President Barack Obama will return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury to show solidarity with federal workers who must take unpaid leave due to deep spending cuts that went into effect last month, the White House said.
"The salary for the president, as with members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed," White House Secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president in Colorado and California on Wednesday. "However, the President has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury. He instructed his staff he wanted to do this when the sequester took effect."
The self-imposed 5 percent cut from the president's annual salary of $400,000 comes to $20,000, which would match the level of cuts to non-defense government agencies, according to Reuters. more >>
A coalition of 13 attorneys general issued a collaborative letter to the Obama administration, urging it to provide exemptions to privately owned businesses under its Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate, arguing that it violates religious liberties otherwise.
The letter argues that the White House's modifications made to the HHS mandate reward exemptions to religious nonprofits, large faith-based hospitals and universities, but fail to reward exemptions to for-profit business owners who object to the mandate on conscience grounds.
Religious institutions argue that the HHS mandate violates their religious liberties because it requires them to provide health care coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients. more >>
Joshua DuBois, the ordained Pentecostal minister who led the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under President Barack Obama, said in a recent interview that his former boss is "a deeply faithful president and didn't need a whole bunch of help cultivating that faith" during his four-year tenure at the White House.
DuBois, 30, resigned from his post in February and has since become a religion columnist at the Daily Beast and is set to teach faith-based courses at New York University this year. He told ABC News outside St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., where the first family recently attended Easter service, that President Obama had a penchant for the Book of Job and other Old Testament writings in the Bible when it came to his daily devotionals.
"He spent a lot of time thinking about the Book of Job and Job overcoming trials," said DuBois, reflecting on the daily readings he would send to the president. "We also spent a lot of time in the prophets, particularly the prophet Isaiah. But [he] reflects on some theologians as well, like C.S. Lewis and Howard Thurman." more >>
At an Easter Sunday service attended by President Barack Obama and his family, the pastor in his sermon accused politically conservative Christians of being misogynist, racist and anti-immigrant.
"It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border," the Rev. Luis León preached at St. John's Episcopal Church, according to a pooled press report.
The church is just blocks away from the White House and is sometimes referred to as the "church of the presidents." Obama was sitting in the pews with his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Sasha and Malia. They do not attend services at St. John's on a regular basis, but they have attended the church on many occasions. more >>
Earlier this week, an Alabama federal judge dismissed the lawsuit of a major Catholic television network regarding the Obama administration's contraception mandate, determining that the rules of the mandate have not been finalized yet, and therefore the court could not make a proper judgment on the case.
Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., ruled Monday that although the Eternal World Television Network [EWTN] has standing it its lawsuit because there exists a "real prospect of harm from a concrete regulatory mandate," she determined that she could not review the lawsuit because the Obama administration has promised to amend the mandate, and therefore it is not yet "ripe" for review.
"In this case, common sense weighs in favor of withholding judicial review until the new regulations are created and finalized. At that point, if EWTN still has objections, it may then file suit," Blackburn wrote in her opinion, according to AL.com. more >>
Judging from the televised images, President Obama's first state visit to Israel was a love fest. The Israelis literally and figuratively rolled out the red carpet, even giving Mr. Obama a medal to thank him for his friendship to the Jewish people. The President, in turn, literally and figuratively hugged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and repeatedly called him by his nickname, "Bibi," as though they had been best pals for years. The days of frosty, even frigid, relations between the two leaders seemed over.
But John Bolton isn't buying it. The long-serving American diplomat and national security expert, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, says behind the scenes there is still trouble in paradise.
I interviewed him by phone yesterday and his message was crystal clear. On the three critical issues facing the U.S. and Israel in the Middle East – dealing with the Iran nuclear threat, the implosion of Syria, and the peace process – Bolton says the President's objectives have not changed one iota. Netanyahu cannot count on this White House, he argues. And if Israel is going to strike Iran, they're going to have to do it this year, and on their own. more >>