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Gay activists: Nice talk Mr. President, now where’s the action?

President Barack Obama’s emphatic gay-rights advocacy in his inaugural address thrilled many activists. Yet almost immediately came the questions and exhortations as to what steps should be taken next. “I was very moved,” said Jon Davidson, legal director of the gay-rights group Lambda Legal. “But there’s a lot more to do in the four years to come. … It’s not like everything is fine.” Items on the activists’ wish list include appointment of America’s first openly gay Cabinet member, steps to curtail unequal treatment of same-sex couples in the military and an executive order barring federal contractors from workplace discrimination
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Obama promises tough, liberal stance on fiscal issues

President Barack Obama devoted one word — “deficit” — to the issue that brought Washington to the brink of fiscal crises time and again during his first term. But it was the paragraph that followed in his inaugural address that foreshadowed what’s to come — more hard bargaining and more last-minute deals driven by Obama’s own conviction that he now wields an upper hand. “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this
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House GOP wants vote to extend debt limit until May 19

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have scheduled a vote on Wednesday on a nearly four-month extension of U.S. borrowing capacity, but the bill does not specify a dollar amount. Legislative language released by the House Rules Committee on Monday said the bill aims “to ensure complete and timely payment of the obligations of the United States Government until May 19, 2013.” The legislation is a strategic move by House Republicans to avoid a fight over the looming federal debt ceiling and shift their negotiating leverage for spending cuts to other fiscal deadlines. The U.S. Treasury expects to exhaust
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Smaller crowds but same excitement for Obama’s second time around

Schoolteacher Patricia Cooper gazed out at the many hundreds of thousands of people lining the National Mall, moments after Barack Obama had been sworn in for the second time as president. “The media kept saying there were going to be so many fewer people,” said Cooper, 51, from Upper Marlboro, Md. “But look out there!” she beamed. “We still have a pretty big crowd.” True, the crowd was roughly half that of Obama’s momentous inauguration in 2009, and the sense of history, and pure excitement, far less potent. But despite a more sober national mood, there was plenty of enthusiasm
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Worldwide, public trust in government, business at all-time low

Public trust in business, government and media leaders has fallen in the wake of financial and political scandals, according to a new global survey. Heads of financial institutions did particularly poorly, mainly in richer countries that have suffered financial crises and fined banks for, among other things, manipulating markets and facilitating money-laundering. The 2013 edition of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer found “a very significant crisis of leadership,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Chicago-based public relations firm Edelman. “Leaders are just not seen as leading.” A big problem is that people think their leaders “just can’t get around
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With second swearing in, Obama kicks off another term

His second term already under way, President Barack Obama aims to set an optimistic tone when he takes the oath again to lead a divided nation seeking solutions to economic woes at home and conflict overseas. Hundreds of thousands are expected to gather on the National Mall to witness Obama’s swearing in and inaugural address Monday. The celebrations will extend across the nation’s capital, including the traditional inaugural parade and a pair of glitzy formal balls. In his inaugural address to the crowd in Washington and millions more watching on television, Obama will urge lawmakers to find common ground when
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Senate Democrats promise something rare: An actual federal budget

Democrats are looking to make new revenue part of the Senate’s first budget in almost four years, which will be released soon after the start of President Barack Obama’s second term. Obama has pushed for a “balanced approach” to solving the nation’s financial woes, including more tax revenue. Republicans for years have complained bitterly that Senate Democrats last produced a comprehensive budget in 2009 and say that, if Obama and fellow Democrats want to borrow more money, they’ll have to outline a spending plan. Senate Democrats announced Sunday that they will oblige and produce a budget — but warned it
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The ‘ace of cakes’ cooks up something special for Obama

Baltimore celebrity baker Duff Goldman says the cake he’s baking for President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball is going to be more elegant than crazy, full of stars and stripes and a whole lot of glitter. Goldman says the staff at his Charm City Cakes bakery, which had its extreme cakes featured in the Food Network show “Ace of Cakes,” began Friday to decorate the details to put on the cake. They’ll start baking the cake itself on Sunday, the day before the inauguration and the Commander in Chief’s Ball where the cake will be served. The finished product will stand
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Obama facing an unusual two-day inaugural

President Barack Obama will take the official oath of office in a small, private ceremony at the White House on Sunday, setting a more subdued tone for his second inauguration than his historic swearing-in four years ago. Obama will still be sworn in publicly outside the U.S. Capitol on Monday with all the traditional pomp, but that event will be mostly for show. Technically, Sunday is the only one that really counts according to the Constitution, which mandates that the president be sworn in on January 20. Compared to the momentous atmosphere of Obama’s first inauguration, the mood will be
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New Republican House marked more for weakness than power

Celebration doesn’t seem to be high on the agenda as House Republicans, their majority renewed by the voters last fall, lay the groundwork for another challenge to President Barack Obama over federal spending. And no wonder. Their annual retreat this past week in Williamsburg had scarcely begun when they were told that disapproval ratings for Republicans in Congress had climbed to 64 percent in a poll completed a few days earlier. Only 27 percent of the public viewed them favorably in the survey, taken by David Winston, a respected Republican pollster. A previous sounding by Winston at the very end
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