Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Obama orders flags to half-staff after Benghazi attack

    A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames. (Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters)President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered American flags flying above government buildings, military vessels and posts around the world be flown at half-staff until sunset on September 16 "as a mark of respect" for the victims of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

    Obama announced the order in a presidential proclamation a few hours after he appeared in the Rose Garden of the White House to condemn the "outrageous and shocking attack" that claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans.

    Mitt Romney has criticized Obama's response to that assault as well as to an incident in which demonstrators stormed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag.

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  • President Obama denounces killing of U.S. envoy to Libya

    U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, April 11, 2011. Stevens and three other Americans have been killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (Ben Curtis/AP)

    President Barack Obama on Wednesday denounced the "outrageous and shocking attack" that claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans and vowed to work with that country's fledgling government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

    "The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack," Obama said with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side in hastily arranged public remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House.

    "Today, we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake: Justice will be done."

    Stevens lost his life in an assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, amid anger among Islamist extremists at a low-quality film mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Outrage at the movie also led an angry phalanx of Egyptian protesters to storm the U.S. Embassy there and tear down its American flag.

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  • Obama denies snubbing Netanyahu amid chill

    UPDATE 9:32 p.m. EDT: The White House denied late Tuesday that President Barack Obama had snubbed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by rejecting his request for a meeting when he comes to the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York in late September. A spokesman confirmed an Israeli news reports that the two leaders would not meet but cited the president's uncertain and hectic election-year schedule.

    "Contrary to previous press reports, there was never any request for a meeting between the Prime Minister and President in Washington, nor was this request ever denied," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters by email.

    (Obama and Netanyahu later spoke by telephone for an hour "as a part of their ongoing consultations," the White House said. "The two leaders discussed the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, and our close cooperation on Iran and other security issues. President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed that they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and agreed to continue their close consultations going forward," it said in a statement).

    Vietor's comments and the conversation came after Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that the White House had turned down a request for talks. Haaretz said Netanyahu had asked Obama for a meeting during his stay in the United States and expressed a willingness to come to Washington to do so. Earlier, when asked about that report, Vietor had said that the two leaders would not meet.

    "The President arrives in New York for the UN on Monday, September 24 and departs on Tuesday, September 25. The Prime Minister doesn't arrive in New York until later in the week," Vietor said.

    "They're simply not in the city at the same time. But the President and PM are in frequent contact and the PM will meet with other senior officials, including Secretary Clinton, during his visit."

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  • Biden delivers tender, personal tribute to 9/11 victims

    Vice President Joe Biden takes a lot of heat for his gaffes, his occasionally salty language and a speaking style that, at times, is more meandering than message. But that's not the Biden who delivered a stirring, tender, poignant and intensely personal tribute in Shanksville, Pa., to the victims of 9/11 and, perhaps more so, to the loved ones who yearn for them—a speech obviously built on memories of the 1972 car accident that claimed the lives of his first wife and their baby daughter.

    He said, in part: "I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child's face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother's lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand."

    Here's the speech in full, as transcribed by the White House:

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  • Biden says ‘malarkey.’ And another word meaning ‘malarkey.’

    Vice President Joe Biden pauses after laying a wreath at The Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
    Fresh from delivering a moving tribute to 9/11 victims, Vice President Joe Biden told Shanksville, Pa., firefighters on Tuesday that he would have them down to Washington—"No bullshit."

    Upon noticing that reporters were within earshot, Biden amended himself. "This is no malarkey. You come to the White House. I'll buy you a beer." Details of the exchange came courtesy of the print pool reporter, Peter Baker of the New York Times.

    Biden had traveled to Pennsylvania for a memorial to the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, credited with rising up against their al-Qaida hijackers and sending the plane into a field—sparing a target in Washington.

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  • Obama marks 9/11: ‘This is never an easy day’

    President and Mrs. Obama mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
    The mournful tones of "Taps" fluttered over the South Lawn of the White House as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama led America in a silent tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The crisp, clear day recalled the pleasant fall weather the morning of that national tragedy.

    The Obamas walked somberly out of the residence of the White House and, flanked by hundreds of staff, bowed their heads at 8:46 a.m.—11 years after American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. The first couple placed their hands over their hearts as "Taps" played and a military color guard dipped its flags. Afterward, they turned, clasped hands and walked back into the presidential mansion.

    [Slideshow: The nation remembers 9/11]

    The Obamas then traveled to the Pentagon for a 9/11 observance ceremony. "This is never an easy day," the president told an audience of active-duty service members, families of those killed and others.

    "But it is especially difficult for all of you, the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives—your mothers and fathers, your husbands and wives, your sons and your daughters. They were taken from us suddenly and far too soon," he said.

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  • Florida pizza shop owner powerlifts Obama

    President Barack Obama holds on as he is hugged and picked up by Scott Van Duzer at Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)Florida pizza shop owner Scott Van Duzer lifted President Barack Obama a solid foot off the ground in a bear hug during an unscripted stop at his Fort Pierce, Fla., store. Literally.

    So what did the Secret Service think about Van Duzer — a registered Republican who says he'll vote for Obama in November — hoisting the president? "He said I was all right as long as I didn't take him away," Van Duzer told reporters.

    Obama, wrapping up a two-day bus tour through Florida, dropped by the Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Restaurant for the kind of unannounced visit that breathes life into sometimes dreary campaign travel.

    "Scott, what's going on, man," the president called as he arrived. "Let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I've ever seen."

    "Everybody, look at these guns," Obama said as he chatted with Van Duzer, who is 6'3" and weighs 260 pounds. "If I eat your pizza will I look like that?"

    "The two men laughed. They embraced. Van Duzer lifed Potus a good foot off the ground,"

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  • Obama aides mock Romney talk of taking ‘God’ off currency

    President Barack Obama smiles during a campaign event at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida (Larry Downing/Reuters)"The president believes as much that God should be taken off a coin as he does that aliens will attack Florida."

    That's the response from Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki to Mitt Romney's apparent suggestion at a Virginia Beach, Va., rally on Saturday that Democrats hope to take "In God We Trust" off American money. There is no such effort.

    "I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart. We're a nation that's bestowed by God," the Republican standard-bearer said.

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  • Obama: I’ll work with Republicans if they agree to raise taxes

    “To Mrs Turner’s Class-Dream Big Dreams! Barack Obama” (Larry Downing/Reuters)MELBOURNE, Florida - President Barack Obama said in an interview partly broadcast Sunday that he would be "more than happy to work with the Republicans" to trim the swelling national debt — as long as they drop their opposition to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

    "You can't reduce the deficit unless you take a balanced approach that says, 'We've got to make government leaner and more efficient,'" the president told CBS's Scott Pelley. "But we've also got to ask people --like me or Gov. Romney, who have done better than anybody else over the course of the last decade, and whose taxes are just about lower than they've been in the last 50 years - to do a little bit more."

    Obama said he would be willing to make "some adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid that would strengthen the programs." "The way to do that is to keep health care costs low. It's not to 'voucherize' programs so that suddenly seniors are the ones who are finding their expenses much higher."

    That was a reference

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  • Obama to boy: Where’s your birth certificate?

    Not every kid gets asked for his birth certificate by the president of the United States. But that's what happened to a Florida lad, Andre Wupperman, when he met Barack Obama at a Florida sports bar and family joint on Saturday.

    Obama made an unannounced stop at Gators Dockside -- one of many surprise visits he makes to local businesses as a candidate for reelection -- and mingled with the patrons. Upon hearing that Andre, who turns seven next week, was born in Hawaii, the president asked: "You were born in Hawaii? You have a birth certificate?" The joke got laughs, according the pool reporter Helene Cooper of the New York Times.

    And according to the Associated Press, Obama had greeted Andre with the "shaka" sign, a gesture often associated Hawaii.

    The president also stopped at another table and led a group in singing "Happy Birthday" to Sorina Terrell.

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