Members of the Nobel committee today defended their choice of Barack Obama as Nobel Peace Prize winner. Speaking to AP, the committee’s chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland said that “We simply disagree that he has done nothing. He got the prize for what he has done.” AP reports that Jagland singled out Obama’s efforts to heal the divide between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe. “All these things have contributed to — I wouldn’t say a safer world — but a world with less tension”.
He also told AP that giving the award to Obama followed the guidelines set forth by Alfred Nobel who established the Nobel Prizes in his 1895 will.
“Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year. Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?”
That’s Saturday Night Live’s take on the award. I am sure it’s not far off the mark.
Obama (played by Fred Armisen) explains why he won:
“This prize bestowed by the Nobel committee in Norway is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to world peace. Jimmy Carter won it for decades of trying to find solutions to international conflicts, Al Gore won it for his years of education [the] U.S. about climate change, and us? Well, I won it for not being George Bush.”
Tina Brown’s advice: “Obama should talk to Bill Clinton about the difficulties he had at the beginning, when he inherited an economic mess from a departing president named Bush. Clinton passed his first budget without a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate. Before it led to the longest economic expansion in American history, it led to a Democratic defeat in the 1994 midterms. But Clinton’s problem was high interest rates, and he had to raise taxes and curb spending to cut the deficit. Now interest rates are near zero, and Obama is cutting taxes and raising spending, neither of which is political poison. With the unemployment figures for January climbing to 7.5 percent and almost certainly going higher, elaborate rituals of “civility” are low on the list of things anyone cares about.”
The AP picture above is of the U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walking across the South Lawn after stepping off Marine One upon returning from Camp David at the White House in Washington yesterday.
Joe Biden is well-known for blabbing. His wife, Jill Biden, too suffers from the same probem. Did you see her on Oprah Winfrey last week?
This little snippet, about Jill, must be one of the funniest things I’ve heard this week. I found this on Vogue.com:
“She tells a funny story about a day when a bunch of Democratic Party bigwigs had planted themselves in her living room to try to convince Joe Biden that 2004 was his year to unseat George Bush. Jill was sitting out by the pool in a bikini—fuming. Unable to stand it any longer, she got up, found a Magic Marker, and wrote the word no across her stomach and then paraded through the meeting. “They got the message,” she says with a laugh.”
One sunny day in late January, 2009 an old man approached the White House from Across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’d been sitting on a park bench
He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, “I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.”
The Marine looked at the man and said, “Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.”
The old man said, “Okay“, and walked away.
The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, “I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.”
The Marine again told the man, “Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.”
The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying “I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.”
The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, “Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?”
The old man looked at the Marine and said, “Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.”
The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, “See you tomorrow, Sir“
Last night Barack Obama spoke about American security issues. He will start a withdrawal from Iraq and focus attention on Afghanistan and Pakistan. About Osama Bin Laden he said:
“My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he’s in a cave somewhere and can’t even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America.”
As the Times says, his comments represent a significantly less aggressive and watered down version of the “dead or alive” policy pursued by President Bush since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. They also appear to contradict Mr Obama’s own statements made in the election campaign. As recently as October 7, in a presidential debate, Mr Obama said: “We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority. I think that we have to so weaken [bin Laden's] infrastructure that, whether he is technically alive or not, he is so pinned down that he cannot function. And I’m confident that we can keep them on the run and ensure that they cannot train terrorists to attack our homeland.”
Jamilla El-Shafei, the organizer of the Shoes For Bush protest in Washington, D.C., enjoys a light moment as she tosses some shoes in the air, by hundreds of pairs of collected shoes on her dining room table in Kennebunk, Maine, on Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. El-Safei asked people to protest on Monday Jan. 19, which is President Bush’s last full day in office, by throwing shoes at a fence outside the White House.(AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
Yesterday Obama lunched with Bush and three former presidents, George Bush snr, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at the White House. It was a symbolic show of support for Obama that he said provided ‘advice, good counsel and fellowship’.
Obama looks a little bashful in this photo:
Over the last few weeks we’ve read commentary, and criticism, on how Obama’s new administration will mean little change. He has made appointments to his cabinet that indicate that he’s more interested in continuity than in change, some say. In response to this criticism the president-elect’s campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, felt the need to defend Obama against the left.
But I believe we will see change. Take the changing climate as an example. Bush’s administration was very slow on developing green technology and trying to curb carbon emissions. Obama on the other hand has repeatedly said that the United States can no longer afford delaying or denying confronting the climate challenge. The New York Times quotes him saying: “We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now, that this is a matter of urgency and national security, and it has to be dealt with in a serious way. That is what I intend my administration to do.” He has also said ‘he intends to devote billions of dollars to so-called green energy projects that will create jobs and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions’.
Obama this week met with Al Gore to discuss how the former vice-president’s ideas on the environment could help the US struggling economy recover. Yesterday he selected his top energy and environmental advisers. His energy secretary will be Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.
The New York Times says:
Dr. Chu will be taking on one of the most challenging jobs in government at the Department of Energy. He will be responsible for the maintenance and development of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, as well as for modernizing the nation’s electrical power delivery system.
Yesterday in his lecture to the Swedish Academy, Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio said “if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler’s criminal plot would not have succeeded – ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day.” He claims that the spread of “information on the Internet has given the world a new tool to forestall conflicts.”
A bit of a stretch I think. As Gawker.com says “it was precisely Hitler’s grasp of modern communications that accelerated his rise to power.”
And in this world of information and the fast spread of news, we still have the likes of mad uncle Bob in Zimbabwe, and the world allowed Bush to invade Iraq.