Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crisis averted, Obama says Americans 'completely fed up' with Washington

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Americans are "completely fed up with Washington" a day after the latest fiscal crisis was narrowly averted and called for talks with Congress on the budget, immigration and farm legislation. Hours after he signed into law a hastily arranged bill to end a 16-day government shutdown and head off a debt default, Obama said events over the past two weeks had inflicted "completely unnecessary" damage on the U.S. economy. Obama, having emerged bruised but victorious from the latest in a string of fiscal stalemates in Washington, issued an aggressive challenge to Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House of Representatives: Get to work with him on issues critical to improving the economy. "Now that the government is re-opened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do," he said. Declaring that "the American people are completely fed up with Washington," Obama sought to tap into American disgust with Washington to advance his agenda and argue that after more than two weeks of shutdown, people have seen that the federal government is vital to their lives. The agenda he laid out for the rest of the year appeared to presage more partisan combat. He called for House action on two major items that cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate earlier this year but collapsed in the House: an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system and passage of a $500 billion farm bill. Obama also renewed his plea for a "balanced approach" to the U.S. budget - language that means he wants to see some sources of new revenue in the budget such as closing corporate tax loopholes instead of simply enacting cuts in government spending. House Republicans have ruled out tax increases. "I understand we will not suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed. Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues," he said. "And sometimes we'll be just too far apart to forge an agreement. But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree."

U.S: The Republican Surrender

UPDATE: President Obama signed the bill reopening the government and lifting the debt ceiling early Thursday morning.
The Republican Party slunk away on Wednesday from its failed, ruinous strategy to get its way through the use of havoc. Hours away from an inevitable market crash, it approved a deal that could have been achieved months ago had a few more lawmakers set aside their animus. After President Obama signs the bill, the government will reopen after more than two weeks of shutdown, and the threat of a default will be lifted.
The health care reform law will not be defunded or delayed. No taxes will be cut, and the deal calls for no new cuts to federal spending or limits to social welfare programs. The only things Republicans achieved were billions of dollars in damage to the economy, harm to the nation’s reputation and a rock-bottom public approval rating. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” Speaker John Boehner said, utterly failing to grasp the destruction his battle caused. It has hurt federal employees and needy people dependent on government programs, and it threatened to alter Washington’s balance permanently by giving a fringe group outsize power over the executive branch and the normal functions of government. The deal, unfortunately, does include one minor health care provision that requires the administration to certify that procedures are in place to verify the incomes of those seeking insurance subsidies. (By the middle of next year, an inspector general will have to audit those procedures.) A White House official said the provision was virtually meaningless and would have no effect on the rollout of insurance exchanges, but the requirement was unnecessary and adds a tarnish to the president’s vow not to pay the slightest bit of ransom to Republicans. Nonetheless, the outcome vindicates the strong stance taken by Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats against the Republicans’ extortionate demands. Two years ago, when he was first confronted with the Republican refusal to raise the debt ceiling, Mr. Obama blinked and agreed to a budget control law that severely slashed domestic spending and will continue to do so for years through the sequester. Determined not to give in this time, he refused all of the most outrageous demands. The Republicans pushed the nation to the brink of default, and pulled back at the last minute when it was clear the White House would not capitulate. But this doesn’t mean the brinkmanship is over. The continuing resolution that pays for the government to reopen lasts only until Jan. 15. Democrats won a formal budget negotiation that Republicans had resisted for months, giving them a chance to relieve some of the sequester cuts. Republicans have already vowed to use the budget negotiations to keep up their attacks on the health law. “Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue,” Mr. Boehner said in his surrender statement. Then, on Feb. 7, the Treasury will again hit the debt ceiling. That will be closer to the midterm political season, and the futility of trying to use default as a weapon should be a fresh memory for Republicans. But many in the party remain defiant, opposing this week’s deal and vowing to keep waging their crusade. Those who refused to submit to blackmail in Washington need to remain vigilant.
The New York Times’s Editorial Board

Pakistan:Religious discrimination at climax by Nawaz Regime:No 'Qurbani' for you: Police stop Ahmadis from ritual sacrificing in Lahore

Lahore police stopped various members of the Ahmadi community in Lahore from slaughtering animals as part of ‘Qurbani’ ritual on Eidul Azha, proclaiming that the ritual of animal sacrifice was an Islamic injunction whereas Ahmadis were not Muslims. The Express Tribune learnt that police from the Islampura Police Station directed Tahir* in Sanat Nagar not to sacrifice his bull, which he had bought and tied in front of his house a day before Eid. At the direction of police, Tahir had to remove the animal from his house. On the same night, Hanjarwal police raided the house of Ahmad* at Sabzazar and took him to the police station, where he was detained for two hours. When his family members reached the police station, officials agreed to release him, but not before he provided a a written assurance that he will not perform the sacrifice meant to remember the Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) tradition of presenting Ismail (AS) for sacrifice, said one of Tahir’s family members.He said that the police, instead of providing security to the citizens, was meddling in sectarian issues and supporting hardliners. *Tahir and Ahmad are fabricated names to protect the identities of the victims.

Sindh CM meets Zardari to discuss shuffling Sindh cabinet

The Express Tribune
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah met former president Asif Ali Zardari in Larkana to discuss shuffling the Sindh Cabinet, Express News reported on Thursday. At the meeting Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Member National Assembly (MNA) Faryal Talpur, Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani and Local Government Minister Owais Muzaffar were also present. The meeting focused on shuffling portfolios in the Sindh Cabinet. According to sources, the local body elections were also discussed at the meeting. The topic of Bilawal’s election to the National Assembly also came under discussion. The participants deliberated whether PPP MNA Ayaz Soomro should give up his place for the party’s patron in chief on NA-204. If a decision is arrived at, Bilawal can contest for the seat during the by-elections for the constituency. Owais Muzaffar was considered for the role of interior department minister. There was further deliberation on whether Agha Siraj Durrani should be handed his old ministry for local government. Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sikandar Ali Mandhro was considered as a potential candidate to replace Durrani as the Speaker of Sindh Assembly.

India, Pakistan have highest population of slaves in the world: report

Over 16 million or half the world’s population of modern day slaves live in India and Pakistan, according to the inaugural Global Slavery Index published Thursday. An estimated 30 million people worldwide are living in modern-day slavery, of which 2.1 million are in Pakistan and a staggering 14 million are based in India. The report by the Walk Free Foundation ranks 162 countries on ‘modern slavery’ by using reports from governments and non-profit organisations as well as statistical estimates. The Walk Free Foundation’s definition of modern slavery includes slavery itself, as well as human trafficking and forced labour, and slavery-like practices such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and sale or exploitation of children. According to the index, India has the highest total number of enslaved people in the world, between 13.2 million to 14.6 million, followed by China with 2.9 million enslaved people, and Pakistan with 2.1 million enslaved people. According to estimates by the WFF report, over 1.2 per cent of the Pakistani population is enforced into in some form of slavery. In India, this percentage rests somewhere around 1.13 per cent, while in China it is about 0.22 per cent. Combined, both India and Pakistan house 54 per cent of the world’s population of enslaved people. The index also ranks countries on a slavery prevalence rating based on factors including ratio to country population. Mauritania and Haiti rank among the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery. An estimated 4 per cent of West African nation Mauritania’s population is living in some form of slavery. Pakistan and India follow the list, ranked third and fourth respectively on prevalence of slavery. Taken together, countries with the highest numbers of enslaved people – India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh – account for 76 per cent of the total estimate of 30 million in modern slavery today. The Walk Free Foundation is a Perth-based anti-slavery charity founded by Australian tycoon Andrew Forrest. The index has been endorsed by popular leaders including US Secretary Hillary Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, current Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and philanthropists Richard Branson and Bill Gates. The charity hopes the annual index will help governments monitor and tackle what it calls a “hidden crime”.
“A lot of people are very surprised to hear that slavery still exists,” WFF chief executive Nick Grono told news agency AFP, explaining how many people assume it ended when the Atlantic slave trade was abolished in the 1800s. “What modern slavery is is a situation that reflects all of the characteristics of slavery of past centuries,” he said. “People are controlled by violence. They are tricked or they are forced into jobs or situations where they are economically exploited. They live on no pay or base subsistence pay and they’re not free to leave.” “I think once we start pointing out the scale of the problem on a country by country basis, policy makers will react. “Slavery exists in every country in the world.”

Bilawal Bhutto strongly condemns D. I. Khan blast
Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the blast in Kulachi, D. I. Khan, which resulted into the loss of several innocent lives including of provincial minister Israrullah Gandapur while injuring many others. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that shedding blood of innocent people was tantamount to playing with the stability of the country. He said that the enemies wanted to weaken the country to fulfill their nefarious designs. PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto sympathized with the families of victims who lost their lives and limbs in the attack and expressed solidarity with them. He stressed that special arrangements should be made for timely treatment to all those injured in the attacks.

Eid sacrificial animals in Pak can cost more than cars
This year, the average price of a "qurbani" or sacrificial animal begins from 20,000 Pakistani rupees onwards and goes up to a princely sum of Rs 16 lakh - an amount that has left several appalled, considering a brand new car in Pakistan will cost only about Rs 7 lakh. It's the first time in years that the prices are so high and have nearly doubled from that of 2012. This means buying a sacrificial animal remains nothing but a dream for the salaried and middle class. No wonder then, animals are allegedly being stolen from homes. Take for example cricket player Imran Farhat. After paying Rs 1 lakh for his Eid goats, they were stolen overnight from his house in the upscale Valencia Town, Lahore. Despite police complaints and follow ups, the goats remain missing. It was "breaking news" on some channels. It is not uncommon for animals to be stolen or abducted in the days leading to Eid. In Karachi, where extortion is rampant in some areas, people who bring home sacrificial animals may even have to pay money to mafia to keep them safe. This year alone, two animals were shot dead by extortionists after their owners from Kharadar and Ranchore Lines area refused to pay them ransom. TV channels have also been showing all kind of animals that are up for sale, including a goat that "drinks sprite" and chews 'pan'. One goat showed on TV was priced at whopping Rs six lakh, while the most expensive buffalo was priced at about Rs 16 lakh. But then, if one does not feel like making his way through cattle markets crowded with buyers and animals, then help is just a click away. "Qurbani Online" is among a host of websites which promises to have the animal delivered 'at your home, at any relative's location or any charity organization'. But as of now, the service is restricted to Karachi. An official of the Livestock and Dairy Development in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province told state-run APP news agency that sacrificial animals between Rs 70,000 to Rs 1,00,000 are being sacrificed in the province. People say rising prices of sacrificial animals have made it hard for them to afford and many joint families have decided to share the cost of sacrificial cows. Butchers are also in high demand. The current rates are about Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,500 for goat, Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 for cows and Rs 10,000 to 15,000 for camels. Eid-ul-Azha is an Islamic festival in which devotees mark the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to.

60pc Afghan children facing malnutrition: WFP

The World Food Programme on Wednesday said 60 percent children were reportedly faced with malnutrition in Afghanistan alone, with over 842 million individuals lacking adequate food around the world. “While security issues related to insurgency and foreign aggression monopolize most discourse in Afghanistan, a lesser noted form of insecurity – food and nutrition shortage – also threatens the country's prosperity,” a WFP statement said. It said the WFP worked extensively in Afghanistan along with a number of other countries in the South Asian region. "WFP works with the Ministry of Public Health and other partners to treat moderate acute malnutrition and prevent severe acute malnutrition in young children," said Claude Jibidar, WFP Country Director for Afghanistan. "We also provide specialised nutritious food to malnourished mothers and pregnant women." The statement said investment in food security by national governments and the international community as a whole was extremely limited. The WFP said if the international community invested 1.2 billion dollars annually, which is far less than what is spent by many Western governments on their militaries year-to-year, the shortage of food for kids worldwide would be completely solved.

The Role of Church – Peshawar Church Attack

The voice of the martyred of Peshawar church blast is not silent. All over the world Pakistani Christians have one voice for them.
Last day in Kasure at Ganda Singh boarder our Christian brother sisters were gather to make their voice against Peshawar Church attack on 22nd September when the believer of Lord Jesus Christ were just finished Holy Mass and two suicide bomber blast them. At that time more than 500 people including Sunday school children were present. At the spot 110 people including women, children and young boys, girls were died and 170 people were injured, some of them were major and some were minor but they were affected. The number of death were increased by night 127 when we were busy for quick funeral service ordered by Bishop Humphrey who were just away from Peshawar only for 3 hours drive in Bannu but reached at 7:30. And having meeting with Imran Khan at his own Drying room as well as controlled to media and officials. In the history of Pakistan the first time Christian faced huge life damages but the Church of Pakistan and Peshawar diocese sum up quick and fast, now the policy maker of Peshawar diocese try to close this issue and think that is normal, at other side the patient of blast are losing parts of bodies and forcibly treatment in to the private hospital because the Mission hospital of Peshawar diocese have no expert para medical and medical staff as well as that hospital is too dirty. Many girls had major operation which is alarming for the future generation, One of collage girl (Farah Irshad) still waiting for surgery now she is paralyzed due to blockage of ball barring in her back bone her brother lost his all gums and teeth. My cousin lost her eye boll. Kashmalla Munawar lost her leg. Many children and other affected were still in private hospital in shocking conditions that are taking care of WVIP, BISHOP JOHN JOSEPH TRUST. After the attacked the numbers of martyrs are now 130, 120 people still in the different hospitals in Peshawar and in PIMS Islamabad,
12 women become widows,
24 children become orphan
18 children were lost both father and mother.
But the church of Pakistan diocese of Peshawar think its normal and people should forget and started new life as they were in past also condemning those who are activist and shouting for justice. Diocese thinks that some activist getting political advantage and making hurdle in the diocese plan. It’s true that Bishop Humphrey Peter control all situations by himself, Himself made dialogue with C M KPK at his office on 23rd September. 10th October he met with Prime Mister of Pakistan without delegations of victims but in press release they issued report with affected families which are not true.
- See more at:

Bomb defused in Peshawar

The Bomb Disposal Squad defused a bomb in Sector F-5 of Peshawar's Hayatabad Phase 6 area on Thursday, DawnNews reported. Station House Officer (SHO) of Hayatabad Police Station, Abdul Majeed Khan, said that BDS personnel defused a roadside-planted bomb after receiving information of a suspicious package lying on the roadside. At least three kilograms of explosives were used in the making of the bomb which was also fitted with a remote-controlled detonator. The bomb was concealed in a oil-can and appeared to have been planted at the spot to target a vehicle, the police officer added.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari & PPP Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meet Party workers in Naudero
Naudero, October 16, 2013: Former President Asif Ali Zardari returned from Dubai to celebrate Eidul Azha today in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, Naudero in Larkana. The former President offered Eid prayers at the mausoleum of Bhutto’s in Garhi Khuda Baksh in Larkana. He was accompanied by the Patron PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani and senior provincial Minister Nisar Khuro.
After Eid prayers the former President met notables of the area who called on him for Eid greetings. Later the former President also held meetings with party workers and office bearers from the Qambar Shahdadkot and Larkana at the Naudero house. Patron PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Madam Faryal Talpur MNA was also present at the party meetings.

More enrollment in Malala's part of the world

Malala Yousafzai has not won the Nobel Peace Prize. Nonetheless, a number of people attribute the hike in girls' enrollment in schools in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to her struggle.
Malala's international admiration has boosted the number of newly enrolled girls in schools in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK), particularly Malakand Division. The Malakand Division includes the districts of Chitral, Lower Dir and Upper Dir, Swat, Buner, Shangla and Malakand. "In less than a month, more than 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls have been enrolled in different schools," KPK education minister Atif Khan told DW. He added that the people living in this area had now understood the importance of education in a nation's progress. Khan called what happened to Malala "upsetting" and hoped it would not repeat itself.
Malala's campaign
Malala Yousafzai started her campaign for girls' right to education when she was 11 years old. She was attacked by Islamist militants on October 9th last year. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and warned that any woman who stood up to them would suffer a similar fate. Malala was shot in the head, but after multiple operations she, survived. In 2007, the Islamist militants had taken over Swat and imposed an extremist Shariah law. Opponents were murdered, people were publicly flogged for supposed breaches of Shariah law, women were banned from going to market and girls were stopped from going to school. The Taliban not only destroyed schools in Malakand Division, but also preached against girls' education via their illegal FM radios. As a result of the Taliban campaign, many girls stopped going to school. But after a military crackdown in 2009, the majority of the Taliban were kicked out of the area. Now, many of these girls are back in school.
Enrollment on the rise
Officials from the department of education in Swat say the Taliban's departure from the area and Malala's initiative have caused the number of boys and girls who enroll in school to rise in Malakand Division. However, the local government has failed to employ more than 1,000 needed female teachers and build 200 required classrooms for the newly enrolled students. The shortage of female teachers and shelter for students has created problems in KPK, where demand for education is growing. Islamist militants have destroyed more than 800 schools in the province, 182 in Malakand Division alone. The local government has been able to rebuild only 43 schools. The international community has also helped Pakistan run dozens of schools in KPK and in border areas with Afghanistan. "Swat was on top when it came to education. There was a bad period for Swat, but we are back," says KPK assembly provincial member Nagina Khan, referring to the Taliban rule in the area. She adds, "There are many Malalas in Swat. Every girl wants to be educated as Malala." Islamist militants still have a presence in KPK. The local residents might not declare their support for Malala publicly for the fear of the Taliban, but they wish this young peace and education campaigner luck for her further campaign. KPK's former provincial education minister Hussain Babak tells DW that the attack on Malala has increased the focus on education among people. "When they attacked Malala, the whole nation felt they should educate their children. The number of girls enrolled has increased since then. We believe one day all girls will attend schools in this area," he adds. The former government official says KPK has witnessed terrorism in the past, adding that the militants were still killing innocent people. "We hope these days will end soon," he says.

Pakistani Quake Victims Suffer As Government Denies International Aid

Residents of the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan are still struggling to dig out of the rubble left by two major earthquakes last month. The central government, meanwhile, is being accused of dragging its feet in allowing international aid to reach the disaster zone. Islamabad has been involved in an intense struggle to crush the separatist aims of the province's Baluch population. This has heightened the complications of providing relief following the quakes that hit on September 24 and 28, killing nearly 700 people and leaving some 1,000 injured. The central government has maintained tight control over the relief effort amid the continuing insurgency and, with their safety in mind, has denied the involvement of outside aid agencies. Local aid workers acknowledge that there have been some cases of insurgents attacking security forces following the disaster. But aid workers, they say, have not been targeted. Provincial officials do not see it that way, arguing that international aid workers cannot be allowed in until their security can be ensured. Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, the province's top elected official, has nevertheless written to Islamabad requesting that international aid agencies be allowed to participate in the relief effort. But weeks after the quakes, with government agencies now on leave to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday, Minister Baloch is still awaiting a reply.
Help Desperately Needed
Zahid Ali is a local aid worker participating in relief efforts in Awaran district, which is located at the epicenter of the September quakes. He paints a grim picture of utter destruction. He says that more than 90 percent of the traditional mud-brick houses in the region have collapsed and remaining ones have been damaged so badly that they are not usable. He says that aid in the form of food, medicine, and tents has reached disaster-hit areas, but a lot of work remains to be done. "I request that international agencies, the United Nations in particular, come here quickly because the people need them urgently," Ali says. "We need their aid in the form of food items and nonfood items. We need blankets because the winters are approaching. We require lots of daily-use utensils for cooking. Above all, we need a lot of medical assistance." Ali says that Minister Baloch spent five days in Awaran following the earthquakes. At the time, Ali says, the chief minister pledged to push Islamabad to appeal to the United Nations for help. Minister Baloch's spokesman, Jan Muhammad Bulaidi, accused the insurgents of hampering the delivery of aid to the very people they claim to be fighting for. "The separatists should curtail their activities in the aftermath of the disaster. They should allow aid workers and state agencies to help people," he said. "The separatists need to change their attitude. They need to be aware of the problems of their people. They should allow aid organizations to go to the affected regions and help people," Bulaidi said. "Aid workers would go there only if they can be assured of their security by the authorities."
Agencies At The Ready
International aid organizations cite Islamabad's reluctance as the main hurdle to them reaching quake victims. Many aid workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they are ready to go to Awaran as soon as they get a nod from Islamabad. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was one of the first organizations to publically call on Islamabad to allow humanitarian access to Awaran. "It's crucial that the authorities allow impartial humanitarian assistance into the Awaran area in order to respond to any unmet needs," the international aid agency's operations manager, Chris Lockyear, said in an October 4 press statement. Doctors Without Borders is still waiting for a green light from Pakistani authorities. The magnitude 7.7 and 6.8 earthquakes that struck in late September left more than 100,000 people homeless and affected more than 300,000 people. In addition to Awaran, they jolted the nearby districts of Kech, Khuzdar, Kharan, Gwadar, Panjgur, and Chaghi. These regions are a stronghold of Baluch separatists who have waged many violent insurgencies against Islamabad over the past six decades. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in the latest rebellion, which erupted after the 2006 killing of prominent Baluch politician Nawab Akbar Bugti. Many hard-line Baluch factions now claim to be fighting for a separate homeland. Resource-rich Balochistan is prone to earthquakes. In April a 7.8 magnitude earthquake across the border in Iran killed at least 35 people in Balochistan. In 1935 a major quake killed 60,000 people.