Obama’s First 100 Days

April 30, 2009

 

 

 

 

President Obama Strides Into The East Room Of The White House For The News Conference

President Obama Strides Into The East Room Of The White House For The News Conference

Bolanle Talabi.

 

Thursday, April 30th, 2009.

The United States President Barack Obama has marked his first 100 days in office by sketching out the future direction of his administration.

At a primetime TV news conference, he took questions on a wide range of issues from torture, swine flu, the economy and foreign policy.

He said he was “pleased” with his administration’s progress so far but “not satisfied”. Latest polls suggest Mr Obama continues to enjoy a high level of popularity.

Traditionally, commentators have used the 100-day milestone to assess presidents’ early successes and failures.

At a news conference broadcast live on most US TV networks, the president said that his first 100 days in office had been successful, but freely admitted more needed to be done.

He told reporters he had not anticipated finding himself in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. “I am surprised, compared to where I started, when we first announced for this race, by the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time,” he said.

Mr Obama took questions on many of the key issues his administration has begun to grapple with, both at home and abroad.

The US Congress capped Mr Obama’s 100th day in office by approving a $3.4 trillion budget for 2010, a move Obama said would help to move the economy from recession to recovery. Welcoming the news, the president said he was gratified that Congress passed the budget “so quickly and effectively”.

However, he also said that as the US tried to recover from the recession, it had to lay “a new foundation for growth.” “We can’t go back to an economy that is built on a pile of sand – on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards; on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations” were his scathing words.

Since taking office on 20 January, Mr Obama has, among other things, passed an economic stimulus package, ordered the closure of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, set a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and signalled a willingness to open up a diplomatic dialogue with countries like Iran and Cuba.

But as the president entered his 100th day in office, he faced a major domestic emergency in the form of the swine flu outbreak. Plus, the economic turmoil that has engulfed America since before Mr Obama entered the White House shows little sign of abating. Apart from the stimulus package, Mr Obama has also attempted to shore up the economy with plans to recapitalise US banks and salvage failing car firms.

Mr Obama swept to victory in last year’s presidential election with 53% of the vote. The latest Gallup poll gives him an approval rating of 65%, virtually unchanged from his level of support on the day of his inauguration.

 

 

LoveWorld Newsroom.


India voting ‘enters key phase’

April 30, 2009
  1. Indian women queue up at a voting centre

    Indian women queue up to cast their votes

 

 

Voting is taking place in India in the third of five stages of the country’s marathon general election.

Millions will cast ballots in 107 constituencies across nine states and two federal territories, including the financial capital, Mumbai (Bombay).

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says it is a crucial day for the two national parties which are going head-to-head in many areas voting.

A good showing for either will put them in a strong position on results day.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani are among candidates whose seats are holding voting in the third phase.

Results are due on 16 May and no party is expected to win a clear majority.

 

Voters in the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are casting ballots on Thursday.

 

Voting is also being held in the federally-administered territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.

Mrs Gandhi is standing in Rae Bareli in northern Uttar Pradesh state, while Mr Advani is a candidate in Gandhinagar in the western state of Gujarat.

“Make or break for BJP today,” read the Times of India headline. The Hindustan Times said the election had entered a “decisive phase” with the stakes high for both national parties.

Analysts say this phase of voting is crucial for the BJP as the party holds nearly 40 of the 107 seats voting.

Dalit (formerly untouchable) leader Mayawati, who could play a key role in deciding the next government, was among early voters in Uttar Pradesh, as was leading businessman Anil Ambani in Mumbai.

 

All 10 constituencies in Mumbai as well as Anantnag in Indian-administered Kashmir are voting on Thursday.

Mumbai was the scene of an armed attack in November which left at least 170 people dead, including nine gunmen.

But correspondents say security will be a less important issue for voters than more routine concerns, like access to clean water, electricity and better housing.

In Jammu and Kashmir separatist groups have called for a boycott of the elections and a two-day strike in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.

The BBC’s Altaf Hussain in Anantnag says turnout in early voting was very low, with no people at all at some polling stations. The day has been trouble-free so far, he says.

In communist-ruled West Bengal state, brisk polling is reported in all 14 parliamentary constituencies holding voting, the BBC’s Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says.

 

Officials say the only exception is Lalgarh on the state’s border with Jharkhand where a tribal organisation, allegedly backed by Maoist rebels, is enforcing a boycott call to protest against alleged police atrocities, our correspondent reports.

Meanwhile, a suspected Maoist landmine attack on a polling centre in the state’s Purulia district has left two people, including a policeman, injured.

 

Voting is being held in several phases in some of the states.

The first round on 16 April was marred by Maoist attacks in eastern and central India which killed at least 17 people. The second phase on 23 April saw less violence.

About two million security personnel are being deployed over the five-phase vote.

Votes will be counted on 16 May and the new parliament has to be constituted by 2 June.

The incumbent coalition, led by the Congress party, and parties led by the BJP are battling a host of smaller parties.

If no group wins a clear majority, the smaller regional parties could play a crucial role.

 

Sourced from The BBC

 

 


Mexico Shuts Down As Pandemic Threat Rises

April 30, 2009

 

 

 

Swine Flu Pandemic compel mexicans to cover-up

Swine Flu Pandemic compel mexicans to cover-up

 

 

 

Mexicans have been urged to stay at home during a partial shutdown of the economy after the World Health Organisation raised the pandemic threat level from swine flu to five – its second highest level.

 

It now believes a global outbreak of the virus is imminent – and has called on all nations to act immediately.

Ministers in Mexico, where the first swine flu cases were identified, responded by ordering the immediate suspension of non-essential work and services.

Both public and private sector workers have been told to stay at home with their families until May 5, while the country attempts to control the spread of the virus.

WHO chief Margaret Chan said “it really is all of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic”.

“All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans,” she added.

“Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

“At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.”

The threat level is raised to five when there is human-to-human spread of the virus in at least two countries in one region.

Once the virus shows effective transmission in two different regions of the world a full pandemic outbreak would be declared.

The raising of the level follows intensive consultations with experts and analysis of the spreading virus within and from Mexico.

Ms Chan called for more donations to the world’s stocks of antiviral drugs and said more drugs are needed to help the world battle an imminent pandemic.

The change in threat level will put governments on alert about the need to stockpile antiviral drugs such as Roche’s Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza.

There is also a need to speed up efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to create a vaccine to fight the swine flu strain.

Drugmakers have already donated millions of doses of their drugs to the WHO.

Sky’s health correspondent Thomas Moore said: “I think it’s really important that people don’t panic.

“This really is a message to governments and to the pharmaceutical industry that a pandemic is imminent.

 

A Mexican toddler visiting the United States was the first death in America.

 

Egypt is taking drastic measures in the battle against swine flu, says foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall.

In Britain, there have been three new confirmed cases of swine flu, taking the total to five.

Spain has reported the first case in Europe of swine flu in a person who had not been to Mexico, showing the danger of person-to-person transmission.

The virus has now spread to 10 countries, after Switzerland, Germany and Austria reported cases.

The H1N1 strain may have infected more than 2,500 people in Mexico.

Almost all cases outside of Mexico have had only mild symptoms, and only a handful of people have needed hospital treatment.

But in Mexico, people are struggling with an emergency that has brought normal life virtually to a standstill

 

Sourced from Sky News

 

 


Jacob Zuma And The Shower-Head

April 29, 2009

 

One of Zapiro's cartoon

One of Zapiro's cartoon

LoveWorld Newsroom.

 

 

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009.

Johannesburg — Supporters of South Africa’s next president are fighting against a barrage of caustic satire, raising worries of a free-speech crackdown

South Africa’s most notorious cartoonist has a message for Jacob Zuma: Like it or not, the shower head is here to stay.Jonathan Shapiro, known by his pen name, Zapiro, has infuriated the country’s next president by repeatedly portraying him with a shower nozzle above his head, a scathing reference to the 2006 rape trial where Mr. Zuma testified that he took a shower to protect himself from AIDS after he had been with an HIV-positive woman.

Mr. Zuma, who will be inaugurated as South Africa’s new president next Saturday, has filed two lawsuits against the caustic cartoonist. Members of the ruling party have demanded that Zapiro be more respectful of their leader’s dignity as he assumes the highest office in the land.

But in his latest cartoon, published in a Sunday newspaper, Zapiro defiantly sketched a shower nozzle above Mr. Zuma’s head again. “Yes, he’ll still have that shower,” the cartoonist vowed.

In a country where Mr. Zuma has a near-monopoly on power, where his ruling African National Congress has just recorded an overwhelming majority for the fourth consecutive election, fearless satirists such as Zapiro have emerged as the true opposition.

South Africa has a long tradition of biting satire. Political commentary here is sharper and more acerbic than almost anywhere else in the world. But many of Mr. Zuma’s supporters are unhappy with the mocking portraits of their hero, and there is mounting pressure on the satirists to become a little more deferential.

It’s a titanic battle: South Africa’s powerful politicians pitted against its relentless satirists. And so far the mockers are not backing down.

Even as Mr. Zuma celebrated his election triumph last week, audiences were flocking to see a comedy at Johannesburg’s venerable Market Theatre that ridiculed the ANC leader and his comrades.

The play, MacBeki, is a comic version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, making fun of Mr. Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki for the backroom intrigues and betrayals that marked their rise to power. Audiences roar with laughter in a climactic scene when the character known as MacZum emerges on stage with a shower nozzle on his head.

Another source of satire is the South African fake-news website, hayibo.com, which takes humorous jabs at Mr. Zuma’s polygamy and other foibles. It features headlines such as “Zuma campaigning to gain two-thirds majority among his wives.”

However, the ANC’s spokeswoman, Jesse Duarte, insists that she enjoys the satire and criticisms;. “We must continue to laugh at ourselves,” she said this weekend.

Mr. Shapiro is convinced that satire will survive. “There is baying for our blood, but there’s also a lot of support for us,” he said.

“Don’t worry about us. We’re strong enough to resist. There are lots of us around, and we will fight hard.”

 


Jacob Zuma Plans $12m Party As Unemployment Soars

April 28, 2009

 

JACOB Zuma will spend $12 million to celebrate his inauguration as President of South Africa, where the financial downturn is expected to drive unemployment to 43 per cent.

As crashing commodity prices cripple his country, Mr Zuma has invited kings and presidents to be among 4000 people at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on May 9.

Opposition leader Helen Zille vowed yesterday that she would watch Mr Zuma’s African National Congress party “like a hawk” for signs of corruption and complacency after last week’s election win.

“My message to him would be that South African voters are voting more and more on the basis of issues and not blind loyalty (to the ANC),” she said. “This is the ANC’s last chance to rely on the loyalty vote, because we are becoming a mature democracy.”

As Ms Zille prepares for the first sitting of the new parliament, another leading white woman in South African politics will be a happy spectator.

Perth-born Suzanne Vos, known as the “White Zulu”, has lost her seat after 15 years as an MP for the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party.

But she has few regrets. “I’m free at last,” said Ms Vos, 63.

The former journalist for West Australian Newspapers entered parliament in the 1994 “freedom” election that overturned apartheid rule and installed Nelson Mandela in power as the first black president.

“It’s been an extraordinary time. It has been fantastic,” she said. “But now it’s time to move on to do other things. There’s work to be done on the rape crisis and many gender-related issues as well as drugs and gangsterism.”

Sourced  from The Australian


Deadly Swine Flu: Outbreaks in 5 states rattles U.S.

April 28, 2009

The United States Of America.

The United States Of America.

 

 

 

 

Bolanle Talabi.

LoveWorld Newsroom.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009.

State health Departments all over America have intensified their search for sneezing, feverish people who may have contracted swine flu as officials tried to contain the spread of the unusual illness.

Five states have confirmed cases of swine flu, and all 42 confirmed U.S. cases are considered mild. The largest cluster is emerging in a New York City Catholic school, where more than 150 students became ill.

New York City on Monday reported 28 confirmed cases of swine flu, all among students from a Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. Several students there spent spring break in Mexico.

New York City hospitals and emergency departments reported “moderate increases” in emergency room visits from people complaining of flu symptoms, but city public health Commissioner Tom Frieden said doctors found no extra cases. More than 550 : In Ohio officials closed an elementary school in Lorain County attended by a 9-year-old boy who became ill with swine flu Wednesday. The child had recently returned from a family vacation in Mexico, the Lorain County health department said while California has eight confirmed cases in three counties.

Texas health officials confirmed a third case late Monday. All 14 schools in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District were closed after two 16-year-old boys at the local high school tested positive.

Kansas health officials asked a couple in Dickinson County to isolate themselves after they became ill with swine flu. The husband, who traveled this month to Mexico, came home ill, state health officer Jason Eberhart-Phillips said. The man’s wife became ill about three days later. The couple has the “unique strain of swine flu that has been identified in Mexico, California and Texas,” Eberhart-Phillips said. Health officials are interviewing and testing people who came in contact with the couple.

Many states are asking doctors to look for flu signs and preparing supplies of antiviral drugs.

 

 


Gordon Brown In Kabul For terror Talks With Hamid Karzai.

April 27, 2009

Prime Minister, Gordon Brown Greeting British Soldiers Before The Meeting With Ahmed Karzai.

Prime Minister, Gordon Brown Greeting British Soldiers Before The Meeting With Ahmed Karzai.

LoveWorld Newsroom.

 

Monday, April 27th, 2009.

Gordon Brown flew into Kabul today to begin talks with President Hamid Karzai about Britain’s new strategy to grapple with the “crucible of terrorism” on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

While the government’s new plans for fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan will be formally announced in the House of Commons on Wednesday there are speculations of plans for a substantial increase in troop numbers.

However a Downing Street aide said Mr Brown would reconfirm the temporary deployment of an additional 700 troops during the Afghan presidential elections in August. That would take a total number of British soldiers in the country to 9,000.

Mr Brown also proposes to redirect financial aid from the “relatively safe” areas of Pakistan toward the country’s Northern provinces, widely seen as a breeding ground of terrorist activity.

The Afghan-Pakistan border has long been a devastating weak spot in the fight against terror. Despite the size of Pakistan’s army of around 500,000 soldiers on active duty, it has failed adequately to police the border with Afghanistan.

The British government has already committed £510 million in development aid to Afghanistan between 2009 – 2013. Of that, £15 million has been earmarked to help Afghanistan to prepare for its elections in August and October.

Separately, Britain is also paying £665 million to Pakistan in aid over the same four year period.

Before meeting President Karzai, Mr Brown visited Camp Bastion where he addressed British troops, held briefings with senior army personnel and visited a military hospital.

According to the Prime Ministerial aide, Mr Brown will also express his concerns to President Karzai about the new Shia family law – legislation passed last month which appeared to legalise marital rape.