Friday, January 24, 2014

White House Petition Says Bring Bowe Home...

BLOG: Whitehouse Petition Says Bring Bowe Home, By Any Means Necessary : Scanner Traffic

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"Take action to secure the release, or rescue, of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, using all means available, including force."
Those are the simple words of a complicated request in a petition on
I learned about the petition Tuesday morning when I noticed a Tweet I was mentioned in by Bob Bergdahl, Bowe's father who lives in Hailey.
Bergdahl Tweets often about current events in Pakistan and Afghanistan and reaches out to reporters based in those areas.
The petition was posted Jan. 17 and needs 100,000 signatures by Feb. 16.
As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the petition had 3,559 signatures.
Any petition on that gets 100,000 signatures or more will get an official response from the Whitehouse.
In a November op-ed by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Crapo said, "my Senate colleagues and I continue to use every opportunity to press for (Bowe's release)."
Here's what Crapo, and U.S. Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said about their work in freeing Bowe in a July article by my colleague Brian Smith:
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said he and U.S. Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, are working closely with federal officials on negotiations for Bowe. Many locals may feel disenfranchised because the two can’t say much about classified information, Crapo said.
“I don’t think there is any way to get around that,” the senator said. “We must protect the process by which our … officials are proceeding and not let information be leaked to … the enemy when it could cause an interference with our efforts.“
As to Horton’s question of why more congressmen aren’t using the media to keep Bowe in headlines, Crapo said he’s not sure that would be “helpful in facilitating the case.“
“Maintaining our ability to keep the information about our operations confidential I think is a higher priority,” he said.
John Sandy, Risch’s chief of staff, said the senator is monitoring the situation carefully but can’t say much because of his involvement on federal intelligence and foreign relations committees.
Staff for U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, did not respond to Times-News requests for a statement.
Crapo said he has spoken about Bowe with military leaders and intelligence officials at all levels in the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan, including those close to negotiations at the State Department and in the Pentagon.
“We can say it remains a priority for us to not only locate him and determine whether there’s a way to obtain his release, but also to work with any developments that come along the way if there are negotiations that could ultimately result in his release,” Crapo said.
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Tensions Between Afghanistan and U.S. Increase as Airstrike Kills Civilians

Taliban: Bergdahl alive but staging hunger strikes - Saturday January 25th, 2014 at 12:41 AM

Tensions Between Afghanistan and U.S. Increase as Airstrike Kills Civilians

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A coalition airstrike in a province north of Kabul killed at least two Afghan villagers on Wednesday morning, prompting President Hamid Karzai to order an official inquiry and escalating tensions yet again between the allies over civilian deaths.
While details of the fighting in the Seya Gerd district of Parwan Province remained sketchy, officials confirmed that a strike had been called in after Afghan and coalition Special Operations advisers took heavy fire during a mission to clear the area. The gunfight, which took place in an insurgent stronghold used to carry out attacks on Bagram Air Base, claimed the life of one coalition soldier, at least 10 Taliban fighters and several civilians, though the exact number was not yet clear, coalition and Afghan officials said.
Civilian casualties have always been a contentious issue in Afghanistan, but perhaps never more so than now. With the fate of a long-term security deal between the United States and Afghanistan hanging in the balance, Mr. Karzai has made a cessation of the airstrikes a precondition of any agreement. In late November, after a drone strike claimed the lives of civilians in southern Helmand Province, the president all but threatened to cancel the deal.
The civilian deaths on Wednesday are likely to worsen the relationship between the Afghans and Americans, a partnership that seems to grow more strained with every passing week. Mr. Karzai’s recent order to release dozens of prisoners believed to have killed American forces, despite weeks of threats of a troop withdrawal by the United States, caused the latest dispute between the allies.
A spokesman for Mr. Karzai, Aimal Faizi, said eight civilians had been killed in the airstrike. “Of course, this is exactly about one of our conditions about the signing” of a long-term security agreement, he said, “but it seems like it is not understood. How many more innocent Afghans have to die so it gets the attention of U.S. officials?”
So heavy is the tension over the issue of civilian casualties that, after the episode in Parwan, the presidential palace, the coalition and even the Taliban released statements giving it their own spin.
The palace said it had appointed a fact-finding delegation that would report back with details in three days. The coalition, in addition to offering an apology for any civilian casualties, sought to offer context to the “Afghan-led” operation in its statement.
“This deliberately planned clearing operation was conducted to disrupt insurgent activities in the district, including attacks on Bagram Air Field, and in support of Afghan National Security Forces’ tactical priorities,” the statement said. “Local district and provincial officials were informed in advance of the operation and were provided updates during and after the actions.”
The Taliban, for their part, seized the opportunity to score a propaganda point. While the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, sent a note to reporters saying that his email address had been hacked “by the enemy,” the insurgent group managed to put out a brief statement about the deaths.
“Last night foreign and local forces targeted and bombed civilian homes,” the statement said. “Four children and two women were martyred, and a number of them were wounded. The misery is still going on.”
The Seya Gerd district of Parwan, and the neighboring Wazghar Valley, has been a hotbed of the insurgency for the last few months, according to Afghan officials. Taliban fighters frequently attack the local police in the area, and it is believed that several recent attacks on Bagram Air Base were carried out from the area.
Aziz Ahmad Zaki, a spokesman for the governor of Parwan, said that the coalition Special Operations advisers had come to assist the Afghan forces in the area, setting up alongside them in a district check post that quickly came under fire from Taliban attackers on Tuesday.
Around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Afghan and coalition forces began a clearance operation in the Wazghar Valley, but ran into a Taliban ambush, taking fire from several compounds in the area at once, officials said.
“Afghan and coalition forces returned fire and required defensive air support to suppress the enemy fire,” according to the coalition statement.
“The insurgents in this area enjoy freedom of movement allowing them to harass and threaten the local population as well as stage and facilitate attacks,” the statement said. “Tragically, two civilians inside a building from which insurgents were firing on the commandos were killed.”
The fallout from the deaths remains to be seen. The early statement from the presidential palace was measured when compared with the outrage expressed after the civilian deaths in Helmand in late November. At the time, the president threatened to cancel the long-term security deal if such “arbitrary acts and oppression of foreign forces continue.”
Correction: January 16, 2014
An earlier version of this article misidentified the leading cause of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Most civilians are killed by improvised explosive devices, not by airstrikes by coalition forces.
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Musharraf Needs U.S. Treatment; Indian Supreme Court Investigates Coalgate

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Bonus Read: "Five Resolutions for U.S. South Asia Policy in 2014," Michael Kugelman (SouthAsia). 
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl still alive, reports say
CNN's Jim Sciutto reported on Wednesday that U.S. military officials have obtained a new video of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only known U.S. prisoner of war, showing that he is still alive (CNN). Anonymous government officials confirmed the report, saying that the video obtained in recent days shows a frail Bergdahl, who appears to be in declining health, but not seriously ill (APNYTVOA). They added that he referenced the December 2013 death of Nelson Mandela, a so-called proof of life. Bergdahl disappeared in Afghanistan's eastern Paktika province in June 2009, and authorities believe he is being held by Taliban-linked militants in Pakistan. It was the first video of Bergdahl in nearly three years.
Coalition airstrike, civilian deaths test U.S.-Afghan relations
Relations between Washington and Kabul are being tested once again after Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused U.S. troops of killing eight civilians, including seven children, on Wednesday during a military operation in Parwan province (NYTPostTOLO News). According to Karzai and Shah Wali Shahid, the deputy provincial governor, the incident occurred around 1 a.m. when U.S. Special Forces attempted to enter an insurgent stronghold. A gun battle followed, prompting the troops to call in an airstrike that killed the children and a female relative in the house. NATO's International Security Assistance Force released a statement on Thursday confirming that an incident had occurred during a joint Afghan-coalition operation, saying that 10 insurgents, 2 Afghan civilians, and one coalition soldier were killed (PajhwokVOA). Due to the conflicting reports, Karzai has ordered an official inquiry into the incident (Pajhwok).
Afghanistan seeks help in counter-narcotics effort
Din Mohammad Mobariz Rashidi, Afghanistan's minister of counter narcotics, told reporters on Wednesday that Afghanistan needs more financial assistance for its anti-narcotics efforts after opium cultivation hit a record high in 2013 (Reuters). Reuters notes that, despite "more than a decade of efforts to wean farmers off of the crop, fight corruption and cut links between drugs and the Taliban insurgency," Afghanistan remains the world's top cultivator of the poppy plant, from which opium and heroin are derived. Speaking after a meeting with Yury Fedotov, the head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Rashidi said Afghan farmers needed to be provided with alternate livelihoods before they could be convinced to stop cultivating poppies.
Addressing U.S. concerns about the increased poppy cultivation on Wednesday, Erin Logan, who is the principal director for counter-narcotics and global threats at the Pentagon, told a Senate panel that the United States intends to establish an intelligence center in Bahrain to continue fighting the Afghan drug trade once the coalition mission ends in December 2014 (PajhwokPost).
Musharraf needs medical treatment in U.S., lawyer says
Anwar Mansoor Khan, a lawyer for former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, submitted a letter to a special court in Islamabad on Wednesday, asking for permission to move the ex-military ruler to the Paris Regional Medical Center in Paris, Texas (RFE/RL). According to several news reports, the letter by Dr. Arjumand Hashmi, Musharraf's U.S.-based doctor, advised that the retired general go to the United States for further medical care (ET). The court is set to hear one of many legal cases currently pending against Musharraf, who has so far been barred from leaving the country while the trial is ongoing.  
While Musharraf had been ordered to appear before the court on Wednesday, after numerous missed appearances and adjournments, the three-judge panel granted him another exemption from appearing at the proceedings until Jan. 23 (Dawn). The court then ordered doctors at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, where Musharraf has been seeking treatment for a heart condition since Jan. 2, to assess Musharraf's condition -- how serious it is, will he require surgery, how long will he remain in the hospital, etc. -- and asked that its report on the former president's health be submitted by Jan. 24. 
Pakistani army sets up permanent base in Swat Valley 
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced on Wednesday that the country's powerful army would be setting up a permanent military base in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's restive Swat Valley (RFE/RL). While the army had declared in July 2009 that it had regained control of the region from Mullah Fazlullah, who took control of the district in 2007 and is now the head of the Pakistani Taliban, militant attacks have continued. With more than 20,000 troops in and around the area, Sharif said the base will be "a brigade-level cantonment" for Swat and the adjacent Malakand district (ET). 
Sectarian violence rising in Pakistan 
A surge in sectarian killings across Pakistan is raising new concerns about the country's stability, theWashington Post's Tim Craig reported on Wednesday, noting that violence against Shiite Muslims and other minorities is spreading to major cities and increasingly targeting the country's professional class (Post). According to the report, the Pakistani Institute of Peace Studies noted that there were 687 sectarian killings in Pakistan last year, a 22 percent increase over 2012; findings echoed by the Pew Research Center which found religious conflict has increased around the world (AFP).
But while these deaths represent a small portion of the total 4,725 lives that were lost in 2013, sectarian unrest is becoming more routine in the country's cities. Craig cites two attacks at Sufi shrines that occurred this month in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and Mardan that left eight men dead. He also noted that: "Among the victims last year were a prominent poet in Karachi, a well-respected doctor in the eastern city of Lahore and a university leader in the eastern city of Gujrat," something Salman Zaidi, the deputy director of the Jinnah Institute, an Islamabad-based think tank, described as a "brain drain by force. 
As the Afghan Taliban looks to regain power after coalition forces withdraw in December, they have tried to soften the group's public image by publicly stating that they support women's education. While this usually comes with a caveat that the girls must be taught in an Islamic environment, the group has actually gone beyond words to open the Afghan School in Kabul. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the school was founded by Mullah Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil and Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, both former Taliban government officials, to "bridge the divide between modern schools and madrasses" (WSJ). While boys and girls are strictly divided at the institute, which runs from primary school to high school, Muttawakil noted with pride that his daughter attends the school and "is one of the top students in her class," a remarkable change considering that girls were banned from attending similar institutions when Muttawakil was the group's foreign minister in the 1990s.
-- Bailey Cahall 
Supreme Court questions government in Coalgate scam
India's Supreme Court is questioning the central government on the functioning of a screening committee that made recommendations on the allotment of coal reserves, the latest development in a scandal that puts Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who previously led the coal ministry, in the middle of the controversy (DNA IndiaTimes of India). The scandal centers on alleged corruption in the allocation of coal blocks from 1993 to 2008 to 61 private companies, including Tata Power, Reliance Energy, ArcelorMittal, and Hindalco. The court questioned the central government on how 11 companies had been allocated blocks between 2007 and 2008 without participating in a selection process that saw 178 other applicants use official channels to seek allocations (Times of India).
Meanwhile, India's central government told the 61 mines that those that do not obtain environmental clearances by a set deadline will have their allocations taken away (The Hindu). The central government has given the companies until Feb. 5 to obtain the requisite clearances for their blocks and produce proof that supports their approval or face de-allocation. The Times of India writes that the move was calculated to disengage Singh from the "Coalgate stink" and prevent the Supreme Court from ordering blanket cancellation of the allocations, as it did in a previous scandal over corruption in the 2G phone spectrum allocation (Times of India). 
AAP support builds, Bihar axes 576 staffers on corruption 
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said it is looking at contesting more than 400 of the 545 seats in India's lower house of parliament in the 2014 general elections, scaling up its ambitions from a previous goal of 200 (Times of IndiaThe Hindu). Of the thousands of applications it has received for its ticket, the party said it had found 182 to be "valid." The AAP has reportedly recruited 1.2 million new members in the last five days to bring its total membership to more than two million. The AAP set a target of enrolling more than 10 million members by Jan. 26.
To be recognized as a national party, the AAP will need to have recognition in at least four states or win at least six percent of the vote. Official recognition entitles a national party to use its reserved symbol for its candidates throughout India and obtain broadcast facilities and other perks during elections. The party's anti-corruption platform vaulted it to a surprise finish in the Delhi assembly elections in early December 2013. On Dec. 26, the party formally announced its bid to contest national parliamentary elections. But as the party's numbers swell, it is also facing increasing discontent among its ranks, with the hashtag #quitaap becoming a top trend on Twitter (Business Standard). 
The government of the northern state of Bihar has launched its own anti-corruption campaign and is likely to dismiss 576 officers and employees from its service within two months over allegations of corruption (Times of India). Nitish Kumar, the state's chief minister, told department heads and district magistrates in a meeting held Wednesday that the government has zero tolerance for corruption. Officials have been directed to speed up departmental proceedings against those facing corruption allegations.
Indian police arrest two in rape case
Indian police have arrested two homeless men in connection with the gang-rape and robbery of a Danish tourist in New Delhi and are searching for the other alleged attackers (WSJBBCVOA,Economic Times). The two men, who were arrested at a railway station in the capital, were among a group of eight that allegedly accosted the tourist at knife-point late Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Delhi police said. Some of the woman's belongings were recovered from them, including an iPod, a mobile phone, and some cash. The men are likely to appear before a court this week. The 51-year-old victim of the attack flew back to Denmark on Wednesday. 
Amid criticism for his silence on the gang-rape, Arvind Kejriwal, the newly appointed chief minister of Delhi, shifted the blame for local crimes against women to the police force, asking police on Thursday to suspend four of its officers for refusing to act against sex and drug gangs and in a case of a man burning a woman (Times of India). Kejriwal called the Delhi police "highly compromised" on Thursday and warned that action will be taken against errant officers (Economic TimesNDTV). "Why are rapes happening in Delhi? ... If crime does not happen in Delhi, it is not because of the Delhi Police, but in spite of it," Kejriwal said. The charge came after Delhi police allegedly refused to act on a tip about the city's sex trade. 
Time runs out for U.S. embassy club
Thursday was the last day for the U.S. embassy in New Delhi to cease its commercial activities, including its in-house club, a shutdown that was ordered following the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragde in New York City (WSJ). Meanwhile, spouses of U.S. diplomats who teach at the American schools in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai have come under official scrutiny (Times of India,NYT). India requested that the United States provide details on these workers, some of whom are suspected to lack the requisite work permits, as well as the pay scale of Indian staff working with the U.S. embassy and consulates.
Following the fall-out over Khobragade's arrest on visa fraud charges, India accused the U.S. embassy in New Delhi of having long hosted commercial facilities within its compound for non-diplomats, a violation of Indian tax law. India has said it will not restore special airport access for the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats until the same privileges are extended to Indian diplomats in the United States.
-- Ana Swanson 
Edited by Peter Bergen. 
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Idaho Mountain Express: Taliban: Bergdahl alive but staging hunger strikes

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    The Taliban captors of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have come forward to say that their prisoner is alive, but in poor health after undertaking hunger strikes.
The news of Bergdahl’s condition was reported by NBC News on Jan 16, based on communications with an official Afghan Taliban spokesman.
“He is our special guest, and we consider him a precious bird; that’s why our men are taking care of him. We have been arranging food of his choice, but sometimes he stops eating and drinking and his hunger strike continues for a few days,” said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, NBC reported.
Bergdahl was born and raised in Blaine County. He was captured in the Paktika province of Afghanistan in June 2009. He is believed by the U.S. military to be in captivity somewhere in Pakistan.
Two years ago, Bergdahl was the subject of proposed peace negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban.
“U.S. officials had promised us that first they would exchange prisoners and then start peace talks. But it didn’t take place. And finally when there was no hope of prisoners swap, the soldier was returned to the Haqqani network,” NBC reported that a Taliban commander said.
The report of his current condition came after the U.S. military obtained a “proof of life” video of Bergdahl earlier this month.
According to the NBC report, a Taliban commander “said that Maulvi Sangeen, senior commander of the powerful Haqqani terror network (a faction of the Afghan Taliban), kidnapped Bergdahl from Paktika province in southern Afghanistan, near Pakistan’s troubled South Waziristan, in June 2009.

He is our special guest, and we consider him a precious bird.”
Taliban spokesman

“Bergdahl was later shifted to Pakistan’s tribal areas and held in the mountains, according to the Taliban commander. His captor, Sangeen, died in a U.S. drone attack last year in Pakistan’s North Waziristan,” NBC reported.
“Two years ago, when the Taliban opened their office in Qatar for peace talks with the U.S., there were prospects of an exchange of prisoners. The Haqqani network handed Bergdahl over to the Afghan Taliban because they wanted to exchange him for their top five commanders being held at Guantanamo Bay,” NBC reported the Taliban commander said.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates responded to questions from NBC about Bergdhal last week, saying, “I think it’s fair to say that the [U.S. and coalition forces] commanders in Afghanistan never let up the effort to try and find him and still applied intelligence resources and assets to try to find him.”
Public support for the release of Bergdahl has been steady since his capture four and a half years ago. Recently, a “We the People” petition was begun by a support group to urge an official response from the White House on Bergdahl’s plight.
As of Tuesday morning, 3,031 people had signed the petition. In order to try to elicit an official response from President Barack Obama, a group organizing the petition is aiming to gather 96,969 more signatures by Feb.16.
For more information about the petition, go to
Tony Evans: <a href=""></a>
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Greenpeace demo in Davos targets Gazprom

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In the Swiss resort of Davos, a number of Greenpeace activists donned polar bear suits to demonstrate against Gazprom's arctic drilling which began in Decemb...
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U.S. Willing to Hold Talks if Snowden Pleads Guilty

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The United States did not specify the guilty pleas it would expect from Edward J. Snowden before opening talks.

Ukraine unrest: opposition sceptical over crisis talks - The Guardian Nigeria

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Ukraine unrest: opposition sceptical over crisis talks
The Guardian Nigeria
PROTESTERS in Ukraine have expressed scepticism that talks between an opposition leader and President Viktor Yanukovych can make progress. Some in the capital Kiev shouted "Shame!" and whistled as Oleg Tyagnybok told crowds in Independence ...

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Snowden says 'no chance' of fair trial in US - Irish Times

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Snowden says 'no chance' of fair trial in US
Irish Times
A portrait of former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is displayed behind a screen as he answers users' questions on Twitter. Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters. Topics: News · World · US · Edward Snowden · Eric Holder · National Security Agency ...

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The 85 richest people in the world: men still in the driving seat

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Women need only seven seats, mostly on the bottom deck, on the £1tn double-decker bus revealed by Oxfam this week 

• Interactive graphic: Who are the 85?
At its snowy retreat in the Swiss Alps, the World Economic Forum is debating how much inequality is too much. The aid charity Oxfam pointed out that a glance through the richest 100 people in the world shows that the pendulum has already swung heavily in favour of an elite group: the top 85 in the Forbes rich list control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together.
A look down the list of 85 shows that if this group – whose wealth tops £1tn – can squeeze on a double decker bus, then Mexico's telecoms magnate Carlos Slim swaps driving responsibilities withMicrosoft's Bill Gates and the tiny group of wealthy women need only seven seats, mostly on the bottom deck.
Liliane Bettencourt qualifies as the world's richest woman (and ninth richest indiviual) after a dramatic rise in the value of her 30% holding in cosmetics group L'Oreal, which her father founded. Famous for her family feuds, the 90-year old is the world's ninth richest person with a fortune worth $30bn (£18bn), though she suffers from dementia and no longer sits on the board.
Christy Walton is the richest of the Walton clan and 11th richest in the world. She inherited $28.2bn when husband John died in an airplane crash in 2005. Her lead over other Waltons follows a side investment by John in solar panel maker First Solar. Like her sister-in-law Alice, she received nearly $350m in Wal-Mart dividends after taxes in 2013.
Success in the confectionary business pushed Jacqueline Mars to joint number 36 with her brother John and Forrest. They inherited the maker of Mars and Snickers bars in 1999 when their father died.
Australian Georgina Rinehart, like the Mars siblings, is worth $17bn. Charity is not her middle name. In her self-published book she recommended all Aussie workers accept the $2-a-day wages commonly paid in Africa.
Susanne Klatten inherited a 12.6% stake in car maker BMW. Along with her brother Stefan Quandt(81st richest in the world) and mother Johanna Quandt she owns almost 50% of the company. A trained economist, Klatten is Germany's richest woman with assets worth $14.3bn (and 58th richest in the world).
Germans do well in the rankings of the world's richest. Contrary to the stereotype of a collectivist social democracy from the boardroom to the shop floor, company owners are much better than their UK counterparts at amassing huge fortunes.
Karl Albrecht (number 18) owns all of Aldi Sud, Germany's largest discount supermarket chain. With stores across Europe and the US, he outstrips his brother Theo, who inherited the other half of the business. Aldo Sud is worth $26bn while Aldi Nord is worth almost $19bn.
Dieter Schwarz (number 29)inherited Lidl, the discount retailer that had $85bn in revenues in 2012 and is the second biggest discounter behind Aldi. Dividends are donated to a chiritable company that Schwarz controls. The Schwarz Foundation supports education and daycare facilities for children, according to Forbes.
Michael Otto and his four siblings (61st in the world) are another German success story. They share ownership of Otto Group, a conglomerate they inherited that includes a US home furnishings retailer and German toy chain myToys.
Otto claims the group is the second largest internet retailer after Amazon.
The last woman on the list is Abigail Johnson, who is a third-generation executive at Fidelity Investments, the second-largest US investment fund manager. Her estimated 24% stake gives her an asset worth $12.7bn and a place at number 74. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Man once called the 'Revenge Porn King' indicted - CNN

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Man once called the 'Revenge Porn King' indicted
(CNN) -- Hunter Moore was once dubbed the "most hated man on the Internet" and the "Revenge Porn King." But now the brash Californian is at risk of getting a new title. A felon. Moore, the founder of a now defunct "revenge porn" website was indicted and is... 
'Revenge porn' website case: 2 men accused of hacking

So-Called "King of Revenge Porn" ArrestedKTXL
Notorious 'revenge' pornster charged with hacking

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Revenge Porn Mogul Indicted on Federal Conspiracy ChargesWPRO
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Kiev protesters occupy government building amid uneasy truce 

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Opposition leaders in difficult position after Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, refuses to call snap elections
About 1,000 protesters have moved from Kiev's Independence Square to occupy a government building in response to opposition calls to observe a truce with riot police after long talks with President Viktor Yanukovych ended without a major breakthrough.
Early on Friday, the protesters broke into the Ministry of Agricultural Policy building in central Kiev, meeting no resistance. The move followed the seizure of local governors' offices in several western regions on Thursday.
The government's failure to grant key concessions was met with anger by thousands of protesters manning the barricades in the capital on Thursday evening, while the anti-government protests that have rocked Ukraine spread to other parts of the country during the day.
On Wednesday, after three people had been killed in clashes with riot police, the opposition politician Vitali Klitschko had asked protesters in central Kiev to observe an eight-hour truce while talks went on. Klitschko had promised to "go on the attack" if Yanukovych did not launch snap elections within 24 hours, while Arseniy Yatsenyuk, of the Fatherland party, said he was ready to take a "bullet in the head".
The protesters duly extinguished the flaming barricade of tyres that had been set up on the frontline, and the two sides stood facing each other down, the carcasses of burned out police buses between them. But when the trio of opposition leaders emerged after gruelling talks with the president that lasted more than four hours, they had changed their tune, asking for more time and a continuation of the ceasefire.
"The only thing we were able to achieve was not much," a grim Klitschko told the crowd. He was booed by some of those at the barricade as he asked for a truce.
On Independence Square, the nationalist leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, who was part of the negotiations, put the idea of continuing discussions with the president to a midnight vote among the crowd, and it was overwhelmingly rejected. There are now difficult decisions to make for the opposition leaders, who have been unable to achieve their key demand of snap elections from Yanukovych but are uneasy about being held responsible for any further violence.
There were dramatic developments in the west of the country on Thursday as hundreds of people forced their way into the office of the regional governor in the city of Lviv, and forced him to sign a resignation letter. Oleh Salo, a Yanukovych appointee in a city where support for the president is in the low single digits, later said he signed the letter under duress and was rescinding his resignation.
France's foreign minister said on Friday that Ukraine's ambassador in Paris would be summoned over the violence in Kiev.
"I have given instructions to the foreign ministry to summon the Ukrainian ambassador in France today which is a gesture to show France's condemnation," Laurent Fabius said on i>TELE television. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Planet Hillary 

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The gravitational pull of a possible 2016 campaign is bringing all the old Clinton characters into her orbit. Can she make the stars align, or will chaos prevail?

Gay couple threaten to sue UK government over same-sex marriage 

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Michael and Paul Atwal-Brice found they could not marry unless they first formally dissolved their civil partnership
A gay couple from Barnsley are threatening legal action against the government after discovering they will not be able to marry on 29 March, when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act comes into force, because they are already in a civil partnership.
Michael and Paul Atwal-Brice entered into a civil partnership in 2008 as marriage was not an option available to same-sex couples at the time.
They planned to become one of the first couples to convert to marriage when the legislation came into force and had chosen their suits and ordered a wedding cake when they were hit with what Paul calls a "legal bombshell".
When they went to book a registrar for their wedding, they were told they could not marry unless they first formally dissolved their civil partnership – in effect getting a divorce.
The government has not yet decided how same-sex couples can convert their civil partnership to marriage. The process will not be finalised before the end of 2014, a spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) admitted.
It was an "unfortunate anomaly", said a spokesman from the gay rights group Stonewall, who said the organisation had been lobbying hard on the issue.
Paul, 34, who has twin seven-year-old sons with his partner Michael, 29, said: "We're being penalised because we're already in a civil partnership. No couple should be asked to divorce or dissolve to be able to get married. To dissolve a civil partnership, you have to go to court, and you have to have a valid reason. Wanting to get married is hardly a valid reason to dissolve a civil partnership, so we would effectively have had to commit perjury."
Dissolution of a civil partnership is only possible on grounds of unreasonable behaviour, two years' desertion, two year's separation (with the respondent's consent), or five years' separation (without consent).
"For us this is about equality," said Paul. "But it's not just the principle of the situation – there are legal and practical difficulties if we were forced to divorce. If our civil partnership were dissolved there would be a period of time when we would not be each other's next of kin, for example."
The men want to raise awareness of the problem, believing that many other couples may unknowingly be in the same situation.
Now the couple have instructed lawyers after being told that because of delays in implementing parts of the act, they would have to get a formal dissolution before they can marry.
Their solicitors Irwin Mitchell have written to the culture secretary, Maria Miller, warning of potential judicial review action if the issue is not resolved satisfactorily.
Irwin Mitchell believes there are breaches of British equality and human rights law, and that the government has failed to take into account all relevant considerations when creating the equal marriage laws.
Zoe Round, a specialist family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell solicitors in Sheffield, said: "Our clients are naturally devastated at the prospect of having to go through a formal dissolution before they can get married. They had been waiting for this legislation to be agreed for years and now, at the final hurdle, are finding that the process just doesn't seem to have been thought through.
"All necessary considerations should have been taken into account by the government before the announcement was made that the first same-sex marriages could happen from 29 March 2014.
"We have written to the government to ask them to implement the process of conversion from a civil partnership to a same-sex marriage as was intended by parliament in section 9 of the act, so that couples that want to marry don't have to go through a dissolution of their civil partnership before their ceremony.
"Why should they be forced to get a dissolution just to remarry? It seems absurd and we are supporting them in their fight to remedy the situation. If the issue cannot be resolved then we may have no choice but to seek a judicial review in the high court."
A DCMS spokeswoman said: "We are continuing to work hard to ensure that couples wanting to convert their civil partnerships into marriages are able to do so as soon as possible. We aim to do this before the end of 2014.
"It will take a little longer because we need to introduce completely new procedures and processes. This contrasts with the work to make new marriages for same-sex couples possible, where we have been able to build on existing processes so implementation is more straightforward.
"The conversion process will ensure that couples in civil partnerships do not have a break in their legal relationship, which could have implications for matters such as their pension entitlements." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Page 3

Ukraine Leader Offers Concessions

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President Viktor Yanukovych pledged to stop "radicals" who have been protesting against his regime for more than two months, even as he outlined limited potential concessions.

Chuck Schumer risks Obama's wrath by doubting focus on healthcare 

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New York senator says healthcare reforms 'not top of most Americans’ to-do lists' and party would have been better off focusing on economic inequality

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Kerry: 'Long Past Time' for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is "long past time" that Israelis and Palestinians "became known for what they can create instead of what conflicts they perpetuate." Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Friday, Kerry said the two sides have a lot to gain once peace is achieved. He said Palestinians could become masters of their own fate, growing their economy with new jobs -- and that Israelis could enjoy a new level of security while...

Moscow Extends Snowden's Asylum

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A Russian lawmaker says the government in Moscow has no intention of expelling U.S. national security leaker Edward Snowden when his year-long temporary asylum ends in August. Alexey Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the State Duma, Russia's lower legislative house, said Friday that Snowden "will not be sent out of Russia." He spoke about Snowden while on a panel to discuss "the future of U.S. power" at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski...

Russian Lawmaker Says Moscow Won't Expel Snowden

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A Russian lawmaker says the government in Moscow has no intention of expelling U.S. national security leaker Edward Snowden when his year-long temporary asylum ends in August.Alexey Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the State Duma, Russia's lower legislative house, said Friday that Snowden "will not be sent out of Russia." He spoke about Snowden while on a panel to discuss "the future of U.S. power" at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort...

Ukrainian president offers concessions to protesters

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Viktor Yanukovich promises to reshuffle government and bring opposition leaders into anti-crisis team after days of deadly riots
Ukraine's president has moved to try to defuse the riots gripping Kiev by promising to reshuffle his government and bring opposition leaders into an anti-crisis team.
In his first major concession since the protests, which began two months ago, turned deadly this week, Viktor Yanukovich promised a special session of parliament at which a new leadership would be convened.
"We will take a decision at this session," he said. "The president will sign a decree and we will reshuffle the government in order to find the best possible professional government team."
His comments, reported by Interfax, followed several days of violent clashes in which at least three people have been killed. On Friday morning, protesters occupied a government ministry building after crisis talks between Yanukovich and opposition leaders apparently ended in failure. Protesters have yet to respond to the president's initiative.
The demonstrations were triggered in November after Yanukovich turned his back on an EU integration agreement and signalled that Ukraine would follow a foreign policy more closely aligned with Russia. Thousands of pro-European Ukrainians descended on Kiev for protests that have persisted ever since.
The confrontation intensified at the weekend after parliament passed a law severely restricting the right to protest. The deaths of three people in the capital have made this the deadliest period of protest since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991.
Opposition leaders have since called for calm, and urged those gathered in the city centre to observe a truce. Protesters duly extinguished the flaming barricade of tyres that had been set up on the frontline and faced down the line of riot police, the carcasses of burnt out police buses between them.
In the west of the country on Thursday hundreds of people forced their way into the office of the regional governor in the city of Lviv, and forced him to sign a resignation letter. Oleh Salo, a Yanukovych appointee in a city where support for the president is in the low single digits, later said he signed the letter under duress and was rescinding his resignation.
Thousands also stormed regional administration headquarters in Rivne on Thursday, breaking down doors and demanding the release of people detained in the unrest there, Unian news agency reported. In the town of Cherkasy, 125 miles south of Kiev, about 1,000 protesters took over the first two floors of the main administration building and lit fires outside.
Similar action took place in Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytsky in western and central Ukraine, as well as parts of the north-east, the Party of the Regions said.
Germany and France summoned the Ukrainian ambassadors in their capitals on Friday to express their concern about the crackdown against protesters in Kiev.
A German foreign ministry spokesman said the deaths of protesters in recent days "show how serious the situation is", while the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said there was "condemnation from France" of the escalating situation in Ukraine.
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Ukraine 'abandoned' by Europe, says novelist Andrey Kurkov
Analysis: Ukraine crisis exposes Europe's policy vacuum © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Rough start for Syria talks as sides sit apart

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The first talks between Syria's warring sides were off to a rough start on Friday after the United Nations failed to convince regime and opposition delegates...
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Snowden to ask Russian police for protection after US threats

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This tablet PC displays a photo of former CIA employee Edward Snowden and his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena leaving the Sheremetyevo airport.
NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, will ask Russian law enforcers to protect him, his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, has said. The former NSA contractor is concerned about his safety after seeing death threats coming from the US.
Snowden, who is currently living in Moscow under Russia’s temporary asylum, has been following the threats against him in various American media.
“We are concerned with the situation around Edward. We see the statements made by some US officials containing potential and implicit threats and openly calling for causing him bodily harm,” Kucherena said.
One such statement published by BuzzFeed quoted a US intelligence officer describing in detail how he would have assassinated Snowden, if he “had the chance.”
“We would end it very quickly… Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower,” the chillingly detailed fantasy said.
Another unnamed Pentagon official told the media he would have simply loved to “put a bullet in his [Snowden’s] head,” were he not “restricted from killing an American.”
“This is a real death threat and we are concerned about the fact it has prompted no reaction from anybody. That is why we will file a request to the police… We will ask the law enforcers to examine and investigate all such statements,” Kucherena said.
He stressed that according to Russian law, a death threat carries criminal liability.
Snowden’s refugee status makes him fully entitled to ask the police for help, the lawyer said.
Speaking to the Russian TV channel, Vesti 24, Kucherena said Snowden is constantly accompanied by his private guards, but given the threats, this “might not be enough” to ensure his security.
The lawyer said he will demand that the US authorities look into the threatening statements published in the US media, adding that their authors should be identified.
“The people who make extremist statements do so while wearing a mask – they do not reveal their identities. We will ask for these people’s masks to come off. We must know who this NSA officer is, who issues orders about ways to eliminate Edward Snowden,” Kucherena stressed.
The US government “must take note of such statements,” the lawyer added.
On Sunday, two of the top lawmakers within the United States intelligence community have stepped up pressure on Snowden, claiming he might have been linked to the Russian intelligence agencies. The US Congress is now considering whether any officials in the Russian government influenced the actions of the whistleblower, who carried out the biggest leak in history of US security, exposing the massive surveillance program of the US National Security Agency.
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Russia Plans to Extend Snowden Asylum, Lawmaker Says

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The lawmaker hinted that the extension of temporary refugee status for the former National Security Agency contractor might be indefinite.

Ukrainian protesters seize ministry building in Kiev

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Anti-government protesters have occupied a government ministry in the capital city of Kiev following the failure of talks between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders.
According to reports, protesters advanced barricades closer to the presidential headquarters. They also occupied the Agriculture Ministry in the city center.
Meanwhile, demonstrators in half a dozen regions of the nationalist west have seized control of administration buildings there.
Yanukovich held talks with opposition leaders in an effort to find a negotiated solution to end the crisis on Thursday. Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko, however, said early on Friday that the president had made no concessions in a second round of talks with the opposition.
At least five people have been killed in a week of violent clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters in Kiev. Over a hundred people have also been arrested so far.
Ukraine has been rocked by anti-government protests after Yanukovych refrained from signing a trade agreement with the European Union at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on November 29, 2013.
Kiev refused to sign the Association Agreement after EU leaders called on Ukraine to allow jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to travel overseas for medical treatment.
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Team USA Uniforms 'Pose Security Risk' In Sochi

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Athletes are reportedly told they could put their personal safety at greater risk if they have the uniforms on outside venues.

US softens tone on any Snowden deal

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Whistleblower remains a deeply divisive figure in American politics, complicating any efforts to secure some form of agreement with the government
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Puerto Rico thief makes off with van of eggs worth $22,000

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Police say thief drove away refrigerated van from distribution centre in Hatillo
A thief in Puerto Rico has got away with the makings of an enormous frittata.