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Obama agenda: Obama's speech in Northern Ireland

“President Barack Obama on Monday invoked America’s own struggles with tolerance as he praised the peace achieved so far in Northern Ireland and urged young people to play a role in shaping a positive future for their country,” Politico writes. “‘And I know because in America, we too have had to work hard over the decades, slowly, gradually, sometimes painfully in fits and starts to keep protecting our union,’ Obama said in a speech in Belfast ahead of meetings with G8 leaders. Citing the Civil War, segregation and laws banning interracial marriage — ‘my own parents’ marriage would have been illegal in certain states’ — he continued, ‘but over time, laws changed, and hearts and minds changed, sometimes driven by courageous lawmakers, but more often driven by committed citizens.’”

“President Barack Obama is taking a security, foreign policy and economic agenda to Northern Ireland for a meeting with heads of the leading industrial nations,” AP writes. “He’s looking for consensus on Syria while pushing for common ground on trade, economic growth and tax policies.”

CNN/ORC has President Obama’s approval falling to 45%, down eight points in a month. His “honest and trustworthy” score has dropped as well to 49%, down from 58%. Now, a majority (50%) say he’s not.

Friday dump alert: The White House released a list of five ambassador picks Friday afternoon. Two of the picks are, once again, major bundlers picked for plum posts, and one was the finance director for his 2012 reelection campaign. James Costos, who bundled $500,000 for Obama in 2012, was picked as ambassador to Spain. John Emerson raised at least $500,000 in 2012 and $100,000 in 2008, was named as the nominee for Germany (replacing another big donor), and Rufus Gifford was the finance chairman of Obama for America in 2011 and 2012, as well as the finance chairman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Two career Foreign Service Officers were named to posts in Brazil and Ethiopia and Ken Hackett, the ex-president of Catholic Relief Services, was named ambassador to the Vatican.

“The White House says President Barack Obama and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye (goon-hay) have discussed North Korea’s proposal for high-level talks with the U.S.,” AP writes. “The two leaders spoke by phone Sunday evening ahead of Obama’s trip to Northern Ireland for G-8 meetings.”

Unlike former President George W. Bush, who has stayed away from criticizing President Obama (and has seen an uptick in his favorability ratings), Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about Obama on FOX Sunday, despite defending the NSA policies. By the way, in 2010, Vice President Dick Cheney’s favorability rating was 36%/52%, according to Gallup.

Another ex-vice president, Al Gore, tells The Guardian he thinks the NSA surveillance is unconstitutional. "I quite understand the viewpoint that many have expressed that they are fine with it and they just want to be safe but that is not really the American way," Gore said. "Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that those who would give up essential liberty to try to gain some temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

More: "This in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear," he said. "It is not acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is."

Political Wire: New York Post: "New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed the real story behind a 2005 meeting with Vladimir Putin, during which the Russian president pocketed his Super Bowl ring, worth more than $25,000. Kraft, at the time, claimed the diamond-encrusted bauble was a gift, but he now admits Putin stole it, and the White House intervened when he demanded it back."