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|Maryluvs Message Board > Intellect's Forum > First 100 Days of Obama Adminstration|
|Posted by: Mary Poppins Jan 21 2009, 04:04 PM|
| Game over for Gitmo.
Judge suspends Guantanamo 9/11 trials
Obama administration circulates draft order to close Cuban site within year
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - President Barack Obama's request to suspend all war crimes trials at Guantanamo was promptly accepted by military judges Wednesday in what may be the beginning of the end for the Bush administration's system of trying alleged terrorists.
The judges agreed to the 120-day halt the cases of five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks and a Canadian accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. Similar orders are expected in other pending cases before the Guantanamo military commission.
The five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks had said they wanted to plead guilty to charges that carry the potential death sentences they say could make them martyrs. The alleged ringleader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, told the court he opposes the delay.
We should continue so we don't go backward, we go forward," Mohammed said.
Earlier, another judge agreed to a suspension in the case of Canadian Omar Khadr.
The prosecution submitted the motions to suspend the proceedings just hours after Obama's inauguration at the direction of the president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates
|Posted by: Mary Poppins Jan 21 2009, 04:09 PM|
| Temps aren't the only thing freezing in DC. So are pay raises.
Obama's first day: Pay freeze, lobbying rules
President also speaks with Mideast leaders, attends prayer service
WASHINGTON - In his first public acts in office, President Barack Obama on Wednesday placed new limits on lobbyists in his White House and, in a nod to the country's economic turmoil, froze the salaries of senior aides.
He also met Wednesday with economic advisers, spoke with Middle East leaders and attended a prayer service. Aides circulated a draft executive order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay within a year.
Announcing the White House moves while attending a ceremony to swear in his senior staff, Obama said the steps "represent a clean break from business as usual."
The pay freeze affects the roughly 100 White House employees who make more than $100,000 a year. "Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington," Obama said.
Obama's new lobbying rules will not only ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted.
The rules also ban lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration. It wasn't immediately clear whether the ban would include the traditional "previous relationships" clause, allowing gifts from friends or associates with which an employee comes in with strong ties.
The new rules also require that anyone who leaves his administration is not allowed to try to influence former friends and colleagues for at least two years. Obama is requiring all staff to attend to an ethics briefing like one he said he attended last week.
Obama called the rules tighter "than under any other administration in history." They followed pledges during his campaign to be strict about the influence of lobbyist in his White House.
"The new rules on lobbying alone, no matter how tough, are not enough to fix a broken system in Washington," he said. "That's why I'm also setting rules that govern not just lobbyists but all those who have been selected to serve in my administration."
'Too much secrecy'
In an attempt to deliver on pledges of a transparent government, Obama said he would change the way the federal government interprets the Freedom of Information Act. He said he was directing agencies that vet requests for information to err on the side of making information public — not to look for reasons to legally withhold it — an alteration to the traditional standard of evaluation.
Just because a government agency has the legal power to keep information private does not mean that it should, Obama said. Reporters and public-interest groups often make use of the law to explore how and why government decisions were made; they are often stymied as agencies claim legal exemptions to the law.
"For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city," Obama said.
He said the orders he was issuing Wednesday will not "make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be" nor go as far as he would like.
"But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country," Obama said. "And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people, in the days and weeks, months and years to come."
Earlier Wednesday, the president called the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan following the Israeli military assault on Gaza.
"He used this opportunity on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term, and to express his hope for their continued cooperation and leadership," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
"In the aftermath of the Gaza conflict," Gibbs added, the president "emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the cease-fire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza."
Also Wednesday, Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, attended the prayer service at the National Cathedral. Joining them there were Biden and his wife, Jill. Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State-nominee Hillary Clinton, were also in the front row with the first family.
Pushing his economic plan
Obama began his morning with meetings with his top economic advisers, which meshed with quickened efforts in Congress to add top Cabinet officials to the roster of those confirmed on Tuesday and to advance the economic stimulus measure that is a top priority of his administration.
Treasury Secretary-designate Tim Geithner, appearing before the Senate Finance Committee for a confirmation hearing, said enactment of the new president’s economic stimulus was essential. He also said the Senate’s decision last week to permit use of the second $350 installment of a financial industry bailout "will enable us to take the steps necessary to help get credit flowing."
He said Obama and he "share your belief that this program needs serious reform."
Geithner also apologized for his failure to pay personal taxes earlier in the decade, calling the omission a mistake. The taxes were repaid in stages, some after an IRS audit and the rest after a review of his returns late last year by Obama’s transition team.
Letter from 43 to 44
Obama and his wife arrived at the White House around 1 a.m. after attending 10 official inaugural balls.
Several hours later he walked into the most famous office in America for the first time as president.
Press secretary Gibbs said in a statement that Obama spent 10 minutes alone and read a note left for him by former President George W. Bush that was in an envelope marked “To: .44, From: .43.”
new poll underscored the sense of anticipation that accompanied Obama into office.
The Associated Press-Knowledge Networks survey found that by a 3-1 margin, people feel more optimistic about the country's future now that Obama has been inaugurated, including 30 percent of Republicans.
The meeting with economic advisers was called at a time when 11 million Americans are out of work and millions more feel the loss of savings and face the prospect of foreclosures on their homes.
Last week, Congress cleared the way for use of a second, $350 billion installment of financial-industry bailout money, a pre-inaugural victory for Obama.
Democratic leaders hope to have the $825 billion economic stimulus measure to his desk by mid-February.
The war in Iraq that he has promised to end featured prominently in Obama's first day as well.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, were among those called in for a meeting later Wednesday as the new president assumed the role of commander in chief.
In his inaugural address on Tuesday, Obama said his goal was to "responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan."
The two unfinished wars are twinned for Obama. He has promised to bring U.S. combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months of taking office, as long as doing so wouldn't endanger either the Americans left behind for training and terrorism-fighting nor the security gains in Iraq. And he has said he would use that drawdown to bolster the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, where U.S.-backed fighters are losing ground against a resurgent Taliban.
Among the possibilities for the first day was the naming of a Middle East envoy, critical at a time of renewed hostilities between Israelis and the Palestinians; overturning the so-called Mexico City policy that forbids U.S. funding for family planning programs that offer abortion, and lifting President George W. Bush's limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
Within hours of Obama' taking the oath of office on Tuesday, Emanuel ordered all federal agencies to put the brakes on any pending regulations that the Bush administration sought to push through in its final days.
|Posted by: Wee Tony Jan 21 2009, 05:17 PM|
| If he manages to disempower the lobbyists, I'll be very impressed!
He's got his work cut out though - those guys are snakes in the grass, and they'll come back with something.
|Posted by: Mary Poppins Jan 23 2009, 01:12 PM|
| Aww shucks and tax cuts.....
Obama says stimulus bill 'on target'
Dems have promised measure for Obama's signature by mid-February
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, keen to get his economic program rolling, met Friday with top Democrat and Republican leaders and said Congress appears "on target" to approve a massive new stimulus package by Feb. 16.
After meeting with the leaders from Capitol Hill, he said he understood the package was "a heavy lift" for many lawmakers but emphasized it was needed in the face of the nation's deepening economic crisis.
Obama turned his attention to the biggest worry of Americans — a recession expected to be the deepest since the Great Depression of the 1930s — after a day of rapid-fire announcements on foreign affairs. They included an order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects and appointment of envoys to Afghanistan and the Middle East.
On Friday, stocks fell sharply on Wall Street for a second consecutive day as corporations reported weak earnings and more layoffs, moves that could further reduce job prospects for Americans and diminish consumer spending, the main engine of the U.S. economy.
In the few days he's been in office, Obama has been having a hard time finding common ground with Republicans on his economic recovery plan. The minority Republicans have charged that the Obama team's proposals are too costly and don't do enough to create jobs.
The stimulus legislation, priced at about $825 billion and expected to grow, advanced in House committees this week despite Republican protests.
Obama said Friday that he realizes that some lawmakers dislike parts of the stimulus proposal, but said the crisis demands action soon.
"I recognize that there are still some differences around the table and between the administration and members of Congress about particular details on the plan," he said. "But I think what unifies this group is a recognition that we are experiencing an unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with, and dealt with rapidly."
On Friday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus was expected to unveil a Senate version of the tax cutting portion of the bill. The legislation could have a more bipartisan look in the Senate, where it takes 60 votes out of 100 to overcome procedural blocks.
Obama is scheduled to meet with House Republicans next week, at the their request. But by then the House bill could be on the floor awaiting a vote.
"Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. "But that doesn't mean we don't want it to have sustainability and bipartisan support, and the president is working hard to get that done."
House Minority Leader John Boehner protested: "While we appreciate the chance to work with the president, it appears that House Democrats are going to continue to barrel ahead without any bipartisan support."
Obama on Thursday took on two of his toughest foreign policy challenges — Afghanistan and Mideast peace.
On his second full day in office, Obama also sought to reverse one of the most contentious policies of the Bush administration by signing an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects while leaving undecided how to dispose of unresolved war crimes cases there.
The new commander in chief visited the State Department to underscore a major theme of his young administration: that diplomacy will play a more central role in American foreign policy — not just in seeking peace in the Middle East but also in defending the United States against global terrorist threats.
He said there would be no lasting peace in Afghanistan unless "spheres of opportunity" are expanded for Afghans and their neighbors in Pakistan, where al-Qaida and other extremist groups have found haven.
"This is truly an international challenge of the highest order." Obama said.
He named former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as a special coordinator of U.S. policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
|Posted by: Mary Poppins Jan 26 2009, 02:57 PM|
| Finally a President who cares about the environment:
Obama moves to let states cap car emissions
EPA is told to review Bush policy; Clinton also to name climate envoy
WASHINGTON - Plunging into energy and climate change policies, President Barack Obama on Monday moved to give states a freer hand in curbing greenhouse gas emissions from cars, and to enact tighter fuel-efficiency standards that could remake the auto industry.
Obama stressed that his goal is to work with carmakers on key administration goals: energy independence and combating global warming.
"Let me be clear: Our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry," Obama said at the White House. "It is to help America's automakers prepare for the future."
"It will be the policy of my administration," he added, "to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs."
"America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources," he said, adding that the government must work with California and other states — not against them — on tougher climate emissions standards for cars and trucks.
"The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Obama said, adding that "the days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts; we will be guided by them."
He also ordered the Transportation Department to enact short-term rules on how automakers can improve fuel efficiency of their new models based on a 2007 law. The law requires that by 2020, new cars and trucks meet a standard of 35 miles per gallon, a 40 percent increase over the status quo.
But the Bush administration did not set regulations in support of that law. And it estimated the rules would cost the industry more than $100 billion to implement the changes by 2020.
Obama said he expected his administration to have the standards for 2011 cars ready by March, thus giving the auto industry 18 months to prepare. He called his directive a "down payment" on vehicles that get much better fuel efficiency.
More broadly, Obama sought to show he was not waiting to put his stamp on energy policy, which has both near-term implications on the sagging economy and long-range effects on pollution, climate change and national security.
"Year after year, decade after decade, we've chosen delay over decisive action," Obama said. "Rigid ideology has overruled sound science. Special interests have overshadowed common sense. Rhetoric has not led to the hard work needed to achieve results -- and our leaders raise their voices each time there's a spike on gas prices, only to grow quiet when the price falls at the pump."
|Posted by: Mary Poppins Feb 17 2009, 07:23 PM|
| Today was a big day for Obama and the economy. He signed the $787B recovery package today.
DENVER - President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday one of the most costly pieces of legislation in U.S. history — a $787 billion program to breathe life into the country's failing economy.
Speaking in Denver, the city where he won the Democratic presidential nomination last summer, Obama said the massive government spending and tax cut program opened the road for Americans to begin "laying claim to a destiny of our own making."
The president put his signature to the bill in a highly unusual ceremony away from the partisan tensions still gripping Washington. As he spoke in Denver, he was closing out his first month in office — opening days of a new administration that have seen a relentless storm of economic bad news and public pessimism.