| At a United Nations conference on racism in Geneva on Monday, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, launched in to a tirade against Israel. Delegates from a number of European countries walked out in protest.
The U.S., Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Israel all boycotted the conference as they had expected Ahmadinejad to use the conference as a forum to “focus on maligning Israel rather than on the global problems of discrimination, replaying the disputes that marked the first United Nations conference on combating racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.”
The countries that walked out: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic (has left the conference for good), Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, , Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, St. Kitts and Nevis
Image courtesy of The NYT.
| The release of the Bush torture memos last week caused many on the left to become more vocal, urging the current administration to hold accountable those who directed others to violate U.S. and international law. On Tuesday, President Obama stated publicly for the first time, that he is open to prosecution of the people responsible for directing others to commit acts of torture. Bolding is mine.From The New York Times:
But in response to questions from reporters in the Oval Office, he said, “if and when there needs to be a further accounting,” he hoped that Congress would examine ways to obtain one “in a bipartisan fashion,” from people who are independent and therefore can build credibility with the public.
Image of the scales of justice on top of the Old Bailey in London, by Andrew Parsons, courtesy of the BBC.
| Congress is back in Washington this week, after a break for Easter recess. At the top of their agenda is the budget, healthcare, and credit cards.
The president has said that he expects Republicans to come back with a more “constructive attitude toward health care, energy and other administration initiatives.” David Axelrod via Huffpost:
"No one expects the Republican Party to fully embrace what we're doing," Axelrod said. "What they would like is for us to ratify the policies that we've had for the last eight years that have gotten us into the mess we're in. We have two parties for a reason, but there are areas of common interest, and we ought to pursue them."
| On Monday, President Obama directed his cabinet to cut spending by $100 million, acknowledging that it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket.
The cabinet was directed to go through the expenses in each of their areas, and eliminate a total of $100 million from the budget.
Obama said the $100 million would come from "efficiencies" in agency operations, and would be in addition to future cuts in programs that aren't working.
Yet the red ink in the annual budget is currently in the hundreds of billions. He was asked if the efficiency saving isn't just "a drop in the bucket".
"It is," he replied. "None of these things alone are going to make a difference. But cumulatively, they make an extraordinary difference because they start setting a tone ... $100 million there, $100 million here _ pretty soon, even here in Washington, it adds up to real money."
| In signing legislation that will triple the size of the Americorps program, President Obama called on students to volunteer to improve their communities. .
| MEDIA MATTERS log, April 20 - April 26, 2009