Marco Rubio: "The reason why Cubans don't have access to 21st century telecommunications — like smart phones, like access to the Internet — is because it is illegal in Cuba."
There’s a good chance most Cubans won’t be able to read this article. And the reason why — lack of Internet access — is a point of a contention between President Barack Obama and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Obama on Wednesday, Dec. 17 announced sweeping changes to the United States’ decades-old isolation policy against Cuba, promising renewed diplomatic relations and an easing of regulations on commerce. Obama said the drastic shift in approach to the Communist-controlled island would help bolster the Cuban people, who he said have suffered from America’s cold shoulder. "I believe in the free flow of information," ...>> More
Marco Rubio: In the U.S. agreement with the Cuban government, "no commitment was made to allowing the establishment of political parties or to even begin the semblance of a transition to a democracy."
Sen. Marco Rubio -- a Republican born to Cuban emigres whose Florida constituency includes the nation’s largest concentration of Cuban-Americans -- has taken the lead opposing President Barack Obama’s overhaul of U.S.-Cuba relations. His main complaint: The United States isn’t getting enough out of the deal, especially when it comes to democratic reforms. On Dec. 17, 2014, Obama said the United States would be re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in more than five decades, as well as easing longstanding travel and export restrictions. The move coincided with Cuba’s release of jailed American contractor Alan Gross. Rubio ...>> More
Sergey Lavrov: "Congress is a very special group of people. More than 80 percent of them never left the United States."
Are American lawmakers rubes who never travel outside the United States? Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, seems to think so. It isn’t often that comments made by Russia’s foreign minister during an interview with French TV generate enough interest to catch PolitiFact’s eye. But a recent claim by Lavrov -- originally made to the France 24 channel, then repeated in a New York Times dispatch about Russia’s floundering currency -- caught the eye of several PolitiFact readers. In turn, they asked us to fact-check it. The claim came at about the 15-minute mark in the English-language ...>> More
Tom Coburn: The home-mortgage deduction is widely thought to be "a middle-class benefit. It's not -- 73 percent of it goes to people making a quarter-million dollars or more a year."
Not long before he was to officially retire from the U.S. Senate, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn appeared on CNN to discuss the Senate’s report on alleged CIA torture of detainees. But the Dec. 11, 2014, interview, eventually turned to an issue Coburn is better known for -- cutting government spending. Coburn aimed his comments at tax breaks given to people who, he suggested, don’t really need them. "We're going to spend $5 trillion over the next five years in terms of tax benefits to selected groups of people that may not necessarily be (helpful in) growing and creating ...>> More
Rep. Peter King brushed off a new Senate report on the CIA interrogation program as a partisan, one-sided account. Nothing to see here, people. Move along. During a Dec. 9 appearance on a local radio station, King, a New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterintelligence & Terrorism, said that the CIA tactics were "rough, they were tough, but they were not torture." He went on to downplay the report’s findings. "This is not a case where people were killed," he said. "We’re not talking about anyone being burned or stabbed or cut ...>> More
Barack Obama: "We are younger than our competitors, and this is entirely because of immigration."
We’re not sure what a sexy argument for immigration reform would sound like, but President Barack Obama admitted that one he offered last week was a bit on the wonky side. "It's not a sexy argument to make to the public, but we are younger than our competitors, and that is entirely because of immigration," Obama told a group of business executives. "And when you look at the problems that China, Japan, Europe, Russia, are all going to have, a lot of it just has to do with their getting old. And we stay young because were constantly being replenished ...>> More
Facebook posts: "When (Barack Obama) took office, 2.3 million people were out of work. Five-plus years later, we have 5 million-plus out of work."
Late last week, the federal government announced what was widely perceived as a strong jobs report, with an increase of 321,000 jobs over the previous month. This capped a year of the most robust employment growth in years. But that hasn’t stopped criticism about weak job gains from circulating on social media. Around the time the new job numbers were being released, a reader asked us to check a meme circulating on social media. The meme features an image of a glum-looking President Barack Obama, along with the caption, "When he took office, 2.3 million people ...>> More
Bernie Sanders: "In 1990, the U.S. led the world in the percentage of 25-34 year olds with college degrees. Today we are in 12th place."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has toyed with running for president in 2016, is a member of Congress who loves to share statistical claims on social media. Sometimes it’s on Twitter; other times it’s in memes tailored for Facebook. A reader recently sent us a new meme featuring an image of the populist senator alongside a claim he made about higher education. It said: "Forty years ago, some of our great public universities, as well as many state colleges, were virtually tuition free. Today, the cost of college is unaffordable for many. In ...>> More
Chain email: Says a man in Ferguson, Mo., was photographed holding a sign that said, "No mother should have to fear for her son's life every time he robs a store."
In the wake of several high-profile confrontations between white police officers and unarmed African-Americans recently, social media has become a major source of accusations, arguments -- and hoaxes. Recently, a reader sent us a photo that has been circulating on social media, showing an African-American protester standing in front of a fire station and holding up a hand-lettered sign that reads, "No mother should have to fear for her son's life every time he robs a store." The sign is an obvious reference to the death of Michael Brown, the black teenager who was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo., ...>> More
Reince Priebus: Says Barack Obama has "the worst record of any president when it comes to putting America deeper in debt."
Public concern about America’s debt load tends to wax and wane, but it never really goes away. Recently, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, brought up the national debt again, right around the time the broadest measure of national debt broke through the $18 trillion barrier for the first time. On Dec. 2, 2014, Priebus said that President Barack Obama has "the worst record of any president when it comes to putting America deeper in debt," according to an account in The Hill newspaper. He went on to call the growth in debt "immoral" and ...>> More
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer ruffled some feathers among his own party recently when he said passing Obamacare was the wrong thing to do. In remarks at the National Press Club Nov. 25, Schumer, of New York, said it wasn’t politically prudent for the Democrats in Congress to focus their energy on health care. The vast majority of voters who brought President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats into office in 2008, Schumer said, wanted policy that addressed the recession, not health insurance. In fact, he said, uninsured voters -- those who would get many of the law’s immediate benefits ...>> More
The shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by former Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson has sparked national dialogues ranging from the racial makeup of police forces to the militarization of local law enforcement. Another issue up for debate is the use of deadly force by police. On this topic, we heard a noteworthy statistic from National Urban League CEO Marc Morial during an appearance on Fox News Sunday: "The number of killings of citizens by police is at a two-decade high." The stat caught our attention, but is it accurate? At first blush, it looked ...>> More
Facebook posts: "794 law enforcement officers have fallen in the line of duty since B.H. Obama took office, with no special recognition from the White House."
Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., have inspired waves of anger on social media. Recently, a reader asked us to check one of the memes now circulating on the Internet. The meme pairs two images. One captures several flag-draped coffins, presumably of law enforcement officers. The other is a still from surveillance footage showing Michael Brown allegedly assaulting an employee at a convenience store that he’s suspected of robbing the day he was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. To these images, the meme adds the following text: "Want to know where racial tension and cultural divide comes from? "794 law enforcement ...>> More
Facebook posts: "The U.S. Constitution owes its notion of democracy to the Iroquois Tribes."
Shortly before Thanksgiving, a reader sent us a social media meme of the type that sends you scrambling back to your high school history textbook wondering, "Did my teacher mention this?" The meme features the following claim: "The U.S. Constitution owes its notion of democracy to the Iroquois Tribes, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and separation of powers in government. Only difference is the Iroquois included women and non-whites." It’s accompanied by a reproduction of Junius Brutus Stearns’ 1856 painting of the founding fathers signing the United States Constitution in 1787. We zeroed in on ...>> More
Facebook posts: A sign in Dearborn, Mich., for the Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America says, "Allah be praised. America we will kill you all and nothing you can do to stop it."
A reader recently sent us a meme circulating on social media that purports to be a threat by radical Muslims to mass-murder Americans. The meme was pasted into an email with the subject line, "A sign in Dearborn, Michigan." (Dearborn has an unusually large Muslim population.) Headlined, "This is what liberalism will buy you," the meme features a photograph of a sign with removable letters, purportedly advertising a group called the Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America. The sign reads, "Allah be praised. America we will kill you all and nothing you can do to stop it. Allah be praised." ...>> More