White House

In a prime-time speech on Wednesday, President Obama said the United States plans to "take out" the Islamic State "wherever they exist."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his most resonant and famous line during his presidential inauguration speech of 1933: "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It was resonant because he was being defiant, and optimistic, in the face of the Great Depression — and it was famous because it was broadcast live, to the entire nation, on the relatively new medium of radio.

Chion Wolf

The JFK assassination is like the Maine coastline: craggy, uneven, full of serration, points, inlands, islands, amenable to endless exploration and quickly obscured by sudden fogs. There are so many side trips and any one of them is a potential life's work.

Let me give you some examples.

How Far Will President Obama Go?

Sep 10, 2014

President Obama previewed his plan for dealing with the Islamic State by comparing it to counterterrorism operations in recent years and said it would not be an invasion akin to the ground war in Iraq.

As he prepares to lay out the details in a speech to the nation Wednesday night, several key factors are likely to determine the success or failure of any military mission.

Republicans are increasingly confident that when this year's midterm elections are over, they will control both houses of Congress. But in this period of polarization and gridlock, what difference would it make?

This midterm election doesn't seem to be about anything in particular other than whether you like President Obama or not. There's no overarching issue, no clashing national agendas. Instead, it's just a series of very expensive, brutally negative races for Congress.

The top four congressional leaders will be at the White House today to talk to President Obama about U.S. military action against the group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. This comes just one day before Obama will address the nation and lay out his strategy for dealing with the extremist group.

The president says he wants congressional buy in, but "buy in" can mean a lot of things.

During a press conference to mark the end of a two-day meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Wales, President Obama said he found "conviction" among U.S. friends and allies that the international community must "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State.

Obama said the militant Sunni group cannot be contained because it is already causing so much damage.

The United States says it has formed a coalition of 10 countries to help in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.

The group consists of the United States plus Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark.

(This post was last updated at 8:04 a.m. ET.)

On the second and final day of their meeting in Wales, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are expected to announce more aid to Ukraine.

NATO also announced the formation of a so-called rapid-reaction force. As The Associated Press describes it, this consists of "several thousand troops in Eastern Europe that could quickly mobilize if an alliance country in the region comes under attack."

The U.S. Department of Justice will launch an investigation into police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, with a focus on looking for a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing.

Carrie says the department was holding off on announcing the investigation until clashes in the town died down:

President Obama, along with all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, are in Wales today as a set of international conflicts puts the military alliance back in the spotlight.

At the top of the agenda is, of course, the crisis in Ukraine.

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, said the allied forces are facing a situation they never thought they would see again in the region.

Can NATO Find A Way To Contain Russia?

Sep 3, 2014

Ever since the Cold War ended, the armies of NATO and Russia have been moving warily toward each other while their political positions keep moving further apart.

Twelve Eastern European countries have joined NATO since the Soviet breakup, and NATO is now on the verge of creating a rapid-reaction force for the region. Russia has sent troops into two former Soviet republics, Ukraine and Georgia, that have relationships with NATO, but not membership.

Speaking in Estonia today, President Obama issued a warning to the extremist group that took responsibility for beheading two American journalists: "We will not be intimidated," Obama said, according to Time. "Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long, and that justice will be served."

The United States conducted airstrikes in Somalia late Monday, targeting the leadership of the al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

As the conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues to escalate, Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Murphy wants to call it what it is: a war.

There's been much criticism of the president lately, even within his own party, that he's too detached and withdrawn, not combative enough anymore. This can be explained completely with a sports analogy: We elected a basketball president, but then we ended up with a golf president.

President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, The Associated Press and The New York Times are reporting this morning, citing unnamed U.S.

President Obama has ordered a review of federal programs that supply local law enforcement agencies with military weapons and equipment after concerns over how the police handled unrest in Ferguson, Mo., in the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown.

A senior Obama administration official says the president "whether state and local law enforcement are provided with the necessary training and guidance; and whether the federal government is sufficiently auditing the use of equipment obtained through federal programs and funding."

The nation's top law enforcement officer traveled to Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday to wrap his arms around a community in pain.

Attorney General Eric Holder hugged community leaders, a highway patrol captain and the mother of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old killed by a police officer earlier this month.

From the moment he walked into a soul food restaurant in Ferguson, the attorney general found friends and began getting reports on the community's mood after days of protests and sporadic violence.

Marc Nozell / Creative Commons

Vice President Joe Biden said manufacturing jobs are coming back to the U.S., but workers need the right training to fill those positions. 

Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET:

President Obama is calling the situation in Ferguson, Mo., where violence has broken out in the aftermath of a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, "heartbreaking and tragic."

Speaking in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard where he is vacationing, Obama said he received a briefing this morning from Attorney General Eric Holder.

Pete Souza / White House

President Barack Obama congratulated Iraq's prime minster-designate in a statement on Martha's Vineyard during his vacation.

The White House went on lockdown Thursday night and it was all for a pint-sized breach.

A toddler apparently got loose from his parents and made a run through the White House fence. If you've ever been to the White House, you know the Secret Service takes any breach very seriously. Plus, there's also guys with powerful guns on the roof.

In a news conference Wednesday that was largely about international relations and trade, President Obama also addressed the limits of his own authority at home.

"I never have a green light," Obama said. "I'm bound by the Constitution; I'm bound by the separation of powers."

James Brady, a former White House press secretary and gun control advocate, died Monday, his family announced. He was 73.

Brady served as spokesman for President Ronald Reagan. He was struck in the head by a bullet intended for the president during an assassination attempt in 1981.

Updated at 9:05 a.m. ET.

The U.S. has temporarily closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated diplomats amid what is being described as a significant deterioration in security, with rival militant factions battling in the capital, Tripoli.

"Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Kerry: Gaza Truce Still In Play

Jul 25, 2014

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called reports that Israel's government had rejected a U.S. truce in Gaza "a mischievous leak" and said he's confident a deal can be reached.

Referring to earlier reports by Israeli TV that a seven-day cease-fire had been unanimously rejected, Kerry, speaking at a news conference in Cairo, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had assured him that the report is "an error and inaccurate.

A top White House adviser says any cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinians must include the demilitarization of Gaza.

In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said "that needs to be the end result."

"There has to be some way forward that does not involve Hamas having the ability to continue to rain down rockets on Israeli civilians," Blinken said.

Asked if this means the U.S. has endorsed Israel's demand that Hamas give up its weapons, Blinken said:

Pete Souza / White House

President Barack Obama spoke about the downed plane in eastern Ukraine from the White House Monday morning. He called for international investigators to have "immediate and full access" to the site where a passenger jet was shot down last week.

U.S. officials have been seeking to build a case that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Egypt today in an effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry would meet with Egyptian and other senior officials.

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