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Inevitably, as news breaks of yet another international or domestic event — an explosion in Texas, a train derailment outside Philadelphia, a Molotov cocktail thrown into a nightclub in Egypt, a shooting in Colorado or California — there's one question never far from Americans' lips: "Is it terrorism?"

Even many who don't want to generalize wonder, "What do we know about the shooter — was he or she Muslim?"

Saying America's military must draw from "the broadest possible pool of talent," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday that women in the U.S. military — including the Army and Marines — can now serve in combat posts.

The formal process to open combat jobs to women began in January of 2013; in finishing that process, Carter acknowledged that in recent years, U.S. women have fought — and sometimes given their lives — in combat posts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking one day after at least 14 people died in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., President Obama said the investigation into the attack is now in the hands of the FBI — and warned that it may take some time to find answers.

Obama began his remarks from the Oval Office by noting that at this stage in the investigation, the two shooters' motivations are not known.

Chris Christie was giving thanks this weekend for one of the biggest prizes in Granite State politics: the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

It's a notable get for the New Jersey governor, who has struggled to catch fire both nationally and in the early states. Christie had a good performance in this month's GOP debate despite dropping down to the undercard faceoff. He has gotten some momentum after that performance and has been playing up his national security experience in the aftermath of this month's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

"I actually think we're going to solve this thing."

That's what President Obama said in a news conference just before he left a United Nations summit on climate change.

"Climate change is a massive problem," Obama said. "It is a generational problem. It's a problem that by definition is just about the hardest thing for a political system to absorb, because the effects are gradual, they're diffused. And yet despite all that ... I'm optimistic. I think we're going to solve it."

The Obama administration has announced some changes to the visa waiver program, which allows travelers from some 38 countries including France, Belgium and other European countries, to come to the U.S. without a visa.

The White House announced several steps, including attempting better tracking of past travel, fines for airlines that don't verify passport data, assisting other countries on the screening of refugees and with border security.

After meeting with his national security team, President Obama made a public statement that there is no specific, credible threat against the U.S. at this time, urging Americans to go about their Thanksgiving activities as usual.

Obama acknowledged that the deadly attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 struck a deep chord with many Americans.

"Given the shocking images, I know Americans have been asking each other whether it's safe here — whether it's safe to fly or gather," the president said, a fear he called understandable.

President Obama and French President François Hollande promised to increase cooperation and expand attacks against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

During a joint press conference with Hollande at the White House, Obama said that the United States and France "owe our freedom to each other."

After the Paris attacks, Obama said, "our hearts broke too."

"In that stadium, concert hall, restaurants and cafes we see our own," Obama said. "Today we stand with you."

The Obama administration is working to stem the backlash against its plans to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.

As of late Tuesday, 30 governors — 29 Republicans and 1 Democrat — had expressed opposition to bringing in refugees after European officials confirmed one of the terrorists who attacked Paris last week was a Syrian who had registered with E.U. officials while traveling through Greece seeking asylum.

Paul Morigi / Brookings Institute

In a special edition of our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we are joined by reporters from Vermont Public Radio to discuss their new radio documentary Becoming Bernie, which will air on WNPR. We discuss the rise of Bernie Sanders and how the Democratic party is responding to his popularity in the 2016 race for president.

President Barack Obama held a press conference from a global summit in Turkey on Monday. He said reducing the territory controlled by the Islamic State group, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria will reduce the flow of fighters and lessen the threat it poses. Watch his address and press conference below.

Friday's attacks in Paris have cast a shadow over the Group of 20 summit, which opened Sunday in Antalya, in southern Turkey. Leaders of 20 major economies agreed to step up the battle against ISIS and to ease the wider conflict in Syria.

The second Democratic debate was a subdued affair, where even the slights felt polite. Sanders and O'Malley attacked Clinton's — and by extension the Obama administration's — record on foreign policy but when it came time to talk about how to fight the Islamic State, the separation felt a matter of semantics. "This cannot be an American fight, although American leadership is essential," said Clinton. O'Malley said he disagreed: "This is America's fight, but not America's alone." Sanders pivoted quickly from foreign policy to the economy.

For the first 30 minutes of the Democratic debate, the attacks in Paris loomed large, starting with a moment of silence and continuing with the opening statements.

The candidates were asked to address the attacks and what they would do in their opening statements, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent her entire opening statement talking about them.

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

There was one moment in Tuesday's Republican presidential debate that reminded us of all those other unwieldy, freewheeling and circus-like debates that came before: Rand Paul getting cut off by Carly Fiorina, and then Donald Trump drawing boos for being Trump. For the most part, though, last night’s debate was much more orderly. It was so orderly that rarely did the candidates, who had complained so loudly about previous moderators, get challenged on any of their statements.

The fourth debate among the leading Republican candidates for president filled the historic Milwaukee Theatre with cheers, laughter and occasional boos, but it probably did not alter the dynamics among the eight featured contestants.

No one seemed to stumble or scintillate so notably as to change the pecking order with the first voting, now fewer than a dozen weeks away in the Iowa precinct caucuses.

The pundit world is still trying to decide which of the 10 Republican candidates for president won the third Republican debate of the 2016 race.

But it didn't take long for there to be consensus on one thing: CNBC was the night's "biggest loser."

The Republican presidential race entered a new phase Wednesday night as the outsider candidates, who dominated the first two debates, were upstaged by several of their office-holding rivals — and by a budding controversy over the conduct of the third debate itself.

In a feisty debate in Colorado on Wednesday night, Republican presidential candidates spent almost as much time sniping at the CNBC moderators as they did at each other.

The faceoff was messy and chaotic from the beginning, with candidates trying to jump on others and make their voices heard.

One person who succeeded at that was Marco Rubio. The Florida senator had several standout moments and earned many plaudits from pundits after the debate.

Updated at 12:10 pm ET.

Republicans are set to take the stage Wednesday night for their third presidential debate. This one is focused on the economy, but you can bet there will be plenty more topics explored.

For many candidates, who have been touting their business background and job creation experience, it gives them an opportunity to try to flex their muscles. Others will need to seize the chance to show they can handle economic concerns, which remain atop voters' minds.

Ben Carson has surged into a lead in Iowa and is climbing nationally thanks to his appeal to evangelicals. But could his own beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist make him anathema to many of those same voters?

Donald Trump seemed to question the Republican neurosurgeon's faith over the weekend.

"I'm Presbyterian," Trump said at a Saturday rally in Florida. "Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the U.S. will begin to increase the tempo of an air campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

"We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground," Carter said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Former governor Lincoln Chafee announced his departure from the presidential race Friday morning, six months after he launched what proved to be a quixotic bid for the nation's top office.

"As you know I have been campaigning on a platform of Prosperity Through Peace," Chafee said, in prepared remarks for an address to a group of Democratic women in Washington. "But after much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today.  I would like to take this opportunity one last time to advocate for a chance be given to peace."

Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he will not be a candidate for president in 2016, sparing Democrats from a shake-up in the race for the White House and removing a potential stumbling block for Hillary Clinton.

The vice president's decision comes after a long, and very public, struggle with whether or not to make a third run for the White House. Overcome with grief after the death of his eldest son, Beau, in May from brain cancer, at many times Biden seemed far from ready for the rigors of the campaign trail.

Updated at 1:30 p.m.

Jim Webb ended his Democratic campaign for president on Tuesday, leaving open the possibility he could still run as an independent.

Decrying how far both parties had moved from the center, the former Virginia senator acknowledged that there was no path forward for him in the current 2016 field.

Lance Mercier knows his job gets harder when a co-worker goes out on leave. But he recently also learned that raising a newborn involves, as he puts it, an "insurmountable" amount of work.

The 39-year-old bank manager from Silver Spring, Md., is currently on leave from work taking care of his newborn son with his wife, Luz.

"As a manager who has had a lot of people go out on leave of absence, it absolutely sucks when they go out on leave," he said. "This puts everything back into perspective for me."

In this presidential campaign, political outsiders are outshining experienced politicians.

To succeed with the conservative Republican base in the early-voting state of Iowa, Ted Cruz will need to win over supporters of both outsiders and insiders vying for the nomination.

At a restaurant in the Mississippi River town of Keokuk, Iowa, this week, the Texas senator addressed a full room over a loudspeaker.

"God bless the great state of Iowa," Cruz said. "I spent most of last week in Washington, D.C., so it is great to be back in America."

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama said on Thursday that slowing down the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is "the right thing to do."

"Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be," Obama said, so the United States will leave 9,800 troops in the country through most of 2016. By 2017, about 5,500 troops will remain in a few bases across the country.

Obama said that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will remain focused on two non-combat objectives: to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida.

Pete Souza / White House

Senior administration officials say President Barack Obama will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017.

Iran's Guardian Council on Wednesday approved the deal intended to control Iran's nuclear program. The approval is a final step before implementation, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The 12-member group of senior clerics' OK followed passage by Iran's Parliament on Tuesday.

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