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David Jackson, USA TODAY

Addressing crises both domestic and foreign, President Obama appealed for calm Thursday amid violent protests in a St. Louis suburb, and said a rescue operation for religious minorities in Iraq will not be necessary.

Obama, speaking from his vacation at Martha's Vineyard, Mass., called the weekend death of 18-year-old Michael Brown a tragedy, and urged police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., to 'take a step back' and consider how to best move forward.

'Now's the time for healing,' Obama said. 'Now's the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson.'

The president called on local police to be 'open and transparent' about their investigation of Brown's death. He said there is never an excuse for looting and violence towards police by officers, and 'there's also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.'

In particular, Obama criticized police for detaining two journalists during protests Wednesday, and for threatening others. Officers 'should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground,' he said.

Police have used tear gas and smoke bombs on crowds who gathered to protest the death of Brown on Saturday; some protesters have thrown Molotov cocktails.

Obama called the teenager's death 'heartbreaking and tragic,' and said the Department of Justice is working with local officials on the investigation. The president said he made it clear to Attorney General Eric Holder that 'we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done.'

The president also said he spoke with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, calling him 'a good man.'
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