Obama scowls at gift Coast Guard Academy mug
President Obama looks at a mug presented to him at the
134th Commencement Exercises of the United States Coast Guard Academy.
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Yahoo! News has the story:

President Obama often receives curious gifts from foreign dignitaries. There was the time he got 20 baseball caps with his face on them from Zanzibari President Ali Mohamed Shein. And that other time Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk gifted a $500 deluxe package of items related to the video game “Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.”

But when the State Department published its annual accounting of gifts from foreign notables to American government officials on Wednesday, what stood out wasn’t so much the “What the heck is that?!?” as the “Wait, they gave how much?!?”

That’s because, throughout 2014, Saudi King Abdullah and top kingdom officials spent a fortune on gifts for Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters — roughly $1.35 million on the list.

The accounting was made public the day before Thanksgiving, with Americans poised to dive into the gift-buying season.

The first thing to know is that these gifts aren’t bribes. If Obama wants to keep anything he gets from another world leader, he has to pay fair market value for it and take it with him when he leaves office. Otherwise, U.S. law stipulates that the president must turn over everything to the National Archives or other institutions for storage or display. A quick look through this year’s list suggests he did not opt to hold on to any presents.

Obama is wealthy — book sales and investments, on top of a $400,000 annual salary, have made the onetime college professor financially quite comfortable. But it’s hard to imagine him putting up the cash to keep the “gold and silver men’s wristwatch with leather band,” valued at $18,400, that he received from the Saudi king on Jan. 14, 2014. Or the $67,000 needed to own another timepiece, a “white gold men’s wristwatch with leather band,” that the monarch gave him on April 15, 2014 (no word on whether it was inscribed “happy tax day”). And then there was the “48-inch gold-plated brass replica of the Makkah Clock Tower on marble base,” presented March 28, 2014, and coming in at a cool $57,000, roughly what a median American family earns in a year.

Impressive? Not when compared to the gifts the Saudi king, who died in 2015, gave Michelle Obama.

On Jan. 14, 2014, Barack Obama might have been admiring the watch he wasn’t going to keep, but the first lady got a “diamond and emerald jewelry set including necklace, earrings, ring and bracelet.” Value? $560,000.

On April 15, 2014, she received an identically described set, but this one was worth $570,000.

Malia and Sasha weren’t left off the Saudi king’s list. On Jan. 14, 2014, they received “diamond and emerald jewelry set including earrings, necklace, ring, brooch, and wristwatch. Diamond and ruby jewelry set including earrings, necklace, ring, brooch, and wristwatch.” Price tag: $80,000.

It may seem odd to give away items that the recipient almost certainly won’t keep, but presents like these apparently play a small but not insignificant role in global diplomacy. In each case, under the heading “circumstances justifying acceptance,” the State Department says “nonacceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.”
Continue reading…

Thomas Jefferson got it right:

Gifts from Foreign Dignitaries

As President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson maintained a strict policy of not excepting valuable gifts from foreign dignitaries.

He wrote in 1806, “I had laid it down as a law for my conduct while in office, and hitherto scrupulously observed to accept of no present beyond a book, a pamphlet or other curiosity of minor value; as well to avoid imputation on my motives of action as to shut out a practice susceptible to such abuse.”[1]

In one famous incident in 1805, the Tunisian ambassador gave Jefferson several Arabian horses. Jefferson later sold the horses at a public auction to offset the cost of the ambassador’s visit.

However, Jefferson is known to have made an exception to his policy in at least one instance. In 1804, the Russian government presented the American consul, Levett Harris, with a bust of Tsar Alexander I. Mr. Harris in turn gave this bust to Jefferson. In explaining his departure from his own rule regarding gifts, Jefferson cited his “particular esteem” for the Tsar. The bust can be seen at Monticello today.


  1. Jefferson to Levett Harris. April 18, 1806. L&B, 11:101.

Also see:


On YouTube:

(h/t: lobo91)
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Published on Nov 15, 2015 by Archie Goodwin
Barack Obama arrives in Turkey ahead of G20 summit.
Vladimir Putin arrives in Turkey ahead of G20 summit.


Yahoo! News has the story:

Moscow (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia had given prior information to the United States of the flight path of the plane downed by Turkey on the Syrian border.

“The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time,” Putin said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Francois Hollande in the Kremlin.

Ahead of the Hollande talks, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traded barbs, with the Russian leader saying he was waiting for an apology and Erdogan ruling out any such move.

Putin on Thursday dismissed as “rubbish” Turkey’s claim that it would not have shot down the jet if it had known it was Russian.

“They [our planes] have identification signs and these are well visible,” Putin said. “Instead of […] ensuring this never happens again, we are hearing unintelligible explanations and statements that there is nothing to apologise about.”

Putin has also accused Turkey of buying oil from the Islamic State jihadist group, whose financing heavily relies on the sale of energy resources.

Putin said there was “no doubt” that oil from “terrorist-controlled” territory in Syria was making its way across the border into Turkey.

“We see from the sky where these vehicles [carrying oil] are going,” Putin said. “They are going to Turkey day and night.”

“These barrels are not only carrying oil but also the blood of our citizens because with this money terrorists buy weapons and ammunition and then organise bloody attacks,” he added.

More here…

To make a long story short, the Obama administration colluded with Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu to ambush the Russian plane.


On YouTube: Cats invade G20 summit stage in feline security breach

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Published on Nov 17, 2015 by euronews (in English)
The G20 summit had some unexpected feline guests on its main stage on Sunday (November 15) just moments before the leaders of the world’s major economies were due to attend an event.

Three stray cats breached tight security and appeared onto the stage at the summit in Turkey’s coastal province of Antalya as bemused journalists looked on.

The curious felines ran across the stage, sniffed at flowers on display and ran off.


This incident bears all the signs of a planned and coordinated ambush. The US knew of Russia’s flight plans and, at the very least, leaked that information to Turkey.

Stories here:


Can Dundar and Erdem Gul
Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, right, and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul outside court on Thursday. Photograph: Vedat Arik/AP

Guardian: Turkish journalists charged over claim that secret services armed Syrian rebels

Two editors from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper face lengthy jail sentences for alleging that Ankara’s intelligence agency was supplying weapons

A court in Istanbul has charged two journalists from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper with spying after they alleged Turkey’s secret services had sent arms to Islamist rebels in Syria.

Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief, and Erdem Gul, the paper’s Ankara bureau chief, are accused of spying and “divulging state secrets”, Turkish media reported. Both men were placed in pre-trial detention.

According to Cumhuriyet, Turkish security forces in January 2014 intercepted a convoy of trucks near the Syrian border and discovered boxes of what the daily described as weapons and ammunition to be sent to rebels fighting against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

It linked the seized trucks to the Turkish national intelligence organisation (MIT).

The revelations, published in May, caused a political storm in Turkey, and enraged president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who vowed Dundar would pay a “heavy price”.

He personally filed a criminal complaint against Dundar, 54, demanding he serve multiple life sentences.

Turkey has vehemently denied aiding Islamist rebels in Syria, such as the Islamic State group, although it wants to see Assad toppled.

More here…


Happy Thanksgiving from Gramfan


האח ראשיד במסר לנשיא אובמה – דעא”ש הוא האסלאם

Click here to view (English with Hebrew subtitles).


On YouTube:

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Published on Nov 23, 2015 by Cracked


Black Friday: The day invented by people who sell things to lure the people who buy things away from their families on one of the only nationally recognized holiday weekends on the calendar.

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Published on Nov 23, 2015 by securefreedom
Highlight of Elliot Chodoff’s discussion of the ethnic nature of the Syria’s civil war.

Recorded at the Center for Security Policy’s Middle East and North Africa Briefing – Friday, November 13th.


Pete Hoekstra on the administration engaging the Libyan government

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Published on Nov 23, 2015 by securefreedom
Recorded at the Center for Security Policy’s Middle East and North Africa Briefing – Friday, November 13th.


On YouTube:

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Published on Nov 24, 2015 by Acts17Apologetics
On November 13th, 2015, jihadists linked to ISIS carried out a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, France. More than one hundred people were killed, and nearly four hundred were injured. Here’s a brief response from Nabeel Qureshi.


On YouTube: How to tell when the turkey is safe to eat

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Published on Nov 14, 2012 by NCState

There are a lot of myths about when a turkey is “done,” or ready to eat. Ben Chapman, a food safety expert at North Carolina State University, explains how you can tell when the bird is ready to serve.

For a full transcript of this video, follow http://www.ncsu.edu/youtube/transcript/use-thermometer.doc.

MUCH more here:



Donald Trump takes questions before his event at the DCU Center Worcester

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Published on Nov 19, 2015 by DaTechGuyBlog
Trump takes assorted questions at the DCU Center presser before his Worcester event 11-18-2015

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Jim Jatras interview with RT International on US refugee bill

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Published on Nov 20, 2015 by RTQuestionMore

Jim Jatras on Europe’s migrant crisis

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Published on Nov 16, 2015 by Repeal Fatca
Jim Jatras on Europe’s migrant crisis (Liz Wheeler OAN, Nov 11)