Tags: Obama | Snubs | Berlin

Obama Snubs Berlin Wall Ceremonies

By    |   Sunday, 08 November 2009 05:07 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama Snubs Berlin Wall Ceremonies
2. FEMA: Illegal Aliens Can Get Disaster Aid
3. White House Staffers Called 'Campaign Hacks'
4. Obama's Brother: Our Father Was an Abuser
5. Barbara Walters to Interview Sarah Palin
6. Israeli Hackers Uncovered Syrian Nuke Site: Report
7. We Heard: Dick Morris, Kenneth Feinberg, Rick Warren

1. Obama Snubs Berlin Wall Ceremonies

President Barack Obama's decision to spurn German President Angela Merkel's invitation to attend ceremonies commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago is "the most telling nonevent of his presidency."

That's the view of National Review Editor Rich Lowry, who notes that Obama has visited more foreign countries than any other president during his first year in office, yet has begged off going to Berlin to celebrate the Nov. 9 anniversary because of a crowded schedule.

"It's hard to imagine any other American president eschewing the occasion," Lowry writes.

"Wouldn't Obama at least want to take the occasion to celebrate freedom and human rights — those most cherished liberal values? Not necessarily. He has mostly jettisoned them as foreign-policy goals in favor of a misbegotten realism that soft-pedals the crimes of nasty regimes around the world.

"During the Cold War, we undermined our enemies by shining a bright light on their repression," Lowry writes. "In Berlin, JFK called out the Communists on their 'offense against humanity.' Obama would utter such a phrase only with the greatest trepidation, lest it undermine a future opportunity for dialogue."

The Berlin Wall came down because the free world, led by America, stood resolute against communist tyranny. But for Obama, "we are less an exceptional power than one among many, seeking deals with our peers in Beijing and Moscow," Lowry observes.

"Why would Obama want to celebrate the refuseniks of the Eastern Bloc when he won't even meet with the Dalai Lama in advance of his trip to China?"

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2. FEMA: Illegal Aliens Can Get Disaster Aid

A recent directive from two disaster-relief agencies reveals that taxpayer money can be used to help illegal aliens recover from floods and other calamities.

Following September's flooding in Georgia, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) issued a joint statement assuring "foreign nationals here legally" that they were eligible for disaster aid.

In addition to people with a legal permanent resident card — known as a "green card" — "other non-citizens who can apply with FEMA include those with legal resident status because of asylum, refugee status, parole status, suspension of deportation status or status as victims of domestic violence," according to the statement.

But only one member of a household needs to be eligible to qualify the entire household for aid, Government Security News observes.

"So parents and guardians may apply for assistance on behalf of a minor child here legally," according to FEMA and GEMA.

In other words, an alien with a child who was born in the United States and is therefore a citizen can receive disaster aid even if that alien is in the country illegally.

And in the case of a household with "mixed immigration status," the statement notes, "FEMA does not collect information on the immigration status of other household members."

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3. White House Staffers Called 'Campaign Hacks'

The Barack Obama presidency is foundering because his White House is staffed with "campaign hacks" who are ill-equipped to govern effectively, Forbes magazine columnist Dan Gerstein declares.

Gerstein said he was moved to write about the staffers after Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina was quoted as saying about his White House peers: "We are all campaign hacks."

The comment revealed "the Obama White House's biggest weakness: The president's top advisers are not just overly political, they are almost totally political," writes Gerstein, Sen. Joe Lieberman's former communications director and senior adviser on his presidential and vice presidential campaigns.

"This West Wing is stacked with 'hacks' — campaign professionals who are acculturated to think, act and win in the hothouse environments of elections, not to govern a bitterly divided country in extremely difficult times. . .

"Increasing evidence over the last several months — most notably the dramatic drop the president has suffered among independents — has indicated that this mindset is limiting, diminishing and potentially finishing to the Obama presidency."

Gerstein cited, among others, senior adviser David Axelrod, a political consultant who never has worked in government; Communications Director Anita Dunn, who has been working on campaigns for three decades; and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, whose work has been as a "flack" for congressional and presidential campaigns.

Even Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who served in the Clinton White House and six years in Congress, is a "hard-charging politico" who was the chief strategist behind the Democrats' takeover of the House in 2006.

What the White House needs, Gerstein suggests, is "someone not ingrained or trained to think that the Republicans are the enemy."

Instead, "this hack-stacked White House too often falls prey to the us vs. them mentality of campaigns, which has lowered the president's stature."

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4. Obama's Brother: Our Father Was an Abuser

A new novel by Barack Obama's half-brother Mark is a semi-autobiographical story of an abusive parent based on their late father, Barack Obama Sr.

"My father beat my mother and my father beat me, and you don't do that," Mark Ndesandjo said. "It's something which I think affected me for a long time, and it's something that I've just recently comes to terms with."

Ndesandjo told The Associated Press he wrote "Nairobi to Shenzhen," which went on sale this past week, in part to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Kenyan native Obama Sr. had four children by his first wife in Kenya, then moved to Hawaii and wed the president's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, in 1961, the year Obama Jr. was born.

After they divorced in 1964, Obama Sr. met third wife Ruth Nidesand while studying at Harvard. They moved to Kenya, where Mark and brother David were born, but divorced amid allegations of domestic abuse, according to the New York Post. Nidesand went on to marry a man in the United States whose surname Mark Ndesandjo adopted.

Like Ndesandjo, his novel's main character has a Jewish-American mother who divorces her Kenyan husband.

Obama Jr. saw his father only once after his parents divorced, at age 10, and Obama Sr. died in a car accident in 1982.

Ndesandjo attended college in the United States and is an American citizen, but he moved to Shenzhen, China, in 2002. He attended Obama's inauguration as a family guest and said he plans to meet with his half-brother when the president visits China in mid-November.

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5. Barbara Walters to Interview Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin will sit down for an interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters that will air on "Good Morning America" beginning on Nov. 17 — the official release date of Palin's book "Going Rogue: An American Life."

Portions of the five-part interview also will appear on ABC's "Nightline" and "20/20."

Palin will discuss her political life as governor of Alaska and Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election, as well as her private life, according to ABC News.

Palin is scheduled to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on Nov. 16, and she will appear on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News on Nov. 18.

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6. Israeli Hackers Uncovered Syrian Nuke Site: Report

Israel's Mossad spy agency hacked a Syrian official's computer to uncover information about a nuclear facility in Syria that Israel later destroyed, according to a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Mossad agents planted a Trojan horse program on the official's computer while he was staying at a hotel in London. The program copied details of Syria's nuclear program and sent them to the agents' computers, the report disclosed.

On Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli F-15 jets destroyed a facility in Syria's eastern desert said to be a nuclear reactor under construction.

Der Spiegel also disclosed that, before the strike, Israeli intelligence listened in on conversations between officials at the Syrian site and experts from North Korea who reportedly were aiding Syria in building the reactor.

An earlier report in a Swiss publication, noted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, revealed that a month before the airstrike, a 12-man Israeli commando unit carried out a reconnaissance mission at the al-Kabir reactor site, taking soil samples and photographs.

The article in the daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung was written by Hans Ruehle, former chief of the planning staff of the Germany Defense Ministry. An Iranian defector revealed that Iran was financing North Korean efforts to make Syria a nuclear power, Ruehle wrote.

Ruehle said: "Israel estimates that Iran had paid North Korea between $1 billion and $2 billion for the project."

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7. We Heard: Dick Morris, Kenneth Feinberg, Rick Warren

THAT political analyst and best-selling author Dick Morris has joined the Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign of businessman Christy Mihos, who is seeking the Republican nomination for 2010.

Morris, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, told the Boston Herald he is backing Mihos because he is an "iconoclast" in the mold of former Massachusetts Govs. Ed King and Bill Weld.

"He's my kind of candidate," Morris said. "He's irreverent. And he doesn't pander to either party."

Mihos left the GOP to run for governor as an independent in 2006. Now he's seeking to square off as a Republican against Democrat Deval Patrick, a first-term incumbent.

Morris said Massachusetts needs spending and tax cuts similar to those under King and Weld, or the state risks falling into a "death spiral."

THAT President Obama's "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg has been named chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Feinberg oversees the compensation of top executives at firms that have received federal bailout money. At the foundation he succeeds Sen. Paul Kirk Jr., who left the foundation in September after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick named him to temporarily replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Feinberg is a former chief of staff to Kennedy, and has been on the foundation's board for four years, the Boston Globe reported. Members are not compensated for their services.

THAT the Reader's Digest Association is pulling the plug on evangelist Rick Warren's magazine after less than a year.

The quarterly print magazine "Purpose Driven Connection," which was launched as a joint venture in January, will cease publication after the issue due out in mid-November.

The association will fund the magazine as a Web-only venture until March 2010, then turn it over to Warren's company, according to the New York Post's Keith Kelly.

Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the best-seller "The Purpose Driven Life."

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Obama Snubs Berlin Wall Ceremonies2. FEMA: Illegal Aliens Can Get Disaster Aid3. White House Staffers Called 'Campaign Hacks'4. Obama's Brother: Our Father Was an Abuser5. Barbara Walters to Interview Sarah Palin6. Israeli...
Sunday, 08 November 2009 05:07 PM
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