All Articles Tagged "international relations"
(AP) — Boxing champ Muhammad Ali is asking Iran to release two American hikers held since 2009 on spy charges. Ali, arguably the most prominent U.S. Muslim, on Wednesday released to The Associated Press a letter he wrote to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in February. The letter asks Khameini to release Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were arrested while hiking in northern Iraq near the Iranian border. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released on bail in September. ”Please show the world the compassion I know you have in your heart,” he wrote, asking Khamenei as a brother in Islam to show the same mercy and compassion for the two men as he did for Shourd. Ali also wrote a letter to Khamenei shortly before Shourd was released, though it was unclear whether it had any effect.
(Network Journal) — As the Egyptian government and opposition figures met for talks earlier this month, the country’s financial system, businesses and traffic seemed to begin to creep back toward normal. The massive protest against 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, insisting that he step down, sparked outflows of funds and a clamor for the U.S. dollar, weakening the Egyptian pound. Analysts at French investment bank Credit Agricole said the turmoil was costing Egypt at least $310 million a day. Fueled by fury over financial deprivation, the unrest in Egypt threatens to diminish the country’s economic growth. The stock market plummeted 20 percent within a week as investors fled in droves, undermining a vibrant private sector led by a construction boom and vibrant. The protests in Egypt, triggered by an uprising in Tunisia that led to the departure of President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power, spotlight popular distaste for “Big Man” politics elsewhere in Africa, where autocratic leaders are increasingly resisting change and struggling to hang on to power at all costs. These leaders may not last very long, however. “The region is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trend,” warns U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets in Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region. The status quo is simply unsustainable.” Among recent holdovers, Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, accused of stealing an election and plunging his country into a deadly civil conflict in late 2007; Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, accused of doing the same in 2008; and Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo, who lost elections in November but has so far refused to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally-backed winner.
(New York Times) — Michelle Obama, who has planted a vegetable garden, swiveled a hula hoop, done yoga poses, lobbied Congress and crisscrossed the United States to promote the virtues of healthy eating and exercise, wants to take her campaign to reduce childhood obesity to a bigger audience: the global one. During a wide-ranging luncheon interview with reporters, Mrs. Obama said she intended to spend part of the coming year shaping a more international message, with a possible focus on issues of maternal and child health. She expects to talk about fighting obesity when she travels with President Obama overseas, she said. “What I find internationally, and Barack says the same thing, is whenever he meets with a world leader, one of the first things they ask him about is the garden, because the issue of obesity is becoming an international issue,” Mrs. Obama said, adding that “many first ladies have begun to think about how they’re going to deal with this issue.” The interview kicked off a two-day media blitz by Mrs. Obama for the first anniversary of her healthy eating and exercise campaign, “Let’s Move!” She will appear Wednesday on “The Today Show” and “Live with Regis and Kelly,” deliver a speech in Atlanta and introduce a public service announcement that, she said, has the potential to reach more than 200 million viewers.
(Washington Post) — The Obama administration firmly aligned itself on Sunday with the protest movement that has overtaken Egypt, calling for an “orderly transition” to a more representative government amid rising U.S. concern that the demonstrations are turning violent and that unrest could spread across the Arab world. In telephone calls to Egyptian and regional leaders, President Obama and his top national security advisers tried to reassure them that their countries remain vital U.S. strategic partners, while warning that the political status quo is not sustainable.
(Wall Street Journal) — This week’s independence referendum in southern Sudan marks an apparent victory for U.S. foreign policy in east Africa—one that has secured for Washington a deeper advisory role in what is expected to be the birth of a new, impoverished nation. As southern Sudanese cast votes through Saturday on whether to separate from Sudan’s north, they are expected to choose independence overwhelmingly. Southern officials said Wednesday that turnout for the referendum—the culmination of decades of civil wars between the mostly Christian south and predominantly Muslim north that has left millions dead and millions more displaced—had reached the 60% threshold required to validate the results.
(Harvard Crimson) — In an address that drew from her background in academia and politics, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the “ups and downs” of U.S. and international policy towards Africa last night at the Institute of Politics. Emphasizing the need for African nations to maintain their sovereignty and the relationship between African independence and international stability, Rice criticized American foreign policy in the region. Rice, who served as national security advisor and secretary of state under President George W. Bush, spoke about her trips to Africa, noting that the continent has not always received the international aid it needs.
(New York Times) — A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats. Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks posted 220 cables, some redacted to protect diplomatic sources, in the first installment of the archive on its Web site on Sunday.
(NYT) — A federal appeals court dealt a setback on Tuesday to the Bloomberg administration’s seven-year effort to collect taxes on space in diplomatic missions that the city says is not used for diplomatic purposes.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of India and Mongolia, which had challenged the city’s efforts to collect more than $50 million in taxes and interest. It was unclear if the decision would affect the city’s ability to collect taxes from other countries’ missions.