Trần Hoàng Blog

Day One

Posted by hoangtran204 trên 21/01/2009

Obama’s Day One: Church, then econ, war advisers

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Jan 21-09)– President Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office for the first time as chief executive on Wednesday and summoned economic advisers and top military officials to meetings aimed at delivering the change he promised as a candidate. Aides circulated a draft executive order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

The president also placed phone calls to Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders.

Obama emphasized in the conversations that he would work to consolidate the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, said the new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs said Obama expressed “his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term.”

A multi-denominational prayer service at Washington National Cathedral and an open house at the presidential mansion were also on the schedule of the 44th president, taking office on a promise to fix the battered economy and withdraw U.S. troops from the unpopular war in Iraq on a 16-month timetable.

The shift in administrations — former President George W. Bush was back home in Texas — was underscored in far-off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where a judge granted Obama’s request to suspend the war crimes trial of a young Canadian. The judge issued a one-sentence order for the 120-day continuance without so much as a hearing, possibly the beginning of the end for the former administration’s system of trials for alleged terrorists.

A draft executive order made clear the new president intends to go further. It called for closing the facility within a year, releasing some of the 245 detainees still there and transferring others to different sites for trial.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sat in the first row for Wednesday’s invitation-only prayer service. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, joined them, as did former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., awaiting confirmation as secretary of state later in the day.

“Grant to Barack Obama, president of the United States, and to all in authority your grace and good will. Bless them with your heavenly gifts, give them wisdom and strength to know and to do your will,” prayed the Rev. Andy Stanley, one of numerous clerics from several religions to speak.

Obama’s first White House meetings as president meshed with quickened efforts in Congress to add top Cabinet officials to the roster of those confirmed on Tuesday and to advance the economic stimulus measure that is a top priority of his administration.

Treasury Secretary-designate Tim Geithner, appearing before the Senate Finance Committee for a confirmation hearing, said enactment of the new president’s economic stimulus was essential. He also said the Senate’s decision last week to permit use of the second $350 installment of a financial industry bailout “will enable us to take the steps necessary to help get credit flowing.”

He said Obama and he “share your belief that this program needs serious reform.”

Geithner also apologized for his failure to pay personal taxes earlier in the decade, calling the omission a mistake. The taxes were repaid in stages, some after an IRS audit and the rest after a review of his returns late last year by Obama’s transition team.

Obama and his wife arrived at the White House around 1 a.m. after attending 10 official inaugural balls.

Several hours later he walked into the most famous office in America for the first time as president.

The new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said in a statement that Obama spent 10 minutes alone and read a note left for him by Bush that was in an envelope marked “To: #44, From: #43.”

He was then joined by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and, several minutes later, the first lady.

Wednesday’s meeting with economic advisers was coming at a time when 11 million Americans are out of work and millions more feel the loss of savings and face the prospect of foreclosures on their homes.

Last week, Congress cleared the way for use of a second, $350 billion installment of financial-industry bailout money, a pre-inaugural victory for Obama.

Democratic leaders hope to have the $825 billion economic stimulus measure to his desk by mid-February.

“Fortunately, we’ve seen Congress immediately start working on the economic recovery package, getting that passed and putting people back to work,” Obama said in an ABC News interview. “That’s going to be the thing we’ll be most focused on.”

The war in Iraq that he has promised to end featured prominently in Obama’s first day as well.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, were among those called in for the meeting as the new president assumed the role of commander in chief.

In his inaugural address on Tuesday, Obama said his goal was to “responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.”

The two unfinished wars are twinned for Obama. He has promised to bring U.S. combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months of taking office, as long as doing so wouldn’t endanger either the Americans left behind for training and terrorism-fighting nor the security gains in Iraq. And he has said he would use that drawdown to bolster the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, where U.S.-backed fighters are losing ground against a resurgent Taliban.


WHouse stops pending Bush regulations for review

  • Tue Jan 20, 7:25 pm

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s new administration ordered all federal agencies and departments on Tuesday to stop any pending regulations until they can be reviewed by incoming staff, halting last-minute Bush orders in their tracks.

“This afternoon, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signed a memorandum sent to all agencies and departments to stop all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration,” the White House said in a statement issued just hours after Obama took office.

The review is a tool commonly used by a new administration to delay so-called “midnight regulations” put in place by a former president between the election and Inauguration Day.

Midnight regulations have been heavily used by recent former presidents, including the Democrat Bill Clinton, Republican George H. W. Bush, and most recently, the Republican George W. Bush.

Controversial late rules by the outgoing Bush administration include allowing the carrying of concealed weapons in some national parks and prohibiting medical facilities from receiving federal money for discriminating against doctors and nurses who refuse to assist with abortions or dispense contraceptives based on religious grounds.

Federal law requires a 60-day waiting period before any major regulatory changes become law, so some presidents try to publish new major regulations to ensure they go into effect before the new president’s inauguration on January 20.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Patricia Zengerle)


Obama freezes salaries of some White House aides

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent Wed Jan 21

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama‘s first public act in office Wednesday was to institute new limits on lobbyists in his White House and to freeze the salaries of high-paid aides, in a nod to the country’s economic turmoil.

Announcing the moves while attending a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to swear in his staff, Obama said the steps “represent a clean break from business as usual.”

The pay freeze, first reported by The Associated Press, would hold salaries at their current levels for the roughly 100 White House employees who make over $100,000 a year. “Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington,” said the new president, taking office amid startlingly bad economic times that many fear will grow worse.

Those affected by the freeze include the high-profile jobs of White House chief of staff, national security adviser and press secretary. Other aides who work in relative anonymity also would fit into that cap if Obama follows a structure similar to the one George W. Bush set up.

Obama’s new lobbying rules will not only ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted.

The rules also ban lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the ban would include the traditional “previous relationships” clause, allowing gifts from friends or associates with which an employee comes in with strong ties.

The new rules also require that anyone who leaves his administration is not allowed to try to influence former friends and colleagues for at least two years. Obama is requiring all staff to attend to an ethics briefing like one he said he attended last week.

Obama called the rules tighter “than under any other administration in history.” They followed pledges during his campaign to be strict about the influence of lobbyist in his White House.

“The new rules on lobbying alone, no matter how tough, are not enough to fix a broken system in Washington,” he said. “That’s why I’m also setting rules that govern not just lobbyists but all those who have been selected to serve in my administration.”

In an attempt to deliver on pledges of a transparent government, Obama said he would change the way the federal government interprets the Freedom of Information Act. He said he was directing agencies that vet requests for information to err on the side of making information public — not to look for reasons to legally withhold it — an alteration to the traditional standard of evaluation.

Just because a government agency has the legal power to keep information private does not mean that it should, Obama said. Reporters and public-interest groups often make use of the law to explore how and why government decisions were made; they are often stymied as agencies claim legal exemptions to the law.

“For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” Obama said.

He said the orders he was issuing Wednesday will not “make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be” nor go as far as he would like.

“But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country,” Obama said. “And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people, in the days and weeks, months and years to come.”

Trung Quốc bắt Quả Tang 1000 Người gian lận trong các kỳ Thi Tuyển vào Ngành Công Chức Năm Nay

Chi Chi Zhang, Thông Tấn Xã AP

Sunday 18-1-2009

Bắc Kinh – Gần 1000 người đã bị bắt gặp đang gian lận trong các kỳ thi tuyển vào làm công chứ của Trung Quốc, một số người đã dùng những dụng cụ nghe kỹ thuật cao đặt trong tai của họ, truyền thông Trung Quốc đã cho biết như thế vào ngày thù Hai.

Tờ nhật báo China Daily của chính quyền đã cho biết như thế trong một cột báo, con số người bị bắt vị gian lận đã là lớn nhất chưa từng có trong kỳ thi lần nầy.

Gian lận trong thi cử là một sự phổ biến trong một nước có 1,3 tỉ dân nầy, nơi mà áp lực để đậu các kỳ thi tuyển quốc gia để vào đại học và vào các công việc dành cho công chức nhà nước là rất căng thẳng. Hàng năm, khoảng 9,5 triệu người lấy kỳ thi tuyển vào đại học, nhưng chỉ có ¼ trong số các người nầy là được ghi danh vào đại học.

Những người thi cử gian lận đã nhờ những người khác truyền tin tức cho họ qua các dụng cụ nghe vô tuyến nhét trong lỗ tai, và mua những bài giải đúng tiêu chuẩn cho các kỳ thi từ các công ty ở bên ngoài, thông tấn xã Xinhua của nhà nước TQ đã trích dẫn lại từ Vụ Công Chức Nhà Nước ra thông báo cho biết.

Vào khoảng 775.000 người đã dự kỳ thi tuyển vào ngành công chức vào năm ngoái để chiếm 13.500 chỗ làm đang có sẵn. Trong một số trường hợp nhiều ngàn người thi để cạnh tranh một số việc nhiều quyền lợi, chẳng hạn như vào một bộ hay sở nào đó với tiềm năng được đi đó đi đây du lịch, TTX Sinhua cho biết.

Nhiều cuộc điện thoại của tòa báo gọi tới Sở Tuyển Dụng Công Chức của Nhà Nước có chuông reng nhưng không ai trả lời.

Chẳng có điều nội qui đặc biệt nào để đương đầu với những người gian lận liên quan tới các kỳ thi tuyển công chức, nhưng họ các người gian lận nầy nên đối diện với các hình phạt nghiêm khắc hơn, tờ nhật báo China cho biết.

“Những ai gian lận trong các kỳ thi vào ngành công chức rơi vào loại tội xấu nhất và xứng đáng bị hình phạt nghiêm khắc nhất,” viên chủ bút của tờ báo nầy viết. Cột báo ghi lại rằng các công chức nhà nước nên là những người gương mẫu trong phẩm chất đạo đức.

Một bài báo trước đây của TTX Xinhua cảnh báo rằng công luận không được mua các bài giải, các bài thi là các bí mật của đất nước và những ai bị bắt gặp đang chuồi bài thi ra ngoài phải đối diện với hình phạt từ 3 đến 5 năm tù giam.

Các kỳ thi tuyển công chức đã xuất phát từ các thời vua chúa và từ lâu được xem như là một bước vững chắc đưa tới sự ổn định tài chánh và ổn định tình trạng sống trong xã hội.


China catches 1,000 cheaters during state exams

By CHI-CHI ZHANG, Associated Press Writer Chi-chi Zhang, Associated Press Writer – Sun Jan 18,

BEIJING – Nearly 1,000 people have been caught cheating on China‘s notoriously competitive civil service entrance exams, some with high-tech listening devices in their ears, state media reported Monday.

The official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial the number caught cheating was the largest ever for the exam.

Cheating during tests is common in the country of 1.3 billion people, where pressure to pass competitive national exams for entrance to universities and civil service jobs is intense. About 9.5 million young people take college entrance exams each year, but only one in four are eligible for college enrollment.

The cheaters had people feeding them information through wireless mini earplugs, and bought standard answers for the exams from outside companies, the official Xinhua News Agency cited the State Administration of Civil Service as saying.

About 775,000 people took the competitive civil servant exam last year to fill just 13,500 available positions. In some cases thousands were competing for more coveted positions, such as a ministry or a department with travel prospects, Xinhua reported.

Calls to the State Administration of Civil Service rang unanswered Monday.

There are no specific rules in dealing with cheaters in regards to civil servant exams, but they should face the harshest punishment, the China Daily said.

“Those who cheat in examinations for civil servants fall into the category of worst offenders and deserve the severest punishment,” the editorial said. It said civil servants should be role models in moral integrity.

An earlier Xinhua report warning the public not to buy exam answers, said exam papers were state secrets and those caught leaking them faced three to seven years in prison.

China‘s civil service exam has been in place from imperial times and has long been seen as a stepping stone to social status and financial stability.


“In China’s highly competitive national exams, where chances of success are very slim, many applicants, especially the less academically inclined, are lured to cheat,” Xinhua said.

More than 300 candidates were caught cheating in examination rooms on November 30, while another 700 were busted after their papers were found to have “shared much conformity,” Xinhua said, citing the State Administration of Civil Service.

The cheaters were mainly found in the northeastern province of Liaoning and the capital city, Beijing. Those caught are disqualified from the exam and can be barred from the civil servant exams for both central and local governments for up to five years.

In an extreme case, one position with the China Disabled Persons‘ Federation had more than 4,700 applicants, Xinhua said.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Ken Wills and Valerie Lee)


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