Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

In Copenhagen: The Guardian leaked a document known as the ‘Danish Text,‘ written by ‘the circle of commitment’ HwS(The US, UK, and Denmark). The document creates a rough outline for changes in climate policy that have offended the developing world and move away from the Kyoto Protocol. Instead of making rich countries responsible for financing emissions cuts, the World Bank would provide funds to developing nations on a conditional basis. In response, developing countries drafted another document to voice their concerns. They fear the Danish Text framework weakens th United Nations role in the debate, divides poorer countries into a new category of “the most vulnerable” to climate change, forces the developing world to adopt new standards, and would not allow poor countries to emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon per person by 2050- rich countries would be allowed 2.67 tonnes per person. The head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat Yvo de Boer tried to calm tempers by saying the Danish Text was outdated and irrelevant. “That text, and other texts that have been circulating, have not been on the table in a formal sense.”

National Public Radio higher-ups made a request to reporter Mara Liasson to stop appearing as a Fox News commentator, citing the political bias of the television network as cause for concern. Liasson, who joined Fox in 1997, was asked to watch the network for 30-days and gauge whether or not the network was growing increasingly partisan, but did not break her contract with Fox in the end.

Yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced that his country would delay a decision on the relocation of the American Futenma military facility in Okinawa, which the two countries discussed in 2006. The U.S. responded to this delay by putting off meetings that would strengthen U.S. ties to Japan until the fate of the base has been decided.The meetings were planned after Obama and Hatoyama met in November and, during a joint press conference, announced that bilateral cooperation between the countries would begin to extend past security issues to issues of public health and education.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced yesterday that 24% of power used by state and university buildings will be from solar and wind farms. The Governor is postioning the state as a major contract in Maryland’s small but growing renewable energy market. Last week, O’Malley made a decision to protect and re-build oyster sanctuaries in the Chesapeke Bay, which creates a symbiotic filtration and habitat system in the notoriously polluted body of water.  Read Governor O’Malley’s Clean Energy Announcement

Ugandan legislation threatening the death penalty for “active homosexuals” introduced last month has caused a chain of mixed reactions, including solidarity between gay activists and religious groups. While Uganda’s Ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo claims homosexuality “is not natural in Uganda,” he remains confident the death penalty clause will be repealed.  Critics say the aim is to divert attention from corruption and other political issues ahead of the 2011 national vote. Country reactions: Britain & Canada, Sweden, United States

Google has announced that it will post over 14,000 pictures of artifacts in the Iraqi National Museum online in early 2010. In 2003 the museum was ransacked during the Iraqi invasion. It contains objects from the Stone Age, as well as the Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic period and will reopen to the public in February of 2010.

A total of 165 men and 39 women have been arrested in Iran for their part in Monday’s National Student Day anti-government protests. Intelligence ministry officials claim they have documents that prove specific students’ involvement, and that the government will inform the rest of countries students who is creating this “schism” so they can avoid the same fate.

Illinois lawmakers will review a proposal to sell the “largely vacant” Thompson Correctional Center to the federal government for the domestic detainment of terrorism suspects currently held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Drafted by Governor Pat Quinn’s administration, the proposal will go infront of a House-Senate panel on December 22nd. The Obama Administration expressed interest in the Thompson site in early November.

United Nations officials in Yemen say this will have to open a third camp to accommodate all of the internally displaced people fleeing the Saa’da province because of “Operation Scorched Earth”, the joint Saudi and Yemeni government offensive against Houthi rebels. The population of refugees has doubled in the past month.

After its citizens passed a medical marijuana law last month, the state of Maine held a task force panel discussion to determine “how, exactly, to help those with legitimate medical conditions get access to the drug without also making it easier for recreational users to buy” yesterday.

A Christie’s Old Masters and 19th Century auction set a category sales record in London last night.  This success comes during the first bounce-back in the art market since October 2008.

Raphael's sketch entitled "Head of Muse" sold for $47.9 million), the highest price ever paid for a drawing at auction.


Times of Earth coverage of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s inauguration. Correspondent discusses Karzai’s lack of domestic and international legitimacy and security the surrounding the ceremony.

In his inaugural speech, Karzai committed to making Afghan forces in charge of security, fighting corruption, and holding a Loya Jirga, grand assembly, to speak with the Taliban.

Hillary Clinton hailed the speech as a new beginning for Afghanistan. “He was particularly strong on the steps that he intends to take regarding corruption,” she told reporters after the ceremony, adding it “set forth an agenda for change and reform”.

Abdullah Abdullah, his former rival for the Presidency, is not impressed-speech is “more of the same.”

“The United States of America … came into this crisis without anything like the basic tools countries need to contain financial panics,” he said. “Coming into AIG, we had basically duct tape and string.”

That is how Timothy Geithner defended the U.S. bailout of insurance giant AIG today in a hearing in front of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. He also recommended that one regulatory body patrol large banks and that Congress pass regulatory legislation. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is currently working on such a bill but, during the hearing, Republican Senator Richard Shelby said that it needed a  “complete rewrite.”

→ Republicans also called for Geithner’s resignation because of the slow speed of recovery. Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pressed Geithner to investigate the possible manipulation of the Chinese yuan. (Bloomberg)

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will host Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to talk about peace in the Middle East. Brazil has a history of remaining silent about abuses of human rights or power in other countries, but now that it is becoming a world economic power it is trying to show it can wield power diplomatically as well. (Reuters)

Two safe picks for Europe. Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy and British Trade Commissioner Baroness Ashton have been named the European Union’s new president and foreign minister. The choice indicates that countries may not want stars leading the newly strengthened European Union. Baroness Ashton has garnered the fiercest criticism because she has no diplomatic experience. (Telegraph)

White House strategist David Axelrod reminds us that Rome wasn’t built in a day after Obama’s lack luster China trip. (LA Times)
A letter written by FT Hood shooting suspect Nadal Hassan’s supervisor in 2007 shows that there were the faculty had “…serious concerns about CPT Hasan’s professionalism and work ethic. … He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism.” It is signed by the chief of psychiatric residents at Walter Reed, Maj. Scott Moran. Hassan didn’t answer his phone while on call, proselytized to his patients, and missed an important exam. (NPR)

Famed public artist Jeanne-Claude passed away from a brain aneyurism at the age of 74. In collaborating with her husband Christo, Jeanne-Claude leaves a legacy of challenging, temporary and “etherial” public works, most notably “The Gates” in New York City’s Central Park.  (ArtInfo)

"The Gates"

"The Gates." Christo and Jeanne-Claude. 2005. Image courtesy: ArtInfo


"The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react." George Bernard Shaw

"The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react." George Bernard Shaw

This morning the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee awarded U.S. President Barack Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize, citing his extraordinary hand in changing the tone of international relations since his launch onto the world stage. Detractors point to the fact that he had only been in office for twelve days when nominated, and that short time in office is the main reason why he should not be receiving this  accolade. They point to Afghanistan, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, nuclear proliferation and a slew of other reasons why Obama has not lived up to the expectations of the Nobel Prize.


I recognize the validity of those criticisms, but also feel strongly that the reasoning behind the Nobel Committee’s decision is bold and sound. It recognizes how Obama’s words have changed the way countries engage with one another, and the hope for peace that he has given individuals all over the world. As Foreign Policy’s Ronald Krebs pointed out in July, the Nobel Peace Prize is aimed at changing the world by merely being bestowed, and since the 1970s this politically charged award has been given to 27 people for their promise. Obama promised dialog, and that is what we have. North Korea has come back to negotiating table and Russia is warming up after bitter relations with the U.S. at the tail end of the Bush administration. World leaders like Mahmmoud Ahjmadinejad and Hugo Chavez can no longer point to the leader of the greatest power on earth as the greatest evil on earth. And let’s give credit where credit is due: it was the hunger of the American people for a different kind of power, a different position in world, that made Barack Obama a success.

I should also thank George W. Bush, which is something I find troubling about this award. Is it possible to judge Obama’s interaction with the world without thinking about the hawkish foreign policy of his predecessor? Is it fair to juxtapose opposing philosophies and validate one before it has been given time to prove its worth? Or is that the Committee’s point?

The Economist recognizes Obama’s international engagement and recognizes the Nobel Committee’s attempt to encourage him, but considers it might have reserved its judgement for later.

The Financial Times compares him to a CEO receiving a compensation package and lists its concerns about the way the money and medal should be dispersed. Their Rachmanblog compares the award to elementary school child’s “A for Effort.”

Red State’s Eric Erickson states that he didn’t realize that the Nobel had an affirmative action component and compares Obama to President Carter.

The Atlantic’s Mark Ambinder considers that the award can’t hurt and might give him room in Afghanistan. He also wonders where Obama’s Oscar is and how hard Bill Clinton is crying right now.

Who Runs Gov provides with the typical messaging war between the Republican and Democratic National Committees.

The Corner’s Yuval Levin thinks the award will seem pompous and have a negative effect on the White House. His fellow Corner writer, Jonah Goldberg calls it “Hilarious and Sad.

TPM’s John Marshall confirms our fears and contrasts Obama with Bush.

Slate’s John Dickerson, perhaps more appropriately, contrasts Obama with other Nobel winners like Yasser Arafat and Henry Kissinger arguing that Obama may be more deserving than they as they started wars and he has not.

And alas, Hot Air’s ALLAHPUNDIT deems it the “Screw Bush Award.”


U.S. military says more troops needed in Afghanistan, or “failure.” (WaPo)

Shadowed by the West’s presence in the country, Afghan women see tougher times ahead — even with a fallen Taliban. (Al Jazeera)

Obama will switch gears from healthcare to climate change before the U.N. today, and at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh later in the week. Deep breath. (Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, the president tackles another ambitious front: deep cuts in the U.S.’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. (Guardian)

New York Governor Paterson plans to run in 2010, despite popularity concerns from the White House and, erm, everyone else. (Bloomberg)

CLIMATE WATCH: Scientists warn that most of the world’s river deltas — like the Colorado, Nile, Pearl, Rhone and Yangtze — are seen sinking over the next 40 years, threatening millions of lives. (BBC)

To further complicate things, oil giant Total warns that the economic downturn may lead to global oil shortages due to a lack of investment in reserves. (BBC)