Tag Archive: Barack Obama

  1. Inauguration dispatches

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    Read some on-the-ground dispatches from our reporters in Washington, D.C., covering President Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. 1:34 p.m. — Realistic about the challenges of Washington but hopeful nevertheless, at least 600,000 have crowded onto the National Mall to witness the second inauguration of President Obama.

    They have cited health care, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and a recovering economy as successes of the past term, and gun control and budgetary issues as challenges of the next.

    “Second terms tend to be more productive,” Lauren Silber, a student from Arizona who studies at American University in Washington, D.C., said, noting that President Obama no longer needs to worry about re-election. “I think there are good things to come.”

    During the inauguration’s musical prelude, which featured school choirs from across the nation, an energy reminiscent of four years ago began to overtake the crowd. On the ending note of “God Bless America,” men and women, cold from the hours already spent waiting outside, cheered and waved American flags. — Matthew Lloyd-Thomas, Washington, D.C.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. 1:13 p.m. — Just before noon this morning, President Barack Obama renewed his oath of office in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands of flag-waving spectators. The oath was symbolic as the Constitution requires that the president is inaugurated on Jan. 20. Traditionally, when Jan. 20 lands on a Sunday, the ceremony inauguration is held on the next day.

    In his inaugural address, Obama played on the theme of equality to issue a call to action on positions he advocated throughout his campaign, including health care, education and climate change. “We are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” Obama said. “That is our generation’s task, to make these words, these rights, these values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, real for every American.” — Patrick Casey and Michelle Hackman, Washington, D.C.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. 10:49 a.m. — Among the army of vendors lining the streets leading up to the National Mall, two young men are offering a unique product. “The erection election collection for your protection,” one shouted, brandishing a box of condoms sporting President Obama’s face. “The ultimate stimulus package,” one condom proclaims. “Hope is not a form of protection.” Romney condoms (“great for any position”) were also available. Wayne Tucker, one of the vendors from Brooklyn, N.Y., says that most people find the condoms humorous. “I’ve had some people upset,” he added. “I usually just tell them we have smaller sizes.”

    The condoms aren’t cheap, though; the venders are selling them for $5 apiece. — Patrick Casey and Michelle Hackman, Washington, D.C.

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  2. Obama calls for tighter gun laws

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    President Barack Obama announced a package of executive orders and legislative proposals today that would tighten gun laws across the country, just over one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn.

    Obama announced that he would propose legislation by next week that would include a ban on new assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases and tougher gun trafficking laws to crack down on the spread of weapons across the country. Obama also signed a series of executive orders – which he is permitted to do without congressional approval – that are designed to enforce existing gun regulations and improve the flow of information to expedite background checks.

    “In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” Obama said. “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”

    Onstage with the president and Vice President Joe Biden — who led a task force to examine gun control — were four school-aged children who had written Obama in the wake of the shooting to ask for tighter gun laws. The room was packed with Sandy Hook victims’ families and gun control advocates.

    Obama’s legislative proposals are expected to be a tough sell with congressional Republicans, many of whom support the NRA-backed decision that increased gun regulation would not reduce violence. House Republicans are expected not to act until the Senate has passed a bill encompassing Obama’s proposals.

  3. State to issue driver’s licenses to qualifying immigrants

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    Following President Barack Obama’s announcement in August of a “deferred action” program for young immigrants, Connecticut will start issuing driver’s licenses to all residents who qualify for the program.

    In his executive order in August, Obama decreed that undocumented immigrants under the age of 31 without criminal histories were eligible for a two-year term of protection that would prevent them from being deported and allow them to work legally. The state’s move will allow young immigrants under the protection of the federal program to be issued valid identification cards in the state of Connecticut.

    The news came on Sunday at an immigration rally organized by the regional church group “Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut” in Fair Haven, Conn., according to the New Haven Register. The Register noted that the group also said it would push the state to issue driver’s licenses to all residents regardless of immigration status. Michael Lawlor, the state’s undersecretary for criminal justice, said that clearance from the federal program would be sufficient for any undocumented immigrant to be issued a driver’s license, so the state would not be performing independent background checks. He added that the new policy could affect anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 undocumented immigrants in the state.

    “What we have now is a system where we’ve got tens of thousands of undocumented aliens driving around with unregistered cars, and that’s not helping anyone,” Lawlor said.

    Lawlor said that while the licenses will be valid for driving, they may not serve as sufficient identification for federal purposes, such as boarding a plane.

    The Register noted that the church group also said it would push the state to issue driver’s licenses to all residents regardless of immigration status.

    The Illinois State Legislature approved a measure today that would do just that, sending it to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign the bill into law.

    A spokesman for Connecticut Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said the senator intends to propose a bill in the coming legislative session that would extend driver’s license issuance to all undocumented immigrants.

    The next legislative session begins tomorrow.