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from Tales from the Trail:

Happy 4th at the White House

U.S. july41Independence Day was an "all-service" holiday at the White House this year as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcomed about 1,200 people -- men and women from all of the branches of the U.S. military and family members.

"This is the day when we celebrate the very essence of America and the spirit that has defined us as a people and as a nation for more than two centuries," Obama said in a greeting from a White House balcony draped in red, white and blue bunting.
Obama said was that he couldn't think of a better way to spend the Fourth of July than with men and women in uniform. But he said he was glad to see most weren't in uniform, given the stifling heat. But he pointed to one service member on the balcony who was decked out in a black suit because his grandmother insisted he dress up.
Obama gave a shout-out to an individual member of each branch of the services, including a soldier who did 150 missions in Iraq after being seriously wounded. The U.S. Marine Band provided the music (patriotic favorites, according to the White House pool report).

After feasting on hot dogs, burgers and other barbeque, the White House guests had some of the best seats in the city for a spectacular fireworks display that capped Washington's Fourth of July celebration.

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Photo Credits: REUTERS/Mike Theiler (Obama greets members of military families; Obama and first lady welcome guests to Independence Day barbeque; U.S. Marine Corps Band); REUTERS//Hyungwon Kang (Fireworks explode near White House in celebration of Independence Day in Washington)

from Tales from the Trail:

White House to Kremlin: how r u? OMG…

President Barack Obama suggested to visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that it might be time to toss out the red phone from Cold War days and open new lines of communication between the United States and Russia -- Twitter.

(Although Obama may want to get the terminology down first, it's Twitter not Twitters). USA-RUSSIA/

from Tales from the Trail:

General headed to the woodshed, will he get the axe?

The sound of palms slapping foreheads could be heard all over Washington, the physical exclamation of "what were they thinking?"

The spectacularly frank quotes from General Stanley McChrystal and his aides mocking Vice President Joe Biden and other top advisers to the president and commander-in-chief were jaw-dropping, not because that's what they really thought, but because the views were uttered to a reporter working on a profile for Rolling Stone magazine. USA/AFGHANISTAN

from Tales from the Trail:

Is time off allowed during a mammoth oil spill crisis? Depends…

BP CEO Tony Hayward takes time off to watch his yacht race in British waters, President Barack Obama goes golfing over the Father's Day weekend. OIL-SPILL/

Is that acceptable when the BP oil spill, the worst in U.S. history and a huge environmental disaster, is entering a third month in the Gulf of Mexico?

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama’s oil oratory — Katrina, drill baby drill, boom and shave

President Barack Obama, in his first formal press conference  in almost a year (since July), answered questions about his handling of the oil spill.

There was the one about Katrina comparisons. (Slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina turned into an albatross for former President George W. Bush). OIL-LEAK/OBAMA

from Tales from the Trail:

Republicans still looking for answers about Sestak

Republicans want answers -- and a little political mileage. The White House wants the whole thing to go away. And until somebody starts talking, neither side is going to get what they want.

On Wednesday, Republicans renewed their daily demand that Representative Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, and White House officials come clean about what Sestak said was a White House offer of a job if he dropped his primary challenge against Senator Arlen Specter. USA-POLITICS/

from Tales from the Trail:

Another poll comes out in favor of gays in the military

As Congress mulls "don't ask, don't tell," a new poll finds support for repealing it.

A CNN poll showed that 78 percent, or nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe people who are openly gay should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. MILITARY-GAYS/

from Tales from the Trail:

No magic solution for oil spill, elbowing BP won’t do any good

The message from the White House podium today was loud and clear -- there is no magic fix for the oil spill that looks like curdled chocolate milk flowing on top of the Gulf of Mexico. And there isn't much that anyone can do that BP isn't doing.

OIL-RIG/LEAKCan government push BP out of the way if it believes the company is not doing the job?

from Tales from the Trail:

White House spokesman smells a rat in the Rose Garden

OBAMA/A furry little creature has been showing up at White House Rose Garden events recently about as often as a particularly persistent reporter. But this week it went too far, by running across the base of Barack Obama's podium while the U.S. president was speaking about  financial regulatory reform on Thursday.

The moment was captured on video, but no one seems to know what the creature was, although there were plenty of theories.

from Tales from the Trail:

Question raised by Obama-Calderon presser: Was that it?

It was definitely not a press conference and it was barely a Q-and-A.

For a White House that is more agile than any predecessor in new media --Twitter, blogs, video -- it seems to be getting a bit out of practice with the traditional question-answer format with real, live reporters.

President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon faced the media in the White House Rose Garden. USA-MEXICO/