Tuesday, September 29, 2009

current event 3


Reporting from Washington - Putting his political prestige on the line, President Obama has decided to fly to Denmark this week to appeal to the International Olympic Committee to choose Chicago, his adopted hometown, as host of the 2016 Games.The White House announced Monday that Obama would arrive in Copenhagen on Friday, just before Chicago makes its formal presentation to Olympics officials who are also considering Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. A decision is expected later that day, within hours of Obama's appearance.No previous U.S. president has made such a trip on behalf of a city vying to host the Olympics.The visit is a gamble for Obama. He will be leaving Washington with thorny foreign and domestic issues unresolved, and risks looking diminished if Chicago's bid falls short.The converse is also true: a Chicago victory would be a feel-good moment for both a nation and a president wrestling with crises in Iran and Afghanistan and partisan wrangling at home.As his proposed healthcare overhaul struggled to gain traction in Congress, Obama had talked about skipping the trip and relying instead on First Lady Michelle Obama as Chicago's A-list advocate. "I would make the case in Copenhagen personally if I weren't so firmly committed to making real the promise of quality, affordable healthcare for every American," the president said on Sept. 16.But White House aides said that Obama always wanted to make the trip and that he now thought he could dash to Denmark without being diverted from a crowded agenda."I believe he felt strongly and personally that he should go and make the case of the United States, and that's what he's going to do," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.The announcement is a clear boost for Chicago, where the first family still owns a home within walking distance of the proposed Olympic stadium. Mayor Richard M. Daley is also sending a team of celebrities -- including talk show host Oprah Winfrey and former Olympians -- in support of the bid.By simply attending the meeting, Obama gives the impression of federal support for the Games, even though the U.S. will not guarantee losses if they occur.Other foreign leaders have made similar last-minute personal appeals on behalf of their countries in recent years. Tony Blair, British prime minister at the time, was credited with helping London win the 2012 Summer Games, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin helped seal the 2014 Winter Games for Sochi.Obama plans to be in Denmark only four or five hours, just long enough to see Chicago's presentation, participate in the subsequent question-and-answer session and mingle briefly with Olympic committee members. He will leave before the vote, which now may be building in Chicago's favor."The impact of his presence in the Chicago delegation is not multiplied by double -- this impact can be multiplied by 25," said IOC member Ottavio Cinquanta of Italy.Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based sports consultant, said: "Chicago has a very substantial proposal, but Obama was the missing ingredient. He provides the charisma, the personal touch and effectively gives them a B12 shot of charisma, which is needed when one compares Chicago's bid to Rio's."A recent IOC site report gave the highest marks to Rio, and sentiment had appeared to be moving toward the city because South America has never hosted an Olympics. But some political operatives said that given the stakes, the White House must be confident that Chicago stands a strong chance."The risk is that the Olympics committee does the unthinkable and says, 'Sorry, Charlie,' " said Phil Singer, a Democratic political strategist based in Washington. "But the White House wouldn't be sending him if it wasn't feeling good about his prospects."No political operation worth its salt would allow its principal to go if it didn't feel fairly bullish about his chances for success."The White House dismissed suggestions that it has any inside information.Asked whether the White House had been led to believe a presidential visit might boost Chicago's chances, Gibbs said: "Well, I certainly hope that an appearance wouldn't hurt it. But we have gotten no intelligence on that."At a fraught moment in both domestic and foreign affairs, some political strategists and GOP lawmakers said the timing is poor."With all the pressing issues we're facing right now, I think hopping off to Copenhagen is problematic," said Mark McKinnon, a Republican media consultant who worked for President George W. Bush. "People elected Obama to be president -- not the head of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce."No shortage of work faces Obama.Healthcare legislation is moving through committees, though a bipartisan agreement is proving elusive.The U.S. and its allies are confronting intelligence reports that Iran is covertly building an underground facility capable of producing nuclear weapons. The U.S. is expected to demand that Iran cooperate more fully with inspectors at a meeting on Thursday in Geneva.The White House also is reevaluating its strategy in Afghanistan, where the top U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has warned in a confidential memo that without an infusion of forces, the war will be lost.In an interview, Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) said Obama was neglecting warnings from McChrystal, while heaping too much time on Chicago's Olympics bid and frivolous appearances."I find it baffling that he has time to go to be on Copenhagen, to be on the [David] Letterman show and almost every other channel except the Food Network and Fox, but he doesn't have time to talk to Gen. McChrystal," Bond said.An Obama spokesman said the president had indeed consulted McChrystal. Also, Obama has gotten a weekly written report from McChrystal and plans to speak to the general this week as part of the broad Afghanistan review that is underway."What does Sen. Bond have against the Olympics coming to America?" asked spokesman Tommy Vietor.peter.nicholas@latimes.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

current event 2


US rejects Iran nuclear proposals

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, right, submitted the proposals
The US says it is unhappy with the package of proposals submitted by Iran on Wednesday aimed at breaking the deadlock over its nuclear ambitions.
Philip Crowley of the US State Department told the BBC the measures do not address the status of Iran's nuclear programme.
The US wants Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme which its says could be used for nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear programme is for civilian use.
"Our concern is that the response itself did not really address what is the core issue of the international community and the core concern, which is Iran's nuclear ambitions," Mr Crowley told the BBC's World Today programme.
Earlier, Mojtaba Samareh, a close aide to the Iranian President, told the Washington Post newspaper his country would not give up its nuclear programme but was willing to work with the international community to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Based on a brief review of the Iranian papers my impression is there is something there to use
Sergei LavrovRussian Foreign Minister
Mr Crowley said Iran had to prove it was ready to live up to commitments it had made.
"One of the questions going forward will be to test the Iranian interest in actual engagement, either with the United States or the international community and obviously a core concern is in fact its nuclear programme," he said.
Iran hopes the proposals - to be reviewed by the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany on Friday - will head off new international sanctions.
Russian reaction
Russia has given a more positive response than the US to Iran's latest proposals.

Iran insists its rocket building programme is for satellites
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said they contained something to work with.
"Based on a brief review of the Iranian papers my impression is there is something there to use," Mr Lavrov said in Moscow.
"The most important thing is (that) Iran is ready for a comprehensive discussion of the situation, what positive role it can play in Iraq, Afghanistan and the region."
The BBC's Bridget Kendall, in Moscow, said his comments left little doubt that Russian and Western approaches to Iran continue to diverge.
Finding common ground for a united response to the latest Iranian proposals may prove tricky, she adds.
US warning
US President Barack Obama warned Tehran earlier this year that Washington wanted to see a positive response to its friendlier overtures by the end of September.
If not, Mr Obama said the US was prepared to press for new sanctions against Iran.
But Mr Lavrov added that he did not think the UN Security Council would support oil sanctions against Iran.
"Some of the sanctions under discussion, including oil and oil products, are not a mechanism to force Iran to co-operate, they are a step to a full-blown blockade and I do not think they would be supported at the UN Security Council," he said.
Details of Iran's latest proposals have not been revealed.
On Wednesday, the US envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Glyn Davies, said Iran could already have enough low-enriched uranium to produce a bomb, if it was further enriched.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

1st current event


Here's the latest exhibit on how polarized the country is and how much distrust exists of President Obama.
He plans what seems like a simple speech to students around the country on Tuesday to encourage them to do well in school.
But some Republicans are objecting to the back-to-school message, asserting that Obama wants to indoctrinate students.
Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer said in a statement that he is "absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology" and "liberal propaganda."
Wednesday, after the White House announced the speech, the Department of Education followed up with a letter to school principals and a lesson plan.
Critics pointed to the part of the lesson plan that originally recommended having students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals," the Associated Press reports.
"That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it," White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom told the AP.
The White House plans to release a copy of Obama's remarks on Monday, in plenty of time for parents to decide whether they want their kids to hear the speech.
But the AP says that districts across the country have already been inundated with phone calls from parents and that districts in states including Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Wisconsin have decided not to show the speech to students. Others are still thinking it over or are letting parents have their kids opt out.