The new US first family settled into their new lives in the White House on Thursday as US President Barack Obama won an important personal victory: He can keep his BlackBerry communicator.
Obama will be the first sitting president to use e-mail, and he has been reluctant to part with his ever-present handheld device.
Its use will be limited to keeping in touch with senior staff and personal friends, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
And though Gibbs said Obama had to ask at one point where to go next in his “pretty big house,” he also said the president was enjoying living above the shop and had time for dinner with the family on Wednesday.
“I think that obviously means a lot to him as a father,” Gibbs said.
It was back to business for daughters Sasha and Malia, too, who returned to the private Sidwell Friends School on Thursday.
The girls were allowed to play hooky on Wednesday after a late-night scavenger hunt at the White House that ended when they opened a door and found their favorite band, the Jonas Brothers.
But two days of frivolity was, apparently, enough. First lady Michelle Obama had no public schedule for the rest of the week as she helped the girls adjust, said Mrs Obama’s spokeswoman, Katie McCormick Lelyveld.
“Her primary focus this week is getting the kids settled. She is focused entirely on getting unpacked and getting the kids up and running,” McCormick Lelyveld said.
Both girls were excited to get their rooms set up, McCormick Lelyveld said. Mrs Obama has worked hard throughout the transition to maintain a strong routine for Sasha, seven, and Malia, 10.
“I know the family’s moved now three times in only a few weeks. But if you know them and you know their family, they’ve had a routine for a long time,” Gibbs said. “This is a monumental testament to Michelle.”
The monumental testament to her husband? He won the BlackBerry battle.
Gibbs joked that the development was “almost as exciting as the presidential dog.” He poked fun at the White House press corps for stirring at the news during his briefing: “Let’s make sure the pen still works.”
But the BlackBerry victory is a big concession. Obama said earlier that he was working with the Secret Service, lawyers and White House staff to keep the device.
Gibbs said the president would limit its use and that security had been enhanced. Only a small number of senior staff members and personal friends would be given his e-mail address.
Previous presidents chose not to use e-mail because it can be subpoenaed by Congress and courts and may be subject to public records laws. And Gibbs said the presumption from the White House counsel’s office is that Obama’s e-mails will be subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the National Archives to preserve presidential records.
He also said, however, that exceptions are made for “strictly personal communications.”
Obama has been seen often checking his e-mail on his handheld device, even when it meant getting his hands slapped by Michelle during his daughter’s soccer game.
Former US presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did not e-mail while in office, although Bush was an active e-mailer before becoming president.
That was before the era of the BlackBerry, a device now ubiquitous in Washington and precious to Obama.
When asked during the campaign about his worst habit, Obama said: “Checking my BlackBerry.”
Gibbs said the president believes that using the device is an effective way to keep in touch with people without “getting stuck in a bubble.”
Those who have access to the president’s e-mail will be briefed about appropriate communications, Gibbs said.
Vaccines that protect against severe illness, death and lingering long COVID-19 symptoms from a SARS-CoV-2 infection were linked to small increases in neurological, blood and heart-related conditions in the largest global vaccine safety study to date. The rare events — identified early in the pandemic — included a higher risk of heart-related inflammation from mRNA shots made by Pfizer Inc, BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc, and an increased risk of a type of blood clot in the brain after immunization with viral-vector vaccines such as the one developed by the University of Oxford and made by AstraZeneca PLC. The viral-vector jabs were
A steam of sweat rose as hundreds of naked men tussled over a bag of wooden talismans, performing a dramatic end to a thousand-year-old ritual in Japan that took place for the last time. Their passionate chants of “jasso, joyasa” (“evil, be gone”) echoed through a ceder forest in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, where the secluded Kokuseki Temple is ending the popular annual rite. Organizing the event, which draws hundreds of participants and thousands of tourists every year, has become a heavy burden for the aging local faithful, who find it hard to keep up with the rigors of the ritual. The Sominsai festival,
‘PUTIN IS RESPONSIBLE’: Authorities detained more than 100 people in Russia, as mourners remembered the opposition leader outside embassies around the world Floral tributes to Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest foe who died on Friday in a Russian penal colony, were removed overnight by groups of unidentified people while police watched, videos on Russian social media show. More than 100 people were detained in eight cities across Russia after they came to lay flowers in memory of Navalny, said OVD-Info, a group that monitors political repression in Russia. Yesterday, police blocked access to a memorial in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and detained several people there as well as in another Siberian city, Surgut, OVD-Info said. Video footage shared on social media
COLLECTIVE ACTION: Over 150 trainee doctors quit over the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions by 2,000 students next school year The South Korean government yesterday warned that trainee doctors were putting public health at risk after more than 150 tendered their resignations to protest a government plan to admit more students to medical schools. The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare said it had issued a back-to-work order to the 154 doctors at seven hospitals, warning that refusing to comply would result in punishment. The government plans to raise medical school admissions by 2,000 students for the 2025 academic year and to add 10,000 doctors by 2035. Currently, about 3,000 students enter medical schools each year. The plan has drawn intense protests