Tales from the Trail

President Obama speaks about the U.S. and European economies

President Obama will speak about the U.S. economy and the situation in Europe at 10:15am ET on Friday.

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Has U.S. “missed the boat” on long-range renewable energy planning?

OBAMA/There was President Barack Obama, working a friendly crowd in Henderson, Nevada, not far from Las Vegas. And then a sympathetic comment from a French businessman who wants to see U.S. regulation of climate-warming greenhouse emissions seemed to get the president all wound up.

After noting that the weather has been particularly wild lately — five feet of snow in Washington DC, rain at the Vancouver Olympics — Obama said the best way to “unleash” dynamism in the energy market is to set fuel efficiency standards, notably for cars.

“If you’ve got a fuel-efficiency standard in place that says your car needs to get 20 miles a gallon or 30 miles a gallon, suddenly all these engineers are thinking, well, how do we do that?  And all these companies start coming up with new technologies that make your cars more fuel-efficient.  Ultimately, you end up seeing jobs and businesses thriving in response to the regulation that’s been put there,” Obama told the town hall meeting.

So is Clinton advising Obama on healthcare? White House won’t say

President Barack Obama turned his chief rival in the 2008 Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton, into his secretary of state, but is he tapping her for advice on healthcare reform too?
 
Not clear. Clinton, who spearheaded a failed attempt to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system in the 1990s while her husband, Bill Clinton, was president, will be in Europe on Thursday, when Obama holds a “summit” on healthcare reform.
 
So has the White House consulted with the former first lady about the issue? OBAMA/
 
“You know, I don’t know if they have had wide-ranging conversations specifically with Secretary Clinton,” spokesman Robert Gibbs told a White House briefing.
 
“There are still a number of people around that were part of that effort that can be consulted,” he said.
 
Clinton’s failed efforts in the 90s were widely blamed for hurting her husband’s adminstration, with critics citing the secrecy of the process as one of its downfalls.
 
Thursday’s summit is meant to set a process in motion to reduce healthcare costs and extend insurance benefits to millions of Americans who are not covered.
 
Gibbs hinted that the White House would not repeat the former first lady’s mistakes.
 
“I think even those involved in previous efforts would acknowledge misgivings that they had about the way the process worked,” he said. “Tomorrow’s effort is intended to bring about a process that people can be assured is open.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lemarque (Obama and Clinton at the State Deptarment on January 22)

from FaithWorld:

Can the United States fix Durban II?

The United States has decided to participate in planning meetings for the United Nations Conference on Racism in April in order to influence its final declaration. The conference, a follow-up to the 2001 meeting in South Africa that the U.S. and Israel walked out on because the draft declaration called Israel racist (that language was later dropped). Israel and Canada have already announced they would boycott "Durban II," as the conference is being called, and the Bush administration was opposed to the conference. But the Obama administration has decided to wade into the debate in the hopes of getting a better result. (Photo: United Nations General Assembly, 26 Sept 2008/Eric Thayer)

Apart from the expected criticism of Israel, this conference in Geneva is also due to be a showplace for a drive by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to have the U.N. condemn defamation of religion. The U.N. General Assembly voted for just such a condemnation last December, for the fourth year running. While the non-binding resolution urged member states to provide "adaquate protection against acts of hatred, discrumination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general," the only religion it mentioned by name was Islam. Western countries opposed that resolution as contrary to the basic rights of free expression and opinion.

In statements in December, the freedom of expression rapporteurs of the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have called on the United Nations not to issue any such resolution.

Obama says odds of winning White House ‘very good’

ARLINGTON, Va. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama likes his chances in the White House battle with Republican John McCain, telling a fundraising reception the odds of his winning are “very good.”
    
“Let’s face it, there weren’t too many people who thought we were going to pull this off,” Obama told a fundraiser attended by about 40 people on Monday in Arlington, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington.
    
“We are now in a position where the odds of us winning are very good. But it is still going to be difficult.”
    
Obama said he was pleased with his trip to Europe and the Middle East — “we executed very well” — but did not expect it to give him a big bump in polls.
    
He said people were still evaluating his candidacy because he was a new face in national politics.
    
“I don’t look like any presidential candidate America has ever seen,” said Obama, the son of a black African father and white mother from Kansas who spent part of his youth in Indonesia.
    
“It’s not just a function of race, it’s background, experience, resume — this is new for them, and new for us as a country,” he said. He expects a close race to the end.
    
“We’re not going to see some huge gap develop, some huge separation develop between now and Nov. 4,” he said. “This is going to be a close election for a long time because I’m new on the national scene. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage:  
http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/2008candidates 
   

from Ask...:

Can a new president repair relations with Europe?

A man holds a banner reading 'Obama For Chancellor' before a speech of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama during his visit in Berlin July 24, 2008.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke at the "Victory Column" in Berlin's Tiergarten park in front of thousands of Germans and tourists in his only formal address during his week-long foreign tour. He called on Europe to stand by the United States in bringing stability to Afghanistan and confronting other threats from climate change to nuclear proliferation.

Relations between the United States and Germany reached a post-war low under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who strongly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He said Germany would "not click its heels" and follow President Bush into war -- a position that tapped into wells of German pacifism but infuriated Bush. But Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up behind the Wall in the communist East, has worked hard to repair ties with the U.S. and has emerged as one of Bush's closest allies in Europe.

Barack Obama and Angel MerkelObama and Merkel met for the first time on Thursday and touched on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East peace, climate change and the global economy during their talk.