Archive for ‘Political/Comentary’

March 5, 2015

Clinton private email violated ‘clear-cut’ State Dept. rules


Clinton private email violated ‘clear-cut’ State Dept. rules

The policy warns against routine use of personal e-mail accounts.

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Hillary Clinton is shown. | Getty

The State Department has had a policy in place since 2005 to warn officials against routine use of personal e-mail accounts for government work, a regulation in force during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state that appears to be at odds with her reliance on a private email for agency business, POLITICO has learned.

The policy, detailed in a manual for agency employees, adds clarity to an issue at the center of a growing controversy over Clinton’s reliance on a private email account. Aides to Clinton, as well as State Department officials, have suggested that she did nothing inappropriate because of fuzzy guidelines and lack of specific rules on when and how official documents had to be preserved during her years as secretary.

But the 2005 policy was described as one of several “clear cut” directives the agency’s own inspector general relied on to criticize the conduct of a U.S. ambassador who in 2012 was faulted for using email outside of the department’s official system.

“It is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized [Automated Information System], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information,” the Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual states.

Spokespeople for the State Department and Clinton stressed earlier this week that the agency had “no prohibition” on the use of private e-mail for work purposes.

Clinton said in a tweet Wednesday night that she wants the public to be able to see the emails she has turned over to the State Department in December. But the agency said that a review process that includes seeing if the documents contain personal or classified information could take some time to complete.

The 2005 policy says approved “telework solutions” satisfy the rule, which appears in a section of State Department regulations discussing “sensitive but unclassified” information — an extremely broad category of data. Former officials said a large volume of State Department paperwork and e-mail falls into the category known internally as “SBU.”

The email policy gained some attention when the inspector general issued a scathing report on the tenure of retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration as U.S. ambassador to Kenya. The review, which led to his resignation three years ago, faulted him on a variety of grounds: one was having “a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system.”

Another complaint the report leveled against Gration: “He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business.”

A State official who asked not to be named noted that the email issue was just one of a series of serious management shortcomings described in the 2012 inspector general report about U.S. Embassy operations in Kenya.

State Department officials and Clinton aides have offered no response to questions in recent days about how her private e-mail system was set up, what security measures it used, and whether anyone at the agency approved the arrangement. It’s unclear how such a system, run off an internet domain apparently purchased by the Clinton family, could have won approval if the department’s policies were as the inspector general’s report describes them.

Clinton sent 55,000 pages of e-mails from her private account to the State Department in December, after State officials asked Clinton and other former secretaries to provide copies of any work-related e-mail messages so they could be incorporated into the agency’s official record systems.

The former secretary said on Twitter Wednesday, “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible,” Clinton tweeted.


Chelsea Clinton also had an account on the homemade website domain that Hillary Clinton used exclusively for emails during her time as secretary of state, The New York Times reports. The domain name had a server linked to the family’s Chappaqua, New York, residence. But her real name is absent from the email address.

She used her account under the pseudonym “Diane Reynolds,” which the Times reports she often used when checking into hotels.

Longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin also had a account, according to the report, an apparent prized symbol of status within Clinton’s vast network of advisers, well-wishers, and hangers-on.

According to Philippe Reines, another close Clinton aide and former State Department official, Abedin was the only department official other than the secretary to use a account.

Clinton tweeted late Wednesday that she wants the public to see emails from the 55,000 pages she handed over to the State Department.

April 8, 2014

“ຄຳວ່າຮັກຊາດ” ຟັງແລ້ວມ່ວນຫູ

Thanks to Samanxon Laoislao and Khounta KeudKèo:



ຄຳວ່າຮັກຊາດ ຟັງແລ້ວມ່ວນຫູ ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າພູມໃຈ ແລະດີໃຈທີ່ທຸກຄົນມີຄວາມຮູ້ສຶກໃນຄວາມເປັນຄົນ ທີ່ມີສະຕິຊາດອັນເລິກເຊິ່ງ ແລະໜັກແໜ້ນ.

“ຮັກຊາດ”ບໍ່ແມ່ນພຽງແຕ່ການປົກປ້ອງເຂດນໍ້າແດນດິນເທົ່ານັ້ນ ມັນໄດ້ກວມເອົາທຸກສິ່ງທຸກຢ່າງຊຶ່ງເປັນຊັບສິນ, ເປັນຊັບສົມບັດຂອງປະເທດຊາດ ພວກເຮົາທຸກຄົນຄືເຈົ້າຂອງແຜ່ນດິນຕ້ອງມີພັນທະໃນການປົກປັກຮັກສາໄວ້ໃຫ້ດີ ຕາບຊົ່ວຊີວິດ ພ້ອມນັ້ນກໍຍັງຕ້ອງໄດ້ປູກຝັງຈິດສຳນຶກນີ້ໃຫ້ລູກຫຼານລຸ້ນຕໍ່ໆໄປ ອັນທີ່ສຳຄັນຄືການຢູ່ຮ່ວມກັນຢ່າງມີຄວາມສຸກຄວາມສົມດຸນໃນສັງຄົມ ນັ້ນຈະກາຍເປັນຄວາມໝັ້ນຄົງຂອງຊາດ ຊາດຈະໝັ້ນຄົງ ແລະຈະເລີນເຕີບໂຕໄດ້ ພວກເຮົາຕ້ອງມີຄວາມສາມັກຄີຮັກແພງ ຊ່ວຍເຫຼືອຊຶ່ງກັນແລະກັນ ມີຄວາມກະຕັນຍູ ຮູ້ບຸນຄຸນ ຮັກເຊື້ອແພງຊາດ ຮ່ວມມືກັນເພື່ອປົກປ້ອງເຂດນໍ້າ ແດນດິນ ປົກປັກຮັກສາຊັບໃນດິນ ສີນໃນນໍ້າບໍ່ໃຫ້ສູນເສຍ ບໍ່ໃຫ້ຖືກທຳລາຍ ຮູ້ຮັກບ້ານເກີດເມືອງນອນ ອັນເປັນທີ່ຫວງແຫນຂອງຕົນ.
ແຕ່ເມື່ອສັງຄົມມັນປ່ຽນໄປໃຈຄົນກໍປ່ຽນແປງ ສະຕິຊາດຄ່ອຍໆຫາຍໄປ ຍ້ອນປວງຊົນຊາວລາວທົ່ວທັງປະເທດ ພາກັນນິ້ງເສີຍ ປ່ອຍປະລະເລີຍບໍ່ສົນໃຈ ການບ້ານການເມືອງ, ການພັດທະນາປະເທດຈຶ່ງເປັນໄປຕາມມີຕາມເກີດ ຕາມຍະຖາກຳ, ຜູ້ມີອໍານາດຕັດສີນອານາຄົດຂອງປະເທດພຽງຜູ້ດຽວ ຢາກເຮັດຫຍັງກໍເຮັດໄປໂດຍພາລະການ ປະຊາຊົນຄືເຈົ້າຂອງແຜ່ນດິນບໍ່ມີປາກ ບໍ່ມີສຽງ ບໍ່ມີສ່ວນຮ່ວມ ຫຍັງທັງໝົດ ເພາະສະນັ້ນເລີຍກາຍເປັນສ່ອງຫ່ວາງທີ່ດີໃຫ້ຜູ້ມີອຳນາດຊອກ ສະແຫວງຫາຜົນປະໂຫຍດມາໃສ່ຕົນເອງໄດ້ສະບາຍໆ ໂດຍຂຽນໂຄງການພັດທະນາຕ່າງໆ ເພື່ອລວງຕາປະຊາຊົນ.
ປະເທດຊາດຖືກພັດທະນາມາ39ປີແລ້ວກໍດີ ນັ້ນກໍເຫັນວ່າມີອັນປ່ຽນແປງ ເປັນຕົ້ນການກໍ່ສ້າງພື້ນຖານໂຄງລ່າງ ໃນຂອບເຂດເມືອງໃຫຍ່ໆ ເຫັນວ່າແປກຕາຂຶ້ນແດ່ເລັກນ້ອຍ ສ່ວນເມືອງນ້ອຍກໍບໍ່ມີຫຍັງແປກ ນັ້ນມັນບໍ່ຄຸ້ມຄ່າກັບເວລາທີ່ເສຍໄປ ບໍ່ດຸນດຽງກັບຊັບພະຍາກອນ ທຳມະຊາດຂອງປະເທດທີ່ສູນຫາຍໄປ ຍົກຕົວຢ່າງນຶ່ງ ທີ່ເປັນພະຍາດຊໍາຮື້ອແລະອັນຕະລາຍທີ່ສຸດຄື: ການຂາຍໄມ້ ຊຶ່ງເຄີຍພົບເຫັນມາແຕ່່ ປີ1976 ເປັນຕົ້ນມາຈົນເຖິງປະຈຸບັນ ແລະດຽວນີ້ກໍຍັງແກ່ໄປຂາຍຢູ່ ແຕ່ບໍ່ຮູ້ວ່າເງິນ ຈຳນວນນັ້ນຢູ່ໃສ? ເອົາໄປເຮັດຫຍັງ? ເຮັດຢູ່ໃສ? ປະຊາຊົນບໍ່ມີໃຜຮູ້ເລີຍ, ເວົ້າແລ້ວຂາຍໄມ້ມາເກືອບ39ປີ ຖ້າເອົາເງິນຈຳນວນດັ່ງກ່າວ ມາເຮັດທາງປູຄອນກຣີດແຕ່ຫົວຂອງຮອດຫຼີ່ຜີກໍໄດ້ແລ້ວ ຫຼືບໍ່ກໍຊອຍເປັນໄມ້ແປ້ນ ປູເຮັດທາງຈາກຫົວຂອງຮອດຫຼີ່ຜີກໍໄດ້ເໝືອນກັນ, ມາເບິ່ງແລ້ວມັນຄຸ້ມບໍ? ກັບຄວາມຈະເລີນຂອງຊາດ.


ການສ້າງສາພັດທະນາປະເທດຊາດຕ້ອງໄດ້ຄໍານຶຶງເຖິງປະຊາຊົນໃຫ້ໄດ້ປະໂຫຍດສູງສຸດ ລັດຖະບານຕ້ອງຮັບຟັງ ບັນຫາແລະເຫດຜົນຈາກປະຊາຊົນ,ໃຫ້ພວກເຂົາໄດ້ໃຊ້ສິດເຕັມ100ໃນການມີສ່ວນຮ່ວມ ໃນການອອກຄໍາຄິດຄໍາເຫັນສະທ້ອນຕໍ່ບັນຫາຜົນກະທົບທີ່ຈະຕາມມາ ສິ່ງສໍາຄັນລັດຖະບານ ເຮັດຫຍັງກໍຕ້ອງໃຫ້ຢູ່ພາຍໄຕ້ຄວາມໂປ່ງໃສ, ກວດສອບໄດ້ ໃຫ້ມີຄວາມສັດຊື່ແລະຈິງໃຈ ຜ່ານມາການປົກຄອງຂອງລັດຖະບານແມ່ນຫຼົ້ມເຫຼວຢາງມະຫັນຕະລາຍທີ່ສຸດ ບໍ່ວ່າທາງດ້ານການເມືອງ ເສດຖະກິດ ສັງຄົມ ວັດທະນະທໍາ ແລະອື່ນໆ ຂາດຫຼັກທີ່ຖືກຕ້ອງໃນການປົກຄອງປະເທດ ເອົາປະເທດເປັນເປັນໜູລອງຢາໄປເລື້ອຍໆ ໜ້າສົງສານອະນາຄົດຂອງປະເທດຊາດ ທີ່ປາສະຈາກຫຼັກໄຊ.
ຍ້ອນມີຫຼາຍຄົນທີ່ຍັງໄຮ້ດຽງສາ ຊຶ່ງພວກນີ້ຈະມົວແຕ່ປະໂຫຍດສ່ວນຕົວເປັນໃຫຍ່ ພວກເຂົາຮູ້ດີຮູ້ຊົ່ວທຸກຢ່າງ ແຕ່ແກ້ງເຮັດ ໜູໜວກກິນຟານ ເພາະເມົາມົວຍົດຖາບັນດາສັກ ເມົາມົວອຳນາດ ຍາດແຍ່ງຜົນປະໂຫຍດເພື່ອ ພວກສະໝູນບໍລິວານທັງຫຼາຍທີ່ພອຍເພິ່ງປາລະມີ ແລະທີ່ສໍາຄັນແມ່ນຜູ້ທີ່ມີຄວາມສາມາດພິເສດຄືລູບແຂ່ງ ເລຍຂາຫົວໜ້າໄດ້ດີ ກໍອອກມາປົກປ້ອງກັນໃນFBທຸກຮູບແບບ ພວກນີ້ເປັນຕົວແປທີ່ສຳຄັນ ທີ່ຈະນໍາຄວາມຈິບຫາຍມາ ສູ່ບ້ານສູ່ເມືອງ, ເຖິງບ້ານເມືອງຊິຫຼົ້ມຊິຈົມລົງພຽງໃດມັນບໍ່ໄດ້ສົນໃຈ.
ທຸກສິ່ງທຸກຢ່າງທີ່ເກີດຂຶ້ນຜ່ານມາຈົນເຖິງປະຈຸບັນ, ກ່ອນທີ່ທ່ານຈະຮູ້ສຶກຕົວ ຊັບສິນດິນດອນຕອນຫຍ້າ,ຊັບໃນດິນສີນໃນນ້ຳມັນຫາຍໄປໝົດ ແລ້ວພີ່ນ້ອງເອີຍ! ປະໂຫຍດຂອງປະຊາຊົນມີຫຍັງແດ່? ປະໂຫຍດຂອງບຸກຄົນທີ່ມີອໍານາດມີຫຍັງແດ່? ປະໂຫຍດຂອງຊາດມີຫຍັງແດ່?
ມັນຄຸ້ມຄ່າຫຼືບໍ? ຄວາມຮັກຊາດມັນຢູ່ໃສ? ໃຜຮັກຊາດກັນແທ້? !!!

ທຸກຄົນມີຄວາມຮັກຊາດ! ແຕ່ຖ້າຂາດສະຕິຊາດ ຜູ້ນໍາທຸກຄົນຫວັງປະໂຫຍດສ່ວນຕົວ ກອບໂກຍເອົາຜົນປະໂຫຍດ ຂອງຊາດໄປໃສ່ກະເປົ໊າ ແລະຄອບຄົວ ພ້ອມວົງສາຄະນາຍາດ ຊາດຫຼົ້ມຈົມ ແນ່ນອນ.

ບໍ່ເປັນຫຍັງ? ຍັງບໍ່ສວຍເກີນໄປ! ພີ່ນ້ອງຮ່ວມສາຍເລືອດລາວທຸກຄົນທັງພາຍໃນ ແລະທົ່ວທຸກມູມໂລກ ທີ່ຍັງຮັກແລະຫວງແຫນຜືນແຜ່ນດິນລາວ ຈົ່ງມາຮ່ວມໃຈຈັບມືແລະເຂົ້າໃຈກັນເປັນພະລັງອັນນຶ່ງອັນດຽວລຸກຂຶ້ນສະສາງ ລະບອບການປົກຄອງທີ່ຊົ່ວຮ້າຍນີ້ ໃຫ້ມັນຫາຍສາບສູນ ກ່ອນຊາດລາວຈະພົບກັບຄວາມຫາຍະນະຈະພິນາດ ປະເທດຊາດບໍ່ແມ່ນຂອງຜູ້ໃດຜູ້ນຶ່ງ ພີ່ນ້ອງຈົ່ງໃຫ້ຄວາມສໍາຄັນຕໍ່ຊາດຖ້າພວກເຮົາມີຄວາມຮັກຊາດທີ່ແທ້ຈິງ.

ຂ້ອຍມີອໍານາດ! ຂ້ອຍມີອິດທິພົນ! ຂ້ອຍໄດ້ຜົນປະໂຫຍດ! ຊາດ-ປະຊາຊົນບໍ່ກ່ຽວ.

March 22, 2014

Religious Freedom: Christian Converts in Laos Told to Leave Faith or Face Expulsion

Christian Converts in Laos Told to Leave Faith or Face Expulsion; Eight Families Under Threat of Being Expelled from Village

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By Jeremy Reynalds/Assist News

March 21, 2014

Lao village. (News4Christians)

More than two dozen Christian converts in a village in southern Laos could be expelled for their faith if government officials fail to keep local authorities from violating their constitutional rights, according to an advocacy group.

A story by Morning Star News reported that the Christians from eight families in Natahall village, in Savannakhet Province’s Phin District, were told to renounce their faith three months ago, according to a representative with Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).
“The threats are very real … Officials are still intending to carry out the threats. The deadline for expulsion has passed,” said the HRWLRF source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source added, “Christian residents of Natahall village are fighting hard to keep their homes as well as their constitutionally guaranteed right to believe in the Christian faith.”

Religious affairs officials from Phin District are holding discussions with the Natahall village chief, identified only as Amka, leaders of the local chapter of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and district police. The threat of expulsion, however, has not been withdrawn, the source said.

Local officials on Dec. 2 sent an eviction order to five Christian families, according to HRWLRF.

On Dec. 8 2013, the village chief publicly declared that the Christian families who had converted to Christianity would be held responsible for any deaths villagers might suffer as a result of spirits angered by violation of traditional beliefs and customs. Animism and ancestor worship are prevalent across Laos.

Morning Star News said the village chief offered to relocate the Christian families to another village in the same province. Not only did the Christians refuse to renounce their faith, but three more families in the village put their trust in Christ, the source said.

On March 11, the village chief and local police summoned the eight Christian families for a four-hour meeting and once again ordered them to abandon their faith.

“We fought to get rid of the Americans, and now you are bringing their religion into our homes,” an official told the Christians, according to the HRWLRF source.

Sections of the Hmong tribe in Laos and Vietnam, some of whom were Christians, sided with the United States in the fight against communism in Southeast Asia.

HRWLRF has urged the communist government of Laos to allow the Christian families to exercise their religious freedom as guaranteed in the country’s constitution.

Article 30 of the 1991 constitution recognizes religious freedom, saying, “Lao citizens have the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religions.”

However, to restrict religious freedom, the government often cites Article 9, which reads, “All acts of creating division of religions and classes of people are prohibited.”
In 2004, then-U.S. President George W. Bush extended normal trade relations to Laos, overlooking calls from human rights groups for the continuation of the boycott of the communist regime.

The legislation Bush signed into law to normalize relations with Laos argued that “expanding bilateral trade relations that include a commercial agreement may promote further progress by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on human rights, religious tolerance, democratic rule, and transparency, and assist that country in adopting regional and world trading rules and principles.”

However, Morning Star News reported, critics claim that the U.S. decision has not reduced persecution of Christians and other minorities, which involves expulsion from villages, forced relocation, pressure to recant faith, arrest, destruction of livestock and crops and closure of churches.

Laos has been a single-party state since the end of the Laotian civil war in 1975. The government also keeps the majority Buddhist population somewhat under its control. It severely restricts freedom of assembly and association as well, apparently out of fear that any unrestrained grouping in the country might one day become a threat to communist rule.

Morning Star News said the HRWLRF notes that the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009, upholds the right to adopt a religion/belief of choice as well as the right to manifest that religion/belief in a corporate worship (Article 18).

Any form of coercion impairing the freedom to have and manifest one’s religion/belief of choice is condemned in the Covenant.

©2014Assist News

February 25, 2014

Ukraine revolution: live

Ukraine revolution: live

Ukraine’s interim president Oleksander Turchinov has delayed plans to form a new government by Tuesday evening, saying that the deadline has been extended to Thursday to allow for further consultations. All the day’s developments as they happen

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2:04PM GMT 25 Feb 2014


14.04 It’s certainly been a busy 48 hours for Russian diplomats, too (see 11.20).

Now Grigory Karasin, a deputy foreign minister, has met in Moscow with Ukraine’s Ambassador to Russia, Volodymyr Yelchenko.

The meeting was called to raise concerns over the safety of Russians in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“From the Russian side questions were raised about … the safety for Russian citizens and diplomatic representatives on the territory of Ukraine,” the ministry statement said.

13.36 Former Georgian president claims that Yanukovych openly boasted of corruption in Ukraine

13.18 With the hunt for Yanukovych in full cry, the Paddy Power publicity machine senses the biggest flood of bets since Col Muammar Gaddafi went missing in Libya. Here are the odds for those inclined to indulge in a wager:

Where is Yanukovych?

Ukraine 5/4

Russia 6/4

UAE 3/1

Georgia 6/1

Turkey 8/1

13.10 Additional information has come in about the alleged shooting of the former head of the presidential bureaucracy:

Andriy Klyuev, a former presidential aide who is said by the new Ukrainian authorities to be on the run with ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich, has been shot in the leg, his spokesman said.

Spokesman Artem Petrenko said a “trusted source” had told him that Klyuev, the head of the presidential administration until Yanukovich was toppled on Saturday, had come under fire twice and was wounded, but his life was not in danger.

Petrenko said by telephone that he had not spoken to Klyuev himself and he did not know where Klyuev was. He also said he did not know whether Klyuev was with Yanukovich, who fled Kiev on Friday and is wanted by the Ukrainian authorities to face accusations of murder.

12.55 More details emerging of Vitali Klitschko’s decision to run for the presidency.

Mr Klitschko, 42, a former WBC heavyweight champion, has been one of the main opposition leaders championing the cause of thousands of protesters who took to the streets last November.

“I will run for the post of president of Ukraine because I firmly believe that the rules of the game have to be changed in Ukraine,” he was quoted as telling journalists.

12.40 Speaking of sidekicks, one has been shot according to this newsflash:


12.35 A reminder of times past emerges from pictures from the house of a presidential sidekick:

12.30 For a background read on the alleged role of two oligarchs in Viktor Yanukovych’s downfall, see Der Spiegel’s english language version of events in Kiev here

It claims that Rinat Akhmetov (see below) and Dmitry Firtash pulled the rug from under the now missing president.

12.20 Another oligarch – this time Victor Pinchuk – has his say in the FT(£)

12.15 The baroness meets the gas baron – a picture of two of the women who play a big role in determining Ukraine’s fate in the months to come. Lady Ashton, the EUs foreign affairs supremo meets newly-freed Yulia Tymoshenko.

12.10 A lot of people are coming out of the woodwork after the horse has bolted, including Ukraine’s richest men who are lining up to say what should happen

12.00 Vitali Klitschko has confirmed that he will be a candidate for the presidency. News that was expected but it demonstrates there is no appetite for a cosy deal between the opposition candidates.

11.50 National Geographic has a slideshow depicting the faces of the Ukrainian revolution here:

11.46 Ukraine raises prospect of an international criminal court trial of Viktor Yanukovych:

Ukraine’s parliament has voted to send fugitive President Viktor Yanukovich to be tried for ‘serious crimes’ by the International Criminal Court once he has been captured.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Yanukovich, who was ousted on Saturday and is now on the run, to police violence against protesters which it said had led to the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states.

The resolution said former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka, who are also being sought by the authorities, should also be sent for trial at the ICC, which is based in The Hague.

11.33 Ukraine’s parliament has just passed a resolution saying that ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych and others caused the deaths of more than 1000 citizens. Here is another picture from the top of the building.

11.20 And in Moscow, the diplomacy continues.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has spoken to Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron about the crisis. Today he summoned his top security officials to discuss the situation – but no details of their meeting were released.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said earlier today that Ukraine must not be forced to choose between East and West.

And yesterday Dmitri Medvedev, the prime minister, strongly condemned the new authorities, saying Monday they came to power as a result of an “armed mutiny” and their legitimacy is causing “big doubts.”

“If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government,” he said.

11.00 Meanwhile, back in Ukraine, campaigning has officially begun for the presidential election – due to be held on May 25.

Mr Yanukovych’s archrival, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is widely seen as a top contender for the post. She was freed from prison on Saturday after spending two-and-a-half years there. Her lawyer said, however, that she hasn’t yet declared whether to run.

10.50 But a Conservative MP respectfully disagrees with the diversion of taxpayers money to the tussle for Ukraine.

10.45 Behind the scenes efforts to ensure a new government enjoys Western financial support are breaking into view.

10.36 More from Baroness Ashton, the first senior foreign official to visit Kiev since the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych as president.

Voicing “strong support” for Ukraine’s new leaders at a news conference, Baroness Ashton urged them to form an “inclusive” government and focus on getting the country through short-term problems.

She spelled out no details of any foreign financial assistance, saying the EU would work with the International Monetary Fund but the IMF would make its own assessment of the situation.

10.15 Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, is in Kiev today, and is speaking now.

Key points from her speech so far:

– Russia, as a neighbouring country, should help Ukraine move forward.
– The focus should be on getting Ukraine through short-term problems
– Then Ukraine needs to look at reforms to agriculture and energy

10.08 Protesters in Kiev are still hard at work – here cutting the Soviet pentagram symbol out of the parliamentary building.

“The star on top of the Verkhovna Rada is no longer there,” said Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the nationalist Svoboda party, which has been a strong force in the protest movement.

09.50 Meanwhile, the hunt for Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president, continues.

Our correspondent Roland Oliphant has sent this dispatch from the Crimea – one of the regions where Mr Yanukovych could be hiding. An arrest warrant has been issued for him.

09.45 Oleksander Turchinov, the interim president, has put off plans to vote on the formation of a national unity government until Thursday to allow consultations to continue. We were expecting the announcement of a new prime minister and cabinet today.

“The vote on the national unity government should be on Thursday,” said Mr Turchinov, the speaker of the assembly and the acting president. The vote had been expected to take place during Tuesday’s session.

Later on Tuesday he will meet law enforcement agencies to discuss “dangerous signs of separatism” in some areas.

09.30 Welcome again to our continuing coverage of the extraordinary events in Ukraine.

February 25, 2014

Obamacare to Raise Premiums for 65 Percent of Small Businesses


Obamacare to Raise Premiums for 65 Percent of Small Businesses

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The government says that roughly two-thirds of small businesses in America — and their employees — will see an increase in health-insurance premiums under Obamacare.

A report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services looked at the new rules facing insurers under the Affordable Care Act, namely the inability to charge premiums based on factors like the health of their employees. Small businesses have always seen a high variability in premiums because of worker health. Since they don’t have many employees, just one worker who is ill can raise premiums for the whole organization.

However, most small businesses employ young, healthy workers — people who wouldn’t otherwise be charged high premiums for insurance. Under Obamacare, however, the good health of employees will not be a factor in setting rates, so the majority of small businesses will see premiums go up. The government estimates that 65 percent of small businesses will see rates rise.

Related: Obamacare Mandate for Many Businesses Pushed Back a Year

What’s more, since most small businesses make their workers contribute to their own health coverage in some way, as many as 11 million individuals could see their own premiums rise, too.

It is unclear how much the rates will go up. The report makes no mention of the magnitude of any increases, either for small businesses or for their employees. However, the White House has consistently argued that Obamacare would lower rates for small businesses by 4 percent, not raise it for the vast majority of small companies.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report notes the numbers may not pan out, though — primarily because some companies may decide to drop health insurance altogether. That would force the employees into individual health exchanges. “There is a rather large degree of uncertainty associated with this estimate,” the report notes.

Related: How Both Parties Were Wrong About Obamacare and Jobs

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