Battle over Obama’s immigration actions continues in the courts and in Congress
President Obama’s controversial executive actions, which were meant to defer the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, were supposed to take effect last week. However, they have been met with staunch resistance in the courts and on Capitol Hill from lawmakers who say that the president has overstepped his constitutional boundaries by bypassing Congress. A U.S. district judge recently ruled that Texas and 25 other states can sue the White House over the immigration executive actions, blocking the actions from taking effect. In response, the Department of Justice filed a motion to appeal the judge’s decision and allow the executive actions to be carried out in the meantime. In Washington, a legislative battle in Congress over whether to negate the executive actions has threatened to halt funding for the Department of Homeland Security by the end of this week. As the stalemate continues, millions of undocumented immigrants will have to wait to apply for relief from the threat of deportation. Obama reassured his supporters on Tuesday that “the law is on our side, and history is on our side.”
“Birdman” wins four Oscars
On Sunday, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was awarded the prize for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director for his film “Birdman.” The film, which appears to unroll in a single take, is about a washed up actor who embarks on an ambitious Broadway production to reinvigorate his career. In his acceptance speech, Iñárritu called for immigrants to be treated with respect and dignity. Eddie Redmayne won best actor for his role as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” dedicating his trophy to the Hawking family and all those suffering from ALS. Best Actress went to Julianne Moore for her role as a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s in the movie “Still Alice.” John Legend and Common won Best Original Song for “Glory” from “Selma.” Both called on their listeners to continue to struggle for civil rights, bringing some in the audience to tears. Despite much fanfare, this year’s Oscars broadcast drew the lowest ratings since 2009.
Greece reaches a deal with eurozone to extend bailout
On Friday, European leaders reached a deal to extend Greece’s bailout by four months, on the condition that Greece meet certain requirements to improve its creditworthiness. Tensions have been high lately as the newly elected Greek government threatened to default on the nation’s loans and exit from the eurozone unless its creditors ease their harsh austerity measures, which have take a toll on the Greek economy. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his colleagues were voted into power on the promise that they would get rid of European-imposed austerity and lift the country from the depths of its economic crisis. Now it looks as though they might have to scale back some of their original goals, as their European creditors refuse to budge. The alternative would be to exit the eurozone, in which case Greece would have to switch to a new currency, which would rapidly lose value. In this scenario, increased exports and economic reforms could help Greece restore its economy, but taking out any more loans would be difficult. The unemployment rate in Greece currently stands at 25 percent. The recent deal has postponed the threat of a Greek exit from the Eurozone, but only for the short term.
Obama careful not to call ISIS “Islamic” extremists
Last week, during an international meeting on countering violent extremism, President Obama addressed representatives from over 60 nations, calling for a united front to counter the ideology of the Islamic State. During the conference, Obama was careful not to label the Islamic State “Islamic extremists” or “jihadists.” Overall, the White House has consistently chosen not to link the brutal actions of the Islamic State with the religion of Islam. “We are not at war with Islam,” Obama said at the summit. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.” Many have since criticized what they see as a pattern of sacrificing bluntness about the role of religion in violent extremism in favor of political correctness. However, Obama aides say that labeling mass murder as “Islamic” would play into the hands of terrorists who say the United States is at war with Islam.