Stories about gun violence within our country are becoming all too common. President Obama is utilizing the incidents as an avenue to open up the conversation about the need for stricter gun control laws. He recently released a statement about the killing of Zaevion Dobson, a high school football star from Knoxville, Tennessee who was fatally shot after protecting his friends from a hail of bullets. “Zaevion Dobson died saving three friends from getting shot,” President Obama tweeted. “He was a hero at 15. What’s our excuse for not acting?” A memorial fund for Dobson has reached nearly $60,000 from 1,455 donors. According to police officials, the shooting was a random act of violence. Read more.
Obama Grants 95 Commutations
President Obama has been very vocal about issues concerning our country’s prison system. This summer, after saying there are many men and women behind bars whose prison sentences are unjust for the crimes they committed, Obama ended up releasing 46 people who were convicted of drug offenses. Last week, President Obama furthered his mission for amnesty by commuting the prison sentences of 95 more inmates. Most of the inmates who had their sentences commuted were behind bars for drug-related non-violent crimes. “President Obama is committed to restoring the sense of fairness at the heart of our justice system,” read a blog post on the White House’s website. “In 2010, he signed the Fair Sentencing Act, a bill that reduced the sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses. Most of the commutations the President has granted have been to non-violent offenders sentenced under those unjust — and now outdated — drug crime sentencing rules. If these individuals had been convicted for the exact same crime under today’s laws, nearly all of them would have already finished serving their time.” He penned a personal letter to each person, writing, “I believe in your ability to prove the doubters wrong, and change your life for the better.” President Obama has granted 184 pardons in total. Read more.
The Schomburg to Get a $22M Makeover
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, a notable cultural institution that encompasses extensive research about African-American history, will be getting a $22 million makeover. Last week, local community leaders gathered at the Schomburg for a groundbreaking ceremony. “Today we break ground on this $20 million project … We need the next generation to (come) into this great research center so that they can be inspired by their history so they can aspire to learn how to shape the future,” said New York Public Library President Tony Marx. “We are so thankful to those who made this possible, and are excited to get started.” The renovation project will include a revamp of the Schomburg’s second floor reading room, an upgrade of the interior of the Schomburg’s landmark building, a high-definition LED signage system, video displays, and an improved streetscape. Read more.
Miss Puerto Rico Suspended After Discriminatory Tweets about Muslims
Destiny Velez, who represented Puerto Rico in the Miss America competition, put her foot in her mouth after tweeting discriminatory statements about Muslims. Velez, 20, addressed a film director who held up a “We Are All Muslim” sign outside of Trump Tower. “Muslims use our constitution to terrorize USA & plant gas stations,” she tweeted. She also posted that Muslims “terrorize this country & many others.” Velez was suspended indefinitely due to her comments. “Miss Velez’s actions were in contradiction to the organization, and therefore as a consequence of her actions, she has been suspended indefinitely,” read a statement by the Miss Puerto Rico Organization. “The Miss Puerto Rico Organization will not tolerate any actions or behavior contrary to the Miss Puerto Rico Organization.” Velez later issued an apology, saying the last thing she wanted to do was bully anyone. Read more.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
21 Of President Barack Obama's Best Photos Of 2015
21 photos Launch gallery
1. JANUARY: President Obama delivers the State of the Union address with the support of vice president Joe Biden. Obama gained mass support after his joke about winning both terms.
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2. JANUARY: President Barack Obama has an adorable moment with Akira Cooper at the Community Children's Center, one of the nation's oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan.
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3. JANUARY: President Obama greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon arrival at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi, India.
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4. JANUARY: President Barack Obama greets neighbors after visiting a model home at the Nueva Villas at Beverly, a single-family housing development owned by local nonprofit organization Chicanos Por La Causa Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz.
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5. FEBRUARY: President Barack Obama fakes a jump shot during an Affordable Care Act video taping for BuzzFeed in the White House Library. The video went viral thanks to jokes about his presidency and ultra-cool swag.
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6. FEBRUARY: Obama pals around with one of his biggest supporters, vice president Joe Biden. While he chose not to run in the 2016 presidential election, Obama said he would be in his corner.
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7. FEBRUARY: President Barack Obama talks with 13-year-old student Vidal Chastanet as "Humans of New York" founder Brandon Stanton photographs during a blog interview in the Oval Office. Obama was greatly inspired by Chastanet's comments on the popular "Humans of New York" Instagram page, where he shared his troubles finding courage in school and and life despite living in a dangerous area of Brooklyn, NY.
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8. MARCH: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Ala., March 7, 2015. Malia and Sasha Obama join hands with their grandmother, Marian Robinson.
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9. MARCH: Obama is a classic man as he puts on a green tie in observance of St. Patrick's Day.
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10. MARCH: President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
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11. APRIL: During the Correspondents' Dinner, his anger translator - played by Key & Peele comedian Keegan-Michael Key - helped Obama get out his biggest frustrations.
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12. APRIL: President Obama arrives in Jamaica to meet with the 15-member Caribbean Community. His trip marked a first for the sitting president and second since the country's independence.
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13. APRIL: Obama speaks with newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office.
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14. JUNE: President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are seen talking during the president's trip to the G7Summit in Bavaria, Germany.
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15. JUNE: President Obama sings "Amazing Grace" during the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney's funeral service. Clementa was one of the nine victims who died after suspected shooter Dylann Roof entered the AME church and opened fire.
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16. SEPTEMBER: President Obama is featured on the popular show "Running Wild With Bear Grylls." Obama took the trip to highlight the importance of climate control.
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17. SEPTEMBER: The First Couple serve as "love goals" at the White House's state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan. Obama and Xi announced an agreement on controlling climate change and a mutual outlook on cyber security.
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18. OCTOBER: President Obama meets with Ahmed Mohamed, the student who was detained by Texas police for his homemade clock. The president stood by the teen, who many believe was the victim of Islamophobia.
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19. NOVEMBER: President Obama issues a warning to his critics who "pop off" at his policies towards Syrian refugees. Speaking at the OP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, Obama welcomed his Republican critics to the White House to lay down their own policies. No one has responded.
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20. DECEMBER: President Obama addresses the public from the Oval Office regarding the San Bernardino shooting.
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21. DECEMBER: All grown up! The First Family, including Obama's mother-in-law Marian Robinson, is seen at the White House's national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 2.
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