First Lady Michelle Obama watches performers dance on the City Wall in Xian, in China’s central Shaanxi province, March 24
AFP: Obama Vows Western Unity Ahead Of Ukraine Crisis Summit
President Barack Obama on Monday vowed Western unity in punishing Moscow for annexing Crimea, ahead of crisis talks that could see Russia excluded from the G8 club of rich nations. In Ukraine itself, the country’s acting president announced that its troops had been given orders to withdraw from Crimea after the fall of another military base to Kremlin troops. “Europe and America are united in our support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people, we’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far,” Obama told journalists at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Obama then headed to The Hague where he has called an emergency Group of Seven summit to discuss what steps to take in the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) for what may be their most tense talks to date. It will be their first meeting since Washington imposed financial restrictions on the most powerful members of Putin’s inner circle for their decision to resort to force in response to the fall of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin regime after three months of sometimes deadly protests. Kerry has already warned that Moscow risks losing its coveted place among the G8 because of the Crimea crisis. British Prime Minister David Cameron said leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — minus current G8 chair Russia — must discuss the permanent expulsion of Russia from the group, which it was admitted to in 1998 as a reward for choosing a democratic post-Soviet course.
President Barack Obama, right, is greeted by Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, left, upon arrival at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, Netherlands
President Barack Obama and Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans greet dignitaries upon arrival at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, Netherlands
President Barack Obama is silhouetted as he walks towards the Marine One helicopter upon arriving at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping take their seats before a meeting, held on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit, in The Hague. President Obama, who has imposed tougher sanctions on Moscow than European leaders over its seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, will seek support for his firm line at a meeting with other leaders of the G7
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, shakes hands. President Obama is attending the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, which will form the backdrop for an emergency meeting of Group of Seven leaders on Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice and members of President Barack Obama’s delegation stand beneath a painting by Bartholomeus van der Helst, as President Obama speaks at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
President Barack Obama and Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan, look at a guest book during a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rijksmuseum director Wim Pijbes tells President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, where to stand in front of Dutch master Rembrandt’s The Night Watch painting during a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, look at the Act of Abjuration during a visit at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
TPM: Zuckerberg Calls Obama To Discuss ‘Frustration’ With NSA Surveillance
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that he phoned President Obama to urge reforms to the government’s surveillance practices. “The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst,”Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”
As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law. Since the current unrest in Egypt began, we have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, in accordance with the democratic process, and without recourse to violence or the use of force.
The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.
The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties —secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts. Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction. The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.
No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.
Congressional budget analysts on Wednesday released a positive economic assessment of the broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws that passed the Senate last week, saying that the new legislation would cut more than $800 billion from the federal deficit over the next two decades and lead to 9.6 million new legal residents in the country.
Though the Congressional Budget Office had offered in June a similar estimate of the immigration bill that was then being debated in the Senate — in a report that found the benefits of an increase in legal residents from the immigration overhaul would outweigh the costs — the new report provides an analysis of the actual bill recently passed by the Senate.
Steve Benen: Koch brothers push GOP officials to sign anti-climate pledge
The Republican Party is certainly fond of its pledges. Grover Norquist, of course, has his infamous anti-tax pledge that has interfered with federal policymaking in recent decades, and in 2011, GOP presidential candidates were pushed to endorse an anti-gay pledge from the National Organization for Marriage.
But as it turns out, there’s another pledge that’s taken root in Republican politics that’s received far less attention. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reports this week on the “No Climate Tax Pledge” pushed by Charles and David Koch….