Categories
From The Editors Politics

Celebrities Bid Emotional Farewell to President Obama

In a video titled “Yes We Can: Your Most Memorable Moments from the Obama Presidency,” was the ultimate tribute by some of Hollywood’s biggest names and other celebrities and activists where they have spoken about their individual moments in regards to Obama’s Presidency which they shall cherish for a long, long time to come – undoubtedly an emotional and tear-jerking footage.

Some prominent names that feature in the video are Tom Hanks, John Legend, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen DeGeneres, and others.

Here are some of the individual Obama moments that the celebrities chose to share in the video:

Tom Hanks’ Obama Moment

.

What Tom Hanks considers his Obama moment was the normalization of relations with Cuba.

“When he [Obama] just changed all the rules on the table in regards to Cuba with the most succinct motivation imaginable.”

To prove his point in regards to Obama’s views on the Cuban issue Hanks quoted Obama, “What we’ve been doing hasn’t worked,” and laughingly added that it made “all the sense in the world.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Obama Moment

.
.

DiCaprio’s choice of his moment was when Obama spoke about the environment and climate change at the U.N.

“When I was at the U.N. and I, you know I heard, our president say that climate change is the most important issue facing, not only this generation but also future generations, it was inspiring.”

Melinda Gates’ Obama Moment

.
.

Wife of Bill Gates, an entrepreneur and philanthropist and the co-founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had this to say about her Obama moment, “For me, it was travelling with the President to schools in Boston.”

What appealed to her was the way he “engaged with the students was just one of those moments to see him connect like that, that I think you see throughout his presidency.”

John Legend’s Obama Moment

.

American singer, songwriter, musician and actor, winner of an Academy Award, a Golden Globe award, and ten Grammy awards John Legend’s most memorable Obama moment was kind of emotional and touched your heart when he said, “ I never cried before from election results” and laughs probably seeing the funny side of it.

Chance the Rapper’s Obama Moment

.

Hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper was mighty impressed with Obama’s pardoning of convicted felons for small crimes and considers that his Obama moment.

This is what he said, “His battle towards the end to pardon a lot of convicted felons who had been given heavy sentences for small drug-related crimes.”

Samuel L Jackson’s Obama Moment

.

The actor’s moment was the Affordable Care Act that helped many who could not afford health insurance.

“The moment that, you know, we got the Affordable Care Act passed. I have relatives that, you know, can’t afford health insurance, so it was really a great thing to know that if something happened to them they’d get cared for.”

What you have read above are Obama moments shared by some celebrities and known personalities.

The video, however, shows many other Obama moments shared by ordinary average Americans, immigrants included, who shared their personal moments based on various issues and reasons for calling it their best Obama experience.

Categories
From The Editors Politics

Chicago to be the Venue of President Obama’s Farewell Speech

Keeping the tradition alive, President Obama whose eight-year term ends this month on the 20th is all set to deliver his farewell address to the nation from Chicago, his hometown on January 10, 2017.

In his address to supporters, via email, the President wrote that it was “a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey, to celebrate the ways you’ve changed this country for the better these past eight years, and to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here.”

Obama conveyed that he was pursuing a precedent put in place by George Washington 220 years ago which ensured a time-honoured peaceful transition of the presidency ever since.

In the email to supporters, he spoke about the challenges faced by his administration and how they were overcome by following the American tradition of staying united in times of crises.

“Since 2009, we’ve faced our fair share of challenges, and come through them stronger,” Obama wrote in his email. “That’s because we have never let go of a belief that has guided us ever since our founding — our conviction that, together, we can change this country for the better.”

It is speculated that the January 10 address to the nation will include a final public appeal, while still in office, to safeguard the achievements of his eight years in office in the interest of the nation – the Affordable Care Act and the crusade against global warming and climate change to cite a couple of examples.

Reportedly, the farewell speech will be delivered at the McCormic Place, a sprawling convention center in Chicago overlooking the great Lake Michigan, one of the five great lakes of America and the only great lake which is completely in America and not shared by any other country.

Although vacationing in Honolulu, Hawaii, President Barack Obama, in his final days as the 44 the President of the United States, has initiated some courageous decisions along with his administration, including a series of sanctions against Putin’s Russia in retaliation to the alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election held in November last year.

Another bold decision worthy of mention during the last phase of his presidency is his administration’s effort to urge the United Nations Security Council to allow a resolution condemning the unlawful Israeli settlement in disputed Israeli-occupied territories.

“In 1796, as George Washington set the precedent for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power, he also set a precedent by penning a farewell address to the American people,” President Obama said in his email to supporters. “And over the 220 years since, many American presidents have followed his lead” He added, obviously, aware that his two-term presidency will be judged and assessed in comparison to his predecessors at the Oval Office.

“So I hope you’ll join me one last time. Because, for me, it’s always been about you,” said the President.

We take this opportunity to thank and bid a warm farewell to the 44th first family of America and wish them all the best for the future.

America and the world will miss you Mr.Obama!

Categories
From The Editors Politics

Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey in a Candid Chat

In all probability, Michelle Obama’s interview, on December 19, with Oprah Winfrey, the famous talk show host, entrepreneur and actress, will be her last as The First Lady of the United States, though not the first with Oprah.

The hour-long, one-on-one, meeting, briefly interrupted by the President himself, was about Mrs Obama’s life at the White House, ‘hope’, her future plans after she makes way for the incoming First Lady Melania Trump next month, her views on politics, the recently concluded elections, her husband’s administration, the ups and downs and the vagaries of life as the First Lady of the greatest nation on earth.

On speaking about her experiences at the White House, the 44th First Lady said that losing her anonymity was the major sacrifice she had to make.

“There’s nowhere I can go in the world and just sit at a table and have a cup of coffee and watch the world,” she said.

It is indeed about the pleasure and freedom of staying anonymous that she may have missed to a large extent.

The pressures that come with the responsibilities of a First Lady are immense and Michelle Obama was no different. In fact, she did a marvellous job of facing those situations in the most befitting manner worthy of a First Lady of the U.S.

“There’s no way to describe what it feels like to open up the paper every day and know that almost every headline is your husband’s responsibility at some level,” she said speaking about the stress and pressures she endured as First Lady, “Anywhere in the world, any major problem, any major issue falls in the lap of the commander-in-chief.”

This kind of stress and pressure on a daily basis, or rather 24/7 on certain days, will rip apart most relationships but the 44th couple became even closer and bonded better than ever before.

When asked by Oprah, “your husband’s administration, everything, the election, was all about hope. Do you think that this administration achieved that?” the first lady without a pause or hesitation said:

“Yes. I do. Because we feel the difference now,” going on to speak about hope as an essential factor.

“You know? Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept.” She said.

Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey in a Candid Chat

However, she also mentioned that the President did not just feel about ‘hope’ as a “nice slogan to get votes” but had other views on the subject, including herself and “many” [others].

“What else do you have if you don’t have hope? What do you give your kids if can’t give them hope?” she said, more like statements than questions, one felt.

She cited the example, or rather the psychology, of a child bumping his head on the table and your response to the situation.

Instead of making a hue and cry over it, the better reaction would be to calm the baby, “you know what, babe, it’s okay, it’s okay” she said. “And I feel that way about the nation,” going on to say with conviction that her husband did the same for the country “in ways that people will come to appreciate.”

“What do we do if we don’t have hope, Oprah?” she asked.

On being asked if she had plans to run for office her answer was an emphatic “no,” in fact three to be precise.

“If I were interested in it, I’d say it. I don’t believe in playing games. It’s not something I would do,” she added in answer to the running-for-office question.

Her views on the 2016 election which saw Trump emerge victorious, and ready to move into her home for eight years, were “challenging” and “painful.”

During the course of the interview she was asked about her reaction to being referred to as “an angry black woman,” to which she responded by saying it was a tag she carried even before she was in the White House.

She said she was taken aback initially but after reasoning with herself she came to the conclusion that it spoke more about the character of the person saying it.

Speaking about her reaction to the 2005 Trump video bragging about grabbing women and the disrespectful remarks he made during the campaigning, Michelle said:

“You know, to have a candidate for the presidency speaking in such terms about women, as I said, was not — it was not a normal thing.”

“A lot of people had been shaken to their core. And still are. They are still feeling the reverberations of that kind of caustic language,” she added.

Photo: CBS
Courtesy: CBS

During this momentous interview, President Obama made a surprise entrance and was all praise and appreciation for Michelle.

“We all knew she was brilliant and cute and strong and a great mom,” the President said. “But I think the way she blended purpose and policy with fun so that she was able to reach beyond Washington, on her health care initiative and her military family work, it was masterful.”

Michelle Obama, the 44th first lady of the United States of America, has certainly done herself and her husband proud.

The 44th first couple will be fondly remembered for a long time.

Categories
From The Editors Politics

U.S. Will Take Action Against Russian Hacking: President Barack Obama

In his final presser of 2016 calling it “the most wonderful press conference of the year” President Barack Obama did not mince words when he charged Russian Hackers of influencing the U.S. Presidential elections and promised a befitting reprisal.

“I have got a list of who’s been naughty and nice, to call on,” Obama said at the very start of his address to the press speaking from the White House.

Earlier in an interview, Obama had made his intentions clear that America would not tolerate interference by foreign governments in its internal matters especially when a foreign regime (read Russia) tries to meddle in the country’s elections.

“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action,” Obama said in a December 15 interview with NPR, “And we will – at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.”

The U.S. intelligence agencies including the C.I.A have no misgivings about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in the hacking and are confident that the main purpose of Russian intervention was to ensure a Trump victory.

Donald trump, however, continues to rebuke and ridicule the reports of seventeen intelligence agencies which have concluded that Russia and, potentially, Putin himself had a direct hand in manipulating the election and the hacking of Democratic officials.

Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, by the way, has dismissed the accusation as “laughable nonsense.”

Adding insult to injury the president’s spokesperson, Josh Earnest, told reporters that Trump had prompted Russia to “hack his opponent,” and it was very much likely, in fact, a certainty, Trump was aware that Russia was helping his campaign.

At a press conference, back in July, Trump addressed Russia telling them to locate Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails which he later said was said in jest.

“I don’t think anybody at the White House thinks it’s funny that an adversary of the United States engaged in malicious cyber activity to destabilize our democracy,” Earnest said. “That’s not a joke.

Before President Obama was ready to take questions from the attending press representatives on December 16, he spoke about the years of work that America had put in to bring about an end to the civil war in Syria and “alleviate human suffering.”

He had no hesitation in admitting that it was one of the hardest issues that he had faced as President and spoke about the world being united against the “savage assault by the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies in the city of Aleppo,” mentioning that it was a “deliberate strategy of surrounding, besieging, and starving innocent civilians.”

However, the crux of his address to the press was to highlight the Russian hacking of the DNC, its influence on the U.S. presidential election outcome, and to ensure that such cyber attacks did not happen in the future.

It was a clear warning by Obama to “Russia or others, not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you.”

White House officials believe that Russian hackers assisted Trump’s campaign against the Democratic nominee in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton.

However, it is noteworthy that, as yet, no proof has been offered or made public about the Russian factor in the election outcome.

Among a host of disagreements between Washington and Moscow including Syria and Ukraine, the hacking accusations have added fuel to fire and relation between the two nations has further deteriorated.

Categories
From The Editors Politics

The Secret U.S. Iran Nuclear Deal

There has always been conflicting and confrontations between different governments and perhaps the most glaring example could be the cold and undiplomatic relations between the USA and the Islamic Republic of Iran ever since 1979 when the Shah of Iran, Raza Shah Pahlavi was ousted and forced into exile by the greatest revolution of the century led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Immediately after the arrival of Khomeini, back from exile in France, relations with the US were further exacerbated by the Iranian hostage crisis when students of the University of Tehran impassioned by the revolutionary zeal and fervor lay siege to the US embassy in Tehran.

Fifty-two American were taken as a hostage from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981. As coincidence would have it President Carter had been defeated in the 1980 elections and Ronald Reagan was the incoming president.

It is an unverified or unsubstantiated report that at the time of the crisis the Reagan camp had sent feelers to the Iranian camp to release the hostages when Reagan took the oath of office. This was to make sure that Reagan took credit for the release.

However, this was not the case, the Carter administration had struck a deal to return the billions frozen by Carter just 10 days after the siege.

Similarly, the Iran-Contra affair during Reagan’s second term was a great political scandal, Iran was at war with Iraq and was desperate for sophisticated arms from any source possible.

Also known as Irangate or Contragate, the Reagan administration sought to sell arms to Iran with the hope that Iran would use its influence with the Shia militant group, Hizbollah, in Lebanon which were holding several hostages including Americans in Beirut.

Since they could not sell directly to Iran in view of a complete arms embargo imposed by the U.S congress, the modus operandi was such that Israel would ship the arms to Iran which the US would replace and the proceeds of the sale which Israel received from Iran would then be diverted to contra rebels in Nicaragua fighting the communist.

Technically, the Reagan administration was not violating laws passed by congress as they were neither selling directly to the Iranians nor funding the Contras directly.

Although President Ronald Reagan was a strong advocate of the contra cause there is no substantiated evidence that he authorized the diversion of funds.

It is alleged that Caspar Weinberger, the US Secretary of Defence took handwritten notes to the president which indicated that Reagan was well aware of the sale of Tomahawk missiles and tow missiles sales to Iran and the possible release of hostages in Lebanon.

Dealing with the enemy is an accepted norm in governments. It is a well-known fact the Office of Strategic Services or OSS as it was commonly known which later became the CIA, had engaged Nazi intelligence officers to be recruited to spy on the Soviet Union despite many of them known to have war crime records.

In other words, It is alright to look the other way when a good cause is being served.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has always been considered as the arch nemesis of the United States and vice versa and the Iranians label the US as The “Big Satan” responsible for the world’s problems.

It has always been suspected that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program to develop nuclear arms and is secretly enriching uranium for the purpose. Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979 The United States imposed restrictions against Iran and in 1995 expanded them to firms dealing with Iran.

The Iranian economy was hurting and in 2015 talks started with Iran over the nuclear issue. and eventually on Jan 16, 2016. UN inspectors confirmed that Iran had fulfilled all conditions.

Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed the deal tooth and nail and at times contemplated striking Iran’s nuclear facilities as they did but President Obama restrained them.

Ever since 1979. The US has withheld billions of dollars in cash and assets which the Iranians are claiming back. Recently, Iran had detained four Americans while the US had detained 7 Iranians for trading with Iran.

 

U.S. Sent $400M Iran Deal
U.S. Sent $400M to Iran on Same Day Americans Were Freed 2:06

In a gesture of goodwill, Obama granted clemency to the Iranians while Iran released the Americans. As a added bonus Obama released 400m dollars which made the GOP and the Trump camp cry foul.

But was it ransom that had been paid? The White house has denied that it was ransom and attributed the release of funds as part payment t of the 12 billion or 1.7 billion dollars the Americans had stashed away from the time of the Shah of Iran for the purchase of arms.

U.S. Sent $400M to Iran on Same Day Americans Were Freed 2:06. That sum was actually part of a $1.7 billion settlement with Iran for a decades-long legal dispute that was before an international tribunal in The Hague, according to State Department officials.

The money was transferred on Jan 17, 2016, exactly a day after the four Americans were released. The four Americans were identified as Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who had been convicted of espionage last year, Amir Hekmati, a former Marine who had been held since 2011, Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor imprisoned since 2012, and a man only named as Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari.

All good deeds deserve rewards for that is the natural order of things. Iran has complied with all the condition set up and relations are improving.

As said earlier the pay-off to the Iranians was not well received by the Republican and many slammed it as a weakness on the side of Obama to cede to the demands of the terrorists.

The most vocal Republican to lash out was Senator Tom Cotton, from Arkansas who accused the Government of acting as a drug cartel.

The said 400m was paid in cash packed in a pallet which led Cotton to say that the money could easily be used for terrorist funding or money laundering.

Sen Tom Cotton
Sen Tom Cotton (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Playing down reports that The White House had done anything wrong when the details of the payment were published in the Wall Street Journal, the counterpoint from the oval office being that the released funds were part of the billions the US had frozen since years.

According to the paper, an unmarked cargo plane loaded with wooden pallets stacked with Euros, Swiss francs, and other foreign currencies was secretly flown into Iran on the same day the U.S. exchanged seven Iranians for four American citizens.

Cotton, however, said Sunday that, “it doesn’t really matter what President Obama says.”

Democratic vice- presidential- nominee, Tim Kaine leapt to Obama’s defense stressing that the administration was not involved in any shady deals.

The Senator from Virginia who agreed to be Hillary’s vice-president nominee categorically stated that the USA has a long standing policy of not ceding to terrorists, blackmailers, kidnappers and but tries to negotiate the best deal possible.

The US secretary of state, Senator John Kerry who was instrumental in pulling off the deal with Iran adding his opinion to the affair stated that the talks for the release of the Americans were well facilitated by the positive conclusion of the nuclear talks.

Iran has millions or billions of dollars which the Americans are withholding and the release of 400m dollars is surely a positive side in improving relations with the United States.

Iran’s economy has been hurting and the lifting of sanctions have provided immense relief to the government as well as to the common man in the streets of Iran.

One should not always view things from a political perspective. Five lives were saved and the Iranians received a part of a sum which was rightfully theirs in the very first place.

The world is going through a turbulent period especially in the Middle East and with Iran becoming a growing regional power in the region it is only prudent to woo them to exercise their influence in that troubled part of the world.

The threat to the world from the Islamic State or IS as it is known is grave and potentially volatile and diplomacy is the possible recourse and not war mongering. The Americans would do well which is also high time that it distances itself from its greatest ally in the Middle East and start making positive overtures to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Iran should also be flexible in its approach in dealing with the western world also and under President Hasan Rouhani it seems quite likely the situation will improve.

As for the republican party, well the US elections are three months away and with a megalomaniac contending as their nominee, The GOP will stoop to any level to smear the democratic party although there are many in the GOP, saner elements who not endorse the attitude, stance, and rhetoric that Donald Trump has been spewing forth . The US elections 2016 as many are predicting will be the nastiest, ugliest and most contention in the history of the USA.