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September 1, 2011
Clintons Hunkered Down in East Hampton as Irene Passed By
By BARBARA GRAUSTARK
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. — Over the years, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton have been occasional visitors to the serene, breezy corner of East Hampton where Lily Pond Lane meets Georgica Beach amid the bayberry and beach plum. Sometimes they were guests of Steven Spielberg. But this is the first time that neighbors had seen them not as casual day visitors but as householders.
Five days before Irene struck, neighbors say, the Clintons and their Secret Service entourage put down roots in a large-shingle 1920 “cottage” on Lily Pond Lane with commanding views of the ocean and Lily Pond. The house is owned by Eli Hirschfeld, son of the parking lot magnate Abe Hirschfeld, and surrounded by black pines and Rosa rugosa.
Even as their neighbors evacuated, some returning to Manhattan, the Clintons decided to wait out Tropical Storm Irene, convinced, Mrs. Clinton told a neighbor, that it would weaken.
It did eventually weaken, but the Clintons’ house, like most along this beach, lost power.
Ever since Irene passed, the pair has been seen strolling the pristine beach, shadowed at a respectful distance by Secret Service agents, commiserating with neighbors about power failures, downed trees and walkways washed out by the storm.
On Wednesday, they were walking holding hands, Bill in his khaki long shorts and Hillary almost hidden beneath a pink hat and turquoise shirt, as the steps to the Hirschfeld house were being reconstructed, said Curtis Eaves, owner of a landscape design firm. The couple stopped for a photo-op.
The Clintons have apparently recovered power in at least part of the house. Mrs. Clinton told Mr. Eaves that as long as they had power in the kitchen, and phone service, “we weren’t going anywhere.”
Mr. Clinton was not complaining about a few days in a beach house without lights. “Everything is relative,” he told Mr. Eaves. “I’m worried about the people who were flooded and lost their homes.”
Libya opposition to meet with Clinton in Paris today
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will continue on to Egypt and Tunisia in her first trip to address the Arab revolutions. But the window for foreign assistance to Libya is quickly closing.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to meet with Libyan rebel leaders in Paris today in her first overseas trip to address Arab world revolutions since the ousting of former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Her visit comes as the Obama administration shows wariness about offering support to Libyan rebels and Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s forces make surprising gains.
In Paris, Clinton will meet with Libyan opposition figures and meet several European counterparts to discuss military intervention in Libya, the Associated Press reports. France has already recognized the Libyan opposition interim council and, together with Britain, is drafting a no-fly zone resolution to put forward at the United Nations Security Council. But the US has been more reticent to throw its full support behind the rebels.
AP notes that the US regard for rebels “may well depend” on Clinton’s meetings today, since “the [rebel] council’s composition and aims largely remain a mystery to American officials.”
Clinton is due to visit Tunisia and Egypt after Paris to express support for the ousters of autocratic governments there. “We have an enormous stake in ensuring that Egypt and Tunisia provide models for the kind of democracy that we want to see,” Clinton told lawmakers last week, warning them about Iran’s attempts to gain influence across the region, according to the Agence France-Presse.
Even though the Arab League offered a strongly-worded statement of support this weekend for an internationally backed no-fly zone over Libya, saying that the Libyan government had “lost its sovereignty,” Obama on Sunday showed hesitation in committing the US to military action in Libya.
“Anytime I send United States forces into a potentially hostile situation, there are risks involved and there are consequences. And it is my job as president to make sure that we have considered all those risks,” he told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “It’s also important from a political perspective to, as much as possible, maintain the strong international coalition that we have right now.”
The Obama administration has expressed concern about a military that is already spread thin and about being perceived as meddling in another country’s affairs. It has insisted that any military intervention have UN approval and support from the Arab League.
Meanwhile, Qaddafi’s forces have made surprisingly strong gains against rebels, even advancing toward the opposition “capital” of Benghazi in eastern Libya.
After pummeling the key oil town of Ras Lanuf last week, pro-Qaddafi forces moved east to claim Brega over the weekend. Rebels say the next battle will be in Ajdabiya, a strategic town on a junction that leads to both the oil refineries of Tobruk and the self-made rebel stronghold of Benghazi, the Guardian reports.
Although the rebel forces commander said Qaddafi’s forces will face a difficult fight if they try to reclaim Ajdabiya, some members of the antigovernment forces seemed less confident, bemoaning a lack of assistance from other countries and discussing exit plans to Egypt.
According to the Washington Post, reporting from Tripoli, pro-government forces tout reclaiming of oil town Ras Lanuf and Brega as a significant gain. The rebel forces commanders claims his forces made a “strategic retreat” from Brega.
Col. Milad Hussein, an army spokesman, [said] that he did not anticipate a tough battle in Benghazi. He said that the government hopes to resolve the crisis “through reconciliation” with tribal leaders in eastern Libya but that the rebel movement is not proving to be a potent adversary.
“To deal with them you don’t need full-scale military action,” the Libyan spokesman said. “They are groups of people who, when you come to them, they just raise their hands and go. ”