White House

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement are making sure the presidential candidates don't take their votes or their concerns for granted. The candidates are being confronted with activists who are responding to a string of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

Democrats have traditionally won strong margins with black voters and that is unlikely to change in 2016. But in recent weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has been a stumbling block for the Democratic candidates.

Kicking off a two-day trip to Ethiopia, President Obama called on the country to end its crackdown on journalists and to be more open politically.

Obama spoke Monday at a joint news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

President Obama, wrapping up his three-day visit to Kenya, urged the east African country to "choose the path to progress" by tackling corruption, eliminating income inequality and promoting gender equality.

"I'm here as president of a country that sees Kenya as an important partner. I'm here as a friend who wants Kenya to succeed," he said in a speech at the Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi.

"You can choose the path to progress, but it requires making some important choices," he said in the 40-minute speech that was broadcast on Kenyan television.

Lori Mack / WNPR

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was in Connecticut on Tuesday as part of a national community policing tour.

Pete Souza / White House

When Dustin Johnson missed that four-footer on the final hole in this year's U.S. Open that would've forced a playoff with eventual champion Jordan Spieth, he wasn't under this much pressure.

Joe Courtney, the mild-mannered Connecticut Congressman, had scored a spot in a weekend foursome with fellow House Democrats John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, and the most famous lefty golfer this side of Phil Mickleson, President Barack Obama.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney joins a classified bipartisan briefing today on the Iran nuclear deal. 

The U.S. and Cuba have restored diplomatic relations and reopened their embassies — but it's not yet open season for American tourists hoping to visit the island. The U.S. embargo on travel and business means you still have to have a valid reason to go — and that doesn't include sitting on the beach and drinking mojitos.

Just after hosting Cuba's foreign minister at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry sat down with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep to discuss the restoration of diplomatic relations with that country, as well as the status of a nuclear deal with Iran.

Kerry defended the Obama administration's stance on both countries, and said if diplomatic relations with Cuba or a nuclear deal with Iran were scuttled — either by a future president or Congress — it would hurt the U.S.

Chuck Kennedy / White House

President Barack Obama has more to say about the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama held a news conference on Wednesday to continue selling the agreement that he contends will cut off all the pathways Iran currently has to develop a nuclear weapon.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Former Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Dodd's name is being floated as a possible candidate to become the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than half a century.

Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET

President Obama has warned that the campaign against the so-called Islamic State "will not be quick" as he cited gains made in Iraq and Syria by the coalition fighting the militant group.

"This will not be quick," Obama said at the Pentagon. "This is a long-term campaign."

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb has become the fifth Democrat to announce he is seeking the party's nomination for president.

"[Our] country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us," Webb said in a statement. "We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process."

Webb, 69, joins former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee in the 2016 contest.

President Obama on Wednesday announced the formal resumption of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than half a century of hostilities. The two countries have agreed to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana.

Standing in the White House Rose Garden, Obama called it "a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people."

Obama said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana this summer to "proudly raise the flag over our embassy once more."

Obama To Expand Overtime Pay For Millions

Jun 30, 2015

President Obama announced this week that the Labor Department will expand overtime pay, in a move the administration estimates would impact 5 million U.S. workers. That would double the income threshold at which employers can avoid paying overtime.

Right now, only salaried employees earning less $23,660 a year are eligible for overtime. This rule would raise that threshold so that employees making up to $50,660 a year would get paid overtime.

The U.S. ambassador to France has been summoned to the French Foreign Ministry to answer new claims that the NSA monitored the communications of three sitting French presidents and their top staff.

Those said to be targeted include President Francois Hollande, who is holding an emergency meeting today with top French lawmakers.

From Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports:

This story is part of NPR's series Journey Home. We're going to the places presidential candidates call home and finding out what those places tell us about how they see the world.

Hillary Clinton's family moved to Park Ridge, Ill., in 1950 when she was a toddler. It's a quiet, upper middle-class suburb of Chicago — except for all the airplanes.

"Park Ridge is right under O'Hare [International Airport]," said Ernie Rickets, who grew up with Clinton. "It's in the final approach"

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a law that allowed Americans who were born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on their passports.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court said that the law, passed by Congress in 2002, interferes with the president's constitutional right to recognize foreign nations. The U.S. State Department has a long-standing policy not to recognize any nation's authority over Jerusalem until Israelis and Palestinians resolve its status.

The case is seen as an important separation-of-powers ruling.

Updated at 1:00 p.m. ET

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas and 2012 Republican candidate for president, formally announced a second bid for the White House.

At a rally in Addison, Texas, this afternoon, Perry told a group of supporters: "Today I am announcing that I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America."

He decried that "weakness at home has led to weakness abroad" and that "Our economy is barely growing."

Nearly 100 years after their heroic deeds, two World War I U.S. Army soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor, America's highest military honor, on Tuesday. Historians say Sgts. William Shemin and Henry Johnson hadn't been properly recognized for their bravery under fire.

Beau Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's older son, has died after battling brain cancer, the vice president announced Saturday. Beau Biden, a former attorney general of Delaware, was 46.

"It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life," Joe Biden said in a statement issued by the White House. Hallie Biden is Beau Biden's wife; Hunter and Ashley are his brother and half-sister.

Updated at 12:33 p.m. ET

Former New York Gov. George Pataki is adding his name to the list of Republicans running for their party's 2016 presidential nomination.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

Republican Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, announced Wednesday that he is running for president.

"Working families don't need another president tied to big government or big money," he said in Cabot, Pa.. "And today is the day we're going to begin to fight back."

With Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains behind him, Sen. Bernie Sanders officially kicked off his presidential campaign Tuesday afternoon at Waterfront Park in Burlington.

Updated to reflect that Santorum is now officially in the race.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is praying for political lightning to strike twice.

Even after pulling an upset win in the Iowa caucuses four years ago and going on to survive the longest against eventual nominee Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential hopeful is again the underdog in a much more crowded 2016 field.

The Senate voted 62-37 late Friday to grant President Obama additional trade powers, which the president plans to use in pushing through an extensive new agreement with a group of Asian countries.

The administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership has been opposed by labor groups and some Senate Democrats because of concerns that the deal could cost some U.S. workers their jobs.

Harriet Jones / WNPR

President Obama may have had an unusually tough message on climate change for graduates at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, but commencement was still a day for celebration and reflection for the cadets themselves.

White House

President Barack Obama visited New London on Wednesday to give the keynote address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's 134th commencement. He told the new ensigns the Coast Guard is on the front line to help combat and adapt to climate change.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET

Intelligence officials on Wednesday released a trove of newly declassified documents, books and magazines found during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. They're calling it "Bin Laden's Bookshelf."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

President Obama comes to New London to address graduating cadets at the Coast Guard. The big theme of his speech? Climate change. It's a little different from Vice President Joe Biden's message to Yale grads this weekend. He encouraged them to find their "sweet spot."

This hour, it’s our weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse where we’ll talk about the president’s trip and about the use of the word "racist" in political speech. Governor Dannel Malloy used the word and Republicans are criticizing him for it.

Also, the a bill banning powdered alcohol is going to the governor's desk. Wait, what? Powdered alcohol?

During a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy today, President Obama will cast climate change as posing an "immediate risk to our national security."

NPR's Scott Horsley reports Obama is expected to tell graduates that the Coast Guard itself will have to adjust to the effects of rising sea levels. Scott filed this report for our Newscast unit: