Barack Obama

Barack Obama’s Eulogy for John Lewis Was Perfect – Slate


Obama stands at a podium with Lewis' American flag–draped casket just visible in the foreground.

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the funeral service of the late Rep. John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Thursday.
Alyssa Pointer—Pool/Getty Images

On Thursday, mourners honored civil rights icon and longtime Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta. At his funeral ceremony, the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama, gave a eulogy that served both to pay tribute to one of the greatest leaders of the American civil rights movement and call for specific action to carry on that legacy. It will likely go down as one of Obama’s greatest speeches, and it is worth watching in full.

In a speech that was almost surprising in its frank invocation of politics, Obama compared the brutal 1965 violence that nearly ended Lewis’ life—police fractured his skull on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama—to the violent suppression of peaceful protests by federal officers today, called the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to gut the Voting Rights Act and the wave of voter suppression that followed “an attack on what John fought for,” challenged hypocritical congressional leaders who have opposed a renewal of “the law that [Lewis] was wiling to die for” while issuing empty statements calling him a “hero,” called for the end to the disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people, called for making Election Day a national holiday, called for statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico, and called for “eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American.”

The barnburner of a political speech followed a powerful retelling of some of the highlights of Lewis’ life and career, a narrative that laid the groundwork for Obama’s call to action. It seemed clear that Obama was devastated by the death of a man he called a mentor.

“It is a great honor to be back at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the pulpit of its greatest pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to pay my respects to perhaps his finest disciple,” Obama said near the start of his remarks, his voice nearly breaking.

“I’ve come here today, because I, like so many Americans, owe a great debt to John Lewis and his forceful vision of freedom,” Obama continued.

Obama then described Lewis’ rise from a place of “modest means” in rural Troy, Alabama, where, as a boy, he eavesdropped on his father’s discussions with friends about the murderous violence of the local Ku Klux Klan. As Obama described, after hearing King speak on the radio, Lewis became one of the greatest advocates for nonviolent resistance this country has seen.

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“He helped organize the Nashville campaign in 1960. He and other young men and women sat at a segregated lunch counter, well-dressed, straight back, refusing to let a milkshake poured on their heads, or a cigarette extinguished on their backs, or a foot aimed at their ribs—refuse to let that dent their dignity and their sense of purpose,” Obama said. “And after a few months, the Nashville campaign achieved the first successful desegregation of public facilities in any major city in the South. John got a taste of jail for the first, second, third, well, several times. But he also got a taste of victory and it consumed him with righteous purpose and he took the battle deeper into the South.” Obama then described Lewis’ work to desegregate buses in the South “months before the first official Freedom Rides.”

But Obama’s narrative was not just a powerful retelling of the life of an icon and founding member of the most democratic stage of American democracy—it tied Lewis’ work in the 1960s to America’s present-day struggle with authoritarianism and voter suppression.

“Sometimes, we read about this and we kind of take it for granted, or at least we act as if it was inevitable. Imagine the courage of two people Malia’s age, younger than my oldest daughter, on their own, to challenge an entire infrastructure of oppression,” he said. “John was only 20 years old, but he pushed all 20 of those years to the center of the table, betting everything, all of it, that his example could challenge centuries of convention and generations of brutal violence and countless daily indignities suffered by African Americans.”

Finally, Obama turned to a powerful and direct political attack on present-day police brutality against Black people and voter and protest suppression efforts.

“Bull Connor”—the infamous Birmingham, Alabama, police commissioner who turned dogs and fire hoses on civil rights–era protesters—“may be gone, but today we witness, with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama said, alluding to the murder of George Floyd. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators,” he added, alluding to the Trump administration–ordered assaults on protesters at Lafayette Square in D.C., and in Portland, Oregon.

Obama concluded by proposing that America honor the late congressman by enacting a new John Lewis Voting Rights Act and other measures to protect the vote, and by ending the “Jim Crow relic” of the filibuster if necessary to pass it.

Obama’s was one of the finest funeral orations by an American president—a tribute to Lewis’ life and a specific, actionable plea to protect the rights for which he and so many others fought and bled. History will determine whether his call—and that of Lewis—has been heard in the United States.

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Barack Obama

Barack Obama and Joe Biden Join Forces In Video Targeting Trump – The New York Times

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. joined forces with his top surrogate Thursday morning, releasing a video of a conversation with former President Barack Obama that cast the current occupant of the White House as unworthy and Mr. Biden as the perfect leader to replace him.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama covered several topics in the wide-ranging, 15 minute conversation, including President Trump’s faltering response to the coronavirus pandemic, health care, economic recovery, police brutality and presidential leadership.

The conversation, recorded at Mr. Obama’s Washington, D.C. office, was “socially distanced,” as Mr. Biden continues to contrast himself with Mr. Trump, who has only halfheartedly embraced coronavirus mitigation tactics such as wearing face masks and staying six feet away from another person. Mr. Biden and his former boss entered the office wearing masks, as the former vice president continues to diverge with Mr. Trump on that issue, then the two men sat in chairs across a room, not wearing masks, as they discussed how Mr. Biden would govern as president.

The video, coming at a time when Mr. Biden is leading Mr. Trump in the polls, was part interview and part political layup, with Mr. Obama teeing up Mr. Biden to talk about current events in the lens in which he was most comfortable. The two men repeatedly circled back to Mr. Trump, drawing a contrast with how Mr. Obama’s administration — and Mr. Biden’s potential White House — would handle situations differently than the incumbent.

Mr. Trump has been “deliberately dividing people from the moment he came down that escalator,” Mr. Biden said. “And I think people are now going, ‘I don’t want my kid growing up that way.’”

Mr. Obama responded by saying, in part, “The thing I’ve got confidence in, Joe, is your heart and your character, and the fact that you are going to be able to reassemble the kind of government that cares about people and brings people together.”

The video was released Thursday at 10 a.m. and represents another careful step into the political arena by Mr. Obama, who is desperate to see Mr. Trump defeated but for months remained behind the scenes as he sought to let the Democratic Party chart its own course. Hours ahead of the release, Mr. Biden’s campaign released several clips online, which built anticipation and showed Mr. Obama’s wide reach as a campaign surrogate and a highly respected leader of the Party.

At one point the two men discussed the importance of health care, referring to the Affordable Care Act the Obama Administration passed early in its first term. Mr. Biden talked about on it in deeply personal terms, reflecting on the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer.

That experience, Mr. Biden told Mr. Obama, underscored the importance of the health care legislation.

“I used to sit there and watch him in the bed and in pain and dying of glioblastoma,” Mr. Biden said of his older son, who died in 2015. “And I thought to myself, what would happen if his insurance company was able to come in, which they could have done before we passed Obamacare, and said: ‘You’ve outrun your insurance. You’ve outlived it. Suffer the last five months of your life in peace. You’re on your own.’”

Health care was a central issue for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, and they are emphasizing it again this election cycle, especially with the pandemic underscoring the importance of insurance coverage and care for the sick.

Mr. Trump came into office on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but he and Republicans in Congress failed in their efforts to undo the health law in 2017. Still, the Trump administration has repeatedly sought to undermine the law, and it is now asking the Supreme Court to overturn it.

“You and I both know what it’s like to have somebody you love get really sick, and in some cases to lose somebody,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Biden in their conversation. He called the Affordable Care Act a piece of “starter house” legislation, giving Mr. Biden room to tout his proposed public health insurance option that would build on Mr. Obama’s efforts.

“But that loss is compounded when you see the stress on their faces, because they’re worried that they’re being a burden on their families. They’re worried about whether the insurance is going to cover the treatments that they need.”

In another portion of the conversation, which was released on Wednesday, the two talked about their response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the current protests for racial equality. During Mr. Obama’s administration, some activists criticized the president for blocking efforts at systemic reform but there is large agreement he was more receptive than Mr. Trump.

Mr. Obama, the country’s first Black president, touted the police accountability measures implemented in his administration, including tasking the Justice Department with police oversight. He cited some instances of overt racism that still persist, including job discrimination.

“This is a process we’re all going through, and we’re all learning,” Mr. Obama said. “And something I’ve always admired about you Joe is your willingness to listen and to learn. It is a sign of leadership when you’re willing to hear other people’s experiences.”

The two are planning another online fund-raiser next week, with tickets ranging from $250 to $250,000. The Obamas, both the former president and his wife, Michelle, are likely the most high profile endorsers that Mr. Biden has, with the ability to drive attention and fund-raising unlike any other Democrats.

That Democrats have nominated his former vice president gives Mr. Obama a special entrance point to this election cycle, but he was rarely far away. During the primary, several candidates branded themselves as their heir to the “Obama coalition,” which could help Democrats achieve in 2020 what they failed to achieve in 2016.

The topics discussed in the video also function as a cheat sheet to the Biden campaign’s political message ahead of the general election. Mr. Obama ended the video talking about how Mr. Biden’s “basic decency” was just as important as any political message.

The two men also spent time focusing on the failures of Mr. Trump in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and the financial devastation it caused.

“You can’t separate out the public health crisis from the economy,” Mr. Obama said. “If you want the economy growing, people have to feel safe.”

Mr. Biden responded: “What you did, and what all great presidents do, is persuade.”

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Barack Obama

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Apple, and others hacked in unprecedented Twitter attack – The Verge

The Twitter accounts of major companies and individuals have been compromised in one of the most widespread and confounding hacks the platform has ever seen, all in service of promoting a bitcoin scam that appears to be earning its creator quite a bit of money.

We don’t know how the hack happened or even to what extent Twitter’s own systems may have been compromised — but following the unprecedented hacks of accounts including President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Michael Bloomberg, and Apple, Twitter has confirmed it took the drastic step of blocking new tweets from every verified user, compromised or no, as well as locking all compromised accounts.

Twitter says it won’t restore access to their owners “until we are certain we can do so securely.”

We have locked accounts that were compromised and will restore access to the original account owner only when we are certain we can do so securely.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020

On Wednesday evening, the company revealed that its own internal employee tools were compromised and used in the hack, which may explain why even accounts that claimed to have two-factor authentication were still attempting to fool followers with the Bitcoin scam.

The account takeovers appear to have subsided, but new scam tweets were posting to verified accounts on a regular basis starting shortly after 4PM ET and lasting more than two hours. Twitter acknowledged the situation after more than an hour of silence, writing on its support account at 5:45PM ET, “We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.”

We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020

The company took the unprecedented measure of preventing verified accounts from tweeting at all starting sometime around 6PM ET. This would seem to be the first time Twitter has ever done this in the company’s history. Twitter updated its stance on limiting tweets at 7:18PM ET, writing, “We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience.” At 8:41PM ET, Twitter said “most” verified accounts should be able to tweet, adding, “As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go.”

We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020

Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020

Late in the evening, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote, “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.” Product chief Kayvon Beykpour also released a public statement on his personal account, writing, “Our investigation into the security incident is still ongoing but we’ll be posting updates from @TwitterSupport with more detail soon. In the meantime I just wanted to say that I’m really sorry for the disruption and frustration this incident has caused our customers.”

Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened.

We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.

to our teammates working hard to make this right.

— jack (@jack) July 16, 2020

The chaos began when Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter account was seemingly compromised by a hacker intent on using it to run a bitcoin scam. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ account was also seemingly accessed by the same scammer, who posted a similar message with an identical bitcoin wallet address. Both accounts continued to post new tweets promoting the scam almost as fast as they were deleted, and Musk’s account in particular was still be under the control of the hacker as late as 5:56PM ET.

A spokesperson for Gates tells Recode’s Teddy Schleifer, “We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and working to restore the account.”

NEW — statement from a spokesperson for Bill Gates.

“We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and working to restore the account.”

— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) July 15, 2020

Shortly after the initial wave of tweets from Gates and Musk’s accounts, the accounts of Apple, Uber, former President Barack Obama, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, hip-hop mogul Kanye West, and former New York City mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, among others, were also compromised and began promoting the scam.

It’s unclear how widespread the operation is, but it appears to have affected numerous major companies and extremely high-profile individuals. That suggests someone, or a group, has either found a severe security loophole in Twitter’s login or account recovery process or those of third-party app — or that the perpetrator has somehow gained access to a Twitter employee’s admin privileges. According to Motherboard, numerous underground hacking circles have been sharing screenshots of an internal Twitter administration tool allegedly used to take over the high-profile verified accounts. Twitter is now removing images of the screenshot from its platform and in some cases suspending users who continue to share it.

So far, Twitter has confirmed that employee tools were used in the hack, but not which ones or more than a theory as to how hackers might have gotten access.

The origin of the scam can be traced to the moment when Musk’s account issued a mysterious tweet at 4:17PM ET reading, “I‘m feeling generous because of Covid-19. I’ll double any BTC payment sent to my BTC address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!” The tweet also contained a bitcoin address, presumably one associated with the hacker’s crypto wallet.

The tweet was then deleted and replaced by another one more plainly laying out the fake promotion. “Feeling grateful doubling all payments sent to my BTC address! You send $1,000, I send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes,” it read before also getting deleted. The tweet posted to Gates’ account echoed the Musk tweets, with an identical BTC address attached. It was also deleted shortly after posting, only for a similar message to take its place a few minutes later.

Square’s Cash App appears to be one of the other rare company accounts compromised. However, it’s not clear if the culprit is the same or if this is some form of a coordinated scam on behalf of a group, as the tweet contained a different BTC address than the ones posted to the other accounts.

In addition to the Cash App, popular crypto Twitter accounts, including those of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ Gemini cryptocurrency exchange and widely used wallet app Coinbase, were also compromised. Cameron Winklevoss claims the Gemini account was protected by two-factor authentication and used a strong password, and the company is now investigating how it was hit.


2FA / strong password was used for @Gemini account. We are investigating and hope to have more information shortly.

— Cameron Winklevoss (@winklevoss) July 15, 2020

Some people apparently fell for the scam and sent money to the associated BTC address, as records of the transactions are public due to the nature of the blockchain-based cryptocurrency. So far, the scammer have amassed nearly $120,000, although it seems as if the account owner is indeed sending money back out as the daily final balance has fluctuated up and down throughout the afternoon.

Musk has long been the target of bitcoin scammers on Twitter, many of whom create fake accounts designed to look like the entrepreneur and respond to his tweets promoting the scams so that they appear legitimate. Twitter even went so far as to start locking some accounts that change their name to “Elon Musk,” and the company singled out cryptocurrency scammers in spring 2018 as a source of known manipulation and deception that it was aiming to root out through bans and other moderation strategies.

Update, 7:33PM ET: Added new details regarding the Twitter hack and the company’s response.

Update, 8:53PM ET: Added that Twitter restored verified accounts’ tweeting ability.

Update, 11:56PM ET: Added Twitter’s first attempt to explain what happened, including the confirmation that Twitter’s own internal tools were compromised.

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