Sunday, April 12, 2015

Video - The politics of skinny: France bans underweight models

Video - Earth’s moon formed after planetary collision with large protoplanet – researchers

Video - Cuban hopes for a brighter future and relations with the US become warmer

Video - Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 White House Bid

Video - President Obama Meets with President Castro

Obama and Raul Castro dialogue: What’s next US-Cuba?
By Isaac Risco 
A “historic” gathering with an open ending, the Panama Summit will be remembered as the scenario in which the presidents of the United States and Cuba turned to dialogue, but it will be just one more stop on a long road.
“We are ready to discuss everything, but we have to be patient, very patient,” said the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, during his meeting with his US counterpart in Panama City.
Barack Obama also acknowledged that both parties will often “disagree”, but hoped they do so “with respect”.
Full normalization of relations between Washington and Havana will be a “long process, difficult and complex,” predicted Cuba Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, when he appeared before the press to discuss the historical dialogue between Obama and Castro.
Despite the thaw between the two countries, “profound differences” persist that will not be easy to remedy. Even the planned reopening of embassies is without a date. Rodriguez could not even confirm when the fourth round of the negotiations who occur. The talks began in January.
The United States has not yet announced the removal of Cuba from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism, noted Rodriguez, which is currently seen as one of the main obstacles to the advancement of the diplomatic rapprochement.
In Panama there was speculation that Washington would announce the removal of Cuba from the “black list” during the days of the summit. The list, in effect since 1982, currently includes Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba. The White House said that the evaluation process has concluded, but the decision is not taken.
Raul Castro and Barack Obama dialogue at the Summit of the Americas in the presence of their delegations. Photo: Estudios Revolución
Obama attributed the inaction to a temporary issue. “I’ve been traveling and I want to make sure I have a chance to read it (evaluation),” he explained.
Rodriguez also called for a prompt solution to the problem faced by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington because no bank will handle its accounts, due to ramifications of the US embargo on the island. The building is destined to become the next Cuban Embassy.
Even when praising Obama for approving measures to ease the embargo, Rodriguez was critical: “Cuba appreciates the very limited steps taken by the US government,” he said.
But Washington has repeatedly stressed since it began diplomatic negotiations with the Castro administration that it will continue to support Cuban dissidents. “Our governments will continue to have differences,” Obama noted in Panama.
Before his first greeting with Castro at the summit, the US President even received two Cuban dissidents, along with 13 other civil society activists from around the continent. The anti-Castro opponents had participated in the civil society forum that took place in the days before the summit, in which there were several incidents between Castro supporters and dissidents.
Raul Castro and Barack Obama on April 11, 2015, at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
“Nobody thought that decades of mistrust and suspicion were going to disappear overnight,” said Michael Shifter of the Washington Inter-American Dialogue think tank before the summit.
Full normalization of relations with Cuba in the region itself will be a difficult task. To date, Havana refuses to return to the Organization of American States (OAS), despite the body lifting six years ago its 1962 sanctions against Cuba.
The government of Raul Castro rejects the OAS, traditionally seeing it as an “instrument of domination” of Washington in the region.
“Rapprochement, if any, will occur in the coming years, through other UN agencies,” predicted the outgoing OAS general secretary, José Miguel Insulza, in a conversation with dpa in Panama.
The new secretary, Luis Almagro, said he expects to achieve the return of Cuba during his mandate.

With Iran and now Cuba, Obama breakthroughs face hard sell


After breakthroughs abroad, President Barack Obama is finding stern challenges at home to his foreign policy, facing hard sells to skeptics over U.S. shifts, first on Iran and now Cuba.
Obama returned to Washington early Sunday still basking in the attention from his historic meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro at a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders. But Obama is certain to find a less appreciative crowd in Congress than the one he left behind at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
To complete a nuclear agreement with Iran, Obama must deal with resistance in Congress and the unpredictability of the Iranian leadership, which has a distinctly different interpretation of what the sides have settled on so far.
Cuba and Iran offer Obama, whose term ends in early 2017, the potential for legacy-crowning achievements. Iran may prove a greater challenge than Cuba, but together they are subjecting Obama's foreign policy to the kind of scrutiny that most international issues, short of war, rarely draw.
Obama made clear in a closing news conference late Saturday in Panama City that he believes he can handle the twin trials. The American public is on his side on Cuba, the president said, and he had tough words for Republicans defying him on Iran.
Both have their roots in decades of grievances. Both have had constituencies in the U.S. deeply mistrustful of the governments with which Obama is dealing. Pro-Israel Americans cannot fathom a deal with an Iran that will not recognize Israel's existence. And for long, Cuban-Americans who escaped Fidel Castro's revolution could not imagine a U.S. government not committed to ousting the Havana government.
On the flip side, Cuba is hardly the threat Iran could be. Public opinion no longer demonizes Cuba. In the end, Obama's efforts to re-establish normal relations looks like the lesser burden.
When it comes to Cuba, "the American people don't need to be persuaded," Obama said.
Still, there are reminders that the barriers have not all fallen.
Castro, in a lengthy speech at the summit, recited a litany of objections to past U.S. policies. And the room where Obama and Castro met displayed no flags, thus declaring the absence of diplomatic relations.
Obama's next step is removing Cuba from the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism. Such a decision, recommended by the State Department, could come in days. Obama would have to notify Congress. Lawmakers do not have to ratify the decision, but they have 45 days to disapprove it.
Such a vote, if attempted, probably would not succeed. But the issue is percolating just as 2016 presidential candidates are jumping into the race.
Florida, once the center of anti-Castro activism, is a pivotal presidential state, and some Republican candidates will try for a political upper hand by accusing Obama of weakening America's place in the world.
"President Obama's foreign policy has been one appeasement toward autocratic dictators, thugs, and adversaries after another," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican toying with a presidential run, said amid news Obama was to sit down with Castro.
The White House hardly appears worried about the politics of Cuban diplomacy, given that support for ending more than 50 years of U.S. isolation of the island nation crosses party and geographic lines.
"''Perhaps the most important difference is that while Iran is inherently a security issue, today Cuba is the opposite," said Carl Meacham, a former senior Republican aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committeewho now is a director at the Center for Security and International Studies. "If he removes Cuba for the list of state sponsors of terror, President Obama will demonstrate that the United States can no longer reasonably look at Cuba as a threat to our own security."
Obama perceives the Iran deal as far more fragile.
Iran and the world powers negotiating the deal have until the end of June to reach a final deal. Congress is angling to assert authority over the final agreement, and even some of Obama's Democratic allies support that.
But Obama reserves most of his frustrations for Republicans and he singled out Sen. John McCain of Arizona, his 2008 presidential rival, for specific scorn during Saturday's new conference.
McCain last week declared a major setback in the nuclear talks after Iran's supreme leader demanded that sanctions against Tehran had to be lifted immediately after a deal went into place.
Obama cast McCain's criticism as an assault on the credibility of Secretary of State John Kerry.
"Now we have a senator suggesting that our secretary of state is purposefully misinterpreting the deal and giving the supreme leader of Iran the benefit of the doubt in the interpretations," Obama said. "That's not how we're supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who is president or secretary of state."

Why Hillary Clinton Has Such a Strong Chance of Becoming the Next President


Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton entered the White House race as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination and seemed the most likely person from either party to be elected president.

Her circumstances at first glance look similar today: she is the leading Democrat and the most famous candidate in the field. But this time is much different. Hillary Clinton begins the race with a much, much larger advantage than in 2008 against other Democrats in the primary, but it may be harder for her to win the general election in 2016 than it would have been back then.
In terms of the primary, Clinton is right now the strongest non-incumbent candidate from either party since then-Vice President Al Gore ran in 2000. Dozens of members of Congress have already endorsed Clinton, her campaign staff includes some of the most experienced strategists in the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama and his political circle have all but anointed her as his successor. The party's donors are strongly behind Clinton as well.
Clinton was the favorite of the party in 2008 as well, but Democrats were much more divided back then. Clinton's vote for the Iraq War and refusal to apologize for it made her vulnerable in the primary, with a heavily anti-war electorate and the rise of Obama, who had opposed the war from its start.
Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority Leader and an influential figure in the party back then, endorsed Obama early in the race and many of his former aides joined Obama's team. Even as Clinton was preparing her campaign in 2006, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, two of the party's leading figures, privately urged Obama to run. Eric Holder and Susan Rice, who held senior roles in Bill Clinton's administration, opted for Obama over Clinton early in the race.
Eventually, Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama, dismissing concerns about his level of experience and giving Obama backing from a deeply-trusted figure in the party. For many Democrats, electing the first black president was just as or more significant than electing the first woman. And African-Americans overwhelming backed Obama, making it impossible for Clinton to win many Southern primaries.
Now many Democrats have said the party should nominate a female candidate. The war in Iraq is no longer a huge issue in American politics.
There is no obvious black candidate seeking to challenge Clinton, and even if one emerged, it's not clear that person would get more than 80% of the black vote as Obama did. The election of the first black president, a huge motivating factor for many African-Americans voters and some whites, has already happened.
The Democrat in perhaps the best position to defeat Clinton is someone who has never run for office before and seems very unlikely to do so: Michelle Obama.
Seeing the consolidation around Clinton, some of the strongest potential Democratic candidates are so far not even bothering to run. There is little sign that Vice President Joe Biden or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the two strongest potential challengers, are considering campaigns. The field of candidates who appear likely to run against Clinton lack broad or intense support in the party: former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.
This trio is likely to attack Clinton on two issues: economic populism and national security. Sanders supports major tax increases on the wealthy and increasing Social Security benefits. It's not clear where Clinton stands on those issues. O'Malley has called for greater restrictions on Wall Street banks, another topic where Clinton has not stated precise views recently.
Webb was an early Iraq War opponent and is more skeptical of the use of U.S. military force than Clinton has been in the past. The two could differ on how much the U.S. should do to stop ISIS and how much it should intervene in the Syrian civil war. Clinton has said Obama waited too late to support Syrian rebels.
But Clinton's biggest challenge in the Democratic primary is a mistake that forces the party's establishment to rethink whether she is a strong candidate for the general election. In that scenario, major party officials could tap a candidate like Warren and provide her with the kind of fundraising and grassroots support to challenge Clinton.
This is what happened in 2008, when Obama got so much support in part because of concerns from top Democrats about Clinton's ability to win the general election.
An anti-Clinton campaign within the Democratic Party seems very unlikely this year. The recent controversy about Clinton's unusual use of e-mail as secretary of state has not caused Democrats to break from the former first lady, although investigations by both Republicans in Congress and the press may unearth more damaging details.
Clinton's ties with Wall Street, while annoying to party liberals, have not yet emerged as the kind of rift that her Iraq War vote was. And Clinton is already taking strong stances on other issues liberals care deeply about, recently blasting the religious freedom law that was being considered in Indiana and calling Obamacare a huge success.
And despite complaints from some voters that America does not need to elect another president whose last name is Bush or Clinton, the former first lady's association with Bill Clinton seems to be an asset at this point.
In terms of the states that vote early in the Democratic primary, Clinton struggled in Iowa in 2008, finishing behind not only Obama, but also John Edwards. Some Iowa Democrats who backed Obama in 2008 say they are behind Clinton now.
But even if the former of secretary of state somehow lost Iowa to O'Malley, she would still have a strong chance of winning the nomination. Voters in New Hampshire strongly supported Bill Clinton in the 1992 primary and Clinton upset Obama there in 2008.
South Carolina's large black population is a huge advantage for her.
The general election will be much more difficult for Clinton than the primary. She does have some advantages. Her stances on many major issues, such as calling for an increase in the minimum wage and paid sick leave for all workers, are backed by a majority of Americans. While wages remain stagnant for many U.S. workers, the economy is in much better shape than when Obama took office.
And whoever is the Republican Party's nominee must grapple with balancing the views of the party's older, mostly white and deeply-religious bloc of base voters with the views of younger, less-religious voters. Clinton's strong support of gay marriage and creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants will be a strong contrast to the GOP nominee, who will likely have to hedge on those issues.
At the same time, Clinton must navigate establishing her own political brand as being different from both her husband and Obama.
A March NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll showed that 51 percent of Americans say that she would "represent too much of a return to the policies of the past" if elected president, while 44 percent say she "would provide the new ideas and vision the country will need for the future."
Republicans will rightly argue that electing Clinton would be something of a third term for Obama, since he and Clinton agree on nearly every major policy issue. The last two people (Gore in 2000 and John McCain in 2008) who tried to run for the third term of their political party lost.
In addition, even some Democrats consider President Obama's foreign policy record weak, from tense relations with Israel to the rise of both ISIS and Russia militarily during his tenure. Republicans plan to attack Clinton's four years as one of Obama's top foreign policy advisers.
Clinton has an obvious model to follow in terms of getting elected in the general election. Obama won in both 2008 and 2012 by carrying a series of states that Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 did not: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. He benefited from both a growing percentage of non-white voters (from about 19 percent of the electorate in 2000 to 26 percent in 2012) and deep support from those minority voters, about 80% of whom backed him.
Clinton will be hard-pressed to follow the model of her husband, who won in states like Arkansas and Kentucky. The South has become almost entirely Republican at the federal level since Bill Clinton's victories, and it's hard to see Hillary Clinton reversing such a strong trend.
There are a few factors about the electorate environment that aren't clear at this point. Will minority voters be less inclined to get behind Clinton, either because Republicans successfully woo them or the absence of Obama on the ticket? Could Clinton outperform Obama among women because of the historic nature of her candidacy? Will some men or even women be reluctant to elect a female president? Can she appeal better than Obama to working-class whites? And how will Americans view the economy and Obama's presidency overall 18 months from now?

U.S. - Weekly Address: Tuition-Free Community College

Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid

Throwing her hat in the ring!

It's official: Hilary Clinton is running for President of the United States once more. The former Secretary of State, New York Senator, and First Lady announced her candidacy bid on Sunday, April 12.
Clinton, 67, launched her campaign for the 2016 election with emails from her campaign chairman, John Podesta, to donors and others on Sunday afternoon. 

"I wanted to make sure you heard it first from me – it’s official: Hillary’s running for president,” the email reads.
Clinton previously lost to President Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

Clinton's plans to run slipped through the cracks on Friday, with several media outlets reporting that she would be making a statement over the weekend. That same day, a new epilogue to Clinton's 2014 memoir, Hard Choices, was published on Huffington Post.

"You shouldn't have to be the granddaughter of a President or a Secretary of State to receive excellent health care, education, enrichment, and all the support and advantages that will one day lead to a good job and a successful life. That's what we want for all our kids," the passage read, referring to her 6-month-old granddaughter Charlotte.
"I'm more convinced than ever that our future in the 21st century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte will," she continued. "Becoming a grandmother has made me think deeply about the responsibility we all share as stewards of the world we inherit and will one day pass on. Rather than make me want to slow down, it has spurred me to speed up."

Up next, Clinton is immediately getting to work with planned trips to Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with voters and begin the road to win the ticket at the Democratic convention. The next general presidential election will be held on Nov. 8.

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