Tuesday, May 1, 2012
President Obama, speaking early Wednesday in Afghanistan, said the U.S. will stick to the 2014 deadline to turn over security fully to the Afghan government.
AAJ TVSindh Information Minister, Shazia Marri,
It’s been a year of high-profile anti-capitalist struggle across the western world with sit-ins, occupations, strikes and demonstrations grabbing the headlines. And to commemorate Labor Day, around 2,000 people marched through central London in solidarity with workers across the world. This year’s Labor Day comes at a very relevant time as the UK government is enacting harsh austerity measures which many feel are targeting the poor and ordinary workers. So the message from the marchers today is “no” to austerity and “no” to the coalition government. At a rally in Trafalgar Square, union leaders told the crowd that the government is ruling on behalf of rich elites at the expense of the poor. Just last week it was confirmed that Britain has slipped into a double-dip recession. The government says spending cuts are necessary to address the huge budget deficit and national debt, but critics say they’re just choking growth. Next week tens of thousands of civil servants, lecturers, health workers and other employees will take industrial action over the government's controversial public sector reforms. With the economy showing no signs of improving, Britain looks set for a prolonged period of industrial dispute.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani
10 protesters arrested at LA Intl. Airport on May DayMay Day demonstrations were marred by vandalism in San Francisco,
Occupy Wall Street hoped to use May Day to shift back into high gear, but a poor turnout suggests the movement may not be able to regain its former glory.
Protests break out on World Labour Day as opposition calls for release of prisoners awaiting new trials.Riot police firing tear gas and stun grenades routed protesters in Bahrain's capital as the government came under mounting international pressure to release jailed leaders of last year's uprising. An appeals court decision on Monday to grant a retrial to 21 opposition figures was not enough to defuse resurgent unrest among the Gulf Arab state's majority Shia Muslims, and street rallies resumed on Tuesday. A heavy riot police presence cut short a demonstration in the market area of Manama as tear gas and stun grenades were unleashed at several dozen who chanted anti-government slogans to mark World Labour Day.
http://ipsnews.netWhile athletes around the world enter their final stages of training for the 30th Olympic Games in London this July, Saudi Arabia stands alone as the only country that has banned females from participating. Qatar and Brunei, who previously banned women from the international event for cultural and religious reasons, will send female athletes for the first time. But Saudi Arabia has never nominated a woman to participate in the Olympic Games, a ban that stems from strict government policy denying women and girls’ right to practice sports, with conservative religious clerics fearing that it could lead them on a "path of immorality". A Human Rights Watch report released in February, called on Saudi Arabia to protect women's equal right to sports and urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to live up to its charter, which prohibits discrimination, or face a ban similar to that imposed on Afghanistan in 1999 partly for its exclusion of female athletes. Christoph Wilcke, author of ‘Steps Of The Devil’ and senior Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch, said it was time for the IOC to act on its membership rules. "Saudi Arabia is violating the rules but the question is whether a ban will help or make things worse," Wilcke, who is based in Munich, told IPS. "The jury is out on that. I think two months before the start of the games would be the ideal time for the IOC to enforce their rules. Saudi Arabia clearly wants to participate by sending a male-only team. But their violations of the rules are coming at no price at all." Prince Nawwaf bin Faisal, Saudi Olympic Committee president, announced last November that only a men's team would participate at Games. He did not rule out the possibility of women competing but said it would only be by invitation from outside bodies. He added that woman would have to be in the appropriate dress according to Islamic precepts, be in the presence of a male guardian and perform sport so that no part of her was visible, thereby not violating Islamic sharia law. Religious and cultural rights Women have the opportunity to play sports in all Muslim and Arab countries with support from their governments and national sporting authorities – except in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi National Olympic Committee and the country's 29 national sports federations offer no women's sections or competitions for aspiring female athletes. Wilcke said the women who propagate the right to practice sport had the better argument in terms of religion. "There's no religious ban on women playing sport at all; what the opponents argue is a traditional, male dominated, patriarchal view, that women should remain at home and not go out." The Saudi government only offers physical education classes at state schools for boys, and men's gyms receive licences confining women's facilities to health clubs that are usually attached to hospitals. Of the 153 government-regulated sports clubs, none has a women's team. Anthony Billingsley, international studies and Middle East lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, told IPS that even if Saudi Arabia lifted their ban to allow women to compete, it would take years to produce an international-level female athlete. "If you want to be a runner in Saudi Arabia, you have to do it indoors in a place that's associated with a hospital or something," according to Billingsley, who has spent many years living and working in the Middle East. "There's no real opportunity for women to get out and really exercise and compete against others, just running or riding by yourself isn't going to help. Time isn't the problem, the problem is that they don't have the opportunity to prepare, to learn or refine their skills." An ABC Radio journalist and lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne said Saudi Arabia's ban on female participation in sport reflected the strict interpretation of Islam practiced with a theological perspective that men and women should not mix. "I guess that's the perspective of the quite conservative and very traditional form of Islam that Saudi operates on," Nasya Bahfen told IPS. "To them, having women on the field, running around, being looked at by men is tantamount to being blasphemous and completely un-Islamic. Whereas in other countries like Iran,they let women play but don’t allow them to watch (football games) or (appear) on a football field. Iran on the sporting field is not that bad compared with Saudi in terms of segregation." Are sports a priority? Discrimination against women and girls in sport is one of many violations against women's rights in Saudi Arabia. Women are banned from driving and under the state system of male guardianship, Saudi women of all ages need a male guardian's consent to receive certain health care, to work, to study or to marry. "Saudi Arabia is on its slow crawl towards modernity where they will look at women's rights (first in terms of) driving and other basic (priorities) and then move on to professional sport," Bahfen said. "Education is one field where Saudi women have some measure of equality. But (even) then they get pushed into quite traditional jobs. There's obviously a pressing need for female doctors, female nurses and female teachers, but there's very little encouragement for women to pursue non-traditional employment." Billingsley added that changing women’s status would require a huge generational and educational step. Wilcke said it would come down to a change in government policy for women to have basic rights and a degree of political power. "We know that you can't dismantle a system of discrimination within three months," Wilcke said, referring to the slim possibility of change before the Olympic Games in July. "But we want to see good faith and immediate efforts on this issue and we have suggested announcing a date for when physical education is introduced for girls in state schools and then laying out a timeline to open up a women’s section in government-regulated sports clubs (and) national sporting federations." "These are fairly simple steps that (lay) the infrastructural groundwork for women to start practicing sports before we get Olympic-quality athletes," he concluded.
Just after news broke that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the top EU diplomat in neighbouring Afghanistan received a flood of emails from jubilant Afghans.The death of the al Qaeda leader a year ago raised hopes in Kabul, Brussels, Washington and elsewhere that a devastating blow had been dealt to Islamist militancy in one of the most unstable regions in the world. On the eve of the first anniversary of Bin Laden's killing, Vygaudas Usackas, the European Union's ambassador to Kabul, reflected on how that optimism had faded. The Afghan Taliban, whom Washington accused of sheltering bin Laden before U.S. troops helped Afghan forces remove the group from power, have suspended reconciliation talks with the United States. And discussions with the Afghan government are limited. "Immediately I got dozens, if not hundreds, of emails from different ordinary Afghans in a very celebratory mood, expressing their satisfaction that it may provide a game-changer in terms of the future reconciliation," Usackas told Reuters in an interview.
Dawn.ComHeavy drilling machinery worth millions of rupees has got rusted as it has been lying useless at the Peshawar Circle office of public health engineering department for more than a decade, according to sources. They said that the machinery costing Rs30 million was donated by foreign donors to the tubewell division, a former wing of public health engineering established in 1977, to sink tubewells in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “It includes 10 drilling machines installed on trucks, six air compressors and other tools being used in drilling,” sources said, adding there were more than 100 employees in the division including engineers, support staff and drivers. Official said that the division was established when government was drilling tubewells in rocky areas as private contractors at that time had no capacity to drill the hard soil in such areas. “In 1977, it was state of the art technology,” they added. The division was enabled to drill 1,000 feet deep well in rocky and hard areas with the help of this machinery where private contractors could sink only 100 to 200 feet deep well. “The tubewell division also set up tubewells in the camps established for Afghan refugees,” they said. With the passing of time, private contractors also got such drilling machinery and government lost interest in tube-well division as priority was given to contractors. Finally, officials said, tubewell division was abolished in 2001. They said that the machinery was shifted to Peshawar Circle office of public health engineering about 11 years ago. “No one has been deputed for looking after of the costly machinery and it has been lying in the open air,” they added. During a visit to the office, it was noticed that the machinery got rusted while tyres of the trucks were punctured and the vehicles were parked in knee-deep grass. When asked as to why the machinery was not sold after abolishment of tubewell division, the officials said that some of the high-ups of the department believed that the machinery couldn’t be sold as it was not owned by the provincial government and they had no right to sell donated items. “Our duty is to inform the high-ups about the machinery and its cost,” they said, adding it was the duty of high-ups to take decision regarding selling of the machinery. Prior to the abolishment of the tube-well division, the machines were in perfect condition, however, after lying useless for 11 years these got rusted and can be hardly used. The officials said that government should form a committee for immediate auction of the rusted machinery. Had the machinery been auctioned in 2001, it could have earn much more money for the government exchequer than the existing Rs30 millions, they said. Sikandar Khan Afridi, the superintendent engineer of public health engineering, when contacted, said that Peshawar Circle of the department had sent a proposal for the auction of the machinery about 11 years ago. However, the proposal was turned down by the high-ups of the department on the ground that the machinery was gifted by UNHCR and it couldn’t be auctioned. Mr Afridi said that one of the officials was preparing a list of the machinery and its worth to be sent to the provincial government to decide about it. “Now it is up to the government to auction or hand over it to other department like irrigation or agriculture departments,” he added.