TIME Military

U.S. Resumes Weapons Flow to Egypt

An Egyptian Air Force F-16 fighter jet flies low over thousands of anti-government protesters gathered at Tahrir square in Cairo
Yannis Behrakis / Reuters A U.S.-built Egyptian F-16 flies low over thousands of anti-government protesters in Tahrir square in Cairo in January 2011.

But the White House announcement wasn't only about weapons

President Obama on Tuesday lifted his nearly two-year ban on shipping American weapons to Egypt, a restriction imposed after its military kicked out its elected government in 2013.

Obama relayed news of the move in a telephone call to Egyptian President (and former Army general) Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. It will allow for the shipment of 12 F-16 aircraft, 20 Harpoon missiles and up to 125 M-1 Abrams tank upgrades. The White House added that the Administration will continue to ask Congress to approve $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.

CRSU.S. aid to Egypt is overwhelmingly for new weapons, designated “FMF” (“Foreign Military Financing”).

The resumption of arms shipments to Egypt is in keeping with the growth of U.S. arms sales abroad. Major American weapons exports grew by 23% between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on March 16. “The USA has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool,” Aude Fleurant, of SIPRI, said when the group released its annual arms-sales accounting. “But in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the U.S. arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing U.S. military expenditure.”

The White House announcement wasn’t only about weapons. “President Obama also reiterated U.S. concerns about Egypt’s continued imprisonment of non-violent activists and mass trials,” it said in a statement. And, as the Administration drafts proposed legislation to resume military aid to Egypt, it “will not make the so-called ‘democracy certification’ in that legislation,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

In other words, Egypt remains little more than a military junta now wearing civilian clothes, and the White House won’t pretend otherwise.

All this is what diplomats call a return to the status quo ante—the way things were before. Obama is eager to defeat the militants of Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, defeat Islamic fundamentalist uprisings in Libya and Yemen and tamp down Iran’s ambitions—nuclear and otherwise. If he, and the U.S. government, have to cozy up to coup-plotters to achieve that goal, that’s realpolitik.

Cairo has recently suggested it may send ground troops into Yemen to bolster air strikes being carried out there by Saudi Arabia against the Iranian-backed Houthis rebels. Obama is now willing to resume the arms flow to Egypt in hopes of improving relations between the two nations as they join with other countries in a bid to restore stability to the war-racked region.

After nearly 40 years of such aid, the record is not reassuring. “Since the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, the United States has provided Egypt with large amounts of military assistance,” the Congressional Research Service reported earlier this month. “U.S. policy makers have routinely justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and on sustaining the treaty—principles that are supposed to be mutually reinforcing.”

TIME politics

Exclusive: Read a 9-Year-Old’s Letter to Obama About Putting a Woman on U.S. Currency — and His Response

Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia's mother Sofia, the girl who wrote to Obama asking him to put a woman on U.S. currency

"Why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?"

The little girl who asked Obama last year why there aren’t any women on U.S. bills has finally gotten a letter back from the President — and she’s invited to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

President Obama made waves last year when he mentioned he had received a letter from a little girl asking him to put some women on U.S. currency, which he called a “pretty good idea.” That letter was from Sofia, a Massachusetts girl who was just finishing third grade at the time.

“I was studying Ann Hutchinson, who stood up for women’s rights,” she says. “Almost everyone who chose a boy, on their poster they had pictures of different dollar bills or coins with their person on it. So I noticed, why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?”

Sofia, now 9, knew immediately what she had to do. “I just came home from school and said, ‘I need to write to the president.’” Sofia’s mother provided her letter exclusively to TIME:

Kim B. (Sofia's mother)
Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

For a while, Sofia didn’t hear anything back from the President. She says she “sort of forgot about it” until her dad showed her the President had mentioned her letter in a speech. “I was really excited about it, because I thought that maybe it would actually happen,” she says.

In the months since Sofia wrote to Obama, a campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has gone viral. The W20 movement is hosting an online poll so the public can vote on which woman should replace Andrew Jackson. The group plans to petition Obama and the Treasury Secretary to make it happen. Almost 220,000 people have voted in the online poll so far. And Sofia, who is now in fourth grade, is a junior ambassador for the campaign.

Even though she’s a longtime fan of Ann Hutchinson, Sofia wants to see Rosa Parks on the $20. “What she did was really important,” she says. “If it wasn’t for her, we’d still be segregated today.” She got her whole class to vote in the online poll, and her third grade teacher got her class to vote as well.

Last month, Sofia finally got a personalized letter back from the President, along with an invitation to attend this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. Here’s what President Obama wrote to her:

Unknown-1
Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

“The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group,” Obama wrote. “And I must say you’re pretty impressive, too.”

“I’ll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men, and I hope you’ll stay involved in issues that matter to you,” he continued. “If you keep focusing in school and trying to help others whenever you can, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.”

Sofia wants to be a teacher or a scientist when she grows up — after a younger friend was diagnosed with cancer, she decided she wants to study cures. But she also has some advice for other kids her age who want to make a difference. “Write a letter to somebody important,” she says, “because something could happen and it could actually change.”

 

TIME portfolio

Take a Walk Through the Streets of Cuba

TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev takes us to Havana

Cuba has light. Cuba has shadow. Cuba has decaying colonial grandeur. But what really matters is that Cuba has Cubans. Almost any place in the Caribbean contains the strains of African, Spanish and Anglo tradition that come together on its largest island. But nowhere else do they come together to such effect. Maybe it’s the land—after the Revolution uprooted the capitalists half a century ago, tobacco growers packed up seeds on their way out to plant them in Central America, but it turned out it wasn’t the seeds that made a cigar Cuban. It was the soil of Pinar del Rio, on the island’s western reaches. Apparently there is no place on earth like it.

The people are like that, too: Lively, sensual, verbal—the fastest-talkers in the Americas, some say—they project optimism as well as pride. Their country is poor and, without doubt, a security state, but also safe, literate and healthy. People enjoy life in Cuba as in few other places.

The question, now that the island is poised to receive Americans in substantial numbers, is whether Cuba itself will change. U.S. flags have begun showing up around Havana. Immigration to the States has been allowed since 2013, and remittances—cash via Western Union—accounts for a substantial portion of the economy. If reaction to U.S. meddling in Cuba was a factor in the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, a half century of defiant separation has done its work. The walls have been lowering for a while, the estrangement subsiding.

At this point, Cubans say they are ready to engage again. Yuri Kozyrev, a TIME contract photographer, spent 10 days there over the New Year holiday. The surprise of the Dec. 17 announcement by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro was still fresh, and hope was in the air. The Communist icons appeared a bit more iconoclastic after the news of impending change, the fading slogans a bit more faded. But the essential appeal of the place remained—nowhere more so than in Havana.

“A city is made by people,” Eusebio Leal, the official in charge of restoring the Old City, once told TIME’s Dolly Mascaernas. At the time, money was beginning to pour into Havana’s colonial core, funding restorations that pushed residents into the streets (where they had always half-resided anyway, the charm of a walk through Old Havana being life spilling out of the buildings on either side). Leal said a lesson was learned, one relevant to a country on the cusp of change.

”Beautiful buildings need life,” he said. “There is nothing more lively than the people that live in them. Cubans love the center of Havana. It is full of life and it will continue to be like that. There is no point in lifeless beautiful buildings. That is not a city, it’s a museum.”

Karl Vick is a TIME correspondent based in New York. From 2010 to the autumn of 2014, he was the Jerusalem Bureau Chief.

Yuri Kozyrev is a TIME contract photographer represented by Noor.

TIME Health Care

Obama on the Affordable Care Act’s Fifth Anniversary: ‘It’s Working’

White House Student Film Festival
Martin H. Simon—Pool/Corbis President Barack Obama hosts the second-annual White House Student Film Festival in the East Room of the White House, in Washington on March 20, 2015.

He challenged Republican critics who are campaigning on repealing the law.

President Obama had a simple message on the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act: It’s working.

Speaking in the Executive Office Building next to the White House, Obama argued that his signature health care law was “working better than many of us — including me — anticipated” at increasing health insurance rates and improving the quality of care.

“The bottom line is this for the American people: this law is saving money for families and for businesses,” he said. “This law is also saving lives, lives that touch all of us. It’s working despite countless attempts to repeal, undermine, defund and defame this law.”

In particular, Obama highlighted a government report that showed that fewer mistakes in hospitals saved the lives of 50,000 people between 2011 and 2013, which the White House partly attributed to initiatives to reduce accidental overdoses, bedsores and patient falls.

The remarks came just two days after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz promised to repeal “every word of Obamacare” in a speech launching his presidential campaign, the first Republican to join the 2016 race.

Obama took the opportunity to take a few shots at Republican critics of the law, joking that “death panels, doom, [and] a serious alternative from Republicans in Congress” have all failed to materialize and challenging candidates campaigning for repeal to explain how “kicking millions of families off their insurance” will strengthen the country.

“Making sure that the Affordable Care Act works as intended to not only deliver access to care but to improve the quality of care and the cost of care, thats something that requires us all to work together,” he said.

TIME White House

Obama Rubs Elbows With Some Inventive Girl Scouts

President Obama Hosts White House Science Fair
Aude Guerrucci—Pool/Getty Images U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with a group of six-year-old Girls Scouts from Tulsa Oklahoma who designed a battery powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis at the 2015 White House Science Fair in Washington on March 23, 2015.

The 6-year-old inventors were attending the 2015 White House Science Fair

President Obama spent some quality time with a group of six-year-old Girl Scouts from Tulsa, Oklahoma on Monday as part of the 2015 White House Science Fair.

The Girl Scouts—also known by the nickname “Supergirls”—attended the science fair after designing a battery-powered page turner meant to help people who are paralyzed or suffer from movement-related diseases like arthritis. They used Legos as the building blocks for the development of their prototype.

The White House Science Fair features projects from innovative students around the United States. This year’s fair is focusing on girls and women who are doing extraordinary things in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 19

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Instead of fighting about the Iran nuclear talks, Congress and the White House should be planning smart sanctions in case a deal falls through.

By Elizabeth Rosenberg and Richard Nephew in Roll Call

2. DARPA thinks it has a solution to Ebola — and lots of other infectious diseases.

By Alexis C. Madrigal at Fusion

3. A stand-out rookie’s retirement after one year in the NFL over fears of brain injury should be a wake-up call for all of football.

By Ben Kercheval in Bleacher Report

4. When patients are urged to get involved in their course of treatment, they’re more confident and satisfied with their care.

By Anna Gorman in Kaiser Health News

5. We don’t need “diversity” on television. We need television to reflect the world around us.

By Shonda Rhimes in Medium

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME People

Dick Cheney: Obama Is ‘Playing the Race Card’

Dick Cheney Slams Obama in Playboy
Brendan Hoffman—Getty Images Former Vice President Dick Cheney is interviewed by SiriusXM Patriot host David Webb at SiriusXM studios on Oct. 25, 2011 in Washington, DC.

The former VP discussed everything from Ferguson to Obama's "damage" in a new Playboy interview

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has never been one to mince his words about current U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are “playing the race card” when they suggest that their critics may be partially driven by race, Cheney told Playboy in an interview for its April issue, which was published online Tuesday.

Cheney also reaffirmed his view that the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., while tragic, has been overblown by the Obama administration.

“It seems to me it’s a clear-cut case that the officer did what he had to do to defend himself,” Cheney said. “I don’t think it is about race. I think it is about an individual who conducted himself in a manner that was almost guaranteed to provoke an officer trying to do his duty.”

Read the full interview at Playboy.

TIME White House

The Meanest Tweets Obama Didn’t Read

You ain't seen nothing yet

Correction appended, March 13

Keeping with a tradition on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show, President Obama read mean tweets about himself Thursday night. But compared to what he’s gotten from Congress, the tweets were fairly tame.

Obama himself made that point.

“I have to say, those weren’t that mean,” he told Kimmel after the segment. “I’ve gotta tell you, you should see what the Senate says about me all the time.”

For example: After the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in France, Obama was criticized for not going there to show his support.

Texas Republican Rep. Randy Weber tweeted: “Even Adolph [sic] Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris (For all the wrong reasons.) Obama couldn’t do it for right reasons.” Weber later deleted the tweet and apologized.

But it wasn’t the first time. In a series of other tweets from January 2014, Weber called Obama the “Kommandant-in-Chief,” a “socialist dictator” and suggested that POTUS stands for “Poor Obama Trashed U.S.”

Some of the tweets aren’t so much mean as they are cutting in good sport. After Obama joked during the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2013 that Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell wouldn’t be a good drinking buddy, McConnell tweeted a picture of himself having a beer with an empty chair for Obama, complete with a glass of red wine and the message “Greetings from Coal Country!”

And sometimes the mean tweets are friendly fire. Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur once jokingly tweeted (and deleted) as the stock market hit a now high that Obama was the “worst socialist ever.”

Still, most of the meanest tweets come from off Capitol Hill. Businessman Donald Trump is a serial offender when it comes to saying mean things about Obama. Here he is blaming Obama for a bad call in the Super Bowl:

And there’s this:

And this:

Even KitchenAid, a company that makes kitchen appliances, accidentally tweeted something mean about Obama. In 2012 someone tweeting for the company posted about the president’s grandmother, who died before he took office, “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics.” The company swiftly apologized for the tweet.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described a series of tweets by Texas Republican Rep. Randy Weber. The tweets were sent in January 2014 and they are still online.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 13

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Amid the rancor and theatrics in Washington, it’s easy to forget how remarkable it is that the U.S. and Iran are talking at all.

By George Perkovich at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. A critical step in drug research is understanding the impact on the heart. That’s why bioengineers built a beating heart on a silicone chip.

By Sarah Yang at the University of California at Berkeley

3. Americans are quitting their way to a stronger economy.

By Aaron Nathans in the Daily Economy

4. Just because we’re able to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children, does that mean we should?

By Antonio Regalado in MIT Technology Review

5. America has its own ion collider, and its funding is in danger.

By Natalie Walchover in Quanta

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Media

34 TIME Magazine Covers That Appeared to Give People Horns

Hillary Clinton joins Pope Francis, one large animal and many others who have appeared on the magazine's front with the eyebrow raising features

There was some hubbub online Thursday over TIME’s latest cover, which appeared to show Hillary Clinton sporting a set of horns. (This sort of thing has happened before.) Given the shape of the letter “m” in the magazine’s name and its location on the cover, many other subjects in the past have also appeared to sprout extra features (in fact this happened to Hillary Clinton at least once before. Same goes for Bill Clinton. George W. Bush too). Check out everyone from Margaret Thatcher to Pope Francis to Jesus to Darth Vader who have received the rough end of TIME’s “horns.” Any resemblance to cats, bats or devil horns is entirely coincidental.

Read next: 51 TIME Magazine Covers Featuring a Bush

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