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Jan 21st, 2009

President Barack Obama’s promise to end the war in Iraq will be on the agenda today when the new commander in chief meets with top national security aides and senior commanders, officials said. … Full story


Late update: Obama tells military to plan for Iraq drawdown


Tears, Cheers for New President

U.S. Army Sgt. James Bishop, center, and other soldiers from the 229th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. (Photo credit: Maya Alleruzzo / AP)

Jan. 20, 2009

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — Army Sgt. James Bishop wiped away tears while he watched Barack Obama take the presidential oath Tuesday and wished his mother had lived to see a fellow black assume their nation’s highest office. …

Across Iraq, many of the 140,000 U.S. military personnel watched the inaugural ceremony on television sets in dining halls and break rooms or over the Web at large installations with Internet service.

About 25 soldiers from the 299th Brigade Support Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division gathered in the chaplain’s office at Camp Liberty, watching the ceremony and munching snacks donated by Americans back home.

The soldiers cheered, whistled and applauded when Obama recited his oath as the 44th president.

During his inaugural address, Obama promised to “begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people” and forge “a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan,” the two wars he inherited from President George W. Bush.

“We have a new commander in chief,” exclaimed Command Sgt. Maj. Julia Kelley, 47, of Billings, Mont. “It was an awesome feeling, due to the change. And it’s always a change when we get a new commander in chief.” …

“I am proud of how far our nation has come,” said Maj. Charles Gatling, 38, of New York City.

After the ceremony was over, the soldiers’ chaplain-host, Capt. John Brocato, 34, of Alexandria, La., gave them a blessing before they returned to duty.

“I just told the troops that it was a historic night and that they were part of history, that they will always remember where they were when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States,” Brocato said. “It’s pretty neat, and a lot of them had smiles on their faces.”


Stock Markets Don’t Celebrate Inauguration Day

Image: Traders watch speech
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange watch the inaugural speech. (Photo credit: Richard Drew / AP)

Jan. 20, 2009

NEW YORK — The dawn of the Obama presidency could not shake the stock market from its dejection over the rapidly deteriorating state of the banking industry.

Financial stocks, many of them falling by double digit percentages, led a huge drop on Wall Street Tuesday that left the major indexes down more than 4 percent and the Dow Jones industrials down 332 points. Although traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange paused to watch the inauguration ceremony and Obama’s remarks, the transition of power didn’t erase investors’ intensifying concerns about struggling banks and their impact on the overall economy.

The market’s angst, which began with multibillion dollar losses reported last week by Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., intensified after the Royal Bank of Scotland’s forecast that its losses for 2008 could top $41.3 billion.

The collapse in bank stocks was swift: State Street Corp. plunged 59 percent, Citigroup fell 20 percent and Bank of America lost 29 percent. Royal Bank of Scotland fell 69 percent in New York trading.

“The reason were having a panic drop is the fact that Europe is catching our cold, and we could have deeper and deeper problems that could require more and more money. And eventually the government is going to have to stop spending,” said Keith Springer, president of Capital Financial Advisory Services. “It’s a pretty dangerous situation to be in.” …

Fears about banking eclipsed the shift in Washington. Royal Bank of Scotland’s forecast for what would be the biggest loss ever for a British corporation left investors fearful that governments would have to nationalize banks to keep them from collapsing. The British government injected more money into the struggling bank Monday and announced another round of bailouts for the country’s banks. …

Acknowledging the global economy’s woes, Obama suggested Wall Street would see greater oversight: “Without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control,” he said in his address outside the Capitol.

Obama warned the economic recovery would be difficult and that the nation must choose “hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord” to overcome the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Investors are expecting Washington will be a central part of the economic recovery. But the first hours of the new administration did little to ease their concerns.

“At this stage, markets in general and bank investors specifically are really looking to government as the way out,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank. …

The Dow’s showing was its worst in the post-war era for an Inauguration Day; it has fallen on about three-quarters of Inauguration Days, according to Dow Jones & Co.

Broader stock indicators also fell sharply Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 44.90, or 5.28 percent, to 805.22, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 88.47, or 5.78 percent, to 1,440.86.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 32.80, or 7.03 percent, to 433.65.

Losing issues outnumbered gainers by about 9 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 6.23 billion shares compared with 5.92 billion shares traded Friday. The stock market was closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.37 percent from 2.34 percent late Friday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, fell to 0.10 percent from 0.11 percent late Friday.

Light, sweet crude rose $2.23 to settle at $38.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Richard E. Cripps, chief market strategist for Stifel Nicolaus, said the market’s decline was interrupted by Obama’s inauguration speech but that the markets then continued to trade on the problems in the financial sector.

“There’s just tremendous fear and uncertainty in the banking sector, Cripps said. “Even those closest to the issue, like executives and analysts, there’s a feeling of tremendous uncertainty. They’re not giving any positive guidance because they just don’t know. Lacking that (certainty) we’re left to our worst fears, and that’s what you’re looking at with bank stocks. …



Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Jan. 20, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAGHDAD – A parked car bomb killed three civilians and wounded another five when it struck a U.S. patrol in Baghdad’s western Mansour district, police said. The U.S. military said two American soldiers were wounded.

MOSUL – Armed men entered a real-estate agent’s office and opened fire in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, killing him and wounding a child nearby, police said.

MOSUL – Armed men in a car opened fire in Mosul, killing a civilian walking in the street, police said.

BAGHDAD – Ammar Aziz, deputy minister of the ministry of higher education, escaped unharmed after a roadside bomb hit his convoy in Nidhal Street in central Baghdad, the cabinet said in a statement. The deputy minister’s vehicle and one other in the convoy were slightly damaged. Police said five bodyguards were wounded in the blast.

MOSUL – Police shot dead a suicide bomber wearing an explosives belt when he tried to approach their checkpoint in western Mosul, north of Baghdad, police said. One policeman was wounded in the incident.

BAQUBA – Three pedestrians were wounded in the city of Baquba when a bomb exploded near the entrance of the headquarters of a Sunni political bloc participating in the upcoming provincial elections, police said. Baquba is 40 miles northeast of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD – Three Iraqi army soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in northern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – Two people were wounded by a roadside bomb near the Shaab soccer stadium in central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded five members of a U.S.- backed neighborhood patrol and three civilians on Monday in the Adhamiya district of northern Baghdad, police said.

One Response to “Obama’s Agenda … Day 1: Iraq”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties Says:

    […] Obama’s Agenda . . . Day 1: Iraq […]

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