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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

No government shutdown, but what do we have instead?

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc5e4ce47210febe920c47d5a943478694.html

So we have a deal and a government, and the eighth-graders visiting Washington (by tradition in the US, it’s in the eighth grade, or form as you call it, when students take their field trips to the capital) can go to the Smithsonian today. That’s all nice.

Also nice is that the offensive (and offensive it was) against Planned Parenthood failed, so at least we haven’t yet reached the point as a society that poor women must die of cervical cancer to satisfy the ideological itches of a few men, although fear not, we’re getting there.

But the $38 billion cut is the largest single-year cut in the history of the country, according to the president, who taped a three-minute video statement shortly after 11 pm Friday night, when the deal was announced by Speaker John Boehner.

It’ll be next week, I’d reckon, before we know exactly what was cut and by how much. As those details come out, an already disgruntled liberal base is just going to get angrier.

I understand what Obama is doing when he talks, as he does in the video, about the government needing to live within its means. I’m sure it polls well with independents, and as I’ve said many times, he needs to rebuild his standing among independents. We all get this.

But but but: to hear Obama kinda-sorta boasting about overseeing a domestic spending cut on a scale that even Ronald Reagan never managed leaves one wondering where and over what he might someday draw a line in the sand.

Last December, he signed George W. Bush’s tax cuts. Then he introduced his own budget, which include a five-year pay freeze for federal employees and cut funding for a couple of subsidy programs for poor and elderly people.

Finally, during this whole process, he never once that I can remember made a forceful public statement singling out a GOP cut as severe or unwise, never defended family planning initiatives, never pointed to one thing and said, this I will not brook.

Yes, I understand, liberals are outnumbered. I’m more understanding of that than most liberals I know, believe me. And Republicans have power now, and they’re extreme, and this is the way it’s going to be for a little while at least. But any skillful politician can find ways to communicate to the middle and his base simultaneously. He just has to want to.

Barack Obama US federal government shutdown US Congress Michael Tomasky Guardian News & Media Limited 2011

 

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US government shutdown averted

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc2fa834423f237f573e3b8514aac1b352.html

US government shutdown averted

Obama and Democrats forced to accept $39bn package of cuts while Republicans gave way on healthcare for women

A shutdown of the US federal government scheduled to begin on Saturday was averted after the Democrats and Republicans reached agreement only hours before midnight on budget spending cuts.

The shutdown would have triggered major disruptions across the country and could have set back the country’s fragile economic recovery. Hundreds of federal agencies would have closed down and about 800,000 federal staff faced suspension.

The deal came after days of negotiation between Obama and the Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, and the Democratic leader in the Senate Harry Reid. A deal had appeared to be tantalisingly close several times but was not finalised, until Friday night.

Boehner, an hour before midnight, told journalists in Congress: “I am pleased that Senator Reid and the White House have come to an agreement that will cut spending and keep government open.”

It would have been the first federal government shutdown since 1995-96 when there was a stand-off between the Republicans and the Clinton White House.

Barack Obama tore up his schedule for Friday, including the start of a family weekend break in Virginia, to concentrate on negotiations with Republicans. He had hoped to reach a compromise Friday morning but discussions dragged out throughout the day.

Obama portrayed the compromise as a tribute to US democracy as he said: “Tomorrow … the entire federal government will be open for business.”

Reid, like Obama, paid tribute to the Republicans in spite of the repeated clashes over the last week. “This has been a long process,” Reid said. “It has not been an easy process. Both sides have had to make tough choices.”

The Republicans forced the Democrats to agree to $39bn (£23bn) in spending cuts in this year’s budget to September, $6bn more than the Democrats were prepared to accept earlier this week. In return, the Republicans dropped a demand to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, an organisation providing healthcare for women. Republicans objected to the organisation’s links to abortion.

Boehner had as many problems in negotiations with his own Republican party as he did with the White House and Democratic members of the House. Many Republicans were elected in November with the support of the Tea Party movement who have demanded huge reductions in the federal deficit.

After reaching a deal with the White House and the Congressional Democrats, Boehner had to take the proposal to Congressional Republicans for final approval.

Boehner said Congress would pass a temporary spending measure to keep the government open until mid-way through next week. This would allow time for passage of the budget bill covering spending up until the end of the fiscal year in September.

The deal came after Obama spoke twice by phone Friday with Boehner.

The Republicans faced being blamed for the disruption if they had not reached a deal. But Obama could have suffered too, accused of weak leadership, unable to prevent a government shutdown.

About 800,000 federal employees would have been suspended without pay from Monday, more than a million troops at home and abroad would not have received pay, tax offices would have been disrupted and, in Washington DC, rubbish collection, parking control and other services would have ceased.

Pollution checks by the Environmental Protection Agency would have stopped across the US, as would monitoring of Wall Street transactions.

The White House, Congress, the Pentagon and hundreds of other bodies would have had to reduce staff.

The immediate impact of a shutdown would have been felt by tourists hoping to visit some of America’s most popular attractions, the 400 national parks, monuments and historic sites.

Queues grew at passport offices on Friday as tourists and people travelling for business or other reasons put in their applications afraid of a closedown.

The dispute offers a glimpse of bigger battles to come over the 2012 budget, in which Republicans are likely to seek much bigger cuts.

A Gallup poll published on Friday showed 58% of those surveyed favoured a compromise in this week’s row, with 33% backing the Republicans to hold out.

US federal government shutdown US politics Barack Obama John Boehner Republicans US Congress Democrats Obama administration United States US economy Ewen MacAskill Guardian News & Media Limited 2011

 

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US has no plans to ‘assassinate’ Gaddafi, Obama tells lawmakers

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/us-no-plans-assassinate-gaddafi-obama-tells-lawmakers-20110325-231651-149.html

By ANI | ANI – Sat, Mar 26, 2011 11:46 AM IST

Washington, Mar 26 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has told congressional leaders that the US military would not be used to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, sources familiar with Friday’s briefing at the White House have said.

“There was a discussion of how we have other ways of regime change. It’s not our role to do anything at this point from a kinetic point of view. It is our goal for regime change, but we’re not going to do it from a kinetic point of view,” Politico quoted Maryland Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, as saying.

Another source briefed on the one-hour meeting confirmed that claim, saying: “It’s not just military efforts that can force his removal.”

The president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, were among the administration officials briefing lawmakers involved in the Friday meeting and conference call.

Although many lawmakers have complained against Obama’s decision to strike Libyan defenses in support of a “no-fly” zone without prior congressional approval, Ruppersberger praised Obama’s handling of the situation.

“He took decisive action. He took action that was focused, and he did it pursuant to a world coalition,” Ruppersberger added.

Earlier, Arizona senator John Mccain while supporting the President’s decision to intervene militarily in Libya, remained concerned that the current efforts might not be enough to avoid a ‘stalemate and accomplish the US objective of forcing Gaddafi to leave power’.

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IMF chief to activate crisis fund next week

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/IMF-chief-activate-crisis-reuters-2530807212.html

On Friday 25 March 2011, 5:01 AM

 

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the International Monetary Fund will seek to activate a $580 billion crisis fund next week, a confidence-building step at a time of heightened global uncertainty.

“The biggest worry is the high risk of contagion from Portugal and general global uncertainty will trigger a new wave of borrowing from the fund,” a source familiar with the plan said. Two other sources also said economic worry spots were behind the expected move.

The IMF confirmed that IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn would seek to activate the fund — New Arrangements to Borrow — but said it was a “natural consequence of ratification of NAB on March 11, which was previously announced.”

Still, the global worry list has expanded in recent weeks because of Japan’s earthquake and nuclear crisis, as well as unrest spreading in the oil-producing Middle East and North Africa.

Concerns about Portugal’s debt crisis increased on Wednesday after the sudden departure of its prime minister made it likely that the country may not avoid turning to the European Union and IMF for financial help.

Sources emphasized that Portugal had not requested IMF bailout money and insists it is adamantly opposed to requesting IMF help. The country first has to request IMF help to trigger formal discussions on a rescue loan and program.

So far, Portugal has managed to finance itself in capital markets although government borrowing costs spiked on Thursday and rating agency Fitch cut Portugal’s credit rating by two notches to A- saying risks to the country had risen after parliament failed to pass fiscal consolidation measures.

The concern is that Portugal’s debt woes has wider repercussions, with neighboring Spain holding about one-third of Portuguese public debt.

In a statement on March 11 announcing the NAB had taken effect, the IMF called it a tool to “provide supplementary resources to the IMF when these are needed to forestall or cope with a threat to the international monetary system.”

The NAB was expanded ten-fold from $53 billion last year to include 13 new contributors, among them large emerging market economies like China, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico.

The United States is the largest contributor to the fund through a $100 billion credit agreement approved by President Barack Obama in 2009.

The move was in response to a call by the Group of 20 leading economies in 2009 to triple the IMF’s lending resources to shore up confidence in its ability to respond to crises.

The IMF has been at the center of the response to the financial meltdown and recession as the global lender of last resort, recently approving emergency loans to Ireland and Greece.

(Editing by Dan Grebler, Bernard Orr)

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Libyan rebels sweep west through key oil centers

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110327/ap_on_re_af/af_libya

By RYAN LUCAS, Associated Press Ryan Lucas, Associated Press 8 mins ago

AL-EGILA, Libya – Libyan rebels took back a key oil town and pushed westward Sunday toward the capital, seizing momentum from the international airstrikes that tipped the balance away from Moammar Gadhafi‘s military.

Brega, a main oil export terminal in eastern Libya, fell after a skirmish late Saturday and rebel forces moved swiftly west, seizing the tiny desert town of Al-Egila — a collection of houses and a gas station — on their way to the massive oil refining complex of Ras Lanouf.

“There was no resistance. Gadhafi’s forces just melted away,” said Suleiman Ibrahim, a 31-year-old volunteer, sitting in the back of a pickup truck. “This couldn’t have happened without NATO. They gave us big support.” He said that rebels had already reached Ras Lanouf.

Ras Lanouf and Brega combined would be responsible for a large chunk of Libya’s 1.5 million barrels of daily exports, which have all but stopped since the uprising that began Feb. 15 and was inspired by the toppling of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

“As they move round the coast, of course, the rebels will increasingly control the exit points of Libya’s oil,” British Defense Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC. “That will produce a very dynamic and a very different equilibrium inside Libya. How that will play out in terms of public opinion and the Gadhafi regime remains to be seen.”

The Gadhafi regime on Saturday acknowledged the airstrikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides.

“This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces,” Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said in the capital, Tripoli. “They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war.”

Fox denied that the international force hoped to oust Gadhafi: “Losing Gadhafi is an aspiration, it is not part of the U.N. resolution.”

The U.N. Security Council authorized the operation to protect Libyan civilians after Gadhafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who demanded that he step down after 42 years in power. The airstrikes have crippled Gadhafi’s forces, but rebel advances have also foundered, and the two sides have been at stalemate in key cities.

The rebel turnaround is a boost for President Barack Obama, who has faced complaints from lawmakers from both parties that he has not sought their input about the U.S. role in the conflict or explained with enough clarity about the American goals and exit strategy. Obama was expected to give a speech to the nation Monday.

“We’re succeeding in our mission,” Obama said in a radio and Internet address on Saturday. “So make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians — innocent men, women and children — have been saved.”

Pentagon officials say that forces loyal to Gadhafi are a potent threat to civilians. And they are looking at plans to expand the firepower and airborne surveillance systems in the military campaign, including using the Air Force’s AC-130 gunship armed with cannons that shoot from the side doors, as well as helicopters and drones.

Fox, the British foreign minister, ruled out supplying arms to the rebels. “We are not arming the rebels, we are not planning to arm the rebels,” he said.

NATO’s top decision-making body meets Sunday to expand its enforcement of the no-fly zone to include airstrikes against Libyan ground targets. Washington has been eager to hand off responsibility to NATO, which is expected to take command Sunday of the no-fly zone mission.

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Blast at Japan nuke plant; thousands missing

Posted by Admin on March 12, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110312/ap_on_bi_ge/as_japan_earthquake

By ERIC TALMADGE and YURI KAGEYAMA, Associated Press Eric Talmadge And Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press 3 mins ago

IWAKI, Japan – An explosion shattered a building housing a nuclear reactor Saturday, amid fears of a meltdown, while across wide swaths of northeastern Japan officials searched for thousands of people missing more than a day after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The confirmed death toll from Friday’s twin disasters was 686, but the government’s chief spokesman said it could exceed 1,000. Devastation stretched hundreds of miles (kilometers) along the coast, where thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers cut off from rescuers, electricity and aid.

The scale of destruction was not yet known, but there were grim signs that the death toll could soar. One report said four whole trains had disappeared Friday and still not been located. Others said 9,500 people in one coastal town were unaccounted for and that at least 200 bodies had washed ashore elsewhere.

Atsushi Ito, an official in Miyagi prefecture, among the worst hit states, could not confirm those figures, noting that with so little access to the area, thousands of people in scores of town could not be contacted or accounted for.

“Our estimates based on reported cases alone suggest that more than 1,000 people have lost their lives in the disaster,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. “Unfortunately, the actual damage could far exceed that number considering the difficulty assessing the full extent of damage.”

Among the most worrying developments was concerns that a nuclear reacter could melt down. Edano said Saturdya’s explosion was caused by vented hydrogen gas and destroyed the exterior walls of the building where the reactor is, but not the actual metal housing enveloping the reactor.

Edano said the radiation around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had not risen after the blast, but had in fact decreased.

Three people being evacuated from an area near the plant have been exposed to radiation, Yoshinori Baba, a Fukushima prefectural disaster official, confirmed. But he said they showed no signs of illness.

Virtually any increase in ambient radiation can raise long-term cancer rates, and authorities were planning to distribute iodine, which helps protect against thyroid cancer.

Authorities have also evacuated people from a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius around the reactor.

The explosion was caused by hydrogen interacting with oxygen outside the reactor. The hydrogen was formed when the superheated fuel rods came in contact with water being poured over it to prevent a meltdown.

“They are working furiously to find a solution to cool the core, and this afternoon in Europe we heard that they have begun to inject sea water into the core,” said Mark Hibbs, a senior associate at the Nuclear Policy Program for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “That is an indication of how serious the problem is and how the Japanese had to resort to unusual and improvised solutions to cool the reactor core.”

Officials have said that radiation levels were elevated before the blast: At one point, the plant was releasing each hour the amount of radiation a person normally absorbs from the environment each year.

The explosion was preceded by puff of white smoke that gathered intensity until it became a huge cloud enveloping the entire facility, located in Fukushima, 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Iwaki. After the explosion, the walls of the building crumbled, leaving only a skeletal metal frame.

Tokyo Power Electric Co., the utility that runs the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, said four workers suffered fractures and bruises and were being treated at a hospital.

The trouble began at the plant’s Unit 1 after the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami it spawned knocked out power there, depriving it of its cooling system.

Power was knocked out by the quake in large areas of Japan, which has requested increased energy supplies from Russia, Russia’s RIA Novosti agency reported.

The concerns about a radiation leak at the nuclear power plant overshadowed the massive tragedy laid out along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of the coastline where scores of villages, towns and cities were battered by the tsunami, packing 23-feet (7-meter) high waves.

It swept inland about six miles (10 kilometers) in some areas, swallowing boats, homes, cars, trees and everything else.

“The tsunami was unbelievably fast,” said Koichi Takairin, a 34-year-old truck driver who was inside his sturdy four-ton rig when the wave hit the port town of Sendai.

“Smaller cars were being swept around me,” he said. “All I could do was sit in my truck.”

His rig ruined, he joined the steady flow of survivors who walked along the road away from the sea and back into the city on Saturday.

Smashed cars and small airplanes were jumbled up against buildings near the local airport, several miles (kilometers) from the shore. Felled trees and wooden debris lay everywhere as rescue workers coasted on boats through murky waters around flooded structures, nosing their way through a sea of debris.

Late Saturday night, firefighters had yet to contain a large blaze at the Cosmo Oil refinery in the city of Ichihara.

According to official figures, 642 people are missing and missing 1,426 injured.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said 50,000 troops joined rescue and recovery efforts, aided by boats and helicopters. Dozens of countries also offered help.

President Barack Obama pledged U.S. assistance following what he called a potentially “catastrophic” disaster. He said one U.S. aircraft carrier was already in Japan and a second was on its way.

More than 215,000 people were living in 1,350 temporary shelters in five prefectures, the national police agency said.

Aid has barely begun to trickle into many areas.

“All we have to eat are biscuits and rice balls,” said Noboru Uehara, 24, a delivery truck driver who was wrapped in a blanket against the cold at center in Iwake. “I’m worried that we will run out of food.”

Since the quake, more than 1 million households have not had water, mostly concentrated in northeast. Some 4 million buildings were without power.

About 24 percent of electricity in Japan is produced by 55 nuclear power units in 17 plants and some were in trouble after the quake.

Japan declared states of emergency at two power plants after their units lost cooling ability.

Although the government spokesman played down fears of radiation leak, the Japanese nuclear agency spokesman Shinji Kinjo acknowledged there were still fears of a meltdown.

A “meltdown” is not a technical term. Rather, it is an informal way of referring to a very serious collapse of a power plant’s systems and its ability to manage temperatures.

Yaroslov Shtrombakh, a Russian nuclear expert, said a Chernobyl-style meltdown was unlikely.

“It’s not a fast reaction like at Chernobyl,” he said. “I think that everything will be contained within the grounds, and there will be no big catastrophe.”

In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded and caught fire, sending a cloud of radiation over much of Europe. That reactor — unlike the Fukushima one — was not housed in a sealed container, so there was no way to contain the radiation once the reactor exploded.

The reactor in trouble has already leaked some radiation: Before the explosion, operators had detected eight times the normal radiation levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal inside Unit 1’s control room.

An evacuation area around the plant was expanded to a radius of 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the six miles (10 kilometers) before. People in the expanded area were advised to leave quickly; 51,000 residents were previously evacuated.

“Everyone wants to get out of the town. But the roads are terrible,” said Reiko Takagi, a middle-aged woman, standing outside a taxi company. “It is too dangerous to go anywhere. But we are afraid that winds may change and bring radiation toward us.”

The transport ministry said all highways from Tokyo leading to quake-hit areas were closed, except for emergency vehicles. Mobile communications were spotty and calls to the devastated areas were going unanswered.

Local TV stations broadcast footage of people lining up for water and food such as rice balls. In Fukushima, city officials were handing out bottled drinks, snacks and blankets. But there were large areas that were surrounded by water and were unreachable.

One hospital in Miyagi prefecture was seen surrounded by water. The staff had painted an SOS on its rooftop and were waving white flags.

Technologically advanced Japan is well prepared for quakes and its buildings can withstand strong jolts, even a temblor like Friday’s, which was the strongest the country has experienced since official records started in the late 1800s. What was beyond human control was the killer tsunami that followed.

Japan’s worst previous quake was a magnitude 8.3 temblor in Kanto that killed 143,000 people in 1923, according to the USGS. A magnitude 7.2 quake in Kobe killed 6,400 people in 1995.

Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching around the Pacific where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur, including the one that triggered the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people in 12 countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake that shook central Chile in February 2010 also generated a tsunami and killed 524 people.

___

Kageyama reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writers Malcolm J. Foster, Mari Yamaguchi, Tomoko A. Hosaka and Shino Yuasa in Tokyo, Jay Alabaster in Sendai, Sylvia Hui in London, David Nowak in Moscow, and Margie Mason in Hanoi also contributed.

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Gun battles rage as rebels seize Libyan towns

Posted by Admin on February 24, 2011

A protester covers his face with a Libyan flag ...
A Protester covering his face with the Libyan Flag
By Alexander Dziadosz Alexander Dziadosz 23 mins ago

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi launched a fierce counter-attack on Thursday, fighting gun battles with rebels who have threatened the Libyan leader by seizing important towns close to the capital.

The opposition were already in control of major centers in the east, including the regional capital Benghazi, and reports that the towns of Misrata and Zuara in the west had also fallen brought the tide of rebellion closer to Gaddafi’s power base.

Gun battles in Zawiyah, an oil terminal 50 km (30 miles) from the capital, left 10 people dead, a Libyan newspaper said.

France’s top human rights official said up to 2,000 people might have died so far in the uprising.

In a rambling appeal for calm, Gaddafi blamed the revolt on al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and said the protesters were fueled by milk and Nescafe spiked with hallucinogenic drugs,

Gaddafi, who just two days ago vowed in a televised address to crush the revolt and fight to the last, showed none of the fist-thumping rage of that speech.

This time, he spoke to state television by telephone without appearing in person, and his tone seemed more conciliatory.

“Their ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe,” Gaddafi said.

A Tripoli resident, who did not want to be identified because he feared reprisals for speaking to the foreign media, told Reuters: “It seems like he realized that his speech yesterday with the strong language had no effect on the people. He’s realizing it’s going to be a matter of time before the final chapter: the battle of Tripoli.”

FIGHTBACK

Forces loyal to the Libyan leader attacked anti-government militias controlling Misrata, Libya’s third-biggest city, 125 miles east of Tripoli, and several people were killed in fighting near the city’s airport.

Soldiers were reported along the roads approaching Tripoli. In Zawiyah, witnesses said pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces were firing at each other in the streets.

“It is chaotic there. There are people with guns and swords,” said Mohamed Jaber, who passed through Zawiyah on his way to Tunisia on Thursday.

Al Jazeera television broadcast pictures of what it said was a burning police station in Zawiyah. A witness told Reuters the Libyan army was present in force.

Anti-government militias were in control of Zuara, about 120 km (75 miles) west of Tripoli. There was no sign of police or military and the town was controlled by “popular committees” armed with automatic weapons.

The uprising has virtually halted Libya’s oil exports, said the head of Italy’s ENI, Libya’s biggest foreign oil operator. The unrest has driven world oil prices up to around $120 a barrel, stoking concern about the economic recovery.

Key Libyan oil and product terminals to the east of the capital are in the hands of rebels, according to Benghazi residents in touch with people in region. The oil and product terminals at Ras Lanuf and Marsa El Brega were being protected, they said, amid fears of attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces.

The desert nation pumps nearly 2 percent of the world’s oil.

World leaders condemned Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown on the week-long revolt, but did little to halt the bloodshed from the latest upheaval reshaping the Arab world.

U.S. President Barack Obama joined western leaders in condemning the violence in Libya.

“It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice,” Obama said. “The suffering and bloodshed are outrageous.”

French Defense Minister Alain Juppe said he hoped Gaddafi was “living his last moments as leader”. British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged the world to increase pressure on Gaddafi.

UP TO 2,000 DEAD

France’s top human rights official said up to 2,000 people could have died in the unrest and he feared Gaddafi could unleash “migratory terrorism” on Europe as his regime collapses.

“The question is not if Gaddafi will fall, but when and at what human cost,” Francois Zimeray told Reuters. “For now the figures we have … more than 1,000 have died, possibly 2,000, according to sources.”

Benghazi, the eastern regional capital where the rebellion started a week ago, is starting to run itself under “people’s committees” as the dust of rebellion settles. In the east of Libya, many soldiers have withdrawn from active service.

A Reuters correspondent in the city was shown about a dozen people being held in a court building who residents said were “mercenaries” backing Gaddafi. Some were said to be African and others from southern Libya.

“They have been interrogated, and they are being kept safe, and they are fed well,” said Imam Bugaighis, 50, a university lecturer now helping organize committees to run the city, adding that they would be tried according to the law, but the collapse of institutions of state meant the timing was not clear.

Angry residents destroyed a barracks compound they said had been used by the mercenaries.

In Tripoli, which remains largely closed to foreign media, locals said they were too scared to go outside for fear of being shot by pro-government forces.

“People have started working today. But that does not mean they are not afraid. But until now, people are moving around,” a resident told Reuters. (Reporting by Tarek Amara, Christian Lowe, Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Souhail Karam, Firouz Sedarat, Tom Pfeiffer; Brian Love, Daren Butler; Dina Zayed, Sarah Mikhail and Tom Perry; Martina Fuchs, Michael Georgy; writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Egypt crisis: President Hosni Mubarak resigns as leader

Posted by Admin on February 14, 2011

Hosni Mubarak - World Economic Forum Annual Me...

People power

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12433045

12 February 2011 Last updated at 05:12 GMT

Vice-President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on state television

Hosni Mubarak has stepped down as president of Egypt, after weeks of protest in Cairo and other cities.

The news was greeted with a huge outburst of joy and celebration by thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the heart of the demonstrations.

Mr Mubarak ruled for 30 years, suppressing dissent and protest, and jailing opponents.

US President Barack Obama said that Egypt must now move to civilian and democratic rule.

This was not the end but the beginning and there were difficult days ahead, the US president added, but he was confident the people could find the answers.

“The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard,” Mr Obama said. “Egypt will never be the same again.”

“They have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.”

‘God help everybody’

Continue reading the main story 

President Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak
  • Elevated from vice-president when Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981
  • Supported Sadat’s policy of peace with Israel
  • Maintained emergency law for entire presidency
  • Won three elections unopposed
  • Fourth term secured in 2005 after allowing rivals to stand
  • Economic development led many Egyptians to accept continued rule
  • Survived 1995 assassination attempt in Ethiopia
  • Faced Islamist threat within Egypt, including Luxor massacre of 1997 and Sinai bombings
  • Regularly suppressed dissent, protests and political opponents

Announcing Mr Mubarak’s resignation, Vice-President Omar Suleiman said the president had handed power to the army.

Mr Suleiman said on state TV that the high command of the armed forces had taken over.

“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said.

“May God help everybody.”

Later an army officer read out a statement paying tribute to Mr Mubarak for “what he has given” to Egypt but acknowledging popular power.

“There is no legitimacy other than that of the people,” the statement said.

The military high command is headed by Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks described Field Marshal Tantawi as “aged and change-resistant”, but committed to avoiding another war with Israel.

Mr Mubarak has already left Cairo and is in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence, officials say.

In Cairo, thousands of people gathered outside the presidential palace, in Tahrir Square and at state TV.

They came out in anger following an address by Mr Mubarak on Thursday. He had been expected to announce his resignation but stopped short of stepping down, instead transferring most powers to Mr Suleiman.

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Protester: ‘I’ll tell my children we made this revolution possible’

“The people have brought down the regime,” they chanted in reaction to the news of his eventual resignation less than 24 hours later.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said: “This is the greatest day of my life.”

“You cannot comprehend the amount of joy and happiness of every Egyptian at the restoration of our humanity and our freedom.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s banned Islamist opposition movement, paid tribute to the army for keeping its promises.

“I salute the Egyptian people and the martyrs. This is the day of victory for the Egyptian people. The main goal of the revolution has been achieved,” said the Brotherhood’s former parliamentary leader, Mohamed el-Katatni.

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At the scene

Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo 


It is hard to know where to look as you walk through central Cairo. Everyone in this mega-city has spilled out onto the streets to party.

Soldiers lift small, smiling children onto their tanks to pose for photos, whole families are flying flags and wearing matching hats in red, white and black as they walk along the Corniche by the Nile, and motorcyclists precariously weave their way through the crowds yelling “Egypt, Egypt”.

The excited din from Tahrir Square, the scene of the massive protests against President Mubarak that began on 25 January, can be heard from miles off. It is packed with huge crowds.

The demonstrators’ barricades that had controlled entry to the square have been dismantled, and security checkpoints at which people showed identification and had their bags searched have all gone.

Some people are already packing up their tents in the campsite nearby. They have achieved what they set out to do.

Ayman Nour, Mr Mubarak’s rival for the presidency in 2005, described it as the greatest day in Egypt’s history.

“This nation has been born again. These people have been born again, and this is a new Egypt,” he told al-Jazeera TV.

Meanwhile Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, announced that he would leave his post as secretary general of the Arab League “within weeks”, the Egyptian news agency Mena reported. He hinted that he might stand for president.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo said the announcement caught everyone by surprise: all over the city, drivers honked their horns and people fired guns into the air.

But the army takeover looks very much like a military coup, our correspondent adds.

The constitution has been breached, he says, because officially it should be the speaker of parliament who takes over, not the army leadership.

‘Historic change’

There was jubilation throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including in Tunisia, where people overthrew their own president last month.

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A military spokesman on state TV ‘salutes’ Hosni Mubarak’s service

For the Arab League, Mr Moussa said events in Egypt presented an opportunity to build a national consensus.

Meanwhile, Iran described the recent events as a “great victory”.

A senior Israeli official expressed the hope that Mr Mubarak’s departure would “bring no change to its peaceful relations with Cairo”.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he respected the “difficult decision” taken in the people’s interests, and called for an “orderly and peaceful transition”.

European Union leaders reacted positively to the news of Mr Mubarak’s resignation.

Foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton said the EU “respected” the decision.

“It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people,” she said.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said this was a “really precious moment of opportunity to have a government that can bring the people together”, and called for a “move to civilian and democratic rule”.

Continue reading the main story 

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

  • Head of higher council of Egyptian armed forces
  • Minister of defence since 1991
  • Commander-in-chief armed forces since 1991
  • Appointed deputy prime minister 31 Jan 2011
  • Born 31 Oct 1935

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the “historic change” in Egypt.

US Vice-President Joe Biden said Egypt had reached a pivotal moment in history.

The anti-government protests that began on 25 January were triggered by widespread unrest in Egypt over unemployment, poverty and corruption.

They followed a popular uprising in Tunisia which brought about the downfall of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

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Obama cautions Mubarak not to use force against protesters

Posted by Admin on January 29, 2011

Official photograph of Egyptian President Hosn...

Egypt President - Hosni Mubarak

http://in.news.yahoo.com/obama-cautions-mubarak-not-force-against-protesters-20110128-222340-713.html

By ANI | ANI – Sat, Jan 29 11:53 AM IST

Washington, Jan.29 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has put his embattled Egyptian counterpart leader, Hosni Mubarak, on notice that he should not use his soldiers and police in a bloody crackdown on opposition protesters.

Addressing the nation from the White House, Obama said that he had spoken with Mubarak and had told him “to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters” and to turn a “moment of volatility” into a “moment of promise.”

Declaring that the protesters have universal rights, the New York Times quoted Obama, as saying that the “The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people.”

Obama’s brief remarks came as a blunt reply to Mubarak, who spoke to his own people just one hour before and mixed conciliation with defiance as he dismissed his government, but vowed to stay in office to stabilize Egypt.

The Obama administration has moved from tentative support to distancing itself from Mubarak, its staunchest Arab ally, saying it would review the 1.5 billion dollar in American aid and warning him that he must confront the grievances of his people.

Obama said that Mubarak’s promise of expanding democracy and economic opportunity needed to be enforced with meaning and responsibility.

He called on Mubarak to open a dialogue with the demonstrators, though he did not go as far as to urge free and fair elections.

Illustrating the delicate balance that the administration faces with Egypt, Obama referred to the joint projects of the two countries. He also urged the demonstrators to “express themselves peacefully.”

Egypt is the fourth-largest recipient of American foreign aid, after Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel, and just ahead of Iraq.

It is also a critical partner on issues like the Israel-Palestinian peace process and a bulwark against Islamic extremism in the Arab world. (ANI)

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The real cost of cheap oil

Posted by Admin on January 17, 2011

BP OIL SPILL Disaster

See how destructive we can be!

http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article440692.ece

JOHN VIDAL – May 29, 2010 [REPOST]

Big Oil is holding its breath. BP’s shares are in steep decline after the debacle in the Gulf of Mexico. Barack Obama, the American people and the global environmental community are outraged, and now the company stands to lose the rights to drill for oil in the Arctic and other ecologically sensitive places.

The gulf disaster may cost it a few billion dollars, but so what? When annual profits for a company often run to tens of billions, the cost of laying 5,000 miles of booms, or spraying millions of gallons of dispersants and settling 100,000 court cases is not much more than missing a few months’ production. It’s awkward, but it can easily be passed on.

The oil industry‘s image is seriously damaged, but it can pay handsomely to greenwash itself, just as it managed after Exxon Valdez, Brent Spar and the Ken Saro-Wiwa public relations disasters. In a few years’ time, this episode will probably be forgotten — just another blip in the fortunes of the industry that fuels the world. But the oil companies are nervous now because the spotlight has been turned on their cavalier attitude to pollution and on the sheer incompetence of an industry that is used to calling the shots.

Big Oil’s real horror was not the spillage, which was common enough, but because it happened so close to the US. Millions of barrels of oil are spilled, jettisoned or wasted every year without much attention being paid.

If this accident had occurred in a developing country, say off the west coast of Africa or Indonesia, BP could probably have avoided all publicity and escaped starting a clean-up for many months. It would not have had to employ booms or dispersants, and it could have ignored the health effects on people and the damage done to fishing. It might have eventually been taken to court and could have been fined a few million dollars, but it would probably have appealed and delayed a court decision for a decade or more.

Big Oil is usually a poor country’s most powerful industry, and is generally allowed to act like a parallel government. In many countries it simply pays off the judges, the community leaders, the lawmakers and the ministers, and it expects environmentalists and local people to be powerless. Mostly it gets away with it.

What the industry dreads more than anything else is being made fully accountable to developing countries for the mess it has made and the oil it has spilt in the forests, creeks, seas and deserts of the world.

There are more than 2,000 major spillage sites in the Niger delta that have never been cleaned up; there are vast areas of the Colombian, Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon that have been devastated by spillages, the dumping of toxic materials and blowouts. Rivers and wells in Venezuela, Angola, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda and Sudan have been badly polluted. Occidental, BP, Chevron, Shell and most other oil companies together face hundreds of outstanding lawsuits. Ecuador alone is seeking $30bn from Texaco. The only reason oil costs $70-$100 a barrel today, and not $200, is because the industry has managed to pass on the real costs of extracting the oil. If the developing world applied the same pressure on the companies as Obama and the U.S. senators are now doing, and if the industry were forced to really clean up the myriad messes it causes, the price would jump and the switch to clean energy would be swift.

If the billions of dollars of annual subsidies and the many tax breaks the industry gets were withdrawn, and the cost of protecting oil companies in developing countries were added, then most of the world’s oil would almost certainly be left in the ground. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

(John Vidal is the Guardian’s environment correspondent.)

 

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Medvedev welcomes US arms treaty

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc408f9d676abcb1764492d160e8a15470.html

Russian president says country is ready to ratify the arms reduction pact with the US

MPs in Russia could approve a new strategic arms reduction treaty with the US as early as tomorrow after President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed the pact.

The country’s overwhelmingly pro-Kremlin parliament is likely to push the agreement through swiftly, despite doubts over Washington’s desire to station a missile defence shield in Europe.

Medvedev’s office said today he was “pleased to learn that the United States Senate has ratified the Start Treaty and expressed hope that the State Duma and the Federation Council [lower and upper houses of parliament] will be ready to consider this issue shortly and to ratify the document”.

The US Senate voted 71 to 26 in favour of the treaty yesterday, despite expectations that Republican members might try to block its passage.

The speaker of the State Duma, Boris Gryzlov, said the Kremlin-controlled United Russia party, which dominates the chamber, was ready to approve the treaty at a parliamentary session scheduled tomorrow.

The speaker of the Federation Council, Sergei Mironov, said he could push it through the same day.

Under New Start, as the agreement is called, strategic nuclear warheads deployed by each country will be reduced to 1,550 within seven years. Deployed missile launchers would be cut to 700.

Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council’s foreign relations committee, said the treaty “represents a shift away from cold war mentality and demonstrates that Russia and the US are focused on achieving 21st-century global security”.

Its ratification in both countries will be seen as step forward after a difficult period in bilateral relations since Medvedev and Barack Obama signed the treaty in Prague in April.

Two months after that meeting, the US exposed 10 Russian sleeper agents living in New York and Washington, although the fallout was partly defused when they were exchanged for four men jailed in Russia who had allegedly worked for western intelligence agencies.

Relations appeared to be warming last month when the Nato military alliance invited Russia to participate in a US-led missile defence system about which Moscow is deeply suspicious. But the thaw came under threat when WikiLeaks revealed US diplomatic cables suggesting Russia is a “mafia state”.

Analysts say the treaty overrides such irritants, showing progress in the attempts to improve ties with Russia, which began after Obama came to power.

Sergei Rogov, head of the influential US and Canada Institute in Moscow, told the RIA Novosti news agency: “It is, of course, a positive step and it shows that the ‘re-set’ in Russian-American relations is bringing real results, but the question now is, what next?”

Top of the agenda for the Kremlin will be hammering out details of its role in the missile defence project. Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, warned this month that Russia would be obliged to deploy “new strike forces” on its borders if talks with Nato over the system failed to show progress.

Dmitry Medvedev Russia Nuclear weapons United States Tom Parfitt

 

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