Four Green Berets were killed in Niger two weeks ago on October 4, and Donald Trump failed to acknowledge the fallen American soldiers until asked during a news conference yesterday. Trump glossed over his omission with a lie, saying President Obama and other former presidents didn’t call the families of American soldiers killed in action.
First, Trump claimed to have written letters to the families of the fallen, but wasn’t sure if he had mailed them out yet: “I’ve written them personal letters. They’ve been sent, or they’re going out tonight. But they were written during the weekend. I will at some point during the period of time call the parents and the families, because I have done that traditionally.”
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined several prominent human rights organizations––including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International––to launch a formal campaign asking President Obama to pardon National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden has been living in an undisclosed location in Moscow and has sought asylum elsewhere since leaking classified information about the NSA’s mass surveillance programs in 2013. The campaign kicked off two days before the premiere of Oliver Stone’s film, Snowden. The human rights organizations created the website Pardon Snowden to promote the case for Snowden across the nation.
A federal judge in Texas has blocked the Obama administration’s directive to U.S. public school districts to allow transgender students to use facilities matching their gender identity. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Fort Worth issued a nationwide preliminary injunction on the ground that federal officials did not follow proper procedures in creating the directive. The federal education law, Title IX, he ruled, "is not ambiguous" about sex being defined as "the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth." Judge O’Connor sided with Republican state leaders who argued that the federal government should have allowed schools to weigh in on the directive before it was announced in May.
President Barack Obama is the first sitting president to declare himself a feminist. He made the declaration in an essay he wrote for Glamour to celebrate his 55th birthday, concluding with the rallying cry, "when everybody is equal, we are all more free."
Democrats rallied around President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last night as he endorsed Hillary Clinton for the presidency, acknowledging her as the only candidate capable of continuing his legacy. Though he largely refused to mention Donald Trump by name, his feelings on the billionaire tycoon’s incendiary politics were clear.
George Takei has a new online series called “Draw Your Conclusion” featuring whiteboard animation and tackling current political and social issues. His first episode addresses the contentious debate over a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away during the final year of Obama's presidency. The inventive animation, presented as a lighthearted civics lesson, proceeds in signature Takei style by drawing on lessons from history, referencing modern cultural phenomena, and asking audiences to use their own common sense.
Watch the first episode, “A Supremely Important Question,” here:
A push to declassify 28 pages of an 838-page congressional report may reveal if the hijackers responsible for the September 11 attacks received financial support from Saudi Arabia. These pages are reportedly locked away in the basement of the Capitol; members of Congress can read them, but the pages remain classified. The 28 pages may include key information into "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States," according to the chapter's introduction in the report.