Barack Obama says his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to renovate its relations with the Muslim world, starting the day of his inauguration and continuing with a speech he plans to deliver in an Islamic capital.
And when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.
“I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” Obama said Tuesday, promising an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”
The world, he said, “is ready for that message.” [continued…]
Britain’s six-year occupation of south Iraq will begin drawing to a close in March, and the last troops will leave Basra by June, a senior defence source disclosed yesterday.
But instead of handing over to Iraqi authorities, the British will be replaced at their Basra airport base by a large force of US troops, who will set up their own headquarters there, the source revealed.
The withdrawal follows months of planning and security assessments by British and American commanders. The timetable is expected to be confirmed by Gordon Brown early in the new year. [continued…]
Global oil demand will collapse next year and commodities will not return to the highs they reached this summer in the foreseeable future, two authoritative reports said on Tuesday as they forecast a long and painful worldwide recession.
The stark conclusions came as the World Bank’s chief economist predicted that the world faced “the worst recession since the Great Depression”. [continued…]
When was the last time you invested in something that you knew wouldn’t make money?
In the market equivalent of shoveling cash under the mattress, hordes of buyers were so eager on Tuesday to park money in the world’s safest investment, United States government debt, that they agreed to accept a zero percent rate of return.
The news sent a sobering signal: in these troubled economic times, when people have lost vast amounts on stocks, bonds and real estate, making an investment that offers security but no gain is tantamount to coming out ahead. This extremely cautious approach reflects concerns that a global recession could deepen next year, and continue to jeopardize all types of investments. [continued…]
In a sequence of events that neatly captures the contradictions of Barack Obama’s rise through Illinois politics, a phone call he made three months ago to urge passage of a state ethics bill indirectly contributed to the downfall of a fellow Democrat he twice supported, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.
Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say.
Tipped off to Mr. Blagojevich’s efforts, federal agents obtained wiretaps for his phones and eventually overheard what they say was scheming by the governor to profit from his appointment of a successor to the United States Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Obama. One official whose name has long been mentioned in Chicago political circles as a potential successor is Mr. Jones, a machine politician who was viewed as a roadblock to ethics reform but is friendly with Mr. Obama. [continued…]
“If it isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office.
Grant had the privilege of standing outside Blagojevich’s home about 6 a.m. Tuesday and calling the sleepy governor to say federal agents were outside, waiting to arrest him quietly.
“I could tell I woke him up,” Grant said. “And the first thing he said was, ‘Is this a joke?’ ”
No, but standing before a federal judge wearing jogging pants, sneakers and a powder blue fleece sort of made the governor of Illinois look like a jester. Or a joker.
Political corruption in the state that has made corruption an art form isn’t funny, like a clown. The joke is on all of us, everyone who lives in Illinois. Because Blagojevich was elected governor on the reform ticket, promising to clean up the state and end business as usual. [continued…]