Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 10
 21 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 10:30 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Kristin
Hi Rad,

This is a wonderful idea.

Peace,
Kristin

 22 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 07:21 AM 
Started by Skywalker - Last post by Rad
All,

It should be very clear that what JWG taught regarding same souls is completely different that the 'twin flames' of Claire Prophet.

God Bless, Rad

 23 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 07:19 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi All,

What I am thinking now by way of moving forwards are for those so inclined to share their own awareness of their Uranian consciousness, the long term memories, and how they have be used to create life choices in the current life. This would then mean posting the natal charts of those that wanted to do this so that this can then be used as an instructive vehicle for us all to understand the totality of the Uranian signatures in the chart that correlate exactly with the choices that the Soul is making because of those Uranian long term memories that the Soul is utilizing in the current life.

Please let me know if any of you would like to further develop this thread in that direction.

God Bless, Rad

 24 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 06:03 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
USA

New Amendments Imperil Measure on Iran in Congress

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
APRIL 26, 2015
NYT

WASHINGTON — A bill to give Congress a voice in the nuclear deal with Iran is now endangered by Republican amendments that would peel away bipartisan support for a measure begrudgingly accepted by the White House this month.

Amendments filed by lawmakers last week include one that would require Iran to recognize Israel and another that would give any final nuclear deal the status of a treaty, which would require ratification by two-thirds of the Senate. Another proposal would require the release of American citizens detained in Iran as part of an agreement.

For Republican sponsors of the Iran measure, these amendments threaten to break the rare bipartisan spirit that pushed the bill unanimously out of the Foreign Relations Committee and even overcame White House objections. The bill’s unraveling would undermine the approach of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and upset its many supporters.

“It’s important that this stay bipartisan,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “We should not intermingle emotional amendments with this bill. I’m appealing to people, ‘Don’t throw this bill in a ditch.’ ”

The interim agreement reached between Iran and six world powers would dismantle much of Tehran’s nuclear program, dispose of most of the nuclear material that could be used to make an atomic weapon, strictly limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium and set up an international inspection regime in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions. Negotiators have until the end of June to turn that agreement into a formal accord. If and when they do, Congress will want to review the agreement — and freeze the president’s ability to lift any sanctions while that review is continuing.

The handling of the Iran measure, which is expected to come up for a vote this week in the Senate, is a major test for Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Corker and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, prevented colleagues from offering amendments that would have hurt the bill in the committee. Mr. Corker now faces the same challenge on the floor, and Democrats — many of whom are hesitant to oppose the White House — have been fretting privately about how he will fare.

“It’s a pretty good bill as it is,” Mr. Corker said in an interview. Fighting over amendments “is what we do around here, right?” he said with a grin.

Democrats cornered Mr. Corker on the Senate floor last week and implored him to press his Republican colleagues to limit their amendments, according to one Democrat who was present.

The impending debate over the amendments highlights challenges facing the legislative philosophy of Mr. McConnell, who has vowed to have a generous amendment policy — a style not favored by his Democratic predecessor as majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

“Senators who would like to see this bill strengthened, as I would,” Mr. McConnell said last week, “will have that chance during a robust amendment process that we’ll soon have.”

That promise could conflict with Mr. McConnell’s presumed desire to see a bipartisan bill that forces the White House to accept some congressional role. Many Democrats who support the underlying bill said emphatically last week that they would abandon a bill with any legislative ornaments they disliked.

“I think the bill that came out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a terrific and important and hard-won compromise,” said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, who enthusiastically supported the bill in the committee. If largely partisan amendments become attached to it, he said, “I would no longer support it.”

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, who has been a strong advocate for Congress having a role in evaluating sanctions and other national security issues, said on the Senate floor Thursday, “I hope, as we get into deliberations on the floor next week, that this would be the spirit of all the colleagues who tackled this most important matter.”

Of course, not every amendment filed will make it to the floor. Senators sometimes file amendments to make a point without actually offering them. Mr. McConnell may get a deal to limit the number of amendments. While some, like the measure that would require the recognition of Israel by Iran, will no doubt entice many members, others have no shot of attracting the 60 votes they most likely need.

Procedure and math make many Democrats nervous. Amendments, such as one concerning Israel, that get the 60 required votes with the help of Democrats, and that might lead those same Democrats to pass the underlying bill, could prompt a veto from President Obama. But, in that case, the 67 votes may not be there for a veto override, which some Democrats suspect Mr. McConnell of relishing.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a freshman who is emerging as a voice for Senate Republicans on national security matters, backed most of the amendments on the floor last week.

“Any deal along the lines the president proposed two weeks ago is dangerous for the United States and dangerous for the world, and it is Congress’s job to stop such a deal before it happens,” Mr. Cotton said. “They are good amendments that would strengthen this bill, a bill that touches on the most important issues that most of us will address during our time in the Senate.”

An open amendment process has doomed big bills in the past. For example, a bipartisan immigration measure in 2007 was wrecked in large part by an amendment offered by Byron Dorgan, a Democratic senator from North Dakota — and supported by Mr. Obama, a senator at the time, on behalf of labor groups — that would have ended a proposed guest worker program after five years.

In 1998, sweeping anti-tobacco legislation, mandated by a $385 billion settlement, collapsed under the weight of amendments. That time, Republicans sought to combat drugs, limit civil attorneys’ fees and create tax cuts unrelated to tobacco. Democrats tried directing tobacco industry money to child care while stripping from the tobacco companies legal protections that had been key to the settlement. After so many amendments, legislation that initially appeared unstoppable fell to a filibuster.

But Mr. Corker said he thought this time would be different. "I believe there are enough people in the Senate who understand that a degree of balance must be maintained to ensure this bill becomes law," he said.

************

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
04/23/2015 06:35 PM

Take Two: A New Hillary for a Fresh White House Bid

By Markus Feldenkirchen and Holger Stark

Hillary Clinton wants to do almost everything differently in her second run for the presidency. She's showing a more modest, warm-hearted and female side than ever before, and many argue she would make a good president. Can she charm America?

In her latest incarnation, Hillary Clinton has been bumping along back roads in a van in Iowa and New Hampshire lately, on some days through areas so bleak and desolate you wouldn't even want to be buried there. She stops at gas stations and chats with other motorists. She strolls into stand-up cafés, Mexican fast food joints and the living rooms of strangers, as quietly and inconspicuously as possible for someone constantly accompanied by the Secret Service. She asks people about their concerns. And she comes across as if she were running for a seat on the Cedar Rapids city council and not the most powerful office on earth.

When she officially announced that she was running for president in a two-and-a-half-minute video released a week ago Sunday, the first minute and a half consisted of ordinary American citizens talking about their next challenges. Hillary appeared at the end, with a paper cup of coffee in her hand and a benevolent expression on her face, and said that she was getting ready to do something, too. It was probably the most restrained way possible of announcing a candidacy for the world's most powerful position.

The video is a sign of things to come, of a campaign that aims to be a triumph of modesty. Clinton wants to portray herself as a warm-hearted, friendly grandmother. She no longer wants to be the tough, unapproachable politician Americans have come to know.

These are all lessons from the mistakes of her first candidacy for the White House. At the time, she seemed too arrogant and assured of victory, and too far removed from the everyday lives of the voters she hoped to convince. It always seemed as if she were talking down to ordinary Americans from a large stage. This time, she is saying that victories need to be earned. She is behaving as if her nomination by the Democratic Party is by no means certain, even if her potential challengers -- Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb -- are all men most Americans have never heard of.

As Many Transformations as Madonna

The public has gotten to know countless versions of Hillary over the decades. She has undergone almost as many transformations as Madonna. She has been a dedicated, left-leaning elite student, a supportive wife, an ambitious first lady, a betrayed wife, a senator, a secretary of state and an author. With each of these stations in her life, her appearance has changed -- her clothes, her hairstyle and her hair color. The only constant in her biography has been constant change.

But the most astonishing thing of all is that Clinton, now 67, is still such an important political player. She has had to swallow so many defeats and humiliations, personal and political -- far more than would fit into a normal human life. And yet none of these blows has forced her to capitulate. Clinton, like almost no other politician, possesses the willingness to learn new things that allow her to eventually present herself to the world as the new, better version of Hillary. Some call this opportunism and some despise her for it, as the right-wing half of the United States does so passionately. And some simply admire her for it.

The big question is whether her willingness to change, sometimes to the point of self-denial, is purely the result of personal ambition and thirst for power, and the desire to complete a life plan that includes the presidency. Or does she have a cause bigger than her own ambitions: the good of the country, if not of the entire world?

She is familiar with all the superlatives that would be tied to her presidency. A woman would be commander-in-chief for the first time in the history of the United States. She knows the symbolic importance her election would carry, and not just for women around the globe. The rise of former Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher in Great Britain or Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany may have been encouraging, but as president of the United States, Clinton would be in a different league. There is no office in the world as important.

Clinton still has several hurdles to clear before actually being voted into the White House in November 2016. This time, one of her biggest opponents is statistics. The last time the Democrats managed to get their candidate elected after a fellow Democrat had been in office for two terms was in 1837, when Martin Van Buren succeeded Andrew Jackson. Clinton also has to contend with the charge that, at 69, she could be too old for the office -- and that she is a candidate of the past, not the future.

This will be an especially hard nut to crack among young voters, who were so enthusiastic about current President Barack Obama during his campaign. Although both the president and first lady Michelle Obama have promised to support Clinton in her campaign, which could help her among younger and black voters, their support is also problematic. Clinton will have to find a way to pay tribute to Obama's time in office while simultaneously making it clear that, as president, she will be more experienced and more professional -- in other words, more suitable -- than Obama.

The battle for the White House is waged more ruthlessly and unscrupulously than campaigns in other countries. It is both physically and emotionally draining for the candidates. But Clinton seems well-prepared, which has a lot to do with a brief moment that occurred seven years ago.

A Catalyst Moment

"I just wanted to ask her something that really interested me, from woman to woman," says Marianne Pernold Young. She thinks about that Jan. 7, 2008 almost every day, when she said something that made Hillary Clinton cry in public. Even today, she still sounds amazed by what happened.

It was during her first bid for the White House, and Clinton had reached a low point. Obama had just won the first primary, in Iowa. Clinton was sitting in the Café Espresso, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, talking to ordinary citizens. Just before the end of the event, a gray-haired woman in a red blazer took the microphone in her hand.

"My question is very personal," Pernold Young began, as she looked Clinton in the eye. "How do you do it? How do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?"

Clinton struggled with her response. "It's not easy," she finally replied, shaking her head. And suddenly tears came to her eyes.

The tears were unintentional, but through them Clinton suddenly gained the kind of sympathy all of her advisers and all of her money had been unable to deliver. "After that incident, all my girlfriends switched from Obama to supporting Hillary," says Pernold Young, now 71. "Until that day, Hillary seemed like a machine, a bulldozer. After that day, she felt like a human being."

That tearful moment Pernold Young triggered at the time has become the key to Clinton's second campaign. She is now presenting her more human side to the American people.

A few days ago, she published a new epilogue to her second biography, "Hard Choices," in which she writes about how happy she was over the birth of her granddaughter Charlotte, and about the tears in Bill's and her eyes. And because politicians are never without a chain of causation, she immediately drew the political consequences from this feeling of elation: "You shouldn't have to be the granddaughter of a president or a secretary of state to receive ... all the support and advantages that will one day lead to a good job and a successful life," Clinton writes. "In just a few months, Charlotte had already helped me see the world in new ways."

An Openness to Change

Even early in her career, Clinton was open to changes if they promised success. In 1982, when her husband was running for a second term as governor of Arkansas, she offered to stop using her maiden name, Rodham, and use Clinton from then on, even though the name was important to her. "I never will forget," Bill would later tell the New Yorker magazine in 1994. "She said, 'Look Bill, we cannot -- this is stupid! We shouldn't lose the election over this issue. We shouldn't run this risk. What if it's one percent of the vote. What if it's two percent. You might win or lose the election by two percent."

She was also willing to compromise that year when it came to her physical appearance. She followed the advice of advisers, who suggested that she dye her hair blonde, replace her thick glasses for contact lenses, wear make up and have a fashion consultant select her wardrobe. This may be a matter of course for female politicians today, but not in 1982. For Clinton, saying goodbye to her old appearance was also a departure from a self-image. Her student-like appearance -- the casual clothes, unruly hair and eschewal of makeup -- was part of an attitude. It represented the pride of an independent woman who wanted to be admired for her mind and not her physical appearance.

Ten years later, when her husband was running for the White House, she listened to her advisers once again and underwent a makeover, which included dying her hair blonde once again. After that, she only occasionally complained that she actually hated what she called her "Ivana look" (a reference to the extremely blonde then wife of business magnate Donald Trump).

She was also open to inner change, as long as it would advance her cause. For example, in her younger years Hillary was a staunch opponent of the death penalty. As an attorney, she even helped get an inmate off of death row. But later, when it benefited her husband's career, she supported the death penalty. She had no objection to Bill flying back to Arkansas during the 1992 presidential campaign to ensure that Ricky Ray Rector, who, after an attempted suicide, had the intellectual capacity of a young child, was executed. The list of adjustments and changes could be continued ad nauseum.

Her learning process also includes the eight years as senator representing New York, in which she worked effectively with her fellow lawmakers to enact legislation.

As first lady, she had lacked this willingness to compromise. The healthcare reform she had promoted failed in the US Congress, partly because Clinton was unwilling to play the often dirty game of Washington politics. She made many mistakes in dealing with the Washington system at the time, she told the New Yorker in 2003. "I made a lot of mistakes," she said. "I learned from those mistakes. At least I hope I did."

Her fellow senator Robert Byrd once called Clinton "the perfect student."

Painful Compromises

But the most painful compromises Hillary Clinton was forced to make had to do with her husband Bill. They were so enormous that many people, and not just women, wonder why the Clintons are still together. When Bill's half-brother Roger was sent to prison in the 1980s for cocaine possession, the New Yorker reported, Bill confided in a friend and said: "Everyone overdoes something -- drugs, food, sex. Everyone has some area that is out of control, that is an obsession." It was clear that Bill's main problem was not drugs or food.

It was so serious that Hillary's aide Susan Thomases berated him during the 1992 presidential campaign, saying: "You're stupid enough to blow this whole presidential thing over your dick."

Hillary Clinton often benefited from her husband's career. He took to her to places and put her in her positions very few people have managed to get to. But she was also forced to accept many indignities in return. Max Brantley, a journalist and colleague from Arkansas, once told the New Yorker: "It's hard even for those who admire and respect and love Hillary not to believe that she made a pact with the devil."

She was clever and ambitious enough not to set herself up in the role of victim of a husband who, at certain times, was apparently a sex addict. She energetically defended him throughout all of his affairs, with women from Gennifer Flowers to Monica Lewinsky. And she later demanded compensation for her dedication with the same amount of determination.

When she became first lady in 1993, she demanded a role that became a provocation for many Americans. The United States had not seen a more active president's wife since Eleanor Roosevelt. She was the first to have an office set up for herself in the West Wing, the center of power in the White House. And she also demanded the chairmanship of a task force to devise the biggest healthcare reform in the country's history. After the end of his second term in office, there was no question as to whose political career would become the priority.

"Hillary can separate personal emotions from the goal and task ahead in a way that very few women can," Betsey Wright, Bill Clinton's longstanding chief of staff in Arkansas, told the New Yorker. Wright is one of the few people in whom Hillary confided when talking about her problems with Bill. "That is part of the investment in the marriage -- the ability to keep going when others would have a cry, at the very least, before they go on. She knows it's there, knows it hurts, knows it's wrong, but she controls it as a separate thing from what the goal or project is. It is such an extreme extension of self-discipline that it is not even self-discipline."

'Much More Organized' Than Bill

Few people know the Clintons as well as Leon Panetta. He was Bill's chief of staff in the 1990s, and he served alongside Hillary, as defense secretary, in President Barack Obama's cabinet. "They've obviously been through a lot of ups and downs and I've seen that," Panetta says in Monterey, California, in the offices of his Panetta Institute.

"But I've also seen them together, and the fact is: deep down," he says, hesitating for a moment, "there is love between them. There is an understanding and a dependence on each other in that relationships. For all the challenges they had to face, there is a very strong bond."

They complement each other perfectly, according to Panetta, because one always has what the other lacks. Bill, he says, loved discussions. "I remember going into the oval office and there would be 10 or sometimes 20 people talking about an issue and he never got to a decision. He was in his own way very undisciplined," Panetta adds. But his wife is the polar opposite, he says. "She is willing to listen, but she is much more disciplined and much more organized."

Hillary demanded far more loyalty from her team than her husband did of his advisers. At the time, she was suspicious and determined to remain in control. She still is today, says Panetta. And even though individual members of her team later said that there was something intimidating about Hillary, they were also proud of the spirit of solidarity that accompanied her group.

Whereas Bill had to learn many things the hard way, says Panetta, Hillary is far more prepared for the White House today than her husband was at the time. He believes she would make a good president.

Clinton Inc.

It's a November day in 2014. The 10th anniversary of the Bill Clinton's presidential library is being celebrated in Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, where the Clintons began their political careers. The master of ceremonies is Kevin Spacey, who plays ruthless politician Francis Underwood in the political TV series "House of Cards."

There is some self-irony in the Clintons' choice of Spacey. His character Francis Underwood has become the epitome of the power-obsessed US politician, who makes it into the White House with the help of tricks, connections and his lack of scruples. He is advised and spurred on by his equally ambitious wife Claire, played by Robin Wright.

They portray a couple for which all other aspects of life are subordinate to the desire for advancement and influence. Their marriage is a partnership of convenience that began as a great love affair. They cheat on each other, and yet they have no intention of allowing their joint project to fail. But they also demonstrate what happens when the hierarchy in a partnership shifts over time. At some point, Claire is no longer satisfied with merely being the woman at his side, prompting her husband to point out that there is only one chair at his desk in the Oval Office.

The fictional Underwoods' conflicts must seem all too familiar to the Clintons.

"I've known them for a very long time," says Spacey, "and now I have the honor of presenting to you my friends, President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Hillary, wearing a blue dress, walks onto the stage with a determined gait. Bill, wearing a black turtleneck sweater, still comes across as the eternal dandy, even if he now seems a little shakier and his voice isn't as strong as it once was. When he reaches his wife, he takes her arm and she leans over and kisses him on the cheek. Then they take a few seconds to simply stare out at the audience, with looks of gratitude and pride in their achievements in their eyes.

Over the decades, Bill and Hillary Clinton have created a family dynasty, a political corporation, Clinton Inc., a massive network of friends, advisers, foundations and benefactors. It isn't always clear which contact is connected to which of their projects at a given time, but in the end they usually contribute to the shared success of the Clinton brand.

Will Foundation Burden Campaign?

One of their foundations, which began as the William J. Clinton Foundation and is now called the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, distributes more than $200 million (€187 million) a year. The foundation could present a problem for Hillary's campaign.

Its donors include authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, oligarchies like that of Ukrainian businessman Victor Pinchuk, whose own foundation donated $8.6 million to the Clintons' foundation, and companies like military contractor Blackwater, which has since been renamed. Hillary Clinton has always denied that these donations have influenced her policies. During her tenure as secretary of state, gifts from foreign governments were prohibited, but the ban did not apply to private citizens like Saudi billionaire Mohammed Hussein Ali al-Amudi, who reportedly donated up to $5 million. And now that Hillary is no longer secretary of state, the Clintons' foundation is once again free to accept donations from foreign governments.

We will probably never know whether the many millions coming from foreign governments have in fact led to a conflict of interest. Nor will we know whether Hillary's efforts to promote women's rights are compatible with millions in donations from Saudi Arabia, a country with a poor record on the issue. This is precisely why the issue will dog her during the campaign. As is so often the case with the Clintons, there is a divide between their moral standards and reality.

In the campaign, Hillary Clinton will also encounter the charge that the United States is not a monarchy, in which individual families simply pass on the crown to another member. Clinton doesn't like being confronted with the monarchy question, but it's one she will have to address.

"We had two Roosevelts," she said after a long pause when she met with SPIEGEL journalists in Berlin last summer at the Adlon Hotel. "We had two Adams. It may be that certain families have a sense of commitment or even a predisposition to want to be in politics. There may be something. Like some families go into business. Some families go into the arts. Some families go into journalism, whatever. Maybe it is the way you are raised, what you're interested in -- you would choose to go into politics."

Then she stood up, walked over to the window and looked out at Pariser Platz. She asked where Barack Obama gave his now-famous speech in 2008. She also asked where he spoke the second time, in the summer of 2013, and she wanted to know exactly where he was standing. Then she stared pensively at the spot where he gave the speech, in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

If she does address the world as the president of the United States in the future, the old hierarchy of her family operation will finally be turned on its head. The question is whether her husband will be able to perform the new role.

"Bill as first male spouse?" Leon Panetta laughs. "It may take some time to adjust to that position, but my experience is that they can work it out." At the end of the conversation about the Clintons, Panetta is standing in front of a glass case where he keeps photos and trophies, the credentials of a long career in Washington politics. He is especially proud of one item: a red brick from the building where Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in May 2011.

There is an historic photo of that moment. It depicts the White House Situation Room, where a group of people was watching a live transmission of the assault on the building in Pakistan. Aside from an adviser, Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, is the only woman in the room, surrounded by 11 men with grim expressions on their faces. She is also the only one who seems shocked by what she is witnessing. She is holding her hand in front of her mouth. She would later say that her expression was not the result of any particular emotions, but of the fact that she was suffering from spring allergies.

Strength in Defeat

The fact that she became secretary of state in the first place epitomizes the way Clinton handles defeat. She could have had valid reasons to steer clear of Obama. He had attacked and insulted her during the campaign. But when it was over, he asked her to meet with him in Chicago, where he offered her the cabinet position. After some hesitation, she accepted.

It was yet another one of those milestones that prompted some to wonder whether the sole purpose of everything she does is to remain close to power and advance her career. Others admired her for the ability to take on yet another new challenge.

Her office at the time was on the eighth floor of the State Department. David McKean, the director of policy planning, works across the hall from the secretary of state's suite of offices. Clinton brought him in at the time, and today he works for the current secretary of state, John Kerry.

Sitting behind his desk, McKean says that Kerry is a more active secretary of state than Clinton was, and that he has a stronger creative drive. He also has an explanation for his opinion. "When Barack Obama took over in 2009, the US' reputation was at an historic low." The Iraq war, which was based on false claims, and the accounts of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo had severely tarnished America's reputation.

Clinton's mission was to make amends, says McKean, explaining that she flew around the world and cultivated relationships. She did a "heroic job" of reestablishing America's standing worldwide. Clinton herself says that she sees her role as secretary of state and, more generally, as a politician in a democracy, as a relay race. "I mean, you run the best race you can run, (and then) you hand off the baton."

McKean believes that Kerry would never have come as far as he has in foreign policy without Clinton's groundwork, and that the Iran negotiations are a case in point.

A Focus on the Middle Class

If Clinton becomes president, the United States will pursue a different, tougher foreign policy. She is convinced that Washington should have opposed Russian President Vladimir Putin far more energetically than Obama has. And she has publicly criticized Obama for not taking earlier steps against the Assad regime in Syria. The United States cannot solve all the world's problems alone, says Clinton, "but the world cannot solve them without the United States."

It is far more difficult to make out what Clinton's domestic policies will look like. She started out as a leftist, dedicated attorney. When she campaigned for healthcare reform in the early 1990s, she came across as a staunch champion of social justice. But that was a long time ago. When it comes to social and economic policy, Clinton has not revealed any clear positions in a long time. The more liberal elements in her party also resent her for waiting until 2013 to support gay marriage.

The week before last, she announced that she intends to fight for ordinary, middle-class Americans -- and that too is a lesson from her failed presidential run in 2008. Now she intends to address the concerns of "everyday Americans," over issues like affordable housing, jobs and daycare, and to campaign for better professional opportunities and a higher minimum wage.

It's the right goal for a country in which the lower 90 percent of citizens account for only 23 percent of national income, and the tax burden for high-income earners is constantly declining.

But Clinton doesn't come across as overly credible on these issues. In the past, Bill and Hillary Clinton needed too much money from Wall Street for their campaigns to be able to tangle with it politically. During Bill Clinton's presidency, many steps were taken to deregulate the financial markets, steps that later contributed significantly to the financial and banking crisis.

As a senator, Hillary also acted consistently in Wall Street's interest, behaving as if this did not conflict with her commitment to "everyday Americans." But the financial crisis, in which millions of everyday Americans lost their livelihoods, should have taught her the error of her ways.

There is one consistent thread running throughout her many transformations and compromises: her commitment to the rights of women. For decades, there is no other issue for which she has fought so passionately.

On a spring afternoon, 80 women are sitting in a conference room at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, to discuss women's rights in America. Hillary Clinton is beaming. It's the kind of meeting she likes. The moderator wants to know why she is so committed to women's rights.

"What I see as I travel around our country, just as I saw when I traveled around the world as secretary of state, is where women are left out, where women are not given the opportunity to pursue their economic well-being, their children suffer, their communities suffer, indeed their countries suffer," says Clinton. Women still hold two-thirds of all minimum-wage jobs, she points out, and a woman earns only 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. Her audience claps enthusiastically.

Clinton is part of the generation of women who fought hard and against great resistance to achieve equal rights in the 1960s. Although her father was very conservative, her mother Dorothy raised her in a very liberal way. Her mother was not allowed to go to college and became a housewife instead. Clinton says that she simply couldn't imagine not going to college or giving up a career in order to transform herself into a housewife.

She had an eye opening experience when, as a teenager, she wrote a letter to NASA to volunteer for astronaut training. "I received a letter back informing me that they were not accepting girls in the program," she wrote in her first memoir. She never forgot the experience of being rejected because of her gender.

An Advocate for Women

As first lady, Clinton led the American delegation to the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. "It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights," Clinton said. "For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence."

To this day, Clinton is prouder of that speech, which attracted more attention worldwide, than of any other in her career. And in contrast to the past, she now openly describes herself as an advocate of women.

She took a different position in her campaign against Barack Obama. She wanted to be elected because she believed she was the better politician. She didn't emphasize women's issues in 2008, but she has since learned her lesson and is taking the opposite approach in her recently launched campaign. Clinton has already been courting female voters for months.

Some 61.6 million men and 71.4 million women voted in the 2012 presidential election. Clinton is currently the favorite among women in every poll. She has brought many women into her campaign team. Most recently, she recruited Stephanie Hannon of Google to serve as her chief technology officer. Her job will be to bring the campaign into social networks and make Clinton appear more modern than in her first run for the presidency.

Hillary Clinton, a woman of transformations, constant learning processes and new beginnings, would probably be better equipped for the presidency than all of her rivals. She knows the White House from the inside, and she knows what it means to be president. She has eight years under her belt as a senator and has strong foreign policy experience. She also seems to have figured out how not to merely portray herself as a good president in theory, but actually to become one.

Marianne Pernold Young, the woman from New Hampshire whose words prompted Clinton to shed a few tears in public, voted for Obama in 2008. This time she intends to vote for Hillary. Barack Obama broke through "the glass ceiling for blacks," she says. "Hillary will break through the same ceiling for women. Finally. She'll open the door. For all of us."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

*************

In Rare Remarks, George W. Bush Argues Against the Lifting of Iran Sanctions

By JASON HOROWITZ and MAGGIE HABERMAN
APRIL 26, 2015
NYT

LAS VEGAS — Former President George W. Bush said the United States must show that it can follow through on its promises, and argued against the lifting of sanctions against Iran during rare remarks about foreign policy in a meeting with hundreds of Jewish donors here Saturday night.

Mr. Bush told the 700 donors attending a closed-door Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting that he would not criticize President Obama, whose aim to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State he applauded. But the former president nevertheless offered comments that many in the audience viewed as a tacit critique of his successor.

Mr. Bush voiced skepticism about the Obama administration’s pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran. Although he had begun the diplomatic effort to press Iran to give up its nuclear program, Mr. Bush questioned whether it was wise to lift sanctions against Tehran when the Islamic government seemed to be caving in, and suggested that the United States risked losing leverage if it did so.

The former president, in an expansive mood, also offered his views on Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the joy his grandchild had brought him and the difficulty his younger brother Jeb would face as a 2016 presidential candidate because of his famous last name. The New York Times received accounts of the president’s remarks from a dozen people who attended the meeting.

Mr. Bush’s war in Iraq eventually became deeply unpopular, fueled President Obama’s 2008 candidacy and, according to his critics, prompted much of the chaos in the Middle East. But in his remarks, Mr. Bush appeared to remain convinced of the correctness of his approach and of the resoluteness he projected to the world.

At one point, he cited Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a possible presidential candidate, who has criticized Mr. Obama’s policies in the region. Mr. Bush quoted Mr. Graham as saying, “Pulling out of Iraq was a strategic blunder.”

While Mr. Bush told the group that he had changed course when warranted, he stressed that when leading America, “you gotta mean it” when talking tough, and that the nation’s allies and enemies needed to know where an American leader stood. Many attendees heard in those remarks a reference to Mr. Obama’s ultimately empty threat against Syria not to cross the red line of using chemical weapons.

Mr. Bush spoke in response to a question from his former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, about what he would do about the threat of the Islamic State, the changing alliances in the Middle East and the rise of Iran as a regional power.

The appearance was unusual for Mr. Bush, who has largely disappeared from politics since leaving office and whose endorsement of the Republican nominee in 2012 consisted of four words — “I’m for Mitt Romney” — in response to a reporter’s question as an elevator door closed. His comments on Saturday highlighted the fine line the former president must walk in maintaining respect for his successor, defending his own views and helping a brother who has alienated some pro-Israel Republicans as he readies his campaign for the White House.

The wealthy donors in the room could prove critical to that effort; the former president spoke to an audience that included the Republican donor Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson owns the Venetian hotel and casino, where the event was held, and his willingness to spend more than $100 million on his politician of choice imbues him with enormous power in the Republican nomination fight.

“His answers were direct statements about what he thought the right approach was for him, from his point of view, without being personal or critical of anyone else,” said Mr. Fleischer, a Republican Jewish Coalition board member who asked his former boss questions on stage.

Mr. Bush, who appeared at ease before the friendly crowd, offered a blunt assessment of the baggage that being a Bush can bring a presidential hopeful. He described his brother as capable, but acknowledged being a liability to the former Florida governor’s all-but-announced candidacy, noting that it was easy for rivals to say in debates that the nation did not need another Bush.

“He essentially said people don’t want dynasties in America,” said Elise Weingarten, who was in the audience.

At one point, Mr. Fleischer asked Mr. Bush what qualities he sought in a president “other than a last name that’s very similar to yours.” The crowd chuckled, and Mr. Bush spoke about “judgment” and “authenticity.” He expressed a reluctance to enter the campaign fray, because it could be unhelpful to his brother and unseemly. “That’s why you won’t see me,” he said.

Mr. Bush rarely involves himself in policy discussions nowadays, but he has ventured out on the issues that matter most to him. He gave a speech supporting the overhaul of immigration laws and has advocated more help to combat disease in Africa.

Last year, when he released a loving biography of his father, he skated around his self-imposed line of not criticizing his successor. In the book, he attributed the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq to “subsequent developments and decisions” that came after he left office. And in an interview at that time, he raised concerns about Mr. Obama’s plans to pull troops out of Afghanistan before leaving office. “I do worry that a lack of U.S. presence in Afghanistan will create a vacuum,” he said.

Mr. Bush gingerly weighed in on presidential politics Saturday, speaking admiringly of the “good candidates” in the Republican field and calling Mrs. Clinton “formidable” but beatable. Mr. Bush said she faced a predicament in determining whether to seek distance or continuity with the Obama administration, which she served as secretary of state.

He spoke dismissively of candidates who surrounded themselves with “sycophants” and bemoaned a culture built around a single person or party. The goal, he stressed, should be about serving the national interest.

 25 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 05:57 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Tau Ceti system unlikely to contain Earth 2.0

April 26, 2015
Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

If you’re looking to find a potentially habitable Earth-sized planet outside of our solar system, you should probably look somewhere other than the Tau Ceti system, according to a new study by researchers at Arizona State University. Sorry Star Trek fans.

While planets in the system were frequently references as being colonized worlds in the popular science-fiction universe, the ASU team explains in a recent edition of The Astrophysical Journal that the chances of that are unlikely. Their findings are based on an extensive analysis using both astronomy and geophysics to evaluate the potential habitability of Tau Ceti planets.

Can’t support life here, move along

At first glance, Tau Ceti seems like an ideal place for a potential human colony. It is located in close proximity to Earth and its star has many of the same characteristics as our sun. In addition, back in December 2012, astronomers found evidence suggesting that five planets orbited the star, including two (Tau Ceti e and f) that were potentially located in the habitable zone.

However, the ASU team’s calculations found that Tau Ceti e is only in the habitable zone “if we make very generous assumptions,” astrophysicist Michael Pagano explained. He added that Tau Ceti f, “initially looks more promising,” but modeling of the star’s evolution makes it likely that it “has only moved into the habitable zone recently as Tau Ceti has gotten more luminous.”

Based on their findings, Tau Ceti f has probably been in the habitable zone for far less than one billion years, less than half the time required for potentially detectable changes to be produced in the Earth’s biosphere. A planet that entered the habitable zone around its star this recently may be habitable and inhabited, but could lack detectable biosignatures.

Unusual composition makes life around Tau Ceti “unlikely”

Pagano said that he and his fellow researchers opted to study Tau Ceti not because they were “hoping, wanting, or thinking” that it could be a good candidate for extraterrestrial life, but for the notion that it could host completely new worlds. The star has an unusual composition, with a 1.78-to-1 magnesium-to-silicon ration, about 70 percent higher than our sun.

Mineral physicist Sang-Heon (Dan) Shim analyzed the data collected by Pagano’s team to see what this would mean for the planets in the system. He explained that the high magnesium and silicon ration could indicate that the planets around Tau Ceti have a mineraological make-up that is “significantly different” than Earth’s. They could be predominantly made up of the mineral olivine at shallow parts of the mantle, and by ferropericlase at lower depths.

Since ferropericlase is far less viscous, hot, yet solid, mantle rock may be flowing. This could have a profound effect on surface-level volcanism and tectonics – processes that have a significant impact on the habitability of Earth.

“Tau Ceti has been a popular destination for science fiction writers and everyone’s imagination as somewhere there could possibly be life,” Pagano said, “but even though life around Tau Ceti may be unlikely, it should not be seen as a letdown, but should invigorate our minds to consider what exotic planets likely orbit the star, and the new and unusual planets that may exist in this vast universe.”

 26 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 05:55 AM 
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Astronomers discover 11 ‘homeless’ galaxies

April 25, 2015
Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

Having already discovered nearly two-dozen runaway stars and even one star cluster that had been ejected from its galaxy, researchers have now reportedly located 11 homeless galaxies that were flung from their home clusters due to gravitational turbulence.

According to Discovery News, the galaxies were found by Igor Chilingarian, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Moscow State University, and his fellow astronomers. They were reviewing publicly available data collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the GALEX satellite for compact elliptical galaxies and came across these galaxies by happenstance.

The loneliest galaxies

“These galaxies are facing a lonely future, exiled from the galaxy clusters they used to live in,” explained Chilingarian lead author of the paper in the journal Science. Ivan Zolotukhin from Moscow State and the L’Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie, is a co-author of that newly-published study.

Chilingarian and Zolotukhin explained that they originally set out to identify new members of a class of galaxies known as compact ellipticals, miniature groups of stars that are larger than star clusters but smaller than typical galaxies. Their search identified nearly 200 previously unknown compact ellipticals, 11 of which were isolated and found far away from any clusters.

The discovery was unexpected, because the previous 30 compact ellipticals that had been found were all located in clusters. Experts had believed that isolated compact galaxies came from larger galaxies that had been stripped of most of their stars during interactions with larger galaxies, and thus they should be found near those larger galaxies. However, not only where these newfound galaxies isolated, they were also found to be moving faster than those in clusters.

So what caused this phenomenon?

Chilingarian explained that “a classic three-body interaction” was responsible. A star can reach hypervelocity if a binary star system comes too close to a black hole, causing one star to be captured and the other ejected. Similarly, a compact elliptical could be paired with a big galaxy that strips its stars before a third galaxy enters the scene and is accreted by the big galaxy, causing the compact elliptical to be ejected in the process.

Chilingarian and Zolotukhin explained that an object is considered to be a runaway if it travels faster than escape velocity, meaning it will never return to its place of origin. For a runaway star, the required speed is more than one million miles per hour (500 km/s), but for a galaxy, it has to be moving far more quickly, reaching speeds of up to six 6 million miles per hour (3,000 km/s).

 27 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 05:54 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Brazil’s Power Dynamics Shifting Amid Political Scandals

By SIMON ROMERO
APRIL 26, 2015
IHT

RIO DE JANEIRO — The head of Brazil’s Senate, Renan Calheiros, has been accused of tax evasion, using a government jet to visit a surgeon who alleviated his baldness with hair implants and allowing a construction company’s lobbyist to pay child support for his daughter from an extramarital affair with a television journalist.

Eduardo Cunha, the conservative speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, has also faced — and successfully battled — a list of corruption accusations, from embezzlement to living in an apartment paid for by a black-market money dealer.

In some democracies, figures facing such situations might find themselves banished from public life even if they were never convicted. But not in Brazil, where the men who command the scandal-plagued Congress are actually increasing their power over the scandal-plagued president, Dilma Rousseff.

The move reflects one of the most profound shifts in political power in the country in decades — and is a clear measure of the troubles Ms. Rousseff now faces in the wake of a sweeping bribery case involving Brazil’s national oil company.

“This is ‘House of Cards,’ Brazilian style, with the chiefs in Congress seizing a moment when the president is very weak,” said David Fleischer, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Brasília. “They are putting into motion a strategy of simply letting Dilma dangle in the wind,” he added.

The strategy seems to be working. While both Mr. Cunha and Mr. Calheiros are on the list of dozens of political figures under investigation in connection with the bribery scandal, the congressional leaders appear to be deflecting attention from their own troubles by revolting against Ms. Rousseff, whose public approval rating stands at a dismal 13 percent.

In doing so, they have managed to largely shield the Brazilian Congress from blame. Its own bleak approval rating climbed to 11 percent in April from 9 percent in March, according to Datafolha, a prominent Brazilian polling company. The survey, conducted through interviews with 2,834 people, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Ms. Rousseff, who narrowly won re-election in October, is facing huge protests calling for her impeachment, with many Brazilians fuming over the sluggish economy and revelations of the broad bribery scheme at the national oil company, Petrobras. She was chairwoman of the board at the state-controlled oil giant from 2003 to 2010, roughly corresponding to the period when the scheme was started.

The scandal involved executives at Petrobras accepting vast amounts of bribes, enriching themselves while also channeling funds to political figures and to Ms. Rousseff’s leftist Workers Party, according to testimony by former executives.

No testimony has emerged indicating that Ms. Rousseff personally profited from the scheme. But at the same time, Ms. Rousseff has been put on the defensive, insisting that bribery proceeds were not channeled to her election campaign. The scandal moved closer to the president after the arrest of the treasurer of her party, João Vaccari Neto.

As Ms. Rousseff and her party reel from the scandal, she is facing a rebellion from the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, which has anchored her coalition and controls both houses of Congress.

Both Mr. Calheiros, the Senate leader, and Mr. Cunha, the speaker of the lower house, are members of the rebelling party. Ms. Rousseff’s own vice president, Michel Temer, is the leader of the PMDB, as the party is known, and Mr. Temer is bolstering his own power after the president appealed to him to ease tensions with Congress.

At each turn in the bribery scandal, the PMDB’s chiefs have moved to erode the power of the left-leaning Ms. Rousseff, stalling some of the austerity measures proposed by her finance minister; thwarting the president’s nominees for her cabinet; and advancing socially conservative measures aimed at weakening gun-control laws and repealing legislation keeping teenagers from being tried as adults.

While both are adopting stances clashing with those of Ms. Rousseff, Mr. Calheiros and Mr. Cunha themselves do not see eye to eye on everything, taking different positions, for instance, on a bill aiming to make it easier for companies to outsource some operations.

Cristovam Buarque, a respected senator on the left who voted against Ms. Rousseff in the recent election, said the growing sway over the president by the troika formed by the heads of Congress and the vice president amounted to a “coup.”

“Instead of a general, a brigadier and an admiral acting with the support of the armed forces, we have the vice president of the republic and the chiefs of Congress maneuvering with the support of the troops of the PMDB,” Mr. Buarque said.

Congress’s growing resistance represents a turning point for an institution that has been widely despised in Brazil for its propensity to reward itself with pay raises when other parts of society endure austerity measures, and for its capacity to shield its members facing legal challenges.

Nearly 40 percent of federal legislators who won large numbers of votes in the 2014 elections are under investigation in an array of crimes, including illegal deforestation, embezzlement and torture. It takes a great deal for any member to be expelled from Congress. One example: Hildebrando Pascoal, a legislator convicted of operating a death squad whose victims were dismembered with chain saws.

Few federal legislators ever face imprisonment for any crimes because of the special judicial standing enjoyed by all 594 members of Congress allowing them to be tried only in Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal, effectively producing years of delays in a court overwhelmed with examining many other pressing issues in Brazilian society.

After facing scandals in the past, the figures now at the helm of Congress have shown an exceptional ability to withstand the allegations and resurrect their fortunes. Both Mr. Calheiros, the head of the Senate, and Mr. Cunha, the head of the lower house, have asserted that they are innocent in connection to the bribery scheme at Petrobras.

Mr. Calheiros, 59, did not respond to requests for comment about the other claims of corruption he has faced.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Cunha, 56, said that he denied wrongdoing in each of the corruption accusations against him, emphasizing that he pursued legal action against the news organizations that reported on some of the cases in an effort to “re-establish the truth.”

“As his past seems to show, Cunha might not be a monument to ethics,” the magazine Veja said in an otherwise glowing profile of the legislator, in which he was described on the cover as “Brazil’s most powerful politician.” The magazine, which often reports critically on Ms. Rousseff’s government, emphasized that none of the accusations against Mr. Cunha in Brazil’s legal system had any consequences.

As Ms. Rousseff battles for her political survival, Mr. Cunha, an evangelical Christian radio commentator and economist, is raising his national profile in appearances around Brazil, championing a socially conservative agenda and suggesting that the PMDB, which acquiesced for years to some of the Workers Party’s objectives, is forging its own distinct political ambitions.

“The majority of society thinks as we think,” Mr. Cunha told a gathering of evangelical Christians in Rio de Janeiro in March, contending that protests against him by gay rights activists were the work of a “minority.”

Separately, Mr. Cunha has said that the advance of legislation expanding legal access to abortions in Brazil would have to take place over his “cadaver.” Abortion remains illegal in Brazil in most circumstances, allowed only when the woman has been raped, her life is in danger or if the fetus has a severe defect in which parts of the brain and skull are missing.

Eying the rising clout of Congress under leaders like Mr. Cunha, some observers are cautioning the president to proceed carefully if she hopes to resuscitate her presidency.

“Cunha is sadistic, tough, smart, and he has charisma,” Claudio Lembo, a former governor of São Paulo, told the newspaper Valor Econômico. “If Dilma sought me out one day for advice, I’d tell her, ‘Go read Machiavelli. When you can’t beat your enemy, get close to him.’ ”

 28 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 05:50 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Sudan's Bashir Reelected with More than 94% of Vote

by Naharnet Newsdesk 27 April 2015, 13:18

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was reelected on Monday with more than 94 percent of the vote in polls in which he he had faced no serious challenger, organizers said.

"The number of votes obtained by candidate Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir of the National Congress Party was 5,252,478," National Electoral Commission chief Mokhtar al-Asam told a Khartoum news conference.

The announcement was met with cries of "God is greatest" from some of the audience in the hall where the results were announced.

Bashir -- wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges -- had faced just 13 little-known challengers for the presidency, and the mainstream opposition boycotted the vote.

His closest competitor, Fadl el-Sayed Shuiab of the small Federal Truth Party, won "1.43 percent," Asam said.

After him came Fatima Abdel Mahmoud, of the Sudanese Socialist Democratic Union, who won 47,653 votes, around 0.85 percent.

Polling stations had been quiet during the vote, despite a nationwide one-day extension, and the African Union's Election Observer Mission said there had been a "generally low turnout of voters throughout".

Asam said turnout was around 46 percent across the four days of polling, in which representatives of the national and state parliaments were also chosen.

Bashir's NCP also dominated the elections for the national parliament, taking 323 of the 426 seats, Asam added.

The controversial vote has already faced international criticism, with the United States, Britain and Norway slamming Sudan last week for its "failure to create a free, fair and conducive elections environment".

The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini had said even before polling stations opened on April 13 that the elections could not produce a "credible" result, in part because of the government's failure to hold a national dialogue with the opposition.

But Bashir hit back, labeling the critics "colonialist parties" and saying they would have no effect on the electoral process.

Most opposition parties boycotted and urged voters to stay away, saying the conditions were not right for a free election.

But some 44 parties did take part, many of which are allied to the NCP.

Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, and is Sudan's longest-serving leader.

The elections earlier this month were only the second contested ballots since Bashir took power.

Then previous elections in 2010 were also marred by an opposition boycott and criticism that the vote did not meet international standards.

Source: Agence France Presse

 29 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 05:49 AM 
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Saudi-Led Air Campaign Resumes in Yemeni Capital

By SAEED AL-BATATI and KAREEM FAHIM
APRIL 26, 2015
IHT

AL MUKALLA, Yemen — Warplanes of the Saudi-led military coalition bombed targets in the Yemeni capital on Sunday for the first time since Saudi officials said they were shifting the focus of their campaign against a Yemeni rebel group toward political negotiations and humanitarian relief.

Also on Sunday, at least seven people were killed and dozens wounded in escalating violence in the southern city of Taiz, which was emerging as the latest lethal flash point in Yemen’s civil war.

In addition to the bombings in Sana, the capital, which struck a military base and the presidential palace, the coalition carried out airstrikes in several other provinces, suggesting a broadening, rather than a scaling back, of the monthlong Saudi air offensive against Houthi rebels.

Despite vague talk of negotiations last week, there was little sign that any of the combatants in Yemen’s conflict were preparing to halt the fighting. Rather, the violence heightened in recent days as it became more apparent that the warring parties were locked in a standoff, with the Saudis insisting that the Houthis retreat and the Houthis demanding an unconditional end to the airstrikes.

Saudi Arabia said the military operation was intended to shake the grip of the Houthis on crucial Yemeni cities and to restore the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was forced from power and into exile, by the Houthis this year.

But the air campaign has killed scores of civilians and earned derision from critics in Yemen and abroad who have called it strategically incoherent for failing to either dislodge the Houthis and their allies or to force them to negotiate.

Nonetheless, Saudi officials asserted last week that the campaign, which they called Operation Decisive Storm, had achieved its objectives and that they would shift from military operations to a political process. But on Sunday, a senior Yemeni official, Riyadh Yaseen, who serves as the foreign minister for the Saudi-backed exiled government, said the first operation had “not ended.”

“There will be no deal with the Houthis whatsoever until they withdraw from areas under their control,” Mr. Yaseen said, speaking in London, according to Reuters.

More than 1,000 people have been killed over the past month, including at least 500 civilians, according to the United Nations. Hundreds of people have been killed in Aden, Yemen’s second largest city, which has been devastated by factional street fighting for more than a month.

There are growing fears that Taiz, a densely populated city northwest of Aden, is suffering the same fate as clashes there intensify. The city has already experienced severe shortages of fuel and food, residents said.

As in Aden, local forces were fighting against an alliance of the Houthis and heavily armed security units loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former autocratic president.

Taiz was a focal point of the nationwide uprising against Mr. Saleh in 2011 that led to a deal brokered by Persian Gulf nations that removed him from power. Residents said the local militias opposing the Houthi and Saleh forces now include many young people who participated in the protests four years ago.

A prominent, longtime opponent of Mr. Saleh, Sheik Hamoud Saeed al-Mikhlafi, was said to be leading the opposition to Mr. Saleh’s forces in Taiz.

As they meet fierce resistance in the city, the Houthis and their allies have been accused by residents of deploying deadly and frequently indiscriminate force. Witnesses said that on Sunday, the Houthis unleashed barrages of mortar shells that struck at least one hospital.

Ali al-Sirari, a local human rights activist, said the shelling by the Houthis came after they were forced to retreat. They “hysterically shelled many areas in the city with tanks,” he said. Residents said at least seven people, including three children, were killed.

 30 
 on: Apr 27, 2015, 05:47 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Battered S. Korean President Accepts PM Resignation

by Naharnet Newsdesk 27 April 2015, 12:26

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Monday accepted the resignation of her prime minister over a widening bribery scandal that has tainted senior members of her faltering administration.

Park was on a four-nation tour of South America when Lee Wan-Koo offered to step down. The decision was confirmed by an official from the president's office hours after her return.

Although nominally the second highest official in the country, the prime minister fills a largely ceremonial role in South Korea, where power is concentrated in the presidency.

But the post carries symbolic weight and Lee's departure after barely two months in the job is a fresh blow for an increasingly beleaguered Park.

Lee's hand was forced by a scandal triggered by the suicide earlier this month of Sung Wan-Jong, the former head of a bankrupt construction company.

In the dead man's pocket, investigators found a note that listed the names of eight people -- including Lee and presidential chief of staff Lee Byung-Kee -- alongside numbers that allegedly indicate bribery sums.

The suicide came as Sung was about to be questioned by prosecutors over allegations that he created a slush fund with embezzled company money to bribe politicians and government officials.

Although Lee had repeatedly protested his innocence, the pressure to step down intensified after the main opposition party said it would seek his formal impeachment.

"I feel very sorry for causing a public anxiety... but I believe the truth will be revealed certainly," Lee said in a farewell statement.

These are turbulent times for President Park, whose approval ratings have yet to recover from the pounding they took in the wake of last year's Sewol ferry disaster.

Recent weeks have seen major anti-government street protests in Seoul by ferry victims' relatives and their supporters, as well as trade union-organised rallies across the country to denounce Park's labour reforms.

The president's trip to South America, which critics said was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the Sewol disaster, kept her out of the direct firing line for a while, but there will be little respite now she is back.

The presidential office said earlier Monday that Park, who on her return avoided the usual press briefing for reporters accompanying her on the flight, had been advised to rest for two days after complaining of stomach cramps and a sore throat.

Her spokesman put her condition down to overwork and fatigue.

In a statement, Park's ruling Saenuri Party said it regretted the prime minister's resignation.

"But it reflects the president's firm determination to use this as the starting point for political reform," the statement said.

Source: Agence France Presse

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