President Obama took to the podium at the White House today for a press conference for the first time since April 30. In the nearly hour-long session, the president focused on potential NSA reforms, but also touched on Obamacare, immigration, and U.S. relations with Russia (as well as Vladimir Putin’s posture). Here are some key things to know from today’s rare presser:
On the NSA: NPR News: “In the shadow of classified leaks that exposed some of the government’s most secret surveillance programs, President Obama said he will work with Congress to reform the law governing their function. Speaking at a press conference in East Room of the White House, Obama defended the programs but said the reforms will bring greater oversight and transparency to the programs. ‘America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” Obama said. “Our intelligence is focused above all on finding the information that’s necessary to protect our people and, in many cases, protect our allies. It’s true we have significant capabilities. What’s also true is we show a restraint … that some governments around the world refuse to show.’”
On Snowden: Washington Post: “President Obama, asked directly whether NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a patriot, said that he is not. ‘No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden is a patriot,’ Obama said. ‘My preference, and I think the American people’s preference, would have been for a lawful, thoughtful review of these laws.’ … ‘There were other avenues available for someone whose conscience was stirred and thought they needed to questions government action,’ Obama said.”
On ObamaCare: Washington Post: “Obama acknowledged that there would ‘glitches’ in the implementation of Obamacare, but criticized Republicans for seeking to defund it. ‘There is no doubt that in the implementation of [Obamacare] there are going to be glitches,’ Obama said, noting that was also true of other major efforts, including Social Security and Medicare. Obama said there will be anecdotal evidence for opponents of the law to cite. But he said efforts by some Republicans to not fund the government if Obamacare is funded are misguided. ‘I have confidence that common sense in the end will prevail,’ Obama said.”
Happy Friday! You made it, we all made it. Welcome to the Slatest PM, where we’re rounding up the day’s top stories and looking longingly at the weekend ahead. Follow me, your afternoon news guide, on Twitter at @s_brodez and the whole team at @slatest.
Fort Hood Soldiers Testify on Massacre: Associated Press: “Sgt. 1st Class Maria Guerra recalled [the shooting] while testifying Thursday during the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan. The Army psychiatrist is charged with killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others during a rampage at the sprawling Texas military base. When prosecutors asked Guerra to describe the scene inside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, where she was worked on the base, her voice began breaking. ‘I see bodies. I see bodies everywhere. And I see blood,’ the soldier said. ‘No one is moving. There was no movement. There was no sound. So I yelled out, ‘Is everybody OK?’ … I started hearing, ‘Help me. I’m bleeding. I’ve been shot. Help me.””
US on Offensive in Yemen: Reuters: “A U.S. drone killed three suspected al Qaeda militants in east Yemen, a local official said, the third strike within 24 hours as Washington intensifies efforts to eradicate al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch after recent warnings of possible attacks. The three men were travelling in a vehicle in the province of Hadramout in an area called Ghail Bawazeer, 45 km (28 miles) from the provincial capital Mukalla, when they were targeted by the drone on Thursday night, the official told Reuters.”
Would-Be Federal Reserve Bomber Gets 30 Years: Associated Press: “A 22-year-old Bangladeshi man who begged for leniency after pleading guilty to terrorism charges for trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison. ‘I’m ashamed. I’m lost. I tried to do a terrible thing. I alone am responsible for what I’ve done. Please forgive me,’ Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis said before his sentence was handed down in Manhattan federal court. He apologized to the judge, the United States, New York City and his parents.Nafis became radicalized at his university in Bangladesh and came to the U.S. with aspirations of jihad, according to lawyers on both sides.”
Kerry Urges US-Russia Cooperation on Syria: Reuters: “The United States and Russia must find ways to work around their sharp differences and agree on approaches to Syria and other global trouble spots, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday, as the two countries launched high-level talks. U.S.-Russia ties, deeply strained over Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, were ‘marked by both shared interests and, at times, colliding and conflicting interests,’ he said in Washington. ’We will discuss these differences today, for certain, but this meeting remains important above and beyond the collisions and the moments of disagreement,’ said Kerry.”
Small Plane Crashes in Connecticut: NBC News: “At least three people, including two children, were missing Friday after a small plane missed its landing and slammed into a pair of Connecticut homes, leaving a scene of ‘total devastation,’ officials said. The missing children, who were in one of the homes, are 13 and 1 years old. Their mother, who survived, was meeting with a priest, officials said. … The pilot, who flew out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, tried to land once at Tweed-New Haven Airport but was unable to for unknown reasons. The plane was making a second landing attempt when it crashed, [Connecticut Gov. Dannel] Malloy said.”
A Few More Quick Hits from Slate:
XX Factor: Beyoncé Cuts Her Hair and You Better Love It
Future Tense: We’re Bringing 1,100 Haikus To Mars This Fall
That’s all for today. Have a great weekend. Until next time, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.