Renew efforts at reconciliation, emotional Obama urges Americans during his farewell speech

Popular but politically humbled, President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, declaring during his farewell address that he hasn’t abandoned his vision of progressive change but warning that it now comes with a new set of caveats.

His voice at moments catching with emotion, Obama recounted a presidency that saw setbacks as well as successes. Admitting candidly that political discourse has soured under his watch, Obama demanded that Americans renew efforts at reconciliation.
“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy,” the President said. “To embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.”
Obama also stressed solidarity despite a presidency sometimes at odds with Congress.
“Democracy does not require uniformity,” Obama said. “Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
In a concession that, for now, his brand of progressive politics is stalled in Washington, Obama admitted “for every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.”
He implored his backers to be vigilant in protecting basic American values he warned could come under siege.
“Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear,” he said. “So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”
And he warned against turning inward, telling Democrats that only by involving themselves in a real political discourse could they hope to renew the hopeful vision he brought to the White House eight years ago.
“After eight years as your President, I still believe that,” he went on. “And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea — our bold experiment in self-government.”
-CNN

Trump orders his supporters to stop harassing minorities

Donald Trump on Sunday told his supporters to stop harassing minorities, in his first televised sit-down interview since becoming President-elect.

“I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump told CBS’ Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” when she said Latinos and Muslims are facing harassment. “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.'”
Trump directed his comments to his own supporters whom Stahl said have written racist slogans or chanted degrading messages — particularly in schools. It was a powerful appeal to a nation ripped apart by the divisive 2016 campaign. Trump’s election has left Democrats angry and many minorities fearful about the future.
Yet Trump also criticized the protests that have broken out in cities across the United States since his defeat of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
Trump said he’s seen “a very small amount” — including “one or two instances” — of racial slurs being directed at minorities, particularly in largely white schools, since his election.
“I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together,” Trump said.
As for anti-Trump protests, Trump said, “I think it’s horrible if that’s happening. I think it’s built up by the press because, frankly, they’ll take every single little incident that they can find in this country, which could’ve been there before. If I weren’t even around doing this, and they’ll make into an event because that’s the way the press is.”
-CNN

The Obamas brave the rain to tour old Harvana in historic visit to Cuba

He is the first sitting US president to visit since the 1959 revolution, which heralded decades of hostility.

Speaking at the reopened US embassy in Havana, he called the visit “historic”. He also spent time in the old city.

Mr Obama will meet President Raul Castro, but not retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, and the pair will discuss trade and political reform.

The US president emerged smiling from Air Force One with First Lady Michelle and their daughters Sasha and Malia.

Holding umbrellas, the party walked in light drizzle along a red carpet to be greeted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Two hours after landing, Mr Obama greeted staff from the US embassy with the words: “It is wonderful to be here”.

“Back in 1928, President [Calvin] Coolidge came on a battleship. It took him three days to get here, it only took me three hours. For the first time ever, Air Force One has landed in Cuba and this is our very first stop.”

He added the trip was a chance to for him to lay out a “vision for a future that is brighter than our past”.

The Obamas later began a walkabout in historic Old Havana.

The tour was meant to see them interacting with ordinary Cubans on the streets, but this part of the itinerary was marred by a tropical storm.

They huddled under umbrellas before visiting the national cathedral.

 

 

-URN

 

Former US first lady, Nancy Reagan dies at 94

Nancy Reagan, the former actress who was fiercely protective of husband Ronald Reagan through a Hollywood career, eight years in the White House, an assassination attempt and her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease, died on Sunday at age 94.

The cause of death was congestive heart failure, said a spokeswoman for the Reagan presidential library. She died at her Los Angeles home.

“She is once again with the man she loved,” her stepson Michael Reagan wrote on Twitter.

Reagan became one of the most influential first ladies in U.S. history during her Republican husband’s presidency from 1981 to 1989.

Her husband, who affectionately called her “Mommy” while she called him “Ronnie,” died in 2004 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s, the progressive brain disorder that destroys memory.

As news of Nancy Reagan’s death spread, tributes poured in from Washington to Hollywood.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and first lady Michelle Obama said Nancy Reagan redefined the role of first lady.

“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House,” the Obamas wrote in a joint statement on Sunday. “She was right, of course.  But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice.”

 

 

 

 

-Reuters

 

I’m not going to do the debate : Trump

Donald Trump’s campaign says the real estate mogul won’t be participating in Thursday night’s debate in Iowa, just four days before the caucus.

Moments earlier, Trump himself all but ruled out the debate out at a press conference.

“Mostly likely, I’m not going to do the debate,” Trump said responding to ABC’s question. “I’m going to have something else in Iowa.”

Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski later confirmed that Trump will not be participate in the debate, hosted by Fox News, and he will instead hold a separate event in Iowa that night.

“We’re going to do something simultaneously with the debate,” Trump said. “Let them have their debate.”

Trump’s Marshalltown campaign rally was supposed to be an opportunity to talk the issue of immigration joined by his latest endorser and “special guest,” controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But, Arpaio barely spoke at the event, only making a brief appearance with Trump on stage.

The news comes as Trump has been feuding with Fox News over debate moderator Megyn Kelly, posting in an Instagram video today that “Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that.”

Fox News today took a shot at Trump over his complaints about Kelly, issuing a sarcastic statement.

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president,” the Fox News statement read. “A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to these meetings.”

Those remarks were criticized as being sexist, but Trump has continued his barrage against Kelly. Still he has appeared on other Fox news programs.

Instead of debating his Republican rivals, Trump said he will instead hold an event for veterans and wounded warriors.

“Obviously we would love all of the candidates to participate but each campaign ultimately makes their own decision about what’s in their best interest,” RNC communications director and chief strategist Sean Spicer said in a statement.

 

 

-Yahoo.news

North Korea accuses US of using Africa as a bio weapon testing ground

North Korea is accusing the US of spreading the Ebola virus, claiming it has been “bent on the development of bio-weapons” in order to achieve world supremacy.

The secretive state reacted strongly to the Ebola outbreak by closing its border to tourists and quarantining anyone who does enter.

Now, a report by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is claiming an aide to ex-President Reagan informed them the US had invented a progenitor of Ebola virus “for the purpose of launching a biological warfare”.

The aide was named as Roberts, who The Washington Post said could be a reference to Paul Craig Roberts, an economist.

Mr Roberts recently published a blog post entitled ‘Is The US Government The Master Criminal Of Our Time?’ which cited work published by two academics on Ebola.

Only a few weeks after a UN resolution condemned the country’s human right’s record, The KCNA criticized the US for its own human rights record.

The article said the US had given $140 million (£89 million) to a pharmaceutical company for research into the virus and chose Africa as a bio-weapon testing ground. It credited this claim to an unnamed Liberian professor.
Read more

Rare glimpse of life inside North Korea

It also claimed that the “US Department of Health and Human Services” admitted that the US “imperialists” have long conducted “vivisections with fatal epidemics, inflicting untold sufferings on mankind”.

It added: “Russian, Singaporean and American newspapers criticised that the US developed anti-Ebola virus vaccine through experiment on Ebola contagion, but has prevented this vaccine from being known to the world, only for its own interests.”

It also went on to claim that the Aids pandemic was also created by the US. In one final accusation, it said: “As already known to everyone, the US is the world’s biggest nuke possessor.”

-Independent