(CNN) – Actor Richard Gere told Wolf Blitzer in an interview on Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “misspoke in the moment” when she said that human rights “can’t interfere with the global economic crisis.”
While on a diplomatic trip to Asia in February, Clinton said that the global economic crisis, climate change and security take precedent over human rights issues when dealing with China. Gere said that Clinton has always been on the “forefront of human rights.”
“Let’s assume she said more than that because she’s more complicated than that,” Gere said. “For me, these are all the same issue. If you want to make it about human rights, that’s perfectly valid. From my point of view, human rights are very important. To an American, human rights are desperately important and you have to say the words.”
Gere is the chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, which has focused on fighting for human rights and democratic freedom in Tibet. He attended a reception with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Monday afternoon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dalai Lama’s exile from Tibet.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican lawmakers from more than 20 states across the country are willing to take federal funding, but only on their terms.
From Montana to South Carolina, lawmakers in mostly red states have pushed ahead with measures calling for state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment, saying the federal government has overstepped its bounds with the stimulus package. The states are calling for the right to ignore laws they deem unconstitutional.
Before laying out his administration's plans for the U.S. military in Iraq Friday, the President called former President George W. Bush. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
(CNN) – President Barack Obama called former President Bush on this morning to tell him about his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, the White House said Friday.
Obama called the former president “as a courtesy” right before his speech at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Obama also called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki from Air Force One to brief him on his plan to withdraw most troops from that country by the end of August 2010. The preident also “sought and received” an agreement from the prime minister that he would receive Christopher Hill as the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
On Friday, Obama released his plan to end combat operation in Iraq by August 31, 2010.
(CNN) – President Obama’s speech Tuesday night will mark the 220th annual message from a U.S. president to Congress.
The vast majority of these presidential messages were not delivered in person as a speech to lawmakers. Although Presidents George Washington and John Adams delivered the annual message as speeches, Thomas Jefferson ended the tradition — the nation’s third chief executive said it was too similar to the British practice of the king addressing parliament. The annual message was delivered in written form until 1913, when Woodrow Wilson resumed delivering the message as a speech before Congress.
Obama’s address Tuesday will mark the 76th time a U.S. president has relayed his message to legislators by speaking in person.
(CNN) – The concept of State of the Union addresses and annual presidential messages to Congress has its roots in the British monarchy.
Under that system, the king or queen delivers a speech from the throne at the opening session of Parliament. The founding fathers modified and adopted the practice for use in the United States.
George Washington delivered the first “annual message” to Congress in 1790 at Federal Hall in New York. John Adams continued the practice. However, Thomas Jefferson ended the practice of delivering the speech in person in 1801, saying that the elaborate ceremony, complete with a “president’s throne,” too closely resembled a king addressing his subjects. He instead opted for a written message.
Woodrow Wilson resumed the practice of delivering the message as a speech before Congress in 1913. Franklin Roosevelt’s annual message to Congress in 1941 was the first to be referred to as a “State of the Union” address.
(CNN) – This year, the term “State of the Union” refers only to the new CNN program anchored by John King, not to President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress.
Americans may have gotten used to hearing the recognizable phrase over the years, but a new president’s first speech to Congress has not been called a "State of the Union” since 1977. Instead, the event often is referred to simply as a “message” or address to Congress, sometimes on a specific policy topic.
Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each kicked off their terms with an “economic message.” Jimmy Carter delivered an address on energy policy at the start of his term in 1977. In 1989, George H.W. Bush called his first speech to a joint session of Congress, "Building a Better America."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A week after a woman was brutally attacked by a friend’s chimpanzee, a House committee moved to prohibit humans from keeping primates as pets.
Rep. Nick Rahall, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, requested action Monday on legislation to prohibit people from buying or transporting primates across state lines as pets. The West Virginia Democrat warned that primates are too dangerous to be kept as pets.
“Images of Curious George and Koko may lead us to believe that these creatures are cuddly and harmless, but last week’s tragedy and other similar attacks stand as evidence that this is not the case, that they are in fact wild animals, and they simply must not be kept as pets,” Rahall said in a statement.
The Captive Primate Safety act would modify the Lacy Act amendments, which were passed in 1981 and only included a ban on buying or transporting fish and wildlife across state lines to keep as pets, by adding primates to that list. The legislation is expected to go to the House floor for debate this afternoon.
Roughly a dozen Americans were attacked by primates in 2008, according to the Humane Society.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama will send two Cabinet officials to the Gulf Coast next month to assess progress in rebuilding the region that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the White House announced Friday.
The president is also extending the operations of a federal office tasked with overseeing reconstruction efforts along the Gulf Coast. Obama signed an executive order keeping the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding open through Sept. 30, 2009. It was initially scheduled to close at the end of this month.
“The residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who are helping rebuild are heroes who believe in their communities and they are succeeding despite the fact that they have not always received the support they deserve from the Federal government,” Obama said in a statement. “This executive order is a first step of a sustained commitment by my Administration to rebuild now, stronger than ever.”
The office was established by former President Bush in November 2005.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will head to the region on March 5 and 6.
(CNN) – To commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, the first of four new pennies to commemorate the 16th president’s rise from a one-room log cabin to the White House will go into circulation on Thursday.
The pennies, which will be released in three month intervals, will each depict a different stage of Lincoln’s life, showing images of his early childhood in Kentucky, his formative years in Indiana, his professional life in Illinois and his presidency.
Biden is set to push the stimulus bill in Pennsylvania (Getty Images)
(CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden reminded reporters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Wednesday that he and President Barack Obama have been in office for less than three weeks, and said passing the stimulus package would help "kick-start the confidence" that the new administration can handle the economic crisis.
“I doubt whether anything this massive, this consequential, this significant, has passed this quickly in any other administration,” said Biden. “We're talking about 100 days, we haven't even hit 25 days yet.”
The vice president traveled back to his birth state to promote the local impact of the economic stimulus package, echoing Obama’s message at town hall meetings this week in Indiana and Florida. Biden said Pennsylvania would get $16 billion right away to help improve infrastructure and create jobs.
The administration has broken down potential stimulus results state by state and distributed them to supporters in an effort to prod some reluctant lawmakers to back the bill. Nineteen governors facing massive cutbacks and major budget shortfalls — including four Republicans — released a joint letter last week urging Congress to pass stimulus legislation.
Biden’s remarks on the stimulus were a bit more in line with official White House policy than his gloomier take last week, when he gave the administration and Congress slightly disappointing odds for fixing America’s economy. “If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a 30 percent chance we’ll get it wrong,” Biden told lawmakers at a policy retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia last Friday.
Obama seemed to rib his vice president over the comment during his Monday press conference. "I don't remember exactly what Joe was referring to. Not surprisingly," Obama joked to reporters.