Hundreds of thousands packed into the National Mall on Monday for President Obama’s second-term inauguration. In an address many saw as a blueprint for a more progressive second-term domestic agenda than his first, Obama vowed a continued fight to seek equality for the rights of women and of gays and lesbians.
President Obama: "Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well."
In making those comments, Obama became the first U.S. president to ever use the word "gay" in an inaugural address. In his remarks, Obama also gave a nod to voting rights, immigration reform and his recent push for gun control.
President Obama: "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."
Obama also used his inaugural address to hint at a more forceful engagement on climate change than in his first term, calling the fight against global warming a defense of future generations.
President Obama: "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms."
The New York Times reports the Obama administration will tackle climate change this term by avoiding broad, far-reaching efforts through Congress and instead focusing on "administrative" actions. These include reducing power plant emissions, increasing the efficiency of home appliances, and reducing the federal government’s carbon footprint. Although the White House is planning a campaign to build public support, environmentalists have been warned not to expect "full-scale engagement" while Congress is preoccupied with other issues including gun control, immigration and the federal budget.
Algeria has confirmed the death toll from its recent hostage crisis at a southern gas field, saying 37 foreigners and 11 workers lost their lives. The dead included three Americans. The attackers came from Algeria and neighboring Mali, as well as several foreign countries, including Egypt and Canada. Algerian troops raided the complex over the weekend after the attackers seized it last week, calling for an end to the French bombing of Mali.
In Mali, France continues to make advances in its ground invasion in the north after a week of air strikes. French troops appear to have now taken control of the key towns of Diabaly and Douentza after rebel militants fled their positions.
In Syria, at least 30 people have been killed in a suicide car bombing in the town of Salamiyeh. The attack reportedly targeted a building used by pro-government fighters. Meanwhile in northern Syria, activists are reporting that more than 50 people have died in a week of fighting between rebels and members of the long-oppressed Kurdish minority seeking self-governance. The violence comes as the United Nations has launched a new appeal for its operations in Syria, saying humanitarian needs are vastly underfunded.
John Ging, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: "Our donor community, our international donor community, are only giving 50 percent of what is needed here, is in our mind very, very upsetting and, of course, results then in much higher humanitarian suffering than needs to be. It means that the people who need the food, not all of them are getting the food, and so on."
Hundreds of people marched in New York City Monday in a show of support for stricter gun control in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The group One Million Moms for Gun Control called on Congress to back President Obama’s plan for tighter restrictions on gun and ammunition purchases. The group marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall, braving frigid temperatures.
Kate Godsil-Freeman: "Children shouldn’t have to worry about guns. And like, we should have a free nation that doesn’t need to depend on guns and firearms to protect ourselves, that we should just know that we’re safe."
Mary Priest: "Really listen to the voices of moms and not to the lobby of the gun industry, and to try to protect our lives and to value the lives of our kids above really what is an industry voice and not the voice of people."
Ana Maria Allessi: "We were devastated. I mean, it was devastating. And I think — I’ve never marched before, and I’m going to do whatever I can to be certain that things change."
Katie Rosenfeld: "As a mom and as a New Yorker and as an American, that we’re fed up with guns and with children getting killed and people being unsafe. And we want change and better laws and no more of these atrocities."
Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a package of gun-control measures hailed as some of the tightest in the country.
In Brooklyn, a group of demonstrators marched to the police precinct in the neighborhood of Crown Heights to demand justice in the case of Jabbar Campbell, an African-American man who has accused officers from the New York City Police Department of a hate crime. Campbell says he was hosting a party for gay and lesbian friends at his home earlier this month when he was confronted by police. Surveillance footage from Campbell’s apartment shows officers tampering with and turning around the camera monitoring his doorstep. Moments later, Campbell says he was brutally beaten and called anti-LGBT slurs. On Monday, Campbell address supporters outside the precinct.
Jabbar Campbell: "We need to speak up and let these officers know that they can’t go around invading people’s homes, tampering with their property, and beating up innocent people, treating them like animals. I was an innocent man, and I was brutalized by these officers from the 77th Precinct. And I’m here to speak up and fight back."
Newly disclosed internal documents have confirmed the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles deliberately hid evidence of child molestation for more than a decade. The now-retired archbishop, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, and other high-ranking clergy officials made extensive efforts to transfer abusive priests out of state to avoid prosecution and to stop them from confessing to therapists who would have been forced to inform police. The church reached a $660 million settlement with 500 victims in 2007, the largest of any Roman Catholic diocese. In reaching the deal, it spared top church officials from having to testify in court. A Los Angeles judge is set to rule next month on whether two church officials will face new depositions in a civil lawsuit over the abuse.