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Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Bill Clinton talks climate change and health care at CNE

In Bill Clinton, Climate Change, Global News, Health Care on August 30, 2009 at 3:14 am

The sun shines for Bill Clinton.

Bill in TorontoOr at least it did this afternoon, when the skies cleared in time for the former U.S. president to address an audience of almost 12,000 at BMO Field at the Canadian National Exhibition.

Clinton, who had just flown to Toronto from the Boston funeral of Edward Kennedy, opened his remarks with words of remembrance of the late senator.

“I knew him for more than 30 years,” said Clinton. “We worked together, sometimes we fought… but throughout it all I cherished my relationship with him because he proved that public service was an honourable way to live, and he gave his entire life to trying to make our country and the world a better place.”

The half-hour speech, tailored to a Canadian audience and bookended by standing ovations, ranged in terms of subject matter from climate change to the health care debate south of the border. Addressing the latter, Clinton did his level-headed best to explain the fervour at town halls throughout the U.S.

“If you look at America, you must wonder what in the world are my friends to the south thinking? Why don’t they just pass some bill? How could it be worse?”

Applause.

“A lot of you have American friends; you can help us with this,” he continued. “The money’s going somewhere, and the somewhere doesn’t want to give it up… You have to understand there’s a lot of economic incentive to keep things misunderstood and (people) full of fear.”

Clinton switched gears from austere to earnest and back again numerous times throughout the speech. At one point, he spent two minutes explaining his love for fairs, particularly given their place in the political circuit in Arkansas, the state he governed before becoming president.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL

In Bill Clinton, birthday on August 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Bill Clinton birthday 1

Clinton young

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HOW DID YOU GET SO LUCKY?

Clinton Urges Iran to Release Detained Americans

In Americans, Global News, hostages, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Madame Secretary Clinton on August 15, 2009 at 11:00 pm

15 August 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Iran to release all Americans detained in the country, including three hikers arrested last month.

Clinton Saturday called on Iranian authorities to grant consular access to the three hikers, who were detained July 31.

Iranian television has described the three as spies who illegally entered the country.

Clinton said the United States also remains concerned about Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent missing in Iran since 2007. She also called for the release of American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh.

In related news, an American graduate student jailed in Iran for a few weeks and barred from leaving the country for nine months returned this week to Los Angeles. Esha Momeni was arrested last year and charged with acting against national security.

She was researching the Iranian women’s’ rights movement for her master’s thesis at an American university.

Momeni is one of several Iranian-Americans detained in the last year on security-related charges. She says she spent 25 of her 28 days in jail in solitary confinement, and that she was repeatedly interrogated.

Momeni was eventually released on bail, but Iranian authorities confiscated her passports and barred her from leaving the country until this week.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

Clinton ‘Concerned’ About Americans Held in Iran

BAGHDAD, Aug. 3 — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday thatIran Iraq she was “concerned” about three Americans detained in Iran and that the United States had not received any information from Iran about their fate since they crossed into the country from northern Iraq last week.

News reports Tuesday in Iran, meanwhile, said the Americans were under arrest for “illegal entry” and claimed that their case was being used by the U.S. government for propaganda purposes, the Associated Press reported. Iran’s state-controlled media noted that at least two of the Americans are journalists, the wire service said, and questioned reports that the trio were hikers who wandered across the border by mistake.

Officials in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said the group was lost and entered Iran while on an excursion in a mountainous area along the border. They also said that border guards had warned them not to proceed because the border in that area is not clearly marked.

“Obviously, we are concerned,” Clinton told reporters at the State Department. “We want this matter brought to a resolution as soon as possible. And we call on the Iranian government to help us determine the whereabouts of the three missing Americans and return them as quickly as possible.”

Clinton said that the Swiss ambassador in Iran, who represents American interests there, is seeking information about the three. Tehran and Washington broke off diplomatic ties in 1979.

Kurdish authorities identified the Americans as Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal. The three had called a friend, Shon Meckfessel, who had stayed in a hotel in Sulaymaniyah, the region’s second-largest city, because he was feeling sick. They told him that Iranian border guards were surrounding them. They have not been heard from since.

Kurdish officials said the Americans told them they were journalists. Shourd has written for Brave New Traveler, an online travel magazine. On the magazine’s Web site, she identifies herself as a “teacher-activist-writer from California currently based in the Middle East.” Bauer, of Minnesota, is a Middle East correspondent for New American Media and has written for other publications, including the Nation magazine.

Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., and Fattal’s mother, Laura Fattal of Elkins Park, Pa., both said in brief statements that they were concerned about the group’s welfare and safety.

The Kurdish government said that it would soon meet for a second time with Iranian representatives to discuss the fate of the Americans and to seek their release.

Clinton’s statement Monday came after the head of the Iranian parliament’s foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, confirmed the arrest of the Americans on Sunday, according to Iranian television.

Iran’s Arabic-language network said in a news bulletin Monday, quoting Iraqi police sources, that the Americans were “CIA agents.” The Iranian government, however, did not immediately endorse that claim.
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Clinton in the Congo, and the real message gets lost…

In Africa, Congo, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aide, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on August 14, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Clinton in the Congo, and the real message gets lost.

Clinton in the Congo

CongoShadow

by Nancy Johnston
THE BALTIMORE SUN

August 13, 2009

The UN reports that there have been 200,000 acts of sexual violence in the Congo since 1998, 65 percent against children. Since January, more than half of the thousands of rapes reported were perpetrated by the Congolese army, according to Human Rights Watch. That is to say nothing of the more than 2 million displaced citizens, and 5.4 million who have died in connection with the war waged against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

An AP report which detailed the $17 million of aid the U.S. has pledge to end such violence described the scene at a refugee camp Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited.

“Residents told Clinton that women and young girls and boys are often victimized by rape when they leave the camp to gather wood or tend to outside gardens. One camp official said a young boy had been raped on Monday.

“One of the two victims Clinton met had been gang-raped after her husband and four children were killed. The other, eight months pregnant at the time, lost her baby and was found by hospital workers in a forest where she had stumbled.”

There are no words for the horrors these people have faced in the past decade.

    But if you’ve watched the news those horrific statistics and stories didn’t register. That’s because Secretary Clinton’s umbrage over a question about a Chinese loan offer became the story, instead of the corruption of officials and the sexual warfare being waged throughout the country.

At a news conference, a student in the audience asks Ms. Clinton what Mr. Clinton thinks about a disputed Chinese contract, and she reacted harshly. It’s unclear what the student was thinking — did he misspeak, meaning to ask for President Obama’s opinion, instead of Bill Clinton’s?

Did the translator ask the wrong question? Did one or the other of them think it appropriate to question our top diplomat about her husband’s opinion, rather than her own? But the point is that the narrative has switched from life-and-death issues that everyone should be united against, to another “Shrill Hill” sound bite.

“Poor Hillary,” her detractors and supporters both say, “She was just so tired! And it must be so hard to see Obama light up the world in his travels; and that Bill, saving those journalists from North Korea, stealing her thunder.”

To which I say, give me a break.

Hillary Clinton has been a professional politician, a U.S. senator, a presidential candidate and she is now the secretary of state of the United States of America. She has nothing to prove to the commentators and the pundits; her job is to advise the president on foreign affairs and enforce the policies of the USA.

She was not a petulant child craving recognition, nor does she need your defense. Secretary Clinton had a point to make, and it was this: I am the representative of the most powerful country in the world, and you will respect both my office and me as a human being.

While you’re at it, why don’t you show that same respect to the women of the Congo?

In a country where being female might be a death sentence and rape is used as a weapon against the population, this is not a point to be made lightly. Perhaps it wasn’t diplomatic, but it was entirely appropriate for Clinton to defend her position and her dignity in a place where so many wives and daughters have no defense or recourse.

So don’t pity Hillary, who in your mind has to compete with her powerful husband and boss. Pity the millions of Congolese who are suffering.

And get alongside her, whether as a feminist or a human being: There’s plenty to find offensive in this situation without falling back to either Clinton hatred or misogynistic punchlines.
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Hillary’s relationship with Africa goes back decades…

In Africa, foreign policy, Global News, news, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, women on August 9, 2009 at 9:27 am

Women are drivers of positive change…

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August 09, 2009
Victoria Mxenge co-operative in Cape Town in 1997, I met homeless women working to transform an empty patch of land into a new community. They pooled their savings and microloans, bought shovels, poured concrete and built new homes for themselves and their children. In 1997 there were just 18 homes. I returned a year later and saw 104. Yesterday I found a village of thousands of homes where once there had been only dust and despair.

The determination and entrepreneurial spirit of the women of Victoria Mxenge underscore a basic truth: empowering women is key to global progress and prosperity. This is not just a moral imperative – it is an economic one as well. When women are accorded their rights and afforded equal opportunities in education, health care and gainful employment, they drive social and economic progress. When they are marginalised and mistreated, as is the case in too many places in Africa today, prosperity is impossible.

This week I am travelling across Africa to highlight the continent’s promise and possibility. Empowering women is a crucial step towards seizing the economic opportunities of this new century. No nation can succeed in spreading prosperity or increasing security if it leaves out or leaves behind more than half of the population.

Our broader agenda for progress and economic growth also includes increasing trade, implementing development strategies that build capacity and opportunity, and advancing responsible governance that rejects corruption, enforces the rule of law and delivers results for people. South Africa’s leadership is essential in advancing this agenda across Africa.

South Africans have many reasons to be proud on this National Women’s Day. President Jacob Zuma recently appointed Gill Marcus as governor of the South African Reserve Bank. Across the country, women are leading small and medium-sized businesses that are the foundation of economic progress. And South Africa is home to dynamic entrepreneurs such as Sally Marengo, who started the KPL Aluminium and Zinc Die-Casting factory which now manufactures car parts in Bedfordview, and Lillian Masebenza, who created the Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Networks to turn traditional stokvels into collectives that help disadvantaged women generate income and start new businesses.

The women of South Africa have helped to make the country an economic anchor for the continent. They are an example of what can be accomplished through civic responsibility, commitment to the rule of law and a diversified and inclusive economy.

Across Africa, women are driving positive change. Kenya’s Wangari Maathai has launched an international movement on behalf of environmental stewardship. Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has taken the reins of a nation once gripped by civil war and proven that women can lead at the highest levels.

But in many parts of Africa, and indeed around the world, the picture is not so encouraging. Laws deny women the right to own property, access credit or make their own choices within their marriage. Women comprise the majority of the world’s poor, unfed and unschooled. They are subjected to rape as a tactic of war, so-called “honour” killings, maiming, trafficking, child marriages, genital mutilation and other violent, degrading practices.

This week I will visit survivors of sexual and gender-based violence used as a tool of conflict in eastern Congo, where women have been victimised on an unimaginable scale. Some 1100 rapes are reported each month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped every day.

In the face of such depravity the world must speak with one clear voice: this violence must end.

The United States is working to develop partnerships across Africa to ensure that the rights of women are protected and respected, and that they have the opportunity to pursue an education, find a good job, live in safety and fulfil their own potential.

President Barack Obama and I believe in Africa’s promise. Too often, the world views Africa only through the lens of poverty, disease and conflict. But we see a continent of opportunity, home to 800 million people – more than half of them women – ready to build, create and thrive.

National Women’s Day commemorates the 20 000 South African women who marched for justice on August 9 1956. Fearless, they sang an anthem that has become a rallying cry: “Wathint’a bafazi, Wathint’ imbokodo” (You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock).

Women can be the rock on which a freer, safer and more prosperous Africa is built.

They just need the opportunity.

Hillary boogies-on down in Africa…

In Africa, Global News, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, news on August 7, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Secretary Clinton honors victims of Africa embassy blasts

In Africa, Global News, Kenya, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, news, Somalia on August 6, 2009 at 11:14 am
Clinton addresses the eighth Forum of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 5. The AGOA is a forum of some 40 African countries that enjoy trade preferences in the giant U.S. market on the condition that they uphold free elections and markets. Clinton will seek to build ties with three African powers -- Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa -- and show support for three countries recovering from conflict -- Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Liberia -- while also stopping in small U.S. ally Cape Verde.

Clinton addresses the eighth Forum of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 5. The AGOA is a forum of some 40 African countries that enjoy trade preferences in the giant U.S. market on the condition that they uphold free elections and markets. Clinton will seek to build ties with three African powers -- Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa -- and show support for three countries recovering from conflict -- Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Liberia -- while also stopping in small U.S. ally Cape Verde.

U.S. Secretary of State recalls ‘98 strikes in Kenya and Tanzania, and plans to pledge assistance to Somalia
U.S. Secretary of State recalls ‘98 strikes in Kenya and Tanzania, and plans to pledge assistance to Somalia
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton observes a moment of silence after laying a wreath of flowers on the site of the bombings against the U.S. embassy in Nairobi that killed 213 people in 1998.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton observes a moment of silence after laying a wreath of flowers on the site of the bombings against the U.S. embassy in Nairobi that killed 213 people in 1998.

NAIROBI, Kenya – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday honored the victims of the deadly 1998 al-Qaida-linked attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

A day before the 11th anniversary of the Aug. 7 bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that killed more than 200 people, Clinton paid a somber visit to a memorial at the site of the former embassy in the Kenyan capital.

The site, she said, is a reminder of “the continuing threat of terrorism, which respects no boundaries, no race, ethnicity or religion, but is aimed at disrupting and denying the opportunity of people to make their own decisions and to lead their own lives.”

MSNBC Link

Clinton vows new US support for Somolia

By Matthew Lee
Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today pledged to “expand and extend” American support for Somalia’s weak interim government as it struggles against Islamist extremists believed linked to al-Qaida.

Accusing the extremists of trying to turn Somalia into a base to launch worldwide terrorist attacks, Clinton said the Obama administration would boost military supplies and other aid to the government and an African peacekeeping force supporting it. She did not detail the new aid.

“They see Somalia as a future haven for global terrorism,” she said of the extremist Somali militia known as al-Shabab. To make her point, she noted the recent arrests of four men allegedly linked to the group who are suspected of plotting attacks there in Australia.

“Our information is that al-Shabab not only uses foreign fighters and foreign money but foreign ideas in its attack on the people of Somalia,” she said.

“There is also no doubt that al-Shabab wants to take control of Somalia and use it as a base from which to influence and even infiltrate surrounding countries and launch attacks against countries far and near,” Clinton said after meeting beleaguered Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

Ahmed agreed.

“Their aim is to make Somalia a ground to destabilize the whole world,” said Ahmed, who appealed to Clinton for additional resources. “We cannot suffer any longer. The people of Somalia have a right to peace.

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