Hillary Tells Senate That Their Package Isn’t Big Enough

ap hillary clinton jef 120228 main State Dept Budget Gets Pushback in Senate
Hillary uses hand gestures to show how big it should be.

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

State Dept Budget Gets Pushback in Senate

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged from two back-to-back Senate committees today without a clear momentum for the fiscal year 2013 State Department budget.The agency has requested $54.7 billion in funding, an increase of 2.6 percent. Clinton says the request represents slightly over 1 percent of the total federal budget and doesn’t cover the rate of inflation.Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called the proposal “budgeting by inertia” and said it disproportionately allocated resources to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan given rising issues in East Asia and the Americas. Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the State Department budget.“It’s going to be difficult to get a bill through this year,” Leahy said.

But “painful cuts” had already hit the department, according to Clinton, including an 18 percent decrease in funding for Eurasian programs.

The US presence in Iraq was a target for critics, with Leahy singling out a $4.8 billion request for the US Embassy in Baghdad. Such an expenditure, he said, was a “symbol of grandiose and unrealistic ambitions in that country.”

Clinton told the panel the embassy was still in the process of “right-sizing” its resources. Earlier this month it was announced State had would cut 10 percent of funding from the program.

The State Department budget includes a new $770 million fund that Clinton says would be used exclusively for unexpected issues to arise in the Middle East and North Africa. According to the secretary, during the early days of the Arab Spring the State Department had to “carve out” $360 million from existing programs to support U.S. efforts, a tactic that proved logistically “awkward.” The new fund would be a savings bank specifically for unanticipated regional issues.

Secretary Clinton says it was inspired by a similar program used during the fall of the Soviet Union to counter hunger in Poland and Hungary.

Clinton faced panels from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Relations, and Related Projects.

Russian opposition figure may be assassinated, Putin warns ahead of election

Russian opposition figure may be assassinated, Putin warns ahead of election

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Russians that his enemies may kill a prominent opposition figure in order to fuel public outrage against the government.Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Russians that his enemies may kill a prominent opposition figure in order to fuel public outrage against the government.

REUTERS NEWS AGENCY

Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press

MOSCOW—Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly warned his opponents against unsanctioned protests after Sunday’s presidential election, in which he is all but certain to regain the presidency.

In a statement reflecting heightening tensions four days before the vote, he also alleged Wednesday that his foes may kill a prominent opposition figure in order to fuel public outrage against the government.

“They are looking among well-known people for a sacrificial victim,” he said, according to Russian news reports. “They could, I’m sorry, knock someone off and then blame the authorities for that.”

Putin criticized the opposition plans for rallies over what it fears will be a fraudulent election, saying Wednesday it is “unacceptable” to prejudge the vote.

“We will respect any viewpoint but are calling on everyone to act within the framework of law and use only legitimate means,” he said at a meeting with his campaign activists.

Evidence of widespread vote-rigging in favour of Putin’s party in December’s parliamentary election fueled a series of massive protests in Moscow demanding an end to Putin’s 12-year rule. Their organizers had received the authorities’ clearance in advance to avoid any violence.

Civil society and opposition activists have turned out en masse to act as observers at the polls to prevent violations. They are also bracing up for demonstrations after the vote.

The opposition is now pushing authorities to allow a postelection protest at a venue even closer to the Kremlin. The Moscow city government has refused the demand, offering other more distant locations instead. The organizers have rejected that offer, raising the threat of violence.

Putin claimed Wednesday that unidentified forces abroad are plotting provocations against authorities after the vote. He has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. is stoking up protests in order to weaken Russia.

Putin, who was Russia’s president from 2000 to 2008 and has been prime minister since then, is running for a third, now six-year presidential term. Polls have showed he is likely to easily defeat four Kremlin-approved challengers, but his statements Wednesday reflected strong concern about the opposition protests.

Previous rallies in Moscow that drew tens of thousands in the largest show of discontent since the Soviet times were sanctioned by authorities and went on peacefully.

Putin seems to command the strong loyalty of police and other law enforcement agencies, which have seen significant wage increases recently. But a violent confrontation after Sunday’s vote could fuel public anger against Putin and destabilize the situation.

Russian Leaders May Be Pissed-Off Enough To Close the Afghan Trap

[If Obama keeps refusing to meet Russian demands to attack the opium problem inside Afghanistan, head-on, the decision may be taken to keep American "trainers" from abandoning the Afghans to the mess that we have created.]

Russia may close the northern route for NATO

Khairullo Mirsaidov

As soon as the situation in Afghanistan can change dramatically, exposing as a fundamental transformation of the entire system of regional security.

According to “AP”, a renowned expert, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Alexander Knyazev, citing sources in circles close to the governing bodies of the SCO, in fact, the Russian leadership decided to close in the near future, the so-called NDN, transit route for supplying the troops U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“The motives of the Russian leadership caused by the lack of U.S. coherent, adequate response to the position of the Russian Federation on the situation in Syria, the situation around Iran, the U.S. reluctance to listen to Russia’s proposals on European missile defense,” – said Knyazev. He also did not rule out the connection of this solution with the pre-election situation in Russia. “As I said, an important factor in making this decision is the irritation of the Russian leadership’s blatant U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Russia, Russia’s open support of” off-system “of the opposition and undisguised attempts to prevent the election victory of Vladimir Putin,” – said the prince.

According to his assumptions, “the allies of Russia in the SCO and the CSTO are not unique to take this decision as Uzbekistan, to a lesser extent – Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to make a considerable rate on dividends received from the North network. Russia’s decision will mean that for these countries, NDN will cease to function. “

It is not clear yet, the expert adds, is whether to go as the provision of air corridors.In this case, the question will be the fate of an American military base at the airport “Manas” in Kyrgyzstan and the French Air Force bases and the German Bundeswehr in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan respectively.

Given that this path is now up to 90% of all deliveries, and outstanding opportunities through Pakistan is very limited and uncertain, it would actually mean the isolation of the US-NATO coalition, and with and without the complicated military situation in Afghanistan could turn it into a new Vietnam to the United States.

Meanwhile, another 9 February, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia and NATO are in talks on expanding supply routes of cargo to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
“Recently, we discussed additional routes, which will include a multimodal transport Rail and air transport “, – said Lavrov.
“Not in anyone’s interests to leave Afghanistan in a situation where Afghan forces themselves, and law enforcement agencies can not provide security in the country – said the foreign minister. – In the interests of all of us to the International Security Assistance Force fully completed the task set before them that the UN Security Council – the eradication of terrorism and drug threats emanating from Afghanistan. “