The United States will send helmets, medical supplies and other non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine amid fears of another Russian incursion there, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. Hagel said he had informed Kiev that President Barack Obama "has approved additional non-lethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies." "These supplies include medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats and water purification units for Ukraine's armed forces, as well as shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps for Ukraine's State Border Guard Service," the Pentagon chief said.
US President Barack Obama on Thursday offered "deepest sympathies" to the families of the victims of a ferry sinking in South Korea, from which nearly 300 people, mostly children, are missing. "The bonds of friendship between the American and Korean people are strong and enduring," Obama said in a statement also offering the condolences of his wife Michelle. "South Korea is one of our closest allies, and American Navy personnel and US Marines are already on the scene assisting with the search and rescue efforts." "As I will underscore on my visit to Seoul next week, America's commitment to our ally South Korea is unwavering -— in good times and in bad."
The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress want laws to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Republicans, who hold the majority in the House of Representatives, have blocked all legislative efforts since 2011. In response, the president has switched tactics, using his regulatory and administrative powers to enact his climate change policies. Thursday, the White House launched a program to encourage federal agencies, military installations, and publicly-subsidized buildings in the Washington area to install more solar panels on roofs, covered parking garages and open land.
President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request would boost U.S. tax revenues by nearly $1.4 trillion over 10 years if fully enacted, slashing deficits by $1.05 trillion while funding new spending, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday. There is virtually no chance that Congress will advance Obama's plan in its entirety. But the CBO's latest analysis will feed campaign messaging by both Democrats and Republicans ahead of congressional elections in November. The analysis compares Obama's request to a new "baseline" estimate that CBO released last week that assumes no changes to current tax and spending laws.
The exit of Saudi's spy chief was the result of US pressure over his stance on Syria but does not signal a shift in Riyadh's goal of toppling the Damascus regime, experts say. Riyadh, as is usual, did not elaborate on its statement this week that Prince Bandar bin Sultan was being replaced, saying only that the veteran diplomat had asked to step down. But a Saudi expert said that Washington -- irritated for some time by Prince Bandar's handling of the Syria dossier -- had in December demanded his removal. Prince Bandar was leading Saudi Arabia's efforts to finance, arm and unify the Syrian rebellion, which after three years of fighting is still far from its goal of overthrowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad.