Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
- Yahoo News1 day ago
Bad news, White House: It looks like the Senate will push ahead with a legislative response to the Iran interim nuclear deal over your strenuous objections.
Good news, White House: The measure will most likely be so watered down that it will give President Barack Obama broad latitude to pursue his high-wire diplomatic effort to ensure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.
And it won’t get voted on before January, at the earliest.
Lawmakers will act despite an aggressive campaign by the Obama administration, including a classified question-and-answer session on Iran Wednesday with Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
“If what we do next screws up the negotiations with the Iranians, then the Iranians weren’t serious about the negotiations,” one senator told Yahoo News after emerging from that closed-door briefing. The senator requested anonymity to discuss the still-fluid state of play in Congress.
Kerry, Obama’s point man on convincing lawmakers to hold their fire, declined to characterize the session. “We just had a good meeting,” he told reporters. Did he get his point across? “You should ask the senators,” he replied.
The senators were similarly tight-lipped.
- Yahoo News2 days ago
President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday as both leaders attended an emotional memorial for the late Nelson Mandela. The moment drew fire from key Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, who likened it to shaking hands with Hitler.
The fleeting exchange, captured in photographs and video from a giant soccer stadium in Johannesburg, came after Obama bounded up the steps toward the podium to address the massive crowd.
The United States and Cuba have seen their enmity outlive the Cold War that spawned it — even as Raul’s brother Fidel Castro, now in reportedly poor health, outlasted the decadeslong American embargo meant to push him from power.
The two countries have not had formal diplomatic relations since shortly after Fidel Castro led a 1959 revolution and aligned his country with the Soviet Union. Fidel passed the reins to Raul in 2008.
It was believed to be the first such encounter between the leaders of the two countries since Bill Clinton gripped Fidel Castro’s hand in 2000 at a United Nations lunch.
- Yahoo News3 days ago
Will Congress shrug off President Barack Obama’s warning that imposing new sanctions on Iran would derail fragile diplomatic efforts to ensure Tehran does not get a nuclear weapon?
That’s one of the key questions as Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Congress on Tuesday to face off with lawmakers wary of the tentative and temporary nuclear deal. His visit comes amid signs the American public doesn’t much like the agreement and doesn’t much trust Iranian intentions.
Kerry will testify at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing entitled “The Iran Nuclear Deal: Does It Further U.S. National Security.”
His appearance comes at a critical juncture for the agreement: Obama has been warning lawmakers against imposing any new sanctions on Iran, and saying that military action would have only limited impact on that country’s nuclear ambitions.
The hearing on Tuesday will likely provide some clues as to whether lawmakers are prepared to hold off or plan to press ahead.
- Yahoo News5 days ago
President Barack Obama hasn’t communicated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai since a Nov. 21 letter. And before that, the last known conversation between the two leaders dates back to a June 25 teleconference.
When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a surprise stop in Afghanistan on Saturday, aides let it be known that he had no plans to meet with Karzai.
Obama didn’t just inherit what is now America’s longest war from George W. Bush — he also inherited a troubled diplomatic relationship so frustrating that an American official once joked that Karzai’s first name should be permanently replaced with a common obscenity.
- Yahoo News7 days ago
There may come a day when President Barack Obama has to say whether he’d rather hand the keys to the White House to Vice President Joe Biden or former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. That day is not today.
“Not a chance am I going there,” Obama told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in an interview on Thursday. “Both Hillary and Joe would make outstanding presidents and possess the qualities that are needed.”
“I think Joe Biden will go down in history as one of the best vice presidents ever,” the president went on. “Hillary, I think, will go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of state we’ve ever had.”
“They've got different strengths, but both of them would-- would be outstanding,” he said.
- Yahoo News7 days ago
President Barack Obama paid somber tribute to Nelson Mandela Thursday, celebrating the late South African leader’s “fierce dignity and unbending will” and unquenchable thirst for justice.
“For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice,” Obama said in the White House briefing room.
“He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today he's gone home, and we've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth,” Obama said. “He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages.”
Mandela, who was 95, died from complications of a recurring lung infection.
"His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better," Obama said.
The president also recalled the personal connection he felt to Mandela, and the antiapartheid campaign that fueled the young American's political passions.
- Yahoo News7 days ago
The White House acknowledged Thursday that President Barack Obama lived briefly years ago with a Kenyan uncle previously targeted for deportation — after initially insisting there was no evidence they had ever met.
Why the stark turnaround? “Nobody spoke to the president” when the question first arose in 2011, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.
Instead, staff appear to have relied on one of the president’s autobiographical books.
“Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the president's book, and there was no evidence that they had met, there was — and that was what was conveyed,” Carney explained.
That appeared to be a reference to “Dreams From My Father,” which famously includes the warning that some people in the book are composites.
- Yahoo News8 days ago
When last we checked in on former President George H.W. Bush, he was being straight-up awesome, shaving his head in sympathy with the cancer-stricken tot of one of his Secret Service detail members.
Now, in what is surely a fashion misstep but a huge whimsy win, here is Bush accepting the LBJ Foundation’s “Liberty and Justice for All” award while wearing socks with a picture of his face on them.
Even by the former president’s standards for famously eye-catching socks, this is pretty amazing. A spokesman for Bush, Jim McGrath, told Yahoo News that "the socks came from a Canadian citizen in Markham, Ontario."
The award, which Bush formally accepted on Tuesday, honored him for “his leadership in public service and commitment to civil rights.”
The women behind Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush are Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson.
- Yahoo News9 days ago
Show your boarding pass. Hand over your ID. Take off your shoes. And your belt. And empty your pockets. Liquids in the baggie, laptops in the bin. Stand still for the scanner. Now leave $531,395.22 in cash at the TSA checkpoint.
That’s how much money forgetful passengers left in Transportation Security Administration’s plastic bins in fiscal year 2012 — a windfall the agency uses to supplement its aviation security budget. For now.
The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to redirect that mountain of pocket change to the United Service Organizations (USO), which supports U.S. military troops.
“The TSA has been keeping the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from your change purse to pay for their bloated bureaucracy,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R.-Fla., the measure's chief author. “If TSA representatives get to play ‘finders keepers’ with your hard-earned cash, what’s the incentive to try to get the loose change to its rightful owners?”
It’s hard to imagine TSA agents abandoning their posts to run after passengers to return what is literally pocket change.
- Yahoo News9 days ago
President Barack Obama is summoning college presidents and business leaders to a daylong Dec. 11 summit at the White House to discuss specific ways to make higher education more accessible to low-income students, Yahoo News has learned.
The event — clearly designed to appeal to young voters and minorities, who were core parts of Obama’s winning coalitions in 2008 and 2012 — is part of a campaign-style blitz meant to salvage his second term. The White House and Democrats hope the effort helps to turn the 2014 midterm elections from a referendum on the Obamacare rollout debacle into a choice between the president’s policies and those of his Republican opponents.
On Tuesday, Obama will spearhead an effort to shift the conversation about Obamacare from its botched rollout to its benefits — and what Republicans would take away if they repealed it. That comes after weeks of trips meant to highlight his efforts to bolster the economy, and his eagerness for overhauling the nation’s immigration policies.