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Obama to act swiftly on economy
A British reporter covering the 2008 Presidential election for the Birmingham Mail was caught on tape in a drunk rant, admitting plagiarism and acknowledging that he was writing his story while “pissed” drunk.
Adam Smith, also known as Steve Zacharanda, came to Miami last week to cover the election because, as he put it, “I aint going to go to Ohio, am I? I go to Miami, because that’s where the party is.”
Smith said, “I wanted to be here because I’m here for history. The trouble is, the readers of the Birmingham Mail are going to get my version of history. And I’m just a little bit pissed.”
He then said, “Thank God for the BBC, because I’m cutting and pasting, baby!”
Smith ended his rant with a “fuck you” resignation from the Birmingham Mail, saying, “My name is Adam Smith, also known as Steve Zacharanda, who has just resigned from the Birmingham Mail, the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Sunday Mercury, to set up my own magazine…Fuckk you, I’m doing what I want.”
The Times reports that Smith’s employment status is now very much up in the air:
Steve Dyson, editor of the Birmingham Mail, said: “This is an internal matter, so we cannot discuss it.”
Asked about the company’s attitude towards plagarism, he added: “Whilst we cannot discuss internal matters, plagarism will not be tolerated in any form by BTM Media Limited – although we do not believe that any has been taking place.”
In a further comment left the next morning by Mr Smith on the YouTube page, he appeared to have sobered up significantly.
“Right, the thing is, right I’ve just woke up. And seen this video, which I don’t really remember. I’ve been told to phone the Birmingham Mail because I am in trouble.
“I was off duty, I am on official holiday working at the South Beach Miami Barack Obama campaign where I had just done a 18-hour shift trying to make the world a better place. Please check every BBC News outlet and see if I have cut and pasted anything. I have not, it was a joke and should be taken in the spirit it was said.”
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman is not sure which direction he is going in the Senate leadership.
WASHINGTON — As election returns in Oregon gave Democrats a sixth new seat in the Senate, Democratic leaders on Thursday began to confront some of the crucial personnel questions that would shape the next Congress, including the fate of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut after his ardent backing of Senator John McCain for president.
In the House, lawmakers continued their scramble for leadership positions, including an opening created by the appointment of Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, as the new White House chief of staff.
At the same time, the Republican whip, Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, announced that he was stepping down, apparently sparing the party a fight over its No. 2 post. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia is expected to be chosen for that job.
But the most immediate question was the fate of Mr. Lieberman, an independent who proved crucial over the last two years in the party’s 51-to-49 edge.
That majority existed only because he and another independent, Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, caucused with the Democrats. But Democrats were in the minority on issues related to national security and the war in Iraq because Mr. Lieberman in those cases voted with Republicans.
With the Democrats now guaranteed to hold at least 56 seats without Mr. Lieberman, he could be stripped of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, a move that could prompt him to join the Republicans.
The majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, met with Mr. Lieberman for a half-hour Thursday and issued a terse statement saying no decisions had been made. Aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Reid had suggested that Mr. Lieberman relinquish his chairmanship in exchange for a less prominent position.
At a brief news conference after the meeting, Mr. Lieberman promised to support President-elect Barack Obama, but he did not disclose his plans and did not take questions.
Many Democrats say Mr. Lieberman had crossed a line not only by endorsing Mr. McCain, his longtime friend, but also serving as one of his closest advisers and by sharply questioning Mr. Obama’s qualifications to be president. Some Senate Democrats and aides say it is unthinkable to let Mr. Lieberman head a committee that will conduct oversight of the Obama administration.
Mr. Reid restated the dismay felt by many Democrats. “While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus,” he said.
Mr. Lieberman, at his brief news conference, said he was considering his options, but he did not specify what those options were or indicate when he would make a decision.
“The election is over,” he said. “And I completely agree with President-elect Obama that we must now unite to get our economy going again and to keep the American people safe. That is exactly what I intend to do with my colleagues here in the Senate in support of our new president, and those are the standards I will use in considering the options that I have before me.”
Complicating the shuffle in committee assignments is the impending departure of Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., the senior senator from Delaware.
Both will be replaced by Democrats, but their departures, particularly that of Mr. Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, create numerous openings.
Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, who is next in line for the Foreign Relations Committee post, said on Thursday that he would forgo that job in favor of retaining his chairmanship of the banking committee.
Mr. Dodd, at a news conference, said that the economy would be the most pressing issue of the next Congress and that he planned to oversee a revamping of the financial regulatory structure.
The Democratic leadership is also considering who will take the lead on the issue of national health care policy given the precarious state of Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, chairman of the health committee, who has brain cancer.
And Democrats are contemplating a delicate effort to replace Senator Robert C. Byrd Jr. of West Virginia, who turns 91 this month, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Mr. Byrd is the senior Senate Democrat, but some colleagues worry that he is no longer up to running the most powerful committee at a time of severe economic uncertainty.
The sixth new Democratic senator is Jeff Merkley, the speaker of the Oregon House, who defeated Senator Gordon H. Smith, a two-term Republican. Unofficial returns gave Mr. Smith, who conceded on Thursday, 45.7 percent to Mr. Merkley’s 48.8 percent.
Officials continued to count votes in Alaska, where the Republican incumbent, Senator Ted Stevens, held a narrow lead over the Democrat, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage. And in Georgia, the candidates were gearing up for a Dec. 2 runoff after Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, appeared to fall short of the 50 percent required for victory. Mr. Chambliss had 49.8 percent while his Democratic challenger, Jim Martin, had 46.8 percent. In Minnesota, a recount was under way after the Republican incumbent, Senator Norm Coleman, finished ahead of the Democrat, Al Franken, by fewer than 400 votes.
Some Democratic senators said they could envision situations in which Mr. Lieberman retained his chairmanship. But the addition of at least six new Democrats makes it difficult for Mr. Reid to counter the arguments of caucus members who say Mr. Lieberman must be punished for his zealous efforts on behalf of Mr. McCain.
The decision will be made by the 19-member Democratic steering committee, which proposes chairmanships and committee assignments for ratification by the entire Democratic caucus. Mr. Reid said Mr. Lieberman would meet with the caucus in the next two weeks.
Mr. Emanuel’s decision to join the White House staff opens up the chairmanship of the House Democratic Caucus, the No. 4 position. Representative John B. Larson of Connecticut, the vice chairman, has announced his interest. Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who led the campaign effort for House Democrats, will also probably be a candidate.
In the Republican ranks, Mr. Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 party leader, said he would step down, keeping a promise he had made to leave if the Republicans did not win back the House in 2008.
“I’m going to see what it is like to be a member of Congress,” said Mr. Blunt, who has been in leadership roles since 1999.
The two parties will hold House leadership elections the week of Nov. 17. At the moment, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, is not being challenged for the top slot despite double-digit losses by Republicans for a second consecutive election.
Representative Mike Pence of Indiana is running for the vacant No. 3 post of conference chairman and has Mr. Boehner’s backing.
Barack Obama’s motorcade had an unexpected occurrence while ferrying the president-elect to a security briefing at Chicago FBI headquarters Thursday morning.
As the motorcade pulled onto Van Buren, towards the Loop, a couple in a tan sedan tried to drive around the heavily-armed line of vehicles, wrote pool reporter P.J. Hufstutter of the Los Angeles Times:
The SUV cut the car off immediately, and the security team aimed their weapons at the car. The driver and passenger in the sedan stopped, and looked stunned — until the male driver appeared to understand what was happening (your pool reporter could see him mouth “Obama”). The motorcade continued on. The sedan remained stopped, near the side of the road. [...] Some of the drivers here in Chicago do not seem to understand that a) the Chicago police car at the end of the president-elect’s motorcade is serious about having traffic pull over when the officers flash their lights and hit their sirens, and b) it’s not a great idea to jump ahead of traffic by trying to cut around the black SUV filled with five heavily-armed secret service CAT members.
Here’s the full Bachmann interview with Chris Matthews’ Hardball which almost cost Rep. Michele Bachmann her seat. But more frightening than this singular interview ~ was the overall direction that the Republican Party was preparing to take once elected. Dividing the country into pro-American and anti-American areas, its people into God and the Godless and advocating for McCarthy style checking of ‘liberal’ members of Congress for possible pro and anti-American leanings. Where was McCain planning to take the country if he were elected and how was he planning to control these elements of his Party?
Bachmann praises Obama’s win, now
After suggesting that Barack Obama had anti-American views in an exchange three weeks ago with MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told Politico Thursday that she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” She called his victory “a tremendous signal we sent.”
“I have not seen the United States as a racist nation,” said Bachmann, who represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in the east-central part of the state. “In my district, I don’t sense racism, and that’s why I’m thankful that hopefully this will send a national signal across our country that America is not a nation made up of racists. … On the same hand, I hope that the national media will not confuse disagreement with Obama’s policy positions with being consumed [by] racism.”
Some analysts had written off the linguistically intemperate Bachmann as a casualty of her calamitous “Hardball” interview, but she graduated to being a sophomore in the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s election.
In a telephone interview, Bachman said she was gratified that voters in her district didn’t “let the media intervene” in the race, which she ultimately won by three points over Democratic challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg. But in surveying the wreckage to her party that the election wrought, Bachmann was quick to acknowledge that, going forward, “clearly the views and opinions of conservatives won’t be prevailing.”
As she looks ahead to her next term in Congress, Bachmann, a former U.S. Treasury attorney who now sits on the Financial Services Committee, said she’s hoping for a spot on the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel charged with writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs. Minnesota Rep. Jim Ramstad, a nine-term Republican who is retiring, is currently the only Minnesotan on that committee.
“My husband and I were Joe the Plumbers,” said Bachmann, referring to the 42-employee Christian therapy business she and her husband started, as well as the ubiquitous plumber from Ohio who was elevated to the status of Everyman during the campaign. “I think my business background and tax background works very well on Ways and Means.”
Bachmann said that she had always expected her race to tighten toward the end, but she seemed willing to accept the connection between her gaffe on “Hardball” and the closeness of her race.
“My opponent did not do a stellar job fundraising,” Bachmann said, noting that it was only after her interview on MSNBC that “there was money coming from [the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and outside money, and that significantly impacted race.” Fundraising records show that her challenger raised more than $1.3 million in a week.
“What that did is, it opened the door for a phenomenal outpouring of negative media coverage. It was the echo chamber of the left media, and it was overwhelming, and that was difficult to overcome that level of vitriol.”
Bachmann said that aggressive Democratic organizing in her district this year, combined with the “great resources they had in trying to defeat me in ’06” made reelection a breakneck climb.
“I had laid a strong foundation,” Bachmann said, explaining how she pulled out the win. “That is something we knew all along. For two years I worked enormously hard in the district.”
“People knew that I am a serious member of Congress, that I take issues seriously, and that I worked extremely hard. … They know I’m not a nuanced politician that waffles and changes my mind with whatever is popular at the moment.”
After raising her national profile in cable news interviews about the presidential race and energy issues, Bachmann said her primary focus going forward will be the concerns of her constituents. She said her party would have to wait to see the specifics of the Democratic agenda, then offer “positive” alternatives.
“It was a decisive win [for Democrats] on every level: presidency, House and Senate,” Bachmann said. “Even in Minnesota, we passed a state sales tax increase. That’s pretty phenomenal when you think about the difficult environment of the economy. The fact we could pass a tax increase and have such a strong Democratic showing … it just shows what an overpowering Democratic year this was, and that’s why I feel very gratified to have survived the storm.”
Presser will kick off in Chicago at 2:30 pm ET. Read more details here.
Aides say he plans to stay home through the weekend with a blackout on news announcements so he and his staff can get some rest.
Nadar is saying Obama’s foreign policy will be like that of George Bush – but how could Obama go about restoring America’s image in the world – and indeed taking allies concerns into account – if he were to follow Bush’s lead. We could assume that there may be something an Obama administration may not be able to change or undo in the near future – but his idea is to change direction. And to put America on a technological rather than a military path. Bush didn’t consider technology and scientific research that important – there was article on CNet – when Bush came to Silicon Valley – to talk about alternative energy – the reporter said that the most exiting thing Bush say was that while he was in the area – he looked forward to going mountain biking (or similar) over the weekend, but what many in this room of people wanted to hear is how Bush would enlist them in developing these new forms of energy and the money for it and a plan.
Contrast this to Barack Obama – who says – look what they are doing in China – they just sent a man into space – and we need to be ready to compete. It’s an aggressive plan for technology, for the education that forms the backbone of this new development.
And besides who’s going to pay for it – the Bush agenda has practically bankrupted the nation.
Nadar should stand down – for the moment.
(CHICAGO) — President-elect Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers Thursday, returning calls from world leaders who reached out after his presidential victory.
Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the president-elect spoke to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Sarkozy’s office says they spoke for 30 minutes and characterized the discussion as “extremely warm” as the president congratulated Obama on a “brilliant” election victory. The statement said they discussed international issues, particularly the financial crisis, and agreed to meet in the “quite near future.”
Harper’s office said in a statement that they spoke about an international financial summit in Washington on Nov. 15 and its importance for addressing the global financial crisis. Obama had no plans to attend the meeting.
The prime minister’s office says the two leaders emphasized that there could be no closer friends and allies than the United States and Canada and vowed to maintain and further build upon the relationship. Harper’s office called it a warm exchange and said they agreed to talk again soon.
Calderon’s office said Obama pledged continued U.S. support for Mexico’s fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. A statement from the Mexican president’s office says Obama told Calderon he was “conscious of the difficulty of the battle” and offered “decisive” U.S. support.
Congress approved $400 million in anti-drug aid for Mexico last June, but has yet to release the money.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday congratulated Obama on his election win in a letter, — the first time an Iranian leader has offered such wishes to a U.S. president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian leader also said he hopes Obama will “use the opportunity to serve the (American) people and leave a good name for history” during his term in office.
In his conversation with Lee, Obama said the U.S.-South Korea alliance is a “cornerstone” of Asia’s peace and stability, and promised improved relations between the countries, Seoul’s presidential office said.
The United States helped defend South Korea during the Korean war and is its No. 1 ally. About 28,500 American troops are still stationed there to deter threats from communist North Korea.
Brown’s Downing Street office says he and Obama spoke about several issues, including reform of the global financial system. Britain’s Press Association newswire said the two had a “very friendly and positive” 10-minute conversation, covering topics including the world economy, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Middle East peace process.
Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd told reporters in Sydney that he spoke by telephone with Obama Friday to congratulate him on his historic win and discuss the various challenges the lie ahead for the world, chief among them the global financial crisis. The two also talked about the issues of national security and climate change during the 10- to 15-minute conversation, Rudd said.
“It was a good conversation, it was a friendly conversation,” Rudd said. “The challenges we face are great….But I believe we have a strong partner in the U.S.”
Black Pope could follow Barack Obama’s election, says US archbishopRichard Owen in Rome
The election of Barack Obama as the first African-American US President could pave the way for the election of the first black Pope, according to a leading black American Catholic.
Wilton Daniel Gregory, 60, the Archbishop of Atlanta, said that in the past Pope Benedict XVI had himself suggested that the election of a black pontiff would “send a splendid signal to the world” about the universal Church.
Archbishop Gregory, who in 2001 became the first African American to head the US Bishops Conference, serving for three years, said that the election of Mr Obama was “a great step forward for humanity and a sign that in the United States the problem of racial discrimination has been overcome”. Like Mr Obama Archbishop Gregory comes from Chicago, and was previously Bishop of Belleville, Illinois.
He said that recent Popes, beginning with John XXIII and Paul VI, had brought prelates “from all nations and races” to Rome to take up senior positions in the Curia, the Vatican hierarchy. This offered “an international vision of a Church rich in diversity”, he told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Pope Benedict — whose next encyclical is on globalisation and social justice — had a “world outlook” as a theologian whose thought had “opened hearts and minds on five continents”, Archbishop Gregory said. The former Joseph Ratzinger, who as a young man in his native Germany had witnessed “the horrors of the Second World War”, spoke a “universal language”.
Archbishop Gregory said that the next time cardinals gathered to elect a Pope they could “in their wisdom” choose an African pontiff. “My own election as head of the US Bishops Conference was an important signal. In 2001 the American bishops elected someone they respected regardless of his race, and the same thing could happen with the election of a Pope.”
He said that in a papal conclave, the cardinal-electors were “guided by the Holy Spirit to choose the person who best responds to the exigences of the moment”. At the last conclave in 2005, after the death of John Paul II, it was widely thought that the cardinals would choose a Third World pontiff, perhaps from Africa or Latin America.
The choice of Cardinal Ratzinger, who had been at John Paul II’s side for over twenty years as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was seen by many as a vote for a man who embodied continuity and had stressed the need to shore up the faith in the West itself in an age of secularism and materialism.
This week Pope Benedict XVI congratulated Mr Obama on his “historic” victory, offering his prayers for the President-elect “and for all the people of the United States”.
Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said that the Pope’s message was “personal” and would therefore not be published. However he said that the papal message referred to the “historic occasion” of the election and congratulated Mr Obama, his wife and family.
“He assured him of his prayers that God would help him with his high responsibilities for his country and for the international community,” Father Lombardi said. The Pope had also prayed that “the blessing of God would sustain him and the American people so that with all people of good will they could build a world of peace, solidarity and justice.” The message was sent via Mary Ann Glendon, the US ambassador to the Holy See.
The Presidential Transition Project is the enormous effort of hundreds of people coming together to lay out the agenda and priorities for the Obama Administration. Led by President-Elect Barack Obama, Vice-President Elect Joe Biden, a transition advisory board, and respected leaders from both the public and private sector, the transition is responsible for ensuring that the transfer of power from the current administration to the Obama Administration is smooth and that the continuity of leadership is preserved.
The Transition Project is also tasked with reviewing hundreds of agencies and programs in the federal government and selecting new personnel to manage these important offices. Among the personnel that will be selected will be new Cabinet members, national security and federal law enforcement officials, non-career appointments, and other heads of agencies across the Executive Branch.
We will keep this transition process transparent, so that you will know which officials are being selected to serve in this administration and lead the country for the next four years. All staff appointments chosen for this administration will be committed to fulfilling Obama’s campaign promises, to rebuilding our government, and to serving the American people again.
Following up on his historical campaign, Barack Obama has debuted a new website, Change.gov. He also set out a five point plan to change America and an interactive way for Americans to share their ideas on the website.
Here’s Obama’s Agenda