It was not difficult for US President Barack Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder to be in the same orbit. Both were sons of immigrants, Columbia Ivy Leaguers, basketball fans and prominent black US political figures.
They first met nearly 10 years ago, dinner guests of a mutual Washington friend who seated Holder next to the newly elected senator from Illinois.
On Thursday, Obama announced that Holder would be stepping down as his attorney general, one of his longest-serving Cabinet members.
“This is bittersweet,” the president said.
Holder, who is to stay until his successor is confirmed by the Senate, was at his side. “In good times and in bad, in things personal and in things professional, you have been there for me,” he told Obama.
Indeed, over the course of six years on the job, Holder has had his ups and downs. He has also become a rare figure: a close Washington friend of the president.
Holder aggressively enforced the US Voting Rights Act, addressed drug-sentencing guidelines that led to disparities between white and black convicts, extended legal benefits to same-sex couples and refused to defend a law that allowed states to disregard gay marriages.
He oversaw the decision to prosecute terror suspects in US civilian courts instead of at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and helped establish a legal rationale for lethal drone strikes on suspects overseas. All were priorities of Obama’s.
He has also been Obama’s point man in the US federal response to the racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man last month.
“His greatest legacy has been in the areas of civil rights and race,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. He said Holder aimed for a frank discussion in the US about issues surrounding race with a dialogue “that intrinsically defies completion and so remains unfulfilled.”
In an interview on Thursday, Holder said Obama respected the separation between the White House and the department and let the department “do those things I thought appropriate.”
He said his biggest regret was “the failure to pass any responsible and reasonable gun safety legislation after the shootings in Newtown [Connecticut].”
He added that he thought the nation would embrace change that was “not radical, but really reasonable” on gun safety after the massacre at the elementary school.
As for the civil rights uproar in Ferguson, Holder said he is not sure whether the Justice Department would finish its investigation into the shooting before he leaves.
“I don’t want to rush them,” he said.
Holder and his wife have grown close to the Obamas and recently vacationed together on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Obama said Holder told him over the summer of his timing for leaving the office.
Obama said that Holder’s father was an immigrant from Barbados who served the US in World War II only to return to a segregated nation.
“He and his wife raised their son to believe that this country’s promise was real, and that son grew up to become attorney general of the United States. And that’s something,” Obama said.
Female flight attendants working for Japan Airlines would next month be allowed to wear trousers and abandon high heels, the company said on Thursday, after a feminist campaign took off. The airline became one of the first major Japanese firms to announce the shift after a campaign known as #KuToo last year rejected mandatory high heels at work, drawing more than 32,000 signatures in an online petition. The campaign is part of a wider feminism movement in Japan, with Japan Airlines saying that the new policy was aimed at boosting a “diverse working environment.” PANTS PERMIT “This will be the first time to introduce
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including
PORNHUB: Campaigners warn that videos of serious crimes, such as rape, are being uploaded to the site, which has failed to ban or moderate illegal content British lawmakers and campaigners are calling for urgent action to stop videos of rape, revenge porn and child abuse being posted on Pornhub as traffic to the site booms amid a worldwide COVID-19 lockdown. Pornhub’s traffic is up a record 12 percent this month compared with last month, as millions of people across the world are told to stay in their homes. Pornhub owner Mindgeek has used the coronavirus lockdowns to promote its site, giving free Premium access to people living in isolation in Italy, Spain and France. The offer has led to a huge increase in visits to the site from affected
TARGETED: Although hackers are known to be seeking to capitalize on concern over COVID-19, a cybersecurity expert said he had never seen anything to this extent before Elite hackers tried to break into the WHO earlier this month, sources said, part of what a senior agency official said was a more than two-fold increase in cyberattacks. The identity of the hackers was unclear and the effort was unsuccessful, WHO Chief Information Security Officer Flavio Aggio said. However, he warned that hacking attempts against the agency and its partners have soared as they battle to contain COVID-19, which has killed more than 15,000 worldwide. The attempted break-in at the WHO was first flagged to Reuters by Alexander Urbelis, a cybersecurity expert and attorney with the New York-based Blackstone Law Group,