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U.S. Ambassador Cynthia Stroum Called "Bullying, Hostile" in State Department Investigation

Image
© luxembourg.usembassy.gov
Cynthia Stroum
One way that presidents reward their biggest donors is by offering them plum ambassadorships. Which is why it wasn't surprising when the Obama administration tapped Cynthia Stroum to be U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.

Stroum, a businesswoman and philanthropist, had been a major bundler for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, raising more than half a million dollars for the then-candidate.

It appears that her fundraising abilities did not translate to diplomatic success, however: According to a scathing State Department probe out Thursday (PDF), Stroum was seen by most employees as "aggressive, bullying, hostile and intimidating."

The probe found that Stroum's "confrontational management style," staffing problems and "the absence of a sense of direction" have brought much of the Luxembourg embassy "to a state of dysfunction."

Black Cat

Report rips U.S. envoy who resigned

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© Associated Press
Cynthia Stroum left her post as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg last month.
An Obama bundler picked for a choice ambassadorship brought the U.S. embassy she led to "a state of dysfunction" in a year on the job, a State Department probe has found.

Cynthia Stroum, who last month left her post as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, was "aggressive, bullying, hostile and intimidating," the department's inspector general said in a report released Thursday. The embassy and its staff face myriad problems, including "the absence of a sense of direction," which has "brought major elements of Embassy Luxembourg to a state of dysfunction."

Stroum's year in Luxembourg was marred by personality struggles, management problems and improper spending, including $3,400 the embassy rushed to spend on wine and liquor at the end of the 2010 budget year.

The inspector general found that Stroum, who announced her resignation in mid-January and left the embassy on the last day of the month, was the source of" [t]he bulk of the mission's internal problems." Stroum, the report said, followed a pattern of public criticism of colleagues ... who have not performed to her satisfaction."

Light Sabers

Muslim Brotherhood: We are against Zionism

Spokesman for the Egyptian group says it won't commit to maintaining peace treaty, recognition of Israel.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt on Thursday evening repeatedly refused to commit to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel, or even recognizing Israel, if the Brotherhood becomes a player in the future governance of Egypt.

Asked on CNN if his organization would support the maintenance of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Mohamed Morsy, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, dodged a direct answer but said Israel had failed to honor the treaty. He said it would be up to the Egyptian parliament to decide on the fate of the treaty, and that the parliament would reflect the will of the people.

Light Saber

Protesters in Sydney call for Mubarak's resignation

sydney demonstrations
© AAP:Dean Lewins
Demonstrators from Sydney's Egyptian community rally in support of their countrymen in Egypt calling for president Hosni Mubarak to step down.

For the second weekend running demonstrators have gathered in Sydney demanding that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stand down.

Egyptians are calling for Mr Mubarak to stand down immediately, not later in September as he has promised.

More than 100 demonstrators in Martin Place have condemned the killing of a journalist in Cairo and reiterated demands for the president's immediate resignation.

Footprints

Cairo's biggest protest yet demands Mubarak's immediate departure

omar suleiman
© Reuters TV/Reuters
Tahrir delegates' demands preclude any governing role for the existing elite, including vice-president Omar Suleiman.

Egyptian president clings to power as hundreds of thousands stage 'day of departure' demonstration in Tahrir Square

The immediate removal of President Mubarak from office will not be enough to stop the huge anti-government rallies that have engulfed Egypt in recent days, according to a list of demands drawn up by a key coalition of protesters which has been seen by the Guardian.

Following 11 days of widespread demonstrations against Mubarak's rule that have brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets and provoked violent clashes with militant defenders of the government, those rallying against the current regime have come together in a remarkable surge of grassroots decision-making to forge a common consensus on their aims.

These include the resignation of not just Mubarak but also the entire ruling party establishment - including Omar Suleiman, the vice-president whom the Obama administration believes is best placed to take the helm during the post-Mubarak transition period. Protesters are calling instead for a broad-based transitional government appointed by a 14-strong committee which would be made up of senior judges, youth leaders and members of the military.

People

Census: A third of New Orleans population lost in past decade

Orland Population
© Sean Gardner by USA TODAY
Abandoned lots and flood-wrecked homes remain one of the city's top hurdles to full recovery from the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Rocked by natural disasters and a steady exodus of residents, this flood-damaged city lost nearly a third of its population in the past decade, according to Census data released Thursday.

Census workers counted 343,829 residents in New Orleans last year, down from 485,000 in 2000, or a 29% drop, according to the data. The count was slightly lower than previous estimates of 355,000.

The city has struggled to repopulate since Hurricane Katrina and a breach of federal levees flooded 80% of the city in 2005, scattering much of its citizenry. Just before the storm, there were about 455,000 people living in New Orleans, according to Census figures.

Heart - Black

'Dating' Site Imports 250,000 Facebook Profiles, Without Permission

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© lovely-faces.com
How does a unknown dating site, with the absurd intention of destroying Facebook, launch with 250,000 member profiles on the first day?

Simple.

You scrape data from Facebook.

At least, that's the approach taken by two provocateurs who launched Lovely-Faces.com this week, with profiles - names, locations and photos - scraped from publicly accessible Facebook pages. The site categorizes these unwitting volunteers into personality types, using a facial recognition algorithm, so you can search for someone in your general area who is "easy going," "smug" or "sly."

Or you can just search on people's real names.

The duo behind the site say it's art, not commerce.

In what seems to be liberal-arts-grad-schoolese, Paolo Cirio, a media artist, and Alessandro Ludovico, media critic and editor in chief of Neural magazine, explain why they made the site.

Bizarro Earth

Bangladesh: Girl, 14, Lashed to Death after Rape by 40-year-old Cousin

HC gives Shariatpur admin 15 days to tell why it could not save life of 14-year-old rape victim

The High Court yesterday ordered district officials in Shariatpur to explain why they failed to protect 14-year-old rape victim Hena from being whipped to death as per a fatwa on Monday.

The deputy commissioner, the superintendent of police of Shariatpur and the thana nirbahi officer of Naria upazila -- where the incident took place--will have to report to the HC in 15 days how it happened although the court (HC) had eight months ago declared fatwa illegal and a punishable offence.

In a suo moto rule, the HC directed them also to report what steps they have taken in this regard.

An HC bench comprised of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain issued the rule following press reports on the killing of Hena.

The reports said Hena was raped by her 40-year-old relative Mahbub on Sunday. Next day, a fatwa was announced at a village arbitration that she must be given 100 lashes. She fell unconscious after nearly 80 lashes.

Fatally injured Hena was rushed to Naria health complex where she succumbed to her injuries.

Supreme Court lawyer Seema Zahur yesterday placed before the HC bench a press report on the incident on behalf of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association.

Attention

US: 85,000 Chickens Killed After Snow Causes Roof Collapse

chicken
© unknown
Connecticut's agriculture commissioner says the collapse of a chicken coop due to heavy snow has killed 85,000 chickens.

Commissioner Steven Reviczky said Thursday the incident at Kofkoff Egg Farm in Bozrah occurred Jan. 27 and the number of chickens killed was reported to the state recently. He says the dead birds were incinerated.

It was not immediately clear how much KofKoff farm lost from the incident. Its officials did not immediately return a call for comment.

Bandaid

At least 6 people injured when ice, snow fall from Cowboys Stadium roof

Cowboys Stadium
© Associated Press /Charlie Riedel
Snow falls off the roof of Cowboys Stadium, the site of NFL football Super Bowl XLV Feb. 4, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. Earlier 6 people were hurt from ice falling off the roof.
Hard ice and heavy snow slid off Cowboys Stadium's domed roof Friday, injuring at least six private contractors hired to prepare the venue for the Super Bowl, authorities said.

One man was struck in the head and another was hit in the shoulder, said Arlington Fire Department spokesman Pete Arevalo. They were in stable condition Friday afternoon. The other four injuries were considered minor.

Emergency personnel responded about 1 p.m. to reports of snow and ice sliding off the southern end of the sprawling stadium where the group was working, Arevalo said.

Food service worker Doug McCracken said he and a friend pulled up to the area just in time to see what looked like snow flurries blowing off the building. Wonder turned to shock when he realized someone had been hit.

"What we saw was hard ice. It shattered, it was everywhere," McCracken said. "We thought maybe it was snow at first but it was ice. Hard ice."

The United States National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning Friday for Arlington, home of the US$1.3 billion stadium where the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers will play this weekend for the NFL title.