Obama invites congressional leaders to White House to discuss shutdownChris Moody, Yahoo! News 43 minutes agoView galleryU.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside Americans (unseen) the White House says will benefit …Congressional leaders are heading to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to meet with President Barack Obama as the government shutdown heads into its second day. Obama invited House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the White House to discuss a solution. Vice President Joseph Biden will also attend the meeting, a White House official said. The meeting comes after the House and Senate failed to reach an agreement on federal spending levels this week, and House Republican leaders refused to hold a vote on a funding bill that didn’t also delay or defund part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.“The president will urge the House to pass the clean [continuing resolution] to reopen the government, and call on Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling to pay the bills we have already incurred and avoid devastating consequences on our economy,” a White House official said in a statement. The federal government shut down on Tuesday morning for the first time in 17 years. The impasse was reached after several proposals from House Republicans to link government funding to efforts to dismantle or weaken part of Obamacare — all of which Senate Democrats rejected, saying they would accept only a “clean” bill without any added provisions. Wednesday’s White House meeting will be the first negotiations between congressional leaders and the president since the government shut down.The House on Tuesday passed a bill requesting a conference committee to negotiate a deal, but Senate Democrats rejected it outright. In a letter to Boehner Wednesday, Reid reiterated his call for House Republicans to hold a vote on a „clean” bill to fund the government for six weeks, and promised that he would appoint conference conferees if he does. Republican leaders expressed skepticism, however, about the president’s intention for the meeting.“We’re pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible,” said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck in a statement. “It’s unclear why we’d be having this meeting if it’s not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties.” And McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said, „Just yesterday, the president reaffirmed that he would not negotiate with Congress, and Senate Democrats actually voted not to negotiate. So frankly, we’re a little confused as to the purpose of this meeting.”If the president wants to sit on the sidelines during this critical debate and is serious about Congress finding a solution, then he will urge Senate Democrats to agree to the request by the House of Representatives to convene a conference committee.”Meanwhile, the House is planning another round of votes on Wednesday to fund national parks, monuments, veterans’ programs, and the National Institutes of Health during the shutdown. The Senate is expected to reject them.
Obama blasts ‘Republican shutdown,’ defends ObamacareView galleryPresident Obama Urges GOP to Abandon ‘Ideological Crusade,’ End Shutdown (ABC News)Olivier Knox, Yahoo News 23 hours ago PoliticsHealth Care PolicyBarack ObamaGovernment shutdownPatient Protection and Affordable Care ActHealth carePresident Barack Obama on Tuesday defiantly declared that “this Republican shutdown” risks hurting the fragile economy and pressed the House GOP to abandon its “ideological crusade” against Obamacare.“This Republican shutdown did not have to happen,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, surrounded by a dozen Americans who stand to benefit from his landmark health care overhaul.“They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” he charged. „This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days. I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is.”Obama pointed to the last partial government shutdown, in 1996, and warned that a closure will hurt the economy.“And we know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be — more families will be hurt, more businesses will be harmed,” he said. “So once again, I urge House Republicans to reopen the government, restart the services Americans depend on and allow the public servants who have been sent home to return to work.”Obama directed those listening to www.healthcare.gov if they want to apply for health care exchanges where they can buy insurance, saying it’s time to “get America covered, once and for all.”The president allowed that the site had suffered glitches — but portrayed it as victim of its own success, saying more than 1 million people visited the site before 7 a.m.“We’re going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all of this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected,” Obama said. “Consider that just a couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it. I don’t remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t. That’s not how we do things in America. We don’t actively root for failure.”But House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R.-Calif., said the problems showed the law’s underlying failures.”Americans are attempting to purchase health insurance on Obamacare exchanges and are being met with crashing websites, missing price information, confusing forms and in some cases, exchanges that had to delay their start date because they aren’t ready yet,” Issa said in a statement. „These ‘glitches,’ which the President is trying to brush off, reveal how totally unprepared the government is for this launch even with three and a half years to prepare. This is nothing, however, compared to the potentially irreversible damage the law threatens in the long term.”As he began his remarks, Obama’s microphone generated feedback, leading him to worry about a technical glitch. “Can everybody hear me? Mic work?”
Syria chemical disarmament team begins missionView gallery32 minutes ago Damascus (AFP) – International disarmament experts began on Wednesday their mission to catalogue Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons under a deal that will see the arms turned over for destruction by mid-2014.Meanwhile, the UN Security Council agreed to a non-binding statement calling on the Syrian government to improve humanitarian access to civilians.And a watchdog said Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels were advancing towards a border crossing with Turkey.The 19-member team from The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Damascus on Tuesday to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2118 ordering the elimination of Syria’s chemical arms.Along with 14 UN staffers, they are staying at a Damascus hotel.They set up a logistics base after arriving, but did not appear to have left the hotel by early Wednesday evening.”In the coming days, their efforts are expected to focus on verifying information provided by the Syrian authorities and the initial planning phase of helping the country destroy its chemical weapons production facilities,” a UN statement said.This should be completed by November 1, it added.The task is huge, as Syria’s arsenal is believed to include more than 1,000 tonnes of sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemicals stored at an estimated 45 sites across the war-torn country.The mission is the first in OPCW history to take place in a war zone.On Tuesday, a team of UN experts left Damascus after probing seven alleged chemical weapons attacks for a report expected to be released in late October.The UN team visited Syria in August, and later confirmed that sarin was used in a August 21 attacks that prompted the United States to threaten military action against Damascus.The threatened strike was put on hold after the United States and Russia hammered out the deal under which Syria will turn over its chemical arms.Security Council calls for aid access–Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he will comply with the resolution and Syria has turned over documents detailing its chemical arsenal.View gallery.”A convoy of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons prepares to cro …The OPCW says it has no reason to doubt the information, which its inspectors will cross-check in Syria.Top on the inspection list will be production sites due to be disabled by late October or early November.On the heels of the chemical weapons deal, the UN Security Council agreed Wednesday on a statement urging humanitarian access.The statement, drawn up by Australia and Luxembourg, is not legally binding but says the council is „appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence” in Syria, according to a copy obtained by AFP.It urges all parties „to take all appropriate steps to facilitate the efforts” of aid workers.It calls on Assad’s government „to take immediate steps to facilitate the expansion of humanitarian relief operations, and lift bureaucratic impediments and other obstacles.”The government has opposed aid missions from neighbouring countries, claiming supplies would go to rebel forces.Access to rebel-held areas has also been difficult, with extremist fighters targeting foreign aid workers in some areas.As the Syrian conflict grinds on, there have been renewed calls for a peace conference to be held in Geneva, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon suggesting a target date of mid-November.But the prospects for such a conference remain uncertain, with Syria insisting Assad’s departure is not up for discussion, despite it being a key opposition demand.”Syria is staying put: the state, the nation, the people and the president. This is the Syrians’ choice,” Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said on Tuesday.”All the people call for President Bashar al-Assad to be president of this state, whatever the opposition, the Americans and the traitors say.”On the ground, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighters from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had seized two villages near the Turkish border and were advancing towards the Bab al-Salameh crossing there.More than 115,000 people have been killed in the 30-month conflict, according to the Observatory and Syria’s Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said the war had also caused losses of $16.5 billion (12.2 billion euros) to the country’s private and public sectors.The conflict has forced more than two million Syrians to flee, most of them finding refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.The UN refugee agency UNHCR said Wednesday that 17 Western nations, including the United States, France and Australia, had agreed to accept a combined total of 10,000 of the refugees.
AP PHOTOS: Gaza tunnels idle amid Egypt crackdownView gallery MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH 4 hours ago RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s tunnel smugglers along the border with Egypt are mostly idle these days.Some rest on cots in the dank underground pathways, stretching out for a smoke. Others pass the time cleaning the small carts on wheels that are normally pulled through the tunnels carrying cement or consumer goods from Egypt.Since the summer, Egypt’s military has tried to destroy or seal off most of the smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, a consequence of the heightened tensions between Cairo and the Hamas government in Gaza.In July, Egypt’s military brought down the country’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, in a popularly-backed coup and cracked down on his Muslim Brotherhood movement. The military accused Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, of fomenting unrest in Egypt and moved to shut down the border tunnels, citing security reasons.
The tunnels have served for years as a lifeline for Gaza, home to some 1.7 million Palestinians.View gallery.”In this Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 photo, a Palestinian works outside a tunnel in Rafah, on the border b …They became particularly important after Hamas overran the territory in 2007, prompting Israel and Morsi’s Western-backed predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, to impose a stifling border blockade.Israel has eased the blockade in recent years, but still restricts the imports of some goods, including cement and steel rods. Until recently, the tunnels served as a conduit for such construction materials and for subsidized Egyptian fuel.The tunnels once employed thousands of young men in Gaza. By early September, with most tunnels closed, only few tunnel workers reported to their jobs for maintenance work. Some mask their faces with shirts to avoid identification while working, for fear of repercussions in case they were to travel to Egypt in the future.Some began digging new tunnels to replace the ones destroyed by the Egyptian security forces.”We have no other alternative but to work in these tunnels,” said one of the workers, Hussam Rashwan. „They are the only crossing to bring needed goods to Gaza.”View gallery.”In this Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 photo, a Palestinian man works in a tunnel in Rafah, on the border be …From the Gaza side, some of the workers watched as bulldozers leveled an olive grove on the Egyptian side of the border, marked by a low wall. The Gazans said they’d learned from their Egyptian smuggling partners that the army had just destroyed a house built on top of a tunnel, and the bulldozers were now presumably clearing away any other cover where one could be hidden.”Egypt treats us like an enemy,” said Asaad Najar, 46, a father of nine. He said he used to make between $30 and $40 a day, a good income for Gaza, but now earns nothing.Here’s a gallery of Gaza tunnel images by AP photographer Hatem Moussa.___Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/150o6jo
In Aleppo, schools reopen despite war Aleppo (Syria) (AFP) – In Syria’s war-ravaged city of Aleppo, Abu Hussein hurries along little Ali, who has stopped just a few steps from school to buy a bag of potato chips.”You’ll be late!” he chides.Ali is one of thousands going back to school in the city thanks to educators like Abu Hussein, who heads a school in the Sheikh Najjar industrial zone on the northern city’s outskirts.”Reopening the schools is an important thing to do,” Abu Hussein says. „It gives a sense of normality even if the war continues a few kilometres (miles) away.””The children of this area have been abandoned to their fate and we decided to look into the possibility of opening schools in the industrial zone so they wouldn’t lose any more schooling.”When the Syrian civil war arrived in Aleppo, in July 2012, most of its schools and universities were forced to close.During the winter, clandestine and makeshift institutions were set up by rebel forces, allowing some students to continue learning.But „most of these children have lost an entire year of school,” says Abu Hussein, a grizzled man in his thirties whose school in a former factory struggles to cater to several hundred students.View gallery.”A Syrian student shows a word on a whiteboard during a class in the Masai Hanano district of Aleppo, …”We don’t have enough books, one for every three students, and those we do have are old editions from years ago.”In the nearby Masakan Hanano district, another school set up by rebels and a Syrian NGO is also struggling to find supplies for 200 students.”We need notebooks, pencils and other school materials. But we believe that we must resume normal classes so that the youngsters are not spending 24 hours a day consumed by the war and the bombings,” says headmaster Abu Mohammed.Life is even more difficult for the school that has been opened in the Saif al-Dawla neighbourhood, just a hundred metres from one of the most active frontlines in Aleppo.The walls of the courtyard are a testament to the violence, pockmarked with shrapnel.”The shells continue to fall daily but we pray to God that none will fall on the school,” says Ahmed Saleh, a 22-year-old former maths student at university who has become a teacher.The facility was opened with the support of Liwa al-Tawhid, a powerful Islamist rebel brigade that is close to the Muslim Brotherhood.”Many of the underground schools have closed down, so we decided to open up the old schools,” says Saleh.View gallery.”
Cameron says Britain has won allies on EU reformView galleryBritish Prime Minister David Cameron addresses delegates at the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, north-west England, on October 2, 2013 (AFP Photo/Paul Ellis)2 hours agoManchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Britain has won allies in Europe in its battle to win back powers from Brussels by taking a strong stance on the issue, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday.In a speech to his Conservative Party’s annual conference, Cameron dismissed criticisms that he had isolated Britain from its partners in the European Union.Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the 28-nation EU and put the new terms to an in-out referendum in 2017 if he is re-elected in 2015.”People say a lot of things about Europe: ‘You’ll never be able to veto an EU treaty, you’ll never cut the EU budget and if you did any of these things you’d have absolutely no allies in Europe’,” Cameron told delegates in Manchester, northwest England.”Well we proved them wrong. I vetoed that treaty, I got Britain out of the EU bailout scheme and yes I cut that budget,” the British premier said.”And in doing all this we haven’t lost respect, we have won allies to get powers back from Europe.”And that is what we will do, and at the end of it, yes, we will give the British people their say in a referendum.”That is our pledge, it will be your choice, in or out.”Cameron angered other European leaders when he torpedoed a fiscal pact aimed at tackling the eurozone crisis in late 2011 but won support for efforts to cut the EU budget this year.He has held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other northern European leaders in a bid to find allies for his plan for EU reforms, which he has yet to set out in detail.Ahead of a general election in 2015, the Conservatives face internal pressure and from the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) on an issue that has split the Tory party since the days of Margaret Thatcher.The Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in Britain’s coalition government, said at their conference last month that they would campaign to stay in the EU.There has been speculation about a possible deal between the Conservatives and UKIP ahead of the election.But Conservative grandee Michael Heseltine triggered a row with the upstart party when he described it on Wednesday as „racist”.Warning against any deal, the former cabinet minister under Thatcher told the BBC: „Of course it’s racist… who doubts that, the language, the membership, the rhetoric.””We’ve seen UKIPs before,” added Heseltine, who now sits in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of parliament.”It was called Powellism, on the continent it was called Le Pen and Poujade,” he said, referring to the right-wing politicians Enoch Powell, from Britain, and Jean-Marie Le Pen and Pierre Poujade in France.”You always have these right-wing racist operations pandering to the lowest common denominator of politics and that’s what’s happening. When it comes to a general election the choice will be very simple.”Heseltine’s comments echoed those made by Cameron in 2006 when he described UKIP as a „bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists.”UKIP denied being racist and called Heseltine a „dinosaur”.Conservative minister Kenneth Clarke meanwhile spoke up for Britain’s EU membership.He said on Tuesday that if UKIP helped lead the country into isolation, „I weep for England. I would worry for the fate of my children and grandchildren.”
Police, Protesters Clash in Ukrainian Capital KIEV, Ukraine October 2, 2013 (AP) Police have fired tear gas to disperse opposition activists protesting outside city hall in the Ukrainian capital following scuffles that injured four officers.Kiev police chief Valery Koryak said police used the tear gas Wednesday after one officer was dragged into the crowd and beaten. The officer was hospitalized with a head injury, while another three officers were also hurt in the scuffles.About 200 opposition demonstrators had gathered outside the Kiev city hall to protest a court ruling extending the authority of the current city legislature. The opposition is pushing for a vote to elect a new legislature.The skirmishes erupted when several opposition members of the national parliament tried to enter the building and were turned away by police.
S. Korea-US sign plan to deter N. Korea nuclear strikeView gallery4 hours ago Seoul (AFP) – South Korea and the United States have mapped out a new strategy to counter the growing threat of a North Korean nuclear or chemical weapons attack, their defence ministers said Wednesday.They also agreed to review the sensitive issue of when Seoul should assume operational wartime command over their combined forces in South Korea.Visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the new pact signed with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-Jin established a „strategic framework” for dealing with „key North Korean nuclear threat scenarios” in the wake of its third atomic test in February.Although neither side provided details, Kim said the plan — which is certain to be condemned by North Korea — would „greatly enhance” the alliance’s deterrence capacity.Observers said it was largely a confidence-building measure to underline Washington’s support for Seoul against any provocation from Pyongyang.South Korea is protected by the US nuclear umbrella and there are currently nearly 30,000 US troops stationed in the country.But Seoul insists that the alliance must respond to what Kim described as the „vastly different” security situation on the Korean peninsula following the North’s nuclear test.To that end, it has requested an extension of US wartime command over South Korean troops — currently scheduled to end in 2015.In case of war with North Korea, the alliance at present calls for the US military commander to lead the US troops deployed to the country, as well as South Korea’s 640,000-strong force.Seoul argues that the transition to South Korean command should be postponed until the nuclear threat from Pyongyang has been neutralised.Washington has indicated it wants to keep to the original schedule, but Hagel said he had listened „very seriously” to Seoul’s concerns and promised further consultations on the issue.”We are very optimistic we will have an agreement,” he added.At a joint press briefing with Kim, Hagel also stressed that the new deterrent strategy covered all the North’s weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.View gallery.”South Korea’s Israeli-made Spike missiles (rear) are seen during events to mark the 65th anniversary …According to South Korean defence officials, North Korea has up to 5,000 tonnes of chemical arms — an alleged stockpile that has been highlighted by the use of such weapons in Syria.”There should be no doubt that North Korean use of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable,” Hagel said.The North’s nuclear test in February — its third and most powerful to date — triggered months of heightened military tensions on the Korean peninsula.Pyongyang threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States, while the Pentagon responded by deploying nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers during joint military exercises with Seoul.And in March, Seoul and Washington signed another pact providing for a joint military response even to low-level provocation by North Korea.Tensions have since eased, but acute concerns remain over the North’s nuclear weapons programme after satellite image analysis suggested it had expanded its production of weapons-grade fissile material.”North Korea has increased its threat clearly against South Korea, and against the United States. It has increased its capability,” Hagel said.But he also noted that South Korea’s military has grown „stronger, more professional and more capable” over the past decade.On Tuesday Hagel had attended the South’s largest military parade for a decade, which showcased a new cruise missile capable of pinpoint strikes anywhere in North Korea.The parade was condemned as „an unprecedented display of lunatic hostility” by North Korea, which also lashed out at the entire US-South Korea military partnership.The alliance has „brought nothing but continued division, the deterioration of North-South relations and the increasing danger of a nuclear war”, the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said.Hagel flew on to Tokyo in the early evening, where he will be joined later by Secretary of State John Kerry.The two men will meet their Japanese opposite numbers for discussions on the Washington-Tokyo alliance and regional security, a defence official said.
Sweden best country to grow old: UN
View gallery Sweden is the best place to grow old, according to a UN-backed study.9 hours ago Relaxnews Sweden is the best place to grow old and Afghanistan the worst, according to a UN-backed study on Tuesday that warns many countries are ill-prepared to deal with the old age time bomb.In a rapidly greying world, the Global AgeWatch Index — the first of its kind — found that Sweden, known for its generous welfare state, followed by Norway and Germany were best equipped to deal with the challenges of an ageing population.How countries care for their senior citizens will become increasingly important as the number of people over the age of 60 is set to soar from some 809 million today to more than two billion by 2050 — when they will „The 21st century is seeing an unprecedented global demographic transition, with population ageing at its heart,” the authors of the study said.The survey ranked many African and South Asian countries as the worst places to be retired, with Tanzania, Pakistan and Afghanistan rounding out the bottom three.The index was compiled by the HelpAge International advocacy group and the UN Population Fund in a bid to provide much-needed data on ageing populations worldwide.Praise for Bolivia, Sri Lanka–It ranked the social and economic wellbeing of the elderly in 91 countries, by comparing data from the World Health Organisation and other global agencies on older people’s incomes, health, education, employment and their environments.While the world’s richest countries — including Western European nations, the US and Japan — predictably ranked highly, the report somewhat surprisingly found that a number of lower-income countries had put in place policies that signficantly improved the quality of life for their elderly.Bolivia, which offers free healthcare to its older citizens despite being one of the poorest surveyed countries, and Sri Lanka, with its long-term investments in health and education, were among those singled out for praise.HelpAge’s chief executive Silvia Stefanoni said a lack of urgency in the debate about older people’s wellbeing „is one of the biggest obstacles to meeting the needs of the world’s ageing population”.”By giving us a better understanding of the quality of life of women and men as they age, this new index can help us focus our attention on where things are going well and where we have to make improvements,” she said in a statement.The study also noted that some of the top-ranking countries had introduced successful policies to care for the elderly at a time when they were still emerging economies.Sweden for instance put in place its universal pension system a century ago, while Norway introduced its system in 1937, it said.”Limited resources need not be a barrier to countries providing for their older citizens,” the report said.The emerging economies of Brazil and China ranked 31st and 35th in the survey, while South Africa, India and Russia came in much lower at 65, 73 and 78 respectively.On a positive note, the survey found that some countries and regions that were ageing the fastest were already preparing for the democratic shift.Latin American countries, which face a doubling of their elderly populations by 2050, are well represented among the top 30, the index showed, with Chile and Uruguay in 19th and 23rd place.But some eastern European countries still have much work to do, it showed, with Moldova ranking 76th and Montenegro at 83rd place.pjt-nl/mfp
Klitschko warns Ukraine president as EU deal loomsView gallery Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian opposition UDAR (Punch) party in Lviv, Ukraine on August 20, 2013. (AFP Photo/Yuriy Dyachyshyn)October 1, 2013 1:43 PM Vilnius (AFP) – Ukrainian opposition leader and boxer Vitali Klitschko on Tuesday said the president would face pressure to resign if Kiev fails to secure a landmark EU deal this year.The WBC world heavyweight boxing champ dubbed „Dr Ironfist” is himself considering a run for the top job in 2015.”If the association agreement (is) not signed, it means the fall of (the) government and President (Viktor) Yanukovych,” Klitschko told AFP on Tuesday.The 42-year-old spoke on a visit to Lithuania, the current holder of the European Union’s half-year rotating presidency.”After such a disaster, there would be only (one) way (out) for President Yanukovych — to resign,” he said.To move forward, „there is just one way — to change power in Ukraine.”Ukraine is gearing up to sign a free trade and association agreement with the EU at a November summit in Lithuania, a move fiercely opposed by Soviet-era master Russia, which still sees the country of 46 million people as firmly within its sphere of influence.Kiev’s imprisonment of firebrand ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, sentenced in October 2011 to seven years in jail on abuse of power charges, remains a key obstacle to the deal.Believing her jail term has political overtones, the EU has consistently called for Tymoshenko’s release before the deal is finalised.”If President Yanukovich really wants to provide European integration for Ukraine, he will release Tymoshenko,” Klitschko said.The leader of the democratic reform UDAR (Punch) party also dismissed Russian pressure on Kiev against the EU deal.”Russians try to suggest an idea: ‘You are with us, or against us’. We are for Ukraine! We are just for (a) new level of values where human rights are at the top,” he said.Klitschko had backed pro-West former president Viktor Yushchenko against the Moscow-backed Yanukovych during Ukraine’s heady 2004 Orange Revolution.The boxer on Monday reiterated that he may run against Yanukovych in the 2015 election but said solid support from all opposition parties was key to his decision.He said he wants to tackle rampant corruption and bring Ukraine into the „European family.”He hinted he would reveal his future plans after Saturday’s long-anticipated bout between his younger brother Wladimir, who holds four heavyweight world titles, and Russia’s Alexander Povetkin.”We are looking now for Wladimir Klitschko’s fight and after that we can say a little bit more about my career.”
Africans say growth has not improved their livesView gallery 23 hours agoJohannesburg (AFP) – Africa’s breakneck growth is not improving the lives of ordinary citizens across the continent, according to a landmark survey across 34 countries.Despite some of the world’s highest economic growth rates, many Africans still report shortages of water, food, healthcare or cash according to an Afrobarometer survey of over 50,000 people.The survey results appear to contrast with the perception of „Africa rising,” a continent casting off old stereotypes as growth rates touch double digits in some countries.”Meeting their basic daily needs remains a major challenge for a majority of Africans, even at a time when their countries are reporting impressive economic gains,” the survey released Tuesday found.The continent’s economy as a whole is expected to grow by almost five percent this year.View gallery.”Members of NGO Amnesty International carry a hot air balloon with text which reads ‘Housing is a Hum …But half of survey respondents said they occasionally lacked food, clean water, and medicine. One in five said they face frequent shortages.”Either economic growth is not trickling down to average citizens and translating into poverty reduction… (or) there is reason to question whether reported growth rates are actually being realised,” the researchers found.People in West Africa and East Africa experienced most shortages, while North Africans reported the least.The highest poverty levels were measured in nations which, according to the IMF, all grew at more than three percent in 2012: Burundi, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and Niger which grew at 11.2 percent, but which has been beset by conflict.The study has been conducted roughly every three years since 1999, with more countries added to the survey each time round.View gallery.”