Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Leaders pay tribute to D-Day veterans

By Calvin Palmer

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Barack Obama today paid tribute to the sacrifices made by allied troops during the D-Day landings in Normandy, France, 65 years ago today.

In a ceremony at the U.S. cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the Prime Minister said that he saluted the veterans who took part the landings and said that “as long as freedom lives their deeds would never die”.

He said he had come to Normandy to remember those who had “advanced grain of sand by grain of sand utterly determined amid the bullets and the bloodshed that freedom would not be pushed back into the sea but would rise from the beaches below to liberate a continent and to save a generation.”

President Obama said that D-Day had become an annual pilgrimage for many because of the “sheer improbability of the victory” which had taken place.

He added: “D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century. In the hour of maximum danger and in the bleakest of circumstances men who thought themselves ordinary found within themselves the ability to do something extraordinary.”

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France thanked all nations which took part in the operation and added: “France will never forget.”

The speeches were heard by an audience of more than 10,000, which included 300 veterans who took part in the operation. President Sarkozy’s wife Carla Bruni, Michelle Obama, Prince Charles and the actor Tom Hanks were also present.

Prince Charles and the Prime Minister had earlier attended a memorial service at Bayeux Cathedral to commemorate the events of the June 6th 1944 when 130,000 allied troops landed in Normandy – an offensive which helped to bring about the end of the Second World War.

Both men laid wreaths inside the cathedral in remembrance of the British soldiers who died on the beaches and during the bloody battles which raged throughout Normandy for six weeks after the landings.

After the service, Prince Charles, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup and Bob Ainsworth, the newly appointed defense secretary, attended a ceremony at the town’s Commonwealth War Graves Committee cemetery, where 4,000 British servicemen are buried.

Hundreds of Normandy veterans paraded into Bayeux cemetery to the memorials which remember the bravery and sacrifice of the troops who landed in northern France.

A carpet of 12,000 Union Flags covered part of Gold Beach in Normandy today, each one a message to the men of D-Day.

D-Day veteran surveys the carpet of Union Flags on Gold Beach, Normandy, as part of the 65th anniversary. Picture courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

D-Day veteran Ron Leagas surveys the carpet of Union Flags on Gold Beach, Normandy, as part of the 65th anniversary. Picture courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

Sent out to households across Britain by the Royal British Legion, the paper flags were returned with expressions of gratitude written on them, and donations totaling £1.8 million ($2.8 million). Children from three schools spent Friday planting them in the sand near the village of Asnelles, 180 square yards of red, white and blue.

“In remembrance of the families who lost loved ones on this beach,” read one. “Thank-you for the freedom we so often take for granted,” was another.

“It makes you happy,” said Ron Leagas, who 65 years ago landed on this bloody stretch of sand, “that people take the trouble.”

His ordeal began a few hours later in the early afternoon of June 6, 1944, when he landed with a Bren Gun Carrier detachment of the Queen’s Royal (West Surrey) Regiment. He was 18, having lied his way into the Army in 1941 at the age of 16.

The beach was still under fire as his battalion disembarked and his reaction to the scene that greeted him was “fright, plain and simple”.

His Bren carrier was third in a column heading inland when the lead vehicle was hit by an 88mm anti-tank shell.

“It simply disappeared,” he remembered. “There were heads – bits of men – covering the road.”

It was his first time in action and he described the carnage as “numbing”.

Leagas has visited Normandy four times.

“It is a right, and a duty, to come,” he said. “I can’t say how it feels. Emotion, emotion is only thing I can say.”

He remembers his friend, who fired the Bren gun. He was 17, having lied about his age, and had killed seven or eight Germans with a burst of fire.

“We were resting and suddenly he lost it and dived under a tank. It was 35 tons and sinking slowly in the soft ground and he was face up about to be crushed. We dragged him out by tying a rope to his foot. He was taken away and I never saw him again.”

Canada’s D-Day veterans were honored at ceremony at Queen’s Park in Toronto, attended by Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The Battle of Normandy is one of Canada’s most significant military engagements. On D-Day 340 Canadians died and 574 others were wounded.

[Based on reports by The Daily Telegraph and The Canadian Press.]

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Brown addresses a joint session of Congress

By Calvin Palmer

Her Britannic Majesty’s Government has kindly provided me with a full transcript of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s address to the joint session of Congress.

Brown received an enthusiastic reception and his speech was warmly received.

Brown is only the fifth British Prime Minister to be granted the honor of addressing both houses on Capitol Hill, following in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

The full transcript reads:

“Madam Speaker, Mr Vice-President, distinguished members of Congress, I come to this great capital of this great nation, an America renewed under a new President to say that America’s faith in the future has been, is and always will be an inspiration to the whole world.

The very creation of America was a bold affirmation of faith in the future: a future you have not just believed in but built with your own hands.

And on January 20th, you the American people began to write the latest chapter in the American story, with a transition of dignity, in which both sides of the aisle could take great pride. President Obama gave the world renewed hope, and on that day billions of people truly looked to Washington, D.C. as “a shining city upon a hill”.

And I hope that you will allow me to single out for special mention today one of your most distinguished Senators, known in every continent and a great friend. Northern Ireland is today at peace, more Americans have healthcare, more children around the world are going to school, and for all those things we owe a great debt to the life and courage of, Senator Edward Kennedy.

And so today, having talked to him last night, I want to announce that Her Majesty The Queen, has awarded an honorary Knighthood for Sir Edward Kennedy.

Madam Speaker, Mr Vice-President, I come in friendship to renew, for new times, our special relationship founded upon our shared history, our shared values and, I believe, our shared futures.

I grew up in the 1960s as America, led by President Kennedy, looked to the heavens and saw not the endless void of the unknown, but a new frontier to dare to discover and explore. People said it couldn’t be done – but America did it.

And 20 years later, in the 1980’s, America led by President Reagan refused to accept the fate of millions trapped behind an Iron Curtain, and insisted instead that the people of Eastern Europe be allowed to join the ranks of nations which live safe, strong and free. People said it would never happen in our lifetime but it did, and the Berlin Wall was torn down brick by brick.

So early in my life I came to understand that America is not just the indispensible nation, it is the irrepressible nation.

Throughout your history Americans have led insurrections in the human imagination, have summoned revolutionary times through your belief that there is no such thing as an impossible endeavour. It is never possible to come here without having your faith in the future renewed.

Throughout a whole century the American people stood liberty’s ground not just in one world war but in two.

And I want you to know that we will never forget the sacrifice and service of the American soldiers who gave their lives for people whose names they never knew, and whose faces they never saw, and yet people who have lived in freedom thanks to the bravery and valour of the Americans who gave the “last full measure of devotion”.

Cemetery after cemetery across Europe honours the memory of American soldiers, resting row upon row – often alongside comrades-in-arms from Britain. There is no battlefield of liberty on which there is not a piece of land that is marked out as American and there is no day of remembrance in Britain that is not also a commemoration of American courage and sacrifice far from home.

In the hardest days of the last century, faith in the future kept America alive and I tell you that America kept faith in the future alive for all the world.

Almost every family in Britain has a tie that binds them to America. So I want you to know that whenever a young American soldier or marine, sailor or airman is killed in conflict anywhere in the world, we, the people of Britain, grieve with you. Know that your loss is our loss; your families’ sorrow is our families’ sorrow and your nation’s determination is our nation’s determination that they shall not have died in vain.

And let me pay tribute to the soldiers, yours and ours, who again fight side by side in the plains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraq, just as their forefathers fought side by side in the sands of Tunisia, on the beaches of Normandy and then on the bridges over the Rhine.

And after that terrible September morning when your homeland was attacked, the Coldstream Guards at Buckingham Palace played the Star Spangled Banner. Our own British tribute as we wept for our friends in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And let me promise you our continued support to ensure there is no hiding place for terrorists, no safe haven for terrorism. You should be proud that in the hard years since 2001 you have shown that while terrorists may destroy buildings and even, tragically, lives, they have not, and will not ever, destroy the American spirit.

So let it be said of the friendship between our two countries; that it is in times of trial – true, in the face of fear – faithful and amidst the storms of change – constant.

And let it be said of our friendship – formed and forged over two tumultuous centuries, a friendship tested in war and strengthened in peace – that it has not just endured but is renewed in each generation to better serve our shared values and fulfil the hopes and dreams of the day. Not an alliance of convenience, but a partnership of purpose.

Alliances can wither or be destroyed, but partnerships of purpose are indestructible. Friendships can be shaken, but our friendship is unshakeable. Treaties can be broken but our partnership is unbreakable. And I know there is no power on earth than can drive us apart.

We will work tirelessly with you as partners for peace in the Middle East: for a two state solution that provides for nothing less than a secure Israel safe within its borders existing side by side with a viable Palestinian state.

And our shared message to Iran is simple – we are ready for you to rejoin the world community. But first, you must cease your threats and suspend your nuclear programme. And we will work tirelessly with all those in the international community who are ready to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation.

Past British Prime Ministers have travelled to this Capitol building in times of war to talk of war. I come now to talk of new and different battles we must fight together; to speak of a global economy in crisis and a planet imperilled.

These are new priorities for our new times.

And let us be honest – tonight too many parents, after they put their children to bed, will speak of their worries about losing their jobs or the need to sell the house. Too many will share stories of friends or neighbours already packing up their homes, and too many will talk of a local store or business that has already gone to the wall.

For me, this global recession is not to be measured just in statistics, or in graphs or in figures on a balance sheet. Instead I see one individual with their own aspirations and increasingly their own apprehensions, and then another, and then another.

Each with their own stars to reach for.

Each part of a family, each at the heart of a community now in need of help and hope.

And when banks have failed and markets have faltered, we the representatives of the people have to be the people’s last line of defence.

And that’s why there is no financial orthodoxy so entrenched, no conventional thinking so engrained, no special interest so strong that it should ever stand in the way of the change that hard-working families need.

We have learned through this world downturn that markets should be free but never values-free, that the risks people take should never be separated from the responsibilities they meet.

And if perhaps some once thought it beyond our power to shape global markets to meet the needs of people, we know now that is our duty; we cannot and must not stand aside.

In our families and workplaces and places of worship, we celebrate men and women of integrity who work hard, treat people fairly, take responsibility and look out for others.

If these are the principles we live by in our families and neighbourhoods, they should also be the principles that guide and govern our economic life too.

In these days the world has learned that what makes for the good economy makes for the good society.

My father was a Minister of the church and I have learned again what I was taught by him: that wealth must help more than the wealthy, good fortune must serve more than the fortunate and riches must enrich not just some of us but all.

And these enduring values are the values we need for these new times.

We tend to think of the sweep of destiny as stretching across many months and years before culminating in decisive moments we call history.

But sometimes the reality is that defining moments of history come suddenly and without warning. And the task of leadership then is to define them, shape them and move forward into the new world they demand.

An economic hurricane has swept the world, creating a crisis of credit and of confidence.

History has brought us now to a point where change is essential. We are summoned not just to manage our times but to transform them.

Our task is to rebuild prosperity and security in a wholly different economic world, where competition is no longer local but global and banks are no longer just national but international.

And we need to understand what went wrong in this crisis, that the very financial instruments that were designed to diversify risk across the banking system instead spread contagion across the globe. And today’s financial institutions are so interwoven that a bad bank anywhere is a threat to good banks everywhere.

So should we succumb to a race to the bottom and a protectionism that history tells us that, in the end, protects no-one? No. We should have the confidence that we can seize the opportunities ahead and make the future work for us.

Why?

Because while today people are anxious and feel insecure, over the next two decades literally billions of people in other continents will move from being simply producers of their goods to being consumers of our goods and in this way our world economy will double in size.

Twice as many opportunities for business, twice as much prosperity, and the biggest expansion of middle class incomes and jobs the world has ever seen.

And America and Britain will succeed and lead if we tap into the talents of our people, unleash the genius of our scientists and set free the drive of our entrepreneurs. We will win the race to the top if we can develop the new high value products and services and the new green technologies that the rising numbers of hard-working families across our globe will want to buy.

So we must educate our way out of the downturn, invest and invent our way out of the downturn and re-tool and re-skill our way out of the downturn.

And this is not blind optimism or synthetic confidence to console people; it is the practical affirmation for our times of our faith in a better future.

Every time we rebuild a school we demonstrate our faith in the future. Every time we send more young people to university, every time we invest more in our new digital infrastructure, every time we increase support to our scientists, we demonstrate our faith in the future.

And so I say to this Congress and this country, something that runs deep in your character and is woven in your history, we conquer our fear of the future through our faith in the future.

And it is this faith in the future that means we must commit to protecting the planet for generations that will come long after us.

As the Greek proverb says, why does anybody plant the seeds of a tree whose shade they will never see?

The answer is because they look to the future.

And I believe that you, the nation that had the vision to put a man on the moon, are also the nation with the vision to protect and preserve our planet earth.

And it is only by investing in environmental technology that we can end the dictatorship of oil, and it is only by tackling climate change that we create the millions of new green jobs we need.

For the lesson of this crisis is that we cannot just wait for tomorrow today. We cannot just think of tomorrow today. We cannot merely plan for tomorrow today. Our task must be to build tomorrow today.

And America knows from its history that its reach goes far beyond its geography. For a century you have carried upon your shoulders the greatest of responsibilities: to work with and for the rest of the world. And let me tell you that now more than ever the rest of the world wants to work with you.

And if these times have shown us anything it is that the major challenges we all face are global. No matter where it starts, an economic crisis does not stop at the water’s edge. It ripples across the world. Climate change does not honour passport control. Terrorism has no respect for borders. And modern communications instantly span every continent. The new frontier is that there is no frontier, the new shared truth is that global problems need global solutions.

And let me say that you now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory. A leadership that wants to cooperate more closely together, in order to cooperate more closely with you. There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe.

So once again I say we should seize the moment – because never before have I seen a world so willing to come together. Never before has that been more needed. And never before have the benefits of cooperation been so far-reaching.

So when people here and in other countries ask what more can we do now to bring an end to this downturn, let me say this: we can achieve more working together. And just think of what we can do if we combine not just in a partnership for security but in a new partnership for prosperity too.

On jobs, you the American people through your stimulus proposals could create or save at least 3 million jobs. We in Britain are acting with similar determination. How much nearer an end to this downturn would we be if the whole of the world resolved to do the same?

And you are also restructuring your banks. So are we. But how much safer would everybody’s savings be if the whole world finally came together to outlaw shadow banking systems and offshore tax havens?

Just think how each of our actions, if combined, could mean a whole, much greater than the sum of the parts:

– all, and not just some, banks stabilised;

– on fiscal stimulus: the impact multiplied because everybody does it;

– rising demand in all our countries creating jobs in each of our countries; and

– trade once again the engine of prosperity, the wealth of nations restored.

No one should forget that it was American visionaries who over half a century ago, coming out of the deepest of depressions and the worst of wars, produced the boldest of plans for global economic cooperation because they recognised prosperity was indivisible and concluded that to be sustained it had to be shared.

And I believe that ours too is a time for renewal, for a plan for tackling recession and building for the future. Every continent playing their part in a global new deal, a plan for prosperity that can benefit us all.

First, so that the whole of the worldwide banking system serves our prosperity rather than risks it, let us agree rules and standards for accountability, transparency, and reward that will mean an end to the excesses and will apply to every bank, everywhere, and all the time.

Second, America and a few countries cannot be expected to bear the burden of the fiscal and interest rate stimulus alone. We must share it globally. So let us work together for the worldwide reduction of interest rates and a scale of stimulus round the world equal to the depth of the recession and the dimensions of the recovery we must make.

Third, let us together renew our international economic cooperation, helping the emerging markets rebuild their banks. And let us work together for a low carbon recovery worldwide. And I am confident that this President, this Congress and the peoples of the world can come together in Copenhagen this December to reach a historic agreement on climate change.

And let us not forget the poorest. As we strive to spread the values of peace, political liberty, and the hope for better lives across the world, perhaps the greatest gift our generation could give to the future, the gift of America and Britain to the world could be, for every child in every country of the world, the chance millions do not have today; the chance to go to school.

For let us remember there is a common bond that unites us as human beings across different beliefs, cultures and nationalities. It is at the core of my convictions, the essence of America’s spirit and the heart of all faiths.

And it must be at the centre of our response to the crisis of today. At their best, our values tell us that we cannot be wholly content while others go without, cannot be fully comfortable while millions go without comfort, cannot be truly happy while others grieve alone.

And this too is true. All of us know that in a recession the wealthiest, the most powerful and the most privileged can find a way through for themselves.

So we do not value the wealthy less when we say that our first duty is to help the not so wealthy. We do not value the powerful less when we say that our first responsibility is to help the powerless. And we do not value those who are secure less when we say that our first priority must be to help the insecure.

These recent events have forced us all to think anew. And while I have learnt many things, I keep returning to something I first learned in my father’s church as a child. In this most modern of crises I am drawn to the most ancient of truths; wherever there is hardship, wherever there is suffering, we cannot, we will not, pass by on the other side.

But working together there is no challenge to which we are not equal, no obstacle that we cannot overcome, no aspiration so high that it cannot be achieved.

In the depths of the Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt did battle with fear itself, it was not simply by the power of his words, his personality and his example that he triumphed.

Yes, all these things mattered. But what mattered more was this enduring truth: that you, the American people, at your core, were, as you remain, every bit as optimistic as your Roosevelts, your Reagans and your Obamas.

This is the faith in the future that has always been the story and promise of America. So at this defining moment in history let us renew our special relationship for our generation and our times. Let us restore prosperity and protect this planet and, with faith in the future, let us together build tomorrow today.”

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Time magazine names Obama “Person of the Year” 2008

By Calvin Palmer

Time magazine has named President-Elect Barack Obama as “Person of the Year” for 2008.
 
Who else could it have been?  Well, the runner-up was Henry Paulson, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, followed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Zhang Yimou, the director of the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
 
In an interview with Time’s top three editors, Obama said that he didn’t have a crystal ball to predict the length and depth of the recession but forecast a tough 12 months ahead.
 
“I think we should anticipate that 2009 is going to be a tough year,” Obama said.  “And if we make some good, choices, I’m confident that we can limit some of the damage in 2009 and that in 2010 we can start seeing an upward trajectory on the economy.”
 
On foreign policy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran will be the main areas of focus, along with the trans-Atlantic alliance, Russia, and relations with China and the Pacific Rim but he would like to shift some of the emphasis to Latin America.
 
Obama said: “We have neglected our neighbors in our own hemisphere and there is an enormous potential for us to work with other countries – Brazil, for example, which is in some ways ahead of us on energy strategies.  That, I think, would be very important.”
 
I know some Stoke City fans will be gutted that manager Tony Pulis failed to make the shortlist after guiding his team to promotion to the Premier League.  Better luck next year, Tony.
 
Time magazine’s editor: “Tony who?”

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Obama victory means no Christmas lights in Florida

By Calvin Palmer

It was British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey who said just before the outbreak of the First World War: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
 
It would appear a similar thing is happening in Florida among Republican supporters, according to Craig Eifert, from Jacksonville, in a letter to The Florida Times-Union.
 
Craig describes himself as a social and fiscal conservative.  I am not sure why he draws back from saying that he is a supporter of the Republican Party. Maybe he feels the Republican Party is too left wing to represent his interests.
 
But Craig’s letter ends: “Out of respect for true Americans, their beliefs, my country and my Lutheran religion, I will not light the lights on my Christmas tree or house this year or any year in which Barack Obama remains president of my America.”
 
I suppose in these difficult times, at least Craig will be cutting his electricity bill for the next few weeks.  And he can look forward to reduced electricity bills from JEA for many Christmases to come.
 
What Craig fails to grasp is that there is no such thing as “true Americans” or Sarah Palin’s “real Americans.”  There are only Americans.  And those Americans, in the years ahead, are more likely to reject the ideology that people like Craig support.
 
Greed, self-interest, demonization of opponents and intolerance may well appeal to a certain section of the American electorate but it is a section that is likely to be increasingly marginalized in the future.
 
Educated people, and the American population is becoming increasingly educated, can see through the lies perpetrated by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin.  The Afro-Americans and Hispanics are not going to fall for their polarizing polemic.
 
If the Republican Party continues to pander to that section then its appeal is going to be restricted to poor white rural voters.  IIt is unlikely that any future Republican president will be elected on their votes and their votes alone.
 
And statements by ordinary citizens such as Craig only serve to highlight just how removed they are from mainstream thinking.
 
It is sad that Craig has fallen for the propaganda, even sadder that The Florida Times-Union should publish this kind of letter but then it, too, has its own agenda on behalf of social and fiscal conservatives.
 
Whether it is also true that Republican supporter Jack Del Rio, coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has instructed his team not to win another NFL game while Barack Obama remains president of America is open to conjecture.
 
Say it isn’t so, Jack.

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Special forces end siege of Bombay hotel as death toll reaches 125

By Calvin Palmer

Indian special forces have released 39 hostages from the Oberoi hotel and eight hostages have also been freed from the Mumbai headquarters of a Jewish outreach group.

Commandos have also killed three gunmen holed up in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Bombay, according to a state official with the Maharashtra Home Department.
 
The attack by gunmen on 10 locations in Bombay on Wednesday night killed 125 people and injured 327 others.

The gunmen slipped into the city on two small boats last night and fanned out across the southern part of India’s financial capital.  Armed with assault rifles, grenades and explosives, they stormed the city’s two most famous luxury hotels, the Taj Mahal Palace and nearby Oberoi.  Other targets included a hospital and a bar popular with backpackers and tourists.
 
The dead include a Briton, an Australian, a Japanese and an Italian.  Seven Britons are among the injured.
 
The British victim was Andreas Liveras, 73, a shipping tycoon.  He was gunned down after he phoned the BBC from inside the Taj Mahal Palace hotel to give an eye witness account of the terrorist attacks.
 
Witnesses said the attackers had specifically targeted Americans and Britons inside the hotels.
 
In an address to his nation, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said:  “The well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages, were intended to create a sense of panic, by choosing high-profile targets and indiscriminately killing foreigners.”
 
Britain and the United States led the global condemnation of this atrocity.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he had sent a message to Mr. Singh assuring that ” the UK stands solidly with his government as they respond and to offer all necessary help.”
 
“These outrageous attacks in Mumbai will be met with a vigorous response,” Brown said.
 
The U.S. State Department issued a similar condemnation of the “horrific” attacks.  President-elect Barack Obama said it showed the need for Washington to work with other nations to “root out and destroy terrorist networks.”
 
Authorities blamed militants from Pakistan-ruled Kashmir for the bloodbath.

[Based on reports by The Times, The Daily Telegraph and Associated Press.]

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Bin Laden’s deputy insults Obama with racial slur

By Calvin Palmer

The second in command of al-Qaeda greeted President-elect Barack Obama on a militant Web site today with a racial slur.
 
Ayman al-Zawahri’s message aims to show that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policy and referred to Obama as “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malcolm X.”
 
He also calls the president-elect and secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice “house negroes.”
 
Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term “abeed al-Beit,” which translates as “house slaves” but al-Qaeda supplied English subtitles and the term was translated as “house negroes.”
 
The message also includes footage of speeches by Malcolm X, where the civil rights leader said that black slaves who worked in the house of their white masters were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.
 
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the latest message was just “more despicable comments from a terrorist.”
 
The 11 min 23 sec video features the audio message by al-Zawahri who states Obama’s election has not changed American policies that are aimed at oppressing Muslims and others.
 
He said: “America has put on a new face but its heart is full of hate, mind drowning in greed and spirit which spreads evil, murder, repression and despotism continues to be the same as always.”
 
Speaking of Obama’s plan to shift more troops to Afghanistan, al-Zawahri says: “Be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them.”
 
Although al-Zawahri did not threaten specific attacks, he said that Obama was facing “a Jihadi (Holy war) awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see.”
 
He went on to say that Obama’s election was a realization by the American people that George W. Bush’s policies had failed and it was an admission of “defeat in Iraq.”
 
But Obama’s support for Israel during the election campaign”confirmed to the Ummah (Islamic world) that you have chosen a stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims,” al-Zawahri said.
 
“You were born to a Muslim father but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America,” he said.
 
For such an important message since the election of Obama, al-Qaeda’s first in command, Osama bin Laden, was strangely unavailable and left it to his deputy.
 
This speech by al-Zawahri also poses a dilemma for America’s extreme right.  Does their hatred of a black president outweigh their hatred of Muslims?  That’s kind of a tough call for the good ol’ boys in the Deep South but there were probably loud Dixie hollers in the bayous and backwoods for al-Zawahri’s description of Obama.
 
I would also be interested in the reaction of the Wicked Witch of Wasilla to this speech, if she could spare the time in between ferrying her campaign wardrobe to charitable organizations.  It is funny how that has received so little coverage in the American media.  Maybe Sarah Palin will begin to grasp what a real terrorist is, along with what constitutes a “real American.”
 
[Based on reports by the Associated Press and BBC News.]

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‘Old guard’ Hillary should have no place in Obama’s plans for change

By Calvin Palmer

Barack Obama was elected on the platform of “Change We Can Believe In.”  He succeeded in the polls because he offered a departure from the usual cynical game of politics dominated by vested interests and the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. 
 
The news that Obama is considering offering the position of Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton, while appeasing the Clinton supporters, will not sit easily with the many people who voted for him on the strength that he offered a break from the old guard of U.S. politics.
 
Maybe Obama is following the sage advice of another Democrat president, Lyndon B. Johnson, who when asked about J. Edgar Hoover remaining as the head of the FBI said, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”
 
Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, are formidable foes but Obama has defeated them once to secure the Democratic nomination, so does he really need to have them inside the tent?
 
Surely Obama’s triumph is a sign that the world has moved on and politicians such as the Clintons are becoming increasingly irrelevant in terms of the power they wield and also in the minds of the American electorate.
 
It is argued that Clinton’s high profile would greatly enhance America’s image abroad and she would be the perfect candidate to undertake the considerable mending of fences that Obama’s administration faces.
 
But she does come with baggage – her husband, particularly his financial dealings.  A team of lawyers spent the weekend looking at former President Clinton’s finances.  He has a number of philanthropic organizations, ties to foreign governments and pharmaceutical companies.
 
While his foundation has championed efforts to fight AIDS, poverty and climate change, he has also pocketed millions in speaking fees and contributions from foreign officials and businesses with interests in American policies.
 
Obama’s advisers are trying to formulate a strategy to avoid a conflict of interests between Clinton and his wife, if she were to be appointed as Secretary of State.
 
Such a move has garnered support from across the aisle.  The Senate’s second highest Republican, Sen John Kyl of Arizona, has said Hillary Clinton’s appointment would not be a bad idea.
 
“It seems to me she’s got the experience and temperament for it,” he said.  “I think she would be well received around the world.  So my initial reaction is it would be a very good selection.”
 
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has also welcomed the prospect of Hillary Clinton’s appointment.
 
Speaking at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in India, he said: “I believe it would be an outstanding appointment.
 
“If it is true, it shows a number of things, including great courage on the part of the President-elect.  To appoint a very strong personality into a prominent cabinet position requires a great deal of courage.”
 
Not surprisingly, the choice also meets with approval from former President Clinton. At a symposium organized by the National Bank of Kuwait, he said: “If he decided to ask her to do it and they did it together, I think she would be really great at being Secretary of State.”
 
Obama is keeping his cards close to his chest.  The media might be positioning Hillary Clinton as the frontrunner but New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is also in the running, along with 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.  Both men have superior pro-Obama credentials.
 
The vindictiveness displayed by both Clintons during the race for the Democratic nomination should make Obama think twice before possibly opting for his rival.  Were her harsh words of criticism during that campaign just rhetoric or her hearfelt belief?  And Bill Clinton’s “fairytale” remark is on public record.
 
It may well prove that Bill is the biggest stumbling block to his wife’s appointment.  In September 2005, he shared a banquet with Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining executive and Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev.  Clinton praised Nazarbayev’s bid to head an international election-monitoring organization, which both undercut American foreign policy and his wife’s criticism of Kazakhstan’s human rights record.
 
Two days after the trip, Giustra’s company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan.  Both Clinton and Giustra denied any connection between the trip and the deal.
 
A few months later, a foundation controlled by Giustra gave $31.3 million to the Clinton foundation, its largest known donation.
 
The appointment of Hillary Clinton would not represent the change voiced by Obama during his campaign but rather business as usual.  You can almost see the dollar signs flashing up in Bill Clinton’s eyes.
 
[Based on reports by The New York Times, Associated Press and Financial Times.]

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