going to sustain your veto.

OBAMA: Fareed, your question is about politics. Let me talk about substance. What I said is absolutely true factually. The truth of the matter is inside of Iran, the people most opposed to the deal are the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force, hard liners who are implacably opposed to any cooperation with the international community, and there is a reason for that because they recognize that if in fact this deal gets done, that rather than them being in the driver’s seat with respect to the Iranian economy, they are in a weaker position.

And the point I was simply making is that, if you look at the facts, the merits of this deal, then you will conclude that, not only does it cut off a pathway for Iran getting a nuclear weapon, but it also establishes the most effective verification and inspection regime that’s ever been put in place. It also ensures that we are able to monitor what they do with respect to stockpiles, plutonium, their underground facility, and that it does not ask us to relinquish any of the options that we might need to exercise if in fact Iran cheated or if, at some point, they decided to try to break up.

And so the reason that Mitch McConnell and the rest of the folks in his caucus who oppose this jumped out and opposed it before they even read it, before it was even posted, is reflective of an ideological commitment not to get a deal done.

ZAKARIA: You don’t —

OBAMA: And in that sense they do have a lot in common with hard- liners who are much more satisfied with the status quo.

ZAKARIA: You don’t think you’re going to get any Republican support?

OBAMA: Well, I didn’t say that. What I said was that there are those who, if they did not read the bill before they announced their opposition, if they are not able to offer plausible reasons why they wouldn’t support the bill or plausible alternatives in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon other than potential military strikes, then that would indicate that they’re not interested in the substance of the issue, they’re interested in the politics of the issue.

The President isn’t backing off of his comments because the Iran deal is a matter of war and peace. Republicans are trying to sink the deal without bothering to read it because they support more war in the Middle East.

The Republican behavior in response to the Iran deal has been the definition of extremism.

President Obama has put up with this behavior from Republicans all through his presidency. The President already knows that he is going to get zero Republican support, so he has nothing to lose by telling the truth about the motives behind their opposition.

Jason Easley

Obama Calls Republican Laws That Take Away The Right To Vote A Disgrace

Obama right to vote



President Obama took aim at Republican efforts to suppress the vote by calling their laws that make it more difficult to cast a ballot a disgrace.


The President said:

The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights of any democracy. Yet for too long, too many of our fellow citizens were denied that right, simply because of the color of their skin.

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson signed a law to change that. The Voting Rights Act broke down legal barriers that stood between millions of African Americans and their constitutional right to cast ballot. It was, and still is, one of the greatest victories in our country’s struggle for civil rights.

But it didn’t happen overnight. Countless men and women marched and organized, sat in and stood up, for our most basic rights. For this they were called agitators and un-American, they were jailed and beaten. Some were even killed. But in the end, they reaffirmed the idea at the very heart of America: that people who love this country can change it.

Our country is a better place because of all those heroes did for us. But as one of those heroes, Congressman John Lewis, reminded us in Selma this past March, “There’s still work to be done.” Fifty years after the Voting Rights Act, there are still too many barriers to vote, and too many people trying to erect new ones. We’ve seen laws that roll back early voting, force people to jump through hoops to cast a ballot, or lead to legitimate voters being improperly purged from the rolls. Over the years, we have seen provisions specifically designed to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote. In a democracy like ours, with a history like ours, that’s a disgrace. 

That’s why, as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, I’m calling on Congress to pass new legislation to make sure every American has equal access to the polls. It’s why I support the organizers getting folks registered in their communities. And it’s why, no matter what party you support, my message to every American is simple: get out there and vote – not just every four years, but every chance you get. Because your elected officials will only heed your voice if you make your voice heard.

The promise that all of us are created equal is written into our founding documents – but it’s up to us to make that promise real. Together, let’s do what Americans have always done: let’s keep marching forward, keep perfecting our union, and keep building a better country for our kids.

President Obama hasn’t just talked the talk on voting rights. He’s walked the walk. The Department of Justice has been very aggressive in combating Republican efforts at the state level to suppress the vote.

It was telling that there was a single mention of voting rights during both of the Fox News debates. If you are a person of color, poor, disabled, or live in an urban area, Republicans want to make it more difficult for you to vote. It is also ironic that the a political party which wraps itself in the rhetoric of liberty is so comfortable violating the liberties of others. Democrats aren’t going to allow Republicans to rig elections by making voting difficult for so many Americans.

President Obama has a historic legacy of accomplishment, but one of his efforts that has been least discussed is how he has battled Republicans to protect the right to vote.

Jason Easley

Obama Strongly Urges Democrats To Watch GOP Debates, And Why You Should



President Obama is taking his first campaigning steps for fellow Democrats hot on the 2016 presidential trail. He’s sent out an email encouraging Dems to put aside their scorn for each and every one of the conservative hopefuls and to listen to the debates Thursday night, closely.

Obama wrote in his email, distributed by the Democratic National Committee:

“Tune in, listen carefully to what the Republican candidates for president say, and then hold them accountable for trying to undo all of the hard work we’ve done to move this country forward.”

But the email’s only purpose is not just to encourage Democrats to hold their noses and watch the Republican debates, which will take place in Cleveland, Ohio. It is also to collect vital voter data, as well as growing the list of potential supporters for when the election really gets into the nitty-gritty of the campaign season.

Obama wants Democrats to watch the GOP debate and take notes to hold them accountable so badly that he’s also included a means for citizens to actually pledge that they will watch the debate.

Great move, Obama! After all, how can Democrats effectively counter Republican garbage if they don’t even know what it is beyond a sound bite?

The president’s letter also throws a few small jabs at conservatives for trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act, dire climate change realities, same-sex marriage and immigration reform, among other subjects. But again, the president doesn’t do so just out of ego to slap Republicans around a little. He does it because he needs to remind Democrats that they cannot sit back on their laurels and assume conservatives’ own ridiculousness will result in them shooting themselves in the political foot so badly and frequently that they lose the election for themselves. Instead, Obama wants Democrats to be armed with the knowledge of who the Republican candidates are and what they stand for because he knows if liberals do know that information they can’t help but stay motivated to vote, because there is just no chance in hell any of them will want a single one of those conservative candidates to hold the Oval Office. If it was about ego and being nasty alone, Obama would name names when he talks about conservatives trying to undermine his work over the last eight years.

Obama stated:

“While these Republicans may have bad ideas, they’re still smart politicians. They know how to make policies that will take us in the wrong direction sound like they might actually be pretty good ideas.”

That’s called double-speak, and Americans should be so well-versed in that now that they recognize it like a long-lost sibling. But, many still, shockingly, do not – hence Obama’s email.

So watch the debates with a pen in hand, a laptop nearby and TiVo recording it all for you to go back over again and again whenever necessary so you are ready and knowledgeable not only to debate, yourself, with your own family members over those final barbecues of summer, but for the primaries and ultimately the presidential election, too.

The race is on! Let it begin…

10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2015

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


1. Boy Scouts board ends ban on gay leaders
The governing board of the Boy Scouts of America voted on Mondayto end the group’s blanket ban on gay leaders and employees. Seventy-nine percent of the national executive board supported the move, saying the policy “was no longer legally defensible.” Churches that sponsor Scout troops still can exclude gay leaders for religious reasons. The Mormon Church said it was “deeply troubled” and that it was reevaluating its relationship with the Boy Scouts.

Source: NBC News, The New York Times

2. Libyan court sentences Saif al-Islam Gadhafi to die
A Libyan court sentenced the late Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, to death for killings during the 2011 uprising that toppled his father’s government. The court also issued death sentences for former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, former Libyan intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senousi, and six others. It is unclear whether the sentences will be carried out. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who testified via video link, is being held by a militia that refuses to deliver him to the central government.

Source: The Associated Press

3. Olympic Committee ends Boston’s bid to host 2024 Summer Games
Boston lost its chance to be the host city in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s bid for the 2024 Olympics when Mayor Marty Walsh said he was not ready to sign a host-city contract, which would commit Boston to covering budgetary shortfalls. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the lack of enthusiasm in Boston would make it hard to beat strong bids from Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Budapest, and Toronto. The USOC has until Sept. 15 to propose a replacement, and two-time host Los Angeles is considered the likeliest candidate.

Source: Boston Herald, The New York Times

4. Obama delivers historic address to African Union
President Obama pledged to help raise 50 million Africans out of poverty during his Tuesday address at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — the equivalent of 5 percent of Africa’s population. His speech marked the first time that a sitting American president addressed the African Union. “Many Africans are crowded into shantytowns without power or running water — a level of poverty that’s an assault on human dignity,” Obama said.

Source: BBC News, The Associated Press

5. NSA to destroy bulk phone data collected over 10 years
The National Security Agency will stop reviewing the phone records of millions of Americans, and destroy 10 years of data already collected, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Monday. Congress voted in June to end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records — a controversial program leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden. Since then, the Obama administration had not said what it would do with old data already recorded.

Source: The Washington Post

6. Tech leaders urge ban on autonomous killer robots
Physicist Stephen Hawking, Space X founder Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and hundreds of other tech luminaries signed an open letter released Monday calling for a global ban on artificial-intelligence-based autonomous weapons. The letter, presented at the opening of the International Joint Conference On Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, warned against the dangers of a global arms race to make autonomous killer robots, which will be “feasible within years, not decades.”

Source: Live Science

7. Obama slams Huckabee for Holocaust reference
President Obama on Monday harshly criticized Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for saying the Obama administration was marching Israelis straight to the “door of the oven” with the Iran nuclear deal. Obama called Huckabee’s comments “part of just a general pattern we have seen that would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.” Obama, speaking during a visit to Ethiopia, said, “It’s not the kind of leadership that’s needed in America right now.”

Source: The New York Times

8. U.S. stocks sink as Chinese markets stoke fears of a global slowdown
U.S. stocks sank on Monday as a market slump in China fueled fears about global economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to its lowest level since February. “A significant slowdown in China impacts not just the U.S. but global players as well,” said Horizon Investment Services CEO Chuck Carlson. Chinese stocks remained volatile Tuesday despite government promises to buy shares if necessary to stabilize the market, although European stocks rebounded.

Source: Reuters

9. U.S. takes Cuba off list of countries failing to fight human trafficking
The U.S. is removing Cuba from its list of countries that are not combating human trafficking, according to an annual State Department report released Monday. The move came a week after Cuba and the U.S. formally restored diplomatic relations and opened embassies in each others’ capitals. Under Secretary of State Sarah Sewall said Cuba “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” but has made strides in fighting sex trafficking.

Source: BBC News

10. Jen Welter hired as first female NFL coach
The Arizona Cardinals announced Monday that they had hired Jen Welter as a coaching intern during training camp and the preseason, making her the first woman to hold a coaching position in the NFL. “Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians said. “One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.'” Welter was an assistant coach of the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution this year.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Harold Maass