President Obama is set to meet with congressional leaders in both parties today “to begin laying the political groundwork for sweeping immigration legislation.” While lawmakers are looking for Obama to use his political capital to push the issue, White House aides say that Obama “does not intend to get out in front of any proposal until there is a strong bipartisan commitment to pass it.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assailed President Obama today, claiming that “Obama made a mistake” in condemning the crackdown in Iran. “We were not expecting Mr. Obama” to “fall into the same trap and continue the same path that Bush did,” said Ahmadinejad. At the same time, opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi said he would “not back down.”
The White House announced yesterday “that it had withdrawn invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend Fourth of July festivities at U.S. embassies around the world.” “July 4th allows us to celebrate the freedom and the liberty we enjoy,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. “Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom to assemble peacefully. Freedom of the press. So I don’t think it’s surprising that nobody’s signed up to come.”
Venezuela and the United States yesterday said that “they will restore their ambassadors more than nine months after President Hugo Chavez expelled the U.S. envoy in his final diplomatic bout with the Bush administration.”
The U.N.’s high commissioner on human rights, Navanethem Pillay, yesterday “appealed to the Obama administration to release Guantanamo Bay inmates or try them in a court of law, and said officials who authorized the use of ‘torture’ must be held accountable.” “People who order or inflict torture cannot be exonerated, and the roles of certain lawyers, as well as doctors who have attended torture sessions, should also be scrutinized,” Pillay said.
“Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid,” a Senate Commerce Committee report found. At a hearing yesterday, “three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell ‘junk’ policies that do not cover needed care.”
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that “[t]hree-quarters of Americans think the federal government should regulate the release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming” and that 52 percent of Americans support “a cap-and-trade approach” to doing so.
“Six days before U.S. combat forces are due to withdraw from major Iraqi cities, a bomb hidden under vegetables on a three-wheeled motorcycle killed at least 60 people and wounded 135 more in Sadr City.” The bombing other attacks earlier in the week that killed 109 Iraqis earlier in the week.
And finally: Obama’s head of Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, may have some romantic competition. Indeed, actress Kristen Bell — who was in Washington yesterday lobbying with the advocacy group Invisible Children — seems to be a bit taken with Sunstein’s wife, Samantha Power, who serves on the National Security Council. “Last time I was here, I met Samantha Power. She’s my idol. I can’t even explain how my heart was beating, I was so badly trying to absorb every bit of her,” Bell said of Power.
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