Monday, 22 December 2008

Barack Obama: Science can provide the answer to many of the world's problems

From a radio address by the US President-elect.
Published in The Independent (UK), 22 Dec 2008

"Over the past few weeks, Vice President-Elect Biden and I have ann-ounced some of the leaders who will advise us as we seek to meet America's 21st-century challenges – from strengthening our security, to rebuilding our economy, to preserving our planet for our children and grandchildren. Whether it's the science to slow global warming; the technology to protect our troops and confront bio-terror and weapons of mass destruction; the research to find life-saving cures; or the innovations to remake our industries and create 21st-century jobs – today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation.

It is time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology. Right now, in labs, classrooms and companies across America, our leading minds are hard at work chasing the next big idea, on the cusp of breakthroughs that could revolutionise our lives. But history tells us that they cannot do it alone.

From landing on the Moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way: leaders like President Kennedy, who inspired us to push the boundaries of the known world and achieve the impossible; leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process.

Because the truth is that promoting science isn't just about providing resources – it's about protecting free and open inquiry. It's about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It's about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it's inconvenient – especially when it's inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President. I am confident that if we recommit ourselves to discovery; if we support science education to create the next generation of scientists and engineers right here in America; if we have the vision to believe and invest in things unseen, then we can lead the world into a new future of peace and prosperity".

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Obama unveils team in charge of his environmental programme

Extract from: El Periodico, Spain, 16 Dec 2008

"New Energy Secretary will be a clean fuel expert
By Idoya Noain, New York

During his campaign, Barack Obama promised to invest €110m in renewable energy over the next decade. He also pledged the creation of 2.5m jobs by 2011, many of them due to the development of environmental-friendly policies. He anticipated green measures such as ensuring that at least 10% of the country's energy consumption to stem from renewable sources. Yesterday, at a press conference in Chicago, as the US President Elect unveiled his team in charge of the environment and natural resources, he took the opportunity to publicly renew his green credentials.

Both during the campaign and now, his pledge was seen as one of the most radical breaks with George Bush's administration. And it gained momentum yesterday with the appointment of Nobel prize-winning physicist Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy, one of the leaders in the research into renewable sources, next generation biofuels and technological solutions to global warming".

(Read the full article here)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Obama recruits critic of Bush's Iraq strategy

Extract from The Guardian, UK, 8 Dec 2008

"Barack Obama chose a general sacked by the Bush administration for doubting its Iraq war strategy for his cabinet yesterday to appeal to leftwing supporters.
Obama, in announcing the selection of Eric Shinseki, as veterans' affairs secretary, made it clear that he saw the choice as vindication of a general whose advice - had it been heeded - could have reduced the toll of the Iraq war.

Shinseki, who was army chief of staff only to be disregarded and later vilified by Pentagon chief at the time, Donald Rumsfeld, and the deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, for telling Congress in February 2003 that keeping order in Iraq after the invasion would need several hundred thousand troops.

"No one will ever doubt that this former army chief of staff has the courage to stand up for our troops and our veterans," Obama told a press conference in Chicago announcing the appointment yesterday.

The choice of Shinseki could go some way in satisfying opponents of the Iraq war disappointed at the appointment of Hillary Clinton, who voted for the invasion, as secretary of state, and the decision to keep on George Bush's Pentagon chief, Robert Gates.
It was announced on a day when Obama offered his bleakest assessment to date of the economic crisis.


The general earned the wrath of Rumsfeld when he told Congress that it might take several hundred thousand US troops to control Iraq after the invasion.
The deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, said Shinseki's assessment was "wildly off the mark". Both men boycotted Shinseki's retirement ceremony".

Read the full article here.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Obama 'to rebuild crumbling US'

Extract from BBC News, 6 Dec 2008

US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to invest in infrastructure on a scale not seen since the 1950s, when the US highway system was established.
He used his weekly address to outline that the spending would be part of his plan to create at least 2.5m new jobs in the ailing US economy.

He also spoke of the need for expanded access to high-speed internet and the modernisation of school buildings.
Unemployment rose by more than 500,000 during November, figures have shown.
That was the biggest monthly rise in job cuts since 1974, and it drove up the jobless rate to a 15-year high of 6.7%, up from 6.5% in October.
The figures came less than a week after the National Bureau for Economic Research said the US economy had been in recession since late 2007.
Mr Obama, who takes office on 20 January, has previously said that his incoming team will be tasked with generating 2.5m new jobs by 2011.

Read the whole article here.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Bill takes vow of silence for sake of Hillary's job

Hillary Clinton to be named today as US Secretary of State. (Extract from The Independent, UK, 2 Dec 2008)

Barack Obama will hold a veto over Bill Clinton's $400,000-a-pop speaking engagements under a detailed legal deal that allows the former president's wife, Hillary Clinton, to become Secretary of State.

The President-elect will unveil his national security team today, gambling that appointing the former first lady as foreign policy chief will restore some heft to American diplomacy.
To prevent the announcement getting bogged down in the Clinton soap opera, aides to Mr Obama revealed details of the agreement with Mr Clinton, whose post-White House business and philanthropic dealings threaten to expose a thicket of conflicts of interest.
The vetting of Mrs Clinton for the State Department job turned into a detailed examination of the funding of Mr Clinton's charitable foundation and of his Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which works to find solutions to Aids, climate change and poverty.

The former president will reveal the names of 200,000 donors to the two institutions and publish details of future contributions. US law does not require such disclosures but Mr Clinton's refusal to do so was exploited by opponents of his wife's bid for the presidency, including Mr Obama, who said during the primaries that the Clintons were "veterans of non-disclosure".
With Mrs Clinton at the State department, her husband's business dealings had threatened to be an even more serious embarrassment.

Read the article in full here.