Mistrust overshadows Obama’s Saudi trip

Obama-Saudi

Riyadh (AFP) – US President Barack Obama meets Saudi King Abdullah Friday as mistrust fuelled by differences over Iran and Syria overshadows a decades-long alliance between their countries.  Obama, who is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia late in the afternoon on a flight from Italy, is expected to hold evening talks with the monarch on a royal estate outside Riyadh.Saudi Arabia has strong reservations about efforts by Washington and other major world powers to negotiate a deal with Iran on its nuclear programme.  It is also disappointed over Obama’s 11th-hour decision last year not to take military action against the Syrian regime over chemical weapons attacks.Saudi analyst Abdel Aziz al-Sagr, who heads the Gulf Research Centre, said Saudi-US relations are “tense due to Washington’s stances” on the Middle East, especially Iran.The recent rapprochement between Tehran and Washington “must not take place at the expense of relations with Riyadh,” Sagr told AFP.  Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, long wary of Shiite Iran’s regional ambitions, views a November deal between world powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme as a risky venture that could embolden Tehran.

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Obama, Countering Critics, Defends Iran Nuclear Deal

SAN FRANCISCO — President Obama said on Monday that “cleareyed, principled diplomacy” had produced the agreement with Iran to stall its nuclear development, pushing back against rising criticism in Congress and from allies like Israel that the pact reached in Geneva was a capitulation. Speaking at a rally in San Francisco, Mr. Obama emphasized what he described as a major achievement in the long-estranged relations with Iran. He spoke as American officials confirmed that Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped finalize the deal on Sunday, had engaged in secret communications with Iran months ago in an effort to improve relations and encourage talks.

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Tens of millions could be forced out of health insurance they had

WASHINGTON — Even as President Barack Obama sold a new health care law in part by assuring Americans they would be able to keep their insurance plans, his administration knew that tens of millions of people actually could lose those their policies.  “If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period,” Obama said as he pitched the plan, the unqualified promise he made repeatedly.  Yet advisers did say in 2010 that there were large caveats and that anyone whose insurance plan changed would lose the promised protection of being able to keep existing plans.  And a report in 2010 said that as many as 69 percent of certain employer-based insurance plans would lose that protection, meaning as many as 41 million people could lose their plans even if they wanted to keep them and would be forced into other plans. Another 11 million who bought their own insurance also could lose their plans. Combined, as many as 52 million Americans could lose or have lost old insurance plans.

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World’s anger at Obama policies goes beyond Europe and the NSA

WASHINGTON — Whether miffed over spying revelations or feeling sold out by U.S. moves in the Middle East, some of the United States’ closest allies are so upset that the Obama administration has gone into damage-control mode to ensure the rifts don’t widen and threaten critical partnerships.  The quarrels differ in their causes and degrees of seriousness. As a whole, however, they pose a new foreign policy headache for an administration whose overseas track record is seen in many quarters at home and abroad as reactive and lacking direction.  In Europe and the Middle East, rifts that once would’ve been quietly smoothed over have exploded into headlines and public remonstrations.  The uproar in Europe over revelations from fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the United States spied on as many as 35 government leaders, including Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, has become so great that early Friday 28 European leaders said Merkel and French President Francois Hollande would open negotiations with the United States over a “no-spying agreement.”

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Doomed From the Start

It would be an understatement to say that this month’s rollout of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiative to ensure that all Americans have access to health insurance, has not gone according to plan. On October 1, the online insurance marketplaces that are the lynchpin of Obamacare (as the law has colloquially become known) were opened for business — but it quickly became clear that they are not functioning properly. Computer malfunctions have prevented enrollment, consumers are frustrated, and politicians and pundits are attacking Obama for the resultant “train wreck.” The problems are all the more embarrassing given that publicly funded health-insurance programs are commonplace in most other countries.

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House immigration group collapses

WASHINGTON – The road to overhauling the nation’s immigration laws became even more difficult Friday when two Republicans abandoned a bipartisan group that had been working to craft a solution in the House of Representatives.  Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, and Rep. Sam Jonhson, R-Texas, put the blame for their decision to leave the House working group on President Obama.  They said the bill they were developing put a lot of responsibility in the hands of the executive branch to enforce immigration law, and they couldn’t trust him to follow through.

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Syria crisis: Obama says world’s credibility on the line

President Barack Obama has said the credibility of the US, its Congress and the international community is on the line over their response to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons.  Speaking in Sweden, he said the world should stick to its own “red line” against the use of chemical weapons.  Mr Obama is trying to build support in the US for punitive military action against the Syrian government.  Congress will vote next week on whether to support his plans.  France – whose government has strongly advocated intervention – held an extraordinary debate on Wednesday in the National Assembly, though MPs will not vote on the matter as the president can mobilise the military without their backing.

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Liberals reject Obama’s case for Syria strikes; believe Obama and Kerry are lying

President Obama’s liberal activist base is adamantly opposed to military strikes in Syria, according to a new survey the Progressive Change Campaign Committee released Wednesday.  PCCC says more than 57,000 of its activists weighed in, and 73 percent of them opposed the U.S. taking action in Syria. Just 18 percent supported strikes, and just 14 percent said the U.S. should go ahead unilaterally if it can’t find any allies.  Indeed, a majority of the activists don’t believe Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry are being honest when they lay out their justifications for taking military action.

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Obama’s 2014 calculation: Let’s have a war

The first rule for President Obama: It’s all about 2014. The second rule for President Obama: See Rule No. 1.  Make no mistake: The president couldn’t care less about the plight of Syrians, the 1,500 gassed to death — including nearly 500 children. It’s all about 2014. Win the House, reign supreme.  Consider this: Mr. Obama made his dramatic Rose Garden statement Saturday — then headed to the golf course. Congress has no plans to cut short its 30-day vacation, and the president did not call lawmakers back. So much for urgency.  The conventional wisdom is, as usual, wrong. Losing the congressional vote won’t be an embarrassment for the president, as all the talking heads are still parroting. A loss would be a double win. First, because a “No” vote would allow the foreign policy neophyte to walk away from his blundering “red line” declaration on chemical weapons (“I wanted to go in, but Congress said no”). And second, should Republicans who voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars now oppose Syria, the president would be armed with clear “evidence” that their opposition is purely political.

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Obama Will Become First President to Spend $4T in One Year

(CNSNews.com) – In the historical tables it released along with President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal this morning, the White House Office of Management and Budget revealed that in fiscal 2016, under the president’s budget proposal, it expects Obama to become the first president in the nation’s history to preside over a federal government that spends more than $4 trillion in one year.

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