Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dress Codes in New York Clubs: Will This Get Me In?

New York Times

GENTLEMEN who prefer Ed Hardy shirts, those dragon-happy hallmarks of “Jersey Shore” chic, will not be getting into the Mulberry Project, the subterranean speakeasy cocktail lounge in Little Italy, any time soon. If you prefer your dress shirts colorful and boldly striped, don’t bother with the club Provocateur, in the meatpacking district. Baggy, low-slung jeans your style? Lots of East Village bars may be O.K. with that, but there will be no Continental for you tonight.

Dress codes have long been the secret language of New York City night life; fluency can mean the difference between an epic night out and a humiliating kick to the curb. “There’s nothing that dresses a room like a crowd,” said Ian Parms, an owner of the Mulberry Project. “The ambience of the experience is the people around you, so it’s important for us to keep those people fashion-forward and eclectic and interesting and engaging.”

Beyond being inherently snobbish, such selectivity has invited charges of racism. In December, the New York City Commission on Human Rights opened an investigation (still in progress) into the Continental, a sports bar in the East Village on Third Avenue, for its “no baggy jeans or bling” policy, which civil rights groups called a barely concealed ploy to keep out blacks. Trigger Smith, the owner of the Continental, denied that he was trying to exclude people of a certain race. “It just so happens that more minorities wear these” kinds of clothes, he told The New York Times in January. “There isn’t a racist bone in my body.” One reason some may have found the Continental’s policy hard to swallow is the bar’s otherwise obvious lack of interest in fashion. On a typical Saturday night, the Continental’s mixture of frat boys and barflies sports an unironic mélange of ripped blue jeans, grubby backpacks, baseball hats and sneakers. (And for what it’s worth, the crowd was about 30 percent black on a visit in April.)

But Mr. Smith’s defense illuminates a truth about dress codes at even the most exclusive velvet-roped clubs: they are frequently intended to keep out a certain type of person. The clothes themselves are secondary.

Michael Satsky, proprietor of Provocateur, at the Gansevoort Hotel (but now on a brief summer hiatus), admitted that he strived to keep his bar free of the randy bridge-and-tunnel boys who prowl the neighborhood on weekends. Luckily for him, they apparently self-identify through their shirts.

“We do not do plaid, and we don’t do stripes,” he said. The ideal Provocateur guest “doesn’t have to wear crazy stripes on his shirt to draw attention to himself.” (Plaid was just fine, however, at the closing night of Beige in the East Village a few months ago, where nearly every fashionable gay man who showed up seemed to be clad in a gingham shirt.)

Mr. Satsky suggests that his male patrons wear “a blazer, a solid button-down or a solid sweater.” For women, shoes are key. “Minimum five-inch heel,” he said. “Christians are our favorite,” he added, referring not to the faithful but to Christian Louboutin, the designer known for his red soles. Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior are also welcome. If the crowd in Provocateur on any given night is a gauge, being European, gorgeous and at least 5-foot-10 is good, too.

An injunction against flannel, shorts and other typical brunch fashions helps convey the message that the sparklers-and-champagne bacchanal known as the Day and Night Brunch, which until June was held at the Plaza, is for socialites and financiers, not hotel guests in search of French toast, said Daniel Koch, who runs the weekly party with his twin brother, Derek.

“You get guys in from L.A., they think a brunch is a brunch,” Mr. Koch said. “We have to say, ‘Look, dude, this isn’t what you think it is.’ You can’t rock a T-shirt here unless you’re a rock star.”

(How does one dress for a brunch that resembles a Russian oligarch’s stag party? Ladies should consider brightly colored dresses or skirts and avoid cleavage-baring blouses. “You don’t want that in your face at brunch,” said Mr. Koch, who now holds his brunch at different locations each week, including the Hamptons and St.-Tropez. Guys “need an edge; wear a bow tie or, if you have to, go out and buy a $400 pair of sunglasses.”)

New Yorkers fleeing the city in summer may think they’ve earned a vacation from judgment, but they’re wrong — particularly at South Pointe, a hot new dance club in Southampton, N.Y.

“We cater to the ‘authentic’ Hamptons crowd,” said Ben Grieff, an owner, “people who are actually from the Hamptons, not just people who drive out here to see a big D.J.” (Mr. Grieff clarified: “From the Hamptons” refers to people whose parents had a summer home there as a child, not to duck farmers.)

Keeping out the time-share crowd means a strict (though unadvertised) policy forbidding vacation wear like flip-flops or shorts. Hamptons wannabes tend to “just show up after dinner thinking everything is going to be fine in shorts and sandals,” he said. But “our friends dress right out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement.” What does that mean? “Tapered jeans, dress shoes, colored button-downs, women in elegant sundresses.”

The days when “jacket required” was enough to ensure a better element of patron began dying after World War II, said Anne Hollander, a fashion historian and author of “Seeing Through Clothes.” As fashion standards relaxed and television and movies took a more central role in American culture, people ceased to dress according to class and began dressing according to character.

“Today, people dress in costume,” she said. “We wear what we wish to be seen as,” whether that’s an emo kid, a Guidette (a female Guido) or a gangster.

Hence, the surest way for proprietors to create the “right” atmosphere in their clubs is to keep out the crowd they don’t want by banning an essential element of their style.

Ryan Dusheiko, general manager of Riff Raff’s, a new tiki-themed club in the Flatiron district, put it simply, “It’s not what you’re wearing; it’s who you are.” (Guys confused by the upscale tiki-lounge concept are encouraged to wear “a nice sports coat, a really great flower-print shirt underneath, maybe a matching pocket square,” Mr. Dusheiko said. “We respect individuality.”)

For patrons, such flexibility can be either liberating or paralyzing, depending on their level of comfort with fashion. Who knows what you can get away with where anymore? Lauren Cosenza, a makeup artist who lives in NoLIta, said she has learned to dress for the neighborhood, not the club.

“Different neighborhoods reflect different tribes,” said Ms. Cosenza, who can be found in clubs like GoldBar, in Little Italy; Griffin, in the meatpacking district; and XIX, in NoLIta, four to five nights a week. For example, the hipster bars on the Lower East Side prefer “natural fabrics, lots of skinny denim on boys and girls, a lot of draping fabrics and muted colors.” The East Village is “more rock ’n’ roll with punk undertones” (try ripped or distressed denim). “Meatpacking is your party dress, your five-inch heels, designer bags.” In SoHo and NoLIta, she said, anything goes.

“I once saw a woman in GoldBar wearing pajama pants,” Ms. Cosenza recalled, insisting the woman pulled it off, thanks to the right accessories — a “cool tank top and thick shoes”— and tons of confidence. “To walk into a place and know it’s ridiculous but I couldn’t care less because I’m rockin’ my pajama pants,” she said, “that’s very SoHo.”

Of course, many club owners are loath to admit they have any dress code at all. They posit that anything works as long as you wear it with confidence.

“There are people who can put together a T-shirt and jeans and sneakers and make it look as good as a three-piece suit,” said Eugene Remm, who oversees Tenjune and SL in the meatpacking district, “and there are people who can wear a three-piece suit and make it look sloppy.”

“Fashion is totally personal now,” Mr. Remm continued. “So it’s kind of a joke when someone says, ‘This is our dress code.’ It’s how a person holds himself up. It’s all personality.”

Pakistan's new foreign minister charms India
Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's new foreign minister, secured a diplomatic breakthrough in New Delhi after sweeping India off its feet and into a "new era" of trade and co-operation in the war on terrorism.
Ms Khar, who at 34 became Pakistan's youngest and first female foreign minister earlier this month, emerged from talks with her Indian counterpart S.M Krishna, who at 79 is old enough to be her grandfather, with a series of agreements to boost security, trade, travel, sporting and cultural links between the nuclear rivals.
Politicians and commentators said her youth and glamour had been a factor in creating a "fresh start atmosphere" which led to the most productive talks since the neighbouring enemies came close to war following the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.
Ms Khar, a mother of two and former hospitality manager, was welcomed to India with unprecedented gushing headlines and flattering photographs praising her style and looks.
The Times of India published a front page photograph of Ms Khar wearing a royal blue kurta and a string of gleaming pearls, under the headline: "Pak puts on its best face." The Hindi language Navbharat Times said India was "sweating over model-like minister" while the Mail Today declared she had brought a "Glam touch to Indo-Pak talks."
It compared her to Michelle Obama and gave "full marks" for her Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, oversized Hermes Birkin bag and classic pearHer appearance appeared to vindicate Pakistan President Asif Zardari's decision to nominate her as foreign minister in the hope that it would "send positive signals about the soft image of Pakistan."
Her own comments on a "mindset change" and a "new era in bilateral co-operation between the countries" reflected the same theme.
"A new generation of Indians and Pakistanis will see a relationship that will hopefully be much different from the one that has been experienced in the last two decades," she said.
India and Pakistan have fought four wars and they came close to a fifth in the months following the 2008 Mumbai attacks when Pakistani commando-style militants killed 166 in a three day rampage. Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, later accused elements of Pakistan's security forces of supporting the terrorists. Since then tensions have flared over Pakistan's failure to convict the terrorist masterminds or to rein in militant leaders calling for 'jihad' against India.
The talks did not produce a breakthrough on Kashmir, but agreed a series of confidence-building measures to double trade over the Line of Control, relax controls on travel, and increase sporting and cultural ties.
They agreed to strengthen co-operation against terrorism and "reiterated the firm and undiluted commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms and manifestations." They would also co-operate to "bring those responsible for terror crimes to justice."
The ministers also agreed to convene a meeting of each country's nuclear experts to reduce tensions and to resolve their disputes over control of the Siachen glacier and the Sir Creek.
Mirwaiz Farooq, the moderate Kashmiri Separatist leader who met Ms Khar in New Delhi ahead of the talks, said he was disappointed there was no time frame for the new talks on the Kashmir, but welcomed the role Ms Khar had played.
"Here's a minister from Pakistan, young, educated, articulate and she brings something fresh to the table," he said.
Seema Goswami, a leading Indian social commentator, however said she feared Ms Khar's style and glamour could put India at a disadvantage.
"She's incredibly young pretty, glamorous and has no fear of appearing flash. She wore pearls when she arrived and diamonds for the talks," she said. "We're so obsessed with her designer bag and clothes that we forget she first held talks with the Hurriyat [Kashmiri separatists]. She could be Pakistan's new weapon of mass destruction."l jewellery. "Who says politicians can't be chic?" it asked.

Saudi Arabia considers women property of men

Saudi women are denied their citizens rights as the Riyadh government regards them the property of men, says a Middle East expert.

“Women are considered to be part of a man. Much more, like a slave would be owned by a master, Saudi woman are considered to be property of their male guardians,” Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for [Persian] Gulf Affairs (I[P]GA), told Press TV.

Al-Ahmed's remarks came after fourteen US female senators wrote a letter to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, calling on him to lift the Arab monarchy's ban on women drivers.

The I[P]GA director also noted that the move is an inadequate measure because the letter has “no teeth” to change the reality on the ground for the Saudi women.

He further pointed out that, for the past 50 years, it has been Washington's policy not to condemn Saudi Arabia for its human rights violation and abuse.

On Tuesday, Democratic and Republican female senators urged the Saudi king in their letter to meet Saudi Arabia's commitments to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, and allow the women to drive.

The senators said the annulment of the ban would be a crucial step towards improving women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

The senators, however, fell short of condemning the prohibition as a violation of human rights.

In Saudi Arabia, women must hire drivers, or depend on male relatives to get around.

In June, a group of defiant Saudi women took out to the streets, driving their cars in response to calls for nationwide action to terminate the prohibition.

Women have long complained of violations of their most basic rights in Saudi Arabia.

Bahraini forces attack protesters

Saudi-backed Bahraini regime forces have attacked anti-government protesters as the five-month-old revolution continues in the Persian Gulf sheikhdom.

The latest attack on peaceful protesters took place in the village of Nuwaidrat on Wednesday, witnesses said.

The protesters demanded an end to the Al Khalifa regime, complaining about injustice and discrimination.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed their first batch of military forces to Bahrain in mid-March.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia deployed more forces in Bahrain in an attempt to further help the ruling regime clamp down on anti-regime demonstrators.

Amnesty International has criticized the Al Khalifa regime for its violations of international law by brutally cracking down on peaceful protesters and activists.

Anti-regime protesters have been holding demonstrations across the country since mid-February, calling on the ruling family to relinquish power.

China protests U.S. spy flights near its coast

China warned that recent U.S. surveillance flights near its coast have severely harmed mutual trust and were a major obstacle to better military ties between the two countries, state media reported Wednesday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, vowed Monday to press ahead with surveillance flights near China despite opposition from Beijing, after an intercept by Chinese fighter jets of a U.S. spy plane on June 29.

"We demand that the U.S. respect China's sovereignty and security interests and take concrete measures to boost a healthy and stable development of military relations," the Global Times newspaper quoted the Ministry of National Defense as saying.

Xinhua news agency later quoted ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng as saying the reconnaissance missions "have severely undermined mutual trust and remained a major obstacle to the development of military ties.

There have been conflicting accounts of where the June 29 incident happened.

Taiwan's defense ministry said Monday that two Chinese fighter jets briefly crossed a line in the center of the Taiwan Strait that is considered an unofficial boundary between the airspace of both sides.

The fighter jets were attempting to intercept a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane, according to Asian media reports.

But the Pentagon said Wednesday the June 29 Chinese intercept did not take place in the center of the Taiwan Strait. One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it happened in international airspace over the East China Sea, north of Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait.

Regardless, relations between the U.S. and Chinese militaries have been rocky. China is unhappy with U.S. reconnaissance patrols near its coast and is suspicious of U.S. bases in South Korea and Japan.

China's rapid military buildup, including its growing aircraft carrier program, and its territorial disputes in the South China Sea have sparked concerns in the region.

The United States wants greater military transparency from Beijing over the military modernization and has warned about China's growing missile and cyber capabilities.

Self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as part of its sovereign territory, has been another major irritant in military relations. China has been furious about a 2010 package of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan worth up to $6.4 billion.

Iranian films to hit Pakistani cinemas

With the ongoing screenings of Hollywood and Bollywood films, Pakistani cinemas are now set to have a flavour of Iranian films, according to a report in the Daily Express. Lollywood is planning to import films from Iran, originally in Persian. The movies will be first dubbed in Urdu before their screenings in theatres.
(Read: “‘Delhi Belly’ denied public exhibition license in Pakistan”)
Currently details are being finalised by the local industry’s bigwigs. However, unlike the screenings of Indian films, which are criticised by Lollywood artists, the possible arrival of Iranian films in Pakistani cinemas is being appreciated in the film industry.
Lollywood’s warm welcome also comes because of the joint venture behind such screenings. Film-makers are looking forward to Pak-Iran joint ventures through Iranian support in the form of advanced technology and better storylines. According to a Lollywood insider, the Iranian film industry is ready to support Lollywood, which could help revive the declining film industry.
The Iranian films are considered to be part of an up-and-coming film industry with many post-revolution films screened at various international film festivals like Cannes, Venice, London and San Sebastian film festival. Since 1997, a number of Iranian films have been nominated for an Academy Award.
Hamza Ali Abbasi, a Pakistani actor and the director of Mud House and the Golden Doll, believes that the Iranian film industry should be taken as an example for the revival of the local film industry. “Our film industry should be more like the Iranian film industry where they tell the story in a simple manner and that gets screened all over the world. Pakistan, too, has a lot of talent, but the younger lot just needs to come up with an idea and they need to be encouraged to make something, no matter how silly it is. They should still be able to make something,” Abbasi told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2011.

Negotiated peace in Afghanistan: Talks with Taliban not enough

India and Pakistan Agree to Concessions on Kashmir

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan met here on Wednesday, agreeing to a set of small but significant concessions to ease tensions in the disputed border region of Kashmir and pledging to work towards closer ties between their mutually wary, nuclear-armed countries.
The meeting came just two weeks after three synchronized explosions ripped through the city of Mumbai at rush hour, killing 24 people, wounding more than 100 and raising fresh Indian suspicions about possible Pakistani subterfuge. The decision by both sides to proceed with the meeting anyway represented a clear indication that broad-based talks aimed at resolving issues between the two countries are back on track. They had been stalled for more than two years after Pakistani gunmen killed more than 160 people in a rampage through Mumbai.

“We have reaffirmed our commitment to resolve all outstanding issues through a comprehensive, serious and sustained dialogue,” said S. M. Krishna, India’s foreign minister, after the meeting.

“This is indeed a new era of bilateral cooperation,” said Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s 34-year-old new foreign minister, the first woman to hold that position and one of the youngest. “I believe it is the desire of both countries to make an uninterrupted and uninterruptible process.”

India and Pakistan share a long and fractious border and have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, which both claim as theirs. Other issues, like the sharing of the water from the Indus Valley rivers, are also difficult points of contention. Both countries have nuclear weapons. . The United States has long wanted India and Pakistan to resolve their differences so that Pakistan might focus its attention on fighting the Taliban and other Islamic militants on its western frontier.

The measures the ministers announced were relatively small but represent a significant change in tone and outlook for the relationship between the two countries, analysts said.

The number of days cross border trade will be allowed between the two sides of Kashmir will be doubled, from two to four. The two governments agreed to make it easier for Kashmiris from either side to cross the border. Travel permits are currently only issued to people with relatives on the other side, but on Wednesday the ministers agreed to allow people to visit for tourism and religious pilgrimages as well. They also pledged to reduce the amount of time it takes for applicants to secure travel permits to 45 days or less, rather than the 3 to 4 months it currently takes.

The two ministers agreed that they would meet in the first half of 2012 to discuss progress.

PML-N promises senatorship to TERRORIST Maulana ..

Shame on Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. Funded by OBL and aligned with Sipah-e-Sahaba, what future does PML-N offer to Pakistan?
Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz government in Punjab is not only protecting banned terrorist organization, but also gearing up for electoral alliances with Sipah-e-Sahaba(a Deobandi terrorist organization), which was officially banned in 2001, though still active’ energetic and spreading terror under the patronage of the Punjab government.

The analysis published in the ‘Islam Times’, describes the future election strategy of natural allied political parties PML-N and Sipah-e-Sahaba. The news/analysis reveals some new agreements between PML-N and Sipah-e-Sahaba, where both parties will jointly field Humza S/O Shahbaz Sharif against PML-Q’s stalwart Shiekh Waqas Akram.

In the first phase of the deal, a most dangerous man has been released from prison and received huge welcome in PML-N governed Punjab. Earlier a most dangerous man enjoyed Punjab government’s financial assistance ever since the Sharif’s came to power in 2008 and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed the disbursement.

The future election strategy of PML-N in Punjab and it’s alliance with Sipah-e-Sahaba is a worrisome development. However, this is not the first time that PML-N has established alliances with terrorist organisations.
Nawaz was convicted of hijacking a plane carrying Gen Musharraf from Colombo on October 12, 1999 and denying it to land in Karachi.

Diabetic Neuropathies

The first treatment step is to bring blood glucose levels within the normal range to help prevent further nerve damage. Blood glucose monitoring, meal planning, physical activity, and diabetes medicines or insulin will help control blood glucose levels. Symptoms may get worse when blood glucose is first brought under control, but over time, maintaining lower blood glucose levels helps lessen symptoms. Good blood glucose control may also help prevent or delay the onset of further problems. As scientists learn more about the underlying causes of neuropathy, new treatments may become available to help slow, prevent, or even reverse nerve damage.
As described in the following sections, additional treatment depends on the type of nerve problem and symptom. If you have problems with your feet, your doctor may refer you to a foot care specialist.
Pain Relief
Doctors usually treat painful diabetic neuropathy with oral medications, although other types of treatments may help some people. People with severe nerve pain may benefit from a combination of medications or treatments. Talk with your health care provider about options for treating your neuropathy.
Medications used to help relieve diabetic nerve pain include
tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, imipramine, and desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
other types of antidepressants, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine, bupropion (Wellbutrin), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa)
anticonvulsants, such as pregabalin (Lyrica), gabapentin (Gabarone, Neurontin), carbamazepine, and lamotrigine (Lamictal)
opioids and opioid-like drugs, such as controlled-release oxycodone, an opioid; and tramadol (Ultram), an opioid that also acts as an antidepressant
Duloxetine and pregabalin are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for treating painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
You do not have to be depressed for an antidepressant to help relieve your nerve pain. All medications have side effects, and some are not recommended for use in older adults or those with heart disease. Because over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may not work well for treating most nerve pain and can have serious side effects, some experts recommend avoiding these medications.
Treatments that are applied to the skin—typically to the feet—include capsaicin cream and lidocaine patches (Lidoderm, Lidopain). Studies suggest that nitrate sprays or patches for the feet may relieve pain. Studies of alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant, and evening primrose oil have shown that they can help relieve symptoms and may improve nerve function.
A device called a bed cradle can keep sheets and blankets from touching sensitive feet and legs. Acupuncture, biofeedback, or physical therapy may help relieve pain in some people. Treatments that involve electrical nerve stimulation, magnetic therapy, and laser or light therapy may be helpful but need further study. Researchers are also studying several new therapies in clinical trials.
Gastrointestinal Problems
To relieve mild symptoms of gastroparesis—indigestion, belching, nausea, or vomiting—doctors suggest eating small, frequent meals; avoiding fats; and eating less fiber. When symptoms are severe, doctors may prescribe erythromycin to speed digestion, metoclopramide to speed digestion and help relieve nausea, or other medications to help regulate digestion or reduce stomach acid secretion.
To relieve diarrhea or other bowel problems, doctors may prescribe an antibiotic such as tetracycline, or other medications as appropriate.
Dizziness and Weakness
Sitting or standing slowly may help prevent the light-headedness, dizziness, or fainting associated with blood pressure and circulation problems. Raising the head of the bed or wearing elastic stockings may also help. Some people benefit from increased salt in the diet and treatment with salt-retaining hormones. Others benefit from high blood pressure medications. Physical therapy can help when muscle weakness or loss of coordination is a problem.To clear up a urinary tract infection, the doctor will probably prescribe an antibiotic. Drinking plenty of fluids will help prevent another infection. People who have incontinence should try to urinate at regular intervals—every 3 hours, for example—since they may not be able to tell when the bladder is full.

PPP leader blasts PML-N

A Pakistan People’s Party MNA said the PML-N had been enjoying luxuries of power but they did nothing for the people of Pakistan.
“Nawaz Sharif collected heaps of property and factories in foreign countries and is raising slogans of revolution to give false hopes to the people,” Chaudhry Sajjadul Hussan said on the occasion of opening of different power projects. “This will be done by the PPP with the help of people.”
The PPP leader said that his party had completed development projects worth billions of rupees so far and still further projects costing billions of rupees were being started. He said that during the three and half years time, the PPP had added 3,000 mega watts to national grid and further 2,000 mega watts will be added in the next year. Today, he said, loadshedding was about 8 to 10 hours and it will be curtailed to 2 hours very soon.
He said that the present government would eliminate this loadshedding.
He said that Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani would visit Okara after Eidul Fitr. During his visit, he will announce various development projects for the districts.

LUHAR Nawaz Sharif elected PML-N President unopposed

The Central Working Committee of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) elected Nawaz Sharif as its president, Geo News reported. He has been elected unopposed.No ballot papers have been printed for the election of all the top seven slots, including PML-N president.

100,000 flee Kurram offensive

Up to 100,000 people have fled their homes in the Kurram tribal region after the military launched an offensive against militants, officials said Wednesday.

Thousands of families escaped from the region after the operation began early this month.

Militants and Taliban groups active in Afghanistan are reported to have bases and training camps in Kurram.

“We have so far registered at least 9,944 families — up to 100,000 people,” senior government official Sahibzada Anis, who is supervising help for the refugees, told AFP.

He said that about 1,800 families were living in temporary camps but many others had shifted either to relatives’ houses or to rented premises.

“These camps have been set up in schools and colleges, which are closed for summer vacations,” he said. “The government may extend vacations if the operation prolongs in Kurram.”

When it launched the offensive, the army vowed to clear Kurram of all militants, including those behind suicide attacks and the kidnapping and killing of locals.

Pakistan’s seven tribal districts bordering Afghanistan are rife with a home-grown insurgency, and are also strongholds of the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives.

Two more schools blown up in Khyber Agency

Militants blew up two more government-run schools in Akakhel area of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency on Monday night, tribal sources said. The sources said that the militants blew up the Government High School for Boys in Zawa area in Bara tehsil late in the night. In Mantalab area of Akakhel, the sources said, the militants destroyed the Government Primary School for Girls by blowing it with explosives. No casualty was reported in the two explosions. According to the Education Department officials, militants have destroyed about 60 government-run educational institutions in Khyber Agency over the last two years.

Chief Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa declares July 25 martys day

Chief Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has announced observing July 25 Martyrs Day in future, saying that the sacrifices of thousands of children, women and senior citizens including Mian Rashid Hussein in the war against terror would be remembered for ever.

Addressing a function held here in Nishtar Hall in connections with first death anniversary of Mian Rashid Hussein son of Mian Iftikhar Hussein on Monday, the chief minister said that despite strong opposition they held negotiations with the extremists of Swat.Others who address the function were included provincial president, ANP, Senator Afrasiab Khan Khattak, Provincial Minister for Information, Mian Iftikhar Hussein and other central and provincial leadership of ANP.

He said that conspiracies are being hatched against Pakhtuns in the region with the involvement of the foreign forces, saying that the government is ready for competing these conspiracies. He said that fighting terrorism is the problem of national salvation and that battling it in best manner requires the unit of the whole nation and all political parties. Otherwise, the history he said will not forgive them.The chief minister said that they had inherited the menaces of terrorism and lawlessness.

However, he said ANP succeeded in the restoration of the writ of the government due to its own policies. He said that during the war on terror innocent people were martyred, adding that the sacrifices of those people will not go in waste. He said that before coming into power, when situation was deteriorated in Waziristan then their party leader, Asfandyar Wali Khan raised voice against it and said that if the fire was not put off then it will spread in the whole country. But, no one give it attention and the result was known to the whole world.

The chief minister said that the provincial government is taking measures for the restoration of peace in the province, saying that the war against terrorisms would continue till the establishment of the writ of the government and elimination of the terrorism. About the achievements of the ANP government in the province, he said that the announcement of the NFC Award, renaming of the province, payment of the outstanding arrears in head of hydel power generation, guaranteeing of provincial autonomy and protection of the rights of the province at the achievements of the government. He said that the provincial government was working to speed up the pace of development in the province, saying that in case of failure in making bid decisions regarding the restoration of peace in the region then the elimination of the menace of terrorism will not be possible.

The chief minister said that the policy of ANP regarding extremism and militancy is very much clear and they will carry this thinking forward. On the demand of the people, he said the provincial government enforced Shariah Nizam Adl in Malakand Division and reiterated the offer of negotiations to those abandoning the mean of terror and accepts the writ of the government.He said that they have achieved right over the resources of the province and billion of rupees have been shifted to the treasury of the provincial government. He, on the occasion, announced the construction of the campus of Abdul Wali Khan University in Nowshera and Mian Rashid Hussein College and his memorial monument at Akbarpura. The chief minister said that the targeting of the lone son of Mian Iftikhar was a message to the officials of the party to stop resistance against terrorists, but it is the honour of the followers of the Bacha Khan that they have rendered sacrifices for restoration of peace in past and continuing it even today and will carry it even tomorrow.

The chief minister paid tribes to the bravery and courage of Mian Iftikhar Hussein and said that majority of the elements involved in the murder of Mian Rashid Hussein have been eliminated and remaining will also face the same fate. History, he said will remember those who have rendered sacrifices and not the cruel. He announced the approval of an amount of Rs.12.2 million for the construction of the memorial monument of Mian Rashid Hussein and construction of a college in his memory.

Rehman Malik’s strange ways


Strange are the ways of interior minister Rehman Malik

– dumbfounding, bewildering and unquestioningly baneful. He is ambiguous where he should be specific and circumspect where he necessarily should be bluntly outspoken. Over these times, not once but on many an occasion he has said gunmen from an African country land into Karachi in the morning, perpetrate bloodletting in the city, and then fly back in the evening to their base. Curiously, never ever has he said what collaboration had he sought, if at all, with the African country for its not becoming the sanctuary of those gunmen, what measures had he taken to prevent their lethal influx into the country and how many gunmen had his security apparatus apprehended when in the port city to soak it with innocent blood. He now says that “an African country” has supplied Pakistan a list of people involved in Karachi bloodletting. Presumably, he is alluding to the African state he has spoken of frequently in the past, and the list probably pertains to the gunmen who he has been saying land in the port city in the morning and return to their African sanctuary in the evening. It isn’t unusual that the world intelligence agencies share information with one another on terrorists and criminals for action. And if that African country’s intelligence has passed on to Islamabad the information about criminals coming from there to perpetrate vile acts here, one has to thank it gratefully. But that still leaves the question unanswered as to what diplomatic steps has Rehman, or for that matter the government of Pakistan, taken for the shutting down of the sanctuary of the Karachi-bloodying gunmen in that African country. More pertinently, why is Rehman so puritanically shy of identifying the African country as well as the gunmen? He must know that the world is now not just a global village but because of the information technology revolution a leaky sieve as well. Secrets now do not stay in lockers or cupboards for long. It is not just the WikiLeaks that has laid hold of a dump of confidential US diplomatic cables. It is not that hackers often break into the tightly-secured secret lockers. With its numerous mediums of websites, blogs and what not, the internet has turned into a formidable information-disseminator and secret-buster. And then that ancient information-peddling tool, the personal information, still lives in all its pristine glory. No matter what devices Rehman may employ to cloak over the identity of the African country and the gunmen in question, the reality is coming out to the public fore. The people are talking. They are not only naming the country, the most prominent democratic state of Africa. They are even naming a particular community of Karachi that has carved out a whole part of that African country’s capital city as its redoubt. As such, muffling over the truth by Rehman for the political expediencies of the government he is part of wouldn’t do. That indeed would hurt this nation more, and may not even be helpful to his own government in the long run. Speaking up unambiguously and specifically in all probability may end up in the closing down of that African hideout for the gunmen to the great relief to the nation, especially the distressed residents of its beleaguered port city of Karachi. His eccentricity otherwise spells nothing else but all the more pain for his nation. But this abnormality has evidently become Rehman’s inseparable part, for which the country is paying a heavy price in multiple ways. With his reticence, he is letting the Indians get away with wholesale denigration of Pakistan over the issue of the Mumbai episode. Neither does he speak out persistently or emphatically that it is for want of due cooperation of the Indians that the trial of the suspects in Pakistan’s custody is getting delayed. Nor does he speak loudly of the legal hitches that stand in the way of providing the voice samples of the accused that the Indians want. He only mumbles sporadically; and that too, too feebly to be audible.Rehman must change. His eccentricities are creating more problems and difficulties for this country and its people. He must speak up where he must necessarily; and stop to be ambiguous and circumspect. He must open up with specifics and actualities.

U.S. trucking contracts funded Taliban, source says

A U.S. military task force has discovered that part of a $2.16 billion transportation contract was diverted through a murky network of subcontractors and into the hands of a group of Afghan power-brokers, criminals and Taliban insurgents, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

Roughly $600 million of the contract had been spent before authorities were alerted to the scandal, the source said, citing an internal report.
Only part of that money, however, is believed to have been diverted to "nefarious elements," the source added.
A Pentagon official told CNN the full $2.16 billion contract covered the movement and transportation of 70% of the material needed for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Officials were first alerted to the possibility of a scandal in June 2010, after a Congressional inquiry prompted the creation of a joint task force to investigate potential criminal dealings surrounding U.S. contracts.
The group gathered financial reports, prime and subcontract documents and other negotiations from between 2009 and 2010, prompting authorities to make major changes in their existing contract award and accounting system.
But much of the damage had already been done.
"There were indications dollars were flowing to criminals or to the enemy," sad the Pentagon official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the record but who has direct knowledge of the U.S. assessment.
The official said it appears some of the payments were given for truckers to be assured of safe passage through insurgent areas of Afghanistan. As has happened in other instances, trucking contractors paid off local drivers who then turned around and paid local security forces, who in turn paid insurgents in their areas.
The year-long investigation uncovered "nefarious" conduct in at least four of eight trucking companies the U.S. government uses to deliver food and supplies to soldiers and civilians in forward operating bases and other U.S. installations across Afghanistan.
The internal document -- which was first reported by The Washington Post -- identified the firms as either exclusively Afghan or as joint ventures with international companies.
CNN reporting comes from an independent source, familiar with the contents of the report.
The companies were later identified as "high-risk" firms, having subcontracted out to smaller entities without sufficient accounting measures, the source said.
In one instance, $7.4 million was transferred into the bank account of a "low-level police officer."
After a series of transactions, including multiple withdraws, officials then traced $3.3 million in weapons, explosives and cash transfers "to the enemy," the source said.
An small army of intelligence analysts, law enforcement officers, lawyers, auditors and forensic accountants mapped out an interlocking network of trucking contractors, and their dealings with dozens of subcontractors.
Some were only "profiteering," the source said, likely without a clear understanding of where some of the funds delivered.
The contract program, called Host Nation Trucking -- which expires in September -- has since been replaced by a more stringent system that requires up to 40 different contractors -- an effort to reduce overall reliance on a single firm.
The new program is also meant to tighten accounting measures of second and third party vendors, an area various groups had previously been able to exploit, the source said.
"When you have the extent of corruption we may have seen with these contracts, that's clearly not acceptable and they have to change the way they are doing business," Lisa Curtis, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told CNN.
"But ... it's unrealistic to think something like this would not happen given the influence of the Taliban, the fact that they are intimidating the population every day," Curtis added.
Government officials are currently pursuing corrective actions against the trucking firms, including suspensions and limits on work, though all eight companies still remain on the U.S. payroll.

Kandahar mayor killed in Afghan blast

A bomb attack has killed Afghanistan's Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi and wounded another, an Afghan official says.

"An explosion ripped through Municipality department of Kandahar city, the capital of Kandahar province this morning, killing Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi," Xinhua quoted spokesman for the provincial administration Zalmai Ayubi as saying on Wednesday.

The bomb detonated when Hamidi was addressing citizens in the courtyard of the city hall of Kandahar.

"Mayor Hamidi was meeting with some people when a man planed explosive device in his turban entered the meeting hall and blew it up, killing the Mayor and injured another," a press release added.

The bomber was also killed in the blast, the press release said.

The incident took place just two weeks after the controversial and powerful brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was assassinated in the same city.

There has been surge in attacks on Afghan officials over the past years, which have claimed the lives of many of them.

The security situation has steadily worsened across Afghanistan over the past few years despite the presence of around 150,000 US-led foreign troops in the country.

Female senators to Saudi Arabia: Let women drive

Fourteen female senators, Democrat and Republican, sent a letter to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Tuesday urging him to end the country's ban on women driving.

Saudi Arabia is the only nation in the world that prohibits women from driving. A group of Saudi women defied the ban last month in protest of the rule.

The senators said in the letter that they support those in Saudi Arabia calling for an end to the ban. "Maintaining such a restriction stands in stark contrast with the commitments your government has made to promote the rights of Saudi women," they wrote.

In June 2009, the Saudi government agreed to the majority of the recommendations put forward by a United Nations human rights working group, including to "abolish all legislation, measures and practices that discriminate against women." The recommendations specifically mentioned driving. Additionally, Saudi Arabia was recently elected as a member of the board of UN Women, which is dedicated to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The nation has taken some steps to better integrate women into society, such as appointing the first female deputy minister. The senators said, however, that "more must be done and lifting the driving ban would be a critical step forward."

Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced her support the women who defied the driving ban, but she stressed that the demonstrations were not spurred by any U.S. involvement.

Saudi Arabia Authorities Block Website of Amnesty International

Rights group Amnesty International said on Monday that its website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia after the group criticised a draft Saudi anti-terrorism law.
"Access to Amnesty International's website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia... following the organization's criticism of a draft anti-terror law that would stifle peaceful protest in the kingdom," it said in a statement.
Amnesty had on Friday called on Saudi King Abdullah to make changes to the law, criticising provisions of a leaked copy of the law it said it had obtained.
Amnesty said that under the Draft Penal Law for Terrorism Crimes and Financing Terrorism, the authorities could detain people "potentially indefinitely" without charge or trial.
The legislation would also give the authorities power to imprison for at least 10 years anybody who questions the integrity of King Abdullah or Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, it said.
"Instead of attacking those raising concerns and attempting to block debate, the Saudi Arabian government should amend the draft law to ensure that it does not muzzle dissent and deny basic rights," Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's Middle East and north Africa director, said in Monday's statement.
While Saudi Arabia has not seen protests on the same scale as some other countries in the Middle East, activists have held demonstrations calling for reforms and the release of prisoners, especially in the kingdom's east, where most of its minority Shiite population lives.

Hina Rabbani Khar: An instant hit with Indian media and masses alike

Pakistan's new 34-year-old female foreign minister has won instant fans in India where a flurry of flattering headlines Wednesday greeted her first trip to the country.

Hina Rabbani Khar appeared to have had an instant impact on one of the world's most tense bilateral relations, with her photo adorning the front pages of most Indian newspapers amid high interest in her arrival.

"Pak Puts On Its Best Face," noted The Times of India, the biggest-selling English-language daily, while mass circulation Hindi newspaper Navbharat Times said India was "sweating over model-like minister."

"Pak bomb lands in India," joked the Mumbai Mirror tabloid in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the history of wars between the countries and attacks by Pakistani militant groups on Indian soil.

In a rarity for the Indian media, not known for assessing the dress-sense of previous Pakistani visitors, the Mail Today tabloid devoted extensive space to her choice of outfit as she flew in to New Delhi airport on Tuesday.

"The 34-year-old minister scored full marks on the fashion front when she was spotted at the Delhi airport in a monotone outfit of blue -- the colour of the season," it said.

"Tasteful accessories -- Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, oversized Hermes Birkin bag and classic pearl jewellery -- added a hint of glamour to her look," it added.

The Telegraph newspaper meanwhile compared fresh-faced Khar, a married mother of two who caused a stir at home after being photographed in tight jeans, with her elderly counterpart S.M. Krishna.

"In the unkind world of adjectives, the odds are stacked against SMK and in favour of HRK," it said, using the ministers' initials. "Khar carries with ease descriptions such as 'stunning' and 'petite'."

Krishna, a 79-year-old who takes great pride in his tailored suits, might face a tough job attracting attention later Wednesday when the two pose for photographs at the start of their talks.

"All eyes on glamorous Pak minister," said the Rediff website. "She is clearly being looked at as a perfect combination of beauty and brains."

The Indian Twittersphere was also ablaze with commentary on the Pakistani envoy, who has taken over from Shah Mehmood Qureshi who drew criticism in the Indian media over his strong language last time he met Krishna.

Journalist and author Seema Goswami saw a link between the monsoonal downpour that struck the Indian capital Wednesday morning and the generally fawning coverage of Khar.

"Even the Delhi skies are drooling," she wrote.

In Pakistan, headscarf-wearing Khar has drawn inevitable comparisons toBenazir Bhutto, the charismatic female prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated when trying to regain power in 2007.

Like Bhutto, she comes from one of Pakistan's leading political and land-owning families and her clan has extensive farms in Punjab, the richest and most populous province.

The foreign ministers of the nuclear-armed niehgbours are holding their first talks in a year, looking to breathe fresh life into a peace process still stifled by the trauma of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

India suspended contacts with its arch-rival after the attacks and their peace dialogue has struggled to gain any real traction since its formal resumption earlier this year.

Observers expect little to emerge from Wednesday's meeting beyond some modest confidence-building measures connected to relatively uncontentious issues such as cross-border trade and people-to-people contacts.