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Author’s delight: Trying to catch the essence of Hillary Clinton

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Image source: washingtonpost.com

By Vikas Datta

Is she a consummate, capable stateswoman ready for the most powerful job in the world, or a polarising, manipulative politician who should be kept away from it?

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton may have legions of devoted admirers — as well as fierce detractors — but there can’t be many who can ignore her. Her fate will soon be decided by Democratic voters and, if successful, then the US electorate, but till then the debate has spilled over into the literary world with a spate of works dissecting her antecedents, ability and performance.

Clinton has been in the public gaze for nearly four decades now, right from when her husband, Bill Clinton, became Arkansas governor in 1978 and held the post (apart from a two-year gap) till elected US president in 1992. After an over two-decade-long stint as First Lady at the state and national level, she carved out her own political career – as a senator from New York and then presidential contender in 2008.

She then began a role as a stateswoman, accepting her successful rival Barack Obama’s offer to join his administration as its top diplomat – the third woman to hold the post in a little over a decade. After one eventful term, she bided her time before again entering the fray for the White House in 2016.

Her own take on her life can be found in her autobiographies “Living History” (2003) and “Hard Choices” (2014) about her stint as Obama’s secretary of state, but it has also inspired nearly 100 books, ranging from sympathetic portrayals to polemical attacks, from ‘tell-all’ accounts of former associates to scholarly analyses, satirical fiction and even a children’s colouring book.

The leanings of most of the works can be made out from their titles – Joe Conason and Gene Lyons’ “The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton” (2000), Susan Estrich’s “The Case for Hillary Clinton” (2005), David Brock’s “Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government” (2015) are as obvious as Peggy Noonan’s “The Case Against Hillary Clinton” (2000), Carl Limbacher’s “Hillary’s Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton’s Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House” (2003), and Dinesh D’Souza’s “Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me about Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party” (2015).

What are we to make out of these – and many more like them? Should we believe that Clinton has a good record of public life, is well-suited to be the next president of the US but is being demonised, or is she just another overly ambitious and unscrupulous politician who must be exposed? Is Bill Clinton a shrewd operator with a feel for the public pulse or a money-minded philanderer, or an asset or liability to his wife? There are no easy answers and they will, in any case, depend on what you want to believe.

But there are some books that are neither enthusiastic hagiographies or unrestrained diatribes but present a picture in all its positive and negative aspects so as to allow you to arrive at your own judgment.

Among the latest is Karen Blumenthal’s “Hillary” (2016). The author, whose previous works include a biography of Steve Jobs and of Walmart founder Sam Walton, focusses on aspects that moulded Clinton’s thoughts and how these influenced her personal and public life. Blumenthal doesn’t ignore the many contradictions between words and deeds or the many scandals that followed the Clintons but quite objectively.

Kim Ghattas’ “The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power” (2013) combines the Lebanese-born BBC correspondent’s own story with accounts of several important foreign trips she accompanied Clinton on and a keen insight into the reality and limitations of American power.

On the other hand, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ “HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton” (2014) dwells on her domestic political career as secretary of state. It also claims the Clintons had prepared a “hit” list comprising party leaders who had either been unhelpful in 2008 and how these were “fixed”.

To get a feel of how of those not favourably disposed look, Daniel Halper’s “Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine” (2014) is illustrative, with its recital of a long list of innuendos and claims, made by a host of unnamed sources, who had sought they be kept anonymous to avoid the ire of the Clintons.

Though a little dated, “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton” (2007), by Carl Bernstein, one-half of the duo that broke the Watergate scandal and helped bring down a president, cannot be bettered, or its estimation that she is “neither the demon of the right’s perception, nor a feminist saint, nor is she particularly emblematic of her time” but a person with several positives and some flaws – like most of us are. (IANS)

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‘Sunny and I have a Beautiful Relationship’ : Hema Malini

Hema Malini is the second wife of veteran Bollywood actor Dharmendra

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Hema Malini
Hema Malini spoke about her relationship with step son Sunny Deol at the launch of her biography 'Beyond the dream girl'. IANS

Mumbai, October 17, 2017 : Veteran actress Hema Malini says she shares a “beautiful relation” with her stepson Sunny Deol. After her 2015 accident, Sunny was the first to visit and take care of her.

During the launch of her biography “Beyond The Dream Girl”, written by Ram Kamal Mukherjee, unveiled by Deepika Paduone, Hema shared one of the unspoken chapters of her life – her relationship with her stepsons.

She said: “Everyone wonders what kind of a relation we (she and Sunny) are having. It is very beautiful and cordial. Whenever it is necessary he (Sunny) is always there, along with Dharamji, especially when this accident happened.”

Hema Malini also added: “He (Sunny) was the first person to come to see me at home and he saw that the right doctor was there for the stitches that were done on my face.

“I was really taken aback to see him showing so much interest. That shows what kind of a relationship we are having.”

While Deepika and Hema had an interactive session where both shared how their journey was similar and yet different, given the fact that they were set in separate times in a ever changing film industry, according to Hema.

“Deepika is a really talented and hardworking actress but she is also fortunate to work with a director like Sanjay Leela Bhansali who has a grand budget to make a grand film like ‘Padmavati’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani’.

“In my time, I did ‘Meera’ and ‘Raziya Sultana’, where the producer had zero budgets and my remuneration was Rs 2,000.”

ALSO READ Modi pens foreword for Hema Malini’s biography

After unveiling the cover of the book, the actress received a series of video messages from iconic actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Jitendra, Shatrughan Sinha on her birthday and for the launch.

At the event, Deepika read out a letter by Pamela Chopra, wife of late filmmaker Yash Chopra, where she wrote: “You are pristine and in your long career, you always showed grace and dignity, something very few actresses have.”

Hema Malini’s husband Dharmendra recited poetry for her on a video message. The actress’ daughter Esha Deol was present at the event along with her husband.

Published by Harper Collins Publishers India, the forward of the book “Beyond The Dream Girl” has been written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (IANS)

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Facebook Chief Operating Officer Supports Releasing Russia-linked Advertisements

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Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, delivers a speech during the visit of a start-up companies gathering at Paris' Station F, in Paris. voa

Washington, October 12: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday she “absolutely” supports the public release of all advertisements produced by a Russia-linked organization during the 2016 presidential election.

Sandberg said the company is “working on transparency” following the revelation last month that a group with alleged ties to the Russian government ran $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook promoting “divisive” causes like Black Lives Matter.

“Things happened on our platform that shouldn’t have happened,” she said during the interview with Axios’s Mike Allen.

Later Thursday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer is set to meet with Congressional investigators who are looking into what role the advertisements which began running in 2015 and continued through this year may have played in the 2016 presidential election.

The $100,000 worth of ads represent a very small fraction of the total $2.3 billion spent by, and on behalf of, President Donald Trump and losing-candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaigns during the election.

Multiple congressional investigations have been launched, seeking to determine what effect alleged Russian meddling may have played in the election.

In addition, Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is conducting a criminal probe, including whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian operatives during the election season. Trump has denied working with the Russians.

Facebook had previously agreed to disclose the thousands of Facebook ads to congress. Sandberg said Thursday she thinks “it’s important that [the investigators] get the whole picture and explain that to the American people.”

In response to the Russian ad buys, Facebook Chief Operating Officer said that company is hiring 4,000 new employees to oversee ads and content. She said the company is also using “machine learning and automation” to target fake accounts that spread fake news.

She defined fake news as “things that are false hoaxes” and said Facebook is working to stamp out the bad information by teaming up with third-party fact checkers and warning users before they share news deemed fake by Facebook.

She said it is important to be cautious when going after fake news because “a lot of what we allow on Facebook is people expressing themselves” and “when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people.”

“We don’t check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don’t think people should want us to,” she said.

Hundreds of fake accounts were used to distribute the Russia-linked advertisements, Sandberg said. But had those ads been posted by legitimate users, “we would have let them run,” she said.(VOA)

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Hillary Clinton finds Yoga, Alternate Nostril Breathing helpful for Relaxation

Hillary Clinton has found alternate nostril breathing yoga technique as a mantra for relaxation and peace after her loss in 2016 Presidential elections to Donald Trump.

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Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton VOA

Washington, October 12, 2017 : Hillary Clinton has demonstrated on national television how to perform yoga through alternate nostril breathing exercise. It is quite interesting to see Hillary Clinton has discovered the mantra to deal with stress.

In the aftermath of United States Presidential elections 2016, Hillary finds sitting cross legged on a yoga mat and practicing long inhale and exhale breathing techniques quite helpful. Hilary mentioned that she has been practicing it for quite some time and it has come across as a very helpful way.

The Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton has recommended yoga for everyone to try for relaxation. Yoga is an ancient Indian technique of pre-Vedic Indian tradition that involves physical, mental and spiritual training to relax the mind and body. Promoting the idea of practicing yoga for relaxation seems to be working well for Hillary, who found a new way out to live life and find peace after her loss to Donald Trump in 2016.