Nation/World Briefs

For 3rd time, Putin sworn in as Russia’s president

MOSCOW – Vladimir Putin took the oath of office in a brief but regal Kremlin ceremony Monday, while on the streets outside thousands of helmeted riot police prevented hundreds of demonstrators from protesting his return to the presidency.

Putin, 59, has ruled Russia since 2000, first as president and then during the last four years as prime minister. The new, now six-year term will keep him in power until 2018, with the option of running for a fourth term.

Despite unprecedented security measures in the center of Moscow, where streets were closed to traffic and passengers prevented from exiting subway stations, at least 1,000 opposition activists tried to protest along the route Putin’s motorcade took to the Kremlin. Police picked out anyone wearing the white ribbons that are the symbol of the anti-Putin protest movement.

Obama’s gay marriage stance under scrutiny

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s election-year vagueness on gay marriage is coming under fresh scrutiny.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan broke ranks with the White House on Monday, stating his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage one day after Vice President Joe Biden suggested that he supported gay marriage as well.

Obama aides worked to manage any political fallout. They said the back-to-back remarks by two top administration officials represented personal viewpoints and were not part of a coordinated effort to lay groundwork for a shift in the president’s position. Obama aides also tried to use the latest flare-up in the gay-marriage debate to shine a light on GOP rival Mitt Romney’s history of equivocating on some gay-rights issues, an attempt to turn a potential political problem into an opportunity.

Obama, who supports most gay rights, has stopped short of backing gay marriage. Without clarification, he’s said that his personal views on the matter are “evolving.”

Associated Press