TIME politics

These Photos of Joe Biden Eating an Ice Cream Cone Show That His Eternal Summer Shall Not Fade

Oh, Mr. Vice President, thou art so lovely and so temperate

Well, it looks like whoever runs the Joe Biden Eats Ice Cream Tumblr has some updating to do.

During a visit to Portland to campaign with Sen. Jeff Merkley Wednesday, the veep stopped by the city’s beloved Salt & Straw ice cream parlor for a little treat. Or actually, from the looks of it, a rather large treat.

Biden ordered a scoop of “Chocolate Woodblock” and a scoop of “Double-Fold Vanilla” in a waffle cone. Of course, he also bought a cone for Merkley. And of course, he kept his aviators on the entire time.

Biden, Merkley
Vice President Joe Biden, right, and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley enjoy ice cream cones after a campaign rally in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Don Ryan—AP
Biden, Merkley
Vice President Joe Biden, right, pays for ice cream cones for himself and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley after a campaign rally in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Don Ryan—AP
Biden
Vice President Joe Biden enjoys an ice cream cone after a campaign rally for Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Don Ryan—AP
Biden, Lobkowizc
Vice President Joe Biden holds an ice cream cone as he poses for a photo with Hope Lobkowizc and her son, Owen, at an ice cream parlor after a campaign rally in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Don Ryan—AP
Biden, Merkley
Vice President Joe Biden gets ready to pay for an ice cream cone after a campaign rally for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Don Ryan—AP

Somewhere, Leslie Knope is going weak in the knees.

TIME White House

Biden Takes Veiled Shot at Clinton, Panetta Over ‘Inappropriate’ Books

Vice President Joe Biden speaks to students faculty and staff at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. on Oct. 2, 2014.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks to students faculty and staff at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. on Oct. 2, 2014. Winslow Townson—AP

High-level White House debates over Iraq and Syria are coming to light as top officials air their differences.

Vice President Joe Biden blasted former members of President Barack Obama’s administration who have gone on to write “inappropriate” books about the White House.

Speaking to Harvard students in a question-and-answer session Thursday, Biden was asked whether he believes the U.S. should have acted earlier in Syria, a critique leveled by former Secretary of State and likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in recent memoirs.

“The answer is no for two reasons,” Biden said. “One, the idea of identifying a moderate middle has been a chase America has been engaged in for a long time. We Americans think in every country in transition there’s a Thomas Jefferson hiding behind some rock, or a James Madison beyond one sand dune. The fact of the matter is, the ability to identify a moderate middle in Syria was—there was no moderate middle, because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers; they’re made up of people who, in fact, have—ordinary elements of the middle class of that country.”

The vice president continued that it was “inappropriate” for former administration officials to write books while Obama is still in office.

“And what happened was—and their history will record this, because I’m finding that former administration officials, as soon as they leave write books, which I think is inappropriate. But any rate,” Biden said as the audience chuckled. “No, I’m serious. I do think it’s inappropriate. At least give the guy a chance to get out of office.”

Clinton’s book Hard Choices includes details of internal deliberations where she unsuccessfully pressed President Barack Obama to arm Syrian rebels in 2012, one of the only clear denunciations she makes of the president in the book. “The risks of both action and inaction were high,” Clinton wrote. “Both choices would bring unintended consequences. The President’s inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels.”

In Panetta’s forthcoming memoir, Worthy Fights, excerpted in this week’s TIME, the former Pentagon chief takes issue with Obama’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the subsequent rise of ISIS in Syria. “To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country,” Panetta writes.

Left unsaid by the vice president, is that he often argued for caution against intervention in the debates highlighted by Panetta and Clinton, according to current and former officials’ accounts.

TIME Joe Biden

Biden on Being a Veep: ‘Isn’t That a B—h?’

44th Annual Legislative Conference - Day 1
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the CBC Spouses 17th Annual Celebration of Leadership in Fine Arts at the Nuseum Museum on September 24, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Earl Gibson III—Getty Images

Add another to your list of Bidenisms

Mark this down as another “Biden being Biden” moment.

On Thursday night, a questioner at the Harvard Institute of Politics identified himself as the vice president of the student body. A smiling Vice President Joe Biden then remarked, “Isn’t that a b***h?”

“I mean . . . excuse me. The vice president thing,” he said, according to CNN. Biden added: “I’m joking, I’m joking, I’m joking. Best decision I ever made. I’m joking—that was a joke.”

The student replied that he hopes Biden loves his job. “I do, actually. I love the guy I work with,” Biden said. The comments came during a forum on foreign policy.

Biden ran for President in 1988 and 2008 and has left the door open for another run in 2016.

[CNN]

TIME Congress

White House Wants Congress to OK $500 Million for Syrian Rebels

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the phone with Saudi King Abdullah from the  Oval Office of the White House in Washington
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the phone with Saudi King Abdullah from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 10, 2014. Kevin Lamarque—Reuters

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are reportedly lobbying lawmakers for funds to arm and train Syrian rebels in fight against ISIS

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are personally lobbying members of Congress to authorize around $500 million in funding to train and arm Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, according to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke in Congress Wednesday in support of funding the rebels, dismissing the potential cost. “I believe we need to train and equip Syrian rebels,” Reid said. “Going at it alone will not suffice.”

House Republicans are now debating whether to add the White House request to the pending government spending bill.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D—Mich.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R—Tenn.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters Wednesday that they support arming and training the Syrian rebels.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) noted that an overwhelming majority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to arm moderate elements of the Syrian opposition in May 2013. “I think the task has gotten harder in terms of determining how to do that in a way that the arms end up in the right hands,” said Kaine. “But I still think that that can be an appropriate way to deal with [ISIS] threats on the Syria side.”

Not all senators support the measure, however. A spokesperson for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he “doesn’t believe that we should fund rebels who could potentially be our enemies.”

TIME Domestic Abuse

20 Years of Change: Joe Biden on the Violence Against Women Act

Vice President Joe Biden commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act at the National Archives in Washington on Sept. 9, 2014.
Vice President Joe Biden commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act at the National Archives in Washington on Sept. 9, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

VAWA, which changed our national conversation on abuse and brought safety to more women, is my proudest legislative accomplishment

Domestic abuse of any kind is violent and ugly, and today there is rightful public outrage over it, whether the perpetrators are famous athletes, college students, members of the military, or leaders of our institutions and communities.

On Tuesday, I joined hundreds of domestic violence survivors and advocates at the National Archives to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and to recognize a right that flows directly from our founding documents: the right of every woman in America to be free from violence and free from fear.

Twenty years ago, this was a right that few people understood and our culture failed to recognize. Kicking a wife in the stomach or pushing her down the stairs was repugnant, but it wasn’t taken seriously as a crime. It was considered a “family affair.” State authorities assumed if a woman was beaten or raped by her husband or someone she knew, she must have deserved it. It was a “lesser crime” to rape a woman if she was a “voluntary companion.” Many state murder laws still held on to the notion that if your wife left you and you killed her, she had provoked it and you had committed manslaughter.

That was the tragic history when, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990. We started out believing that the only way to change the culture was to expose the toll of domestic violence on American families. And I was convinced, as I am today, that the basic decency of the American people would demand change once they saw the scale of violence and the depth of the ignorance and stereotypes used to justify it.

To paint an honest picture, I invited health professionals to testify on the long-term psychological effects of the violence. Advocates told of the desperate need for funding for shelters and centers. But what broke through were the stories of courageous survivors.

One woman testified ten years after being raped by her boyfriend as a 15-year-old, “It is not the gory details that you need to hear to understand, it is the suffering, the loss of feeling any control, the incredible self-blame, and the disruption of a survivor’s life that can’t often be heard.” She asked the committee a powerful question: “How did I get this message that…it was my fault?”

We heard more stories through a report detailing a single week in America where 21,000 women were victims of assaults, murders, and rapes. Women had arms broken with hammers and heads beaten with pipes by men who supposedly loved them.

But as more women — and men — spoke out, minds began to change. Terms of the debate shifted. And we forged a national consensus that something had to be done. Local coalitions of shelters and rape crisis centers led the way. National women’s groups and civil rights groups got on board. Brave women judges and lawyers stood up to Chief Justice Rehnquist, who opposed to the bill because it included a civil rights remedy. To get it passed with that remedy and more resources for shelters and advocates, I added VAWA to a crime bill I had been working on for years that had bipartisan support, put 100,000 cops on the streets, and provided more assistance for law enforcement.

On September 13, 1994, President Clinton signed the bill into law, and with each reauthorization over the years we’ve improved and included more protections for women, LGBT Americans, and Native Americans.

As a consequence of the law, domestic violence rates have dropped 64%; billions of dollars have been averted in social and medical costs; and we’ve had higher rates of convictions for special-victims unites and fundamental reforms of state laws. The nation’s first National Domestic Violence Hotline has helped 3.4 million women and men fight back from domestic and dating violence.

And along the way we’ve changed the culture. Abuse is violent and ugly and today there is rightful public outrage over it. It matters that the American people have sent a clear message: you’re a coward for raising a hand to a woman or child—and you’re complicit if you fail to condemn it.

That’s a monumental change from twenty years ago, and it’s why the Violence Against Women Act is my proudest legislative accomplishment. But we know there’s more to do. One in five women in America has experienced rape or attempted rape. Sex bias still plagues our criminal justice system with stereotypes like “she deserved it” or “she wore a short skirt” tainting the prosecution of rape and assault.

But twenty years after this law first passed, I remain hopeful as ever that the decency of the American people will keep us moving forward in the fight against this rawest form of violence and a culture that hides it. They understand the true character of our country is measured when violence against women is no longer accepted as society’s secret and where we all understand that even one case is too many.

Joe Biden is the Vice President of the United States.

TIME White House

Biden Calls Domestic Violence the ‘Ugliest Form of Violence’

Vice President Joe Biden commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act at the National Archives in Washington on Sept. 9, 2014.
Vice President Joe Biden commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act at the National Archives in Washington on Sept. 9, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

On 20th anniversary of Violence Against Women Act

Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that there is still much work to be done to protect women from violence, despite the strides that have been made in the 20 years since the Violence Against Women Act passed.

“We’re not going to succeed until America embraces the idea that no man has a right to raise his hand to a woman except for in self defense… that no means no, whether it’s in the bedroom or in the back of a car. Rape is rape,” Biden said during a commemorative event at the National Archives. “Until we reach that point we’re not going to succeed.”

Biden, who was at the time a Senator, drafted the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and was instrumental in its passage and implementation. The 20th anniversary came just as a video of NFL star Ray Rice hitting his wife as garnered national headlines and led to his suspension from the team.

Biden said much has changed in the years since VAWA passed, including VAWA itself, which has been reauthorized three times since 1994. The law provides prosecutorial protection and support for women who are victims of violence, and was later expanded to include unmarried women and the LGBT community.

Biden said Tuesday that more change will come, “when everyone understands that even one case is too many.”

TIME Foreign Policy

Biden Says U.S. Will Follow ISIS ‘to the Gates of Hell’

Joe Biden
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Civil Society Forum on the sideline of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 4, 2014 Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

"Because hell is where they will reside"

Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the U.S. will follow the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) “to the gates of hell,” in remarks just a day after an ISIS video showed the beheading of a second American journalist.

“If they think the American people will be intimidated, they don’t know us very well,” Biden said during a speech at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, in which he referred to ISIS militants as “barbarians” who should reside in hell.

“The American people are so much stronger, so much more resolved than any enemy could fully understand,” Biden said. “As a nation we are united, and when people harm Americans we don’t retreat. We don’t forget.”

Biden called Steven Sotloff, the American executed in the video released Tuesday, “brave and compassionate.”

President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters in Europe on Wednesday, said “justice will be served” against ISIS, which also executed American journalist James Foley.

“Our objective is to make sure that [ISIS] is not an ongoing threat to the region,” Obama said. “And we can accomplish that.”

TIME White House

Biden Celebrates Labor Day With Call For ‘Fair Wage’

A job's about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about your dignity, it's about your place in the community, it's about who you are."

Vice President Joe Biden celebrated Labor Day with a call for a “fair wage” at a union rally for workers in Detroit on Monday.

“Folks, the middle class is in real trouble now,” Biden said to an enthusiastic crowd. “A job’s about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity, it’s about your place in the community, it’s about who you are.”

Biden’s 20-minute speech employed a populist and personal tone as he took on everything from the estate tax to American corporations that have moved operations overseas.

Biden, who is known for his blue collar roots, referenced his family roots and his ties to labor.

“‘Joey, you’re labor from belt buckle to shoe sole,'” Biden said his uncle told him.

 

TIME Education

Obama to Sign Bill Improving Worker Training

Barack Obama, Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden greets President Barack Obama as he arrives to speak at Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Oakdale, Pa., about the importance of jobs-driven skills training. Carolyn Kaster—AP

On Tuesday, President Obama and Vice President Biden will announce new executive actions on job training at the signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Congress and the President have finally found some common ground: Obama will sign the first significant legislative job training reform effort in nearly a decade on Tuesday.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passed by Congress on July 9 will streamline the federal workforce training system, trimming 15 programs that don’t work, giving schools the opportunity to cater their services to the needs of their region, and empowering businesses to identify what skills workers need for success and help workers acquire them.

The bipartisan, bicameral bill is a response to a projection that by 2022, 11 million workers will lack the education necessary to succeed in a 21st century workplace including bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, and vocational certificates.

“Workforce training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from promising careers in 21st century workplaces,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) when the bill passed.

The Obama Administration apparently agrees. On Tuesday, when Obama signs the bill into law, he and Vice President Joe Biden will also announce new federal and private sector actions to address the need for an improved job training system, which currently serves about 21 million Americans including veterans, Americans with disabilities, the unemployed, and those who lack skills to climb the career ladder. The Obama administration’s new actions also complement the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by improving federal training programs not included in the bill.

Earlier in 2014, President Obama tasked Biden with reviewing the federal training system to find ways to improve it. As a result of that review, Biden will issue a report Tuesday that outlines “job-driven” strategies that the Administration says will make the federal training system “more effective, more responsive to employers, and more accountable for results” in Tuesday’s report.

Chief among these strategies is a new “job-driven checklist,” a tool that measures how effective programs are in preparing students for careers that will be incorporated into applications for all 25 federal training grants, at a total of about $1.4 billion, starting Oct. 1. The checklist requires programs to engage with local employers in designing programs that cater to their needs, ramp up opportunities for internships and apprenticeships, and keep better data on employment and earning outcomes.

“From now on, federal agencies will use specific, job-driven criteria to ensure that the $17 billion in federal training funds are used more effectively,” a senior White House official said on a Monday evening press call.

The Obama administration will also expand opportunities for apprenticeships, considered a “proven path to employment and the middle class,” according to a White House statement. After completing these programs, 87% of apprentices gain employment at an average starting salary of $50,000.

In addition to using competitions and grants to bolster job training in the U.S., the administration will also use technology. On Tuesday, Obama and Biden will announce $25 million award from the Department of Labor to develop a web-based “skills academy” for adult learners. And the Department of Education will experiment with education models that award skills based on a person’s tangible skills rather than their performance in a classroom setting.

“Too often job training programs are focused on providing the skills needed for yesterday’s jobs, not the jobs of today and tomorrow,” an administration official said Monday. “And teaching methods are often rooted in outdated, class-based models that haven’t kept pace with technology and new training techniques.”

TIME Crime

Here’s What Happens When You Get a Rape Kit Exam

It takes a lot longer and is more invasive than you think

Updated: July 22, 4:00 p.m.

Getting a rape kit collected is no picnic. The process can last up to four hours, and involves getting poked, prodded, swabbed and photographed in exactly the places a rape victim would have been violated in an attack.

“There’s a lot of myths about there, myths about prostitutes coming in to get free medical care, but this is a very invasive 2-4 hour plus exam,” says Kim Hurst, director of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program in Detroit. “We’re doing pubic hair pulls or combs, we’re doing swabs of the outside of the genitalia… and then we’re doing a speculum exam [which is internal] and taking swabs that way, and if there was an anal assault we’re doing swabs there. And then we use a colposcope [a specialized medical camera] to take pictures of genital injury.”

The exam is usually performed in a hospital before the kit of evidence is turned over to the police for their investigation. The DNA from the kit and potential rapist is entered into CODIS, a national FBI database that helps law enforcement track serial offenders across the country.

But as TIME reported this week, thousands of rape kits across the country have been shelved and forgotten without being tested. According to a 2011 report from the National Institute of Justice, 18% of all unsolved rapes between 2002 and 2007 involved forensic evidence that had never been processed. In 2009, over 11,000 forgotten rape kits were discovered in a Detroit police warehouse, which means 11,000 potential victims went through the rape kit collection process, only to have the evidence discarded. Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy has been setting an example for how best to clear the backlog and prosecute the cold cases, but other cities could follow her lead; Phoenix has almost 3,000 backlogged kits, Dallas has over 4,000, and Memphis has over 12,000. That’s why the House of Representatives recently passed $41 million to test backlogged kits and investigate the cold cases.

“The bottom line, by testing these rape kits, we can identify serial rapists, put them behind bars, and bring the ultimate nightmare of the women raped to an end,” said Vice President Joe Biden when he asked Congress in March for the backlog funding in Obama’s 2015 budget. The bill has yet to pass the Senate.

Pick up this week’s issue of TIME to find out more on how investigators in Detroit are leading the way in clearing the rape kit backlog and getting victims overdue justice, or follow this link.

 

With special thanks to Monica Pombo and the Crime Victims Treatment Center at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in Manhattan.

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