Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly applaud the passage of the first UN treaty regulating the international arms trade in conventional arms at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, April 2, 2013. REUTERS-Devra Berkowitz-United Nations-Handout
Syria's representative, Bashar al-Jaafari, speaks to the United Nations General Assembly before the passage of the first UN treaty regulating the international arms trade in conventional arms at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, April 2, 2013. REUTERS-Devra Berkowitz-United Nations-Handout

1 of 2. Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly applaud the passage of the first UN treaty regulating the international arms trade in conventional arms at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, April 2, 2013.

 

The National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful U.S. pro-gun lobbying group that has opposed the treaty from the start, said it was a sad day for the United States, which joined the vast majority of U.N. member states by voting for the pact.

Iran, Syria and North Korea cast the sole votes against the treaty. The same three states last week prevented a treaty-drafting conference at U.N. headquarters from reaching the required consensus to adopt the pact.

The official U.N. tally showed 154 votes in favor, three against 23 abstentions, though diplomats and U.N. officials said the actual vote was 155-3-22. They said Angola was recorded as having abstained, though it had attempted to vote yes.

Iran, which is under a U.N. arms embargo over its nuclear program, is eager to ensure its arms imports and exports are not curtailed, while Syria’s government is embroiled in a two-year civil war and relies on arms from Russia and Iran, envoys said.

North Korea is also under a U.N. arms embargo due to its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

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Obama announces his Brain Initiative

US President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room at the White House announce his administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative.

Making good on a promise first hinted at during his State of the Union speech in February, President Obama on Tuesday unveiled the broad outlines of a scientific initiative aimed at mapping the human brain. The project’s ambitious goals include understanding how the brain forms memories and controls human behavior; how it becomes damaged by conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and autism; and how it can be repaired when afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses.

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About 35,000 were expected for the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn

North Korean Kim Jong-un meets military officials (Unverified picture released by KCNA news agency 29 March)

The North Korean situation could spiral out of control, Russia has warned, after another day of inflamed rhetoric from Pyongyang.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned of a “vicious circle” and told all sides to avoid unilateral action.

On Thursday, the North threatened to “settle accounts” and said it had put missiles on stand-by to hit the US.

The US, which flew stealth bombers over South Korea this month, condemned the North’s “bellicose rhetoric”.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the rhetoric only deepened North Korea’s isolation.

North Korean state media reported leader Kim Jong-un “judged the time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists”.

North Korea Says It Will Launch Nuclear Attack On America!!

Analysis

Charles ScanlonBBC News

Bluff has long played a fundamental role in North Korean strategy. The regime in Pyongyang needs its much more powerful neighbours and antagonists to take its threats seriously. By threatening potential chaos and war in the heart of the world’s most dynamic economic region, it has in the past been able to transcend its own weakness and extract diplomatic concessions.

But the United States may be about to call North Korea’s bluff. The US treasury department is taking steps to squeeze North Korea financially, and the Pentagon has flown B-52 and B-2 bombers over the Korean peninsula – moves that are guaranteed to provoke a hostile reaction.

Washington’s tough stance presents Kim Jong-un with a dilemma. He wants to show his generals and the North Korean people that he can force concessions from the United States – in the same style as his father and grandfather. He could now be tempted to take brinkmanship to a new level, to try to convince the US and the region that confrontation does not work and carries too many risks.

He was said to have condemned US B-2 bomber sorties over South Korea as a “reckless phase” that represented an “ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula”.

US mainland and bases in Hawaii, Guam and South Korea were all named as potential targets.

North Korea’s most advanced missiles are thought to be able to reach Alaska, but not the rest of the US mainland.

‘Increasing military activity’

State media in the North showed thousands of soldiers and students at a mass rally in Pyongyang supporting of Kim Jong-un’s announcement.

China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner, immediately reiterated its call for all sides to ease tensions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news conference that “joint efforts” should be made to turn around a “tense situation”.

He made similar remarks on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov went further, voicing concern that “we may simply let the situation slip out of our control and it will slide into a spiral of a vicious circle”.

“We are concerned that… unilateral action is being taken around North Korea that is increasing military activity,” he said.

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Timeline: Korean tensions

  • 12 Dec: North Korea fires three-stage rocket, in move condemned by UN as banned test of long-range missile technology
  • 12 Feb: North Korea conducts an underground nuclear test, its third after tests in 2006 and 2009
  • 7 Mar: UN approves fresh sanctions on Pyongyang; North Korea says it has the right to a “pre-emptive nuclear strike” on the US
  • 11 Mar: US-South Korea annual joint military drills begin; North Korea says it has scrapped the Korean War armistice (the UN says the pact cannot be unilaterally scrapped)
  • 19 Mar: US flies B-52 nuclear-capable bombers over Korean peninsula, following several North Korean threats to attack US and South Korean targets
  • 20 Mar: Broadcasters and banks in South Korea hit by cyber attack, the origin of which remains unknown, days after North Korea says some of its sites were hacked
  • 27 Mar: North Korea cuts military hotline with South, the last official direct link between the two
  • 28 Mar: US flies stealth bombers over Korean peninsula; showcasing ability for precision strike “at will”

In an earlier statement, the US military said that the B-2 stealth bombers demonstrated America’s ability to “provide extended deterrence” to its allies and conduct “long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will”.

“The North Koreans have to understand that what they’re doing is very dangerous,” US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters on Thursday.

“We must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously and we’ll respond to that.”

The US had already flown nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over South Korea earlier this month, in what it called a response to escalating North Korean threats.

Tensions in the Korean peninsula have been high since North Korea’s third nuclear test on 12 February, which led to the imposition of fresh sanctions.

North Korea has made multiple threats against both the US and South Korea in recent weeks, including warning of a “pre-emptive nuclear strike” on the US and the scrapping of the Korean War armistice.

While North Korea has issued many threats against the US and South Korea in the past, this level of sustained rhetoric is rare, observers say.

On 16 March, North Korea warned of attacks against South Korea’s border islands, and advised residents to leave the islands.

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“Start Quote

When you look at occasions where something really did happen, such as the artillery attack on a South Korean island in 2010, you see there were very clear warnings”

Professor John Delury, Yonsei university

In 2010 it shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island, causing four deaths.

On Wednesday, Pyongyang also cut a military hotline with the South – the last direct official link between the two nations.

A Red Cross hotline and another line used to communicate with the UN Command at Panmunjom have already been cut, although an inter-Korean air-traffic hotline still exists.

The jointly run Kaesong industrial park is still in operation.

North Korea missile ranges map

MIAMI – President Obama plans to visit a tunnel project at the Port of Miami on Friday to promote a series of proposals that White House officials think could appeal to Republicans.

President Obama Holds Meeting With The Sultan of Brunei

Among them: $4 billion to invest in rebuilding roads and bridges that businesses depend on. Seed money to encourage companies to invest in ports and other points of commerce. Even tax cuts designed to attract investors – at home and abroad – to such projects.

“There is no reason this should be  a Democratic tunnel or a Republican tunnel,” Josh Earnest, White House principal deputy press secretary, said aboard Air Force One. “These are projects that are helpful to the economy and shouldn’t break down on partisan lines.”

Yet Republicans welcomed Obama to Miami with an attack on his economic philosophy and lampooned his proposals.

Writing in the Miami Herald, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) said Obama needs to listen to people in Florida “to get a true sense of the effect more tax increases and spending hikes will have on our nation’s middle class.”

He wrote, “He would learn that many aspects of policies like Obamacare have ended up hurting many middle-class families instead of helping them. He would find that the expanding role of our government has created uncertainty by establishing rules that many small businesses can’t afford to follow.”

And Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said, “Have they said yet how they’re going to pay for all of this? That matters, of course. Last time, I think he wanted to tax the same people that were supposed to create the jobs.”

The White House says the proposals won’t add a dime to the deficit, meaning they will have to be offset by either spending cuts or tax increases. The details are expected on April 10, when the president will release his fiscal 2014 budget. Obama also has a much larger infrastructure plan on the table: a $40 billion  “Fix it First” plan to spur the hiring of construction workers and the building of roads and bridges across the country.

A complicating factor is sequestration – the deep spending cuts now spreading through the federal government. Rather than invest in infrastructure, the cuts are reducing investment. Aboard Air Force One, Alan Kruger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, warned that the country had spent less on infrastructure compared to global competitors.

But not all hope for bipartisan compromise is loss. Last month, after the unveiling of the “Fix it First” plan, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed that the nation needs to spend more in this area.

“The president talked about infrastructure, but he didn’t talk about how to pay for it,” he said. “And it’s easy to go out there and be Santa Claus and talk about all the things you want to give away, but at some point somebody has to pay the bill.”

He added, “I’m committed to working to find a funding source so that we can begin to repair America’s aging infrastructure.”

The president’s proposal on Friday has several parts. It would spend $4 billion on local and state projects. It would invest $10 billion in an “infrastructure bank” that would then make loans to private companies looking to invest in building projects. It would finance new tax-free bonds that make it easier for states and localities to raise money and offer other tax subsidies totaling $7 billion.

 

Collected from-http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/03/29/obama-to-visit-miami-tunnel-project-to-promote-economic-development-plan/

SDLP leader John Hume taking a break during final deliberations of the Good Friday Agreement in April, 1998

SDLP leader John Hume taking a break during final deliberations of the Good Friday Agreement in April, 1998

Northern Ireland still requires “urgent work” and faces “more tests to come”, US president Barack Obama has said, ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next month.

In a statement issued by the White House yesterday evening, Mr Obama said that the people of Northern Ireland and their leaders had “travelled a great distance over the past 15 years” and “traded bullets for ballots, destruction and division for dialogue and institutions, and pointed the way toward a shared future for all.”

The president warned of further challenges ahead.

“There are still those few who prefer to look backward rather than forward – who prefer to inspire hate rather than hope. The many who have brought Northern Ireland this far must keep rejecting their call,” he said.

Every citizen and political party “needs to work together in service of true and lasting peace and prosperity,” he said. He promised that the US would continue to support the people and political leaders of Northern Ireland.

“I pledge our continued support for their efforts to build a strong society, a vibrant economy and an enduring peace,” he said.

Mr Obama will visit Northern Ireland in June when he attends the G-8 summit of world leaders in Fermanagh. The president said he would reaffirm America’s support for Northern Ireland during that visit.

US secretary of state John Kerry said in a separate statement that the progress made in Northern Ireland was “significant and inspiring” but the promise foreseen in the agreement was “incomplete.”

He described the 15th anniversary as “a call to action to consolidate the gains of the last 15 years.”

“This is an appropriate moment for all parties to rededicate themselves to achieving a shared future and to healing the divisions of the past,” he said.

“A spirit of cooperation and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law are essential to achieving these goals and a necessary condition for unlocking the full economic potential of Northern Ireland.”

The 65-page Good Friday Agreement was signed on April 10th 1998, establishing theNorthern Ireland Assembly and a political framework to advance the Northern Irish peace process.

Mr Obama discussed the peace process with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at meetings during the official St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington last week.

 

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WASHINGTON: Expressing concern over the status of health of the South African leaderNelson Mandela, the US President, Barack Obama, today said that he is a hero for all.

“Obviously we’re all deeply concerned with Nelson Mandela’s health. He’s a hero I think to all of us,” Obama told reporters after his meeting with African leaders at the White House.

“I’m sure that I speak for the other leaders here. And we will be keeping him in our thoughts and prayers, and his entire family. He is as strong physically as he’s been in character and in leadership over so many decades, and hopefully he will come out of this latest challenge,” Obama said in response to a question.

“But we all recognise that he has given everything to his people, the people of South Africa, to the people of the continent, and he’s ended up being an inspiration to all of us,” he said.

“When you think of a single individual that embodies the kind of leadership qualities that I think we all aspire to, the first name that comes up is Nelson Mandela, and so we wish him all the very best,” Obama said when asked about the health of the South African leader.

94-year old Mandela, the former South African President, was admitted to a hospital due to a recurrence of a lung infection, but was responding well.

“We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved ‘Madiba’ and his family and to keep them in their thoughts,” South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement. “We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery.”

The South African President said that Mandela was responding “positively” to treatment in the hospital.

Mandela served 27 years in jail under the white-minority apartheid regime. He was released in 1990. Four years later, he went on to become South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994 under the banner of the African National Congress. He served as President from 1994 to 1999.