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Monday, August 19, 2013

Hillary Clinton speaks of voter right protections during ABA meeting

Hillary Clinton speaks of voter right protections during ABA meeting

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America meeting on June 14, 2013 in Chicago. The working meeting brings together leaders from business, foundation, NGO and government sectors to develop solutions that increase employment, advance access to education, strengthen energy security and promote an environment for business growth and innovation. UPI/Brian Kersey

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for action to protect voter rights following the Supreme Court ruling allowing state voter ID laws.

In the first of a series of speeches she said would address some of the most critical issues facing the country, Clinton urged her audience in San Francisco Monday to fight voter identification laws in their communities and pleaded with members of a "gridlocked Congress" to enact legislation that would make it easier to vote, The New York Times reported.

"Anyone who says racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention," Clinton told the American Bar Association. "Our government cannot fully represent the people unless it has been fairly elected by them."

Clinton, as do many Democrats and voting rights groups, maintains the Supreme Court's ruling would restrict voters' participation, particularly among minorities, the poor and younger voters who typically vote for Democrats. Texas, Mississippi and Alabama -- all led by Republican legislatures and governors -- announced they would press forward with strict voter identification requirements after the court's ruling. On Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed a similar measure.

Clinton was at the conference in San Francisco to accept the ABA Medal, which recognizes "distinguished service by a lawyer to the cause of American jurisprudence."

Clinton has said she wasn't interested in taking another run at the White House in the 2016 presidential race and has remained silent on the subject since leaving the secretary of state post. However, she has remained well ahead of any other Democrat in hypothetical polls.

ReSource: http://www.upi.com/

Somalia executes man guilty of killing journalist

Somalia executes man guilty of killing journalist

A Somali military official says the government has executed a man convicted of murdering a journalist, the first such execution in a country where those who kill media workers often evade justice.
 
Col. Abdullahi Muse Keyse, a spokesman for Somalia's military court, said Saturday that Aden Sheikh Abdi, who was accused of belonging to the Islamic extremist rebels al-Shabab, was killed by firing squad early Saturday in the capital, Mogadishu.
Last month a Mogadishu court found Abdi guilty of the murder late last year of radio reporter Hassan Yusuf Absuge.
Tom Rhodes, the East Africa consultant for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the execution would help end impunity in Somalia, one of the most dangerous places for media workers. At least 18 Somali journalists were killed last year.

Somalia: Come Let Us Rob And Rape Together

Somalia: Come Let Us Rob And Rape Together

With the reduction in al Shabaab activity in the last year, there has come an increase in corruption by government officials, clan leaders, and even the AU (African Union) peacekeepers. The main victims of all this corruption are foreign aid organizations (who are increasingly giving up and leaving) and Somali women (who are more likely to be raped). The most notable aid group departure is Doctors Without Borders, which has been in Somalia for 22 years and treats over 50,000 patients a month. This outfit is the main source of medical care in many parts of the country but the medical staff have become popular kidnapping and robbery victims. The ransom is shared with clan leaders and government officials, and thus the kidnappers are rarely caught and and therefore are encouraged to do it again and again. Aid groups also have a lot of valuable stuff to steal (equipment as well as the aid itself), and now that it is more peaceful the economy is thriving and it’s easier to sell your stolen goods. Hospitals have been attacked and looted, even though wounded terrorists are also brought in and medical care demanded, or else. Armed robbery has always been a popular activity in Somalia, and with less fighting between each other, gunmen can now concentrate on economic gain. 
The departure of Doctors Without Borders comes at a particularly bad time because of a recent polio outbreak. Al Shabaab opposition to polio vaccinations led to this new outbreak of the disease. Some 600,000 children in southern Somalia and refugee camps in northern Kenya have not been vaccinated, mainly because of al Shabaab opposition and general chaos. The first case was detected in Kenya three months ago when a Somali child in a refugee camp came down with it. Five years ago the UN announced that a ten year effort to eradicate polio (by vaccinating nearly every child under five) had succeeded and that Somalia was free of the paralyzing (and often fatal) disease (which can only survive in humans). But to make that eradication permanent follow-up vaccinations had to be given and al Shabaab interfered with that. So in the last three months over a hundred kids in Somalia and Kenyan refugee camps have come down with polio. Last year there were only 223 cases worldwide.
Polio should have been eliminated entirely by now, but there has been resistance from Islamic clergy in some countries, who insist the vaccinations are a Western plot to harm Moslem children. This has enabled polio to survive in some Moslem countries (especially Nigeria and Pakistan). The disease also survives in some very corrupt nations, like Kenya and India, because of the difficulty in getting vaccine to remote areas and tracking down nomad groups. In response to this latest outbreak, Kenya will carry out more vaccinations in Kenya and help do the same in dangerous parts of Somalia.
Al Shabaab is still around and keeps trying to make a comeback. That has been limited because the terrorist organization has splintered under the government and peacekeeper pressure. Various factions are fighting each other for overall leadership or simply to settle personal or ideological disputes. One al Shabaab leader (Ahmed Godane) appears to be dominant and has been responsible for several recent attacks. Godane believes in al Qaeda and its goal of global domination and using maximum violence to achieve victory. His supporters are hard core and often foreigners. Godane is accused of receiving aid from Eritrea, which seeks to keep the violence going in Somalia as a way to hurt their arch-enemy Ethiopia. Godane and his foreign terrorists are not popular in Somalia and are generally regarded as very violent bandits. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of equally violent and rapacious warlords and clan leaders in Somalia to compete with the terrorists for popular dislike.
August 14, 2013: Doctors Without Borders announced its departure from Somalia, which has become too expensive and dangerous to operate in. Doctors Without Borders has about 1,500 personnel operating in Somalia, many of them local hires.
August 13, 2013: The government said that a recent major sweep of Mogadishu had resulted in the arrest of 39 suspected al Shabaab members and the destruction or crippling of 17 al Shabaab terror cells operating in the city. Cooperation from the public, who are the main victims of al Shabaab attacks, was the main reason the soldiers and police rounded up so many al Shabaab men. Weapons, bomb making materials, and documents were also seized.
August 11, 2013: Officials in Puntland refused to let a Turkish cargo ship unload its cargo of foreign aid and forced the ship to leave. This was the result of a feud with the Somali government which is trying to assert control over Puntland and Somaliland. The Puntland government is resisting and declaring the Turkish aid ship, which had permission from the Somali government to unload in Puntland, was part of this plot.
In Britain details of British aid losses in Somalia made it into the news. In general, these losses are no secret but specific details are rarely released. Foreign aid groups have a better record (compared to government officials) of getting aid to those who need it. Aid given to local leaders or governments (in Somalia, Puntland, or Somaliland) are more likely to disappear into private bank accounts. Thus, aid groups get a lot of the government aid and are increasingly the target of corrupt local officials.
August 9, 2013: In Mogadishu an Ethiopian Air Force An-24 transport crash landed and burned. Two of the six man crew survived. The aircraft was carrying weapons and ammo for AU peacekeepers.
August 7, 2013: Somali troops raided an al Shabaab camp near the southern city of Afmadow and killed 24 Islamic terrorists, including three who were definitely foreigners. Over fifty terrorists had been in the camp and prisoner interrogations and captured documents indicated that the group was planning some attacks on army checkpoints and bases. Many weapons and a lot of ammo was captured as well. Two soldiers were killed in the night attack, which was made possible by information provided by local civilians. The surviving terrorists are being pursued.
August 6, 2013: In Mogadishu a group of gunmen, believed to be al Shabaab, attacked the home of a local official and fatally wounded him. One of the security guards was also wounded and the attackers were driven off. Al Shabaab does this sort of thing to encourage officials to cooperate when asked (especially when the request is sweetened with a bribe).
August 5, 2013: In Mogadishu some al Shabaab men fired five mortar shells into a residential neighborhood and threw several grenades in another area. The terrorists fled police and soldiers responding to the explosions and later boasted (via the Internet) that this was the first of many attacks. This prompted the government to plan a large sweep of the city to find the terrorists. The al Shabaab activity had been generating a lot of tips from civilians.
Puntland declared that it had cut all diplomatic ties with Somalia because of Somali efforts to force Puntland to give up its independence and once more become part of Somalia. The Puntland government is representative of the local clans and the locals consider itself less corrupt and more efficient than the national “Somalia” government down south.
August 4, 2013: In the central Somalia town of Baidoa a group of al Shabaab fired on a bus station, wounding ten people, and then fled the soldiers who responded. 

UN News - UN humanitarian wing warns of pervasive sexual violence in Somalia

UN News - UN humanitarian wing warns of pervasive sexual violence in Somalia





Sexual and gender-based violence continues to be a pervasive issue in Somalia, the United Nations humanitarian wing said today, adding that many times it is perpetrated by armed men in the Horn of Africa nation.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), during the first half of the year, there were some 800 cases of sexual and gender-based violence reported in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
 
OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told a news conference in Geneva that rapes continue to be perpetrated by unknown armed men and men wearing military uniform. Sexual and gender-based violence also includes domestic violence, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, and early and forced marriage, he said, adding that the majority of the survivors were women aged 18 and above.
 
Last year, there were at least 1,700 people affected by sexual and gender-based violence in Somalia, according to the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and protection of the survivors continues to be a major concern. Mr. Laerke pointed to a case in January in which a woman who alleged she had been raped by security forces and the journalist who interviewed her about the allegations were both arrested.
 
In the same briefing, the spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Marixie Mercado, said that around one-third of victims of sexual violence were children and that last year UNICEF and its partners had provided assistance to some 2,200 victims of sexual violence in the country.
 
Assistance included the provision of thousands of fuel-efficient stoves as women were at risk of attack when collecting firewood. UNICEF has also provided support for survivors, including livelihood and socio-economic assistance, as well as psycho-social assistance.
 
Mr. Laerke added that in spite of the precarious conditions for humanitarian agencies, OCHA would continue to provide medical and psychological support, and legal counselling in conjunction with its partners.

Militants stole £480,000 Somali aid | World | News | Daily Express

Militants stole £480,000 Somali aid | World | News | Daily Express

Taxpayer-funded humanitarian aid worth £480,000 was captured by al Qaida-linked militants as they rampaged through southern Somalia.
Humanitarian-aid-worth-480-000-pounds-was-captured-by-al-Qaida-linked-militants-in-southern-Somalia
The supplies were in warehouses seized by al-Shabaab and they were later believed to have been set ablaze, the Department for International Development (DfID) said.

Details of the incidents appeared in DfID's annual accounts which stated that there was no prior warning of the attacks and its partner organisations in Somalia were unable to move the supplies.

The accounts said the £480,000 was written off "following the theft between November 2011 and February 2012, by al-Shabaab in southern Somalia, of DfID funded humanitarian materials and supplies from the offices and warehouses of partner organisations, to which DfID had provided funding to deliver projects and programmes".

It continued: "DfID's partners had no prior warning of the confiscations being carried out and therefore had no time to prevent the loss by relocating goods.

"DfID continues to work with its partner organisations to ensure that risks like this are identified and that the organisations take appropriate action. This can include putting effective controls in place, where possible, to mitigate and/or eliminate such risks which reduce the effectiveness of our aid.

"While the theft suffered represented a stores loss, the property was not stolen from DfID stores. DfID funding was provided to purchase goods but no benefit was received by the end recipient due to the theft."

A spokesman for the department said: "DfID works in some of the most dangerous places in the world, including Somalia, because tackling the root causes of poverty and instability there ensures a safer world and a safer UK.

"Working in conflict-affected and fragile states carries inherent risk. DfID does all it can to mitigate against this but, on occasion, losses will occur.

"We work with our partners to design programmes that protect our investment from misuse or theft."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

U.S. Condemns Crackdown but Announces No Policy Shift

U.S. Condemns Crackdown but Announces No Policy Shift


The Obama administration on Wednesday condemned the Egyptian military’s bloody crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters, but showed no signs of taking any tough steps, like suspending American aid, in response.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the violence in Cairo was “deplorable” and ran “counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy.” He said the United States strongly opposed the military’s imposition of a state of emergency, calling on all Egyptians to “take a step back.”
But Mr. Kerry announced no punitive measures, while President Obama, vacationing here on Martha’s Vineyard, had no public reaction. As his chief diplomat was speaking of a “pivotal moment for Egypt,” the president was playing golf at a private club.
With few levers of influence over Egypt’s generals, the American response consisted of a flurry of phone calls by Mr. Kerry to European and Arab foreign ministers, including Egypt’s interim foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy. State Department officials did not disclose details of the conversation, but there was no indication that Mr. Fahmy offered assurances that the crackdown on supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, had ended or would be limited in scope. Mr. Kerry said he implored Egyptian officials to avoid violence .
The harrowing images from Cairo put Mr. Obama in an awkward but familiar place: on vacation, confronting a wave of bloodshed in the Middle East. The last time he was on Martha’s Vineyard, in 2011, he stepped before cameras to speak after rebels seized the Libyan capital, Tripoli, sending Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi into hiding.
On Wednesday morning, Mr. Obama was briefed on the situation by his national security adviser, Susan E. Rice. But he appeared determined not to allow events in Egypt to interrupt a day that, besides golf, included cocktails at the home of a major political donor, Brian Roberts. A White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, told reporters, “We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian military and security forces to show restraint and for the government to respect the universal rights of its citizens.”
Mr. Earnest did not signal any shift in administration policy, which has been to keep open lines of communication to Egypt’s generals. Like other administration officials, he would not call the military’s ouster of Mr. Morsi a coup, to avoid a designation that could prompt a cutoff of $1.3 billion a year in American military aid.
The United States has walked a fine line in dealing with the Egyptian military, urging the generals to avoid violence and release Mr. Morsi from detention, but stopping short of suspending military and other aid, in part because of fears that doing so could destabilize the region.
“We are continuing to review our posture and our assistance to the Egyptians,” Mr. Earnest said.
In the administration’s only punitive measure to date, the Pentagon has held up the delivery of four F-16 fighter planes to the Egyptian Air Force. An American official said Wednesday that the Pentagon was considering delaying or canceling American involvement in the Bright Star military exercise next month. Bright Star, the major biennial training exercise led by American and Egyptian forces, dates to the early 1980s.
Analysts said the ferocity of the latest crackdown would put the White House’s strategy to its sternest test yet. “If it looks like the U.S. effectively colluded in a counterrevolution, then all the talk about democracy and Islam, about a new American relationship with the Islamic world, will be judged to have been the height of hypocrisy,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
In his remarks, Mr. Kerry said, “The only sustainable path for either side is one toward a political solution,” adding, “I am convinced that that path is in fact still open,” even if the bloodshed of the last 24 hours had made it far more difficult.
Mr. Kerry, according to a State Department spokeswoman, talked on the phone with Mohamed ElBaradei, who resigned his post as Egyptian vice president to protest the military’s action. Mr. ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was viewed as a critical moderate voice in the interim government.
The spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said Mr. ElBaradei’s resignation was a “concerning development,” noting that he and Mr. Kerry shared a desire “to get back on a productive path.” But she said Mr. Kerry did not ask Mr. ElBaradei to reconsider his decision.
Mr. Kerry also conferred with Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s senior foreign policy official, and Qatar’s foreign minister, Khalid al-Attiyah, and he was scheduled to speak with the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who has been sharply critical of the administration’s policy and who recently visited Cairo, suggested that Mr. Kerry might share some responsibility for the crackdown.
“As we predicted and feared, chaos in Cairo,” Mr. McCain said on Twitter. “Sec Kerry praising the military takeover didn’t help.” During a recent visit to Pakistan, Mr. Kerry said the Egyptian military had been “restoring democracy” when it ousted Mr. Morsi.
Traveling in Amman, Jordan, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that he had not yet spoken with his Egyptian counterparts. Other Pentagon officials said the Egyptian authorities had given them no official notification that their efforts to clear the pro-Morsi demonstrators were under way.
Asked by reporters what he planned to say to Egyptian military leaders, General Dempsey said, “It’s really the same message: The path forward for Egypt that will allow us to maintain our close military relationship and allow them to achieve their goals is the commitment to a road map, keeping violence levels as low as possible.”
“That’s a challenge, of course,” he added.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been a key interlocutor with Egypt’s defense minister, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, and he has spoken with him 15 times since Mr. Morsi was ousted on July 3. Mr. Hagel is on vacation  but is talking to aides and plans to be in touch with General Sisi soon, an official said.
Mark Landler reported from Edgartown, and Michael R. Gordon from Washington. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Thom Shanker from Amman, Jordan.
Source: New York Times

Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions

Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions


Soon after the 10th anniversary of the foundation bearing his name, Bill Clinton met with a small group of aides and two lawyers from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Two weeks of interviews with Clinton Foundation executives and former employees had led the lawyers to some unsettling conclusions.
The review echoed criticism of Mr. Clinton’s early years in the White House: For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.
And concern was rising inside and outside the organization about Douglas J. Band, a onetime personal assistant to Mr. Clinton who had started a lucrative corporate consulting firm — which Mr. Clinton joined as a paid adviser — while overseeing the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation’s glitzy annual gathering of chief executives, heads of state, and celebrities.
The review set off more than a year of internal debate, and spurred an evolution in the organization that included Mr. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, taking on a dominant new role as the family grappled with the question of whether the foundation — and its globe-spanning efforts to combat AIDS, obesity and poverty — would survive its founder.
Now those efforts are taking on new urgency. In the coming weeks, the foundation, long Mr. Clinton’s domain since its formation in 2001, will become the nerve center of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s increasingly busy public life.
This fall, Mrs. Clinton and her staff will move into offices at the foundation’s new headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, occupying two floors of the Time-Life Building. Amid speculation about her 2016 plans, Mrs. Clinton is adding major new initiatives on women, children and jobs to what has been renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Worried that the foundation’s operating revenues depend too heavily on Mr. Clinton’s nonstop fund-raising, the three Clintons are embarking on a drive to raise an endowment of as much as $250 million, with events already scheduled in the Hamptons and London. And after years of relying on Bruce R. Lindsey, the former White House counsel whose friendship with Mr. Clinton stretches back decades, to run the organization while living part-time in Arkansas, the family has hired a New York-based chief executive with a background in management consulting.
“We’re trying to institutionalize the foundation so that it will be here long after the lives of any of us,” Mr. Lindsey said. “That’s our challenge and that is what we are trying to address.”
But the changing of the guard has aggravated long-simmering tensions within the former first family’s inner circle as the foundation tries to juggle the political and philanthropic ambitions of a former president, a potential future president, and their increasingly visible daughter.
And efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr. Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs. Clinton’s political future, according to interviews with more than two dozen former and current foundation employees, donors and advisers to the family. Nearly all of them declined to speak for attribution, citing their unwillingness to alienate the Clinton family.
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Last Thursday, Mr. Clinton arrived two hours late to an exuberant welcome at a health clinic about 60 miles north of Johannesburg. Children in zebra-striped loincloths sang as Mr. Clinton and Ms. Clinton made their entrance, and the former president enthusiastically explained how his foundation had helped the South African government negotiate large reductions in the price of drugs that halt the progress of HIV. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s minister of health, heaped praise on the effort. “Because of your help we are able to treat three and a half times more people than we used to,” he told the crowd.
The project is typical of the model pioneered by the Clinton Foundation, built around dozens of partnerships with private companies, governments, or other nonprofit groups. Instead of handing out grants, the foundation recruits donors and advises them on how best to deploy their money or resources, from helping Procter & Gamble donate advanced water-purification packets to developing countries to working with credit card companies to expand the volume of low-cost loans offered to poor inner city residents.
The foundation, which has 350 employees in 180 countries, remains largely powered by Mr. Clinton’s global celebrity and his ability to connect corporate executives, A-listers and government officials. On this month’s Africa trip, Mr. Clinton was accompanied by the actors Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg and the son of the New York City mayoral candidate John A. Catsimatidis, a longtime donor.
For most of the foundation’s existence, its leadership has been dominated by loyal veterans of the Clintons’ political lives. Ira C. Magaziner, who was a Rhodes scholar with Mr. Clinton and ran Mrs. Clinton’s failed attempt at a health care overhaul in the 1990s, is widely credited as the driving force behind the foundation’s largest project, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which, among other efforts, negotiates bulk purchasing agreements and price discounts on lifesaving medicines.
Mr. Band, who arrived at the White House in 1995 and worked his way up to become Mr. Clinton’s closest personal aide, standing behind the president on golf courses and the global stage, helped build the foundation’s fund-raising structure. He conceived of and for many years helped run the Clinton Global Initiative, the annual conference that draws hundreds of business leaders and heads of state to New York City where attendees are pushed to make specific philanthropic commitments.
Today, big-name companies vie to buy sponsorships at prices of $250,000 and up, money that has helped subsidize the foundation’s annual operating costs. Last year, the foundation and two subsidiaries had revenues of more than $214 million.
Yet the foundation’s expansion has also been accompanied by financial problems. In 2007 and 2008, the foundation also found itself competing against Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign for donors amid a recession. Millions of dollars in contributions intended to seed an endowment were diverted to other programs, creating tension between Mr. Magaziner and Mr. Band. The foundation piled up a $40 million deficit during those two years, according to tax returns. Last year, it ran more than $8 million in the red.
Amid those shortfalls, the foundation has sometimes catered to donors and celebrities who gave money in ways that raised eyebrows in the low-key nonprofit world. In 2009, during a Clinton Global Initiative gathering at the University of Texas at Austin, the foundation purchased a first-class ticket for the actress Natalie Portman, a special guest, who brought her beloved Yorkie, according to two former foundation employees.
In interviews, foundation officials partly blamed the 2008 recession and difficulties in getting donors to provide operating support rather than restricted grants for specific programs for the deficits.
But others criticized Mr. Magaziner, who is widely seen within the foundation as impulsive and lacking organizational skills. On one occasion, Mr. Magaziner dispatched a team of employees to fly around the world for months gathering ideas for a climate change proposal that never got off the ground. Another time, he ignored a report — which was commissioned at significant expense from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company — on how the foundation could get involved in forestry initiatives.
Mr. Magaziner’s management style and difficulty keeping projects within budget were also raised in discussions that surrounded the 2011 Simpson Thacher review. (One person who attended a meeting with Mr. Magaziner recalled his lying on a conference room table in the middle of the meeting because of terrible back spasms, snapping at a staff member.)
Mr. Band repeatedly urged Mr. Clinton to fire Mr. Magaziner, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Clinton refused, confiding in aides that despite Mr. Magaziner’s managerial weaknesses, he was a visionary with good intentions. The former president, according to one person who knows them both, “thinks Ira is brilliant — and brilliant people get away with a lot in Clinton world.”
Indeed, by then, Mr. Magaziner had persuaded Mr. Clinton and the foundation to spin the health initiative off into a separate organization, with Mr. Magaziner as its chief executive and the Clinton Foundation appointing a majority of its board members. The financial problems continued. In 2010 and 2011, the first two years when the health initiative operated as a stand-alone organization, it ran annual shortfalls of more than $4 million. A new chief financial officer, hired in 2010, left eight months later.
A foundation official said the health initiative had only three chief financial officers in 10 years and that its financial problem was a common one in the nonprofit world: For all the grant money coming in — more than $160 million in 2011 — Mr. Magaziner had also had difficulty raising money for operating costs. But by the end of 2011, the health initiative had expanded its board, adding two seats. Chelsea Clinton took one.
Growing Ventures
As the foundation grew, so did the outside business ventures pursued by Mr. Clinton and several of his aides.
None have drawn more scrutiny in Clinton circles than Teneo, a firm co-founded in 2009 by Mr. Band, described by some as a kind of surrogate son to Mr. Clinton. Aspiring to merge corporate consulting, public relations and merchant banking in a single business, Mr. Band poached executives from Wall Street, recruited other Clinton aides to join as employees or advisers and set up shop in a Midtown office formerly belonging to one of the country’s top hedge funds.
By 2011, the firm had added a third partner, Declan Kelly, a former State Department envoy for Mrs. Clinton. And Mr. Clinton had signed up as a paid adviser to the firm.
Teneo worked on retainer, charging monthly fees as high as $250,000, according to current and former clients. The firm recruited clients who were also Clinton Foundation donors, while Mr. Band and Mr. Kelly encouraged others to become new foundation donors. Its marketing materials highlighted Mr. Band’s relationship with Mr. Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, where Mr. Band sat on the board of directors through 2011 and remains an adviser. Some Clinton aides and foundation employees began to wonder where the foundation ended and Teneo began.
Those worries intensified after the collapse of MF Global, the international brokerage firm led by Jon S. Corzine, a former governor of New Jersey, in the fall of 2011. The firm had been among Teneo’s earliest clients, and its collapse over bad European investments — while paying $125,000 a month for the firm’s public relations and financial advice — drew Teneo and the Clintons unwanted publicity.
Mr. Clinton ended his advisory role with Teneo in March 2012, after an article appeared in The New York Post suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was angry over the MF Global controversy. A spokesman for Mr. Clinton denied the report. But in a statement released afterward, Mr. Clinton announced that he would no longer be paid by Teneo.
He also praised Mr. Band effusively, crediting him with keeping the foundation afloat and expressing hopes that Mr. Band would continue to advise the Global Initiative.
“I couldn’t have accomplished half of what I have in my post-presidency without Doug Band,” Mr. Clinton said in the statement.
Even that news release was a source of controversy within the foundation, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Band helped edit the statement, which other people around the Clintons felt gave him too much credit for the foundation’s accomplishments. (The quotation now appears as part of Mr. Band’s biography on the Teneo Web site.)
Mr. Band left his paid position with the foundation in late 2010, but has remained involved with C.G.I., as have a number of Teneo clients, like Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical and UBS Americas. Standard Chartered, a British financial services company that paid a $340 million fine to New York regulators last year to settle charges that it had laundered money from Iran, is a Teneo client and a sponsor of the 2012 global initiative.
Last year, Coca-Cola’s chief executive, Muhtar Kent, won a coveted spot on the dais with Mr. Clinton, discussing the company’s partnership with another nonprofit to use its distributors to deliver medical goods to patients in Africa. (A Coca-Cola spokesman said that the company’s sponsorship of foundation initiatives long predated Teneo and that the firm plays no role in Coca-Cola’s foundation work.)
In March 2012, David Crane, the chief executive of NRG, an energy company, led a widely publicized trip with Mr. Clinton to Haiti, where they toured green energy and solar power projects that NRG finances through a $1 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.
Officials said the foundation has established clear guidelines for the Clinton Global Initiative to help prevent any favoritism or special treatment of particular donors or sponsors.
Teneo was not the only worry: other events thrust the foundation into internal turmoil. In 2011, a wave of midlevel program staff members departed, reflecting the frustration of much of the foundation’s policy personnel with the old political hands running the organization. Around the time of the Simpson Thacher review, Mr. Lindsey suffered a stroke, underscoring concerns about the foundation’s line of succession. John D. Podesta, a chief of staff in Mr. Clinton’s White House, stepped in for several months as temporary chief executive.
While much attention has focused on Mrs. Clinton’s emerging role within the foundation, advisers to the family say her daughter’s growing involvement could prove more critical in the years ahead. After years of pursuing other career paths, including working at McKinsey & Company and a hedge fund, Ms. Clinton, 33, has begun to assert herself as a force within the foundation. Her perspective is shaped far more than her parents’ by her time in the world of business, and she is poised to play a significant role in shaping the foundation’s future, particularly if Mrs. Clinton chooses to run for president.
She formally joined the foundation’s board in 2011, marking her growing role there — and the start of intensifying tensions between her and Mr. Band. Several people close to the Clintons said that she became increasingly concerned with the negative impact Mr. Band’s outside business might have on her father’s work and that she cited concerns raised during the internal review about potential conflicts of interest involving Teneo.
It was Ms. Clinton who suggested that the newly installed chief executive, Eric Braverman, be considered for the job during a nearly two-year search. A friend and a former colleague from McKinsey, Mr. Braverman, 38, had helped the Clintons with philanthropic projects in Haiti after the earthquake there. And his hiring coincided with Ms. Clinton’s appointment as the vice chairwoman of the foundation board, where she will bear significant responsibility for steering her family’s philanthropy, both in the causes it tackles and in the potential political and financial conflicts it must avoid.
Ms. Clinton has also grown worried that the foundation she stood to inherit would collapse without her father, who turns 67 next week. Mr. Clinton, who had quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004 and no longer eats meat or dairy products, talks frequently about his own mortality.
Mr. Catsimatidis said Ms. Clinton “has to learn how to deal with the whole world because she wants to follow in the footsteps of her father and her mother.”
Shifting the Emphasis
Over the years, the foundation has dived into virtually any cause that sparked Mr. Clinton’s interest: childhood obesity in the United States, sustainable farming in South America, mentoring entrepreneurs, saving elephants from poaching, and more. That list will shift soon as Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea build their staffs to focus on issues including economically empowering women and combating infant mortality.
In the coming months, as Mrs. Clinton mulls a 2016 presidential bid, the foundation could also serve as a base for her to home in on issues and to build up a stable of trusted staff members who could form the core of a political campaign.
Mrs. Clinton’s staff at the foundation’s headquarters includes Maura Pally, a veteran aide who advised her 2008 presidential campaign and worked at the State Department, and Madhuri Kommareddi, a former policy aide to President Obama.
Dennis Cheng, Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of protocol at the State Department and a finance director of her presidential campaign, will oversee the endowment drive, which some of the Clintons’ donors already describe as a dry run for 2016.
And Mrs. Clinton’s personal staff of roughly seven people — including Huma Abedin, wife of the New York mayoral candidate Anthony D. Weiner — will soon relocate from a cramped Washington office to the foundation’s headquarters. They will work on organizing Mrs. Clinton’s packed schedule of paid speeches to trade groups and awards ceremonies and assist in the research and writing of Mrs. Clinton’s memoir about her time at the State Department, to be published by Simon & Schuster next summer.
Lydia Polgreen contributed reporting, and Kitty Bennett contributed research.
Source: New York Times

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nadifa Mohamed's Somali journey - Telegraph

Nadifa Mohamed's Somali journey - Telegraph

The writer Nadifa Mohamed in Shepherd's Bush Market in West London where she grew up

The Somali café in Shepherd’s Bush where I had agreed to meet Nadifa Mohamed turns out to be closed. “I forgot it was Ramadan,” says Mohamed, who was born in Somalia but moved to London when she was a child. When you’ve been away from home so long, it’s easy to forget these things.
She still has ways of keeping the old country alive. Sitting down in the place next door, I notice she’s carrying a musical instrument. “I’m learning how to play the oud,” she tells me, a traditional instrument similar to a lute. “I’m being taught by an 85-year-old who has been playing since he was 17.” She met him by chance on a plane and they became friends. “He’s very cool,” she says, adding, “he’s got some stories to tell. He’s a bit like my father.”
Her father’s stories were the basis of Mohamed’s award-winning first novel Black Mamba Boy (2009), which followed a child's journey across the Middle East and Africa in the Thirties and Forties. She interviewed her father extensively, an experience she describes as “very collaborative, quite joyful”. Initially she had wanted to write a biography rather than a novel, but found that the freedom of fiction enabled her to “disappear into someone’s mind, someone’s spirit” – which is much harder to do, she says, if you have to stick to the facts.
Ahead of the publication of her new novel, The Orchard of Lost Souls, Mohamed was chosen as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. She is disarmingly honest about how much the accolade means to her. “This book was hard, so hard that I really didn’t know if I had a future as a writer any more. So the Granta nomination was a boost – was an act of faith in me and my writing.”
Part of her difficulty with The Orchard of Lost Souls was the harrowing nature of the material. The novel begins in Mohamed's home city of Hargeisa in 1987, on the cusp of the Somali civil war. It charts the intersecting fate of three female characters. Kawsar, a middle-aged widow, sees Deqo, a nine-year-old girl, being attacked at a government parade. She steps in to defend her but Filsan, a female soldier, arrests her. These are the lost souls who, must find themselves. The story is brutal but compelling – leavened with the poetic language that characterised Mohamed’s first book.

Doctors Without Borders to Pull Out of Somalia

Doctors Without Borders to Pull Out of Somalia


One of the world’s most tenacious humanitarian groups said Wednesday that it could no longer endure the risks that come with operating in Somalia, in a move that underscored the continued violence in the country despite recent steps toward stability.
After suffering years of attacks on its staff members in Somalia, the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders said that it would shut down all operations in the country after 22 years of working there.
“The closure of our activities is a direct result of extreme attacks on our staff,” said the group’s international president, Unni Karunakara, “in an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate or condone the killing, assaulting and abducting of humanitarian aid workers.”
The move will strip many civilians of access to health care. Last year in Somalia, the group provided outpatient treatment to 624,200 people, admitted an additional 41,100 to hospitals and performed 2,750 surgeries.
An employee at the Daynile hospital in the capital, Mogadishu, said the group’s pullout would be “disastrous,” though he added that Doctors Without Borders had pledged to continue supporting the hospital for three months.
The news of the pullout adds to the growing number of setbacks that have undercut the Somali government’s narrative of a country on the upswing. A recent series of devastating attacks by the Shabab militant group, including a deadly assault on a United Nations compound, had already put those security gains into question.
“The people are suffering greatly, and despite our best efforts to make progress nevertheles the humanitarian situation is getting worse, so we appeal to MSF and all humanitarian agencies to come and help those people who are in desperate help of humanitarian assistance,” said Abdirahman Omar Osman, a spokesman for the Somali president.
Dr. Karunakara said his group’s 1,500 Somali staff members had already been informed of the decision. He said the group had no expatriate workers left in the country.
The group had endured dozens of attacks on staff members, vehicles and facilities over the years. Sixteen of its staff members have been killed in Somalia since 1991. Two Doctors Without Borders staff members were killed in Mogadishu in December 2011. Their killer was subsequently granted an early release, according to the group.
Two other aid workers for the group were kidnapped after Somali militants entered the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya in October 2011. The two women were held hostage for 21 months before they were freed last month. Dr. Karunakara declined to comment on either the abduction or the release.
Founded in Paris in 1971 as Médecins Sans Frontières and often referred to by the French initials M.S.F., the group prides itself on being “neutral, independent and impartial.” Staff members deliver medical treatment to people affected by wars and natural disasters, to communities ravaged by epidemics and those that otherwise simply would not have access to medical services.
Its workers have a reputation as among the bravest in the field, often the first ones in when disaster strikes and the last to leave. In 1999, Doctors Without Borders was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The group operates in some of the most dangerous places in the world, including Syria and Afghanistan. But the inherent and seemingly growing dangers of its work have become clear through a series of recent episodes.
In South Sudan this month, a group of armed men attacked a vehicle belonging to the group on the outskirts of the capital, Juba. Two staff members were wounded, one of them, identified only as Joseph, 28, died two days later. Doctors Without Borders requested an investigation into what the group’s director of operations, Marcel Langenbach, called a “brutal attack.”
Last week, the group announced that it would suspend activities in and around the town of Pinga in the Democratic Republic of Congo after its staff members there were threatened.
Dr. Karunakara said he had gone early in the morning to the Somali Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, to break the news. He seemed visibly disappointed to have to make the withdrawal, calling it “undoubtedly the most difficult announcement I have had to make.”
Somalia plunged into chaos in 1991 after warlords brought down the central government. That same year, Doctors Without Borders began operating there. The group stayed even after American troops and United Nations peacekeepers left. The country has suffered through warring militias, pirates and Islamist militants, as well as devastating drought and famine.
The shutdown in Somalia will also affect the semiautonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, which are generally viewed as safer than other parts of the country. Western intelligence officials have said that Shabab fighters pushed out of other areas of Somalia by African Union forces have moved north. The British government earlier this year warned of threats to kidnap foreigners in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
African Union peacekeepers managed to push the Shabab out of Mogadishu, and members of the diaspora have returned, leading to a property boom in the capital and an array of new businesses popping up.
When asked about the recent security gains, Dr. Karunakara said, “We do not share that optimism.”
This year, bombings have rocked popular restaurants and the court complex. In June, 15 people were killed in the attack by Shabab militants on a United Nations compound in Mogadishu.
“We have reached our limit,” Dr. Karunakara said. He added, “Unfortunately, the Somali people will pay the highest cost.”
Mohammed Ibrahim contributed reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia.
Source:  New York Times

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Egypt's day of shame: Scores killed and hundreds more injured as government declares war on Islamists

Egypt's day of shame: Scores killed and hundreds more injured as government declares war on Islamists

Supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood run from tear gas smoke shot by police to disperse a pro-Morsi camp

Mohamed el-Baradei, the vice President and Nobel laureate, resigns in protest over the crackdown.

As machine gun fire crackled around the besieged Islamist encampment in eastern Cairo today, a 12 year-old boy called Omar was sat on a mattress drinking from his carton of orange juice. Just a few yards away, the bodies of 31 protesters lay on the grubby, blood-caked floor.
Many had been shot through the head and chest with high velocity bullets; some bore gnarled lips betraying the agonising throes of death.
When asked how he felt to witness such scenes, the young boy - wearing Puma flip-flops and blue jeans - remained silent and appeared confused for a few moments. Then, with childlike fragility, he said very simply: “It's not very nice”.
Whatever else the Egyptian state was hoping to achieve by launching its long-awaited crackdown, the hundreds of young children who were cowering inside the besieged sit-in will not likely forget the ferocity of a government which has now declared war on the country's Islamists.
Egypt's leaders have unleashed a chain of unforeseeable consequences. Deadly clashes were reported in provinces around the country, as police stations, government institutions and Coptic churches were attacked in apparent revenge attacks.
Scores were killed, hundreds more injured.
In a sign of how deeply the crackdown will affect Egypt's ongoing political transition, Mohamed el-Baradei, the vice President and Nobel laureate, resigned in protest over the crackdown. Meanwhile Egypt's interim government has imposed a month-long state of emergency and night time curfew.
Inside the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque, the building which lies at the heart of the east Cairo encampment, crying babies clung to their mothers as gunfire raged around them following the start of the operation.
In the centre of the prayer hall, laid out on the carpet among hundreds of women and toddlers in the stifling heat, ten bodies had been placed side by side inside a cordon.
A little girl of about seven or eight, wearing pink trousers and a T-shirt, made her way from one side of the mosque to the other by tottering between the heads of the corpses.
“The police and the army don't understand any language except force,” said Khalid Mohsen, a 50-year-old engineer who was trapped inside the siege. “They want to kill anybody who has an opposing view.”
Given the sheer level of firepower unleashed on protesters, it is a view which many Islamists may find hard to argue with.
According to witnesses the gunfire began early in the morning at around six o'clock, as security forces who had surrounded the site launched their ferocious assault. At a separate encampment in the west of the city, a similar operation was also ordered.
By late afternoon the shooting was still continuing. Heavy semi-automatic bursts of gunfire echoed around the nearby suburbs throughout the day. If there was any let up, it was brief. For about 10 hours, the supporters of Mohamed Morsi were subjected to a near-continuous barrage of live fire.
Single sniper shots shrieked down Nasr Road, the main thoroughfare leading through the camp; sustained bursts of machine gun fire clattered into nearby buildings; wayward rounds shredded through the labyrinthine networks of tents and tarpaulin shacks.
At the nearby hospital, staff draped the windows with blinds as a precaution against sniper rounds.
One doctor at the hospital, who gave his name only as Ahmed, said that even the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008 had not been as bad.
“I was working there as a medic during that battle,” he told The Independent. “The Jews were much more humane that what is happening today. Even in war, the rules are more respectable than this.
"In 12 days of fighting in Gaza, there were less dead than in six hours here."
Amid the dizzying chaos of the massacre - the third which has been perpetrated against Egypt's Islamists in a little over a month - reliable casualty figures were difficult to come by.
According to Egypt's Health Ministry, 149 people were confirmed dead. Yet the true figure is likely to be much higher. Dr Hisham Ibrahim, the head of the Rabaa al-Adawiya field clinic, told The Independent that several hundred people had been killed.
Whatever the final tally, the constant stream of bullet-riddled, disfigured protesters meant it was impossible to store the corpses properly. Inside a room which during the previous two massacres has been used as a morgue, 42 bodies were crammed up against each other on the floor.
As the carnage unfolded and more protesters were killed, other areas were appropriated to house the dead.
Behind the stage which has been used by Islamist leaders to rally pro-Morsi supporters for the past six weeks, 25 bodies were laid out wrapped in white shawls, unrefrigerated in the sweltering August sun.
Next to the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque - where flies were soon gathering on the ten corpses laid out in the prayer hall - another room being used as a makeshift morgue.
A total of 31 bodies had been placed here. Volunteers had no time for sentimentality; the same hall was being used to treat wounded protesters, many of whom were lying moaning in agony just yards from the nearby cadavers.
"It's a genocide," said Dr Yehia Makkayah, a medic at the Rabaa hospital. "They want us to disappear from the country. I could never imagine that Egyptians would shoot Egyptians using these weapons."
Such was the chaos inside the hospital, a reception area on the second floor had been utilised as yet another morgue to store a further 26 bodies. One floor up in a tiny storeroom, two more corpses were lying in gleaming pools of fresh blood.
Corridors barely two yards wide were lined with dozens upon dozens of wounded. Luckier patients received drip feeds from a friend or relative; those who were luckier still had the luxury of a hospital bed. The floors were sticky with blood and vomit.
The sheer volume of the dead and the dying meant it was often impossible to move up and down the main staircase. Injured protesters, most of them felled by live fire, were stretchered up to the operating rooms, blood trickling from their wounds as they went. The dead were stretchered in the other direction, down to the lower level morgues.
"The army are the dogs of the Israelis," said Mohamed Mostafa, a vet who was keeping vigil at the bedside of his brother-in-law, a 36-year-old whose spine had been shattered by a bullet. "They are not Egyptians."
At the main morgue beside the field clinic, the mother of one victim, 16-year-old Malik Safwat, struggled to reach him through the tightly-packed rows of corpses.
"Don’t move that body," said one of the morgue attendants to a volunteer trying to clear a path. "Move a lighter one." She eventually found him, tearfully shaking his left knee from side to side as if to try and wake him up. His sister had also arrived. "My darling," she said in a trembling voice. “Why my darling?”
By around 5pm, the security services had gained access to the hospital and were clearing everybody out into the surrounding streets. Thousands of people began filing out of the camp, as police bulldozers moved in to destroy the remaining tents.
Condemnation as death toll nears 300 mark
Amid the dizzying chaos of the massacre – the third which has been perpetrated against Egypt’s Islamists in a little over a month – reliable casualty figures were difficult to come by.
Egyptian state news agency said 235 were killed across the country today and 2,001 were injured. Yet the true figure is likely to be much higher. The Associated Press news agency reported 278 deaths. And at least 250 have died since the army seized power last month.
Western powers condemned the bloodshed with US Secretary of State John Kerry and David Cameron both denouncing the violence. Mr Kerry said that the “path toward violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering”.
Alex Delmar-Morgan