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For the first time since Pope Francis has been the leader of the Catholic Church, he is meeting with President Obama. The president was invited to the Vatican to discuss a variety of issues with the pope today, and though Obama has expressed admiration for Pope Francis, there’s speculation that the meeting may become touchy at times.

Officials from both sides have said that the conversation will be focused on topics of shared values and priorities, but prior to the visit, Vatican Radio—which, according to USA Today “is considered an official organ of communication for the church“— released a story addressing U.S. policy issues at odds with Vatican teaching. It said that the meeting "will take place in the content of a complex phase of the administration's relations of the Church of the United States, marked, in particular, by controversy on the implementation of health care reform having to do with the rules on mandatory health care coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortion; and on other issues at the center of the public debate in the United States, such as the legalization of homosexual marriages” ... Discuss

 

During a speech discussing his new “My Brother's Keeper" initiative to aid disadvantaged youth, President Obama opened up about how he could relate to the difficult circumstances facing many minority young people across the country. During the event, he said, “The stubborn fact is that the life chances of the average black or brown child in this country lags behind by almost every measure and is worse for boys and young men.” He also said that growing up without a father in the house can often to even more difficulties, and said he knew the pain of growing up with his dad not around. “I didn't have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn't necessarily realize it at the time … I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn't always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses.”

The president also cited stats that showed how fatherless, minority boys are more likely to be the victims of crime or end up in prison, adding, "The worst part is we become numb to these statistics. We just assume this is an inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is.” According to this story, the new initiative is a partnership between government programs, private companies and non-profits to aid in “early child development, parenting programs, and those stressing literacy and discipline.” So far, a group of philanthropic foundations have already committed to contributing more than $200 million to My Brother’s Keeper in the next five years ... Discuss

 

This week we talk to President Obama's former "Pastor-in-Chief" and longtime spiritual advisor, Joshua DuBois. DuBois led the White House faith-based initiative during Obama's first term, and has just released his new book, "The President's Devotional." The book provides 365 of the best readings and prayers he sent the President every morning and is full of ways to start each morning with grace and joy. Read More

 

Today, President Obama will begin a personal campaign to convince congressional leaders and the general public that a strike on Syria is imparative. After conducting talk show interviews throughout the afternoon, tomorrow night, the president will appear in a televised, primetime address, outlying why he believes the U.S. should take military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Many security experts believe that the Syrian leader recently used chemical weapons on his own people, killing hundreds (including children), in a civil war that has left hundreds of thousands dead, and created millions of refugees.

As Congress returns from their summer recess, the White House will present evidence and intelligence findings in an effort to prove that Assad was behind the chemical attack and that he still maintains stockpiles of illegal, chemical weapons. Despite the war crimes allegations, the President will face an uphill battle getting congressional approval for a military strike. According to a recent AP survey, House members opposing U.S. intervention in Syria outnumber advocates by a 6-1 margin … Discuss

 

The birth of the royal baby was big news yesterday—especially on Twitter, where even big brands capitalized on the announcement. According to Mashable, following the official news of the birth of the third in line to the British throne, royal baby mentions reached 25,300 tweets per minute. That may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t even come close to other major cultural events, like the election of Pope Francis in March (132,000 tweets per minute) and the all-time record set following the re-election of President Obama (237,000 tweets per minute). Even the Spice Girls managed to drum-up more Twitter buzz last year (116,000 tweets per minutes). No one tell the town crier that the royal baby wasn’t big news. We’re pretty sure this is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to this dude … Discuss

 

This weekend, President Obama visited the victims of the tornados that recently destroyed more than 1,200 homes in Oklahoma and killed 24 people. During his tour of the devastated communities on Sunday, he asked the American people to help those who suffered during the tragedy. “I want to urge every American to step up. If I've got one message for folks here today: Go online, donate to the American Red Cross.”

The president said he was moved by the story of a Bible being found in the rubble of a home that was turned to Isaiah 32:2, which reads, “Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
 and a refuge from the storm ...” (NIV). He said, “It's a reminder, as Scripture often is, that God has a plan, and it's important, though, that we also recognize we're an instrument of His will. And we need to know that as fellow Americans, we're going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore who have been impacted" … Discuss