U.S. Policy Update for Monday, 08 August 2016

Fireworks burst over Maracanã Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5. (AP Images)

Today’s topics: Immigrant voters in the U.S. elections / Rio Olympics / Rising temperatures around the Globe / ISIL losing, shifting strategy

Rio Olympics

05 August 2016 Kerry’s Meeting With Olympic Athletes From Team USA  But my message to you on behalf of President Obama and I think all of the American people are that there’s so much more to each of you than a lot of people see than just terrific athletes. And I know there’s some of you who are – we have one member of the team who is a refugee from Eritrea who is working with refugees and helping refugees to relocate. There are others among you who are working with kids to try to take at-risk kids and give them a sense of future. There are folks among you – there’s one who is a Muslim competitive – competitor from the United States of America, a fencer, and she is working with girls, working with our embassy actually in Russia, our embassy in England, helping to set an example for what women can do when they get an opportunity to be able to compete and be part of society in full. That’s a great message.

U.S. Olympic basketball star Tamika Catchings is playing in her final Olympics in Rio. (© AP Images)
U.S. Olympic basketball star Tamika Catchings is playing in her final Olympics in Rio. (© AP Images)

08 July 2016  On the court, Tamika Catchings found an unlikely sixth sense  Tamika Catchings’ clunky hearing aids made it hard for her to find friends when she was growing up outside of Chicago in the 1980s.
Relentless teasing from bullies sometimes had her come home from primary school in tears. “All I really wanted was to be normal,” she said. In third grade, she was so fed up, she ripped off her hearing aids and threw them in a field.

That’s what it was like before Catchings found sports. As an athlete, she out-worked all of her peers, and as she got better, the same kids who had hassled her on the playground started to choose her first for sports teams.

Today she is a superstar, playing for the Indiana Fever of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and preparing for her fourth Olympic Games.

07 August 2016  Entire Russian Team Banned from Paralympic Games in Fallout from Doping Scandal  (VOA News) The entire Russian team has been banned from the Paralympic Games in September, punishment for the country’s systematic doping program that extends beyond the partial ban imposed on Russian athletes who wanted to compete in the current summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro.

22 July 2016 Meet the U.S. women’s gymnastics team  The 2016 U.S. women’s gymnastics team is favored to win gold at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with one of the strongest squads in history.    If they meet such high expectations, these athletes will follow in the footsteps of the “Fierce Five,” the U.S. team that won gold in London four years ago, and the “Magnificent Seven,” the U.S. team competing in Atlanta in 1996 and the first women’s gymnastics team to earn gold for the U.S.


2016 Summer Olympics logo

Want to read more? Our sister site, Share.America.gov has a feature on this years’ Summer Olympics in Rio!


U.S. Elections 2016

Infographic of US Immigrant Voters
U.S. Immigrant Voters

08 August 2016 Immigrant voters: The key to victory?   Political parties are all about winning elections. In the U.S., both major parties work hard to understand changes in the composition and views of the voting public. In 2016, they see that immigrant voters are becoming increasingly influential.

Gabriel Sanchez, an expert at the political-opinion research firm Latino Decisions, says the story is in the numbers. Per the 2014 U.S. Census, about 20 million — nearly 1 in 10 — eligible voters are immigrants.

The immigrant vote can be crucial in the closely contested “swing states” that frequently determine the winner in a presidential election.  Immigrant voters may identify with candidates from a similar background, something the major parties take note of when recruiting candidates. Sanchez discerns “a small but important rise in engagement among Latino immigrants when there are co-ethnic candidates on the ballot.”

05 August 2016 About Presidential Nominations  Rules within parties for nominating presidential candidates are not spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. As noted, there were no political parties in existence at the time the Constitution was drafted and ratified in the late 1700s, and the founders of the Republic had no interest in proscribing procedures for such entities.

Beginning in 1796, members of the U.S. Congress who identified with one of the political parties of the time met informally to agree on their party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees. Known as “King Caucus,” this system for selecting party candidates continued for almost 30 years. It broke down in 1824, a victim of the decentralization of power in politics that accompanied the westward expansion of the United States.


Climate Change

Global sea surface temperature record high in 2015 (via NOAA)
Global sea surface temperature record high in 2015 (via NOAA)

08 August 2016  Scientists’ annual physical of the planet: Earth’s fever rises  Earth’s fever got worse last year, making 2015 the hottest on record.

The new State of the Climate report, sometimes called earth’s “annual physical,” found climate-related measurements breaking records set one year earlier. Those include measures for land and ocean temperatures, sea levels, and greenhouse gases, according to the August 2 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“I think the time to call the doctor was years ago,” NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report, told the Associated Press. “We are awash in multiple symptoms.”



Anti-ISIL Efforts

President Barack Obama, center, Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter greet each other during a meeting of the National Security Council at the Pentagon (04 August 2016, DoD photo)
President Barack Obama, center, Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter greet each other during a meeting of the National Security Council at the Pentagon (04 August 2016, DoD photo)

04 August 2016  ISIL Knows It Will Lose, Already Shifting Strategy, Obama Says at Pentagon  After presiding at a meeting of his National Security Council in the Pentagon today, President Barack Obama said Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leaders know they will lose in Syria and Iraq, and they are already shifting their strategy in advance of that sure defeat.

“In fact, the decline of ISIL in Syria and Iraq appears to be causing it to shift to tactics that we’ve seen before — an even greater emphasis on encouraging high-profile terrorist attacks, including in the United States,” Obama said at a news conference after the meeting.