Saturday, March 31, 2012
http://sizly.com/...Oil prices have been rising dramatically the past few weeks because of the unrest in the Middle East. Pump prices in America are high, but compared to what Europeans are paying, they may seem like a bargain. In the U.S., Wednesday’s national average for gasoline was at $3.53 per gallon, as monitored by AAA. That’s the 16th straight day prices have increased; prices are already 34 cents higher. In Oslo, Norway, however, the price per gallon is $9.28, according to Norwegian search and news site Din Side. And according to the International Energy Administration (IEA), most Europeans, specifically the British, Irish, Germans, French, and Italians, shell out between $7.50 to $8.00 per gallon at the pump. In Denmark, it was $8.20 per gallon in February. In Greece, they pay $8.45 a gallon. Europeans have their own fuel supplies, so the higher prices do not necessarily come from heavy dependence on foreign supplies. In fact, Norway has a successful oil industry in the Atlantic, as well as the U.K.“The difference between countries comes down to taxes and subsidies,” explained Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service. “Prices are incredibly high in Europe because of the stiff taxes that EU countries put on fuel. The same holds true for many other countries.” Italy’s oil production company, Eni, is the top oil producer in Libya. But Italians paid $7.77 per gallon on average last February, said the IEA. Aside from Europe, the Japanese also have higher gas prices. At the end of last month, they were forking out $6.30 per gallon. And in Canada, the average is $4.49 per gallon. On the other hand, cheaper gas prices are pretty much the norm among OPEC nations in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Venezuela and Nigeria. Kloza attributes this to state oil subsidies. “There are some countries, Venezuela comes to mind, where the street price is subsidized and you might hear about a very cheap retail number,” said Kloza. “The same holds true for India and China and some other emerging countries where the prices are subsidized by the state.” In 2008, when gas prices peaked at $4.11 per gallon in the U.S., the average retail per gallon was less than $1 in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. In Venezuela, it was $0.12 to a gallon.
The US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday said that the Afghanistan is making progress against the Taliban. Addressing US Marines, Panetta said the Congress would be irresponsible if it doesn't act to prevent drastic military budget cuts. A budget agreement reached last August calls for defence cuts of $487 billion over a decade, a reflection of the drawdown of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the pressure to reduce the nation's deficit. Answering questions from troops and journalists, Panetta also said last year was a turning point for the war in Afghanistan, where the US is winding down its combat role. Afghan forces are doing their job in the country and more than 50 percent of the Afghan population is now living in areas secured by the Afghan government - showing the US strategy of handing over the security to them is working - but ultimately it will be up to Afghans, the secretary said. "We can't let anything, anything undermine that strategy," he said. He said the level of violence in Afghanistan dropped last year for the first time in five years and the Taliban was weakened.
.S. says Washington and Moscow's approach to the Syrian bloodshed are poles apart but the two governments are still talking.
A Bahraini man died on Saturday after being shot during an anti-government march a day earlier, his relative and the opposition said, blaming his death on what they described as loyalist militia members. The government's media arm, known as the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority (IAA), confirmed that Ahmed Ismail, 22, bled to death after being shot on Friday. Mohammed bu Daniel said his cousin was taking pictures of a demonstration when what he described as "militia members" in an unmarked car opened fire on him. "They took him to Salmaniya hospital and he was martyred there at 4:30." Al-Wefaq, Bahrain's main opposition party said: "The details as related by witnesses and family indicate that the martyr Ahmed was near the main road with a camera in hand for documentation. Civilian police patrols were present and there were armed militias with them... One of the people in one of the cars fired live rounds into the protesters and into the air." Bahrain, where the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family dominates political and economic life, has been bitterly divided since authorities quelled a mainly Shi'ite pro-democracy uprising last March. A year on, protests still flare daily in Shi'ite areas, often ending in violence. The IAA said the case would be investigated as murder, after hearing from people close to the victim that the shots had been fired by men in an unmarked vehicle. "The cause of death according to the medical examiner was critical bleeding due to the wound that had penetrated the upper right thigh, severing the main blood vessel and exiting the other side," it said in a statement. The Gulf state is keen to show it is making progress on reforms it pledged to implement following international criticism of its crackdown on demonstrations, during which at least 1,000 people were detained and several died under torture, by Bahrain's own admission. Protesters have called for curbs on the ruling family's power and an end to sectarian discrimination. A few Shi'ite groups also called for the monarchy to be replaced with a republic. Bahrain's rulers, who invited troops from Sunni monarchies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help quash the uprising, have accused Shi'ite neighbor Iran of fomenting unrest. Iran denies this. Opposition parties say government reform promises are little more than window-dressing to impress Western allies. Bahrain is due to host the Formula One grand prix in April. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, an activist serving a life sentence for his role in the protests, was taken to hospital on Friday, having been on hunger strike for over one month, his lawyer said. A founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Khawaja was convicted on charges including forming and organizing a "terrorist group" to end the Al Khalifa monarchy. Rights group Amnesty International called for his release on Friday. "They took Abdulhadi to the hospital yesterday night, and we only found out this morning," the lawyer, Mohammed al-Jishi said. "I am in the hospital now. I'm trying to see him but until now they haven't let me."
AL ARABIYA NEWS Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have captured the deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Damascus and its suburbs, Al Arabiya TV reported on Saturday. Colonel al-Moatasim Billah Abu al-Walid is the deputy of Colonel General Khaled Habous who heads the FSA’s operations in the capital and the surrounding area. The capture of Abu al-Walid came days after a report stating that Syrian opposition fighters were planning a campaign of guerrilla warfare in Damascus following a daring operation that took place in the capital’s most secure district of Mezza. The opposition army had set up a military council to coordinate operations around Damascus, bringing the year-old conflict to the capital. The FSA chain of command has been divided and mostly localized. Top leaders General Mustafa al-Sheikh and Lieutenant Colonel Riad al-Asaad are living in Turkey. Colonel Asaad had said the formation of a new military council was “a step towards guaranteeing the unity of the troops and armed forces (of the opposition) on Syrian territory.” Opposition fighters, lightly armed, have been on the retreat from cities since the start of March in the face of the far superior firepower of government forces. The fighters have turned to swift hit-and-run raids, with Damascus, which has been largely spared the worst of the bloodshed, becoming a prime target over the past week.
Yemeni anti-regime peaceful protesters have once again poured into the streets in the southern city of Taizz, calling for the fulfillment of their revolution’s goals. Demonstrators held rallies and chanted slogans demanding an end to the corruption and the expulsion of deposed dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh’s family members and loyalists from key positions in the interim government. Yemeni protesters further highlighted that there has been no improvement in the country and their legitimate demands have not been met. According to the Yemeni Youth Revolution movement this is partly due to Saleh and his inner circle’s intervention while the interim government is also comprised of people who are not fit for their jobs. Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years, stepped down in February under a US-backed power transfer deal in return for immunity. His deputy, UK-trained field marshal Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, replaced him on February 25 following a single-candidate presidential election backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Hadi will serve for an interim two-year period as stipulated by the power transfer deal which granted Saleh and his closest allies immunity from prosecution. Saleh's eldest son Ahmed now commands the elite Republican Guard, his nephew Yehya heads the central security services and another nephew, Tariq, controls the Presidential Guard. Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party also has17 ministers in the new 34-member cabinet.
Civil-rights leaders from the NAACP and other groups led thousands of other protesters on Saturday in a march to the city’s police headquarters to demand the arrest of the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and NAACP President Benjamin Jealous were among those leading the rally through Sanford’s streets, marching behind a huge yellow banner with the words “Justice for Trayvon.” “We want an arrest. Shot in the chest,” marchers chanted.
Pakistani authorities were unable to trace the reports of two commissions that investigated the funding of politicians by the ISI in 1990, the government's top law officer informed the Supreme Court on Friday.When a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry resumed.by ex-air force chief Asghar Khan against the distribution of funds among politicians by the ISI, Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq said the reports of two commissions that probed the issue could not be found in the Law Ministry. The Chief Justice remarked that the reports were very important and need to be declassified. He directed the Attorney General to produce them in court at the next hearing on April 23. The bench also took up a recent media report which had alleged that Rs 270 million were withdrawn from the Intelligence Bureau's secret fund to change the government in Punjab province in 2009. Intelligence Bureau chief Aftab Sultan, who personally appeared in court, sought more time to ascertain the facts. Sultan told the bench that the register in which expenditures from the secret fund were recorded was unavailable on Friday. Besides, he pointed out, the reasons for such expenditures are not mentioned in the register. The Chief Justice remarked that the Intelligence Bureau's secret fund was meant to be used for the national interest and not to weaken democracy. He directed the spy agency chief to check the accounts for 2009 and inform the apex court if funds were spent as had been alleged in the media report. The Chief Justice said the journalist who filed the report was standing by his claims while the Intelligence Bureau had not denied the accusations as yet. He asked the Intelligence Bureau chief to submit his response in a sealed envelope at the next hearing. The Supreme Court recently resumed hearing on Asghar Khan's petition against the funding of politicians by the ISI after a gap of over 12 years. Banker Yunus Habib has testified in court that he arranged Rs 1.48 billion for the military, and about Rs 400 million were distributed among politicians linked to the army-backed Islami Jamhoori Ittehad in a bid to prevent the Pakistan People's Party from coming to power in the 1990 general election.
Patterns of death THE NEWS The minority Hazara community based primarily in Quetta continues to come under attack again and again. This time the killings took place on the Spini Road in the Balochistan capital, as a van carrying Hazaras returning to Hazara Town - one of the areas where the minority Shia community lives in larger numbers - came under gunfire. Five of the victims including a woman died instantly, six others were taken to hospital. It has been stated in the past by Hazara community leaders, and is no doubt the case, that it is the extremist Sunni groups that are targeting them — though some believe their ethnicity may also be a factor. The Spini Road incident on Thursday was followed by more violence as angry protests broke out in Hazara dominated areas, with infuriated people condemning the failure of the authorities to protect them. A police check post and a girl’s college were torched and firing led to the deaths of two more people - a policeman and a protester. Rage is clearly rising. It is hard to understand why so little has been done to deal with the fanatics who have splintered into many groups. Meanwhile, another act of murder in the town of Mastung claimed two local workers employed with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Killings of this kind too have been seen before. These patterns of death never seem to change, winding like serpents gobbling much of the peace and calm that we try to retain. The government has miserably failed to protect people from the monster of hate and obscurantism. As citizens we deserve to hear some answers.
Vanya Mishra, a 19-year-old student from Chandigarh, Prachi Mishra, a 24-year-old investment advisor from Allahabad and 23-year-old TV anchor Rochelle Maria Rao from Chennai won the top honours at the Pantaloons Femina Miss India beauty pageant.