Tuesday, October 23, 2012
http://www.smh.com.auBARACK Obama dominated the third and final presidential debate in Florida, aggressively deploying detail and sarcasm to portray Mitt Romney as inconsistent on foreign policy. It is unclear whether his apparent victory in the debate will translate into votes in a fortnight in an election that polls show remains deadlocked. The two concentrated on terrorism and its causes and issues of concern to constituencies in the two swing states that could decide the election. Those issues include the Iranian nuclear threat, which resonates among Jewish voters in Florida, and China's alleged currency manipulation, which is crucial to employment in Ohio.Both men constantly turned to domestic policy, with Mr Romney restating his claim to have a plan to create 12 million jobs and Mr Obama accusing him of wanting to return to failed policies of previous administrations. Advertisement The Asia-Pacific region came up only in a passing reference by Mr Obama to the ''pivot'' of American attention towards the region. Though Russia was discussed, Europe was barely considered, aside from references to its failed economies. Climate change did not rate a mention.Mr Obama went in hard early, telling Mr Romney: ''I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy - but every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong.'' Challenging Mr Romney's claim that he had allowed the US naval fleet to decline dangerously, Mr Obama said: ''We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.'' When Mr Romney suggested Mr Obama had strained relations with Israel by visiting its Arab neighbours early in his presidency, the President said: ''When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors. I didn't attend fund-raisers. I went to Yad Vashem.'' Mr Obama said Mr Romney's claim that he had been on a global ''apology'' tour was ''probably the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of this campaign''. Mr Romney presented himself as a moderate and sober alternative, often agreeing with the substance of US policy. Many of his positions were so similar to Mr Obama's that commentators used boxing metaphors to describe him not only as ducking and weaving, but of hugging the President. Some of Mr Romney's positions might startle the right of the Republican Party. He said that in the battle against Islamist extremism, ''we cannot kill our way out of this mess'', before offering his support for foreign aid. ''We have to help these nations create civil societies.'' Mr Romney also said he supported the troop ''surge'' in Afghanistan and the drawdown timetable for US troops, both policies he criticised in the past. Given the opportunity, he chose not to attack Mr Obama for the response to the murder of US diplomats in Libya. And early on, he congratulated Mr Obama for the killing of Osama bin Laden, expressing support for the use of drones. Mr Romney's key criticism was that the administration had failed to introduce a strategy to draw people away from extremism, that it had presented the US as weak and irresolute and that pending defence cuts would exacerbate that weakness. National polls had the two men in a dead heat last night, with Mr Obama enjoying a slight advantage in key states. But the polling trend remains in Mr Romney's favour. Any slight advantage carved out in the debate could prove to be crucial.
http://www.businessweek.comPresident Barack Obama won last night’s debate on foreign policy with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to a CNN/ORC International poll of 448 registered voters who watched the nationally televised event. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said Obama fared better in the final campaign encounter compared with 40 percent for Romney, according to results aired on CNN. The poll found 51 percent thought Obama seemed to be a stronger leader compared with 46 percent for Romney. Half of those surveyed by CNN said the debate wouldn’t affect how they planned to vote, while 25 percent said they planned to vote for Romney and 24 percent for Obama. The poll had an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Last night’s showdown at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, took place amid a tightening presidential race. Romney’s performance in the candidates’ first meeting on Oct. 3 in Denver gave him a boost in national polls. Obama rebounded in their second debate on Oct. 16, though viewers surveyed afterward gave him a less-resounding victory than Romney claimed in the first encounter. A CBS News/GfK poll of uncommitted voters last night found that 53 percent thought Obama won compared with 23 percent for Romney and 24 percent who considered it a draw. Seventy-one percent said they thought Obama could be trusted to handle an international crisis compared with 49 percent for Romney. The CBS poll of 521 uncommitted voters had an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points. National Poll Nationally, Obama and Romney were tied at 47 percent in a national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of likely voters released Oct. 21. The survey of 816 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Surveys over the past week have shown Romney narrowing Obama’s lead in several swing states, those with a history of supporting either party’s presidential candidate. Six of the nine most-closely contested states -- including Iowa, Ohio, Nevada and North Carolina -- had early, in-person voting under way as of yesterday. In Florida, the biggest prize among the swing states, the candidates were virtually even in an Oct. 17-18 CNN/ORC International poll of likely voters, with 49 percent backing Romney and 48 percent supporting Obama. The president’s earlier advantage on foreign policy has slipped in some recent voter surveys. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released yesterday found that 49 percent of likely voters said they trusted Obama more to handle international affairs compared with 46 percent for Romney. Obama had led on the question by seven percentage points earlier this month. Losing Edge The Obama administration’s handling of international affairs has been criticized by Romney and fellow Republicans, particularly since last month’s attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died. Last night’s debate, moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News, was dominated by questions about U.S. policy in the Middle East and in combatting terrorism. Romney faulted Obama for what he described as growing threats in Syria, Libya and Iran. While congratulating Obama for the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the former Massachusetts governor called for the U.S. to have a “comprehensive strategy” to stamp out extremism. Obama touted his credentials as commander in chief and accused Romney of lacking a coherent foreign policy vision and instead pressing strategies that are “all over the map.” First Debates After the first presidential debate almost three weeks ago in Denver, 67 percent of those surveyed by CNN said Romney fared better compared with 25 percent for Obama, according to results aired by the cable channel afterward. The CNN post-debate poll on Oct. 3 interviewed 430 Americans and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The second debate, a town-hall style event, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, featured questions from undecided voters. Forty-six percent of registered voters surveyed afterward said Obama fared better compared with 39 percent for Romney, according to a CNN poll. The poll of 457 registered voters who watched the event had an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Mazhar IqbalMalala, 14,
Malala remains in a stable condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. On Monday (22 October), Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, visited the hospital to meet with Dr Dave Rosser, Medical Director. In a private meeting, Dr Rosser gave a clinical progress report on Malala's treatment and condition. He reiterated the detail given at a media briefing last week (see video below). The Minister also brought get-well cards and flowers for the 15-year-old, although he was not able to visit her personally. He sincerely thanked the nurses, doctors and support staff involved in her care. He said she was receiving the “best care in the world” as the hospital could provide the most appropriate expertise and experience to treat the injured teenager. At this time, Malala’s family remain in Pakistan.
indiatimes.comPakistan has asked the US to use its influence on Afghanistan to extradite Maulana Fazlullah, a wanted Pakistani Taliban commander whom it says was involved in planning the recent attack on teen rights activist Malala Yousufzai. The diplomatic sources here said that the demand was made by Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar during her meeting with US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mark Grossman, The Express Tribune reported. Grossman was told that Fazlullah was involved in the attack on Malala Yousafzai and that the US should employ its influence towards the extradition of Fazlullah. Fazlullah along with his men is hiding in Kunar province of Afghanistan, the Pak-Afghan especial envoy was told. Pakistan had, on many occasions in the past, informed the ISAF and Afghan authorities about Fazlullah's activities, the paper said. According to sources, Fazlullah has executed as many as 15 cross border attacks in Pakistan over the past one year. Fazlullah is also known as 'Mullah Radio' for his fiery radio broadcasts in Swat Valley. Earlier, it was reported that Fazlullah had sent a hit squad to kill 14-year-old Malala for being a proponent of girls' education in the valley.
http://www.rferl.orgA few days after his visit to Kabul last week, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke with RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Sultan Sarwar about the challenges facing Afghanistan after 2014 and how the NATO alliance is helping prepare Hamid Karzai for the departure of foreign troops. RFE/RL: During your recent trip to Kabul, you delivered a strong message of long-term military support to the Afghan government. Will such support include air-defense systems and aircraft? Anders Fogh Rasmussen: The whole NATO Council and some of our partner countries visited Afghanistan to show our strong commitment to Afghanistan, also after 2014. We aim at making the Afghan security forces fully capable of taking full responsibility for security all over Afghanistan by the end of 2014. And in that respect, individual allies are also providing the Afghan security forces with some military equipment. RFE/RL: Many Afghans are concerned that the Taliban will recapture Afghanistan from their sanctuaries in Pakistan after NATO troops leave in 2014. What are you doing to address the long-standing issue of extremist safe havens in Pakistan? Rasmussen: First of all, I would like to stress that when our ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] combat mission ends by the end of 2014, we will have built up a very strong Afghan security force of 352,000 Afghan soldiers and police. And this very strong Afghan security force will be able to take full responsibility for security all over Afghanistan. That is the first thing. Secondly, I agree that it is a matter of concern that terrorists have safe havens in Pakistan, in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and we urge the Pakistani government and the Pakistani military to step up their fight against terrorists and extremists in the border region. RFE/RL: There are reports that Afghan security forces are plagued by desertions and low morale. What are you doing to ensure that Afghan forces sustain themselves after NATO leaves? Rasmussen: I don't agree that there is low morale within the Afghan security forces. On the contrary, I have visited Afghan military units and spoken with Afghan military commanders and they are strongly determined to take full responsibility for security in Afghanistan. We continue the training and education of Afghan security forces and gradually we hand over lead responsibility for security, province by province. And we will continue these training activities after 2014. Last time I visited Afghanistan, I had an opportunity to observe Afghan security forces in action and I was very impressed by what I saw. We have seen Afghan security forces taking the lead of a majority of security operations. Actually, 80 percent of security operations in Afghanistan are led by Afghan security forces. That is quite remarkable. So I am confident that the Afghan security forces will be fully capable to take full responsibility by the end of 2014. RFE/RL: In your estimation, how big a threat does the Al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan pose to global security? Rasmussen: We know that the Al-Qaeda leadership has been significantly weakened during recent years. There is still a threat of international terrorism; there are still terrorist cells. But the Al-Qaeda network, as such, has been significantly weakened during recent years. RFE/RL: As NATO secretary-general, during the past three years, have you ever been approached by the Taliban for peace talks? Rasmussen: No, and it is not for NATO to engage in such political talks. We have made clear right from the outset that a political process, a reconciliation process, must be led by the Afghans themselves. In other words, it has to be the Afghan government that is in the driver's seat. I think a political process makes sense if certain conditions are fulfilled: firstly, that the process is led by the Afghans; secondly, that groups and individuals involved in that reconciliation process abide by and fully respect the Afghan Constitution, including human rights -- and, of course, that also includes women's rights -- and finally, such groups must denounce violence and cut links with terrorist groups. If these conditions are fulfilled, I think it's a good idea to see if a political process could lead to a constructive result." RFE/RL: Let me ask you about current events in the broader region. NATO played a crucial role in bringing down the Qaddafi regime in Libya last year. Why is the alliance now reluctant to play a similar role in Syria, where civilians are apparently suffering on a much larger scale? Rasmussen: There is a clear difference between Libya and Syria. In Libya, we took action based on a clear United Nations mandate to protect the civilian population and we got clear and active support from countries in the region. None of these conditions is fulfilled as regards Syria, and there is no international call or no regional call on NATO to take action in Syria, and we have no intention to intervene militarily in Syria. Having said that, we strongly condemn the security forces' crackdown on the civilian population in Syria and we urge the Syrian leadership to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. RFE/RL: What are the main objectives you wish to achieve in a post-2014 Afghanistan? Rasmussen: First and foremost, it's important that Afghan security forces maintain a capacity to take full responsibility for the security all over Afghanistan, with the aim of preventing the country from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. That is, of course, the first and most important goal. Secondly -- but that's not part of our mission -- I have a very strong desire to see improved governance in Afghanistan. I think it's of utmost importance to fight corruption; it's of utmost importance that the national and regional authorities provide the Afghan people with basic services. So, these are my main goals.
TheHuffingtonPost.comFew pediatricians in the U.S. are old enough to have experienced the fear of the polio epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s. Without the ability to protect our children, society was defenseless in the face of this terrifying disease. Today, thanks to groundbreaking scientific discoveries, we've broken away from the grip of polio. Armed with effective vaccines, pediatricians, partner organizations and front-line workers around the globe have eliminated 99 percent of all new polio cases. Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened a group of global leaders, including Bill Gates and heads of state of polio-affected countries to renew the commitment to eliminate polio. This show of solidarity reminds us that the fight is not finished. In several parts of the world, the devastating effects of polio continue to be a reality for children, families and doctors. We can't afford to lose sight of this remaining 1 percent of polio cases. With only three countries where transmission has never been stopped -- Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria -- polio is facing defeat. There are fewer cases in fewer districts of fewer countries than at any previous time. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change history, and we must act now. The International Pediatric Association, and our national members, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, work on a range of priorities that affect child survival in developing countries, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. While polio no longer affects as many children as it used to, we have not forgotten the urgent need to eliminate this disease while we have the chance. The effort has major implications for children's health and mortality: it's proof positive that critical health services can safeguard children living in even the hardest-to-reach places. Pediatricians have witnessed how these efforts help bring primary care service within reach of nearly every single child on the planet -- not just with polio vaccines, but with other preventive interventions such as measles, rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines, Vitamin A supplements and bed nets. We see the long-term successes of polio eradication efforts across the globe. In September, more than 32,000 children in Pakistan's conflict-affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area received polio vaccines for the first time since 2009, and measles and pentavalent vaccines for the first time ever. In 2011, India -- once considered one of the most challenging places in the world to eradicate polio -- was declared polio-free. In India, the polio eradication program helped establish systems to identify and vaccinate every newborn and strengthened other preventive health services. But these programs need funding. Tragically, funding gaps have led to cancelled and scaled-back vaccination campaigns in 24 countries, leaving children vulnerable and threatening progress. The polio virus, by its nature, is extremely difficult to contain; unless the polio eradication program is fully funded and the disease eradicated, polio will return to countries that are now polio-free. Recognizing the benefits of success and the risks of failure, the global community has united around a Polio Global Emergency Action Plan to improve vaccination campaign quality, protect every last child and ensure accountability. We must all ensure that the solidarity demonstrated at the UN leads to the political will and financial support needed to put this plan into action. At this crucial juncture, leaders at home and elsewhere must invest in the long-term resources to bring about polio eradication. It can be done. American pediatricians and families are fortunate to have made polio history in our country. Let's remind our leaders that we must do what we can so that our colleagues around the world will never again have to treat a child with polio.
Associated PressA man in a western Afghan city has confessed to stabbing his wife to death to prevent her from taking a job outside the home, police said Monday. Mohammad Anwar, who was arrested in the provincial capital for the murder, said he killed his wife during an argument over whether she should work at private company in the city, Herat province police spokesman Noor Khan Nekzad said. The woman's relatives disputed the account, saying her husband was a drug addict who killed his wife because she refused to give him money. The killing comes less than two weeks after a woman was beheaded in the same city for refusing alleged demands by her in-laws to engage in prostitution. Human rights activists say they are worried such incidents will become more common as Western forces who helped women gain rights in the conservative country draw down. Under Taliban rule, women were banned from leaving the home unless they had a male relative as an escort and wore a burqa robe that covered their faces and bodies. Despite guaranteed rights and progressive new laws, the U.N. still ranks Afghanistan as one of the world's worst countries when it comes to women's rights. The Taliban's treatment of women has been thrust back into the headlines this month with the shooting of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in neighboring Pakistan. The militants said they targeted the girl because she was an outspoken opponent of the group and promoted "Western thinking," such as girls' education. Girls' schools have flourished in Afghanistan in particular in the years since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban, primarily funded by the U.S. and other Western donors. There were conflicting accounts of what led to the fight between Mohammad Anwar and his wife Gulsom. Gulsom's brother, Ghulam Sarwar, said his sister's husband had just returned from Iran and was pressing her to hand over money that she had earned weaving carpets and which she needed to support their two children. Sarwar said the two got into an argument and she fled the house. He followed her to her parents' house and then went after her with a knife. The couple's two children — an 11-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old boy — have been taken in by Gulsom's parents, Sarwar said. The victim's mother was shown on Afghan television crying and accusing her son-in-law of trying to sell her daughter's children for drug money. She witnessed the murder but said she had no way of stopping it. "My daughter was killed in front of my eyes," said the sobbing Zahra, who family members said only went by one name. Women's rights activists have already been up in arms in Herat after the Oct. 9 killing of a young woman named Mah Gul who was allegedly being forced into prostitution. Police arrested Mah Gul's mother-in-law Pari Gul and her 18-year old cousin Najib, after the murder. Mabuba Jamshidi, head of the provincial women's affairs department, said that Najib had confessed to beheading the victim after she refused to perform "immoral acts."
A roadside bomb targeting Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti’s motorcade went off just movements after the CM convoy passed the site on Monday. According to police the explosive device fixed to a motorcycle exploded movements after the chief minister’s motorcade passed through Mallara area on Swabi-Jehangira road. It merits a mention here that Chief Minister, Amir Haider Hoti was on an official visit of Swabi district on Monday to inaugurate Topi-Swabi and Swabi-Jehangira road. Police said the chief minister reached Swabi via helicopter and while being driven to the site to inaugurate the road and on way the CM’s motorcade was targeted at Mallara area. When the chief minister was informed about the blast he refused to change his programme and inaugurated the road as scheduled. He later also addressed a public gathering in the area. After the incident, security forces cordoned off the area and started search operation. Police said at least four suspects were arrested during the search operation. Meanwhile, four hours after the first blast, a bomb attached to bicycle exploded in Shewa Adda chowk in Swabi district, leaving eight policemen injured. The injured include seven constables and an inspector, who were rushed to Kalu Khan hospital for emergency treatment and later they were shifted to Mardan for further treatment. The injured were identified as inspector Murad Khan, constables Waris Khan, Shad Ali, Khurshid, Iqbal Hussain, Rashid Bahadar, Yasin and Sadiq.
RADIO PAKISTAN First death anniversary of Madar-e-Jamhooriat Begum Nusrat Bhutto is being observed on Tuesday with renewed commitment to continue struggle for protecting democracy qur'an Khawani on her shrine at Garhi Khuda Bux is in progress. Radio Pakistan Larkana representative Altaf Pirzado reports PPP leaders and workers are attending the ceremony. Later in the day they will throw light on life and struggle of Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Pakistan Peoples Party has chalked out various programmes to mark the Day. Radio Pakistan will broadcast special programmes to pay homage to Madar-e-Jamhooriat Begum Nusrat Bhutto. ====== President Asif Ali Zardari in his message on the occasion has said that the best way to pay homage to Madar-e-Jamhooriat is to protect democracy and parliament from new forms of onslaughts. The President said rights of women‚ minorities and vulnerable sections of society must also be protected. He urged the democratic forces to rededicate themselves to the principles for which Begum Nusrat Bhutto struggled all her life.