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Year Three Day 48 Obama Administration March 8, 2011 - History

Year Three Day 48 Obama Administration March 8, 2011 - History

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9:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing Oval Office

10:15AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing Oval Office

12:45PM THE PRESIDENT departs the White House en route Andrews Air Force Base South Lawn

1:05PM THE PRESIDENT departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Boston, Massachusetts

2:10PM THE PRESIDENT arrives in Boston, Massachusetts Logan International Airport

2:45PM THE PRESIDENT visits a classroom with Melinda Gates and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan TechBoston Academy

3:15PM THE PRESIDENT deliver remarks on winning the future in education TechBoston Academy

7:05PM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks at a DCCC fundraiser Museum of Fine Arts

Howling For Justice

Obama Administration Prematurely Abandoning Recovery, Despite Ample Room for Wolves in Southern Rockies, West Coast, Northeast

By: Center for Biological Diversity

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 3, 2014 – A first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity identifies 359,000 square miles of additional habitat for gray wolves in 19 of the lower 48 states that could significantly boost the nation’s 40-year wolf recovery efforts. The study indicates the gray wolf population could be doubled to around 10,000 by expanding recovery into areas researchers have identified as excellent habitat in the Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon, an area where a radio-collared wolf was photographed in recent weeks.

The report comes as the Obama administration moves to strip Endangered Species Act protection from gray wolves by the end of the year, even though wolves have been recovered in less than 10 percent of their historic habitat and are routinely trekking hundreds of miles to disperse to areas of the American landscape they once called home.

“This wolf’s pioneering journey to Arizona, like the wolf OR-7’s remarkable trek across Oregon to California, highlights the compelling on-the-ground reality made clear in this new report,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “The Obama administration must finally acknowledge that the job of recovering wolves to sustainable populations is far from done.”

Today’s report, Making Room for Wolf Recovery: The Case for Maintaining Endangered Species Act Protections for America’s Wolves, analyzes 27 published research papers identifying suitable wolf habitat. It shows that the current wolf population of 5,400 could be nearly doubled if federal protections were retained and recovery efforts began to restore wolves to some of the places they once called home.

The report documents 56 instances over 30 years where wolves have dispersed from existing core recovery areas to states where they have yet to reestablish, including Colorado, Utah, California, New York, Massachusetts and Maine. These events, which frequently have ended in the dispersing wolves being shot, highlight the need for continued federal protections and recovery planning to increase the odds for dispersing wolves to survive and recolonize former terrain. The most famous dispersing wolf, OR-7, traveled hundreds of miles from northeast Oregon to California and has started a family along the border of the two states.

The report’s findings come as federal wildlife officials are working to verify the genetic identity of the radio-collared wolf photographed near Grand Canyon National Park — a discovery that suggests the wolf is likely a northern Rockies gray wolf who traveled hundreds of miles to historic wolf habitat where wolves were exterminated more than 50 years ago.

“What we’re seeing is that the amazing journeys of OR-7 and the wolf spotted in Arizona are far from oddities — they’re reflections of very natural dispersal patterns in recent years, where wolves have travelled hundreds of miles trying to expand to enough of their historic range to survive ongoing threats,” Weiss said. “But without the protection of the Endangered Species Act, we know that these wolves will too often face the same kind of hostility that nearly drove them extinct a century ago.”

Since endangered species protections were taken away from wolves in 2011 in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes, the states have enacted aggressive hunting and trapping seasons designed to drastically reduce populations. To date more than 2,800 wolves have been killed, resulting in a 9 percent population decline in the northern Rockies and a 25 percent decline in Minnesota. Idaho passed legislation this year creating a “wolf control board,” with the sole purpose of killing wolves, and appropriated $400,000 for the task. Removal of protection in the rest of the country will ensure that anti-wolf prejudices prevail and wolf recovery is stopped in its tracks.

“State management of wolves has turned an Endangered Species Act success story into a tragedy,” said Weiss. “Rather than sound science, gray wolf management by the states has been dominated by anti-wolf hysteria and special-interest politics. Wolves need federal protection so they can survive, continue to recover, and eventually reprise their historic wilderness role at the top of the food chain.”

The report details the serious problems with state management and the important part wolves play in ecosystems it can be read and downloaded here.

Large members of the canid family, gray wolves are habitat generalists able to live nearly anywhere other than extreme desert or tropical environments, but which require human tolerance for survival. Living in family packs that typically range from five to 10 animals, wolves are highly social animals, with all pack members involved in rearing of young and in hunting forays for their prey (predominantly large wild ungulates such as elk, deer, moose and caribou). At around the age of two to three years, wolves tend to disperse from their family packs to seek mates and territories of their own.

Gray wolves were once the most widely ranging land mammals on the planet, with an estimated 2 million distributed throughout North America at the time of European colonization. As settlers moved west, they cleared the land for their grain and livestock, wiping out first the wolves’ wild prey and then the wolves themselves. Government-sponsored predator-eradication campaigns conducted on behalf of the livestock industry exterminated wolves everywhere in the lower 48 states, with the exception of a remnant population of fewer than 1,000 wolves in far northeastern Minnesota.

Wolves were first federally protected in 1967, under a precursor to the Endangered Species Act. This allowed Minnesota’s wolf population to expand in number and range into neighboring Wisconsin and parts of Michigan. In the mid-1990s, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho their descendants have slowly dispersed into parts of Washington and Oregon, with one wolf making it to California. In the late 1990s, the most highly endangered subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf, was reintroduced to Arizona.

In 2011 Congress stripped wolves of federal protections in the northern Rockies and adjacent areas, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did the same for wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. Under state management, in less than three years, wolf populations in these states have demonstrated substantial declines, with nearly 3,000 wolves killed in state-sanctioned hunting and trapping seasons.

In June 2013 the Obama administration proposed stripping federal protections from wolves across most of the lower 48 states. Despite receipt of more than 1.5 million public comments opposed to delisting wolves and critical comments from scientists and a peer review panel, the administration is expected to issue an official rule removing protection from wolves before the end of the year.

Texas vs. the Feds — A Look at the Lawsuits

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the state of Texas has sued his administration at least 48 times. Here's a look at each of those cases.

by Neena Satija, The Texas Tribune and Reveal, and Lindsay Carbonell and Ryan McCrimmon, The Texas Tribune Jan. 17, 2017 12 AM Central

Editor's note: This story is no longer being updated. For more information on the state's 2021 legal battles with the federal government, click here.

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the state of Texas has sued his administration at least 48 times, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of state data &mdash a point of pride for the state's Republican leaders.

Former Texas Attorney General and current Gov. Greg Abbott filed 31 of those lawsuits. His successor, Ken Paxton, has mounted 17 such legal challenges since taking office in 2015. Paxton's office has provided cost estimates for 39 of those cases, which as of mid-2016 totaled about $5.9 million.

So what did Texans get for their money? So far , there have been seven cases in the win column for the state, with 12 losses, nine cases withdrawn and 20 pending. (Scroll down to see details on each case.)

In the state's most recent win, a split U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down Obama's executive order that would have provided relief from deportation to millions of people. But the outcome of that case could change after a new justice is appointed. Texas' most recent loss came in June, when a district judge in Dallas dismissed a lawsuit over the resettlement of Syrian refugees here. When the ruling came out, Paxton said that his office was "considering our options moving forward."

Many high-profile cases are still making their way through the legal process, including lawsuits over new limits on smog, directives on bathroom use in public schools and climate change policy.

Paxton's office declined a request for an interview to discuss the cases. In the past, Texas officials have argued that even when lawsuits are not ultimately successful, they can stall costly regulations for years and prompt federal agencies to reconsider their policies.

While this analysis looks at lawsuits that Texas has filed against the Obama administration, the reverse happens, too. The Justice Department sued Texas in 2013 over its controversial voter ID law, and the U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals largely agreed with the challenge. The appeals court's July decision is by no means final, with Texas likely to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Below is a look at all 48 cases where the state sued the Obama administration, color-coded by status and sorted by cost, with the most expensive lawsuits shown first. Use the menu to filter cases by subject matter and status. We summarize what the face-off is about, the total cost to the state and the standing of each lawsuit.

President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February? By Jeremy Scahill

For those already outraged at the AIG bonus scandal, here is a fact that should add more fuel to the fire: The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May. I reviewed Blackwater’s recent transactions with the Obama State Department and discovered a $45 million payment to Blackwater on February 4, 2009 for “protective services-Iraq.” It is described as a “funding action only.” Here is the interesting part: The estimated “Ultimate Completion Date” is 5/07/2011.

The Washington Times (as described below) reported on a $22 million payment to Blackwater on February 2. Combined with the $45 million payment I discovered, that’s nearly $67 million in 72 hours. Not bad for a company supposedly going down in flames.

With the U.S. economy in shambles and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and keep their homes, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton need to explain to U.S. taxpayers how they justify these mega-payments to a scandal-plagued mercenary company. (At the very least, someone should ask Robert Gibbs about it).

It has been widely reported that the Bush administration’s preferred mercenary company, which recently renamed itself Xe, will soon be leaving Iraq. That news came early this year after the State Department, under immense public pressure, announced it would not renew the company’s lucrative deal to act as the private paramilitary force for senior U.S. occupation officials. The Iraqi government has said it wants the company to leave Iraq and says it has revoked the company’s operating license. The Obama administration continues to use Blackwater in Afghanistan and the company has extensive domestic training contracts with the military and law enforcement agencies inside the borders of the U.S.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that some of Blackwater’s armed operatives may simply be rehired by two other US mercenary firms that are expected to take over Blackwater’s work in Iraq under the Obama administration: Triple Canopy and DynCorp. Now, The Washington Times reports that the State Department has signed contracts with Blackwater that appear to extend the company’s presence in Iraq at least until September 2009.

“On Feb. 2, a department spokesman was asked whether officials planned to renew one of Blackwater’s contracts past May. The spokesman, Robert Wood, said the department had told Blackwater ‘we did not plan to renew the company’s existing task force orders for protective security details in Iraq.’

“But records available through a federal procurement database show that on that same day, the State Department approved a $22.2 million contract modification for Blackwater ‘security personnel’ in Iraq, with a job completion date of Sept. 3, 2009.”

“Why would you continue to use Blackwater when the Iraqi government has banned the highly controversial company and there are other choices?” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

State Department spokesman Noel Clay told The Washington Times the contract modification involves aviation services. “The place of performance is Iraq, but it is totally different than the Baghdad one that expires in May,” he said. Sloan called the State Department’s explanation of the Feb. 2 deal a “parsing of words” and said “they should just be straight with us.” Xe spokeswoman Anne Tyrell declined to comment on the status of the company’s work in Iraq or the Feb. 2 contract modification. She said the company was aware that the State Department had indicated that it did not plan to renew its contracts in Iraq but that Xe officials had not received specific information about leaving the country. “We’re following their direction,” she said.

Blackwater recently renamed itself Xe and its owner Erik Prince “resigned” as CEO, though he remains its sole owner and chairman.

Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Obama – anti-Christian? (justfun225)

When one observes President Obama’s unwillingness to accommodate America’s four-century long religious conscience protection through his attempts to require Catholics to go against their own doctrines and beliefs, one is tempted to say that he is anti-Catholic. But that characterization would not be correct. Although he has recently singled out Catholics, he has equally targeted traditional Protestant beliefs over the past four years. So since he has attacked Catholics and Protestants, one is tempted to say that he is anti-Christian. But that, too, would be inaccurate. He has been equally disrespectful in his appalling treatment of religious Jews in general and Israel in particular. So perhaps the most accurate description of his antipathy toward Catholics, Protestants, religious Jews, and the Jewish nation would be to characterize him as anti-Biblical. And then when his hostility toward Biblical people of faith is contrasted with his preferential treatment of Muslims and Muslim nations, it further strengthens the accuracy of the anti-Biblical descriptor. In fact, there have been numerous clearly documented times when his pro-Islam positions have been the cause of his anti-Biblical actions.

Listed below in chronological order are (1) numerous records of his attacks on Biblical persons or organizations (2) examples of the hostility toward Biblical faith that have become evident in the past three years in the Obama-led military (3) a listing of his open attacks on Biblical values and finally (4) a listing of numerous incidents of his preferential deference for Islam’s activities and positions, including letting his Islamic advisers guide and influence his hostility toward people of
Biblical faith.

1. Acts of hostility toward people of Biblical faith:

· February 2009 – Obama announces plans to revoke conscience protection for health workers who refuse to participate in medical activities that go against their beliefs, and fully implements the plan in February 2011.
· April 2009 – When speaking at Georgetown University, Obama orders that a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name be covered when he is making his speech.
· May 2009 – Obama declines to host services for the National Prayer Day (a day established by federal law) at the White House.
· April 2009 – In a deliberate act of disrespect, Obama nominated three pro-abortion ambassadors to the Vatican of course, the pro-life Vatican rejected all three.
· October 19, 2010 – Obama begins deliberately omitting the phrase about ‘the Creator’ when quoting the Declaration of Independence, an omission he has made on no less than seven occasions.
· November 2010 – Obama misquotes the National Motto, saying it is ‘E Pluribus Unum’ rather than ‘In God We Trust’ as established by federal law.
· January 2011 – After a federal law was passed to transfer a WWI Memorial in the Mojave Desert to private ownership, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the cross in the memorial could continue to stand, but the Obama administration refused to allow the land to be transferred as required by law, and refused to allow the cross to be re-erected as ordered by the Court.
· February 2011 – Although he filled posts in the State Department, for more than two years Obama did not fill the post of religious freedom ambassador, an official that works against religious persecution across the world he filled it only after heavy pressure from the public and from Congress.
· April 2011 – For the first time in American history, Obama urges passage of a non-discrimination law that does not contain hiring protections for religious groups, forcing religious organizations to hire according to federal mandates without regard to the dictates of their own faith, thus eliminating conscience protection in hiring.
· August 2011 – The Obama administration releases its new health care rules that override religious conscience protections for medical workers in the areas of abortion and contraception.
· November 2011 – Obama opposes inclusion of President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous D-Day Prayer in the WWII Memorial.
· November 2011 – Unlike previous presidents, Obama studiously avoids any religious references in his Thanksgiving speech.
· December 2011 – The Obama administration denigrates other countries’ religious beliefs as an obstacle to radical homosexual rights.
· January 2012 – The Obama administration argues that the First Amendment provides no protection for churches and synagogues in hiring their pastors and rabbis.
· February 2012 – The Obama administration forgives student loans in exchange for public service, but announces it will no longer forgive student loans if the public service is related to religion.

2. Acts of hostility from the Obama-led military toward people of Biblical faith:

· June 2011 – The Department of Veterans Affairs forbids references to God and Jesus during burial ceremonies at Houston National Cemetery.
· August 2011 – The Air Force stops teaching the Just War theory to officers in California because the course is taught by chaplains and is based on a philosophy introduced by St. Augustine in the third century AD – a theory long taught by civilized nations across the world (except America).
· September 2011 – Air Force Chief of Staff prohibits commanders from notifying airmen of programs and services available to them from chaplains.
· September 2011 – The Army issues guidelines for Walter Reed Medical Center stipulating that “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading materials and/or facts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.
· November 2011 – The Air Force Academy rescinds support for Operation Christmas Child, a program to send holiday gifts to impoverished children across the world, because the program is run by a Christian charity.
· November 2011 – The Air Force Academy pays $80,000 to add a Stonehenge-like worship center for pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans.
· February 2012 – The U. S. Military Academy at West Point uninvites three star Army general and decorated war hero Lieutenant General William G. (‘Jerry’) Boykin (retired) from speaking at an event because he is an outspoken Christian.
· February 2012 – The Air Force removes ‘God’ from the patch of Rapid Capabilities Office (the word on the patch was in Latin: Dei).
· February 2012 – The Army orders Catholic chaplains not to read a letter to parishioners that their archbishop asked them to read.

3. Acts of hostility toward Biblical values:

· January 2009 – Obama lifts restrictions on U.S. government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, forcing taxpayers to fund pro-abortion groups that either promote or perform abortions in other nations.

· January 2009 – President Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of state asserts that American taxpayers are required to pay for abortions and that limits on abortion funding are unconstitutional.

· March 2009 – The Obama administration shut out pro-life groups from attending a White House-sponsored health care summit.

· March 2009 – Obama orders taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

· March 2009 – Obama gave $50 million for the UNFPA, the UN population agency that promotes abortion and works closely with Chinese population control officials who use forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.

· May 2009 – The White House budget eliminates all funding for abstinence-only education and replaces it with ‘comprehensive’ sexual education, repeatedly proven to increase teen pregnancies and abortions. He continues the deletion in subsequent budgets.

· May 2009 – Obama officials assemble a terrorism dictionary calling pro-life advocates violent and charging that they use racism in their ‘criminal’ activities.

· July 2009 – The Obama administration illegally extends federal benefits to same-sex partners of Foreign Service and Executive Branch employees, in direction violation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

· September 16, 2009 – The Obama administration appoints as EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, who asserts that society should ‘not tolerate’ any ‘private beliefs,’ including religious beliefs, if they may negatively affect homosexual ‘equality’.

· July 2010 – The Obama administration uses federal funds in violation of federal law to get Kenya to change its constitution to include abortion.

· August 2010 – The Obama administration Cuts-funding for 176 abstinence education programs.

· September 2010 – The Obama administration tells researchers to ignore a judge’s decision striking down federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

· February 2011 – Obama directs the Justice Department to stop defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

March 2011 – The Obama administration refuses to
investigate videos showing Planned Parenthood helping alleged sex traffickers
get abortions for victimized underage girls.

July 2011 – Obama allows homosexuals to serve
openly in the military, reversing a policy originally instituted by George
Washington in March 1778.

September 2011 – The Pentagon directs that
military chaplains may perform same-sex marriages at military facilities in
violation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

October 2011 – The Obama administration
eliminates federal grants to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for their
extensive programs that aid victims of human trafficking because the Catholic
Church is anti-abortion.

4. Acts of preferentialism for Islam:

May 2009 – While Obama does not host any
National Day of Prayer event at the White House, he does host White House Iftar
dinners in honor of Ramadan.

April 2010 – Christian leader Franklin Graham is
disinvited from the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer Event because of
complaints from the Muslim community.

April 2010 – The Obama administration requires
rewriting of government documents and a change in administration vocabulary to
remove terms that are deemed offensive to Muslims, including jihad, jihadists,
terrorists, radical Islamic, etc.

August 2010 – Obama speaks with great praise of
Islam and condescendingly of Christianity.

August 2010 – Obama went to great lengths to
speak out on multiple occasions on behalf of building an Islamic mosque at
Ground Zero, while at the same time he was silent about a Christian church
being denied permission to rebuild at that location.

2010 – While every White House traditionally
issues hundreds of official proclamations and statements on numerous occasions,
this White House avoids traditional Biblical holidays and events but regularly
recognizes major Muslim holidays, as evidenced by its 2010 statements on
Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha.

October 2011 – Obama’s Muslim advisers block
Middle Eastern Christians’ access to the White House.

February 2012 – The Obama administration makes
effulgent apologies for Korans being burned by the U. S. military, but when
Bibles were burned by the military, numerous reasons were offered why it was
the right thing to do.

Many of these actions are literally unprecedented – this is the first time they
have happened in four centuries of American history. The hostility of President
Obama toward Biblical faith and values is without equal from any previous
American president.

1. Sarah Pulliam Baily,
“Obama: ‘They cling to guns or religion’,” Christianity Today, April
13, 2008. (Return)

2. Aliza Marcus, “Obama to
Lift ‘Conscience’ Rule for Health Workers,” Bloomberg, February 27, 2009
Sarah Pulliam Baily, “Obama Admin. Changes Bush ‘Conscience’ Rule for
Health Workers,” Christianity Today, February 18, 2011. (Return)

3. Jim Lovino, “Jesus Missing
From Obama’s Georgetown Speech,” NBC Washington, April 17, 2009. (Return)

4. Johanna Neuman, “Obama end
Bush-era National Prayer Day Service at White House,” Los Angeles Times,
May 7, 2009. (Return)

5. Chris McGreal, “Vatican vetoes Barack Obama’s nominees for U.S. Ambassador,” The Guardian, April 14,
2009. (Return)

6. Meredith Jessup, “Obama
Continues to Omit ‘Creator’ From Declaration of Independence,” The Blaze, October 19, 2010.

7. “Remarks by the President
at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta,
The White House, November 10, 2010. (Return)

8. LadyImpactOhio, ” Feds sued
by Veterans to allow stolen Mojave Desert Cross to be rebuilt,” RedState,
January 14, 2011. (Return)

9. Marrianne Medlin, “Amid
criticism, President Obama moves to fill vacant religious ambassador post,”
Catholic News Agency, February 9, 2011 Thomas F. Farr, “Undefender of the
Faith,” Foreign Policy, April 5, 2012. (Return)

10. Chris Johnson, “ENDA passage
effort renewed with Senate introduction,” Washington Blade, April 15, 2011.

11. Chuck Donovan, “HHS’s New
Health Guidelines Trample on Conscience,” Heritage Foundation, August 2, 2011.

12. Todd Starns, “Obama
Administration Opposes FDR Prayer at WWII Memorial,” Fox News, November 4,
2011. (Return)

13. Joel Siegel, “Obama Omits God
From Thanksgiving Speech, Riles Critics,” ABC News, November 25, 2011. (Return)

14. Hillary Rodham Clinton,
“Remarks in Recognition of International Human Rights Day,” U.S. Department of State, December
6, 2011. (Return)

15. Ted Olson, “Church Wins Firing
Case at Supreme Court,” Christianity Today, January 11, 2012. (Return)

16. Audrey Hudson, “Obama
administration religious service for student loan forgiveness,” Human Events,
February 15, 2012. (Return)

17. “Houston Veterans Claim Censorship of Prayers,
Including Ban of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’,” Fox News, June 29, 2011. (Return)

18. Jason Ukman, “Air Force
suspends ethics course that used Bible passages that train missle launch
officers,” Washington Post, August 2, 2011. (Return)

19. “Maintaining Government
Neutrality Regarding Religion,” Department of the Air Force, September 1,
2011. (Return)

20. “Wounded, Ill, and Injured
Partners in Care Guidelines,” Department of the Navy (accessed on February
29, 2012). (Return)

21. “AirForceAcademy Backs Away from Christmas
Charity,” Fox News Radio, November 4, 2011. (Return)

22. Jenny Dean, “AirForceAcademy adapts to pagans,
druids, witches and Wiccans,” Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2011.

23. Ken Blackwell, “Gen.
Boykin Blocked At West Point,” cnsnews.com, February 1, 2012. (Return)

24. Geoff Herbert, ” Air Force
unit removes ‘God’ from logo lawmakers warn of ‘dangerous precedent’,” syracuse.com, February 9, 2012.

25. Todd Starnes, “Army
Silences Catholic Chaplains,” Fox News Radio, February 6, 2012. (Return)

26. Jeff Mason and Deborah Charles,
“Obama lifts restrictions on abortion funding,” Reuters, January 23,
2009. (Return)

27. “Obama pick: Taxpayers
must fund abortions,” World Net Daily, January 27, 2009. (Return)

28. Steven Ertelt, “Pro-Life
Groups Left Off Obama’s Health Care Summit List, Abortion Advocates OK,”
LifeNews, March 5, 2009. (Return)

29. ” Obama Signs Order
Lifting Restrictions on Stem Cell Research Funding,” Fox News, March 9,
2009. (Return)

30. Steven Ertelt, “President
Barack Obama’s Pro-Abortion Record: A Pro-Life Compilation,” LifeNews,
February 11, 2012. (Return)

31. Steven Ertelt, “Barack
Obama’s Federal Budget Eliminates Funding for Abstinence-Only Education,”
LifeNews, May 8, 2009. (Return)

32. Steven Ertelt, “Obama
Budget Funds Sex Ed Over Abstinence on 16-1 Margin,” LifeNews, February
14, 2011. (Return)

33. Steven Ertelt, “Obama
Admin Terrorism Dictionary Calls Pro-Life Advocates Violent, Racist,”
LifeNews, May 5, 2009. (Return)

34. “Memorandum for the Heads
of Executive Departments and Agencies,” The White House, June 17, 2009.

35. Matt Cover, “Obama’s EEOC
Nominee: Society Should ‘Not Tolerate Private Beliefs’ That ‘Adversely Affect’
Homosexuals,” cnsnews.com,
Jan 18, 2010.

36. Tess Civantos, “White
House Spent $23M of Taxpayer Money to Back Kenyan Constitution That Legalizes
Abortion, GOP Reps Say,” Fox , July 22, 2010

37. Steven Ertelt, “Obama,
Congress Cut Funding for 176 Abstinence Programs Despite New Study,”
LifeNews, August 26, 2010. (Return)

38. Steven Ertelt, “President
Barack Obama’s Pro-Abortion Record: A Pro-Life Compilation,” LifeNews,
February 11, 2012. (Return)

39. Brian Montopoli, “Obama
administration will no longer defend DOMA,” CBSNews, February 23, 2011.

40. Steven Ertelt, “Obama
Admin Ignores Planned Parenthood Sex Trafficking Videos,” LifeNews, March
2, 2011. (Return)

41. Elisabeth Bumiller, “Obama
Ends ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy,” New York Times, July 22, 2011.

42. Luis Martinez, “Will Same
Sex Marriages Pose a Dilemma for Military Chaplains?,” ABC News, October
12, 2011. (Return)

43. Jerry Markon, “Health,
abortion issues split Obama administration and Catholic groups,”
Washington Post, October 31, 2011. (Return)

44. Alexander Mooney,
“President Obama marks Ramadan,” CNN, August 1, 2011. (Return)

45. “Franklin Graham Regrets
Army’s Decision to Rescind Invite to Pentagon Prayer Service,” Fox News,
April 22, 2010. (Return)

46. “Obama Bans Islam, Jihad From
National Security Strategy Document,” Fox News, April 7, 2010
“Counterterror Adviser Defends Jihad as ‘Legitimate Tenet of Islam’,”
Fox News, May 27, 2010 “‘Islamic Radicalism’ Nixed From Obama Document,”
CBSNews, April 7, 2010. (Return)

47. Chuck Norris, “President
Obama: Muslim Missionary?,” Townhall.com, August 17, 2010.(Return)

48. “Obama Comes Out in Favor
of Allowing Mosque Near Ground Zero,” Fox News, August 13, 2010 Pamela
Geller, “Islamic Supremacism Trumps Christianity at Ground Zero,”
American Thinker, July 21, 2011. (Return)

49. “WH Fails to Release
Easter Proclamation,” Fox Nation, April 25, 2011 “President Obama
ignores most holy Christian holiday AFA calls act intentional,” American
Family Association (accessed on February 29, 2012).(Return)

50. “Report: Obama’s Muslim
Advisers Block Middle Eastern Christians’ Access to the White House,” Big
Peace (accessed on February 29, 2012). (Return)

“USA/Afghanistan-Islamophobia: Pentagon official apologizes for Quran
burning,” International Islamic News Agency (accessed on February 29,

52. “Military burns
unsolicited Bibles sent to Afghanistan,”
CNN, May 22, 2009. (Return)

Year Three Day 48 Obama Administration March 8, 2011 - History

Opposition NCP today demanded an ED probe into "money laundering" angle in finances of INX Media, founded by Indrani Mukerjea, the prime accused in Sheena Bora murder case, and her husband Peter Mukerjea, while hinting that such investigation will unravel a "big name".

"If the investigation is done in details with proper monitoring, a big name will be exposed," NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said. The Mumbai police investigating the murder case had asked Enforcement Directorate (ED) to look into and probe financial transactions of the accused in this case and into the business ventures floated by Indrani and Peter.

The NCP leader termed as a "damage control exercise" the Maharashtra government's move to give a supervisory role to former Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria in the Sheena Bora murder investigation even after his abrupt removal from the post on Tuesday.

NCP today hit out at Shiv Sena over its "anti-Muslim rant" amid the controversy regarding the ban on sale of meat during the Jain fasting period of Paryushan, and alleged that the saffron party's politics was based on the hatred of the community.

"Muslims have never demanded that their religion and lifestyle be imposed on others. Shiv Sena's anti-Muslim rant in the editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana' proves that spreading hatred of Muslims is the base of its politics," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

Since 2004 the slaughterhouses were shut down for two days during the Paryushan, he said. Malik also clarified that the NCP-controlled civic body in Navi Mumbai had only said that those who wanted to keep slaughterhouses closed during the period could do so.

The Saamana editorial today said, "Until now, only fanatic Muslims used to bully people in the name of religion. If the Jains too are going the way of Muslims, then God save them."

A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court will deliver its verdict tomorrow in the Mumbai serial train blasts, which killed nearly 200 people and injured at least 800.

The July 11, 2006 serial blasts, carried out in a span of just 11 minutes, targeted the crowded suburban train services during the evening peak hours as bombs kept in pressure cookers went off in north-bound locals on Western Railway.

The blasts took place at Bhayander, Borivali, Jogeshwari, Khar Road, Bandra, Mahim and Matunga Road and one unexploded bomb was found by police and defused at Borivali.

Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested 13 accused in connection with the case. Like many other blast cases, this too wasn't without controversies after claims that the ATS falsely implicated some people came up following the arrest of 22 Indian Mujahideen operatives by the Mumbai crime branch in September 2008.

But those claims fell through after Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh, the co-founder of Indian Mujahideen who was arrested in September 2008, turned hostile before the MCOCA court. Sadiq in his confessional statement had claimed responsibility for the blasts.

A cargo ship missing for a week with 14 crew members, including Indians, is feared to have been hijacked in the piracy-prone South China Sea, prompting Malaysian maritime authorities to launch a search today.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said a commercial vessel had reportedly spotted the missing ship about 23 nautical miles west of Miri yesterday evening and had notified the owners of the vessel MV Sah Lian.

"The ship was reported to have a damaged gearbox and propeller crankshaft," MMEA officials said.

"This morning the owner informed us and we quickly deployed our vessel," they said. The owners of the Malaysian-registered vessel lost contact with it on September 3 while it travelled along the Malaysian state of Sarawak with a crew of 14, including Indians.

"We believe this ship has been hijacked and taken out of Malaysian waters. We believe it could be in Indonesian waters near the Natuna islands," said First Admiral Ismaili Bujang Pit, the state's coast guard chief.

The MV Sah Lian was said to be carrying a mixed cargo including iron products, piping and food from Kuching to the town of Limbang.

"The journey of a Bandra boy from wearing chappals and playing cricket in the streets to becoming an IPS officer and police commissioner of Mumbai is like a dream come true."

A tribute to former Mumbai police commissioner, Rakesh Maria. Read

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh Yadav was in Mumbai on Thursday for the one-day UP Conclave to promote Brand UP and garner investment worth Rs 50,000 crore from potential investors in Maximum City. He was accompanied by his cabinet ministers and top state officials, and the daylong jamboree, held in Mumbais Trident hotel, was an impressive affair by all means.

No issues there, but what caught our eye was the presence of Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis e Ittehadul Muslimeen and the partys Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad, who was checking out of the Trident on Thursday evening.

For those who came in late, Owaisi, who is keen to project himself as the voice of the Muslim community, has found the UP government led by the Samajwadi Party unwilling to let him hold rallies in the state. He had told Rediff.com recently: UP is not the personal fiefdom of the Yadav clan. It is a part and parcel of our great nation called India.

"It is really pitiful that I can speak in Parliament but I cannot speak in UP against the Samajwadi Party's communalism.

"They cannot stop me because it is my democratic right. I will definitely go to UP and put forward my views. Whether people like me or not is up to them."

So did Akhilesh Yadav and Owaisi manage to meet up while at the Trident, Mumbai, and sort out their differences? Watch this space!

In the meantime you can read our interviews with Owaisi here and here.

Pic: Asaduddin Owaisi coming out of the Trident hotel in Mumbai on Thursday evening.

Syrians and Libyans fleeing to Europe are committing sin by exposing their children to atheism, drugs, alcohol and sexual permissiveness, according to a magazine published by Islamic State insurgents, reports Reuters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled wars in the Middle East this year, often from areas seized or threatened by Islamic State militants. They have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe on flimsy boats that have sometimes capsized, killing hundreds, in one of the biggest waves of migration since World War II. Most of the refugees come from Syria, Iraq and Libya -- states ravaged by conflict frequently involving Islamic State.

"Sadly, some Syrians and Libyans are willing to risk the lives and souls of ' their children, sacrificing many of them during the dangerous trip to the lands of the war-waging crusaders ruled by the laws of atheism and indecency," Islamic State's Dabiq magazine said.

Controversial BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha on the thrust and parry of remarks between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and PM Narendra Modi. Sinha remarked: "Hawaabaazi aur Hawalabaazi, ye sab cheezey jumle baazi hain. Khamosh." (Referring to Sonia Gandhi's remarks that PM Modi's promises were all in the air (hawaabazi) and Modi's quip today on hawalabaazi, saying they were all election rhetoric.)

Sinha, who has openly defiant of the BJP leadership said on Tuesday that he was not in the race for the post of Bihar chief minister.

Over the last few months, as the Bihar assembly elections drew closer, he has become more brazen in his actions. He skipped the Maha Parivartan Rally addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and then left the party's leadership red-faced by meeting and praising Janata Dal (U) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar the very next day.

He also met his party's biggest detractor, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, at the latter's residence and praised his performance effusively. This is when the BJP is locked in a nasty, no-holds-barred fight with the Aam Aadmi Party.

A man has been arrested in China for allegedly murdering his girlfriend after a selfie he posted with her corpse went viral on social media. The picture was captioned with the phrase 'please forgive my selfish love'.

The victim, identified only as Lin, is alleged to have been killed after a quarrel between the two turned violent, reported the Mirror.

The suspect Qin then clicked a selfie of himself next to Lin's dead face and posted the picture online alongside a previous picture of the couple enjoying each other's company.

Thousands of users in China picked up on the image and spread it around the Internet. Police in Wuzhou, in South China's Guanxi province, launched a manhunt following the viral spread of the gruesome picture and arrested Qin nine hours later.

Authorities have refused to comment on the circumstances of Lin's death, the report said

Scientists have discovered a new human-like species in a burial chamber deep in a cave system in South Africa. The discovery of 15 partial skeletons is the largest single discovery of its type in Africa.

The researchers claim that the discovery will change ideas about our human ancestors.

The studies which have been published in the journal Elife also indicate that these individuals were capable of ritual behaviour.

The species, which has been named naledi, has been classified in the grouping, or genus, Homo, to which modern humans belong. Read more

Pic courtesy: National Geographic

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday said India is wasting too much time on Pakistan, even as the two Director Generals of the border troops began a meeting in New Delhi.

"We are wasting too much of time on Pakistan. Two policemen meeting, how is that of any national importance. They (Pakistan) are screaming so that we reply and they can get a status of equality," Swamy told ANI.

"Let them do whatever they are doing and we should not put our attention on it," he added. The DG-level talks between India's Border Security Forces (BSF) and Pakistan's Rangers (PR) is scheduled to take place here. BSF Director General D.K. Pathak will meet Pakistan Rangers chief Major General Umar Farooq Burki to discuss border related issues between the two forces.

In a major embarrassment to the BJP, Krishan Lal, its MLA from Jammu's Chhamb constituency, was photographed crossing a river on his Personal Security Officer's back. The photograph, tweeted by ABP News, shows Lal's PSO carrying him on his back to help the MLA cross the river.

Lal justified his act saying the PSO was hired to help him. "He is my PSO, he was hired to help me right? Who else will help me," news agency ANI quoted Lal as saying.

Recently Maharashtra rural development minister Pankaja Munde was embroiled in a controversy after a member of her staff was seen carrying her slippers. Munde defended herself saying that the man was in her personal employment and not a government servant.

Slamming Jains for their insistence on banning sale of meat during their festival 'Paryushan', the Shiv Sena today said the community's stance on practicing "non-violence" comes as a surprise now as they purportedly supported violence during the 1993 riots in the city.

The party accused the Jains of doing a volte-face for altering their position on "non-violence". "Until now, only fanatic Muslims used to bully people in the name of religion. If the Jains too are going on the path of Muslims, then God save them. During the 1992-93 Mumbai riots, Marathis had protected Jains, who were saved because violence had been answered by violence. At that time too 'Paryushan' was on. But Jains were at the forefront of supporting violence then," the Sena said in an edit in its mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

"Scores of Jains used to come to Matoshree then and thank (late Sena Supremo) Balasahab then for helping them. Today these people talking about non-violence. its surprising. What caused this sudden change of heart?" the Sena questioned. The party said that it needs to be made clear what does violence exactly mean. "Does only banning slaughter of animals mean non-violence? Violence is in the mind and in the action. Are Jain brothers free from this kind of violence? Many builders in the city are Jains where the game of black and white money is being played. Accepting black money too is a sin. Will Jains stop taking black money in this festival?" the Sena said. It said that to think that only Jains are vegetarians was wrong.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has rejected the response from the All India Congress Committee on the National Herald and Young India transactions, saying they are unsatisfactory.

When the case came up for hearing in March this year, Congress President Sonia Gandhi told the Delhi High Court that the summons issued against her, Rahul Gandhi and five others in the National Herald case were "illegal", claiming no one was cheated in the acquisition process.

A bench of Justice Sunil Gaur was told by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represented the Congress chief, that not a single person was cheated during the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of the now defunct National Herald newspaper, by the Young Indian Private Ltd (YIL).

The CBDT will reveal the details it has on the case to the Delhi High Court during a hearing next month.

Besides Sonia and Rahul, Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, General Secretary Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey had moved the High Court on July 30, 2014 against the trial court order summoning them in the case.

The trial court had on June 26 last year summoned Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes, Dubey and Sam Pitroda to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on a complaint by Swamy alleging cheating in the acquisition of AJL, the publisher of National Herald newspaper, by the YIL.

Later, the High Court on August 6 had stayed the summons issued against the Gandhis and others, and on December 15, 2014 had listed the matter to be heard on day-to-day basis.

The court on December 15, 2014 had also stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.

The allegations against the Gandhis is that they formed a company called Young Indian with the deliberate intention of diverting funds from Associate Journals Ltd (AJL), a company owned by the Congress.

Poll Shows Obama Losing 2012 Reelection

August 22, 2011. Washington. Gallup released a poll today showing how voters would react to certain one-on-one general election match-ups. While the results varied slightly for each of the top four Republican candidates, one candidate registered a solid win against the President, while another would finish tied. The four GOP candidates Gallup put individually against President Obama were Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), former governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

President Obama has seen his approval ratings slowly plummet this year. Read last week’s Whiteout Press article ‘Obama Approval Rating Drops to 39 Percent’ for more information. His Republican challengers appear to have capitalized on the public’s lack of confidence in the current administration.

Here are the results of the Gallup Poll released today. Poll data is from August 17-18 and a sampling of 879 registered voters (1,026 individuals when unregistered voters are included).

In a one-on-one race for President in 2012, who would voters support?

Romney 48 – Obama 46 (other/undecided 6)

Perry 47 – Obama 47 (other/undecided 6)

Obama 47 – Paul 45 (other/undecided 8)

Obama 48 – Bachmann 44 (other/undecided 7)

One interesting observation from the data is that of all the GOP candidates, the only one that is favored among unregistered voters is Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Gallup also broke out the totals for Americans who are not registered to vote. In those cases, President Obama beats all 4 GOP challengers and adds an average 3 percent to his margin of victory – in every race except against Ron Paul.

In a race versus Texas Congressman Paul, President Obama’s numbers among unregistered voters actually go down. Against the other Republicans, his numbers go up. Also, Ron Paul shows independent voters flocking to his candidacy from President Obama’s more than any other GOP candidate. The only Republican candidate not to beat the President among independents is Michele Bachmann.

Gallup Results by Party Affiliation:

Republicans Independents Democrats

If there had to be an overall winner in this Gallup poll, it would be Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney enjoys not only one of the highest votes among his own Republicans, but he actually scores higher among independents than any other GOP candidate, including the darling of the independents Ron Paul. Lastly, Romney finishes best with Democratic voters, tied with Ron Paul. While each GOP candidate has their niche of voters, Romney seems to appeal to all three categories. That’s an accomplishment the next President, no matter who it is, will have to master to win.

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From A Traditional Catholic Perspective

Third - Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day .
* Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?
* Have I tried to observe Sunday as a family day and a day of rest?
* Do I do needless work on Sunday?
* Have I made others miss Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of obligation, leave early or be late for Mass?
* Have I been willfully distracted during Mass?

Fourth - Honor thy Father and thy Mother.
* Do I honor and obey my parents?
* Have I neglected my duties to my spouse and children?
* Have I given my family, my children, good religious example and training?
* Do I try to bring peace into my home life?
* Do I care for my aged and infirm parents and relatives?
* Do I respect my parents
* Am I obedient to my parents

Fifth - Thou shall not kill.
* Have I had an abortion or encouraged anyone to have an abortion? Or used pills such as the morning after pill?
* Have I physically harmed anyone?
* Have I abused alcohol or drugs? Driven while under the influence of these?
* Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading them into sin?
* Have I been angry or resentful?
* Hove I harbored hatred in my heart?
* Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilization?
* Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?
* Have I abused myself through gluttony
* Have I harbored a grudge against anyone
* Have I sought to destroy someone’s reputation
* Have I mutilated my body in any way

Sixth - Thou shalt not commit adultery.
* Have I been faithful to my marriage vows in thought and action?
* Have I treated my wife with respect and dignity?
* Have I directed my husband to do what is right?
* Have I engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage?
* Have I used any method of contraception or artificial birth control in my marriage?
* Has each sexual act in my marriage been open to the transmission of new life?
* Have I been guilty of masturbation?
* Have I sought to control my thoughts?
* Have I respected all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects?
* Have in engaged in impure conversations or joke telling?
* Have I deliberately looked at indecent images?
* Have I used pornographic or soft pornographic material?
* Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?
* Do I seek to be chaste in my thoughts, words and actions?
* Am I careful to dress modestly?

Seventh - Thou shalt not steal.
* Have I stolen what is not mine?
* Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen?
* Do I waste time at work, school or at home?
* Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of their needs?
* Do I pay my debts promptly?
* Do I seek to share what I have with the poor?
* Have I cheated my employers?
* Have I cheated my employees.
* Do I pay them a fair wage and treat them fairly?
* Have I run my business ethically and charged a fair price?
* Have I made an unfair profit?
* Are my workers and suppliers treated fairly?
* Have I spent money lavishly, or saved an amount more than I’ll ever need while many die of starvation?

Eighth - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
* Have I lied?
* Have I gossiped?
* Have I spoken behind someone else’s back?
* Am I sincere in my dealings with others?
* Am I critical, negative or uncharitable in my thoughts of others?
* Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?

Ninth - Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
* Have I consented to impure thoughts?
* Have I caused them by impure reading, movies, conversations or curiosity?
* Do I seek to control my imagination?
* Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?

Tenth - Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
* Am I jealous of what other people have?
* Do I envy the families or possessions of others?
* Am I greedy or selfish?
* Are material possessions the purpose of my life? *Do I spend a majority of my time concerned with wealth accumulation?
* Do I trust that God will care for all of my material and spiritual needs?

The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
Have I neglected to do the following when circumstances obliged me:

The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy
1. To admonish sinners.
2. To instruct the ignorant.
3. To counsel the doubtful.
4. To comfort the sorrowful.
5. To bear wrongs patiently.
6. To forgive all injuries.
7. To pray for the living and the dead?

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy
1. To feed the hungry.
2. To give drink to the thirsty.
3. To clothe the naked.
4. To visit and ransom the captives.
5. To harbor the harborless.
6. To visit the sick.
7. To bury the dead

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Opposite Virtues
1. Pride -- Humility
2. Covetousness -- Liberality
3. Lust-- Chastity
4. Anger -- Meekness
5. Gluttony -- Temperance
6. Envy -- Brotherly love
7. Sloth -- Diligence

Five Effects of Pride
1. Vainglory: a. Boasting b. Dissimulation / Duplicity
2. Ambition
3. Contempt for others
4. Anger! Revenge / Resentment
5. Stubbornness! Obstinacy.

Nine Ways of Being an Accessory to Another’s Sin
a. Have I knowingly caused others to sin?
b. Have I cooperated in the sins of others:
1. By counsel.
2. By command.
3. By consent.
4. By provocation.
5. By praise or flattery.
6. By concealment.
7. By partaking.
8. By silence.
9. By defense of the ill done?

The Four Sins which Cry to Heaven for Vengeance
1. Willful Murder.
2. The sin of Sodomy or Lesbianism.
3. Oppression of the poor.
4. Defrauding the laborer of his just wages.

Jim Hoagland: Spain's Zapatero looking forward to Obama's tenure

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was an hour away from visiting the White House, a goal he had chased since taking office four years ago. The welcome from President Bush, no matter how grudging or low-key, would cement the Spanish prime minister's legitimacy as a world leader.

So Zapatero's spirits were high as we talked about the imploding world economy, U.S. problems with Venezuela and war in Afghanistan. Nothing could dim his hopes that he would now visit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. fairly often to see Bush's successor and his new best friend forever, Barack Obama.

The two have much in common &mdash and the president-elect had cleverly gone through each point of similarity in a warm telephone call to Zapatero six days earlier. If Obama needs a European to ride shotgun, as Tony Blair did with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Zapatero may be the one.

They were both born on Aug. 4, a year apart. (Zapatero is 48, Obama 47.) Tall, lithe and slender, the two men are passionate about basketball. Each has two daughters. And each has taken power in the name of a new generation and fundamental change after years of conservative rule.

But as the quick, elegant Spaniard talked on, it became clear that some aspects of personality, and of national interests, might constrain the restoration of Spanish-American relations that both leaders favor.

Zapatero is, after all, a committed Socialist, whose 2004 election victory over Spain's conservatives was widely (and wrongly) viewed abroad as a fluke. He would never repeat it in 2008, it was said &mdash until he did in March.

Untutored by defeat, Zapatero can be brash and provocative, while Obama works at being cautious and reassuring. And Zapatero's biggest ideas concern social change &mdash hauling Spain out of its patriarchal and church-dominated past, as roughly as necessary &mdash rather than celebrating the bliss of bipartisanship.

Signature issues for Zapatero's second term are legalizing assisted suicide, liberalizing Spain's unevenly applied abortion laws and increasing church-state separation. He is proud of having enacted laws permitting quick divorces and same-sex marriages &mdash a step that made Spain "a much more decent country," he said through his interpreter.

Not exactly Obama's arms-length approach to same-sex marriage, nor that of Zapatero's fellow European leaders, for that matter. More like that of Pedro Almodovar, the culturally subversive director who brilliantly mocks Spain's religious, gender and sexual hang-ups in his films. When I asked Zapatero if he aspired to be the Almodovar of Spanish politics, he grinned broadly, nodded and praised "this great director."

Spain "has a strong will to modernize itself," Zapatero told me. "We have kept our promises of change. It is not always easy, but you must do it." He returned to that theme later when asked about Obama and the U.S. presence in Iraq. "Government is powerful. Politicians can and must carry out their promises. . It was a war that should never have been started."

It was on Iraq that Zapatero burned &mdash make that nuked &mdash his bridges with Bush by withdrawing Spanish troops immediately after his 2004 election without seriously consulting the U.S.

Zapatero would shortly depart his hotel for a White House dinner that would begin the G-20 economic summit, an event foisted on Bush by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who then engineered Zapatero's invitation. But Obama and the future were on the Spaniard's mind, not rehashing recent Spanish-American relations.

Obama's election "means that in countries where the U.S. flag was being burned before, it is being waved now," Zapatero said. "This is a historic opportunity for the United States to be better understood" abroad. Spain could be particularly helpful in Latin America. In Venezuela and Cuba, Spain wants to work with Europe and the U.S. "to strengthen democratic institutions."

On Afghanistan, where Spain has 800 soldiers: "Europe needs to listen to Obama and Obama needs to listen to Europe," he said. "We have to have a global strategy" to bring political, social and security change at once.

And then Zapatero was off to the White House to shake hands with Bush, a surreal moment that would top Pedro Almodovar at his best.

Obama announces expanded air strikes against Isis in Iraq and Syria – speech live updates

• President delivers televised speech to the nation
• Obama authorises air strikes against jihadis in Syria
• Aid and arms promised to Iraqi and Kurdish forces
• Kerry travels to Middle East to bolster Nato coalition
• Analysts fear mission creep despite pledge of ‘no boots’

President Barack Obama announced air strikes will take place against Isis in both Iraq and Syria. Photograph: SAUL LOEB / POOL/EPA

Thu 11 Sep 2014 03.06 BST First published on Wed 10 Sep 2014 23.55 BST

We’re going to close our coverage for the night, with the key points of Obama’s speech as follow.

• President Obama authorized air strikes in Syria, but will not work with the Assad regime, saying I will not hesitate to take action against Isil in Syria, as well as Iraq.” Officials said he will not tolerate any “safe havens”, regardless of a border that “does not exist anymore”.

An additional 475 US personnel will be sent to join the 1,211 personnel in Iraq. The president says they will not be introduced into combat.

Air strikes will increase against Isis, forming the majority of a “systematic”, “comprehensive and sustained” campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Isis. Senior administration officials said this would allow Iraqi and Kurdish forces to “go on offense” against Isis.

The US will increase military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces, as well as to the Syrian opposition. Saudi Arabia will participate in a mission to “train and equip” forces against Isis, officials said.

Humanitarian aid will continue, intended for refugees fleeing Syria and the thousands of displaced people in Iraq.

Obama did not mention a timetable for US intervention, or elaborate on which groups in the Syrian opposition the US would partner with.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has issued a statement about the president’s speech, in which he makes a special call for a coalition to work together with the US:

President Obama laid out a strong, comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy Isil, and the United States military is prepared to carry out its responsibilities in this counter-terrorism campaign.

The men and women of the US armed forces are ready to carry out the orders of our commander in chief, to work with our partners across government, and to work with our friends and allies around the world to accomplish this mission.

As the president made clear, American military power cannot alone eradicate the threats posed by Isil to the United States, our allies, and our friends and partners in the region Iraq’s continued political progress toward a more inclusive government will be critical, as will our coalition’s use of all instruments of power – military, law enforcement, economic, diplomatic, intelligence, and humanitarian assistance – in coordination with countries in the region.”

During a conference call with reporters before the president’s speech, senior administration officials elaborated on the course of action from the US and its partners.

Officials confirmed “there will be action in Syria”, and that the US “will do that as necessary, as we develop targets and as we continue a systematic air campaign, we will not be restricted by a geographic border that frankly does not exist anymore.”

They also explained that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is “committed” to a program to train and equip anti-Isis forces, to be hosted in Saudi Arabia and to proceed without the presence of US personnel.

Of the president’s legal authority, they reiterated the administration position that he has “constitutional and statutory authority [with regard to] national security operations and the threat posed by Isil”.

They went on to tell reporters that Obama took so long to arm members of the Syrian opposition because the “timing for the president was [about] getting it right. He does not shoot first and ask questions later. … Frankly one of the reasons we didn’t want to rush to provide arms to the Syrian opposition was we didn’t want arms to end up in the hands of [groups like] Isil. Now we have two years of relationships [with others in the Syrian opposition].”

Another Republican leader has praised Obama’s speech – Representative Mike Rogers, chair of the House intelligence committee and among the most hawkish in Congress. He issued a statement:

The president is to be commended for his decision to take action against Isil targets, wherever they are, including Syria.

“Much of Isil’s leadership, command and control, and safe haven are inside Syria. As many of us have stated for months, Isil cannot be defeated without taking action in both Iraq and Syria.

“Of course, a commander in chief’s decision to take military action is among the most difficult. This threat has been growing for three years, and I have no doubt that the United States is less safe today than at any time since 9/11. Isil is only one of several Islamic extremist threats against America.

“We need a comprehensive strategy to defeat the terrorist ecosystem that is growing from Africa to the Middle East and into south Asia.

“The president’s plan announced this evening is an encouraging step in the right direction. Success will depend on the details of its implementation. I will work with my colleagues and the Administration to make sure it is implemented in a manner that ensures US success.”

Elaborating on the president’s omissions, Spencer Ackerman questions the lack of any timetable for the campaign against Isis. He warns that this is “clearly an open-ended commitment from a president who pledged last year to get the US off a perpetual war footing”.

Conspicuous by its absence in Barack Obama’s war speech was any reference to a timeline for successful completion. The closest Obama came was to say his new, expanded strategy will “take time” – whatever that means.

This was a far different Obama than the one who said in 2008 that US combat brigades could responsibly leave Iraq in 16 months. It’s also a far different Obama than the one who said the Afghanistan surge could begin to end in July 2011. In the Afghanistan case, at least, Obama meant to pressure the Afghan government in Iraq he now has the government he wanted (in Syria, not so much).

The Pentagon hasn’t given a name to what might be called Iraq War III (The SyRaq war?), but this conflict risks outlasting Obama’s presidency– and particularly because of its amorphous end-state. Obama wants to “degrade and ultimately destroy”, and that’s the sort of thing that means different things depending on which word you emphasize.

Spencer goes on to note the administration’s ominously ambiguous semantics:

“Degrade” is satisfied by rolling back Isis’ territory, but not bounded by how much Isis has to lose. “Ultimately destroy” is even slipperier: it suggests that the end of Isis is optional, something that may occur at an unknown point, rather than at the conclusion of a specific and coherent series of military and political efforts.

Asked on a conference call with reporters what it meant, a senior US official put it in terms of ultimately destroying the threat Isis poses – which suggests that US strategy could actually live with a weakened Isis limping along.

No wonder there’s no attached expiration date for the latest US war in the Middle East.

In his speech, President Obama left out or did not elaborate on a number of major strategic issues:

  • A timeline for military operations in Iraq and/or Syria.
  • A specific end-date for operations.
  • A description of which Syrian opposition groups with which the US will partner.
  • A description of what would come after the objective of Isis’s destruction.
  • Specifics of what partners in the region and Nato will do to assist operations against Isis (administration officials have provided some details, however).

Congressional leaders started responding to the speech, with two major figures from both sides of the aisle applauding the president’s speech in subdued tones.

John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, has praised Obama’s speech in a backhanded manner, saying the president “finally [has] begun to make the case the nation has needed him to make for quite some time”.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, says: “I applaud him for recognizing the seriousness of the threat and for going on the offense against this threat.”

Though Obama made a particular point of the US effort to help Yazidis on and near Mount Sinjar, which was besieged by Isis a few weeks ago, Yazidis still stranded on the mountain are in dire need of weapons and aid.

An ongoing humanitarian crisis is still taking place on Mount Sinjar, where some 4,000-5,000 Yazidis remain. Yazidis on the mountain told the Guardian of scenes of “starving children”, sickness, fear and a life trapped among rocks and crevices on the south slope, away from the escape route to the north.

Displaced Iraqi families from the Yazidi community cross the Iraqi-Syrian border at the Fishkhabur, in northern Iraq. Photograph: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

“I heard a lot about US planes dropping aid to the Yazidi refugees stranded on the mountain, but I swear to God I have not got anything till today,” one refugee told the Guardian, while a Yazidi fighter said: “We need weapons now more than food or water.”

Spencer Ackerman, the Guardian’s national security editor, notes that Obama has declared he has the authority to wage war against Isis, though he “welcomes” congressional action and approval. Spencer continues:

The wellspring for that authority? The 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force against al-Qaeda, which the administration interprets to cover Isis, even though al-Qaeda has officially rebuked and split with al-Qaeda. It’s also an authorization Obama said last year should eventually be repealed.

For more on the administration’s legal reasoning see this new and longer piece.

And with that Obama has finished speaking, authorizing strikes in Syria, promising a ramped up air assault in Iraq, and promising additional troops, arms, intelligence coordination with Iraq and coalition partners in the Middle East and Nato.

“When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said: ‘We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.’

“That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety, our own security, depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for: timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the earth.

“May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.”

“America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.

“Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a commander in chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform: pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and service members who support our partners on the ground.”

“Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny.

“It is America. Our scientists, our doctors, our know-how, that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people, or the world, again.

“And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance and a more hopeful future.”

“My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. Next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. Yet despite these shocks, through the pain we have felt and the gruelling work required to bounce back, America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on earth.

“Our technology companies and universities are unmatched our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day. And that makes me more confident than ever about our country’s future.”

“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out Isil wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to the international order.”

“My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from Isil. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.

“Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like Isil. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved – especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions.

“But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”