Monday, 19 November 2012

Rebels Issue Ultimatum to Congo Forces in Goma

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AppId is over the quota
The rebel March 23 Movement, or M23, which has been fighting the Congolese government since April, reached the outskirts of Goma on Sunday night in some of the heaviest fighting since 2008 and issued an ultimatum to the government to announce direct negotiations with the group within 24 hours.

“To allow a peaceful exit,” a rebel statement on Monday morning said, the rebels also demanded “the complete demilitarization” of Goma and the international airport in eastern Congo, although U.N. peacekeepers would be allowed to stay.

Otherwise, the rebel group said, it reserved the right “to take all necessary measures,” including “following its its resistance against the government of Kinshasa up to its fall.”

On Sunday, a rebel spokesman had said that rebels had no intention of advancing on the city.

Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province, is home to nearly one million people and United Nations peacekeepers who have a mandate to use force to protect civilians.

Goma remained largely quiet on Monday morning. Some shops were open, civilians there said, but Congo’s military spokesman said the army was digging in.

“We are now in a state of reinforcing our positions,” said Col. Olivier Hamuli.

Violence erupted between rebel forces and government troops last week and both sides claimed to have inflicted heavy losses although they provided no numbers. On Saturday, the rebels captured the town of Kibumba and continued to advance on Sunday. Despite ground battles with government troops and aerial strikes by United Nations helicopters on rebel positions, the insurgents pushed to within two miles of central Goma, long an objective in Congo’s 15-year civil war, displacing tens of thousands of people in a humanitarian camp.

“They were able to bypass all of the positions we had,” said the United Nations chief in Goma, Hiroute Guebre Sellasie. “We are not facing a conventional force.”

“The deadlock depends on so many things,” Ms. Guebre Sellasie said. “I cannot project what will happen in the next 24 hours.”

The M23 group is made up of soldiers from a former rebel army that signed a peace deal with the government on March 23, 2009, and was integrated into Congo’s national army. But last spring, hundreds of them mutinied, claiming that the government had failed to meet their demands under the 2009 agreement.

The figurehead of the group is believed to be Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, a former rebel and high-ranking army officer wanted by the International Criminal Court to answer charges that he committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The rebellion broke out as Congo and foreign governments called for the arrest of General Ntaganda. Since then, Rwanda and Uganda have been accused by a United Nations panel of experts of aiding the rebel movement, a charge that both countries deny.

A new wave of fighting erupted last week, with the army claiming to have killed more than 150 rebels and the rebels capturing the town of Kibumba, about 18 miles from Goma.

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The Gaza clash escalates with the deadliest Israeli strike

Bernat Armangue/the Associated Presssmoke rose over Gaza City on Sunday, as Israel extended its range of targets to include buildings used by the news media.

CAIRO — Emboldened by Islamists growing power around the region, the Palestinian militant group Hamas called for new Israeli concessions to its security and independence before it stops its rocket attacks on Israel, even as the conflict took a growing toll on Sunday.

A look at violence in Gaza, a woman and her child took cover in the southern Israeli city of Ashod, which was the target of several rockets on Sunday.

After five days of punishing Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and no letup in rocket fire in return for Israel and Hamas representatives met separately with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Sunday for indirect talks on a cease-fire.

The talks came as an Israeli bomb hit a house in Gaza on Sunday afternoon, killing 11 people in the deadliest single strike since the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated on Wednesday. The strike, along with several others who killed civilians across the Gaza Strip, signaled that Israel extends its range of targets on the fifth day of the campaign.

At the end of the day, Gaza health officials reported that 70 Palestinians had been killed in air strikes since Wednesday, including 20 children, and that 600 had been wounded. Three Israelis have been killed and at least 79 wounded by persistent rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel and as far north as Tel Aviv.

Hamas, poorly armed banditry disguised cruise on the battlefield, seemed to try to take advantage of its increased political clout with its ideological allies in Egypt's new Islamic-led Government. The Group's leaders reject Israel's call for an immediate end to rocket attacks have instead established sweeping requirements, which would put Hamas in a stronger position than when the conflict began: cessation of Israel's five-year-old embargo of the Gaza Strip, a promise that Israel not to attack again and multinational guarantees that Israel would meet its commitments.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel stabbed his demand that all rocket fire ceases before the air campaign leaves, and Israeli tanks and troops remained lined up outside Gaza on Sunday. Tens of thousands of reserve troops had been called. "The Army is prepared to expand the operation considerably," Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

Reda Fahmy, a member of Egypt's House of Lords of Parliament, and of the nation's dominant Islamic party, resulting from the negotiations, said the attitude was equally unequivocal Hamass. "Hamas has a clear and precise requirements: for the siege lifted completely from Gaza," he said. "It is not reasonable that every now and then Israel decides to level the Gaza with the Earth, and so we decide to sit down and talk about it when it is done. On the Israeli side, they want to stop the missiles from one side. How is it? "

He added: "if they stop the aircraft from shooting, Hamas will then stop its missiles. But the violence could not be stopped from one side. "

Hamas aggressive attitude in the negotiations a cease-fire is the first test of the Group's belief that the Arab spring and the increase of Islamic influence around the region has strengthened his political hand, both against Israel and Palestinian rivals, Hamas, which now controls the West Bank, with Western backing.

It also puts intense new pressure on President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was known for his fiery speeches defending Hamas and condemning Israel. Mr. Morsi must now strike a balance between the conflicting demands of an Egyptian public, which is deeply sympathise with Hamas and the Palestinian case against the Western pleadings to help broker a peace and Egypt's need for regional stability to revive its moribund economy.

Actually illustrates the Egyptian-led truce talks the divergent paths of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the original Egyptian Islamist group. Hamas has evolved into a more militant insurgents and called a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, while the Brotherhood has effectively been Egypt's ruling party. Mr. Fahmy said in an interview in March that Brotherhoods new responsibilities required a step back from its ideological cousins in Hamas, and even a new push to convince the group to compromise.

Reporting was contributed by Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner, Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Jerusalem, and Peter Baker from Bangkok.

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Palestinian death toll rises as Israel presses onslaught

The losses — 19 reported killed since midnight local time — included Palestinians killed in attacks by warplanes and a drone attack on two men on a motorcycle. Another drone attack killed the driver of a taxi, hired by journalists and display "Press" sign, although it was not clear what journalists employed it, said Palestinian officials.

Sunday attacks Israeli forces two buildings containing local tv stations and production companies used by foreign outlets. Israeli officials denied targeting journalists, but on Monday blasted the Israeli forces again Al Sharouk block used by many local television stations, as well as Britain's Sky News and Al Arabiya channel.

Attacks, apparently aimed at a computer store on the third floor of the building, triggered a blaze that sent the theme of dark smoke creeping up the sides of the building. Video footage showed clouds of grey smoke billowing from high-rise building as the missiles hit home.

An Israeli bomb pummeled a home deep in the ground here on Sunday, killing 11 people, including nine in three generations of a single family, in the deadliest single strike in six days of cross-border conflicts. Family members were buried Monday in a rite, transformed into a gesture of defiance, and was a rally supporting Gaza militant Hamas rulers.

A militant leader said Tel Aviv in the Israeli heartland, would be hit "again and again" and warned Israelis that their leaders were misleading them and would "take them to hell."

Air strikes indicated further that Israel was striking a variety of targets. Three Israelis have been killed and at least 79 injured by continued rocket fire into southern Israel and as far north as Tel Aviv.

Israel says its onslaught is designed to stop Hamas from launching rockets, but after an apparent lull overnight, hurtled more missiles against targets in Israel, some of them intercepted by Israel's iron Dome defense system. Four were intercepted by five rockets fired at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Monday, but a messed up through concrete roof at the entrance to an empty school. There were no reports of casualties, Other rockets rained on areas along the border with Gaza.

Later defeated another volley Ashkelon. Several missiles were intercepted, but one crashed on a House, causing damage but no casualties, News reports said 75 rockets had been fired by midafternoon.

Sunday totaled a new blitz of the Palestinian rockets nearly 100 by nightfall, including two that had risen against the population center in Tel Aviv, but was knocked out of the sky by Israeli defense forces.

In a statement on Monday said the Israel Defense Forces overnight targets included "underground rocket launchers, terrorist training bases, tunnels, Hamas command posts and arms storage facilities." But news reports said strikes flattened two houses belonging to a single family, killing two children and two adults and injuring 42 people, while a shrapnel burst from a second attack killed a child and wounded others living near the ruins of the former national security compound.

The latest exchanges offered a grim light Egyptian-led truce efforts have so far proved inconclusive. The United Nations Secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, was set to join efforts in Cairo on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, spokesman for Israel Defense Forces, said there had been a reduction of up to 40 percent in the rocket fire from Gaza, while Israeli forces had launched 40 raids on tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, at both entrances and along the road leading to them, causing considerable damage.

He said six rocket launch team and two men on motorcycles were affected, while the Israeli forces continued to intercept Palestinian radio signals in order to urge Gaza residents to steer clear of the activists.

In the Israeli strike Sunday morning it took emergency workers and a Caterpillar digger more than an hour to reveal the extent of the devastation in the two-storey home of Jamal Dalu, a shop owner. Mr. Dalu was a neighbor when the blast wiped out almost his entire family: his sister, wife, two daughters, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren ages 2 to 6 all perished under the rubble, as well as the two neighbours, an 18-year-old and his grandmother.

Ticket prices and Jodi Rudoren Anonymous reported from Gaza City and Alan Cowell from London. Reporting was contributed by Isabel Kershner from Ashkelon, Israel; Ethan Bronner, Myra Noveck and Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Jerusalem; RINA Castelnuovo from Ashdod, Israel; Peter Baker from Bangkok; and David d. Kirkpatrick from Cairo.

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Analysis of news: in the second debate, Obama strikes again

President Obama, who concluded that he was "too polite" in his first debate with Mitt Romney, ensured no say that after their second. He broke off, he scolded, he filibustered, he shook his head.

He tried to talk the right over Mr. Romney, who tried to talk over him back. President, who waited patiently on his trip last time around forced its way into Mr. Romney time this time. At one point he squared Mr. Romney face to face, almost chest to chest, in the middle of the stage, as if they were in a ring of roos.

"The Governor Romney said just not true."

"Not true, Governor Romney, not true."

"What you say is simply not true."

For a President who is a threat on the edge of a single expression, could make a stronger case at Hofstra University on Long Iceland Tuesday night could hardly have been more compelling. Thirteen days after the presidential election, he took decency to a Xanax extreme, he tucked away a dinner of steak and potatoes and then went out on stage with lots of red meat for eager supporters.

If it decisively want to redirect the course of the campaign is still visible, but the President emerged from the encounter have settled nerves within his panicky party and claim a new chance to frame the race with just three weeks left.

Heading into the evening, said the Obama camp that he needed at least a draw to turn turmoil over the first debate and running some of the potential drama from the final meeting on Monday. But the risk was, of course, that a confrontation could turn very happy swing voters he covets.

Strategy on Tuesday evening was clear: undercut Mr. Romney character and credibility by portraying him as lying about his true views on issues like taxes and abortion. Mr. Obama questioned again and again about the man on stage with him was the same "serious conservative" candidate that time right in the Republican primary election.

He painted Mr. Romney as a tool of big oil, which is soft on China, hard on immigrants, political rough on Libya and hypocritical on guns and energy. He inserted many of the attack lines that went unused in Denver, after Mr. Romney business record, his personal income taxes and are considered in the final minutes of debate, his comments about 47 percent of Americans he once too dependent on the Government.

"Governor Romney has a five-point plan," charged Mr. Obama. "He has a one-point plan" which is to help the rich, he said.

He mocked Mr. Romney, noting that he once closed a coal plant as Governor of Massachusetts. "Now suddenly you are a great champion of coal," he said.

As for trade, he said, "Governor, you are the last person who will get tough on China."

And he pressed Mr. Romney for not revealing how he would pay for his tax and deficit reduction targets. "We have not heard from the Governor any specifics beyond big bird and eliminate funding for planned parenthood," he said.

Mr. Romney held its own and gave as good as he got, presenting Mr. Obama as a failed President who has stacked on trillions of dollars of debt, leaving millions of Americans without work, security for American personnel in Libya, done nothing to reform entitlement programs bungled and deserted a middle class "crushed under the policies of a President who does not understand what it takes to get the economy working again."

But it was Mr. Obama who was the central storyline of the night, his performance, comes across as a striking contrast to the, his first face-off with Mr. Romney. In the days leading to Tuesday night encounter, Mr. Obama huddled in a Virginia resort with advisers to practice a more aggressive approach, without which one way or another referenced illegitimate or passage over a line of presidential dignity. It was a line he would stride up to several times during more than 90 minutes, and some would argue that he slipped over it. at times.

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DealBook: Citigroup Investors hope clarity on the Bank's path quickly

Vikram Pandit did not overhaul Citibank fast enough, or aggressively enough, in many investors' eyes.Jemal Countess/Getty Images of Pandit TimeVikram not overhaul Citibank quickly enough or aggressively enough in the eyes of many investors.

As Michael l. Corbat takes up the reins at Citigroup, analysts and investors have a message for him: shrink your bank, and be much more transparent, as you do.

Mr. Corbat will take over from Vikram s. Pandit as Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup four difficult years after the financial crisis. During this period, Mr. Pandit Service Banking behemoth and attempted to focus the Citi of the firms he felt it could do best. But increasingly, many investors felt Citis overhaul was not bold or fast enough.

"Citigroup has acted as if it is too big to care," said Mike Mayo, an analyst at CLSA, a brokerage company. "This means that they are too large to be sensitive to shareholder concerns."

Dissatisfaction with the Citigroups progress motivated shareholders to vote against a $ 15 million salary package for Mr. Pandit in April. The vote came shortly after the Federal Reserve killed Citigroups plans to pay capital to shareholders, a damning evidence that legislators still weren't comfortable with the Bank.

Since these expressions of dissatisfaction is Citigroups shares significantly higher, although they are still down 89 percent, as Mr. Pandit took over in December 2007. Stock building trades on a pitiful valuation reflects two dominant views on the markets: Citigroup's transformation has a long way to go, and its annual accounts can be opaque.

The New York Times

Although relatively unknown to shareholders, Mr. Corbat starts with a reputation as a tenacious Executive with a deep knowledge of Citigroup, where he has worked for nearly 30 years. He even got good reviews from people who have been skeptical about Citigroup and its management. Sheila c. Bair, former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which clashed with Mr. Pandit, knew Mr. Corbat from interactions during the financial crisis.

"He was involved in several meetings with us," Ms. Bair said, adding, "he was prepared, and he knew his stuff."

Some analysts believe now, Mr. Corbat could open the door to more radical move at Citigroup.

"I think that this is a genuine and long-term positive for Citi," said Gerard Cassidy, a banking analyst with RBC capital markets.

Still, Mr. Corbat perhaps impress quickly, given the pent-up frustration among shareholders. His first public conference calls as CEO on Tuesday was not encouraging on that front. He seemed to disappoint analysts who wanted to hear Mr. Corbat express a greater desire to change things. Instead, he said, "today's changes do not change the strategic direction for Citi, which we believe is a good thing."

In a memo to employees on Tuesday sounded Mr. Corbat more urgently. He wrote: "we must deliver sustained profitability, improved operational efficiency and shareholder returns."

Part of Mr. Corbat jobs will get more out of Citigroups best results operations. Many of its international lending organizations consistently do well, and he can look for ways to ensure investors give greater recognition to this force.

An idea may be to sell minority holdings in these operations in foreign exchanges, something that Spanish bank Santander has done recently with its Mexican unit. If these shares perform well, it would highlight the value in these companies and maybe lift the Citigroups stock. Asked about that idea Tuesday, said Mr. Corbat, "I want to look at these things and see what the numbers say."

Burning question, however, is whether he has the will to get out of businesses that the Bank does not excel in, even though the short-term costs are high. Mr. Cassidy, the analyst, said Mr. Corbat should sell any business line could not achieve the kind of returns to shareholders is expected. Citigroups Chairman, Michael e. O'Neill, reduced aggressive size of Bank of Hawaii when he led it.

"He shrunk the Bank with 30 percent; It is what Citi has to do, "Mr. Cassidy said.

In particular, some investors Citigroup be faster on selling assets in Citi Holdings, bad Bank Citigroup set up for its unwanted and loss-making assets. Mr. Corbat ran Citi Holdings until the end of last year. Faster sales can mean Citigroup would not get the best price possible for the $ 171 billion in assets in Citi Holdings. It could lead to higher losses when the sale took place.

But selling assets faster could free up capital the Bank stops there. This could in turn lead to a major improvement of Citigroups regulatory capital ratios, which investors look very closely. Banks can show they have little trouble meeting these ratios often get better valuations on their shares.

Citigroups investment bank are other obvious targets for shrinkage. Right now, it is huge. Department for "securities and banking" in Citigroup has 903 billion dollars of assets. It is only slightly smaller than Goldman Sachss assets. And Citis investment bank revenue has been uneven since the financial crisis.

The unit also is seen as a black box, something Mr. Corbat will have to deal with if he wants to regain investor confidence, said analysts. Citigroups revelations not as detailed as those of some other banks. For example, publishes each quarter, Goldman Sachs a critical number that shows how much profit it makes on the capital.

But Citigroup does not, for its investment bank; It simply tell not outsiders how much capital it has implemented in this device. As a result, it could make unproductive investments in Wall Street operations without shareholders knowing. This could be the case in other business areas as well.

Self created for Mr. Corbat may be that if he increases the publication, can investors shy away at any alarming numbers and dump stocks. He may even so could result.

"They have open up the kimono," Mr. Cassidy said.

Perhaps Mr. Corbat will Citigroup's quiet revolutionary, a leader who is ready to make a bold move to win, and win back shareholders. He offered up a button-down remark on Tuesday that could provide a tidbit hope to shareholders who are counting on him to double Citigroup's remodeling. "I would not minimize the impact you can have on a place," he said.

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Gazans begræde Dalu familie dræbt af israelske bombe

There were few, if any visible tears on the intense, chaotic, lengthy funeral on Monday, Jamal and seven relatives among the 12 people killed the day before in the single deadly attacks since the latest hostilities between Israel and the Gaza Strip began on Wednesday after months of Palestinian militant rocket fire into Israel. Instead, there were fingers jabbing the air to signal "Allah is the only one," defiant chants about resistance and calls for revenge, in the Green Hamas flag and the white paper in its Al-Qassam Brigades signature.

On the destruction of the family home, a man Dalu climbed on top of the pile of rubble where a dozen photographers had positioned himself and hoisted the body in one of the four slain children in the air several times, as if a totem. At the mosque, was interrupted by the launching of a missile eulogy, which is tied to Israel. And at the cemetery, head of a Qassam directed, not even mourning but prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, warning, "we still have so much in our pockets, and we show you where we are."

Much of the militant splendor was probably meant as a message to the news media, and thus the world, given how Dalus immediately had been the face of the Palestinian cause. But the tone, much more fundamentalist than sad, was also a potent sign of martyrdom, as all parts of culture at this location, and the numbness, many here have developed for death and destruction after years of cross-border conflicts.

"This blood, which was delivered by your family will not go in vain," a Hamas minister told grieving in the mosque. "Of these children, these little flowers, rights rights are on our necks.

"We all have to die today or tomorrow," he added. "But the dead are martyrs and none died yesterday."

Avital Leibovich, a spokeswoman Lieutenant for the Israel Defense Forces, said it was "still out" Sunday afternoon strike on Dalu home in Al Nasser neighborhood, which she described as an accident. She said the target had been a man "responsible for rocket launch" from the neighborhood, and that 200 -300-rockets had been fired toward Israel under his command in recent days, but it was unclear whether the man even lived nearby.

The two-story structure had been Obliterated homes for 15 people in three generations. Patriarch, also known as Jamal, ran a shop in Al-Zawya market sells seeds, sugar, tea and other staples, which his grandfather had started and he had worked since childhood. He survived because he had been on the market when the bomb hit. Jamal's son Mohammed worked in the Hamas Government as a police officer; neighbors and relatives insisted that he was not a Qassam fighter or a political leader, although the extent of the militant presence at the funeral raised questions.

In addition to Mohammed, his wife and his four children, was Jamal's sister, wife and two daughters were killed in the attack, after the Hamas Ministry of health, as well as the two neighbours, an 18-year-old and his grandmother. Jamal and his wife, Tahani, had recently returned from their first pilgrimage to Mecca, relatives said, and was filled with joy and optimism from the experience. They have five surviving children, relatives said, including 18-year-old Abdullah, who was practically conducted funeral, his arms around the shoulders of two friends.

"This is occupation is doing injustice to the Palestinians," said the elder Mr. Dalu, in a brief interview in the House as he awaited the bodies will be moved from the morgue. "They have not given us a warning. They hit just the House with the kids in it. My daughters were in their youth. What have you done to them? "

But even if the deaths were condemned as a massacre, mourning was neither overwhelmed by emotions or tired, the current casualty count Paling conditions for 1,400 lost four years ago when the Israelis invaded Gaza.

As devout Muslims, many of them to want what they see as martyrdom in the fight for a Palestinian State. such funerals is a rhythm of life here, punctuating the bodies taken from the morgue to his family home, then to the mosque and the cemetery in which attracts large crowds ordered processions.

"We are accustomed to it, we got used to the killing," said Emad Al-Dalu, 35, an accountant and cousin to death. "Each of us has seen one of his relatives, one of his neighbors has died. We defend our rights. We can take more. "

Three-hour ritual was an almost all-male affair. Several dozen women Show bodies map in a home near pile rubble, one of them collapses in grief. But even close female relatives have followed basic course not service at the mosque, nor the burial.

So it was the men who conducted bodies: grown-ups on stretchers over their shoulders in the stretcher bearer style, and children, to be cradled in their arms as they walked, then ran through the normally traffic-clogged the city's now-empty streets. Some were wrapped in white sheets, others in the Palestinian or Hamas flags. Just head to the rear and would have sent the service at times.

The crowd ran down a long Hill, around several corners, and finally in the Sheikh Radwan cemetery, a messy mosaic of stone on a steep mound of dirt. That split it into several circles around the separate graves.

Jamal and two of his siblings were lowered vertically in a one-square-yard hole, the men are covered with a concrete slab and then dirt. Baby, 1-year-old Ibrahim, was buried along with her mother.

Hala Nasrallah and fares Anonymous contributed reporting.

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Cuba to End Exit Visa Requirement in January

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Now that bureaucratic barrier is on its way out. The Cuban government announced on Tuesday that it would terminate the exit visa requirement by Jan. 14, possibly letting many more Cubans depart for vacations, or forever, with only a passport and a visa from the country where they plan to go.

The new policy — promised by President Raúl Castro last year, and finally announced in the Communist Party newspaper — represents the latest significant step by the Cuban government to answer demands for change from Cubans, without relinquishing control.

Like some recent economic openings in Cuba, it allows the government to carefully calibrate the flow of change.

Even Cubans with passports will need to have them renewed, and the law says that applicants can be prevented from leaving for several reasons, including “national security”; enough, experts say, to keep dissidents from traveling.

Cuba’s doctors, scientists and other professionals, who have long faced tight restrictions on movement, might be held back as well because the new policy includes a caveat allowing the government to limit departures to “preserve the human capital created by the Revolution.”

And yet, the new migration law also gives Cubans latitude to stay abroad longer, letting them remain outside the country for two years, and possibly longer, before losing their rights to property and benefits like health care — an increase from 11 months under the current policy.

Analysts say the government is encouraging a larger class of Cubans to travel, partly so that they can earn money elsewhere and return, injecting capital into the island’s moribund economy. The benefits of such an arrangement are already clear: remittances to the island have grown to an estimated $2.3 billion a year, from $1 billion in 2004.

But whether the new law will create a temporary or permanent mass exodus, Cubans and experts say, will be determined by how many people have the means and passports to leave, and which countries welcome them.

“The decision to lift the exit visa is a significant one for several reasons, although like most of the new reforms, it depends a great deal on how it is implemented,” said Robert Pastor, professor of international relations at American University. “Nonetheless, by removing a state barrier to leave, this reform could lead to a large outflow — many of whom will eventually want to come to the United States — or it could begin to allow a circular flow of people that could enhance the economic opening of the island.”

The Cuban government’s earlier steps toward a market economy have mostly fallen short of expectations. There are now hundreds of thousands of small business owners on the island of 11 million people, but not nearly the numbers the government initially said it needed to cut back on the nation’s bloated public payrolls.

Experts say fears of instability have often hampered the push for a rapid economic opening, leading celebrated new laws — allowing for property sales and entrepreneurship, for example — to be later larded with restrictions and taxes.

Cubans in Havana and Miami say they are convinced the same dynamic will apply to travel. They mostly greeted the end of the exit visa after 51 years with their usual stance of “we’ll see.”

On Tuesday, there were no long lines at the passport office in Havana or at foreign embassies, and many Cubans said they still faced hurdles to a legal departure.

“It’s all very good,” said Laydis, 30, an employee at a bank in Havana who gave only one name to avoid government reprisals. “But which interesting country is going to give me a visa?”

Her colleague Maricel, 44, who is eligible for a Spanish passport because her grandparents were from Spain, identified another problem. “Sure, I can go,” she said, “but where am I going to get the money?”

After all, the new law, despite cutting a bureaucratic hurdle, might not mean lower costs to leaving: Yoani Sánchez, the well-known Cuban blogger whose exit visa requests have been repeatedly denied, said on Twitter that the cost of a Cuban passport will nearly double, to just over $100.

An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Havana, and Jacqui Goddard from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Daily Multivitamin May Reduce Cancer Risk, Clinical Trial Finds

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AppId is over the quota
After a series of conflicting reports about whether vitamin pills can stave off chronic disease, researchers announced on Wednesday that a large clinical trial of nearly 15,000 older male physicians followed for more than a decade found that those taking a daily multivitamin experienced 8 percent fewer cancers than the subjects taking dummy pills.

While many studies have focused on the effects of high doses of particular vitamins or minerals, like calcium and vitamin D, this clinical trial examined whether a common daily multivitamin had an effect on overall cancer risk. A randomized, double-blinded study of the kind considered the gold standard in medicine, the study was one of the largest and longest efforts to address questions about vitamin use.

The findings are to be presented Wednesday at an American Association for Cancer Research conference on cancer prevention in Anaheim, Calif., and the paper was published online in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The reduction in total cancers was small but statistically significant, said the study’s lead author, Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the VA Boston Healthcare System. While the main reason to take a multivitamin is to prevent nutritional deficiencies, Dr. Gaziano said, “it certainly appears there is a modest reduction in the risk of cancer from a typical multivitamin.”

He noted that other measures are likely to protect against cancer more effectively than daily use of multivitamins.

“It would be a big mistake for people to go out and take a multivitamin instead of quitting smoking or doing other things that we have a higher suspicion play a bigger role, like eating a good diet and getting exercise,” Dr. Gaziano said. “You’ve got to keep wearing your sunscreen.”

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and a grant, initiated by the investigators, from the chemical company BASF Corporation. Pfizer provided the multivitamins. The sponsors did not have input into the study design, data analysis or manuscript preparation, the authors said.

About half of all Americans take some form of a vitamin supplement, and at least one-third take a multivitamin. But many recent vitamin studies have been disappointing, finding not only a lack of benefit but even some harm associated with large doses of certain supplements. The 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans state there is no evidence to support taking a multivitamin or mineral supplement to prevent chronic disease.

The American Cancer Society recommends that people eat a balanced diet, but that those who take supplements choose a balanced multivitamin that contains no more than 100 percent of the daily value of most nutrients.

Though several researchers said they were somewhat surprised by the findings, others called the results encouraging.

“It is a small overall effect, but from a public health standpoint it could be of great importance,” said Dr. E. Robert Greenberg, an affiliate at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “Other than quitting smoking, there’s not much else out there that has shown it will reduce your cancer risk by nearly 10 percent.”

Multivitamin use had no effect on the incidence of prostate cancer, which was the most common cancer diagnosed in the study participants. When researchers looked at the effect of vitamin use on all other cancers, they found a 12 percent reduction in occurrence. Overall cancer deaths were reduced among vitamin users, but the difference was not statistically significant.

A major limitation of the study is that it included only male physicians, who were particularly healthy, with extremely low smoking rates, said Marji McCullough, a nutritional epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society. “We still need to find out whether these findings can be applied to others in the population,” she said.

While the research effort may have benefited from the fact that the physicians who participated were very diligent about taking their pills, the researchers also suggested that the effect of multivitamin use may have been muted because the participants were very health-conscious to begin with.

Dr. David Chapin, 73, a gynecologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who participated in the trial, said that although he had “never believed” in vitamins, he might start taking a daily multivitamin now, despite the modest benefit.

“A lot of studies make big news, but when you look at the nitty-gritty, they don’t show all that much,” Dr. Chapin said, adding that he recently discovered he had been taking a placebo pill. “This was a very reliable study, it was very well designed and administered, and it went on and on and on.”

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Thousands Mourn Former King Sihanouk in Cambodian Capital

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AppId is over the quota
The body of King Sihanouk, who died on Monday in China, arrived from Beijing on Wednesday aboard an Air China jumbo jet and was driven through the streets of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, under a scorching tropical sun.

“He was the father, and we are the children,” said Pich Ravy, a vegetable seller who traveled to the Royal Palace, where King Sihanouk’s body will lie in state for the next three months. “He was one of Cambodia’s greatest kings.”

King Sihanouk’s death at 89, after six decades of deep involvement in Cambodia’s often devastating post-independence politics — marked by long years of war and the bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge — signaled the end of an era for Cambodia. But what the new era, and the monarchy, will look like is a subject of heated debate. Amid the official praise and remembrances Wednesday, Cambodians discussed competing visions for the role of future kings.

To some, King Sihanouk’s death underscored the end of an activist monarchy where the lines between king and politician were blurred, and where a monarch could use the prestige of the throne to exert influence and power, as King Sihanouk, who ceded the throne to his son in 2004, often did.

To others, his death highlighted a vacuum of moral authority and the highly concentrated and lopsided power of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has presided over the Cambodian government for the past 33 years, making him one of the longest-serving leaders in the world.

“This is a new era for Hun Sen,” said Lao Moung Hay, a former civil servant and professor of law and economics. “There is no force to restrain him anymore — there are risks for the country.”

Prince Sisowath Thomico, King Sihanouk’s longtime private secretary and nephew, said that some Cambodians were worried and afraid after Mr. Sihanouk’s death.

“He had such charisma,” he said in an interview in the Royal Palace. “And now there will be a kind of hiatus. The people of Cambodia will have to wait for the next person who will have that same moral authority.”

King Sihanouk, who was crowned in 1941, had gradually withdrawn from public life in recent years. In his long, colorful and complex rule as king and politician, he was praised by historians for his role in obtaining independence from France and criticized for providing legitimacy to the Khmer Rouge and assisting their rise to power. Some 1.7 million people are estimated to have died under the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

But among mourners in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, King Sihanouk was remembered mostly as someone concerned with the plight of the poor and powerless.

“The king did everything for the people,” said Som Srey Pao, a 49-year-old mother who traveled to the Royal Palace with her three children on Wednesday. “He sacrificed himself for the people.”

The king’s elaborate coffin, draped in a blue royal flag and festooned with flowers, was placed on a gilded carriage shaped to represent a mythical birdlike creature. Mourners clutched incense sticks and lotus flowers. They remained quiet and reverential, many of them kneeling, as the carriage wheeled past.

Trailing it was the black Mercedes of the current king, Norodom Sihamoni, who reluctantly took the throne when his father abdicated in 2004. King Sihamoni, 59, is a former ballet instructor who remains under the long shadow of his father. He is unmarried and seen as unlikely to produce an heir. Although kings can be chosen from among hundreds of descendants of prior kings, the lack of an obvious successor to King Sihamoni has raised anxiety among some royalists.

Son Soubert, a member of the privy council to the current king, spoke of a “vacuum” following King Sihanouk’s death. He described the current king as much more reserved on many issues than his father.

“Our present king is so neutral that he doesn’t get involved,” Mr. Son Soubert said. “He sticks to his role within the Constitution.”

To allies of Mr. Hun Sen, the prime minister, that is exactly the way it should be.

Phay Siphan, secretary of state in the Council of Ministers, which functions as a cabinet, describes a new era for the monarchy in Cambodia, enshrined in the country’s 1993 Constitution.

“The king should be away from political activity,” Mr. Phay Siphan said in an interview. “The king does not rule the people — the king is respected by the people,” he said.

Mr. Phay Siphan called King Sihanouk a “well-respected politician” and suggested he be described as the “godfather of Cambodia.” But he said the nation had moved on.

“The king played two roles, one as a king and one as a politician,” he said. “This was a mixed message for the nation.”

Critics of Mr. Hun Sen’s government see an effort to monopolize the entire political arena and the monarchy.

Unlike the royals in Thailand or Britain, the Cambodian royal family is not wealthy and does not have vast landholdings. Kings are largely reliant on the state budget for their activities, giving the government potential leverage over the monarchy.

Depending on the timing of succession, Mr. Hun Sen and his allies may also have considerable say about who becomes the next king. The Constitution puts that power in the hands of a nine-member Throne Council that includes the prime minister and top officials from the National Assembly and Senate, both of which are currently controlled by Mr. Hun Sen’s party.

Poypiti Amatatham contributed reporting.

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Venezuela’s Opposition Struggles for Unity

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota
His job is not about to get any easier.

Battered by the re-election of President Hugo Chávez this month, Venezuela’s fractious opposition is struggling to remain united and rally its followers for crucial elections for governors in December.

“There is nothing to suggest we would do better apart than together,” said Mr. Aveledo, the executive secretary of the opposition coalition, known as the Democratic Unity Table, which backed Mr. Chávez’s challenger, Henrique Capriles Radonski.

Mr. Chávez, who has been in office for almost 14 years, was re-elected Oct. 7 with 55 percent of the vote, compared with 44 percent for Mr. Capriles. It was the best showing by the opposition in a presidential election since Mr. Chávez first came to office in 1999.

But a loss is a loss, and now the opposition has the difficult task of rousing its supporters for the elections for governors in the nation’s 23 states on Dec. 16.

Eight governors currently belong to the opposition, but all of them must run for re-election. That includes Mr. Capriles, the governor of Miranda, who said last week that he would run again.

Opposition activists secretly fear a debacle if their disillusioned followers refuse to go out and vote. Mr. Chávez won in 21 states, including Miranda, suggesting that he may be poised to take away some of the governorships currently in the hands of the opposition.

In two states, the opposition even seems to be helping the president’s chances; in those states, Táchira and Monagas, the opposition holds the governorships. Yet a second opposition candidate has filed to compete against the incumbent in each state, meaning they could split opposition votes and clear the way for the pro-Chávez candidates.

“The key to success is to get up quickly and keep going,” Mr. Capriles said at a news conference two days after the election, referring to the blow of losing.

But much will depend on the ability of the opposition to stay unified. The coalition did especially well in legislative elections in 2010, when the opposition won a large number of seats in the National Assembly. But now it must overcome frictions that built up during the presidential campaign.

During the race, Mr. Capriles pushed many opposition politicians and their parties to the sidelines, confiding in a small group of advisers. That was done in part to protect against charges by Mr. Chávez that he represented old parties that had failed to solve the nation’s problems before Mr. Chávez took office.

Some of these strains were visible. Activists from parties in the coalition complained that the Capriles campaign would not let them get involved.

“We were not treated well,” said Henry Ramos, the head of Democratic Action, a social democratic party that, along with the Christian Democrats, dominated Venezuelan politics during the second half of the 20th century.

Mr. Capriles’s attempts to distance himself at times took on comic dimensions. At one Democratic Action event, party officials prominently displayed a life-size cutout of Mr. Capriles, who was not in attendance. Some observers saw a dig at the candidate, though Mr. Ramos said that was not the intention.

Still, Mr. Ramos said he stopped attending campaign meetings a few weeks before the election after a leader close to Mr. Capriles referred to Democratic Action and other groups as “parasite parties.”

Mr. Capriles did nothing to heal potential rifts in comments he made after the election. “I defeated the old politics,” he said.

Mr. Ramos scoffed at his comments. “He didn’t defeat anyone,” Mr. Ramos said. “They defeated him.”

Still, he predicted the Unity Table would stay together, and others agreed.

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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

New reality show will be about Montgomery County animal cruelty

Montgomery County will serve as the setting of a new reality show about fighting animal cruelty that will air on Animal Planet next week.

The show, ?Bully and Sugar: Southern Justice,? will feature Scott ?Sugar Hill? Hill, one of the county?s animal control officers, and Christopher ?Bully the Kid? Bennett, a former animal control investigator for the state of Georgia.

The premise of the show is that Bennett, bringing his city experience from Atlanta, rides around with Hill, a native of Montgomery, to help with animal control and cruelty problems throughout the county.

The show is being produced by 44Blue Productions. If the pilot episode, which was filmed this summer, is successful, the company will film 15 episodes. The pilot will air at 10 p.m. Nov. 10 on Animal Planet Network.

Michael Briddell, the city?s director of public information, said what will really make the show work is the personality contrasts and chemistry between Bennett and Hill.

?I think the show is going to show we do have animal cruelty in Montgomery, but we?re serious about it. We?re going to fight it every day,? Hill said. ?We don?t play around with this stuff here.?

The city worked closely with the 44Blue Productions, the Montgomery Humane Society and its attorneys to make sure they have some control over how the city and county are portrayed in the show.

?All of us had some serious reservations,? Briddell said. ?We don?t want Montgomery, Alabama, to be portrayed in 96 million homes as a place that has a lot of problems.?

After seeing the footage and working with the company, Briddell said he has no doubt that the city and county will be represented accurately.

Steven Tears, executive director of the Montgomery Humane Society, said he hopes the show will educate other cities and counties that don?t take animal cruelty crimes seriously.

He said Bennett?s unique skill set ? and the fact that he won?t be in a uniform ? will help improve the investigations. He said individuals involved in animal cruelty cases who wouldn?t normally talk to the county officers have spoken to Bennett.

?We?re really excited on behalf of the Humane Society and the city and the county that we?re going to be able to showcase the hard work that we do and the successes we have, whether it?s using education to prevent people from having to visit our jails or we actually have to force them to go to jail,? Tears said.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said the show does depict animal cruelty, but it also shows that the city and county are trying to eliminate it with the resources they have.

?We took a leap of faith and we decided to go forward with this,? Strange said.

Bennett, who said he came to Montgomery to make an impact, said the South is often misrepresented as a ?backwoods place? where people don?t care about animals.

?I know this is the new South and the new Montgomery,? Bennett said. ?I thought this show was a way to showcase who we are as people and individuals and as a community.?


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Poarch Creek tribe restarts casino work

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has resumed construction of its $246 million casino expansion in Wetumpka after halting building two weeks ago to try to resolve disagreements with an Oklahoma tribe that believes the construction is further desecrating the land.

Leaders with the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma, which consider the site sacred, met with Poarch Creek Tribal Council members in Oklahoma this week, but Tribal Chairman Buford Rolin said in a statement sent to the Montgomery Advertiser that the two sides are at an impasse.

According to correspondence between tribal leaders released by an attorney for the Muscogee Creeks on Wednesday, the two sides appeared close to an agreement in the fall of 2010, but the two sides could not reach an agreement about where to relocate human remains that had been excavated during the construction of the current casino.

?From the beginning, it has been our stance that the remains should be put back where they were excavated. The ceremonial ground remains sacred, so it is not a proper place for a casino,? Mekko George Thompson, Muscogee chief of 42 years, said in a statement sent to the Advertiser on Wednesday by an attorney for the tribe.

Poarch Creek Tribal Council member Arthur Mothershed, in the statement sent to the Advertiser, said they have been ?extremely careful to plan a development that is culturally sensitive while ensuring the economic well-being of our tribal members, our community, and our state. It is a balanced, reasonable approach for using land that we own, which has been met with increased opposition from some in Oklahoma.

?Now, we are being faced with demands to remove ancestral remains that have already been reinterred,? Mothershed said. ?We can ensure that no more remains will be excavated. It has been almost eight years since any remains have been unearthed. We cannot change the fact that remains were found and removed. Those remains are now reinterred and we cannot support disturbing those remains again.?

Robert McGhee, a Poarch Creek Tribal Council member who heads the tribe?s Governmental Affairs Office, previously told the Advertiser that all of the human remains and burial objects that were previously excavated at the site were reinterred in mid-April after the tribe was unsuccessful in trying for six years to work with the Muscogee Creeks to agree on a location for reinterment.

Poarch Creek leaders have said they started construction of the 20-story hotel and casino in July and expect to complete construction by January 2014.

Leadership of the Muscogee Creeks, whose ancestors lived on the land before being forced west, demanded in August that the Poarch Creeks stop expansion of Creek Casino Wetumpka. They vowed to take legal action if the expansion at the site along the Coosa River did not stop.

In their news release, the Poarch Creeks said that they halted construction in good faith so that leadership from the two tribes could meet again to discuss concerns.

?We are indeed saddened by the outcome of this recent trip to Oklahoma made by representatives of our Tribal Council,? Rolin said.

The Muscogee Creeks believe the land where the casino is located is sacred land they know as Hickory Ground, where their ancestors lived and where there is a ceremonial ground, a tribal burial ground and individual graves.

The Poarch Creeks have argued, despite accusations from the Muscogee Creeks and other tribes, that they are in compliance with applicable federal laws and historic preservation laws.

The Poarch Band, the only federally recognized tribe in Alabama, operates casinos in Montgomery, Atmore and Wetumpka.

The Muscogee Creeks, in their news release announcing the stoppage of construction earlier this month, said the Poarch Creeks agreed to the stoppage after the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes unanimously approved a resolution stating ?the Inter-Tribal Council of Five Civilized Tribes supports the lawful efforts of the lineal descendants of Ocevpofv (Hickory Ground) ceremonial ground/tribal town to halt the desecration and all future desecrations of Ocevpofv ceremonial ground/tribal town located in Wetumpka, Alabama, as should be afforded protection under federal laws.?

Earlier in the resolution, the tribes wrote that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians desecrated the original location of Hickory Ground, are currently in violation of Federal Historic Preservation laws, and are violating Muscogee Creek traditions.


Swearing-in for Prattville officials Monday

PRATTVILLE — New city leaders will take office Monday morning, bringing a different look and experience level to the Prattville City Council.

The swearing-in ceremony for the mayor and seven council members is set for 10 a.m. in council chambers at City Hall. The public is invited to attend.

The mayor will stay the same. Bill Gillespie Jr. was elected to his first full term in office during the August elections with about 70 percent of the vote.

Three of the council members will be new ? Jerry Starnes in District 4, Clyde Chambliss Jr. in District 5 and Lora Lee Boone in District 7.

The three outgoing councilmen ? Tom Miller, Mike Renegar and Nathan Fank ? have a combined 36 years service on the board.

Renegar serves as president and Fank as president pro-tem.

The first order of business once the new council is sworn in is electing a new president and pro-tem, said Cathy Dickerson, city clerk. The organizational meeting will follow as soon as the swearing-in duties are completed.

Dickerson will preside at the organizational meeting until the president is elected.

The new president will preside as the pro-tem until a new pro-tem is elected.

The changeover shouldn?t mean big changes in the way Prattville is governed, Gillespie said.

?I have complete confidence in our current council, and I have complete confidence in the incoming council,? he said. ?I look forward to working with the new council members. We may see things differently from time to time, but that?s okay. I see us as a team working to make things better.

?The new council members are qualified people, and I think there will be an honest desire to continue moving Prattville forward as the new quadrennium begins.?

Volunteers build ball field, add seating at Pike Road park

More than 70 volunteers were in Pike Road on Friday working on upgrades to a 10-acre park owned by the city that will soon be the home of a baseball field and a veterans memorial.

The city received more than $20,000 worth of materials from the Home Depot Foundation to fix up the park, which is currently being called the Old Town Hall resource park, Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone said.

Jason Schoonhoven, manager of the Home Depot on Chantilly Parkway, said he read about the new veterans memorial in the city?s newsletter, and wanted to help. From Sept. 11 until Veterans Day, the Home Depot Foundation offers celebration of service grants to communities.

Schoonhoven applied for the grant and coordinated with city officials to execute the project. About 60 volunteers from Home Depot stores all over the region, along with about 15 resident volunteers, worked on the park.

Projects included landscaping around the pavilion and veterans memorial, installing a field fence, laying sod on the field, building two dugouts, building trash can enclosures and adding seating near the memorial, Stone said.

Schoonhoven said the plan was to finish the projects by the end of Friday.

?It?s going to allow us to continue to have a connection to the center of our original crossroads community,? Stone said. ?People will always be able to go to the heartbeat of Pike Road.?

The park contains a trailhead for the Pike Road Natural Trail, the Pike Road Volunteer Fire Department station, a restroom facility, a picnic pavilion, a community garden, an unfinished softball/baseball field and a place for the memorial once it?s finished.

The city bought the property in 2006, Stone said.

The memorial, which will be unveiled Nov. 11 at the city?s Veterans Day celebration, is being funded by the Pike Road Investment in Community and Education, a community nonprofit established by the city.

Stone said that eventually the Old Town Hall facility across the street will be torn down and replaced with a replica, which will serve as a meeting house for community groups and as a small museum about the history of Pike Road.

Stefanie Duncan, who works at the Home Depot in Pike Road and lives in Montgomery, said she travels all over the region on her days off to volunteer at Home Depot community service projects.

?I like to do these projects because it gives back to the community,? Duncan said. ?It?s a place where they can actually come and have fun.?


Alabama Voices: Amendment 4 doesn't remove racist policies

Have you ever listened to a debate between two friends about a complicated issue? Because you find some truth in both arguments, you change back and forth as each makes his case.

Kalash Pakistan

Kalash Pakistan

Kalash Pakistan

Alabama Voices: Amendments 9 and 10 offer major revisions to state constitution

On Tuesday, the people of Alabama will have the opportunity to completely replace two articles of Alabama's more than 100-year-old constitution.

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Alabama Voices: Keep Alabama 'Forever Wild' with Amendment 1

Over the years, Alabamians have been given the opportunity to vote on monetary issues that significantly affect our state's future.

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Monday, 5 November 2012

Editorial: A review of Advertiser endorsements - Cast an informed vote Tuesday

Registered voters in the River Region have an opportunity Tuesday to do something millions of people around the world can only dream of doing.

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Editorial: Baxley represents balanced leadership for PSC president

The race for president of the Public Service Commission is an internal political battle between the incumbent, Democrat Lucy Baxley, and a PSC member looking to ascend to the top post on the commission, Republican Twinkle Cavanaugh.

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Editorial: Roby, Rogers should follow Sewell's lead

The three members of the U.S. House of Representatives whose districts contain the River Region appear to be cruising comfortably toward another term.

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Guest columnist: US manufacturers need to add 25 million jobs over next 10 years

If the United States economy is to restore itself to earlier levels of full employment, prosperity and financial soundness, the American manufacturing community must engage in a national effort to resurrect its global competitiveness.

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Guest editorial: Teachers deserve raises, but there are questions to answer

Henry Mabry's job is to represent the interests of the public school employees who belong to the Alabama Education Association. Sometimes the best interests of school employees and education coincide, and sometimes they don't.

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