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The World Likes America Again

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Obama has successfully lobbied the world to like us again. Get the man a beer.

Obama has successfully lobbied the world to like us again. Get the man a beer.

Further proof that Obama is ruining America:

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – The United States is the most admired country globally thanks largely to the star power of President Barack Obama and his administration, according to a new poll.

It climbed from seventh place last year, ahead of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan which completed the top five nations in the Nation Brand Index (NBI).

“What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States for 2009,” said Simon Anholt, the founder of NBI, which measured the global image of 50 countries each year.

He believes that during the previous administration of George W. Bush the United States suffered in the world ranking with its unpopular foreign policies but since Obama was elected, and despite the recent economic turmoil, the country’s status has risen globally.

“There is no other explanation,” Anholt said in an interview, referring to the impact of Obama.

This is bad. Really bad. Somehow. Stay tuned for Republican spin.

If The Shoe Were On The Other Foot…

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Hypocrisy Meter

Lost in the media circus this week is a little covered story that I found interesting as well as indicative of the double standard rampant in today’s politics.

Let’s first travel back in time, long, long ago to April 2009:

At a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday, Republican lawmakers criticized members of the liberal Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) for meeting with Cuban dictators Raul and Fidel Castro during a junket to Cuba last week, and for failing to condemn the totalitarian regime’s human rights violations.

The lawmakers also dismissed President Barack Obama’s recent criticism of the Bush administration’s policies towards Cuba, and said that Obama must demand the release of Cuban political prisoners before making any concessions to the Communist regime.

“They left Cuba gushing with praise of the Castros and their regime,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R- N.J.), a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in reference to the CBC members who met with the Castros. “Sadly, to the best of my knowledge, they did nothing publicly to show any concern for the myriad gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the Cuban government [or] to the tragic fate of hundreds of Cuban democracy and human rights activists.”

Remember that? The Congressional Black Caucus visited Cuba back in April and Republicans went batshit crazy. They decried the Caucus, accusing them of cozying up to an evil regime and lending credibility to the government with their presence. The gripes were understandable. Human rights is a big deal, and their position was that the U.S. should not thaw relations or lift sanctions against Cuba due to their lack of respect for human rights and gross miscarriages of democratic ideals.

Again, it’s their prerogative to take that position.

So, naturally, after the army of Honduras illegally staged a coup d’état which left democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya ousted from power, the GOP’s position would remain static. Right?

Ha, yeah right:

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduras’ coup-installed president told a U.S. congressional delegation Friday that full civil liberties would be restored within days, a spokesman for one of the lawmakers said following a meeting that challenged Washington’s attempts to isolate the interim government.

Interim President Roberto Micheletti said an emergency decree limiting civil liberties, including freedom of the press and assembly, would be lifted no later than Monday, said Wesley Denton, a spokesman for South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

The four Republican lawmakers received the assurances in a private meeting with Micheletti earlier at the presidential palace, said Denton, who spoke to the senator as he was changing planes in Miami aftere the meeting.

“DeMint and the delegation pushed him very hard on that issue … and stressed that it was very important that civil liberties be restored,” the spokesman told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Washington.

The brief, amicable visit with the leaders of the coup highlighted a divide in Washington, where the Obama administration considers the interim government illegitimate and is working to reinstate Zelaya. Many conservatives, however, side with the government installed after soldiers arrested the president in his pajamas and flew him into exile.

DeMint said before the trip that even calling Zelaya’s overthrow a coup is “ill-informed and baseless.”

Huh, does this dolt understand the definition of a coup? To be clear, these Republicans are supporting a de facto government that came to be through a takeover of the democratically elected executive branch. What I’m gathering from this is that it was wrong for the CBC to visit the U.S.-recognized Cuban government, but it’s okay for the GOP to visit the illegitimate leader of Honduras, who assumed power through an internationally condemned military coup.

This is pathetic. Another move to undermine the current administration. What happened to not meeting with governments that don’t uphold the fundamental principles of democracy? If you’re going to apply a set of principles to one scenario, how does it make sense to forgo its application to a different, arguably more serious scenario?

At the worst, this is treason. Think Progress points out that DeMint and the rest of his unauthorized delegation are in direct violation of the Logan Act, a federal statute “making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.”

The language is clear. Unambiguous. And that Republican delegation are traitors is in direct violation.

At the very least, this further proves the GOP to be the party of blind opposition and serial undermining. The Obama Administration takes a position that favors ousted president Manual Zelaya, so Republicans scramble to take the antithesis of that policy decision. This is like Republicans opposing President Obama speaking to school children (even though there is precedent–by a Republican president), except much, much more serious.

GOP Fail.

GOP Fail.

Gross and disgusting.

Iran To Ship Most Of Its Uranium To Russia?

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Word?:

GENEVA – Iran agreed in principle Thursday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be refined for exclusively peaceful uses, in what Western diplomats called a significant, but interim, measure to ease concerns over its nuclear program.

The agreement was announced after more than seven hours of high-level talks in Geneva among Iran and representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, which also featured the highest-level official U.S.-Iranian encounter in three decades.

Iran also pledged that within weeks it would allow the inspection of a previously covert uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, announced that he’d head to Tehran to work out the details.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said the talks marked “a constructive beginning” and showed the promise of renewed engagement with Iran, but added that “going forward, we expect to see swift action. We’re not interested in talking for the sake of talking.”

Great news! If they end up doing that, it would buy the United States and her allies time. The timetable for Iran moving towards acquiring nuclear capabilities would be extended, allowing for further attempts to dissuade Tehran from pursuing it at all.

Unless of course, Tehran is, I don’t know… lying? Are we supposed to believe that Iran wants to enrich all that uranium simply to export it to Russia? Something about a recently uncovered nuclear facility leaves me skeptical.

I think it’s entirely plausible that Iran could send some, not most, of it’s uranium. Why wouldn’t they stash the rest? Much of their foreign policy is rooted in deep suspicion of the West and Israel. One day of meetings at a hotel and suddenly they’re ready to abandon what they undeniably view as not only their ticket to superpower status, but a basic safeguard from attack? I think even prostitutes leave hotels with less trust than that.

I personally am convinced that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. That’s not to say it’s not their right. Still, that doesn’t mean United States and others in the international community shouldn’t be worried.

So I hope this latest development, however thin, develops further. I guess that’s why all optimism is being categorized as ‘cautious’.

Rio de Janeiro To Host 2016 Olympic Games

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riologoolimpiadi2016

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CNN) — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday.

It is the first time South America would host an Olympics event. The city has budgeted $14.4 billion to the effort, the largest amount of any of the four finalists, according to IOC figures.

The final vote was down to Rio and Madrid, Spain. In earlier voting, Chicago, Illinois, and then Tokyo, Japan, were eliminated from contention.

After the cities made their presentations to the IOC on Friday, the IOC members sat down to cast their votes in a secret ballot.

Congratulations to Brazil, and broader South America, for playing host to the 2016 Games. Strictly on the principle of rooting for the home team, I was hoping Chicago would win it. But I really can’t hate on the IOC’s decision. It’s Rio freakin’ de Janeiro! Sounds like a pretty nice place to have games hosted.

President Obama made the 11th hour decision to fly to Denmark and try to use some of his clout to lobby on his hometown’s behalf. He, along with First Lady Michelle Obama (who KILLED in her speech), were the U.S.’s best possible hand, but it didn’t work out. You have to wonder if this was a snub. U.S. media seems to think so. I don’t think President Obama would have made the trip unless the White House was given some type of assurance that his presence would make a difference. Considering that Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting, it honestly doesn’t look like it did.

Obama/IOC

President Obama addressing the IOC.

Because everything amounts to politics, I wonder what the backlash will be. Obama’s opponents, chiefly the GOP, have been critical of Obama for flying to Denmark, arguing that there are more important priorities. Nevermind that the other candidate countries were represented by their respective leaders. Or that it was about 3am in the morning Chicago time when Obama was addressing the committee. They are the party of descent and this case was no different.

It’s going to be interesting to see what the haters say since Chicago didn’t get the games. Honestly, half of the reason I wanted them to win was simply to watch the GOP stumble over themselves to applaud Obama’s last second decision. Since that didn’t happen, I wonder if they’ll walk about with their chests inflated.

Besides Rio, there’s definitely one group of people ecstatic about this…

Chicagoans for Rio! *cough*traitors*cough*

Iran Test Fires Missiles

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IRAN MISSILE

Shrugging off near universal condemnation of their recently disclosed secret nuclear facility, Iran is now firing back. Literally:

(CNN) — Days before a key meeting with Western leaders, Iran test-fired two types of long-range missiles Monday in part of what the Islamic republic called routine military exercises, its state-run media reported.

The tests drew condemnation from France, which noted through its Foreign Ministry that the action comes only a week after Iran revealed the existence of a covert uranium enrichment site.

“These tests can only reinforce the worries of countries in the surrounding region and the international community, especially as Iran is, in parallel, developing a nuclear program, with the existence of a clandestine uranium enrichment site having just been revealed,” the ministry said.

“We ask Iran to choose cooperation and not confrontation, immediately putting an end to its profoundly destabilizing activities and responding without delay to the demands of the international community in order to find a solution in this affair.”

Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is scheduled Thursday to meet with representatives of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members, plus Germany. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will also attend the talks Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the United States, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the missile test provocative and said the Western powers taking part in Thursday’s meeting want Iran to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency with “immediate unfettered access” to the newly discovered uranium enrichment site and people working there, as well as documents related to its planning.

This is becoming a matter of when, not if, Israel will take preemptive military measures against Iran. I’m having a difficult time seeing Iran’s strategy as they move forward. October is here and the 6-party talks are around the corner. Are they trying to make this awkward? At this point, I wonder if they will even show up. They lost a substantial bit of leverage once the secret facility was made public, and their posturing since then isn’t making matters any less complicated.

Again, I believe we are talking months – possibly even weeks – before Israel takes matters into their own hand. It’s hard to see them sitting idly by while Iran works towards nuclear power. The region will be scarier than it is now, and Israel’s national security would immediately be threatened. If history is any indication, Israel will act.

If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, the era of nonproliferation will be over. We will see countries in the region, and around the globe, work towards developing weapons. The last thing the United States wants, especially after President Obama made a whole show about ridding the world of nukes, is for a nuclear arms race to ensue. The challenge becomes deciding what can be done to stop that from happening.

I was once in the camp that thought Iran had the right to pursue nuclear power. But I’m growing very nervous about their intentions. They have clearly broken guidelines set by the IAEA, and their intentions seem a lot more nefarious. Their clear ties to terrorist organizations and their meddling in Iraq make for a disturbing resume. I hope diplomacy can dissuade Iran from their nuclear program. If that fails, I think all options need to be looked at, including military.

Sigh. Let’s see how this plays out.

Written by PJ

September 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Iranian Secret Nuclear Plant Uncovered, U.S., Others Respond

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G20 Summit Iran. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Nicolas Sarkozy (France), Gordon Brown (Britain), Barack Obama (United States).

Drama: “Nuclear” edition:

PITTSBURGH — President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France accused Iran on Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying the country has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years.

Appearing before reporters in Pittsburgh, Mr. Obama said that the Iranian nuclear program “represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the nonproliferation regime.” President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said that Iran had a deadline of two months to comply with international demands or face increased sanctions.

“The level of deception by the Iranian government, and the scale of what we believe is the breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the entire international community,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said. “The international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand.”

A major international crisis that has played the background thus far has now been catapulted to the forefront of issues facing President Obama and other world leaders.

Iran is definitely in a tougher position because their infractions against international law are now a lot more clear. The issue at hand is not necessarily the end-game intentions of their nuclear program, although Iran maintains that it’s purposed for peaceful, energy oriented goals rather than for nuclear weapons. What’s now being charged is that Iran is covertly manufacturing nuclear fuel, and actively hiding this operation from weapons inspectors.

It’s a charge that obviously strengthens the foundation on which the international community’s suspicions are founded. This is going to be very interesting moving forward. Today’s discovery is sort of a slap in the face to all parties engaging Iran in the 6-party talks this coming October, the first direct talks between the U.S. and Iran in about 30 years.  Even Russia and China appear to be unhappy. These two nations have played the role of obstructionist in the Security Council in all attemptes to levy sanctions against Iran, and in return, Iran has neglected to inform them of these “secret” plants, leaving them surprised. Reports indicate them Russia especially is furious.

President Ahmadinejad addressing the U.N. General Assembly.

President Ahmadinejad addressing the U.N. General Assembly.

The possibility of sanctions has increased greatly if the line in the sand drawn today by the United States, Britain, and France is defied. But sanctions are a secondary issue. The wild card here is clearly Israel. President Obama is going to have to work very hard behind closed doors to convince Israel not to preemptively attack Iran prior to sanctions being implemented. Now this goes under the assumption that such sanctions would even work. But it’s still important to make sure diplomacy is exhausted because the last thing the Middle East needs is additional military conflict to complicate matters.

This is clearly a pivotal point in this international issue. Iran’s president is, perhaps not unexpectedly, charging back with sharp rhetoric:

After Mr. Ahmadinejad asked Mr. Stengel to confirm the news, he criticized Mr. Obama for making the statement, which he called “a mistake,” and he claimed that the facility was not a secret, saying: “We have no secrecy; we work within the framework of the I.A.E.A.” Mr. Ahmadinejad also said that Mr. Obama’s charge just “adds to the list of issues to which the United States owes the Iranian nation an apology over.”

Cat and mouse continues…