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President Obama in Vietnam

President Obama is in Vietnam. He visited Ho Chi Minh's house. And he ended the arms embargo so weapons can now be sold to Vietnam.

What a pleasure to read Vietnam newspapers -- the ones I've seen don't have autoplay video. Here are some photos of the welcoming ceremony.

I'm sorry I haven't visited Vietnam. Here are ten reasons you really should go.

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Malia Obama Headed to Harvard, After a Year Off

Malia Obama will be going to Harvard in 2017. She graduates this June and will be taking a year off before college, which Harvard encourages students to do.

Harvard encourages admitted students to defer for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way. The student must not enroll in a program at another college that would grant that student a degree.

I wish that policy existed when I was graduating from high school. Or from college. I don't think it would have made much of a difference in the long run if I became a lawyer at 25 instead of 24. And having a year off to travel or volunteer would have been fun.

Malia wants to be a filmmaker. The Obamas have been good at keeping their daughters out of the limelight. I don't recall reading about either of these intern/apprenticeships she served: [More...]

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Obama Arrives in Cuba

President Obama and his family have landed in Cuba for a very historic visit. Who would not want to go to Cuba? I sure would.

What an achievement for his presidency. He is the first president to visit Cuba in 90 years. [More...]

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State of the Union Thread

I just tuned into the State of the Union. How's Obama doing? Does he have anything new to say?

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Obama Outlines Executive Action Plan for Gun Control

President Obama outlined his 10 point execution action plan for gun control today.

Among the changes:

Anyone who makes a living from selling guns online or at gun shows, two locations where sellers are often considered collectors or hobbyists and freed from the requirement that they conduct background checks, will be required to be federally licensed.

He is also asking for $500 million for mental health treatment. In a statement, he acknowledged these measures will not stop every violent crime or prevent every mass shooting. [More...]

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President Obama Speaks to Nation on ISIS

Update: Best line of Obama's speech: "Freedom is More Powerful Than Fear."

Shorter version: No boots on the ground (with a moving definition of what constitutes boots -- boots now seems limited to hand to hand combat, not troops on ground.) "What we should not do" is allow ourselves to "be drawn into long and costly ground war in Syria and Iraq."

We can expect more kill missions (whatever happened to the capture part? It seems gone.) Asks Congress to pass authorization for use of force against ISIS. Just a few references to assault rifles. Asks Congress to pass a bill preventing those on the no-fly list from buying them. We can't stop every mass killer but we can make it harder for them to kill.

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Obama to Appeal Adverse Ruling on DAPA Immigration Program

President Obama today announced the Administration will appeal the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision yesterday blocking the implementation of his executive order on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (“DAPA”). The opinion is here.

The Obama administration will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court injunction that has held up a new program that potentially would shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The decision to take the case to the high court comes a day after a federal appeals panel ruled against the administration, keeping the new program on hold nearly a year after President Obama announced it.

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President Obama Gets His Own Twitter Account

President Obama finally got a personal Twitter Account. Here's his first tweet:

Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.

As of now, he has 275,000 followers and is following 65 agencies and people.

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Obama Issues Pardons and Commutations

President Obama issued 12 pardons and 8 sentence commutations today. Some of the commutations went to those serving life sentences under the old, unduly harsh crack cocaine guidelines.

The full list is here.

These are the first commutations under Obama's new clemency guidelines.

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Ashton Carter Chosen to Replace Chuck Hagel

The media is reporting that the new Secretary of Defense will be Ashton Carter. Republicans apparently like the choice.

Carter will be Obama's 4th Secretary of Defense in six years.

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President Obama's Immigration Speech

Update: Here's the White House Fact Sheet with details of Obama's plan.

Airing now on CNN. Felons, not Families.

Three components:
  • More money for law enforcement at the border
  • Easier and faster process for skilled workers to stay here
  • Temporary relief against deportation for some undocumented immigrants
As to the undocumented, he is offering temporary protection against deportation for those:[More...]

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Eric Holder Resigns, Continues Progressive Reforms

Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning. But he is still initiating long overdue policies that have immediate welcome effect.

Yesterday he issued a memo to U.S. attorneys telling them not to use recidivist charges (called 851 charges after the statute number) as a leverage tool or a hammer:

Holder sent a memo to U.S. attorneys Wednesday urging them not to use sentencing enhancements known as "851" tools to gain leverage in plea negotiations with defendants — in essence, threatening defendants into avoiding trial with huge amounts of prison time.

He is also in the process of issuing a memo telling prosecutors not to put appeal waivers for ineffective assistance of counsel in plea agreements (something many districts have banned as unconstitutional). He will issue new racial profiling guidelines that "will make clear that sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion are not legitimate bases for law enforcement." suspicion.

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Obama Speaks at U.N.

President Obama addressed the U.N. today. Here is the full text of his remarks.

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Obama Speaks on ISIS And Ferguson

Here is the transcript of President Obama's remarks today on the Yazidis, ISIS and Ferguson.

He said air strikes would continue in Iraq, but maintains there will be no boots on the ground.

Wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground, we obviously feel a great urge to provide some humanitarian relief to the situation.

On Ferguson, he said the FBI will investigate the death of Michael Brown. As to last night's violence, he said while there are differing accounts: [More...]

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A Night of Pizza, Beer and Pool for Obama in Denver

President Obama drew a large crowd in Denver when he and Governor Hickenlooper stopped by the Wynkoop Brewery for some beer and pool tonight.

Obama clearly had a good time, he even whistled along with "Brown-Eyed Girl" as it played on the stereo system. Earlier he had pizza with some letterwriters from Denver. [More...]

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