Obama takes oath of office for second term

Updated 30 January 2013
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Obama takes oath of office for second term

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama took the oath of office for a second term in a ceremony at the US Capitol yesterday.
Obama was formally sworn in at the White House on Sunday but he repeated the oath again — led by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — at his largely symbolic public inauguration yesterday. 
In a relative short speech that lasted less than 20 minutes, Obama emphasized quality among all Americans regardless of their ethnic background, name or race. He cast inequality and the lack of social mobility as a threat to individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
He also said Americans should not make the distinction between past and present generations.
“We reject that we must choose between the generation that built this country and the generation that will build its future,” said.
His address also needled the Republican Party’s position on entitlements, such as Medicare, Social Security and unemployment benefits, for Americans.
“These things do not make us a nation of takers,” he said.
Obama faced a smaller crowd, estimated to be about 600,000, and a more subdued country, as America’s first black president marks the beginning of his second term and repeats the oath he took in a private ceremony the day before. In his inaugural address to millions watching in Washington and on television, Obama urged lawmakers to find common ground and look forward to goals over the next four years, including comprehensive immigration reform, stricter gun control laws and an end to the war in Afghanistan.
“What the inauguration reminds us of is the role we have as fellow citizens in promoting a common good, even as we carry out our individual responsibilities that, the sense that there’s something larger than ourselves, gives shape and meaning to our lives,” Obama said during brief remarks to donors at a reception Sunday night.
The politician who rose improbably from a history as a community organizer in Chicago and a professor of constitutional law to the pinnacle of power faces a nation riven by partisan disunity, a still-weak economy and an array of challenges abroad.
Obama also faced a less charmed standing on the world stage, where expectations for him had been so high four years ago that he was given the Nobel Peace Prize just months into his presidency. “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the Nobel announcement in 2009 read. The president, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia began the day at St. John’s Episcopal church, which was built in 1812 and is known as the church of presidents. Obama later had coffee at the White House with congressional leaders, who play major roles in how the country is governed.
Yesterday’s events, including parades and fancy dress balls, are expected to have less of the effervescence of four years ago, when the 1.8 million people packed into central Washington knew they were witnessing history. Obama is now older, grayer and more entrenched in the politics he once tried rise above. 
Obama is expected to follow the recent tradition of walking at least part of the way back to the White House, surrounded by cheers.
In the briefest of ceremonies Sunday, with family gathered in the White House, Obama took the oath of office shortly before noon, as required by law. With his left hand on a family bible held by his wife, the 44th president raised his right hand and repeated the time-honored words read out by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
The intimate swearing-in met the legal requirement that presidents officially take office on Jan. 20. Because that date fell on a Sunday this year, the traditional public ceremonies surrounding the start of a president’s term were put off to Monday, which coincides this year with the birthday of revered civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Obama made no special remarks at Sunday’s ceremony. “I did it,” he said quietly to his youngest daughter, Sasha, before wrapping her in a hug. The oath went smoothly, unlike four years ago, when Roberts made mistakes while trying to recite the oath from memory and had to do it again with Obama later.
As he enters his second term, Americans increasingly see Obama as a strong leader, someone who stands up for his beliefs and is able to get things done, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The survey shows him with a 52 percent job approval rating, among the highest rankings since early in his presidency. His personal favorability, 59 percent, has rebounded from a low of 50 percent in the 2012 campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.
When the partying is done on Monday, it’s back to business for a president who is leading a nation that is, perhaps, as divided as at any time since the Civil War 150 years ago. That conflict put down a rebellion by southern states and ended slavery.


Far-right group attacks migrants on Greek island

Updated 13 min 29 sec ago
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Far-right group attacks migrants on Greek island

MYTILENE, Greece: A far-right group launched a violent attack overnight on migrants staging a sit-in protest on the Greek island of Lesbos, injuring around a dozen people, police said Monday.
The violence erupted late Sunday after members of the radical “Patriotic Movement” gathered on the central square of the island’s main city Mytilene, where some 200 Afghan asylum-seekers launched a sit-in protest last week against their miserable living conditions.
Despite police presence, the situation soon escalated as the extremists started throwing bottles and lighting flares, shouting slogans like “Burn them alive” and “Throw them in the sea.”
Tensions spiralled further when leftwing activists arrived in support of the migrants and started fighting with the far-right supporters.
The clashes raged all night until security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowd and evacuate the square, forcing the Afghans to return to the island’s overcrowded migrant camps.
A dozen migrants were lightly hurt and had to be taken to hospital, police said.
Over 6,500 migrants are currently stranded on Lesbos, far exceeding the 3,000 spots available in the camps.
More than one million people, mainly fleeing war in Syria, crossed to Greece from Turkey in 2015 after the onset of the bloc’s worst migration crisis since World War II.
The influx has been sharply cut since the European Union signed a controversial deal with Turkey in 2016 to send back migrants.
However, more than 13,000 migrants are still languishing in camps on five Greek islands until their asylum claims can be processed. This has fueled despair and sparked protests and outbreaks of violence.
Greece, a country of 11 million people, recorded 58,661 applications last year, making it the member state with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita, according to official data.