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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘White House spokesman Jay Carney’

Obama Golfs and Bibi Eats Ice Cream – How Much to Indulge Leaders?

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Personal expenses for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu soared 80 percent in the last year, according to figures that his office were forced to release after it ignored a formal request and acquiesced only after a petition for disclosure was filed in court.

The anti-Netanyahu Israeli press, which is just about all of the local media, jumped on the Prime Minister and his wife Sarah for freely spending the taxpayers’ money at a time when the government is carrying out austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit.

The attacks are somewhat populist, but that does not detract from the fact that some of the Netanyahus’ spending habits are from frugal.

However, compared with President Barack Obama, the Israeli expenditures are peanuts.

Of course, comparing the United States with Israel is like comparing Wyoming with New York, but there also is one other very basic difference: Israel loves to hang out its collective dirty laundry in full view of the public.

The Israeli society is nothing if not open. Thanks to the official list of expenditures, we now know that the Netanyahus spent approximately $40,000 for gardening last year at the family’s official home and two private residences.

Cosmetic and haircut and hairdo expense rose last year from $9,250 to nearly $18,000.

We don’t know how much the White House spent on keeping Obama and Michelle’s hair neat and prim, but you can bet your bottom shekel that $18,000 barely paid for a shave and after-shave.

In Israel, the principle often is more important than the principal, and the public indeed needs a leader who can be an example of a bit of modest spending at a time when the government wants to hike taxes and lower services to the public.

Netanyahu earlier this year was embarrassed by the disclosure that he asked for $2,700 to lap up ice cream, one of his weaknesses. He put a stop to his habit, at least not at the public’s expense.

Last week, he had to order a halt to the use of a special airplane bedroom that was installed for the price of $125,000 when he and his wife flew to Britain for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher. The special room will be removed, except for trans-Atlantic flights.

In the United States, President Obama has been has attacked for his costly habit of playing golf. His recent outing with Tiger Woods cost $78,000 just for security.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney how much is spent for President Obama’s golf tours?

“Well, the president is the President of the United States,” Carney replied. “And he is elected to represent all of the people. And he travels around the country, appropriately. I don’t have a figure on the cost of presidential travel. It is obviously something, as every President deals with because of security and staff, a significant undertaking. But the President has to travel around the country. He has to travel around the world. That is part of his job.”

“How much does it cost for him to go and play golf?” Karl insisted.

Carney never answered the question.

The large outlay for political leaders’ quirks raises the question of how much they need to be pampered to keep from collapsing under the strain of public office.

“Bibi is king, and in a monarchy, when the king and queen fly, price is no object,” political commentator Sima Kadmon wrote in Israel’s Yediot Acharonot.

The president’s total impersonal expenditures are estimated at $1.4 billion a year, and that more or less is the same level of spending in the Bush administration.

But there is a limit, morally. Can Prime Minister Netanyahu function without so much ice cream, even without taking into account that he can do without the calories?

And does the White House really have to spend more than $250,000 a year on flowers, the figure that is an official government statistic?

Battering Netanyahu is popular and often justified, and the results are positive. Bedroom flights to Europe have been scrapped, and the ice cream budget has melted.

Now let’s see if Obama starts playing less golf.

Iranian Defector on Army Radio: ‘Big Explosion at Fordow’

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Following as string of unconfirmed reports, speculation and guesses, the U.S. has announces that it does not believe there was an explosion at the Fordow nuclear facility in Iran.

Last Friday, right wing news website World News Daily reported an explosion at Fordow that led to the collapse of the bulk of the facility built under a mountain near the city of Qom, burying some 240 employees.

The report was said to have come from defecting Iranian Intelligence operators and Revolutionary Guards. One of those alleged defectors, Hmidrza Zaakiri, on Tuesday told Israel Army Radio about the event and its outcome.

“It was a big explosion, and because the facility is built under the mountain rock, it is very hard to reach workers trapped in there,” said Zaakiri. “All the elevators and emergency stairs have collapsed.”

Tehran has already denied the reports that its main uranium enrichment plant was damaged, and now the United States also rejects this report.

“We have no information to confirm the allegations in the report and we do not believe the report is credible,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “We don’t believe those are credible reports.”

Meanwhile the world is waiting for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which keeps track of the Fordow facility, to state whether there is evidence of sabotage there.

Iran has not updated its original response to the rumors, published on Sunday, which blamed the “Western propaganda machine” for the news.

“There has been no explosion in Fordow nuclear Facility,” the deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Seyyed Shamseddin Barbroudi said on Sunday.

The credibility of the initial report’s author has been called into question: Reza Kahlili worked for CIA in Iran in the 1980s, then was moved to the U.S. with his family.

Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer reported that “Kahlili himself is a frequent speaker at events in US organized by right-wing organizations and those that support the right in Israel … He also compared the regime in Tehran to that of the Nazis, and called upon Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations.”

Currently Kahlili writes books and lectures on Iran. He claims “to still have an impressive network of sources in various government agencies.”

Kahlili has never shown his face in public, for fear of retribution. He always appears wearing a baseball cap, dark glasses and a surgical mask.

Pfeffer verified, however, that Kahlili’s “employment by the CIA has been confirmed by agency sources and an approving review of his book [A Time to Betray] even appeared on the CIA website.”

Now, with defector Hmidrza Zaakiri adding his voice to the story, it appears that there has been some smoke at Fordow, and we only need to find out how much fire created it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iranian-defector-to-army-radio-there-was-a-big-explosion-at-fordow/2013/01/29/

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