Friday, April 20, 2012
The Jakarta Post, JakartaA 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck the west coast of North Sumatra on Saturday morning, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported. The quake struck at 5:14 a.m. with an epicenter located at a depth of 34 kilometers, 368 km southwest of Meulaboh or 427km southwest of Banda Aceh. The tremor, however, did not trigger a tsunami. There were also no immediate reports of damage. Less than two weeks ago, Aceh and its surrounding areas were struck by an 8.5-magnitude quake and dozens of aftershocks, which also triggered a mini-tsunami. The earthquake claimed five lives, mostly due to heart attacks.
France votes in the first round of a presidential election Sunday with Socialist Francois Hollande the favourite over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, whose personal style and handling of the economy alienated many voters.
washingtonpost.comEmmanuelle Lellig was having none of it.
Washington Post For months foreign leaders and environmentalists have wondered whether President Obama would attend a landmark U.N. conference slated for late June, known as the “Rio+20 Summit.” The answer remains unknown.. In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, U.S. special envoy on climate change Todd Stern said that when it comes to the prospect of Obama attending the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, “I don’t have any understanding that the president has any intention of going.” Administration officials, who asked not to be identified because the question concerned a future scheduling matter, said Tuesday that a final decision had not been made. A White House official wrote in an e-mail that when it came to Obama’s possible attendance at Rio+20, “I don’t have any scheduling announcements at this time.” More than 120 presidents and prime ministers from around the globe—including the leaders of China, India and Germany—have announced they’ll attend a high-level segment of the gathering, scheduled for June 20-22. The meeting, which marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, has major symbolic significance even though it remains unclear whether it will produce many concrete results. Two decades ago President George H.W. Bush attended the initial summit, which produced major environmental agreements including the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity. Jacob Scherr, global strategy and advocacy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said he and others hope Obama will show up. “We’ve known for a long time the president’s been undecided. We’re still hopeful that the administration will continue to consider whether the president will go,” he said in an interview. “We think it would be a real tragedy if the U.S. is missing in this effort to try to put the world on a more sustainable path.” George W. Bush chose not to attend the U.N. Earth Summit in 2002, which took place in Johannesberg. Scherr said that if Obama chose to skip the event, “It will be noticed by the rest of the world.” Just last week, Obama joined other Latin American heads of state in issuing a joint communique in which the leaders reiterated “our commitment to ensure broad participation” at the summit’s high-level session. “The Conference will be an invaluable opportunity to rethink the current models of development,” the statement added. Stern’s comments came on the same day when the top U.N. climate official played down any expectations that the Rio+20 summit would produce any binding agreements. In a briefing hosted by the U.N. Foundation in Washington, UNFCC executive secretary Cristiana Figueres said the meeting “is not a technical negotiation.” where “countries agree on the legal structure that is going to be the guiding or underpinning [for a] collective effort.” ”Rio is about a bigger conversation,” she said. “What kind of society do we really want? What are we headed to?”
''Secularism is not against religion; it is the message of humanity.''This was the gist of the speeches delivered by eminent speakers at the launch of the Pakistan chapter of the Forum of Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971 at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday. Prior to the launch, a documentary Portraits of Jihad directed by distinguished Bangladeshi filmmaker Shahriar Kabir was screened. The subject of the film was the spread of religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh. It gave a detailed account of how extremist groups tried to shake the foundation of Bangladeshi society through terror, making their recruits acquire training abroad and target those who spoke against fundamentalism or upheld secular values. It was a moving documentary that commenced with the footage of an attempt on the life of Shaikh Haseena Wajid in 2004 and ended on a positive note with Lalon Fakir’s mystical words. Iqbal Haider, the president of the forum, complimented the people of Bangladesh for having got rid of militancy. He said the foundation of Bangladesh was laid on four principles enshrined in their constitution — secularism, socialism, nationalism and democracy — which made all the difference. “On the contrary, we Pakistanis are infected with fundamentalism, ethnicity, sectarianism etc,” he said, and claimed that the largest number of Muslims were killed (by Muslims) in Pakistan. He said that extremists were free to attack jails, shrines and schools; 900 schools were destroyed by Taliban within the last three years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, depriving children of education. Following the path of secularism did not mean deviating from the basic principles of Islam, he argued. “Secularism is the message of humanity; it is not against religion,” he concluded. Shahriar Kabir informed the media that when the BNP and Jamaat-i-Islami were in power in Bangladesh, a vibrant civil society movement in the country took root because of which extremist forces suffered a humiliating defeat in the next elections. He said Bangladesh had succeeded in coming up with a viable education policy introducing uniform curriculum in schools and madressahs. He was of the view that no government could fight against terrorism without the help of civil society. With respect to Pakistan, he said he was optimistic as the people of the country were not fundamentalists. Speaking about the importance of the forum, he said while religious parties had built their networks all over the world, those who spoke with reasoning did not know each other. Senator Hasil Bizenjo praised the way Mr Kabir’s documentary highlighted a sensitive issue, and lamented that despite the fact that Pakistan was more affected by violence no such documentaries were made in the country. He remarked it was time that intellectuals of Pakistan came forward. Artiste Sheema Kermani stated that there were two victims of fundamentalism — women and art & culture —, adding that “we could only move forward if we adopted secularism; otherwise there is little hope for Pakistan”. She complained that the media, especially the electronic media, did not give enough coverage to the activities that highlighted tolerant values. Advocate Javed Qazi agreed with Shahriar Kabir that there should be a Sufi conference in Pakistan and told the media that it could be held in Karachi in winter. Later, the host of the programme, Munazza Siddiqui, read out the names of the ad hoc committee of the forum.
Footage has emerged showing the wreckage of a Bhoja Airline Boeing 737 which crashed in bad weather minutes before it was due to land in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.
http://www.newspakistan.pkCounsel for Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, reiterated his stance saying letter should not be written to the Swiss authorities until Asif Ali Zardari holds the office president. Aitzaz while arguing before a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court said his client relied on the summary of the Ministry of Law, which had advised him against writing letter to the Swiss authorities. The bench questioned why writing the letter was being taken as move against President Asif Ali Zardari, observing that it was concerned with civil rights. In counter-argument, Justice Sarmad Jalal questioned whether the prime minister was bound to uphold the summary or not? On this, the lawyer replied in negative, saying the premier thought that the letter to Swiss officials could not be written presently. Justice Nasirul Mulk on the occasion noted that the matter relating to presidential immunity was not at all raised at the stage of review while his colleague Justice Ejaz Afzal said that the premier had taken a firm stand against the court’s verdict. The counsel for the premier said that writing letter to Swiss authorities meant giving up on presidential immunity. Justice Gulzar on this occasion raised a question, “What makes you scary about writing letter”? On this, Aitzaz replied that he was afraid of disgracing the President of Pakistan. Justice Nasirul-Mulk said that nothing would happen due to immunity if the letter was written. He asked whether Swiss courts would open on writing letter. Aitzaz to this query answered that writing letter would demean the President. He continued that heads of states do not surrender their sovereignty in front of another country’s magistrate. The bench adjourned the hearing till Tuesday, April 24, 2012. During Thursday’s hearing, referring to the six options that the Supreme Court had rolled out before the premier on January 10, Ahsan had said that this was a perfect example of a “pre-trial” and these options were nothing but a conundrum and were like “nuclear bombs, daisy-cutters and carpet bombing”. Yousaf Raza Gilani was charged with contempt of court on February-13 over the government’s two-year refusal to write to authorities in Switzerland asking them to re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.