Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Hillary? Biden? They’d both be great, Obama says

    There may come a day when President Barack Obama has to say whether he’d rather hand the keys to the White House to Vice President Joe Biden or former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. That day is not today.

    “Not a chance am I going there,” Obama told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in an interview on Thursday. “Both Hillary and Joe would make outstanding presidents and possess the qualities that are needed.”

    “I think Joe Biden will go down in history as one of the best vice presidents ever,” the president went on. “Hillary, I think, will go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of state we’ve ever had.”

    “They've got different strengths, but both of them would-- would be outstanding,” he said.

    The interview, held at American University, served mostly as a springboard for Obama’s efforts to reconnect with young voters: He urged them to enroll for health insurance under Obamacare, pleaded with them not to let America’s angry politics turn them off, allowed that NSA leaker Edward

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  • Obama: Mandela 'took history in his hands' and wrought justice

    President Barack Obama paid somber tribute to Nelson Mandela Thursday, celebrating the late South African leader’s “fierce dignity and unbending will” and unquenchable thirst for justice.

    “For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice,” Obama said in the White House briefing room.

    “He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today he's gone home, and we've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth,” Obama said. “He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages.”

    Mandela, who was 95, died from complications of a recurring lung infection.

    "His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better," Obama said.

    The president also recalled the personal connection he felt to Mandela, and the antiapartheid campaign

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  • White House reverses course, says Obama lived with Kenyan uncle

    The White House acknowledged Thursday that President Barack Obama lived briefly years ago with a Kenyan uncle previously targeted for deportation — after initially insisting there was no evidence they had ever met.

    Why the stark turnaround? “Nobody spoke to the president” when the question first arose in 2011, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

    Instead, staff appear to have relied on one of the president’s autobiographical books.

    “Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the president's book, and there was no evidence that they had met, there was — and that was what was conveyed,” Carney explained.

    That appeared to be a reference to “Dreams From My Father,” which famously includes the warning that some people in the book are composites.

    Carney also denied any improper White House meddling in the deportation procedures against the elder Obama, whom he described as “his father’s half brother.” The uncle, who has lived in the United States for

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  • George H.W. Bush wearing socks with his face on them

    When last we checked in on former President George H.W. Bush, he was being straight-up awesome, shaving his head in sympathy with the cancer-stricken tot of one of his Secret Service detail members.

    Now, in what is surely a fashion misstep but a huge whimsy win, here is Bush accepting the LBJ Foundation’s “Liberty and Justice for All” award while wearing socks with a picture of his face on them.

    Even by the former president’s standards for famously eye-catching socks, this is pretty amazing. A spokesman for Bush, Jim McGrath, told Yahoo News that "the socks came from a Canadian citizen in Markham, Ontario."

    The award, which Bush formally accepted on Tuesday, honored him for “his leadership in public service and commitment to civil rights.”

    The women behind Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush are Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson.

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  • House takes aim at TSA’s loose change

    Show your boarding pass. Hand over your ID. Take off your shoes. And your belt. And empty your pockets. Liquids in the baggie, laptops in the bin. Stand still for the scanner. Now leave $531,395.22 in cash at the TSA checkpoint.

    That’s how much money forgetful passengers left in Transportation Security Administration’s plastic bins in fiscal year 2012 — a windfall the agency uses to supplement its aviation security budget. For now.

    The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to redirect that mountain of pocket change to the United Service Organizations (USO), which supports U.S. military troops.

    “The TSA has been keeping the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from your change purse to pay for their bloated bureaucracy,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R.-Fla., the measure's chief author. “If TSA representatives get to play ‘finders keepers’ with your hard-earned cash, what’s the incentive to try to get the loose change to its rightful owners?”

    It’s hard to imagine TSA agents abandoning their

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  • Obama targets young voters with Dec. 11 college summit

    President Barack Obama is summoning college presidents and business leaders to a daylong Dec. 11 summit at the White House to discuss specific ways to make higher education more accessible to low-income students, Yahoo News has learned.

    The event — clearly designed to appeal to young voters and minorities, who were core parts of Obama’s winning coalitions in 2008 and 2012 — is part of a campaign-style blitz meant to salvage his second term. The White House and Democrats hope the effort helps to turn the 2014 midterm elections from a referendum on the Obamacare rollout debacle into a choice between the president’s policies and those of his Republican opponents.

    On Tuesday, Obama will spearhead an effort to shift the conversation about Obamacare from its botched rollout to its benefits — and what Republicans would take away if they repealed it. That comes after weeks of trips meant to highlight his efforts to bolster the economy, and his eagerness for overhauling the nation’s immigration

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  • In 2013, Obama finally finds Arab Spring stride

    President Barack Obama in 2013 finally brought order out of the chaos of his initial response to the turmoil in the Middle East known as Arab Spring. Obama, elected on a promise to end two wars in the region, made a blunt declaration that promoting democracy worldwide is not a “core interest” of the U.S and instead decreed that Washington must focus first and foremost on national security.

    2013 saw considerable drama in the Middle East. Here are some of the key dates:

    March 20Obama met in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two appeared to patch up their tattered relationship — a critical step that might have paved the way for relaunching stalled Middle East peace talks.
    June 13The White House announced it would give Syria’s rebels military aid in response to strongman Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons.
    July 3Egypt’s armed forces ousted democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi. The Obama administration invited generous helpings of international
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  • Obama still plans to sign up for Obamacare

    Has President Barack Obama made good on a March 2010 promise to sign up for health insurance coverage under Obamacare? His chief spokesman declined to say.

    “I don't have an update for you on that. I know that he will and has said that he will, the White House has said that he will, but I don't have an update,” Jay Carney said Monday at his daily briefing.

    Will he invite the press to watch? “I’ll get back to you,” Carney said.

    The White House said back in March 2010 that Obama “will participate in the exchange,” as the health insurance marketplaces are known.

    Former presidents are eligible for lifelong health care through military hospitals. But Obama — who will be 55 years old by the time his second term ends in January 2017 — could also get insurance through a future employer.

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  • White House denies report Obama planning Iran visit

    The White House on Monday denied that President Barack Obama is trying to arrange what would be a history-making trip to Iran in 2014.

    Via the Weekly Standard, the Al Jarida newspaper of Kuwait reported that Obama hopes to visit Tehran in the middle of next year. The source for the Arabic-language report was an unnamed diplomat.

    “There is no truth to this report,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told Yahoo News by email.

    The report came after the United States and other world powers signed an interim deal with Iran that aims to pave the way for a broader accord ending fears over Tehran’s nuclear program. Washington and its global partners have asserted that the Islamic Republic wants to develop the ability to build nuclear weapons, something Iran strongly denies.

    In September, Obama held a groundbreaking telephone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the first direct conversation between leaders of the two countries since Iran's Islamic revolution in

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  • Obamacare small business online sign-up delayed

    In another bit of bad news for Americans seeking coverage under Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s administration on Tuesday announced a yearlong delay of online sign-ups for some small businesses seeking coverage for their employees under his signature health care law.

    The delay, which runs through 2014, affects employers who would have gone through the badly troubled web site because they operate in states where the federal government runs health insurance marketplaces known as exchanges, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services.

    The announcement, unveiled with millions of Americans on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, came just days before the administration’s self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline for making sure that the website works for “the vast majority” of those trying to use it.

    “For 2014, small employers will use ‘direct enrollment’ rather than in states where the federal government is running the Marketplace,” the HHS

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