Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend of Hillary Clinton gave her advice on issues ranging from British politics to Afghanistan and Iran while she was secretary of state even though he was not employed by the US government, according to emails released on Tuesday.

    The emails from 2009 show informal adviser Blumenthal, whose ties to the Clinton family date back to former President Bill Clinton's White House years, actively trying to shape the early months of Hillary Clinton's time as America's top diplomat.

    Clinton's close links to Blumenthal could rebound on her as she runs for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

    Republicans in Congress have sought to put a spotlight on his influence over Clinton on Libya as it descended into chaos in 2011. A former journalist, Blumenthal sent her lengthy memos about the north African country, many of them containing intelligence reports from a former Central Intelligence Agency officer.

    The emails released by the state department showed that the issues on which Blumenthal gave advice went far beyond Libya. He gave Clinton information on other sensitive issues as early as 2009.

    He seemed to be a middle-man between Clinton and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the Northern Ireland peace process, according to an email he sent on June 14 that year.

    "Gordon Brown called me today to convey his very best to you," Blumenthal wrote to Clinton. He mentioned her possible involvement in a meeting between Brown, Irish Republican leader Martin McGuinness and a man named Shaun, who appears to be Britain's former Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward.

    "I said that he and Gordon should let me know before Wednesday whether your involvement is essential and what they request. That is fine with them and Shaun will get back to me," Blumenthal wrote.

    Controversy over Clinton's emails has dogged the start of her campaign for the White House in November, 2016 after she acknowledged using a personal email account rather than a government one for State Department business.

    The emails released on Tuesday are among some 30,000 work emails that she handed over to the State Department in December that a judge has ordered to be released in batches.

    Blumenthal was barred from a job at the state department by aides to President Barack Obama because of lingering distrust over his role advising Clinton's run against Obama in the acrimonious 2008 Democratic primary, according to The New York Times.

    Blunt advice

    But in July 2009, he gave the former first lady blunt instructions ahead of a speech she gave at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in Washington.

    "For most policy speeches a generic tone and workmanlike prose are acceptable. But for this one it's not. This speech can't afford to be lackluster," he said in an email, offering her a possible draft copy of the speech.

    On June 23, Blumenthal emailed Clinton around 10pm with the subject line, "Hillary: if you're up, give me a call. Sid." In the preceding days, he had sent her detailed memos on Iran's 2009 election crisis with media clips.

    Later that year, Blumenthal wrote to Clinton that delay in announcing a strategy for US forces in Afghanistan was putting serious strains on Washington's relations with close ally Britain.

    "Consensus across the board in Britain - center, right, left- is that the Atlantic alliance - the special relationship -the historic bond since World War II - is shattered," he wrote.

Cold, dry north India sees slide in mercury

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 21, 2013 19:14 IST

There was no relief from the cold in northern India on Monday with the mercury sliding further under mainly dry conditions as skies stayed clear following the brief spell of rain and snowfall last week.

Although it was a sunny morning in the national capital on Monday, temperatures in Delhi did register a wee bit slide with the maximum and minimum both dropping a degree below normal at 19.9 and 6.2 degrees Celsius, respectively. There was also a light fog in the city in the morning.

The tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh froze under biting cold as the mercury stayed between -18 to -28 degrees Celsius in several high altitude parts of the state.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that two more bodies have been recovered to take the toll from the avalanche which struck Kinnaur district on Sunday night to seven.

Several areas, including the upper Shimla region, remained cut off for the sixth day on Monday with vehicular traffic to Rampur and Dhami routed via Basantpur and Kingal while the Manali-Rohtang road was closed.

However, maximum temperatures rose marginally to stand at 22.6 degrees at Una, followed by 17.4 degrees Celsius at Dharamshala.

The MeT office has predicted dry weather over the next 48 hours with a likelihood of rain and snow at isolated places from January 23 onwards.

Conditions in Uttarakhand were dry with the minimum temperature in Dehradun being 4.9 degrees Celsius.

Conditions were slightly foggy in the morning in Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar districts of the state.

After a slight respite from the chill in Jammu and Kashmir on the back of snowfall last Thursday, cold wave conditions returned to trouble the residents of the Kashmir Valley where night temperatures dropped several degrees below freezing point.

With the weather remaining dry, the minimum temperature at summer capital Srinagar plummeted to -3.0 degrees Celsius as against -0.5 degrees the previous night.

In Ladakh's Leh, the mercury dropped from -13.6 degrees Celsius the night before to -20.0 degrees, making it the coldest recorded place in the state.

The MeT office said that cold and dry conditions would continue across the state for a few more days.

It was dry weather in Uttar Pradesh, too, which received no fresh rainfall as night temperatures fell markedly in Gorakhpur division and also registered a slide in the Varanasi, Kanpur and Allahabad divisions although elsewhere in the state, little had changed.

Sources said that state would remain dry over the next 24 hours with a likelihood of fog in the morning.

In Punjab and Haryana, cold conditions intensified today with the mercury dipping a few notches below normal across both the states.

The minimum in Chandigarh was one degree below normal at 5.4 degrees Celsius while in Haryana, Hisar was down two notches at 3.8 degrees Celsius.

The MeT office said that fog had reduced visibility this morning at Ludhiana and Karnal and, in its forecast, added that the cold conditions would continue in the two neighbouring states over the next two days.

The weather was much the same in Rajasthan with cold and dry conditions prevailing in most parts of the state.

With minimum temperatures in the state hovering between 3.1 and 8 degrees Celsius, the MeT department, in its forecast said that similar weather conditions would continue over the coming 24 hours.


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