Doctors amputate actress Zsa Zsa Gabor's right leg

Zsa Zsa Gabor

 

 

Jan 15 (KATAKAMI.COM / BBC) — Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor’s right leg, which was infected with gangrene, has been amputated in a life-saving surgery her doctors have deemed a success.

She is in “frail health” and will be closely monitored in a Los Angeles hospital, Dr David Rigberg said.

Gabor was hospitalised on 2 January after attempts to save her leg with antibiotics proved unsuccessful.

The 93-year-old has been admitted to hospital a number of times since breaking her hip in July.

“Ms Gabor needed an amputation above her knee due to poor circulation and a large ulcerated area on her right leg,” said Dr Rigberg, an associate professor of vascular surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“The surgery today went well, however, she is in frail health so we will continue to monitor her closely,” he said, adding that after consulting with Ms Gabor’s husband, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, he felt amputation was the best decision.

Multiple hospital visitsGabor had been hospitalised several times for swelling in her legs and blood clots throughout her body, following a hip replacement surgery this summer.

She was readmitted to hospital in the new year because a wound in her right leg had grown and “wasn’t healing any more”, her publicist John Blanchette said earlier this month.

Gabor had reportedly been bedridden in recent months.

She was in critical condition and had asked for a priest during a trip to the hospital in August, but Gabor soon recovered and was sent home.

The veteran actress was partially paralysed in a car accident in 2002 and suffered a stroke in 2005, forcing her to use a wheelchair.

Gabor starred in the films Moulin Rouge, Touch of Evil and Queen of Outer Space, among others.  (*)

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Senate approves nuclear arms treaty with Russia

Senator John Kerry (L) and Senator Richard Lugar (R) hold a news conference to discuss their support of ratifying the new START treaty, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 21, 2010 ( Photo : Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

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Dec 22, 2010 (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – The Senate approved a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia on Wednesday, giving President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory in his drive to improve ties with Moscow and curb the spread of atomic weapons to other nations.

The Senate voted 71-26 in favor of the New START treaty between the former Cold War foes after a contentious debate with Republican leaders that threatened traditional bipartisanship on security affairs.

“This treaty will enhance our leadership to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and seek the peace of a world without them,” Obama told a news conference after the vote, praising the bipartisan nature of the final result.

The vote was an endorsement of Obama’s efforts to improve relations with Russia and curb the pursuit of nuclear weapons by countries like North Korea and Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the process was “a new gold standard for concluding agreements of this kind.”

“Not only does the treaty facilitate a strengthening of the security of Russia and the USA but it will also have a positive effect on international stability and security in general,” Lavrov told the Interfax news agency.

The Russian parliament has yet to approve the treaty — signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April — but the Kremlin-backed United Russia party is dominant, so ratification there is all but assured.

Still, Russian lawmakers will review the terms in the U.S. Senate’s resolution of ratification.

“Taking into account the amendments added by senators, we are forced to undertake a deep and thorough analysis of the text … since we are speaking about the national security of our country,” Leonid Slutsky, deputy chair of parliament’s international affairs committee, told Interfax.

Senator John Kerry, who led the debate as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the treaty was a message to Iran and North Korea “that the international community remains united to restrain the nuclear ambitions of countries that operate outside the law.”

“We send a message that the two countries that possess 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are fulfilling their obligations to reduce their arsenals in a responsible manner,” Kerry said.

The treaty will cut long-range, strategic nuclear weapons deployed by Russia and the United States to no more than 1,550 on each side within seven years. Deployed missile launchers will be cut to no more than 700 on each side.

The agreement also creates an inspection and verification process to replace the one that expired nearly a year ago with the end of the original START accord.

The new treaty has wide support in military and diplomatic circles. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it would make a “significant contribution” to regional security and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was a “clear message” supporting nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

U.S. CREDIBILITY AT STAKE

Passage of the treaty with support from 13 Republicans was a big victory for Obama just weeks after his Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives and narrowly retained control of the Senate in the November 2 congressional elections.Republican senators had sought to amend the treaty this week to allow for more inspections, more deployed missiles and to force talks on tactical nuclear weapons. But Democrats, who still control the chamber 58-42 until the new Congress sits in January, easily defeated the amendments.

Kerry said Senate approval was critical for sustaining Obama’s credibility with fellow world leaders and supporting his ability to advance the U.S. agenda.

Officials in the Obama administration have said passage of the New START treaty was a prerequisite for turning to other arms control issues such as reducing tactical nuclear weapons.

But Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate and an opponent of New START, said he would fight any effort to revive the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

“This may be the last arms control agreement for a while,” Kyl said. “I think we can get back to focusing on the real issues — issues of proliferation, terrorism and dealing with threats from countries like North Korea and Iran.”

Arms control experts disagreed, hailing the treaty as a step in the right direction.

Steven Pifer, director of the Arms Control Initiative at the Brookings think tank, said failure of the treaty would have undercut Obama on the world stage.

“Virtually all the NATO allies came out and endorsed this treaty,” he said. “And had the Obama administration not been able to deliver its ratification, I think that it would have really been a blow to the credibility and authority of the president when he was engaging overseas.”

While the treaty will not cause Iran or North Korea to alter their behavior, Pifer said, “it does give the administration a greater authority with other countries to up the pressure on North Korea and Iran.”

Daryl Kimball, director of the nonpartisan Arms Control Association, said the treaty “does augur well for the Senate’s pursuing further fact-based, adult conversations about nuclear security issues and I’m optimistic about the prospects for building upon this bipartisan consensus.”  (*)

 

 

Happy Mother's Day To All Mothers in Indonesia

Mother’s Day is celebrated nationally on 22nd of December in INDONESIA


Mothers are as total as the sky;
Older than the earth, and more enduring.
They’re rooted in our hearts like ancient trees,
Halfway down to seething lava seas;
Emblazoned on our sail, and on our mooring.
Returning home, we dwell within their sigh:
So maddening, so rich, so reassuring.

Mothers are the gardeners
Of wind-blown wild flowers.
They water them with happy tears,
Happy with them many years,
Even as the hours
Ring with sweet, sad melodies
Sighing through their bowers.

Mothers are the place that we call home.
On them we rest our heads and close our eyes.
There’s no one else who grants the same soft peace,
Happiness, contentment, sweet release,
Erasing nighttime tears with lullabies,
Restoring the bright sun that makes us bloom. Mothers are the place where love
Emerges from the earth,
And happiness rings out like bells
In honor of our birth.

Mothers find their happiness in seeing
Others happy. Is this good or wise?
To hang one’s happiness upon a being,
However loved, who sees through other eyes?
Even as such love may be a burden,
Remember well what lies behind the curtain,
Singing down through angel-freighted skies.
We have, always, their love.

Mothers aren’t mothers right away,
Of course. They need some time to undergo
The long and well-wrought windings of the way,
However steep, that choice and fate bestow.
Even with the passion to endure,
Reminded of sweet memories to come,
‘Tis time’s brutal way to be unsure,
Severing the addends from the sum.
Do, then, make your way into the void
Afoot with expectation unalloyed,
Yearning yet to be what you’ve become.

Thank God or a mother who is so perfect in loving her children

Thank God for a mother who was so impressive in her life journey

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOTHERS IN INDONESIA !

Mencermati Mutasi Di Era Kapolri Timur Pradopo, Lanjut Jenderal !

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Jakarta 19/12/2010 (KATAKAMI) — Setelah dilantik di Istana Negara tanggal 22 Oktober 2010 dan dilanjutkan dengan upacara serah terima jabatan tanggal 27 Oktober 2010, Kapolri (baru) Jenderal Timur Pradopo mulai melakukan mutasi didalam internal Polri.

Berdasarkan surat telegram Kepala Polri Jenderal Timur Pradopo dengan nomor STR/ 1170 /XII/ 2010, Polri mengganti empat perwira tinggi yaitu antara lain Kepala Polda Aceh Irjen Fajar Prihantoro yang selanjutnya akan menjabat sebagai Kepala Badan Pemeliharaan Keamanan.

Posisi inilah yang kosong sekitar satu bulan setelah Timur Pradopo menjabat Kepala Polri.

Posisi Kapolda Aceh akan dijabat Irjen Iskandar Hasan yang saat ini menjabat Kepala Divisi Humas Mabes Polri.

Lalu posisi Iskandar akan digantikan Irjen Anton Bachrul Alam yang saat ini menjabat staf ahli Kapolri Bidang Sosial dan Ekonomi.

Posisi Anton akan digantikan oleh Irjen Alex Bambang Riatmodjo yang saat ini menjabat staf ahli Kapolri. “Serah terima jabatan kemungkinan pekan depan,” kata Boy di Mabes Polri, Jumat (17/12/2010).

Jenderal Timur Pradopo (kiri) mendapat ucapan selamat dari Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono dan Ibu Negara Ani Yudhoyono seusai pelantikan di Istana Negara ( 22 Oktober 2010)

Seperti pepatah mengatakan, “Semakin tinggi pohon menjulang, maka semakin kencang juga angin akan menerpa”.

Kritikan mulai bermunculan pasca keluarnya Telegram Rahasia seputar mutasi di tubuh Polri.

Neta S. Pane selaku Ketua Presidium Indonesia Police Watch (IPW) mengecam mutasi ini karena dianggap melakukan diskriminasi yaitu hanya menguntungkan serta memberi keistimewaan kepada para perwira tinggi seangkatan Timur yaitu dari (lulusan Akpol) tahun 1978 dan orang-orang yang dinilai dekat dengan Timur.

“Ini kelihatan Pak Timur mulai mengangkat Angkatan 78 saja. Jadi orang-orangnya dia yang ditempatkan di posisi-posisi strategis. Harusnya kan tidak boleh begitu” kata Neta S. Pane kepada KATAKAMI.COM dalam perbincangan di hari Sabtu (18/12/2010) di Jakarta.

Neta juga mengecam penempatan Anton Bachrul Alam sebagai Kepala Divisi Humas Polri untuk menggantikan posisi Irjen. Iskandar Hasan yang selanjutnya akan ditempatkan sebagai Kapolda Aceh.

“Pak Anton Bachrul Alam itu pernah jadi Kapolda Jawa Timur. Jadi kalau dia diangkat jadi Kadiv Humas, itu namanya turun pangkat dong. Lalu Kapolda Aceh yang sekarang diangkat jadi  Kepala Badan Pemeliharaan Keamanan, Pak Fajar itu belum mempunyai pengalaman yang cukup untuk menempati posisi itu. Lalu Iskandar Hasan, dia jadi Kadiv Humas saja baru sebenar dan tidak ada prestasi yang bagus tapi sudah diangkat jadi Kapolda Aceh” lanjut Neta S. Pane.

Neta juga ingin mengingatkan Kapolri yang baru bahwa sudah saatnya pimpinan Polri menertibkan jabatan-jabatan rangkap yang selama ini “dilakukan dan dibenarkan” oleh Kapolri sebelumnya.

“Ada informasi Jenderal BHD mengeluarkan surat keputusan untuk mengangkat Komisaris Jenderal Gories Mere sebagai penasehat ahli Kapolri untuk urusan penanganan terorisme. Polri jangan lupa bahwa berdasarkan UU Kepolisian, setiap anggota Polri dilarang keras melakukan jabatan rangkap. Gories Mere itu sudah mau 5 tahun menjadi Kepala Pelaksana Harian (Kalakhar) Badan Narkotika Nasional. Menjabat sampai selama itu saja, sudah perlu dipertanyakan. Apalagi kalau nanti dia tetap dipertahankan sebagai penasehat ahli Kapolri. Pejabat macam itu, posisinya di BNN tetapi kerjanya hanya di Densus 88 Anti Teror. Tolong ditulis ya oleh KATAKAMI, jabatan rangkap itu melanggar Undang Undang Kepolisian” ungkap Neta.

Neta mendesak Kapolri Timur Pradopo agar mencabut dan tidak melanjutkan surat keputusan yang ditanda-tangani Jenderal Bambang Hendarso Danuri sebagai Polri harus tetap konsisten melakukan  tugas-tugasnya sesuai ketentuan hukum dan Undang Undang yang berlaku.

Sejumlah kritikan ini tak perludianggap sebagai sesuatu yang merupakan refleksi ketidak-sukaan LSM yang fokus menyoroti kinerja dan perfoma dari Kepolisian Indonesia.

Justru kritikan demi kritikan harus diterima dengan lapang dada untuk menjadi masukan positif sebab setiap kritikan yang bersifat konstruktif adalah wujud dari kecintaan Indonesia kepada institusi Polri.

Tetapi semua pihak juga harus memberi waktu, kesempatan dan kepercayaan bagi Kapolri Timur Pradopo untuk membenahi institusinya.

Usia jabatannya masih sangat baru.

Pekan depan, Timur baru genap 2 bulan menjabat sebagai Kapolri atau Tri Brata 1.

Biarkan ia melakukan konsolidasi ke dalam internal Polri.

Yang mungkin menarik untuk dicermati disini adalah apakah benar Timur sengaja “memasang” orang-orang terdekatnya untuk menjadi pejabat-pejabat utama di lingkungan Mabes Polri ?

Sepertinya asumsi ini agak sulit diterima sebab dalam urusan pengangkatan dan penempatan pejabat-pejabat di level apapun dalam institusi Polri, Kapolri tidak dibenarkan melakukan perintah atau komando yang sifatnya “top down” dengan gaya otoriter.

Wakapolri Komisaris Jenderal Jusuf Manggabarani yang bertugas juga sebagai Ketua Tim WANJAK (Dewan Kepangkatan) Polri

Wakapolri Jusuf Manggabarani : Walau Gaji Sederhana, Polri Jangan Lakukan Pelanggaran

Banyak Kali Cakap Kau Gayus, Jangan Pojokkan Institusi Polri & Kejaksaan

Ada rapat WANJAK (Dewan Kepangkatan) yang diketuai oleh WAKAPOLRI.

Tim WANJAK ini sendiri beranggotakan sejumlah pejabat penting yaitu Inspektur Jenderal (Irwasum) Polri, Deputi Sumber Daya Manusia (SDM) dan Kepala Divisi Profesi dan Pengamanan (Propam).

Kapolri adalah “pintu terakhir” yang hanya bertugas mengesahkan keputusan dari hasil rapat WANJAK tentang mutasi apapun didalam internal Polri.

Dan sebagai Kapolri yang baru, sangat wajar jika Timur Pradopo mencari dan menempatkan personil Polri yang dinilainya dapat dipercaya untuk mengemban tugas-tugas penting untuk membantu pimpinan tertinggi di dalam institusi Polri.

Faktor kepercayaan (TRUST) adalah faktor mutlak yang membantu seorang pimpinan setingkat Kapolri untuk dapat bekerja maksimal dalam melaksanakan tugas-tugas negara  yang begitu berat.

Faktor kepercayaan (TRUST) adalah sesuatu yang tak boleh disia-siakan oleh siapapun didalam institusi Polri, jika memang ia mendapatkan itu dari Sang Pimpinan.

Bila seorang Kapolri bekerja di sekeliling orang-orang yang sudah ia kenal secara baik maka sistem dan suasana kerja akan menjadi lebih nyaman.

Timur, sosok yang pendiam dan tenang ini, pasti sudah sangat memahami bahwa harapan masyarakat begitu tinggi kepada dirinya untuk membenahi Polri.

Irjen Anton Bacrul Alam yang kini akan menempati posisi barunya sebagai Kepala Divisi Humas Mabes Polri

Dalam era kepemimpinannya, ia memilih seorang “JURUBICARA” yang kawakan dalam bidang Kehumasan.

Anton Bachrul Alam adalah “orang lama” di lingkungan Humas Polri.

Pada era kepemimpinan Kapolri Jenderal Sutanto, Anton pernah menduduki jabatan sebagai Wakil Kepala Divisi Humas Polri,

Anton memiliki kemampuan bahasa asing yang sangat baik dan bisa dengan sangat baik menyampaikan informasi atau keterangan-keterangan yang berisi kebijakan institusinya.

Anton sudah mengenal dan dikenal secara baik oleh kalangan pers di tataran nasional dan daerah.

Sehingga, sangat masuk di akal mengapa figur Anton yang dipilih menjadi Kepala Divisi Humas Polri di era kepemimpinan Timur Pradopo.

Hanya saja, Anton harus mendengar kritikan dari pihak manapun yang menganggapnya telah “berubah”.

Neta S. Pane dari Indonesia Police Watch misalnya, ia menilai Anton yang sekarang sudah menjadi sangat “fanatik” dan cenderung ekstrim dalam menjalankan ajaran agama Islam.

Kritikan ini tentu sebuah masukan yang bertujuan baik.

Sebab sebagai Kepala Divisi Humas Polri, Anton harus menjadi bisa menjadi Humas atau SPOKESPERSON bagi institusi Kepolisian yang harus bisa sama dekat dan sama jauh dengan semua elemen di Indonesia.

Posisi SPOKESPERSON juga harus bisa berpenampilan sebagai polisi yang profesional dimata dunia internasioal yang akan terus meningkatkan kerjasamanya dengan MABES POLRI.

Dan kalau mau berbicara tentang nilai-nilai keagamaan yang matang, contoh yang sangat jelas di lingkungan kepolisian adalah Wakapolri Komjen Jusuf Manggabarani.

Ia sangat “Islam” tetapi dalam konteks yang sungguh Islami dalam sikap dan pemikiran.

Ia sangat “Islam” tetapi tidak pernah menunjukkan secara ekstrim ke-Islam-an dirinya secara fisik dalam penampilan sehari-hari.

Ia sangat “Islam” tetapi ketika dirinya ditanya oleh anggota Paskibraka yang datang berkunjung ke Mabes Polri bulan Agustus 2010 lalu (apakah boleh polwan berjilbab di semua Polda ? ), Komjen Jusuf Manggabarani menjawab dengan sangat bijak bahwa POLRI tidak melarang setiap anggota Polda memakai jilbab tetapi hanya ada satu Polda yang diizinkan menerapkan kebijakan ini yaitu POLDA ACEH.

Jadi, yang dapat disampaikan disini kepada Kepala Divisi Humas Polri Irjen Anton Bachrul Alam, “WELCOME BACK, GENERAL !”.

Selamat datang kembali di ibukota dan selamat bertugas !

Ditambah lagi, Anton pun akan dibantu oleh salah seorang jurubicara terbaik yang pernah bertugas di Polda Metro Jaya yaitu Kombes Boy Rafli Amar yang kini menjadi Kepala Bagian Penerangan Umum Mabes Polri.

Kapolri Jenderal Polisi Timur Pradopo

Kapolri Timur Pradopo harus terus didukung oleh semua pihak agar ia bisa menjalankan tugasnya dengan sangat baik, profesional, proporsional dan penuh integritas.

Biarkanlah ia didampingi oleh para perwira menengah dan perwira tinggi bisa dipercaya untuk membantu tugas-tugasnya sebagai Pimpinan POLRI.

Walau demikian, Kapolri tidak boleh melakukan diskriminasi dalam kebijakan-kebijakannya.

Kapolri juga harus sangat tegas menindak bila memang ada sesuatu atau seseorang yang patut dapat diduga merupakan pelanggaran atau pemyimpangan didalam internal Polri.

Kapolri juga harus membuat formula pengawasan yang sangat ketat dalam pelaksanaan RENUMERASI POLRI agar jangan ada polisi-polisi yang sengaja melakukan aksi operasi tidak pada tempatnya hanya demi mendapatkan renumerasi.

Ingatlah bahwa POLRI begitu sangat disorot oleh semua pihak sehingga seorang Kapolri harus menyadari bahwa harapan dan kepercayaan dari rakyat Indonesia tidak boleh dilukai.

Pepatah memang mengatakan, “Semakin tinggi pohon menjulang maka semakin kencang juga angin menerpa”.

Tapi sebaiknya biarkanlah POHON itu tetap menjulang tinggi di posisinya dan sang angin yang bertiup dari arah manapun, diharapkan bertiup sepoi-sepoi agar mendatangkan kesejukan dan suasana yang baik.

Jadi, lanjut Jenderal !

Lakukan saja, apapun yang dinilai Kapolri memang baik untuk dilakukan demi kebaikan semua pihak.

Laksanakanlah AMANAH ini

dengan satu tekat bahwa kepentingan bangsa, negara dan rakyat Indonesia harus ditempatkan diatas kepentingan pribadi dan kelompok.

Lanjutkanlah juga reformasi birokrasi di tubuh Polri dan bersihkan yang memang perlu dibersihkan didalam internal Polri.

(MS)

Obamacare: Untenable & Unconstitutional

FILE : Barack Obama

 

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(KATAKAMI / NATIONALREVIEW.COM) — U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson from the Eastern District of Virginia is at the center of major national news today following his important ruling that the central tenant of Obamacare is unconstitutional.

Count me among those not the least bit surprised by the ruling.

Judge Hudson’s ruling exposes an unavoidable fact about Obamacare: The individual mandate — the very backbone of the law — violates the Constitution and the free-market principles this country was founded on.

After a broad cross-section of the American public rejected Obamacare, now the American legal system is rejecting its constitutional basis. President Obama should instruct Attorney General Eric Holder to request that the case be sent directly to the Supreme Court so that Americans — especially job creators — can be spared years of litigation at a time of great uncertainty.

To be sure, it’s not just its lack of constitutionality that makes Obamacare untenable.

Since it was signed into law, each day has revealed a story of new and higher costs for American businesses, doctors, and families. The so-called cost argument — a central selling point during the lengthy health-care debate — continues to be thoroughly and repeatedly discredited.

So if you’re keeping score at home, three key pillars of Obamacare have crumbled mightily: the support of the American public, the cost argument, and now its constitutionality.

When something isn’t working, there is never any shame in starting over. The majority of Americans are asking that we start over on health-care reform, and that is why the new Republican House in January will pass a clean repeal of Obamacare.  (*)

Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, will be House majority leader in the 112th Congress

– Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, will be House majority leader in the 112th Congress.

 

Russian President and President of Poland discussed cooperation in economic, energy, transport, and humanitarian sectors

Official welcome ceremony. With President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski.

December 07, 2010 (KATAKAMI / KREMLIN.RU) — The Russian President’s visit to Poland should give new impetus to developing Russian-Polish relations, Mr Medvedev said at a joint news conference with the Polish President. Mr Medvedev said that both countries seek pragmatic and mutually advantageous cooperation in all different areas, and that he hopes the talks will lead to intensification in interregional ties.

The Katyn issue was an important subject on the agenda at the talks. Russia has taken unprecedented steps recently to clear up ambiguity in its assessment of historical events, in particular, handing over part of the archival documents on the Katyn case to Poland. Mr Medvedev declared that this cooperation will continue and said he is certain this will help to clear up all of the difficulties in the two countries’ relations.

Concerning the investigation into the plane crash near Smolensk, the Russian President said that the political leadership and the heads of the investigative agencies will do everything possible to get objective evidence and conduct a complete and thorough investigation. The two countries’ presidents will oversee this work.

Mr Medvedev and Mr Komorowski also discussed European security issues and opportunities for Russia’s cooperation with the EU and NATO. The two leaders agreed to personally supervise humanitarian cooperation, in particular stepping up youth exchanges.

The two presidents oversaw the signing of several agreements, including a declaration on cooperation in economic modernisation, intergovernmental agreements on sea transport and cooperation in protecting the Baltic Sea from pollution by oil and other harmful substances, and a protocol of intent on establishing centres for dialogue and harmony in Russia and Poland. Cooperation agreements on postal and electronic communications were also signed, as well as agreements on cooperation between the two countries’ prosecutor generals’ offices, and on intensifying youth exchanges. (*)

Obama, Republicans agree to negotiate on taxes

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) and Vice President Joe Biden (3R) meet with bipartisan Congressional leadership in the President's Private Dining Room at The White House November 30, 2010 in Washington, DC. Attending the meeting, clockwise from President Obama are: Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, Majority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Republican Leader, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, Assistant Majority Leader, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ, Republican Whip, Vice President Biden, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA, Republican Whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD, Majority Leader, Rep. John Boehner, R-OH, Republican Leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA. During their first formal meeting since the mid-term elections, Obama spoke about taxes, the START treaty and finding common ground with Republicans. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)

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November 30, 2010 (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Republican leaders sought to break a “logjam” over the fate of Bush-era tax cuts on Tuesday, forming a new panel the White House hopes will reach a compromise within days.

Obama named Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and budget director Jack Lew to work with congressional Republicans and Democrats on a deal to prevent broad tax increases from hitting middle-income Americans next year.

The working group will also tackle the issue that most divides the two political parties: what to do about extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

At their first White House meeting since the November 2 congressional election, Obama and Republicans stuck to their divergent positions but the president said they agreed the issue must be resolved by the end of this year.

“We agreed that there must be some sensible common ground, so I appointed my Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, and my budget director, Jack Lew, to work with representatives of both parties to break through this logjam,” Obama said.

If no agreement is reached, all tax-paying Americans could see higher bills next year, giving Republicans a chance to score politically by making tax cuts their priority when taking control of the House of Representatives in January.

Finding common ground before then will be tricky.

Chris Van Hollen, a top Democrat in the House of Representatives, said the chamber could vote on Thursday to extend lower tax rates on income levels up to $200,000 for individuals or $250,000 for couples, allowing rates for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to rise.

That vote is seen as a gesture to liberal Democrats, who want to go on record opposing an extension for top earners. If the measure passes the House, it will likely die in the Senate, where Democrats would not have the votes to make it law.

Knowing that, the president may have to agree to extend cuts for Americans of all income levels for one to three years — an onerous option to many Democrats but one that may be the most likely outcome if the two sides agree on anything at all.

But many analysts are not optimistic.

Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Pittsburgh-based Fort Pitt Capital Group, said there was less than a 50 percent chance that the tax cuts will be extended.

House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH), participates in a media briefing after GOP leaders met at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama on November 30, 2010 in Washington, DC. In their first face-to-face meeting the leaders hoped to make progress in a compromise over the expiring Bush tax cuts. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WIDE DIFFERENCES

Obama said he and many Democrats continue to believe it would be “unwise and unfair” to spend $700 billion to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while also trying to bring down the U.S. deficit.

Republican leaders, emboldened by gains in the elections, argued it would be better for the economy if tax cuts for all Americans were extended.

“Republicans made the point that stopping all the looming tax hikes and cutting spending would, in fact, create jobs and get the economy moving again,” said Representative John Boehner, who will become Speaker of the House next year.

“We’re looking forward to the conversation with the White House over extending all of the current rates, and I remain optimistic.”

Obama met for about two hours with Boehner and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, as well as Democrats Nancy Pelosi, the current House speaker, and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader.

The president said he hoped the meeting would lead to a better relationship with congressional leaders and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama expressed regret for not having reached out more to Republicans in the past.

Republicans won a majority in the House in the November 2 elections but the Democrats retained control of the Senate.

“MUCK THINGS UP”

Expiration of all the lower tax rates, especially those for the middle class and lower-income Americans, would harm the U.S. economic recovery, many economists say.

It could cut economic growth by roughly 1 percentage point a year, according to some Wall Street estimates, though many believe any bump in taxes would be short term.

Brian Gardner, an analyst for investors at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, said Pelosi may side with liberals before becoming minority leader in the next congressional session.

“There is some thought that the last thing that Nancy Pelosi wants to do on her way out of the Speaker’s office is to have Congress approve an extension for tax cuts for the wealthy,” he said. “She could muck things up a little bit.”

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer has floated a possible compromise to keep the tax cuts for those making less than $1 million a year but the White House indicated that proposal did not have legs.

Reid has made clear he would like to hold a Senate vote on extending the rates only for those up to the $250,000 level to underscore the Democratic position, although such a vote is sure to fail.  (*)

Obama, Republicans in tax face-off at White House

President Barack Obama (left) and House Speaker-elect US Representative John Boehner

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November 30, 2010 (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – President Barack Obama faces off with Republican congressional leaders over taxes on Tuesday in a test-of-wills that could foreshadow how the White House works with the opposition party in the coming two years.

Obama will host Republicans John Boehner, the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Mitch McConnell, the party’s leader in the Senate, as well as Democrats Nancy Pelosi, the current Speaker, and Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, at 10:30 EST at the White House.

Taxes will be at the top of their agenda.

With a broad victory in November 2 elections behind them, Republicans are eager to force Democrats to agree to extend Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans as well as the middle-class constituency that concerns Obama the most.

Democrats have been in disarray about how to proceed, despite an impending deadline: the tax cuts expire at the end of this year, and Obama is keen to avoid a situation in which American families making less than $250,000 a year face a tax hike on Jan 1.

To prevent that, he may have to agree to extend cuts for Americans of all income levels for one to three years — an onerous option to many Democrats, but one that may be the most likely outcome if the two sides agree on anything at all.

Obama has said the United States cannot afford to pay the $700 billion it would cost to extend tax cuts for the rich, but he has also signaled a willingness to compromise after the “shellacking” his party received in this month’s election.

The White House said a deal was unlikely to be reached at Tuesday’s meeting, which Obama said he hoped would jump-start a better relationship between him and the newly empowered Republicans.

“My hope is that tomorrow’s meeting will mark a first step toward a new and productive working relationship,” Obama said. “Because we now have a shared responsibility to deliver for the American people on the issues that define not only these times but our future — and I hope we can do that in a cooperative and serious way.”

House Speaker-elect US Representative John Boehner speaks during a press conference November 18, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Boehner now awaits near-certain election by the full House as speaker when Republicans step into Congress on January 5 after seizing the majority from US President Barack Obama's Democrats. (Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

GET THE JOB DONE

Boehner and McConnell, who could become Obama’s main adversaries next year, wrote in an opinion piece that their party would insist on extending tax cuts for everyone during the “lame duck” congressional session that ends this year.

Republicans will control the House and have greater strength in the Senate next year.

“If President Obama and Democratic leaders put forward a plan during the lame-duck session to cut spending and stop the tax hikes on all Americans, they can count on a positive response from Republicans,” the two men wrote in a Washington Post piece published on Tuesday.

“If the president and Democratic leaders don’t act before the end of the year, however, House and Senate Republicans will work to get the job done in the new Congress. But we hope it doesn’t come to that.”

The Republicans will put that position on the table during the meeting with Obama, which will also be attended by Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, budget director Jack Lew and other congressional leaders.

Obama invited the congressional leaders for a White House dinner earlier this month, but it was put off for scheduling reasons, which some Democrats interpreted as a Republican snub of the president’s outstretched hand.  (*)

Abbas to reshuffle Palestinian government: official

File : Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a presser following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, not pictured, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010. Talks come within the framework of efforts aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

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RAMALLAH, Nov. 25 (KATAKAMI / Xinhua) — Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will reshuffle the government soon, a Fatah official said Thursday.

Abbas told a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah Wednesday that discussions to carry out the reshuffle have started, said Amin Maqboul, a member of the council.

Meanwhile, another Fatah official said on condition of anonymity that Abbas has agreed with his movement that Salam Fayyad, the current prime minister who is not a Fatah member, would lead the new government.

Fatah has always been demanding a reshuffle to take more senior portfolios into the government. Abbas asked Fayyad to form a government in June 2007, after Islamic Hamas movement routed pro- Abbas forces, ousted Fatah and seized control of the Gaza Strip.

“The ministerial change is a national demand that Fatah strongly supports,” Maqboul said, but he denied that Fatah aimed to take more ministries through the change.

Hamas routed pro-Abbas forces and seized control of Gaza in 2007, one year after it won the parliamentary elections. The Hamas government, led by Ismail Haneya, which was deposed by Abbas, has refused to recognize the Fayyad government in the West Bank. (*)

Indonesia : Former Deputy Attorney General named new Attorney General

Basrie Arief

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November 25, 2010 (KATAKAMI / THE JAKARTA POST) — President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono finally names former deputy attorney general Basrief Arief as the new attorney general, bringing the latter out of his retirement from 2007.

The President said Thursday that Basrief would be inaugurated as the new attorney general, replacing Hendarman Supandji, on Friday.

“After a number of considerations and listening to views of many parties, including the Vice President, I’ve decided to name Basrief Arief as the new attorney general,” he told a press conference at the Presidential Office.

Yudhoyono said Basrief had been head of the Jakarta prosecutors’ office, junior attorney general for intelligence and deputy attorney general before retiring in 2007.

He said he would soon appoint head and members of the Prosecutors Commission to oversee and ensure reforms in the prosecutors’ offices. (*)

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