On May 16, 2020, Obama delivered two commencement speeches on behalf of the graduating youth who were not able to go to their physical graduation ceremonies due to the COVID 19 pandemic. His first speech was for part of the video streamed online program, “Show Me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition” virtual commencement. In his address, he spoke about systemic racism, touching on both the coronavirus pandemic, the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, and the fight to stay politically active saying, "The fight for equality and justice begins with awareness, empathy, passion, even righteous anger. Don't just activate yourself online, change requires strategy, action, organizing, marching, and voting in the real world like never before". His next commencement address was a part of a nationally televised event, titled Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 which aired on NBC.
Obama went on an international trip from November 28 to December 2, 2017, and visited China, India and France. In China, he delivered remarks at the Global Alliance of SMEs Summit in Shanghai and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. He then went to India, where he spoke at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit before meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over lunch. In addition, he held a town hall for young leaders, organized by the Obama Foundation. He also met with the Dalai Lama while in New Delhi. He ended his five-day trip in France where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron, former President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and then spoke at an invitation-only event, touching on climate issues.More Info
In December 2014, after the secret meetings, it was announced that Obama, with Pope Francis as an intermediary, had negotiated a restoration of relations with Cuba, after nearly sixty years of détente. Popularly dubbed the Cuban Thaw, The New Republic deemed the Cuban Thaw to be "Obama's finest foreign policy achievement." On July 1, 2015, President Barack Obama announced that formal diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States would resume, and embassies would be opened in Washington and Havana. The countries' respective "interests sections" in one another's capitals were upgraded to embassies on July 20 and August 13, 2015, respectively.More Info
In March 2010, Obama took a public stance against plans by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue building Jewish housing projects in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. During the same month, an agreement was reached with the administration of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with a new pact reducing the number of long-range nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both countries by about a third. Obama and Medvedev signed the New START treaty in April 2010, and the U.S. Senate ratified it in December 2010.More Info
In 2013, Jeffrey Goldberg reported that, in Obama's view, "with each new settlement announcement, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation." In 2014, Obama likened the Zionist movement to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. He said both movements seek to bring justice and equal rights to historically persecuted peoples. He explained, "To me, being pro-Israel and pro-Jewish is part and parcel with the values that I've been fighting for since I was politically conscious and started getting involved in politics." Obama expressed support for Israel's right to defend itself during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. In 2015, Obama was harshly criticized by Israel for advocating and signing the Iran Nuclear Deal; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had advocated the U.S. congress to oppose it, said the deal was "dangerous" and "bad."More Info
A package that contained a pipe bomb was sent to Obama's home in Washington, D.C, on October 24, 2018. The package was intercepted by the Secret Service during routine mail screenings. Similar packages were sent to several other Democratic leaders, mostly those who voiced strong objections to the policies of Donald Trump and to CNN. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was addressed as the sender of the package. On October 26, 2018, Cesar Sayoc was arrested and faced five federal charges in Manhattan carrying a combined maximum sentence of 48 years behind bars in relation to the pipe bombs. He was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison on August 5, 2019.More Info
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