The Envoy
  • True to his word, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave an impassioned speech to the United Nations Friday, explaining his decision to defy Jerusalem and Washington by submitting a bid for recognition of Palestinian statehood to the world body.

    "The time has come to end the suffering and the plight of millions of Palestine refugees in the homeland and the Diaspora, to end their displacement and to realize their rights, some of them forced to take refuge more than once in different places of the world," Abbas told world leaders, to applause and two standing ovations.

    Shortly thereafter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the same body. Netanyahu, not surprisingly, sounded a strong note of caution, explaining that Israel is wary of hasty peace agreements. After Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, Netanyahu noted, it continued to face attacks.

    "I bring up these problems because they're not theoretical problems," Netanyahu told the UN General

    Read More »from Palestinians take their case to United Nations, as new peace talks timetable proposed
  • Jon Stewart from the "The Daily Show" Mideast skit Sept. 22, 2011. (Comedy Central, via Daily Kos.)

    Much like another ally of President Barack Obama, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart has broken with Obama's announced plans Wednesday to veto any Palestinian  statehood resolution at the United Nations. Last night, Stewart likened the American president's hard-line position to that of the recalcitrant member of a Manhattan co-op board who won't let a tenant keep dogs while having two Great Danes of his own.

    Stewart also suggested to the Palestinians that they might have better luck advancing their statehood aspirations if they change their name to "Palestein." (See the clip here.)

    Via the Daily Kos's BruinKid:

    "You know, the real issue isn't really the chair or the application," Stewart said, referring to the much-debated tactics the Palestinians are considering over which venue at the U.N. bureaucracy to submit their membership application. "As with any good co-op, it's getting past that one hard-ass on the co-op board, the one who always shoots people down, because he doesn't like dogs, but he has two Great Danes, because he was grandfathered in. ...So are the Palestinians in?"

    The show then featured a clip of Obama's speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday: "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations," Obama sternly pronounced. "Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them."

    Stewart summarized: "So there you go, Palestine.  All you need to do is settle your differences with Israel.  Hee hee, hee hee, hee hee."

    Then Stewart had an inspiration: "I have an idea:  Maybe this will make it a little more palatable.  Have you thought about a spelling change?"

    Read More »from “Palestein”? ‘The Daily Show’ offers advice on Middle East stalemate
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Pres. Obama met in New York Sept. 21, 2011. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)After two and a half years watching the Obama administration's lurching, failed efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, France's Nicolas Sarkozy is signaling that it's time for Washington to give other players a chance to take a larger role in the traditionally U.S.-led peace process.

    That French sentiment--expressed previously if discreetly by French foreign minister Alain Juppe--became more obvious this week, after President Obama vowed to block Palestinian efforts to seek increased international recognition at the UN. In his speech to the UN Wednesday, Obama also retreated from his earlier calls on Israel to halt Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
    Sarkozy, by contrast, told world leaders at the UN Wednesday that France supported a compromise:

    "Each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state," Sarkozy said in his speech to the UN General Assembly Wednesday, the New York Times reported. "But who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East?"

    "Why not envisage offering Palestine the status of United Nations observer state?" Sarkozy continued. "This would be an important step forward. Most important, it would mean emerging from a state of immobility that favors only the extremists."

    Sarkozy's push for a middle way--and a greater voice in the traditionally U.S.-dominated peace process--comes as Obama is increasingly asserting a more public defense of Israeli positions and security concerns in its volatile region. The shift seems calculated in part to shore up Obama's support for his 2012 presidential election campaign. In reality, Obama's administration has given more in U.S. military assistance to Israel than any previous administration.

    Read More »from Is France’s Sarkozy ‘leading from behind’ on Middle East peace?


(679 Stories)
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  • Obama: Offshore 'tax inversions' are unpatriotic
    Obama: Offshore 'tax inversions' are unpatriotic

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says a loophole that lets companies dodge U.S. taxes by moving their headquarters overseas is unpatriotic.

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    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The talk in American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War halls and barrooms across Montana has been about Sen. John Walsh since the Democrat linked a cribbed research project he wrote in 2007 to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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    Girls Night! Michelle Obama And Daughters Spotted At Beyonce And Jay Z Concert [PHOTO]

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    World Cup over, but some Argentines won't go home

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Lucas Bazan Pontoni rifled through his pockets for the 45-cent lunch fee as he stood in line at a downtown soup kitchen. When he came up short, an acquaintance sprang for the government-subsidized meal.

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  • Dylan Penn Opens Up About Dad Sean Penn, Charlize Theron's Relationship: 'They're a Great Couple'
    Dylan Penn Opens Up About Dad Sean Penn, Charlize Theron's Relationship: 'They're a Great Couple'

    Congrats, Charlize — your boyfriend's little girl approves! Sean Penn's actress-daughter Dylan Penn spoke to Us Weekly about her father's relationship with the South African beauty while attending the DT Model Management 2-Year Anniversary Party in West Hollywood on Thursday, July 24.

  • Earth survived near-miss from 2012 solar storm: NASA
    Earth survived near-miss from 2012 solar storm: NASA

    Back in 2012, the Sun erupted with a powerful solar storm that just missed the Earth but was big enough to "knock modern civilization back to the 18th century," NASA said. The extreme space weather that tore through Earth's orbit on July 23, 2012, was the most powerful in 150 years, according to a statement posted on the US space agency website Wednesday. "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire," said Daniel Baker, professor of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado. Instead the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft, a solar observatory that is "almost ideally equipped to measure the parameters of such an event," NASA said.

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