Sunday, July 14, 2013
In the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, President Obama issued a statement Sunday urging the nation to ""respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son."The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.
Prominent liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei was sworn in on Sunday as Egypt's vice president for international relations in the interim government, official news agency MENA reported. Leading the main opposition bloc during the rule of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, ElBaradei was nominated last week as prime minister in the transitional period, but his choice was opposed by Islamists. ElBaradei served as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 jointly with the IAEA. Earlier on Sunday, the Egyptian presidency said interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi has started consultations with a number of nominees for various ministerial portfolios. It said that former ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmy has accepted the post of interim foreign minister. Local media said the cabinet line-up will be announced Tuesday.
The NAACP is asking the Justice Department to open a civil rights case against George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch captain acquitted Saturday night by a jury in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous started the drive by posting a petition Sunday morning on the website MoveOn.org that is addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder. "The most fundamental of civil rights -- the right to life -- was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," Jealous wrote in the petition. The Justice Department has already been reviewing the handling of the criminal case in which Zimmerman, a Hispanic, fatally shot Martin, a black teen, in February 2012, raising concerns about such issues as racial profiling and equal justice. Jealous told CNN’s “State of the Union on Sunday morning, “There is reason to be concerned that race was a factor in why (Zimmerman) targeted young Trayvon.” He also said he has not spoken directly with Holder but has spoken to his senior people. “We are glad that what they began months back continues, which is a serious reviewing of everything that came out in this case, everything that was known before this case,” Jealous said. “If this moves into a civil phase, they will review all that comes out in that and then they will make a choice about whether or not they will pursue criminal civil rights charges.”
Civil rights groups in the US have expressed dismay after neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida last year. Rights leader Jesse Jackson said he was "stunned" and that the Department of Justice (DoJ) should intervene. Meanwhile Mr Zimmerman's family and lawyers have said they now fear he could face revenge attacks. The case sparked a fierce debate in the US about racial profiling. Prosecutors had argued that Mr Zimmerman opened fired on 26 February 2012 because he assumed that Trayvon Martin, who was African-American and was wearing a hooded sweatshirt as he walked in the rain, was up to no good. But the defence said he shot Trayvon Martin in self defence after the teenager had punched their client, slammed his head into the pavement and reached for Mr Zimmerman's gun. Defence 'ecstatic' Mr Zimmerman was facing possible conviction for second-degree murder or manslaughter, but on Saturday he was cleared of all charges by the six-women jury at Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida. One of his lawyer's, Mark O'Mara, said the defence team were "ecstatic". "George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self defence. I'm glad that the jury saw it that way," he said. Another defence lawyer, Don West, said the prosecution had been "disgraceful". "As happy as I am for George Zimmerman, I'm thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty," he said. However, following the verdict, protest marches were staged in US cities including San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington and Atlanta. In Oakland, California, some protesters started small fires and smashed windows. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson told CNN on Sunday: "I remain stunned at the decision. The Department of Justice must intervene to take this to another level." In a Facebook posting, he said "the American legal system has once again failed justice". But he also appealed for calm, saying anyone seeking to "compound our pain with street justice" would do "damage to the innocent blood and legacy of Trayvon Martin". Right activist Al Sharpton also appealed for calm, but said the verdict was "a slap in the face to the American people". He compared the case to the beating of African-American man Rodney King by police in 1991, which sparked widespread rioting. Campaign group the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has launched a petition demanding that the DoJ open a civil rights case against Mr Zimmerman. Its president, Benjamin Todd Jealous, wrote: "The most fundamental of civil rights - the right to life - was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin." Revenge fears Daryl Parks, lawyer for the Martin family, told BBC News he hoped the case would be a wake-up call for the US. "Many will realise that if there is a law that would allow you to kill an unarmed teenager, then that's a law that we probably should look at and change," he said. Florida police had angered many by not arresting Mr Zimmerman for six weeks after the shooting, citing the state's controversial "stand your ground" law, which allows a citizen to use lethal force if he or she feels in imminent danger. But Mr Parks said the trial had given the US "a new perspective on black life - when a young black person gets killed, the approach that it takes to investigate, to arrest the person that did it". Mr Zimmerman's brother, Robert, and his lawyers said they were concerned for his safety. Meanwhile Mr Zimmerman's family and representatives have said they are afraid he could fall victim to revenge attacks. His brother, Robert said he had received frequent threats on social media and there was "more reason now than ever to think that people are trying to kill him". "He's going to be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life," he said.
http://www.egyptindependent.com/Egypt's shattered economy was boosted this week by Gulf allies pledging billions of dollars in aid, but analysts say this simply buys time as political turmoil deepens its economic malaise. The millions of ordinary Egyptians angered by record high unemployment, soaring inflation and chronic fuel shortages who took to the streets two weeks ago demanding Mohamed Morsy's resignation blamed him for letting the economy nosedive. Fuel supplies have returned, after panic buying before the military coup on 3 July, and three Gulf monarchies relieved at the toppling of Egypt's Islamist president have pledged $12 billion in assistance. But dire security problems and political instability mean a return of the tourists and foreign investment that Egypt so desperately needs are a distant prospect. And progress remains stalled on negotiations with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8-billion loan. "Even if they do agree on the loan, I just don't believe that we're going to see a flood of investment," said financial analyst Andrew Cunningham. "The country has been in turmoil since 2011, there's just been a military coup and they're shooting people on the streets. This is hardly an attractive prospect." Gulf pledges of financial assistance are a lifeline for the new administration. Foreign reserves have fallen by almost 60 percent since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, to $14.9 billion in June -- the equivalent of just three months of imports. Kuwait offered $4 billion in cash, loans and fuel, with Saudi Arabia contributing $5 billion and the United Arab Emirates another $3 billion. But Cunningham warned that, while welcome, the cash injection was not a long-term solution. "We're still talking plasters and bandages. The challenges are enormous and they are structural. Egypt's economy has been badly managed for decades, and it didn't improve under Morsy." Illustrating the severity of the problem, the latest data from Egypt's official statistics agency shows that unemployment jumped after Mubarak's ouster and then rose steadily over the next two years to reach a record 13.2 percent in March. Problems Egypt's new rulers will have to confront if they are to reverse the inexorable decline include corruption, poor education, a bloated public sector, low productivity and unsustainable food and fuel subsidies. "They need to fix the entire system," said Ahmed Galal, head of the Eco Research Forum. "It's going to be difficult to do, but it's doable, with a lot of dedication," he told AFP, adding that stability and appointing a competent government will be crucial if Egypt's economic woes are to be resolved. This week Hazem al-Beblawi, a former finance minister and accomplished economist with long experience of working with international financial institutions, was named prime minister. But his task of forming a national unity government was immediately complicated by Morsy's Muslim Brotherhood rejecting any offer of jobs in the new cabinet. US intelligence firm Stratfor believes the instability goes far beyond political divisions. It said growing poverty and joblessness, "arguably among the root causes of the uprising in 2011," was part of a "swelling trend" that motivated the recent protests. "It is possible that the new government will find a level of stability that the increasingly isolated Muslim Brotherhood leadership was unable to sustain in the face of rising disputes with the former coalition partners and an obstructionist judiciary," it said. But "mounting demographic and economic pressures" mean the country's new leaders will face economic challenges "that become incrementally more difficult with each passing year." Egypt is the Arab world's most populous nation, and has witnessed an astonishing 50 percent rise in its population since 1990. Last year it hit 84 million, "one in four of whom live below the poverty line and only survive thanks to subsidised wheat," according to agricultural expert Sebastien Poncelet. Egypt imports about 10 million tonnes of wheat annually, with its own production supplying less than half of demand, which was 18 million tonnes in 2012. The acute shortage of foreign currency has hampered imports over the past six months, so financial aid from the Gulf will help Cairo cover its cost in the short term. But to be able to supply cheap bread, a key ingredient in maintaining social stability, "the economy must be able to generate sustainable income over the long-term," said Galal.
http://www.indiatimes.com/In what is certain to escalate the already vicious fight between the CBI and the IB over the IshratJahan "fake encounter case", a former home ministry officer has alleged that a member of the CBI-SIT team had accused incumbent governments of "orchestrating" the terror attack on Parliament and the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai. R V S Mani, who as home ministry under-secretary signed the affidavits submitted in court in the alleged encounter case, has said that Satish Verma, until recently a part of the CBI-SIT probe team, told him that both the terror attacks were set up "with the objective of strengthening the counter-terror legislation (sic)". Mani has said that Verma "...narrated that the 13.12. 2001(attack on Parliament) was followed by Pota (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) and 26/11 2008 (terrorists' siege of Mumbai) was followed by amendment to the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act)." The official has alleged Verma levelled the damaging charge while debunking IB's inputs labelling the three killed with Ishrat in the June 2004 encounter as Lashkar terrorists. Contacted by TOI, Verma refused to comment. "I don't know what the complaint is, made when and to whom. Nor am I interested in knowing. I cannot speak to the media on such matters. Ask the CBI," said the Gujarat cadre IPS officer who after being relieved from the SIT is working as principal of the Junagadh Police Training College. Mani, currently posted as deputy land and development officer in the urban development ministry, has written to his seniors that he retorted to Verma's comments telling the IPS officer that he was articulating the views of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. According to him, the charge was levelled by Verma in Gandhinagar on June 22 while questioning Mani about the two home ministry affidavits in the alleged encounter case. In his letter to the joint secretary in the urban development ministry, Mani has accused Verma of "coercing" him into signing a statement that is at odds with facts as he knew them. He said Verma wanted him to sign a statement saying that the home ministry's first affidavit in the Ishrat case was drafted by two IB officers. "Knowing fully well that this would tantamount to falsely indicting of (sic) my seniors at the extant time, I declined to sign any statement." Giving the context in which Verma allegedly levelled the serious charge against the government, Mani said the IPS officer, while questioning him, had raised doubts about the genuineness of IB's counter-terror intelligence. He disputed the veracity of the input on the antecedents of the three killed in June 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad with Ishrat in the alleged encounter which has since become a polarizing issue while fuelling Congress's fight with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. Gujarat Police has justified the encounter citing the IB report that Pakistani nationals Zeeshan Zohar, Amzad Ali Rana and Javed Sheikh were part of a Lashkar module which had reached Gujarat to target Modi and carry out terrorist attacks. In its first affidavit, filed in August 2009, the home ministry had cited IB inputs that those killed with Ishrat in the alleged encounter were part of a Lashkar sleeper cell, and had objected to a CBI probe into the "encounter". In its second affidavit, filed in September 2009, the home ministry, irked by the Gujarat government treating the first affidavit as justification of the encounter, said the IB input did not constitute conclusive proof of the terrorist antecedents of those killed. It supported the demand for a CBI probe. Mani said Verma doubted the input saying MHA's first affidavit was actually drafted by IB officer Rajinder Kumar, who looked after IB's operations in Gujarat at the time of Ishrat "encounter" and now runs the serious risk of being chargesheeted by the CBI for hatching the conspiracy behind the alleged extra-judicial killings. Mani said Verma stuck to his guns even after being told that the home ministry did not need outside help. The former home ministry official said Verma insisted that the "input" was prepared after the encounter.
http://www.geo.tv/Pakistan ambassador to U.N. Masood Khan hosted a dinner in honour of Malala Yousufzai at his residence on Saturday night, Geo News reported.
As American and NATO forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of next year, some fear the Afghan government's efforts to bring the Taliban into the political fold may mean a step back in time for the country's women. After the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom toppled the militant Taliban regime 12 years ago, girls' schools reopened, burqas were no longer compulsory and many women went back to work. So when the Afghan government last week appointed a former Taliban official as a commissioner on the newly established independent human rights commission, many were shocked. Abdul Rahman Hotak, nominated for the post by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was the editor of Taliban newspaper "Afghan Sunrise" and worked for the group's education directorate during its rule – an alarming choice, some say, for someone tasked with championing the rights of women who were denied so many freedoms under the Taliban.Hotak also opposes Karzai's proposed Elimination of Violence Against Women law (EVAW), which would make domestic and public violation against women punishable by law. Criticized for being un-Islamic, it has been languishing in Afghanistan's parliament since 2009. "I want to help the women… I want to try to tell people that they are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters," Hotak told NBC News, claiming that he actually championed women's rights during the Taliban regime and asked them to allow girls to go to school. He said his ideas and politics were not in line with the Taliban's and that he was compelled to work for them because there was "no other option when there is a government like that." As for opposing EVAW, he said he believes that if most politicians are not in agreement about a piece of legislation then it must mean it is flawed. Nonetheless, his appointment does not sit well with some. "We need the human rights commissioner to be independent and we ask the president to rethink his choice … It is not a good choice for an ex-Taliban to be in this role," said Shukria Barakzai, a member of parliament who hopes to run for president in next year's election. Barakzai, known as "the woman feared by both NATO and the Taliban" for her outspoken views, has been fighting for women's rights for years. She believes promoting people like Hotak gives the Taliban and other conservative groups a "green light" to strike political deals that would hold women back further – deals designed to make peace more attractive to Taliban leaders. "They will not join forces but they will benefit from each other," she said. "All these years it is not only the Taliban who have been problematic for women's rights but equally the government, members of parliament and the legislative committee," Barakzai said. Just this past May, conservatives in parliament surreptitiously removed a law which stipulated there should be at least 25 percent female representation in the upper house. Female politicians fought to have the law reinstated when they discovered the move. A spokesman at the presidential palace would not comment but said the reinstatement was waiting to be approved by the upper house and the president. Additionally, in 2012 Karzai endorsed a "code of conduct" law that protects men from being prosecuted for rape within a marriage, and allows husbands to beat their wives under certain circumstances."The government and the Taliban have a shared view when it comes to women," Barakzai said. However, after facing years of hurdles, Barakzai now welcomes the Taliban in Afghan politics. "I just don't want to see any more violence – that is why I would rather have the Taliban in parliament. It is the only way to end the killing." She believes if the Taliban were part of the government, they would be forced to follow the law and adopt democracy. They would have to put an end to their violent principles, she says. "The only difference between the Taliban then and the Taliban now is that they no longer wear turbans, but are dressed in smart suits. However the principles are the same as before," she said. "But we will civilize them." For some, like student Halima Rashidi, it doesn't matter who is in charge – the outcome is all that matters. "I don't think that only people who are in the government right now can change the future of women. A Taliban or mujahedeen can also do that, too. It is not important for me who is running the show but I need protection and my rights, peace and security and a better future."http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/
The Express TribuneKhyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Saturday censured the federal government over unscheduled power outages during Ramazan. The government had earlier instructed no load-shedding take place during Sehri, Iftar and Taraweeh timings in Ramazan. However, power outages still remain the norm in the capital city and the rest of the province. Speaking to party workers and office bearers in Nowshera, Khattak demanded the Federal Ministry for Water and Power to provide K-P its full share of electricity. “The federal government is not giving us power according to our quota. K-P’s requirement is 2,700 megawatts (MW) per day. However, it only receives 1,700 MW. “Unannounced outages occur because of forced load-shedding by the Regional Control Centre in Islamabad,” he maintained. Khattak further demanded prompt steps be taken to address the dearth of grid stations in K-P and to repair the existing system of power lines, otherwise he himself would resort to protest demonstrations alongside the people. “The people are at immense unease with load-shedding; I myself have received a lot of complaints,” he said. Ihsanullah, a resident of Kohat Road, said: “We face outages every day, Sehri time is no exception.” Mazhar Iqbal, a resident of Landi Arbab, said he was hopeful they would get some respite in Ramazan, but they did not. Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) spokesperson Shaukat Afzal told The Express Tribune the company was trying to adhere to the government’s directives. However, they were faced by two major hurdles in doing so, he claimed. “The Sheikh Muhammadi Grid Station which was recently destroyed by militants is still under construction, which is why there is a shortage of power supply to Peshawar and adjacent areas,” said Afzal. “The other reason for outages is the fact that power distribution system in the remote areas is outdated and not capable of bearing the complete load.” Afzal maintained Pesco was striving to provide uninterrupted power supply during Sehri, Iftar and Taraweeh and requested customers to avoid using extra power in these timings. Protests Enraged locals blocked the main DI Khan-Multan Road in Tariqabad for two hours on Saturday to protest against load-shedding. Protesters also chanted slogans against the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the provincial and federal governments. Despite the government’s claims, power cuts during Iftar, Sehri and Taraweeh continue in the district where the average temperature remains over 40 degrees Celsius. Along with load-shedding, low voltage and tripping have also irked the locals, who find no relief during the sweltering heat in Ramazan. Meanwhile, another protest was staged in front of Town Hall, DI Khan, resulting in traffic jams on Circular Road. Residents of Nawab and Mandahra villages claimed the duration of outages has reached up to 18 hours a day in their areas. Aslam Khan Gandapur, in-charge at the only grid station in DI Khan, said there is only one station in the city so they have no other option but to cut power during those timings. SDO Zafar Khan, however, was more optimistic. Zafar said if the University Grid Station becomes operational, load-shedding will reduce greatly. He added the 220KV grid station was under construction with funding from Japan, but the funds were transferred to other areas and its construction halted. “Setting up of this 220KV grid station can end load-shedding in DI Khan forever.” Double edged sword Along with prolonged power cuts, the people of Swat are also suffering from gas load-shedding during Sehri and Iftar timings. “At exactly 2am, the gas supply is cut off and it is restored in the morning. That is the time we have to cook Sehri; without gas it’s impossible to cook,” said Minhajuddin, a resident of Saidu, adding even electricity is out at that time, compounding problems for those intending to fast. Minhajuddin said he had to buy readymade meals for Sehri from the market as a result. “I was unable to cook food for Sehri at midnight and my family had to go out and fetch food from the market,” complained a woman from Khona Cham. “During sehri, when the electricity went out, we would run our generators on gas. But now even gas is not available at that time and we are forced to eat in darkness,” said Waseem Khan, a resident of Afsarabad.
indiatimes.comOver a month after a Muslim landlord allegedly paraded three Christian women naked in Pakistan's Punjab province, a court here has finally taken notice of the matter and directed a judge to investigate the incident. The Lahore high court yesterday ordered the district and sessions judge, Kasur, to probe the matter and submit a report within two weeks. The three Christian women were allegedly brutally beaten and then paraded naked by armed men of Muhammad Munir, a local landlord said to be having the backing of the ruling PML-N party, in Pattoki area of Kasur district, some 50 kilometres from here. The incident took place in the first week of last month. The matter came to light a few days after the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued a news release to the media. According to the victim family's head Sadiq Masih, the male members of his family had gone out on their jobs when the attackers led by Munir entered his house. Munir demanded Masih to produce his sons who earlier had a brawl with him over a cattle issue. Failing to find them there, the attackers took the wives of Masih's three sons with them. Munir and his armed men first disrobed the women and then forcibly paraded them naked in the streets. As the women screamed and shouted for help, some elderly people of the village came out to their rescue. They put their turbans on the feet of the attackers, pleading them to leave the women. After this, the attackers let the women go but warned the villagers and the victim family against reporting the matter to the police.
EDITORIAL : Daily Times
Breaking the tradition of split on observance of the Holy Ramadan, the entire nation went to fasting on the same day. Indeed it is a good omen that the blessed month of Ramadan has forged the people to show rare consensus on the religious festivity. It is a month of blessings, reflection, prayer and fasting for Muslims wherein Muslims gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the sufferings of impoverished and hungry people and serves to remind Muslims of the importance of charity, and their obligation to be charitable. Apart from the individual acts of generous charities, every government announces a Ramadan relief package every year to share the economic sufferings of the poor masses but this time around even on the eve of Ramadan, the federal government failed to offer the Ramadan Relief Package. The prices of essential eatables like flour, rice, wheat, lentils and oil, sugar and dates at utility stores have been reduced for general consumers. Urban consumers, that mostly are relatively better paid, do take benefit from the government’s offer but the under-paid people living in far-flung rural areas, who deserve than others, miss the benefit due to lack of access to the facility. Looking after the destitute and the poor and providing sustainable assistance in improving their living conditions is what Almighty Allah has stressed upon the most and the month of Ramadan provides the best window to act upon the teachings of God. The much-ignored residents of the war-torn FATA region deserve more than any body else—thousands of them are forced to live under the open sky sans sufficient food and health-cover. Moreover, those living in far-off hilly areas, hardly having any employment opportunities, had to pay double of the price of a flour bag than what a family pays in Lahore or Peshawar. The poor are finding it hard to afford a meal every day during Ramadan, while those who had unleashed a reign of terror and suppression are surviving on sumptuous dasterkhans. In the hour of trial and sufferings, no efforts are afoot to provide relief to the needy. The federal and provincial governments are just making publicity stunts, ignoring the pain, the agony and the starvation that the war on terror has wreaked on the people of the most under-developed areas of Pakistan. Even the members of the civil society have turned their backs on them. Secondly, the hoarding of the essential goods has created an artificial shortage that has pushed the prices of the eatable up manifold hence traders are recklessly fleecing the public with both hands. The government control over the price fixation is nonexistent. To reinstate the writ of the law on the market mechanism, the provincial governments should take strict measures to stem undue profiteering during Ramadan.
Over 600 schools set up in Balochistan under a presidential ordinance have been closed and services of 684 teachers terminated. Under the ordinance, a National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) was established in 2002 which set up 615 schools and hired 684 teachers in Balochistan to educate over 4,600 students in those schools. The NCHD extended cooperation to the provincial education department for enrolment of students and quality education and 684 feeder teachers hired under the programme were discharging their duties on a meagre salary of Rs1,500 per month. However, after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the federal government transferred the NCHD programme to provinces as part of giving autonomy to them. Under the NCHD, teachers were posted and deployed in those government-run schools where no teacher was available or only a single teacher performed his/her job. The NCHD scheme showed better results and brought down the dropout rate during 2003-06 and more children were enrolled in the schools. During the PPP-led coalition government of Balochistan, a summary was sent to the chief secretary, finance secretary and education department, asking them to evolve a policy to regularise the service of the teachers hired by the NCHD. However, no action was taken on the summary and the services of these teachers were terminated.