7:28 AM, May 5, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
During a talk to the U.S. embassy staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the first stop on his trip to Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked about what he called the "different cross-currents of modernity" and the challenges they present on the African continent. The comments contain a veiled reference to religion, and the part that religion might be playing in some of the current conflicts in Africa:
This is a time here in Africa where there are a number of different cross-currents of modernity that are coming together to make things even more challenging. Some people believe that people ought to be able to only do what they say they ought to do, or to believe what they say they ought to believe, or live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live.
The words "something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago" appear to refer to the Bible, or the Koran, or perhaps both. More than one conflict in Africa today has either implicit or explicit religious connections:
In Nigeria, the Boko Haram, which the State Department has called a "violent extremist organization with links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb" has been "responsible for thousands of deaths since its conception in 2009, including large-scale attacks against Muslim and Christian religious communities."
In the Central African Republic, the State Department recently expressed that the United States is "deeply concerned by attacks on both Muslims and Christians[.]"
Further, the so-called Lord's Resistance Army with its leader the self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony has wreaked havoc in numerous African nations. The State Department has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Kony's arrest or conviction.
Besides military conflicts, other issues with religious connotations have come to the forefront in recent years, from Uganda's recent anti-homosexuality law to some Islamic groups' attempts to institute Sharia law in some countries.
The press office of the State Department declined to parse Kerry's remarks, instead referring questions to the traveling party accompanying the secretary on his Africa trip. An attempt to contact State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, who was with Kerry in Africa, to clarify the remarks has so far been unsuccessful.
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes the helm in a beleaguered country under attack from Islamic extremists.1:32 PM, Aug 14, 2013 • By ROGER KAPLAN
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a central figure in Mali’s political life for over 20 years, was the winner in Sunday’s runoff vote in the landlocked West African nation’s presidential election, as his rival, Soumaila Cisse, conceded and congratulated his compatriots on a civic duty well done.
"We take our bangs and we stand in front of important things the world needs to see."7:55 AM, Jul 2, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
In Tanzania, Michelle Obama joked about the "prison-like elements" of being first lady. "[B]ut it's a really nice prison," she said. "You can't complain."
7:49 AM, Jul 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Presidents Obama and Bush will meet Tuesday at a wreath laying ceremony in Tanzania. Via the pool report:
Air Force One arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania at 2:39 pm local time. POTUS and family are expected to be greeted at the bottom of the steps with an arrival ceremony. Your pooler will send details of the arrival ceremony in a separate email.
There was also a gaggle. See below.
7:05 AM, Jul 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden, along with his wife, Jill Biden, will spend this week Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
The White House emailed Biden's schedule:
DAILY GUIDANCE FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT AND DR. JILL BIDEN
12:18 PM, Jun 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama is with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the HIV Foundation Center in South Africa, where a 15-year-old "rapper" performed "Hell on Earth" for him this afternoon. Via the pool report:
Potus entered a classroom type building with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was wearing a pink cassock and a large silver cross. About six young boys sat in front of screens.
The program offers after school support, which includes English conversation, and computer learning.
'Frankly, We Don't Need Energy from Africa.'8:38 AM, Jun 29, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
At a press conference today in Pretoria, South Africa, President Obama lectured about job creation -- and how to look out for your own national interests:
3:25 PM, Jun 28, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
At the Radisson Blu in Dakar, Senegal, President Obama tried to get reporters to write about issues he believes are important. "[M]illet and maize and fertilizer doesn’t always make for sexy copy, but I very much hope that all the press who were in attendance today generate a story about this," Obama told the press.
The remarks came after a Food Security Expo in the African nation.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:21 PM, Jun 28, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes on the week that was in Washington.
9:32 AM, Jun 28, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama stopped by the press cabin on Air Force One, as the presidential plane made its way to South Africa. While there, the press had a chance to ask the president about major issues concerning Americans: the scandals, the controversial Supreme Court decisions, immigration, and many others.
Instead, the press asked about Obama's Africa legacy (or lack thereof), China's relationship with Africa, the commitment of U.S. companies to Africa, and whether he'll visit the ailing Nelson Mandela.
Here are the questions asked by the press to the commander in chief:
9:12 AM, Jun 28, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama went to the press cabin on Air Force One to say he doesn't need a "photo-op" with the ailing Nelson Mandela, who's currently in a Johannesburg hospital. President Obama himself will land in South Africa shortly and says he doesn't want to be "obtrusive" to the Mandela family.
Via the Twitter account of Hans Nichols, Bloomberg White House reporter:
5:44 PM, Jun 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
An unexpected thing happened at tonight's state dinner in Senegal: President Sall reunited President Obama with a character who appears in his book, Dreams from My Father. Via the pool report:
Mr. Sall opened the dinner with remarks. He welcomed POTUS and FLOTUS, saying that the American president had "honored" Senegal by choosing to open the visit here after his "brilliant" reelection last year.
"We are happy and honored to welcome you," he said in English.
12:44 PM, Jun 27, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
As President Obama and his family continue their tour of Africa, the White House put out a Fact Sheet entitled "U.S. Support for Strengthening Democratic Institutions, Rule of Law, and Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa." One of the first items highlighted by the White House is a $53 million program in Kenya that helps young people "obtain National identification cards, a prerequisite to voter registration."
"I'm Not Going to Be Scrambling Jets to Get a 29-Year-Old Hacker"8:17 AM, Jun 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama, speaking about Edward Snowden in Africa, said he hasn't called the Chinese and Russians about the man wanted by the U.S. government:
6:13 PM, Jun 21, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a Friday evening press release, the White House details what First Lady Michelle Obama will be doing when she, the president of the United States, and their daughters travel to Africa next week. A recent article in the Washington Post reported that the trip could cost up to $100 million.