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.

Drawing women is very fascinating

  • Aakriti Sawhney, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Mar 17, 2013 01:17 IST

For artist Neelkant Choudhary it’s not the traditional Madhubani forms that fancy his canvas but scenes from everyday life. For example, school going children, priests on the streets and stage performances — all are part of Choudhary’s current exhibition that is running at Gallerie Ganesha. Women surprisingly take up the major share in his works. “It’s very fascinating to draw women. They have a lot of vibrancy connected with the colours they wear,” he says.

According to Choudhary, it was the desire to do something different that led him to discover this contemporary twist to Madhubani. But at the same time, it was difficult for him to breakaway from the traditional background and take up modern subjects. “Like any artist, my work too has evolved over the years. I did start with the traditional Madhubani by drawing gods and goddesses but now, my subjects and the use of colours is very different. I’m using monotones and pastels, something very unique for Madhubani.” He adds,“There are various levels to Madhubani art. Over the years, it has broken bounds, adopted new manifestations and expanded its constituency. The art that you see in the villages is very different from the one sold in the city. The villagers, when they draw Madhubani for various rituals, don’t use black colour. Whereas the paintings sold in the cities use black shade in abundance.”

For this show, Choudhary has 40 works on display — both small and big where the artist has tried to give a three-dimensional feel. “The traditional works appear very flat. I have tried to give some dimensions by adding shades and texturing. Choudhary belongs to the Madhubani school but there is a bold individualist in his works.” says Shobha Bhatia, the director of the gallery.

Catch it live
Madhubani show
When: Till April 5
Timings: 11am to 7pm
Where: Gallerie Ganesha, E-557, Greater Kailash II
NEAREST METRO STATION: Nehru Place on the Violet Line


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