UPDATE – Statement by the White House Press Secretary:
On Sunday, December 6th at 8:00PM EST, President Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office about the steps our government is taking to fulfill his highest priority: keeping the American people safe. The President will provide an update on the ongoing investigation into the tragic attack in San Bernardino. The President will also discuss the broader threat of terrorism, including the nature of the threat, how it has evolved, and how we will defeat it.
The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.
In this week’s address, the President offered his condolences to the families and community of the victims of the San Bernardino shooting. He recognized the possibility that the two attackers may have been radicalized, a reminder to all of us that we need to work together to prevent people from falling victim to attempts by extremist organizations to encourage violence. The President called on Congress to close the loophole that allows people on the No-Fly list to purchase guns, a simple and logical step that would make it harder for potential terrorists to acquire weapons. And he reminded us that we cannot accept mass shootings like this one as routine in our country, and emphasized that above all else, his priority is the safety and security of the American people.
Having traversed the North Cascades Highway (previous diary), I continued east, through the Methow Valley to Pateros on the Columbia River. From there I headed South on U.S. 97 to Chelan. This area, nestled in the foothills of the Cascades is arguably the center of the largest and best apple growing region in the country and maybe the world. They grow about one billion pounds of apples each year and export them to 60 countries. Although the region’s apples are impressive, I believe that Chelan’s major attraction is their 50.5 mile long, fjord-like lake. Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,486 feet, behind Lake Tahoe, and Crater Lake. More remarkable is its setting within the Cascade Mountains. At the southwestern edge of the lake, Pyramid Peak rises to 8,245 feet above sea level and below, just off shore the lake bottom falls to 386 feet below sea level. This peak to bottom differential of 8,631 feet renders it the deepest gorge in the U.S., surpassing Hell’s Canyon which is the deepest river gorge. Further, the bedrock floor, covered with silt and sediment is several hundred feet deeper yet. The lake’s surface at “full pool” lays 1,100 feet above sea Level and the deepest point, as noted above is the 386 feet below sea level. Five percent of the lake’s water is below sea level which lays 76 miles, due west through the mountains to Puget Sound/Salish Sea. The lake’s clear blue water is fed by 27 glaciers and 59 creeks.
President Obama spoke to those gathered at the COP21 Climate Change Summit in Paris on Monday.
(President Obama delivers remarks at COP21 in Paris on the global community’s need to address the threat of climate change. November 30, 2015.)
Nearly 200 nations have assembled here this week — a declaration that for all the challenges we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other. What should give us hope that this is a turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet, is the fact that our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it. […]
[What I saw in Alaska] was a preview of one possible future — a glimpse of our children’s fate if the climate keeps changing faster than our efforts to address it. Submerged countries. Abandoned cities. Fields that no longer grow. Political disruptions that trigger new conflict, and even more floods of desperate peoples seeking the sanctuary of nations not their own. […]
I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.
I believe, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that there is such a thing as being too late. And when it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us. But if we act here, if we act now, if we place our own short-term interests behind the air that our young people will breathe, and the food that they will eat, and the water that they will drink, and the hopes and dreams that sustain their lives, then we won’t be too late for them.
COP21 is short for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
That long winded title was created in Rio in 1992 where countries concerned about the impacts of climate change came together under the United Nations to do something about it.
They signed a convention that came into force in 1994 and has now been ratified by 195 countries, including the United States.
The key aim is the “stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. […]
… the world’s governments have already committed to curbing human activities such as burning fossil fuels that release the gases that interfere with the climate.
But that isn’t problem solved.
The difficulty comes when you try to get 195 countries to agree on how to deal with the issue of climate change. Every year since 1992 the Conference of the Parties has taken place with negotiators trying to put together a practical plan of action.
This year’s COP21 in Paris is the last chance for this process. Negotiators agreed in 2011 that a deal had to be done by the end of 2015.
The Leaders Event will start at 11 a.m. with speeches by François Hollande, Ban Ki-moon and Laurent Fabius. […]
At 4 p.m.: launch of the Mission Innovation (Clean Tech) initiative, in the presence of Barack Obama and Bill Gates. This is a commitment by States to double their research and development budgets by 2020 and by private investors to increase their own investments. It is being organized in liaison with the White House, the United States Department of Energy headed by Ernest Moniz, and Bill Gates.
It’s time to get engaged … links and shareables below.
In this week’s address, the President wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and reflected on America’s history of welcoming men and women seeking a safer, better future for themselves and their families. On this uniquely American holiday, he recognized the greatness of American generosity, as evidenced by people are the country who use the day to volunteer and give back to others. And he shared stories of Americans who, in that same spirit of generosity, have written letters to him expressing their willingness to open their homes to refugees fleeing the brutality of ISIL. Like the pilgrims who set sail on the Mayflower nearly four centuries ago, these refugees are looking for safety and another chance. And it is important to remember that they undergo the highest security checks of anyone traveling to the United States. The President reminded us that providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people is an American tradition, and part of what makes this country the greatest on Earth.
On my way to school yesterday, I stopped to get gas for my car, at the gas station I usually patronize. I’m friends with the manager, and we often chat a bit. He has helped me out on a number of occasions — putting air in my tires, helping me figure out why a particular warning light has come on, and we talk about a variety of topics. Yesterday he was angry, and also fearful. He’s a Muslim American citizen, originally from Yemen. He votes. He won’t be voting for Donald Trump or any of the Republican candidates. I flashed back to what happened up here where I live after 9/11. My husband and I were worried about the safety of Muslim neighbors. I worried about my cousins in New Jersey, who are black American Muslims. I’m worrying about them now. I feel pain for friends with whom I have attended Masjid. Some are black Americans, some are from places like Mali, Somalia and Eritrea.
I sit here and think about one of the most beloved people world wide — Muhammad Ali. I have been following the career of our young black American Muslim fencing star, Ibtihaj Muhammad, who “Hopes to make history in 2016 as the first U.S. athlete to compete at the Olympic Games in a hijab.”
President Obama held a press conference before he returned to the United States after his overseas travels this past week:
President Obama held a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the U.S.-ASEAN and East Asia Summits on November 22, 2015.
[Our] coalition will not relent. We will not accept the idea that terrorist assaults on restaurants and theaters and hotels are the new normal — or that we are powerless to stop them. After all, that’s precisely what terrorists like ISIL want, because, ultimately, that’s the only way that they can win. That’s the very nature of terrorism –they can’t beat us on the battlefield, so they try to terrorize us into being afraid, into changing our patterns of behavior, into panicking, into abandoning our allies and partners, into retreating from the world. And as President, I will not let that happen. […]
In our diverse societies, everybody can do their part. And we will not give in to fear, or start turning on each other, or treating some people differently because of religion or race or background. That wouldn’t just be a betrayal of our values, it would also feed ISIL’s propaganda — their assertion, which is absolutely false, that we must absolutely reject, that we are somehow at war with an entire religion. The United States could never be at war with any religion because America is made up of multiple religions. We’re strengthened by people from every religion, including Muslim Americans.
So I want to be as clear as I can on this: Prejudice and discrimination helps ISIL and undermines our national security.
… the message I have is that those of us who are charged with protecting the American people are going to do everything we can to destroy this particular network. Once this network is destroyed — and it will be — there may be others that pop up in different parts of the world, and so we’re going to have to continue to take seriously how we maintain the infrastructure that we’ve built to prevent this. But it doesn’t have to change the fundamental trajectory of the American people. And that we should feel confident about.
And the media needs to help in this. I just want to say — during the course of this week, a very difficult week, it is understandable that this has been a primary focus. But one of the things that has to happen is how we report on this has to maintain perspective, and not empower in any way these terrorist organizations or elevate them in ways that make it easier for them to recruit or make them stronger.
They’re a bunch of killers with good social media. And they are dangerous, and they’ve caused great hardship to people. But the overwhelming majority of people who go about their business every day, the Americans who are building things, and making things, and teaching, and saving lives as firefighters and as police officers — they’re stronger. Our way of life is stronger. We have more to offer — we represent 99.9 percent of humanity. And that’s why we should be confident that we’ll win.
In this week’s address, the Vice President spoke to his and the President’s commitment to protecting our country from terrorists, while also providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. He emphasized that he and the President consider the safety of the American people to be their first priority. But slamming the door in the face of refugees fleeing precisely the type of senseless violence that occurred in Paris last week would be a betrayal of our values. The vast majority of Syrian refugees are women, children, and orphans; survivors of torture; and people desperately in need of medical help. And all refugees undergo the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States. The Vice President reminded us that ISIL wants us to turn our backs on Muslims victimized by terrorism. We win by prioritizing our security while refusing to compromise our fundamental American values of freedom, openness, and tolerance.
The last minute rejection of the Syrian refugee family by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is a lot of things (many of which involve curse words) but it should not be used to build court test cases that will only turn these families into victims once again.
Some people are upset that the agencies “gave in” and resettled them elsewhere (thank you, Connecticut!) rather than sending them to places where they are not wanted and would likely be treated badly. People are not symbols, they are flesh and blood and they deserve to be treated well:
[Resettlement agency] Exodus could have stuck to its guns and refused to arrange for the refugees to be redirected. That might have forced a showdown with the state government, if Pence continued to insist the state could prevent refugees from entering. More likely, though, Exodus would have had to resettle the family in Indianapolis on its own — without help from state social services.
The director of the New Haven refugee organization told the Times, “By diverting this family, we don’t want to set a precedent.” […]
The Obama administration could alleviate the resource crunch by sending non-Syrian refugees to states that reject Syrian ones — but that would be a tacit acceptance of the governors’ refusal, something President Obama doesn’t seem willing to countenance.
No, just no. THAT would be a worse precedent, allowing the states to legally discriminate based on religion and country of origin.
What we should do is to ask the State Department to add another criteria to their resettlement process: do NOT send them to states run by politicians who engage in unwelcoming rhetoric. It is a simple test, look for the “R” after their names.