Thursday, July 5, 2012
By Adam Martin | The Atlantic WireSecretary of State Hillary Clinton
http://news.yahoo.comPresident Barack Obama kicks off his first bus tour of the 2012 campaign on Thursday with news meant to cheer struggling Rust Belt voters: His administration is taking on China over an allegedly unfair trade practice. Hours before the president was due in Ohio, the White House sent reporters a Toledo Blade report that the Obama administration would take aim at Chinese duties on some American-made cars and SUVs "including the Toledo, Ohio-made Jeep Wrangler." (Eerily excellent timing.) The World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint will accuse China—a frequent election-year villain blamed for lost American manufacturing jobs—of improperly imposing duties on about $3.3 billion of American exports, the Blade reported. A victory could see China rescind the duties. Beijing says the fees are a legitimate response to the American auto industry bailout championed by Obama, which China calls an unfair government subsidy. The WTO complaint could also give the president another opening to hit Mitt Romney, who famously opposed the bailout in stark terms. Ohio is home to a vast auto-parts manufacturing sector that benefited from the auto industry rescue.Obama was expected to hit his Republican rival at stops in Maumee, Sandusky, Parma, Akron, East Liverpool and finally Pittsburgh—his only Pennsylvania stop —before returning to Washington Friday night. The Romney campaign is bracketing the Obama visits with appearances by high-profile surrogates. And ahead of Obama's appearance in Maumee, two small planes could be seen in the sky bearing pro-Romney messages. Obama won Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2008 and hopes to capture them again in November on the road to securing the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to get a second term. Ohio has 18 electoral voters; Pennsylvania has 20. A Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released last week showed Obama leading Romney 47 percent to 38 percent in Ohio, and 45 percent to 39 percent in Pennsylvania. The president's two-day trek began with a bit of good news on the economic front: The Labor Department reported that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits slipped to the lowest level in six weeks. Come Friday, all eyes will be on the latest jobs numbers. The economy is the top issue on voters' minds and Obama's most serious vulnerability. Ohio and Pennsylvania both had unemployment rates of 7.3 percent in May—below the national average of 8.2 percent. Obama's approach has been to blame "headwinds" beyond his control, like the European debt crisis; accuse Republicans of stalling his jobs program; and warn voters that Mitt Romney's economic policies are the same ones that fueled the 2007-2008 meltdown. He has also taken a sharply personal tack, pointing to Romney's wealth and bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere to paint the former Massachusetts governor as out of touch with average Americans. Obama has painted himself as a fighter for the middle class—an argument buttressed Thursday with the well-timed news about action against China. "As we have made clear, the Obama administration will continue to fight to ensure that China does not misuse its trade laws and violate its international trade commitments to block exports of American-made products," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said as he formally announced the move. "American auto workers and manufacturers deserve a level playing field, and we are taking every step necessary to stand up for them. This is the third time that the Obama administration has challenged China's misuse of trade remedies." The Toledo Blade reports: The duties cover more than 80 percent of U.S. auto exports to China, or about 92,000 vehicles. They add 15 percent to the price of an imported Jeep Wrangler or Detroit-made Jeep Grand Cherokee, 21.8 percent to a Buick Enclave and Cadillac CTS produced in Lansing, and 4.1 percent to an Acura TL sedan made by Honda of America Manufacturing Co. at Marysville, Ohio.
A spate of apparent poisonings at girls' schools across Afghanistan is probably outbreaks of mass hysteria rather than a Taliban plot, according to the most comprehensive study yet of the phenomenon.
By By Ben FarmerThe World Health Organisation (WHO) working with the Afghan government has investigated attacks for more than three years but found "no conclusive evidence of deliberate poisoning". Thousands of girls have been taken ill at schools in that time, in incidents of mass fainting and vomiting. Pressure has mounted on Hamid Karzai's government to stop the apparent attacks as their frequency has increased in recent months. Pictures of girls being carried to ambulances, or hooked up to drips in provincial hospitals, have become an increasingly common sight. The symptoms are always short-lived. The incidents have been widely interpreted as a campaign by the Taliban or other insurgent hardliners to crackdown on girls' education. The Taliban have denied this. The WHO's preliminary findings put the body at odds with the Afghanistan's security forces who say they have become convinced the attacks are genuine and have arrested numerous suspected poisoners. Seven were arrested on Tuesday and several were said to have confessed already. Security officials have blamed neighbouring Pakistan and said the poisonings were an attempt to destabilise Afghanistan and weaken its future. The poisoning of school water tanks, or the use of a gas or noxious liquid have all been suggested as potential weapons. Many girls reported smelling a strange odour before they were overcome. However an analysis given to The Daily Telegraph of 32 such incidents, all but two at girls' schools, casts significant doubt on the poisoning theory. The WHO said it and the Afghan ministry of public health were "taking every step to address this menace in the interest of public health." "According to preliminary findings, incidents' analysis and the prevailing situation, Mass Psychological Illness is the most probable cause," a statement said. A child psychologist has been drafted in to study the incidents, sources added. Poisoning could not be ruled out without further tests, but after examining more than 200 laboratory samples of blood, urine and water so far, there was "no conclusive evidence of deliberate poisoning found". The fact that few teachers had been taken ill also argued against mass poisoning. Academics who have studied mass hysteria say it has occurred before in war zones, where tensions and uncertainty are high. Similar cases were reported in the Palestinian territories in 1983 to Soviet Georgia in 1989 and Kosovo in 1990. Peter Kinderman, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool, said: "People do follow the crowd in lots of ways and we are social animals. "When it comes to these mass anxiety attacks, there have been many throughout history." If people were already worried by rumours of gas attacks and someone nearby began to appear ill, then others could soon panic, hyperventilate and become ill themselves. "They symptoms can be very convincing because in a sense they are real," he said. Earlier smaller investigations by the Nato coalition have also undermined suggestions of poisoning. In April the coalition was called in to test water supplies after girls were taken ill at a high school in Takhar province. "Results concluded that naturally occurring bacterial contamination was responsible. No toxins were found in the water," said Brian Badura, a spokesman in the coalition's Kabul headquarters. Police said they remained convinced at least some of the attacks were genuine. The seven alleged poisoners held this week in Sar-e Pul province had employed a schoolgirl to take a chemical spray into class, said Siddique Siddiqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. "We have initial proof these people were involved and we have confessions," he said. The hospitalisation of thousands of female students has had a devastating effect on education in several areas, as parents have kept their children from classes. Following two incidents in Ghazni, south west of the capital, schools were allegedly closed and 36,000 students stopped going to school for some time. "The uncertainties about the cause of these incidents and growing rumours have had a significant impact on education, and especially girls' education," the WHO said.
DAWN.COMThe food security situation in Pakistan has worsened over the past four years, resulting in a drastic increase in the proportion of population falling below the minimum acceptable level of dietary consumption, according to a United Nations report. According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals report for 2012, two-digit inflation and high food inflation significantly decreased the purchasing power of people, especially the poor. The report expressed fears that Pakistan was lagging behind the target of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and indicators show that the target would not be achieved by 2015, the deadline for achieving MDGs. The report expressed concern over a number of factors that have contributed to under-achievement against most of MDGs. These include the slow economic growth or less than three per cent over the last three to four years. With a labour force increasing at a rate of 3.2 per cent, the slow economic growth is not creating sufficient jobs for the new entrants to the labour market. Besides poverty and unemployment issues, the income inequality in the country has always been on the rise. The share of consumption of the lowest quintile is currently 9.6 per cent against 40.3 per cent for the highest quintile. There also exist widespread gender inequalities. The share of women in wage employment is the slowest in South Asia and Pakistan is not an exception to it. Additionally, there are regional pockets where status of development is worst than other areas. Notwithstanding the challenges, the report said, there are a number of opportunities to build on. The increase in the share of provinces in NFC award and the 18th Amendment for decentralisation of governance at the provincial level will help development partners to work more closely with the end beneficiaries. According to the report, Pakistan adopted 18 targets and 41 indicators against which the progress is measured. However, time series data against only 33 indicators were available.Of the total 33 indicators, progress on 20 indicators is lagging behind, slow on four indicators, on track three indicators, off-track one indicator while targets against five indicators have been met. On a total of five indicators, Pakistan is either ahead or has achieved the target. With regard to access to improved water source, Pakistan achieved the target when three sources of improved water, tap water, hand pumps and electric motor propelled water, are taken into account.However, the Pakistan MDG report of 2010 has not included ‘electric motor’ in the category of improved water source which makes the status at around 63 per cent against the 92 per cent. According to the report, Pakistan has made some progress in combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases; and promoting gender equality and women empowerment. However, progress rate is slow and additional efforts will be needed if the targets are to be achieved by the 2015 deadline. On a positive note, the report recognised that Pakistan has one of the highest ratios of women parliamentarians in South Asia. While bullish on the success recorded, the MDG report warns that the 2015 deadline is fast approaching and in order to achieve outstanding goals, governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector need to intensify their contributions.
The Express TribuneExpressing reservations on the amendment bill for the dual nationality law, the Awami National Party has said that the law should only be applicable for presidents, prime ministers, the army leadership and judges, Express News reported on Thursday. Haji Adeel, a central leader of the government allied ANP, presented the party’s stance when he was contacted by President Asif Ali Zardari. He said, “If such laws are not enforced, then people like Mansoor Ijaz can also become the president of Pakistan one day.” Earlier on Wednesday, the federal cabinet had approved amendment bills pertaining to dual nationality and contempt of court laws. It was ordered in the cabinet session that the dual nationality amendment bill be brought before the National Assembly for discussion and approval.
JULY 5TH,BLACK DAY IN THE HISTORY OF PAKISTAN
FRONTIER POSTShazia Marri strongly condemned the long dictatorial tenures in the history of Pakistan and expressed confidence in the political forces to ensure sustained democracy in the country. In her statement recalling 5th July 1977, Marri termed the date as black day in the history of Pakistan. She further said the dictator who toppled the democratically elected government and plunged the country into darkness, forgot that ideology cannot be trampled upon. Shazia Marri stated that General Zia was a ruthless dictator who usurped power and callously removed Pakistan's first directly elected Prime Minister. She said he was a General who, by murdering Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, killed the hopes of millions across the country and around the world. "Zia's regime was opposed by all stakeholders of society, with a very courageous role played by the journalists of Pakistan. They courted arrests from all corners of the country. But the General believed in absolute tyranny.", Marri lambasted. In her statement, Shazia Marri paid greatest tributes to Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who carried forward the mission of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto alongwith the die hard workers of Pakistan Peoples Party. "Peoples Party is a political party that follows the ideology of Shaheed Bhutto.", Marri said. She also applauded the role of President Asif Ali Zardari for fighting against all odds in order to protect the democratic traditions and strengthen the will of the people of Pakistan. Shazia Marri said that nations who have leaders like Shaheed Bhutto can never fail and would continue to triumph against all odds.