Selasa, 26 April 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World


Ron Paul launches uphill bid for 2012 White House

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 05:08 PM PDT

Chairman of the Iowa Leadership Team, Dr. Drew Ivers introduces Texas Congressman Ron Paul (left) during Paul's announcement of an exploratory committee in Des Moines, Iowa April 26, 2011. — Reuters pic

DES MOINES, April 27 — Representative Ron Paul took the first step toward a longshot campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination yesterday, hoping to expand his support beyond a fervent group of loyalists.

Paul, a Texas Republican and anti-war libertarian, announced in the early voting state of Iowa that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, the first formal move toward establishing a campaign.

Forming an exploratory committee allows Paul to raise campaign cash while he tests the political waters.

"I do intend to make a firm decision (about a race) in the not-too-distant future," he said.

Paul had run in 2008 when John McCain got the Republican presidential nomination.

Although he trailed in that race, Paul has retained a small percentage of energetic supporters and said increasing numbers of voters were interested in his economic message.

"The country is already quite different — millions of more people are concerned about the things I talked about four years ago. Conditions are deteriorating," Paul said at the event. "It will be a much, much more significant campaign."

Underscoring the challenge ahead for him this year, he polled only 6 percent among potential Republican voters in a Gallup poll last week.

Getting into the race would allow him to appear at Republican presidential debates.

The Republican 2012 field is slowing taking shape, with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty among the prominent Republicans who are planning campaigns. Several more are expected to jump in over the coming weeks.

'TOO MUCH POWER'

Paul would like to cut defence spending and feels the Federal Reserve has too much power. He is the father of Tea Party Republican Rand Paul, elected last year as a US senator from Kentucky.

At the event in Des Moines, he took a jab at the Fed for its loose monetary policy.

"The inflationary problems, the creation of new money is historic," Paul said.

"World history has never seen the monetary inflation that we have seen in the past couple of years. Higher prices will be the key issue in next year's election. When it's the American consumer who suffers — and then they see interest rates cropping up, this is a big deal and it is related to the Federal Reserve system."

Political experts doubt Paul has a chance at winning the nomination for the right to face Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012.

Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said Paul would probably receive about the same amount of support he achieved in 2008.

"Most people who got as few delegates and ran as poorly as he did last time would take that as a sign not to run again," Black said. — Reuters 

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European governments condemn Syria

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 04:23 PM PDT

Protesters gather during a demonstration in the Syrian port city of Banias April 26, 2011. Syrian protesters in Banias chanted "the people want the overthrow of the regime" yesterday as forces deployed around the small coastal city for a possible attack, a rights campaigner in contact with Banias said. — Reuters pic

AMMAN, April 27 — Security forces deployed in a suburb of the Syrian capital and in the city of Banias yesterday, witnesses said, even as President Bashar al-Assad drew international criticism for sending in tanks to crush a revolt.

In Deraa, the city where the uprising against Assad's 11-year rule began, authorities sent in tanks on Monday and witnesses said the army was firing randomly and bodies were lying on the streets.

Residents said an army brigade led by Assad's younger brother Maher had cut off roads, were shelling homes, storming houses and rounding people up.

International criticism of Assad's crackdown, now in its sixth week, was initially muted but escalated after the death of 100 protesters on Friday and Assad's decision to storm Deraa, which echoed his father's 1982 suppression of Islamists in Hama.

The European Union is discussing possible sanctions against Syria, a diplomat said, and European governments urged Syria to end the violence. The White House is also considering sanctions on senior officials that could include a freeze of assets.

"We send a strong call to Damascus authorities to stop the violent repression of what are peaceful demonstrations," Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Tuesday at a joint news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Rome.

Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox called for reform in Syria but said there were limits to what other countries could do to halt the violence against anti-government protesters.

More than 2,000 security police were deployed in the Damascus suburb of Douma yesterday, manning road blocks and checking the identity of residents, a witness told Reuters.

The witness, a former army member who did not want to be identified, said he saw several trucks in the streets equipped with heavy machineguns and said men who he believed were members of the plain clothes secret police were carrying assault rifles.

Bus loads of soldiers, who he believed to be Republican Guards, in full combat gear also began deploying the suburb.

BLACK SMOKE

Security forces also deployed in the hills around the coastal city of Banias, where demonstrators chanted: "The people want the overthrow of the regime," a human rights activist said.

Residents in Deraa, reached by telephone, said black smoke was rising from every part of the city and that heavy artillery and Kalashnikov rounds were heard from the Old City.

"In the street I am in there are around 10 tanks. Their aim is just to destroy and destroy ... They are shelling homes and demolishing them," said Abu Khaldoun.

"Maher al-Assad's forces have spread everywhere and with their roadblocks Deraa has become a big prison. You cannot go out without endangering your life," said his cousin, Abu Tamer. "They are rounding up dozens of people and arresting them."

Syrian rights organisation Sawasiah said at least 35 civilians had been killed there since Monday.

The organisation, founded by jailed human rights lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani, said electricity, water and telecommunications remained cut for a second day, with supplies of baby milk and blood at hospitals starting to run low.

It said security forces had shot dead 400 civilians during the campaign to crush the uprising against Assad's rule. Another 500 people have been arrested in the past two days, it said.

Washington said on Monday it was studying targeted sanctions against Syria, while in Turkey, Syrian opposition figures pleaded for international help.

"Our friends in the West, in Turkey, in the Arab world, if they want to help us, then they can do that by ... putting the clearest possible pressure on the Syrian regime to stop targeting civilians," Anas Abdah, the British-based chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development, told Reuters.

Turkey said it was sending an envoy to meet Assad.

"LOCKED IN PAST"

Activists said the military move showed Assad had decided on force, not reforms, to deal with protests inspired by Arab uprisings which toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

Ali Al Atassi, an activist whose father was jailed for 22 years under Hafez al-Assad, said "another Hama" was impossible, referring to the 1982 crackdown which killed thousands.

"This regime doesn't understand that the world has changed, that the Arab region has changed and that the Syrian people has changed. They are still locked in the past and those who don't change at the right moment, they will be forced to change."

Last week Assad lifted Syria's 48-year state of emergency and abolished a hated state security court. But the next day 100 people were killed during protests across the country.

Despite deepening his father's alliance with Iran, clawing back influence in Lebanon and backing militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, Assad has kept Syria's front line with Israel quiet and held indirect peace talks with the Jewish state.

Criticism of his crackdown was restrained at first, partly because of fears that a collapse of Assad's minority Alawite rule might lead to sectarian conflict in the majority Sunni state, and because Washington had hoped to loosen Syria's alliance with Iran and promote a peace deal with Israel.

Arab states, some of them putting down protests on their own soil, also refrained from criticising Assad, though the 22-member Arab League said yesterday pro-democracy demonstrators across the region "deserve support, not bullets".

Amnesty International said the United Nations must refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. — Reuters 

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