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from The Great Debate:

Can the White House really be protected?

Secret Service agents await the arrival of U.S. Presidential candidate Obama in Durham

When an armed intruder jumped the fence and penetrated deep into the White House, it provided a field day for cartoonists and some members of the House of Representatives -- who turned Julia Pierson, the hapless Secret Service director, into a piñata at a hearing Tuesday.

President Barack Obama and his family, fortunately, had left for the weekend before the intrusion. Omar J. Gonzalez, an Iraq Army veteran, said he wanted to warn the president,  "the atmosphere was collapsing." But the incident raised serious questions about the chief executive’s safety in his own home.

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testifies on Capitol Hill in WashingtonThe White House is usually described as the most heavily guarded residence in the nation. Uniformed Secret Service patrol the perimeter, backed by a SWAT team with automatic weapons. An attack dog, a Belgian Malinois, is trained to take down any intruder. The dog was not released on Sept. 19, however, when Gonzalez got in the unlocked front door. He made it all the way through the ceremonial East Room, possibly overpowering a female guard, before he was tackled and finally stopped by an off-duty Secret Service agent.

The executive mansion is supposedly protected day and night, surrounded by a no-fly zone. Its windows are bulletproof. Its air may be screened to foil biological or chemical attacks.

from MacroScope:

Mystery of the missing Fed regulator

It's one of those touchy subjects that Federal Reserve officials don't really want to talk about, thank you very much.

For nearly three years now, no one has been tapped to serve as the U.S. central bank's Vice Chairman for Supervision. According to the landmark 2010 Dodd-Frank bill, which created the position to show that the Fed means business as it cracks down on Wall Street, President Obama was to appoint a Vice Chair to spearhead bank oversight and to regularly answer to Congress as Chairman Ben Bernanke's right hand man.

from Photographers' Blog:

Hitting the ground running

Washington, D.C.

By Kevin Lamarque

Air Force One descends and the well choreographed dance begins: meal trays go up, shoes put back on, and laptops slipped into backpacks. Often the movie is abandoned minutes before the ending. Perhaps it’s time for one last reach into the candy basket. Cameras are slung over shoulders and settings are re-checked. Questions are asked: “Is it raining out there?” “Is there a pen of greeters?” Photographers, first out the door of the press cabin, make their way to the designated spot under the wing to photograph the President descending the steps of Air Force One.

Whether it's a quick day trip to Virginia or a red-eye to Europe or Asia, the arrival of Air Force One is always a spectacle. For locals, it is the quintessential moment of self-importance: “Air Force One is landing in our city.” Footage of the plane landing is usually broadcast live by local networks. From inside the plane’s press cabin, we often watch this live footage, actually seeing ourselves land. It’s a pretty weird experience when you think about it.

from MacroScope:

Bernanke’s Senate tone not that of Fed Chairman seeking third term

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may be keeping quiet about his future plans, but he sure doesn't sound like someone planning to seek Senate support for a third term at the helm of the U.S. central bank.

In unapologetic and sometimes testy exchanges before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, the Fed chief defended his record and dismissed one Senate critic in unusually blunt terms.

from Front Row Washington:

State of the State of the States

If the State of the Union speech is the artisanal homebrew of the political year, State of the State addresses are buying tall boys in bulk.

History suggests that President Obama will deliver 7,000-odd words in his address. So far in 2013, governors in 44 states have laid out nearly 200,000 words of State of the State stock-taking. Carving this rhetorical thicket into what's relevant to national politics and what's not provides a survey of support for current policies, a sense of how new proposals may be received and a reminder that states churn with concerns far beyond the issues that will be wedged into primetime TV.

from The Great Debate:

Obama should treat gun control like LBJ did civil rights

“We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” President Barack Obama said in a statement responding to the fatal shooting of at least 26 individuals, including 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut Friday morning. This shooting caps a year filled with mass shootings, including five killed in Georgia, seven killed in Oakland, six killed in Seattle, 12 killed in Colorado, seven killed in Wisconsin, six killed in Minneapolis, and three killed in Oregon (a full map is available here). The American people should take the time to mourn the loss of those killed in these senseless acts of violence. But they should also use them as a time for serious introspection into our collective psyche and culture.

Public debate and discussion about the role of guns and gun culture in American society must be a key component of that process. The question that many Americans will be asking is: Why did the shooting occur and how can we prevent another shooting in the future? It is not just that guns are available, it’s also the culture that surrounds them. It's about the people and the tools, not one or the other. A comprehensive attempt at gun control would better inform Americans about gun safety and the hazards of guns. But how best to do that? I offer one possible solution: the power of federal government intervention through schools.

from Full Focus:

Obama’s first four years

A look back at the iconic images from President Barack Obama's first term.

from Photographers' Blog:

Chasing Obama

By Jason Reed

What a difference four years makes for someone running again for President of the United States.

Barack Obama hit the campaign trail in 2012 wearing two hats… one as the incumbent President, and one as a candidate for re-election.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama gets a surprising ‘lift’ in Florida pizza joint

President Obama is hugged by Scott Van Duzer at a pizza shop in Florida

President Barack Obama met his match in the fitness category at an impromptu campaign visit on Sunday.

Stopping by a pizza place -- the Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Italian Restaurant -- in Ft. Pierce, Florida, the president, a workout fanatic, was welcomed by the 6-foot-3, 260-pound, big-muscled owner, Scott Van Duzer.

from Photographers' Blog:

Hard to ignore… the teleprompter

By Kevin Lamarque

Teleprompters; as much as the audience, the image makers and even President Barack Obama himself may wish these devices were truly invisible, there are times when the teleprompter cannot be ignored.

SLIDESHOW: OBAMA AND TELEPROMPTERS

For photographers, the teleprompter is most often seen as a nuisance, something that hinders their shot. With teleprompters to his left and right, Obama seemingly never looks directly ahead. His head shifts from side to side, at times giving the impression he is watching a tennis match as he delivers his remarks. Photographers naturally gravitate to the 45-degree angle in order to capture Obama looking down the barrel of the lens as he reads his speech. This usually works, assuming the teleprompter is composed out of the frame. Sometimes, the President is framed clearly through the teleprompter glass and can actually make a desirable image.

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