(CBS News) Calling human trafficking tantamount to modern slavery, President Obama on Tuesday touted the United States' efforts to combat the problem, including an executive order the president signed today to prevent human trafficking in federal contracting.
"It ought to concern every person because it is a debasement of our common humanity," Mr. Obama said at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. It is a problem that tears at the nation's social fabric, distorts markets, endangers public health and fuels violence, Mr. Obama said.
"I'm talking about the injustice, the outrage of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name: modern slavery," he said. "Now, I do not use that word 'slavery' lightly. It evokes, obviously, one of the most painful chapters in our nation's history. But around the world there's no denying the awful reality."Continue »
(CBS News) Striking a hopeful but serious tone about the future of the Middle East, President Obama at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday called on his international counterparts to directly and honestly confront the sources of unrest in Muslim countries, as well as the tensions between the West and the Arab world.
At the same time, he urged world leaders -- and, no doubt, an American electorate -- to "remember that this is a season of progress."
Mr. Obama hailed the political progress in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, as well as developments outside the Arab world, as in Somalia and Burma.
"Around the globe, people are making their voices heard, insisting on their innate dignity, and the right to determine their future," he said. "And yet the turmoil of recent weeks reminds us that the path to democracy does not end with the casting of a ballot."
Beginning and ending his nearly hour-long remarks by invoking the memory of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was murdered along with three other Americans when the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya came under attack, the president laid out the values that America stands for -- the values Mr. Obama said the nation would continue to promote around the world.Continue »
(CBS News) The White House on Monday gave no clear explanation for why President Obama has no bilateral meetings scheduled with the world leaders who are in New York City this week for the United Nations General Assembly. His lack of meetings stands in contrast to last year's General Assembly, when the president held more than a dozen bilateral meetings.
When asked repeatedly about the lack of meetings, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday he was "not going to preview every minute by minute" of the president's schedule. He noted that the president regularly engages directly with world leaders.
"The president just in recent weeks has had intensive consultations with leaders in the region, with the leaders of Turkey, of Egypt, of Israel, of Yemen, of Libya, of Afghanistan, and that process will continue," Carney said. "It is a simple fact that when you're president of the United States, your responsibility as commander-in-chief never ends and you are constantly engaged in matters of foreign affairs and national security. And that's what this president is doing."Continue »
Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET
(CBS News) President Obama on Tuesday urged residents of the Gulf Coast to heed the directions of local officials as they prepare for the arrival of Isaac, the tropical storm that's expected to reach hurricane strength and hit land later in the day.
"Now is not the time to tempt fate," Mr. Obama said from the White House. "You need to take this seriously."
Under the president's direction, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials have been on the ground in the Gulf region for over a week, but "the hardest work is still ahead," Mr. Obama said.
"I'll continue to make sure the federal government is doing everything possible to help the American people prepare and recover from this dangerous storm," the president said.
Mr. Obama gave this reassurance to Gulf Coast residents before departing on a two-day campaign swing through college towns in three key swing states. College students were a key part of Mr. Obama's 2008 base -- one he hopes to re-energize this year.Continue »
Could Arnold Schwarzenegger have taken a starring role in President Obama's cabinet?
Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, was reportedly approached by administration officials about a cabinet position in January 2011, following his second term as governor of California, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper attributes the information to "people familiar with the matter."
The conversation between the White House and Schwarzenegger happened before he admitted to having an extramarital affair in May 2011.Continue »
(CBS News) The shooting at a suburban Milwaukee Sikh temple on Sunday should spur leaders to pause and consider what they can do to prevent such tragedies, President Obama said Monday.
"I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul searching and examine additional ways we can reduce violence," Mr. Obama said following a bill signing in the Oval Office.
Six people were killed in the shooting on Sunday and three were injured before police shot and killed the gunman. The tragic incident came less than three weeks after a mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
The president said he and other officials are awaiting the outcome of the full investigation into the Sikh temple shooting. It's not yet clear what motivated the shooter, but Mr. Obama said that if he were motivated in any way by the ethnicity of those attending the temple, the American people would "immediately recoil at those kinds of attitudes."Continue »
After a speech on international religious freedom at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., Clinton was asked about "Islamophobia" in the United States and whether she had "any comments about this recent activity in Congress targeting one of your own aides."
"Leaders have to be active in stepping in and sending messages about protecting the diversity within their countries," Clinton said. "And frankly, I don't see enough of that, and I want to see more of it. I want to see more of it, and we did see some of that in our own country. We saw Republicans stepping up and standing up against the kind of assaults that really have no place in our politics."
The controversy stems from a letter Bachmann and four other Republican members of Congress sent to top intelligence and security officials earlier this month questioning the Muslim Brotherhood's access to top Obama administration officials. Abedin -- who the Clintons have described as a like a daughter to them -- was singled out in the letter.
(CBS News) Americans -- but conservative Republicans in particular -- are more likely to mistakenly think that President Obama is Muslim than they were in 2008, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
Nearly half, 49 percent, of registered voters surveyed correctly identified Mr. Obama as Christian, while 17 percent thought he was Muslim. In October 2008, as Mr. Obama was in the final stretch of his first presidential campaign, 55 percent of registered voters identified him as Christian and 12 percent identified him as Muslim.
The increase in voters who think the president is Muslim is more pronounced among registered Republicans, especially conservative Republicans. In 2008, among both conservative Republicans and Republicans overall, 16 percent said Mr. Obama was Muslim. Now, 30 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of conservative Republicans think he is Muslim.Continue »
(CBS News) President Obama will stop in Aurora, Colo., Sunday afternoon to meet with local officials and the families of victims of Friday's mass shooting there.
The trip, announced late Saturday night, will be a brief stopover; he's expected to be in Colorado for only a couple of hours.Continue »
To celebrate the end of the U.S. war in Iraq and honor the American men and women who served in it, President and Mrs. Obama will host a White House dinner on Leap Day - February 29th.
The dinner is "an expression of the nation's gratitude for the achievements and enormous sacrifices of the brave Americans who served in the Iraq War and of the families who supported them," said a White House statement.
Announcing the event at today's White House briefing, spokesman Jay Carney said the White House is working with military and civilian leaders on the dinner.
He said guests will include men and women in uniform from all ranks, services, states and backgrounds.
Obviously, the White House could not accommodate the 1.5 million American military personnel who served in Iraq over nearly nine years, but Carney said those invited will represent all of those who served.Continue »
(CBS News) President Obama will launch on Monday a push to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts for low and middle-income Americans, but he will continue to fight for the cuts to expire on Jan. 1 for people earning more than $250,000.
A senior Obama campaign official confirmed to CBS News a report in The New York Times that President Obama would officially announce his call for a one-year extension to the tax cuts for Americans at or below that income threshold in a news conference on Monday.
Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs hinted at the announcement Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Gibbs said the president was "100 percent committed" to allowing some Bush-era tax cuts to expire, reports CBSNews.com's Leigh Ann Caldwell.Continue »
In an interview with CBS Radio News on the sidelines of an Obama campaign rally Thursday evening in Parma, Ohio, senior campaign adviser David Axelrod called Romney, "the most secretive candidate we've seen probably since Richard Nixon."
Axelrod accused Romney of "trying to turn back the clock" on transparency by 40 years. The veteran Obama adviser criticized Romney for failing to release "a full set of (tax) returns like most candidates."Continue »
(CBS News) Attorney General Eric Holder granted his first interview since being held in contempt of Congress last week and suggested the vote was more about the Justice Department's policies on hot button issues than it was about the "Fast and Furious" scandal.
"I've become a symbol of what they don't like about the positions this Justice Department has taken," Holder told The Washington Post in an interview Monday.
"I am also a proxy for the president in an election year. You have to be exceedingly naive to think that vote was about...documents."
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., led the investigation into the "Fast and Furious" scandal, where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives let 2,000 guns "walk" away with hopes of tracing them to high up Mexican drug cartels. The sting operation was considered by many to be a failure, especially after two of the guns were found near the body of a dead Border Patrol agent.Continue »
Updated 4:00 p.m. ET
(CBS News) One day after the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to provide documents relating to the Fast and Furious gunwalking program, White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the criminal prosecution of the contempt charges will not move forward.
"The prosecution will not take place in this circumstance," Carney said during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to Colorado. He said the president's assertion of executive privilege over the related documents makes the matter moot.
The contempt charge does not address the controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Fast and Furious operation itself, which allowed more than 2,000 weapons to fall into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels. Instead, it concerns subpoenaed documents the Justice Department is withholding from Congress that cover a period after the operation ended.
In a letter sent to the House Speaker John Boehner, Deputy Attorney General James Cole confirmed that Justice would not move forward with contempt prosecution.
"Across administrations of both political parties, the longstanding position of the Department of Justice has been and remains that we will not prosecute an Executive Branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege," the letter read.
(CBS News) President Obama's health care reform package has been controversial since its inception in the 2008 campaign. Thursday, with its decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court laid to rest questions about the law's constitutionality.
What the court hasn't resolved, however, was whether Mr. Obama's health care battle demonstrated the kind of leadership that Americans want to see for another four years.
The president's supporters are sure to say the court's decision vindicates the hard-fought struggle for health care reform. But the debate is far from over -- Mr. Obama's main rival Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal the law. And even as the economy overshadows the issue of health care reform, Romney can still point to the health care struggle as evidence of the president's failed leadership.
"Clearly, the public is not enamored with the health care law," said Stu Rothenberg, the editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. "On the one hand, [Mr. Obama] wants to take credit for it and wants to talk about addressing a tough issue -- that does show leadership. On the other hand, showing leadership on a matter of public policy on which [voters] don't approve may not get you any points."Continue »
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