After winning re-election by defeating Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Obama was sworn in for a second term in 2013. During this term, he promoted inclusion for LGBT Americans. His administration filed briefs that urged the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges); same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in 2015 after the Court ruled so in Obergefell. He advocated for gun control in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, indicating support for a ban on assault weapons, and issued wide-ranging executive actions concerning global warming and immigration. In foreign policy, he ordered military intervention in Iraq in response to gains made by ISIL after the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, continued the process of ending U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan in 2016, promoted discussions that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change, initiated sanctions against Russia following the invasion in Ukraine and again after Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, brokered a nuclear deal with Iran, and normalized U.S. relations with Cuba. Obama nominated three justices to the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were confirmed as justices, while Merrick Garland faced partisan obstruction and was not confirmed. During his term in office, America's reputation abroad significantly improved. His presidency has generally been regarded favorably, and evaluations of his presidency among historians, political scientists, and the general public place him among the upper tier of American presidents. Obama left office in January 2017 and continues to reside in Washington, D.C.
In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security was created by the Homeland Security Act to coordinate domestic anti-terrorism efforts. The USA Patriot Act gave the federal government greater powers, including the authority to detain foreign terror suspects for a week without charge, to monitor telephone communications, e-mail, and Internet use by terror suspects, and to prosecute suspected terrorists without time restrictions. The FAA ordered that airplane cockpits be reinforced to prevent terrorists gaining control of planes, and assigned sky marshals to flights. Further, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act made the federal government, rather than airports, responsible for airport security. The law created the Transportation Security Administration to inspect passengers and luggage, causing long delays and concern over passenger privacy. After suspected abuses of the USA Patriot Act were brought to light in June 2013 with articles about collection of American call records by the NSA and the PRISM program (see 2013 mass surveillance disclosures), Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, said that the National Security Agency overstepped its bounds.More Info
Health effects extended to residents, students, and office workers of Lower Manhattan and nearby Chinatown. Several deaths have been linked to the toxic dust, and the victims' names were included in the World Trade Center memorial. Approximately 18,000 people have been estimated to have developed illnesses as a result of the toxic dust. There is also scientific speculation that exposure to various toxic products in the air may have negative effects on fetal development. A notable children's environmental health center is currently analyzing the children whose mothers were pregnant during the WTC collapse, and were living or working nearby. A study of rescue workers released in April 2010 found that all those studied had impaired lung functions, and that 30–40% were reporting little or no improvement in persistent symptoms that started within the first year of the attack.More Info
In Shanksville, a concrete and glass visitor center was opened on September 10, 2015, situated on a hill overlooking the crash site and the white marble Wall of Names. An observation platform at the visitor center and the white marble wall are both aligned beneath the path of Flight 93. A temporary memorial is located 500 yards (457 m) from the crash site. New York City firefighters donated a cross made of steel from the World Trade Center and mounted on top of a platform shaped like the Pentagon. It was installed outside the firehouse on August 25, 2008. Many other permanent memorials are elsewhere. Scholarships and charities have been established by the victims' families, and by many other organizations and private figures.More Info
By midday, the U.S. National Security Agency and German intelligence agencies had intercepted communications pointing to Osama bin Laden. Two of the hijackers were known to have travelled with a bin Laden associate to Malaysia in 2000 and hijacker Mohammed Atta had previously gone to Afghanistan. He and others were part of a terrorist cell in Hamburg. One of the members of the Hamburg cell was discovered to have been in communication with Khalid Sheik Mohammed who was identified as a member of al-Qaeda.More Info
The attacks were denounced by mass media and governments worldwide. Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity. Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official statement that, "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity". The government of Saudi Arabia officially condemned the attacks, but privately many Saudis favored bin Laden's cause. Although Palestinian Authority (PA) president Yasser Arafat also condemned the attacks, there were reports of celebrations of disputed size in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Footage by CNN and other news outlets were suggested to be from 1991, which was later proven to be a false accusation, resulting in a statement being issued by CNN. As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non-Muslims.More Info
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