Tag Archive: Barack Obama


French President Wavering On Action Towards Syria

United States President Barack Obama is not the only international leader facing pressure concerning the proposed attacks on Syria.  French President Francois Hollande is also facing pressure from the French public, French Parliament and the European Union about taking military action against Syria.  Less than a month ago on August 21st, Hollande insisted that urgent action be taken against Syria without waiting for the report from the United Nations.  Yet, this past Friday, September 6th, Hollande now says he wants to await the findings from the United Nations before taking any action.  It appears that European diplomats from the European Union have struck a deal with Hollande.  In exchange for waiting for the United Nations to release its report, the European Union will provide more political support to France if it takes military action against Syria.  It appears that France, like many other European nations, needs the report from the United Nations before it can take any legitimate action against Syria that would be supported by the European Union.  France is just one of the few countries that expressed support for such action, as evident by the fact only ten (10) countries joined the United States in signing onto the G-20 statement (France, the U.K. and Spain were the only European nations).

 

 

Increased Criticism of Obama Administration’s Use of the Espionage Act

There has been increased criticism of the Obama administration for the use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers. The Act was enacted against the backdrop of World War I in 1917 to punish those who gave aid enemies of the United States. The Act was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media but has been used six times since President Obama took office in 2009. In a recent controversial case, John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. agent who became a Democratic staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was charged under the Act with passing on disclosed information to the media about C.I.A. interrogation methods. Mark Corallo, who served as the Justice Department’s spokesman in the George W. Bush administration, said he was “sort of shocked” by the volume of leak prosecutions under President Obama. “We would have gotten hammered for it,” he said. Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, notes, “I suspect Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have gotten a pass from many liberals because they believe a Republican president would be even worse on such matters.” Kennedy also notes that the administration’s use of the Act “has led to a virtual war on journalism and free expression.” The Obama administration has defended its aggressive approach by stating that the higher volume of prosecutions is just happenstance. The administration rejects assertions that the volume of prosecutions is politically-motivated. This aggressive approach will likely mean that government officials (both current and former) will use more secretive ways of providing information to the media.

House Votes to Eliminate Title X and Planned Parenthood’s Funding

On Friday, February 18, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment eliminating  the Title X Family Planning Program and Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) 300+ million dollars in federal funding.  According to the Department of Health & Human Resources, Title X was enacted in 1970 in order to provide access to family planning and other health related services including cancer screenings, breast and pelvic exams, contraception services, STD education, counseling, research and testing, prenatal care and counseling, and community outreach.  Title X funding typically supports low-income and young women without health insurance and is a significant resource of funding for PPFA.

In addition to voting against Title X funding, the House also voted to eliminate Medicaid funding for PPFA.  According to Susan Yolen, Vice-President of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, 30% of the patients who visit PPFA use Medicaid.  According to a fact sheet published by PPFA last September, the organization serves over 5 million men and women annually.

Many people view this attack against family planning programs, and specifically against PPFA, as a win for anti-abortion advocates.  Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life legislative, stated,  “This landmark vote demonstrates that most House members now recognize Planned Parenthood is a hyper-political, under-regulated, out-of-control mega-marketer of abortion as a method of birth control.   However, Section 1008 of the Title X statute bars the use of federal funding “to promote or encourage abortion as a method of family planning.”  Also, only a small portion of PPFA’s funding is used in abortion-related services.  According to PPFA, abortions are 3% of the total services provided by the organization.

The most significant and devastating effects of these cuts are that  low-income women and men who use organizations like PPFA for general health purposes.   According to PPFA, 60% of women who receive medical care from these organizations use these clinics as their primary source of health care.    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated, “These proposals have nothing to do with being fiscally responsible…Instead, these proposals would have serious consequences for women’s health in New York City and across the nation.  Removing funding for women’s health clinics through these proposals will likely increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, increase the number of women with cervical and breast cancers who are not diagnosed until the cancers are in late stages, and increase unintended pregnancies among women.””

Despite the House’s enthusiasm for defunding Title X and PPFA, this amendment will probably fail in the Democratically-controlled Senate.  And even if the amendment somehow made it to President Obama’s desk, he will probably veto the legislation.  Obama has previously supported family services.  For instance, in one of his first acts in office, Obama lifted the Bush era “gag rule.”  Last week, Obama spoke in favor of PPFA and the work they do.  Right now, however, there is real fear that the Republican House and the Democrat Senate will butt heads over this 2012 budget, including these defunding measures, and shut down the government.




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