January 30th, 2012
09:27 PM ET

Catholic clergymen come out swinging against HHS regulation

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) – Catholics around the country got an earful on Sunday from the pulpit over a new health insurance policy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that forces employers to cover contraception and abortion as part of preventative care regardless of religious beliefs. The use of abortion and contraceptives violates Catholic teachings.

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, Bishop David Ricken denounced the policy at Mass in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on Sunday and received a standing ovation, CNN affiliate WLUK reported.

“If we pay for those services for people who work for us, we are in effect saying don’t do it, but then giving the money to pay for it,” said Ricken.

In a letter read to congregants in the Atlanta Archdiocese, Archbishop Wilton Gregory called the policy “a matter of grave moral concern.”

To read the complete story go to CNN's Belief Blog.

Topics: Catholic vote • President Obama • The News
Obama's Google+ Hangout
January 30th, 2012
09:15 PM ET

Obama's Google+ Hangout


WASHINGTON (CNN) - While reaching out to supporters through one of the latest high-tech means, President Obama expanded his social media experience by holding a Google+ video chat room interview on Monday afternoon.

In an election year, it's probably not good politics to talk about what you look forward to doing after your time in the White House, but that's exactly what President Obama did when asked about the frustrations of living in the security bubble.

"It's the toughest thing about being president. Look, this is the greatest job on Earth and it's such an honor to serve, but it is true sometimes, you get a little stir crazy," he said. "One of the things I look forward to after I've had this extraordinary honor is just taking a walk, or waking up on Saturday morning, not shaving and going to the local Starbucks and not having to worry about it." FULL POST

Topics: Google • President Obama • The News
First day jitters?
From left: President Barack Obama; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Lew; Senior Advisor David Plouffe; Counsel to the President Kathryn Ruemmler; Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Counselor to the President Pete Rouse: Press Secretary Jay Carney; Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations; and Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to the Vice President.
January 30th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

First day jitters?

It was the first day on the job for new White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew. But it wasn't actually his first day at the White House. In his former position as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Lew was responsible for overseeing the preparation of the federal budget and financial management of the Executive Office of the President.

Topics: Jack Lew • The Buzz
Carney squashes rumor of FLOTUS shopping spree
January 30th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Carney squashes rumor of FLOTUS shopping spree

White House Spokesman Jay Carney shot down rumors that the first lady dropped an eye-popping $50,000 on lingerie at a luxury shop in New York City.  The story, sparked by a British newspaper report, alleged Michelle Obama went on the shopping spree at the store Agent Provocateur and " closed off part of Madison Avenue to spend time in the luxury lingerie shop."

From today's press briefing:

Q: Jay, many people have heard the rumors about the First Lady's purchases in New York. I know it's British tabloids, but can you help us squash this rumor? In light of other -

MR. CARNEY: Neal, I'm shocked that you're the one to ask this question. But let me just answer and say that, at least when I was a reporter, usually the standard for British tabloid reporting was the assumption that it was false. In this case, it's utterly false, and it's irresponsible of an American news organization to repeat the story, even allowing that it could be true. So it's wrong.

Q: Can you provide some evidence that it's wrong? Because I'd hate to print some incorrect information.

MR. CARNEY: I'm sorry, can you provide - I'm not going to go there, Neal. It's false.

Topics: Michelle Obama • The Buzz
Taking care of family
January 30th, 2012
03:07 PM ET

Taking care of family

First Lady Michelle Obama spent Monday morning talking about one of her favorite causes, taking care of military families.  She announced proposed changes to the Family Medical Leave Act that will help military families take care of service members and their kids when they are called up for active duty or are injured.  In front of a crowd of military families and leaders at the U.S. Department of Labor, Mrs. Obama said the rules will "give more families support and flexibility" to take care of their loved ones.

The new proposal  includes the creation of a special 26-week military caregiver leave entitlement, this would be an additional option to the 12-week leave  currently available under the FMLA. The first lady said the rule "means that more caregivers can now provide support at a hospital for days or weeks at a time.  They can help they loved ones make that transition back home.  And they can do it all without worrying whether they will lose their job."

The new rule also includes veterans who have been discharged within the past 5 years. They too would be covered under this proposal, though the initial illness or injury must have been incurred while on active duty. This amends the current law which only covers family members of those currently serving in the military.

Another part of the proposal allows the families of regular active duty military who have recently been deployed to take up to 12 weeks to deal with child care, financial or legal issues.  Previously this rule only included active duty National Guard and Reserves.

The proposals will have a 60 day public comment period before the final rule is implemented. Congress does not need to act for this rule to take effect.

For more information on the proposed revisions visit


Obama 'hanging out' with the help of Google
January 30th, 2012
08:29 AM ET

Obama 'hanging out' with the help of Google

(CNN) - In the latest iteration of the administration's efforts to connect to supporters via social media, President Barack Obama will take part Monday in a Google+ 'Hangout," a chat room-like feature of Google+ that allows users to connect with each other via video connections.

The White House pledges the president will answer "several of the most popular questions" submitted through YouTube while some questioners will be invited to participate in a live conversation on Google+.

The latest social media push follows a Twitter town hall the president held over the summer. To the disappointment of some, the president merely answered pre-selected questions from Twitter users in that forum.

Full story

Topics: President Clinton • The News
Morning Briefing: January 30
January 30th, 2012
08:05 AM ET

Morning Briefing: January 30

The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

U.S. presence not completely out of Iraq [NYT]

RNC Chair compares Obama to ill-fated cruise ship captain [CNN]

Looks like Romney’s got Florida in the bag [CNN]

But how long will Newt stay in? [POLITICO]

Jindal wants in on Tarmac Tiff coverage [POLITICO]

POTUS' Day Ahead: Hanging out with Georgia's president
January 30th, 2012
07:41 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Hanging out with Georgia's president

President Obama has a fairly light day ahead of him after several jam-packed days of events last week.  Of note, Obama will meet with Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili in the Oval Office this afternoon.

In the evening, the president will make his latest foray into social media when the White House hosts a Google+ 'hangout.'  Details of that here.

Full schedule

Topics: Daily Schedule • The News