ThinkProgress: At the main square in Benghazi, people have been gathering to celebrate the end of the rule of Muammar Qaddafi. As euphoric Libyan rebels advanced into Tripoli on Sunday, there were scenes of jubilation in the rebels’ de facto capital, Benghazi, where thousands celebrated in the streets.
One large sign in the middle of the square in Benghazi features a picture of the “Fantastic 4” (from right to left): Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and U.S. Ambassador the U.N. Susan Rice. The text on the sign reads: “God Bless You All. Thanks For All.”
Men take part in Friday prayers behind a banner honoring U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, British Prime Minister David Cameron, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President Barack Obama, at the main square of the rebel-held town of Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Aug. 12
Lexington (The Economist): I am on holiday for three weeks in a faraway corner of Cornwall, but the momentous news from Libya has reached even here. Barack Obama received a lot of stick for his cautious approach to the uprising in Libya. Liberals traumatised by Iraq could not believe he had started another war. Republicans mocked him for “leading from behind”. But with the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime now in prospect, his critics ought to eat at least some of their words.
Like many others, I had strong misgivings, but the president remained supremely calm throughout and the speech he made in March looks pretty good in light of what has now happened. The intervention could not have taken place without America’s technological help; it was conducted mainly by allies; it had the blessing of the UN Security Council and the Arab League; and for those reasons it has generated almost no blowback from the Arab world. In short, a job well done – though I don’t expect his Republican critics to be willing to admit this.
Update: The AFP article below would appear to be wrong, it looks like Michelle Obama isn’t going to France after all!
Thursday: The President will travel from London to Deauville, France for the G-8 meetings … will hold a bilateral meeting with President Medvedev of Russia …. participates in the G-8 working lunch and working sessions … will also hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Kan of Japan.
AFP: France’s First Lady Carla Bruni will host a packed agenda for the wives of the developed world’s most powerful leaders Thursday, in her first G8 summit since her pregnancy was revealed.
…She will appear along with other first ladies, including the US president’s wife Michelle Obama and Britain’s Samantha Cameron, using the summit to promote her latest cause: the battle against adult illiteracy.
After lunch on the first day of the summit on Thursday, 43-year-old Bruni will take her guests to visit food producers from the Normandy region before hosting a working session dubbed “together against illiteracy.”
In the evening, Bruni and her husband President Nicolas Sarkozy will play host to the other leaders and their spouses for a dinner on the seafront terrace of Le Ciro’s restaurant in the elegant Channel seaside resort.
The First Lady will return to Washington after the French leg of the Obamas’ visit to Europe
Friday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Sarkozy of France …. will then participate in the G-8 working sessions …. Later, the President will travel from France to Warsaw, Poland. In the evening, the President and President Komorowski of Poland will host a dinner for the heads of state of Central and Eastern Europe.
Saturday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Komorowski of Poland … the President and Prime Minister Tusk of Poland will hold a working lunch …. the President and Prime Minister Tusk will hold a joint press conference …. the President will depart for Washington, DC.
President Obama waves goodbye from the steps of Air Force One as he departs Saudi Arabia on his way to Egypt, June, 2009
AP: ..Foreign leaders showered President Obama and his family with hundreds of thousands of dollars in art, jewelry, rare books and other presents during their first year in the White House.
Saudi Arabia’s king was the most generous gift-giver, according to documents released by the State Department on Tuesday. Saudi King Abdullah gave Obama, his wife and daughters nearly $190,000 in luxury baubles in 2009, including the single most valuable gift reported to have been given to U.S. officials that year: a ruby and diamond jewelry set, including earrings, a ring, a bracelet and necklace, for the first lady worth $132,000.
…By law, most gifts to U.S. officials must be turned over to the government and the jewelry has already been sent to the National Archives.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was a distant runner up to King Abdullah, with gifts for the first family worth a little under $33,000. The Italian haul included silk ties, a gold watch, a crystal table and candlesticks…….the Saudi monarch also presented Michelle Obama with a $14,200 pearl necklace. He gave the president a marble clock adorned with miniature gold palm trees and camels valued at $34,500. He sent first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama diamond earrings and necklaces worth more than $7,000.
Chinese President Hu Jintao gave Obama a $20,000 silk embroidery of the first family….French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife sent perfume and a $4,500 black Christian Dior handbag …Some leaders chose more modest gifts. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth presented Obama with framed portraits of herself and her husband, Prince Philip, worth $775….Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered the U.S. leader $521 in gifts, including the least expensive item listed by the State Department: a $75 bottle of olive oil.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses. We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.
I think it’s important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events: a 20-year-old college student who ran into the line of fire to rescue his boss; a wounded woman who helped secure the ammunition that might have caused even more damage; the citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of what I think that speaks to is the best of America, even in the face of such mindless violence.
And so, in the coming days we’re going to have a lot of time to reflect. Right now, the main thing we’re doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who’ve been impacted, making sure that we’re joining together and pulling together as a country. And as President of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them.