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Israeli President Shimon Peres to visit White House next week

File Picture : U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) at the White House May 5, 2009 in Washington DC. The two leaders discussed peace between Israel and the Palestinians and how best to deal with Iran. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — U.S. President Barack Obama will meet his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres at the White House next Tuesday to discuss a “full range of issues of common concern, ” the White House said on Thursday, XINHUA reported.

The issues include bilateral security cooperation, recent developments across the Middle East and the pursuit of peace between Israel and its neighbors, the White House said.

It said that Shimon Peres last visited the White House in May 2009.  (*)

 

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in World News

 

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U.S. first lady Michelle Obama to write book about White House garden

File pic : First lady Michelle Obama holds dill while harvesting vegetables in the White House garden with school kids in Washington June 4, 2010. Photo : Reuters/Larry Downing



WASHINGTON DC, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) – U.S. first lady Michelle Obama will write a book about the kitchen garden she started at the White House and her efforts to promote healthy eating, the Crown publishing group said on Wednesday.

As reported by REUTERS on Thursday, the as yet untitled book will be published in April 2012, and will see Michelle Obama describing how she was inspired to plant the first edible garden on the White House’s South Lawn since Eleanor Roosevelt’s World War Two era “victory garden.”

She will also share some of her family’s favorite healthy recipes, said Crown, a unit of Random House publishers.

Crown said Michelle Obama received no advance and would donate the proceeds to a charity to be determined later.

The book will include photos of Obama’s White House garden as well as other community, urban and school gardens around the United States,

The first lady has been a strong advocate of healthy eating and exercise and in February 2010 launched her “Let’s Move!” initiative aimed at beating child obesity and improving the quality of food in U.S. schools.   (*)

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in World News

 

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Obama chooses William Daley as chief of staff

.S. President Barack Obama (L) welcomes newly appointed White House Chief of Staff William Daley (L) after making an announcement about the position in the East Room of the White House January 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. Daley, formerly with JP Morgan Chase, replaces Rahm Emanuel who resigned in October. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON, Jan 06 (KATAKAMI /AP)  – President Barack Obama named veteran political manager William Daley to be his new chief of staff Thursday, selecting a centrist with Wall Street ties to help navigate a newly divided Congress and a looming re-election.

“Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job,” Obama told reporters in the East Room as Daley, 62, stood at his side.

“But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise, and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people,” the president said.

The appointment represented the most significant move in a far-reaching and ongoing staff shakeup that included the departure of Obama’s press secretary and several key deputies and economic advisers. It came the day after Republicans officially assumed control of the House and increased their numbers in the Senate.

Daley, who served as commerce secretary for President Bill Clinton, offers criteria Obama wants for the new environment in Washington: an outsider’s perspective, credibility with the business community, familiarity with the ways of the Cabinet and experience in navigating divided government.

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) thanks interim White House Chief of Staff Pete Rouse (L) while announcing the new White House Chief of Staff William Daley (R) in the East Room of the White House January 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. Daley, formerly with JP Morgan Chase, replaces Rahm Emanuel who resigned in October. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“I’m convinced that he’ll help us in our mission of growing our economy and moving America forward,” Obama said.

Daley made a pledge to the president: “This team will not let you down — nor the nation.”

Daley replaces Pete Rouse, the interim chief of the last three months and a behind-the-scenes Obama adviser who did not want the position permanently and recommended Daley for it. Rouse, who received warm praise from Obama and sustained applause from staffers watching in the East Room, will remain as a counselor to the president, an elevated position from his former job as senior adviser.

Daley was expected to start as chief of staff within the next couple of weeks. His brother, Richard Daley, is the mayor of Chicago, the post that Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, left his job in October to seek. The Daley brothers are sons of Richard J. Daley, who was Chicago’s mayor from 1955 to his death in 1976.

Although Chicago is also Obama’s hometown, the president has not had a close relationship with his new chief of staff. But Obama alluded to the Daley political legacy, joking that he “has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait.”

Daley will assume one of the most important and influential jobs in American government as an adviser and gatekeeper to Obama. He will be thrust into the heart of national politics just as Obama adapts to a new reality in Washington, with Republicans working to gut his signature health care law and pushing for major cuts in spending.

Although Daley has not sought elective office himself, he has long been immersed in politics.

He helped Clinton pass the North American Free Trade Agreement before joining his Cabinet. Later, he ran Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and the historic recount effort that ended with Gore conceding the race to George W. Bush.

When Obama launched his presidential campaign, the Daley family put aside its deep connections to Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton and endorsed the young Illinois senator. Until then, Obama and the Daleys had largely operated separately in Illinois politics — not helping each other much but not attacking each other, either. After Obama’s victory, Daley helped oversee the presidential transition.

Daley, a lawyer and banker, now serves as Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase. His appointment could raise questions about the White House’s closeness with Wall Street just as Obama is eager to enforce reforms that benefit the little guy.

Liberal groups reacted negatively to the announcement, with MoveOn.org calling it “troubling” because of Daley’s “close ties to the big banks and big business.” By contrast, the choice won praise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which Obama has recently begun to woo after clashes with business groups. The chamber called Daley “a man of stature and extraordinary experience in government, business, trade negotiations and global affairs.”

The reactions underscored Obama’s determination to play to the middle as he ramps up for his re-election fight in 2012, even if it means alienating allies on the left.

Daley laid out his political ideology last year upon joining the board of Third Way, a moderate Democratic think tank.

“We must acknowledge that the left’s agenda has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, we must steer a more moderate course,” he said at the time.

Obama is ushering in changes across his senior leadership — the result of internal staff fatigue, a need to shift energy and people to Obama’s re-election campaign, and an adaptation to the fresh limits on Obama’s power. Although many of the names of the players may not be familiar to the electorate, the collective personnel changes will influence not just Obama but the national agenda.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced Wednesday he was resigning by early February, senior adviser David Axelrod will be leaving soon, and both of Obama’s deputy chiefs of staff, Jim Messina and Mona Sutphen, are exiting soon, too. David Plouffe, a key member of Obama’s inner circle as his former presidential campaign manager, will be joining the senior staff of the White House on Monday.

Daley emerged as a natural candidate for the chief of staff post, particularly after other internal candidates ended up in other positions. He is close to some of those in Obama’s orbit, including Axelrod, Emanuel and senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.  (*)

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2011 in World News

 

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US condemns North Korean attack on South Korea

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak receives a briefing at the control centre of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Defence Ministry in Seoul November 23, 2010. North Korea on Tuesday fired dozens of artillery shells at a South Korean island, setting buildings on fire and prompting a return of fire by the South, Seoul's military and media reports said. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jo Bo-Hee/Yonhap )

November 23, 2010 WASHINGTON (KATAKAMI / AP) – The White House on Tuesday condemned North Korea’s artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, the latest in a series of provocations that have reawakened concerns about the threat posed by the communist country and its reclusive leadership.

In a statement released before dawn, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on North Korea to “to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the armistice agreement,” the 1953 pact that ended the Korean War.

North Korea fired barrages of artillery onto a South Korean island near their disputed western border Tuesday, setting buildings ablaze and killing at least two marines after warning the South to halt military drills in the area, South Korean officials said.

Gibbs said the White House “is in close and continuing contact” with the South Korean government.

“The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability,” he said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell concurred with Obama in condemning the attack.

“As the people of the Republic of Korea question what new belligerent action may come from the North, they should not have any question that the people and forces of the United States stand ready as a devoted ally committed to the defense of their nation,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “I join the president in his strong condemnation of what is sadly just the latest in a long string of hostile actions. North Korea’s neighbors should unite in condemning this attack.”

A senior administration official said the president was woken up shortly before 4 a.m. by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who updated the president on the situation. Obama will get further updates during his daily intelligence briefing before heading to Indiana, where he’s scheduled to make remarks on the economy.

None of the more than 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea were involved in the military drills, said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman in Washington.

U.S. troops have participated in the annual exercise in the past, said Marine Col. Dave Lapan, another Defense Department spokesman at the Pentagon. An earlier plan to have U.S. Marines participate in a landing maneuver with the South Koreans this year didn’t work out because of American scheduling issues, Lapan said Tuesday.

The attack came amid high tension over North Korea’s claim that it has a new uranium enrichment facility and just six weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il unveiled his youngest son Kim Jong Un as his heir apparent.

On Monday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters the administration is studying the evidence a group of visiting American scientists used to conclude the North was building the enrichment facility, which presumably could be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

“We will not be drawn into rewarding North Korea for bad behavior,” he said. “They frequently anticipate doing something outrageous or provocative and forcing us to jump through hoops as a result. We’re not going to buy into this cycle.”

The North’s artillery on Tuesday struck the small South Korean-held island of Yeonpyeong, which houses military installations and a small civilian population and which has been the focus of two previous deadly battles between the Koreas.

South Korea returned fire and dispatched fighter jets in response, and said there could be considerable North Korean casualties as troops unleashed retaliatory fire. The supreme military command in Pyongyang threatened more strikes if the South crossed its maritime border by “even 0.001 millimeter,” according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Earlier this month, during a speech to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, President Barack Obama said: “Pyongyang should not be mistaken: The United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. We will not waver.” (*)

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in World News

 

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