Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Organic milk may be more heart healthy, study suggests

A new study, published in PLOS One, examined the composition of organic milk versus non-organic milk to determine if there was a nutritional difference. Researchers looked at organic milk nationwide over the course of 18 months. The focus of the study was the balance of omega-6 fatty acids versus omega-3 fatty acids. They showed that, on average over the course of the period of the study, organic milk had 25 percent less of the “bad” fatty acids (omega-6) and 63 percent more of the “good” fatty acids (omega-3). Researchers concluded that consuming organic milk would make significant progress to reaching or maintaining a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid consumption. According to the New York Times, this study is the most clear-cut instance of an organic food’s offering a nutritional advantage over its conventional counterpart. The source of the difference in fatty acid composition comes, in part, from the grazing habits of the cows that are the source of milk. Under government requirements for organic labeling, dairy cows must spend a certain amount of the time in the pasture, eating grassy plants high in omega-3s. Conventional milk comes from cows that are mostly fed corn, which is high in omega-6s. Nonorganic cows that graze in pastures also produce milk with greater amounts of omega-3s. Nutrition experts broadly agree that omega-3 acids offer numerous health benefits. That was the impetus for the United States Department of Agriculture to urge people to eat more seafood when it revised its dietary guidelines in 2010. However, reduction of omega-6 consumption is far more controversial. In ancient times, people ate roughly equal amounts of the two fatty acids. Today most Americans now eat more than 10 times as much omega-6, which is prevalent in certain vegetable oils and thus also fried foods, as omega-3. While omega-6 is essential, some health studies suggest that such a wide disparity is associated with many ills. A shift to drinking organic whole milk along with an increase in consumption of that milk from the currently recommended three servings a day to 4.5 would take a big step to lowering the ratio. However, there would need to be additional adjustments to other portions of the diet to offset the calories from the additional milk fat consumed. In contrast with these findings, last year, a research team from Stanford University found that organic foods showed little evidence of health benefit. Based solely on health, there is not much difference between organic and non-organic food. The main benefit was a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide consumption, though organic foods were not completely pesticide free.

President Obama poses for a funeral selfie and gets chummy with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt but Michelle does not look impressed

President Obama was caught committing a funeral faux pas — snapping a selfie during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British PM David Cameron. The threesome smiled as the Scandinavian beauty held her smartphone out to capture the moment but Michelle Obama sat at a distance, as if in disapproval of the digital display.Thorning-Schmidt, 46, was animated as she took her place among the dignitaries in the stands at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg for the somber occasion, chatting with other leaders and unabashedly typing away on her device.The Danish politician, who is married to British executive Stephen Kinnock, appeared particularly chummy with President Obama but Michelle Obama, 49, seemed annoyed at the mingling, looking solemn as she stared intently in the opposite direction and paid attention to the proceedings. As the President laughed away with the Danish leader, at least one photograph shows the First Lady flash a disapproving glare in their direction. Thorning-Schmidt, who has two daughters with Kinnock, is the first female prime minister of Denmark. She assumed office in October 2011. She has met Obama on numerous occasions, including a White House visit in February 2012 and the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012. In September, Obama visited with Thorning-Schmidt during his visit to Stockholm, when he also met with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.The Danish leader's selfie went viral on Twitter, with scores of comments on the total lack of propriety shown by the three leaders.
After the hoopla over Obama's pic, a candid snapshot of George W. Bush emerged on his Instagram account — showing him posing with Bono as they sat in the stands for the remembrance. The Obamas were just part of the U.S. delegation to the Tuesday service, accompanied by President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, President Bill Clinton, his wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea,
and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. Chelsea Clinton, 33, is an avid tweeter, but abstained from accessing the social media website during the event, as did her parents, who also both have Twitter accounts. Laura Bush is also on Twitter but did not post any updates to the website. After the memorial service ended, the Obamas and Bushes boarded Air Force One to return to the U.S.
They were in South Africa for less than 13 hours. Though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled from the U.S. to Africa onboard Air Force One with the two couples, she did not return home on the President's plane Tuesday night.
Former President Bill Clinton, his daughter Chelsea, 33, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn were also among the U.S. delegation but they traveled separately.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/president-obama-poses-funeral-selfie-article-1.1543188#ixzz2n8X9itgC

Saudi delegation visits Israel over Iran: Reports

A senior military delegation from Saudi Arabia has visited Israel to discuss a deal recently reached between Iran and the six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear energy program, media reports say.
Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Salman bin-Sultan Al Saud and two other officers secretly visited Israel, according to reports by the Palestinian news portal al-Manar and Israeli radio.
Bin-Sultan, who is the brother of Saudi Arabia’s spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, “met Israeli security leaders” and one of the “Israeli military bases accompanied by a senior member of the Israeli staff board”, the al-Manar report said, quoting "confidential sources".
On November 24, Iran and the six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- reached an interim deal to pave the way for the full resolution of the West’s decade-old dispute with Iran over its nuclear energy program. In exchange for Tehran’s confidence-building measure to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities, the six countries agreed to lift some of the existing sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously clashed with US President Barack Obama and other Western countries over last month’s deal with Iran, describing it as a "historic mistake” that is bad for Israel. He added that Tel Aviv would not be bound by it.
On November 17, the British newspaper The Sunday Times reported that Riyadh has given the go-ahead for Israeli planes to use its airspace for possible attacks on Iran over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
Riyadh denied the Saudi-Israeli cooperation in preparation for an attack on Iran's nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly warned that it will retaliate with its utmost power against any attack on its soil.

Kerry Asks Congress to Hold Off on Any New Sanctions on Iran

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has strongly defended the Obama administration's interim deal with Iran on its nuclear program, and asked Congress to hold off on passing any new sanctions on Iran to give ongoing negotiations a chance to succeed. The Senate is sending mixed signals as to whether it will take up a measure to impose new sanctions on Iran before it leaves for recess this year.
For the first time since the agreement on Iran was reached in Geneva last month, Secretary of State John Kerry came to Capitol Hill to address concerns that have been voiced by skeptical lawmakers. Kerry heard plenty of those from both Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee. The committee's chairman, Ed Royce, a Republican, said Iran has a history of deceiving the international community about its nuclear program.
"Iran is not just another country. It simply cannot be trusted with enrichment technology, because verification efforts can never be foolproof," said Royce. Kerry argued that the agreement is a big boost to both U.S. national security and the security of close U.S. allies in the Middle East, including Israel.
"Once implemented, this agreement halts the progress of Iran's nuclear program, halts the progress and rolls it back for the first time in nearly 10 years," said Kerry.
Kerry appealed to members of the House and the Senate to hold off any efforts to impose new, tougher sanctions against Iran during the six month period specified in the deal, saying this could derail the process. "Let me be very clear: this is a very delicate diplomatic moment and we have a chance to address peacefully one of the most pressing national security concerns that the world faces today,” said Kerry.
The House already passed tougher sanctions on Iran in July, but the Senate has not. There are mixed signals coming from the Senate. Republican Senator John McCain, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, indicated to VOA that the panel is considering a new sanctions bill.
"[We are] still negotiating, we should have an agreement soon," said McCain.
The Senate Banking Committee is not planning to pursue new sanctions against Iran. For this year, the Senate only has a little more than one week to act before a planned recess.

World bids farewell to Mandela at huge memorial

Around 100 heads of state and thousands of South Africans gathered to honour Nelson Mandela at a memorial service in a Johannesburg sports stadium Tuesday.
• Family, friends, world leaders and religious figures from various faiths all spoke to pay homage to Nelson Mandela in front of the thousands of South Africans who turned out to celebrate the life of the anti-apartheid hero despite pouring rain at the World Cup stadium in Soweto.
• Barack Obama was greeted by wild cheers as he addressed the crowd. The US President said that Mandela was “the last great liberator of the 20th century” and that "we will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again”.
• There was embarrassment for Jacob Zuma when he was booed and jeered by the crowd as he arrived in the stadium and again as he prepared to speak. The South African president has been battling criticism over his government’s handling of various issues, including persisting poverty, crime and unemployment.
• The booing ceased for Zuma's speech, however, during which he underlined Mandela's role as "a fearless freedom fighter" who “laid the foundation for a better life for all”.
• And there was an historic moment as Obama shook hands with Cuban leader Raul Castro, who also spoke at the ceremony. Havana and Washington have not had diplomatic relations since 1961, two years after Raul’s brother Fidel came to power in the Cuban revolution.

President Barack Obama shakes Raul Castro's hand at Mandela memorial service

The US president, Barack Obama, shook hands with his Cuban opposite number, Raul Castro, at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
The handshake between the two historic enemies came as they attended a ceremony in Johannesburg to celebrate the late South African leader's ability to foster reconciliation. The gesture - which comes despite half a century of hostilities - came as Mr Obama made his way to a podium to deliver a speech. It is only the second time ever that a US president has shaken the hands of a Cuban Communist leader. President Bill Clinton was the first to do so in 2000 after a lunch during a United Nations summit in New York, when he shook hands with Mr Castro's brother, Fidel.On that occasion, the White House initially denied the handshake had taken place but later backtracked, saying it had been instigated by Mr Castro, who had approached Mr Clinton. Unlike the latest occasion, however, the exchange was not photographed.Under diplomatic protocols established years ago, Cuba's president and Washington's representatives are rarely invited to the same events. If they do, the meeting is choreographed so that they are not likely to meet face to face. Given the legacy of Cold War hostility between the USA and Cuba - which brought America to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 - any handshake by a US president risks a backlash from more hawkish elements in US public opinion. A similar gesture was widely expected during America's recent talks with Iran over its nuclear programme, which saw American and Iranian presidents talk direct on the phone for the first time in 30 years. But in the end, the expected handshake never came off - allegedly because of fears among aides to the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, that it would lead to criticism among hardliners in his own camp. In today's ceremony in South Africa, Mr Obama also shook the hand of Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, and of Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, a noted critic of the US government.

Nelson Mandela funeral: Video of President Obama's full speech

In Afghanistan, Women Betrayed

When, in late November, I read a draft law prepared by Afghan government officials that reintroduced execution by stoning as the punishment for the “crime” of adultery, I was horrified but not that surprised. The draft, leaked to me by someone desperate to prevent reinstatement of this Taliban-era punishment, is just the latest in a pattern of increasingly determined attacks on women’s rights in Afghanistan.
The last 12 years have been a time of significant achievements here, hard-fought by Afghan activists. Millions of girls have gone to school, women have joined the police and the army and the civil service. Twenty-eight percent of the members of Afghanistan’s Parliament are women, and a 2009 law made violence against women a crime. But signs are everywhere that a rollback of women’s rights has begun in anticipation of next year’s deadline for the withdrawal of international combat forces. Opponents of women’s rights are already taking advantage of growing international fatigue with Afghanistan.
On Monday, the United Nations issued a new report showing that while reported cases of violence against women went up by 28 percent in the last year, prosecutions increased by only 2 percent. A parliamentary debate last May on the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was derailed by conservatives calling for the abolition of a minimum marriage age for girls and arguing against making rape a crime. One of President Hamid Karzai’s new handpicked commissioners at the government’s previously well-respected Independent Human Rights Commission is an ex-member of the Taliban government who wasted no time after his appointment before calling for the repeal of the EVAW Law, which he said “violates Islam.”
These setbacks have occurred against a backdrop of continuing day-to-day abuses against women that are so commonplace that some extreme practices go almost unnoticed.
About half the women in prison in Afghanistan and about 95 percent of girls in juvenile detention — a total of about 600 people — are imprisoned on accusations of “moral crimes,” like sex outside of marriage or running away from home. In reality, most have fled forced marriages or domestic violence. Some are survivors of rape who are blamed by the courts for “immorality,” sometimes alongside their attackers.
Their stories are a call to the Afghan government to do much more to track down and punish abusers of women, and to crack down on police officers, prosecutors and judges who treat women fleeing abuse as criminals rather than victims. Above all, the government needs to end the barbaric practice of virginity tests. Whenever a woman or girl is arrested on “morality” charges — and sometimes even when she is accused of non-moral crimes such as theft or assault — she is whisked away for a vaginal examination at a government clinic in the province in which she was arrested. There is no opportunity for her to refuse.
Because of frequent mix-ups and general inefficiency, some women are sent for the examination two or three times. The examination, carried out by government doctors, results in a report on whether or not the woman or girl is a “virgin.”
These reports are often used as the sole evidence to support “moral crimes” charges in court, aside from a “confession” taken down by a police officer immediately after the arrest, which is usually signed with a thumbprint by a woman or girl who has no idea what it says. I have seen cases where a judge used the report as evidence against a girl even when its findings were inconclusive. For many of the 600 women and girls imprisoned for “moral crimes,” the doctor’s observations are a key factor in her receiving a stiff prison sentence.
Forcing these women and girls to undergo invasive vaginal examinations, sometimes repeatedly, to ascertain “virginity” as evidence likely to be used against them in criminal proceedings is not only a form of degrading and inhuman treatment strictly prohibited by international law but also a violation of their basic fair trial rights.
All of this would be horrific enough if it weren’t bad science, but it is. “Virginity” tests have no medical validity. A medical examination cannot determine, with any level of accuracy useful to a court, a woman’s sexual history.
And despite progress in other countries in banning such examinations, there are no signs of this practice ending in Afghanistan. For vulnerable Afghan women, things are only getting worse. One recently proposed law revision would ban victims of crime from testifying against family members — effectively preventing all prosecutions for domestic violence and forced or underage marriage. Female activists in Afghanistan, who have accomplished so much in the past 12 years, are doing all they can now to prevent that progress from unraveling. Countries, including the United States, have pledged continued funding for services for Afghan women, but in addition to aid they need political support. International support for the Afghan government and its security must depend on continued progress for Afghan women. Anything less would be a betrayal.

Shanti Dynamite beats Sunny Leone, Veena Malik, Poonam Pandey as Asia's sexiest woman!

If you think porn star Sunny Leone, buxom babe Poonam Pandey or Kamasutra sex bomb Sherlyn Chopra are among the contenders of the coveted title of the sexiest woman of Asia, you are mistaken. It is sizzling Shanti Dynamite, the porn star who is suddenly creating ripples the world over, who has been named the the
Sexiest Asian Woman by Britain's leading Asian newspaper Eastern Eye in its annual list. Shanti or Sofia Vasileiadou as she is originally known tops this list of 50 women. Shanti Dynamite was ranked at number 48 as the latest entrant, by beating Sunny Leone, Veena Malik and Poonam Pandey. The top 3 are Katrina who tops the rank, Priyanka coming second, and Drashti Dhami third.
Shanti Dynamite, is a British adult star of Indian and Greek descent. She does adult chat shows for UK television. She introduces herself as Sofiya (Shanti) Dynamite on Twitter. She began her career as a teenager, starring as a glamour model on the popular Hotel Voyeur, a UK-based topless show. In India she runs her own production company which shoots Indian adult music videos, AIDS awareness programs and sex education material. Shanti came into the limelight after being cast in upcoming Bollywood movie Chal Doctor Doctor Khelein as an item girl Clearly delighted, Shanti Dynamite said: "I'm hugely flattered. That's a nice surprise and a lot of fun to hear. Who wouldn't want to have a title like this bestowed on them! A big shout out to everyone who voted for me."
Shanti Dynamite spokesperson Satish Reddy said, "Yes I have been handling Veena Malik and Poonam Pandey and now I am happy that Shanti has made her entry into the list. I am lucky that my client got listed in top 50 Asia's Sexiest Women list." Other notable stars in this year's list are Sonam Kapoor (5), Parineeti Chopra (14), Sophie Choudry (21), Mehreen Syed (22), Sunidhi Chauhan (28), Ankita Lokhande (29), Hina Khan (31) and Shreya Ghoshal (43). The oldest women in the list were Bollywood icons Madhuri Dixit (23) and Sridevi (40)

Can Shahbaz Sharif curb sectarianism?

By Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad
PML-N’s politics is its bane on the communal issue
What happened in Rawalpindi was not altogether unexpected. There had been enough rumblings in Punjab during the last few months that suggested that sectarian differences were gradually mutating into unrest which had the potential to boil over and engulf the country. The Punjab government dealt with one sectarian clash after another with a characteristic air of nonchalance. It generally reacted after incidents had taken place only to treat them as minor law and order issue unrelated to the grim security situation in Pakistan. Once there was calm, the PML-N administration forgot about it.
The second successive coming of the PML-N in Punjab promises to be no better than the first which was marked by mega incidents of attacks on Christians, the Ahmadis and Shias. The ignominious markers during this last tenure were: the infamous attack on a Christian locality in Gojra in 2009 and the killings of the Ahmadis in Lahore in 2010.
During the last four years, Punjab by and large remained immune from indiscriminate terrorist attacks that rocked the other provinces. This was widely ascribed to the appeal by Shabaz Sharif to the TTP to spare Punjab as its government was not pro-US. There was however no let-up in killings of Shias, the Ahmadis and Christians. The last two years in fact saw minorities in Punjab subjected to increased violence. This was on account of organisations like the ASWJ, which is banned, the LeJ working under a new name, having been given a free hand to spread nefarious propaganda against the minorities. The sectarian networks added to the extremist sentiment in the province through sermons, hate literature and using social network for inciting it against the religious minorities.
In March about a hundred Christian houses were burnt by a mob in Joseph Colony in the provincial capital. The Ahmadis were disallowed to publish their literature, their graveyards were frequently vandalized and their places of worship disfigured. In Faisalabad, there were cases of intimidation and abduction of the members of Ahmadi community. In Punjab, sectarian violence claimed 64 lives in 2011 and 43 in 2012. In 2013, the Shia community was to become the principal target of attacks. In February, a Shia surgeon and his son were sprayed with bullets in Lahore, in August a Shia leader was shot along with his son in Rahimyar Khan and five Shia were killed in a targeted attack in Gujrat. In all these cases unknown sectarian killers disappeared after completing their mission while people in the neighbourhood irrespective of their sectarian identity came to condole with the bereaved families. The anger continued to accumulate but there was no clear cut target to vent the sentiment.
The ASWJ provided one in Bhakkar in August when its armed activists took to streets in the city. This led to a bloody confrontation with the Shia community, leading to 10 dead. The government had to impose curfew to bring the situation under control in towns Panj Garain, Kotla Jam and Darya Khan.
There were minor aftershocks in the province in days to come but the complacent Punjab administration took no notice. The chief minister remained focused on issues altogether outside his purview. He continued running the federal ministry of Water and Power under an inter-party arrangement and having long trips abroad with the prime minister or on his own. During his five months in office, he has visited Turkey, the UK and Germany. With several irons in the fire, he had scant time to focus on any issue, least of all the sectarian question.
Days before the Rawalpindi mayhem, clashes took place between the Shia and Sunni communities in the provincial capital and Muzaffargarh. In Sanda area of Lahore, a dispute arose over the Aza’daars taking out a procession on 7th Moharram in a non-designated area close to an Imambargah. There was stone pelting and firing between the two sides causing multiple injuries to three, including the local police SHO.
At Khanqah Doma in Muzaffargarh, six people were injured when miscreants opened fire at a Muharram procession. The District Coordinator Moharram Committee alleged that there was no police official on duty. He said, he met the DPO and the DCO and told them about the situation but they did not arrange adequate security. As usual police was ordered to apprehend the culprits after the violence had taken place.
A well thought out policy for the Ashura days should have been formulated well ahead of Moharram. Mian Nawaz Sharif’s frothing at t
he mouth at the local administration and police amounts to crying over spilt milk. Why didn’t the idea strike him or the younger Sharif soon after they took office in June?
Many factors stood in the way of proper planning. The Punjab CM was too busy helping the federal government or frequently traveling abroad. Whatever energy was left in him was consumed in dealing with dengue mosquitos, which taking benefit of his absence had spread the virus all over the province. Bad governance that included putting several blue eyed boys in key police positions in violation of rules constituted another cause. Sectarian clashes create more social complications than terrorist attacks. In the latter case people across the sectarian divide tend to sympathise with the community which is targeted again and again. Sectarian clashes on the other hand divide society further as members in each community start accusing the other of being the real instigator responsible for death and destruction of property.
Political needs of the PML-N stand in the way of taking radical measures against those who spread communal hatred.
Mainstream parties, particularly the PML-N, have frequently joined hands with sectarian outfits like the ASWJ, thus helping the sectarian party gain respectability and carve out further space for itself.
On Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif hit out at the “criminal silence” on the part of local administration and police on the propagation of sectarian hatred through loudspeakers and wall-chalking, the prime minister said such acts would not be tolerated. But can the Punjab administration take action against organization like ASWJ, which are its potential election allies but are also responsible for spreading communal violence and sectarian hatred in the province? - See more at: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/11/22/comment/can-shahbaz-sharif-curb-sectarianism/#sthash.kH5opwt1.dpuf

Pakistan's Shia Genocide: Another Shia notable shot martyred in Yazidi terrorist attack in Karachi

Another Shia notable was shot martyred in a targeted attack of Yazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists of outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba in Karachi late on Monday night. Shiite News Correspondent reported here that Qamar Hasnain was going to somewhere in his car when notorious Yazidi terrorists ambushed him near Kulsoom Hotel Stop Godhra area New Karachi. He embraced martyrdom on the spot and body was taken to a government hospital for treatment. Martyr Qamar Hasnain was a member of Matami Anjuman Zulfiqar Haideri and owner of two Pakwan shops in Federal B Area Block 17 and Gulshan-e-Maymar. Shia parties and leaders have condemned the targeted murder and surge in genocide against Shiites. They demanded immediate military operation to eliminate terrorists.

Human Rights Day: Asian Human Rights Commission Outlines 2013 For Pakistan

The Asian Human Rights Commission releases a statement concerning the predicament of Human Rights in Pakistan in the year 2013 on Human Rights Day.
All the way through 2013, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been documenting how too many lives, and the solemnity of those living, have been snatched by a cold state and brutal cruelty in Pakistan. The AHRC’s State of Human Rights Report in Pakistan, 2013, released to mark Human Rights Day observed on 10th of December picking up on the year in Pakistan, inspecting the largely decisive factors that influence the lives of all its citizens. An extract from the statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on Human Rights Day is presented below:
''Appeasement for hardliners means religious minorities are harassed and killed daily. Leaders and spokesmen from banned organisations, some internationally wanted, are allowed to make hate fuelled speeches in public. The government has arrested thousands of alleged extremists over the past four years, but there have been no successful prosecutions due to lack of proper witness protection and half-hearted attempts by the prosecutors. These criminal elements now utilize the weaknesses of the law to their own benefit and collect public donations but are not arrested for fear of upsetting extremist groups. In spite of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, minority groups are not protected. Targeted attacks of the Shiites take place in daylight and on public roads in the presence of uniformed personnel; every year, around 200 Shiites are killed in this manner. The groups that claim responsibility for these killings move freely and even have offices in major cities. The Ahmadis are also frequently targeted for their belief, their places of worship are attacked and they are not allowed to carry out their religious observances. Religious fanatics who rape and abuse Christians and Hindus with no fear of consequence or reprisal consider the women of these communities free game. Harassment, forced marriage, and forced conversions of both Christian and Hindu women to Islam is common. When victims do manage to reach the courts, judges rule in favour of their abductors, who are equally supported by religious fundamentalists. This Religious discrimination is forcing native Pakistani Hindus to flee their homeland.''
Killing by Numbers: Data compiled by AHRC (from January to November 28, 2013):
Sectarian Violence & Target Killings:
Total Attacks: 491
Killed: 2350 Injured: 3786 Terrorist Attacks: Total Attacks: 250 Killed: 2286 Injured: 1609 Suicide Attacks: Total Attacks: 38 Killed: 820 Injured: 1445 Drone Attacks: Total Attacks: 25 Killed: 188 Injured: 160
Total Attack Incidents & Killings:
Total incidents: 804 Total killings: 7170 Total injuries: 8746
- See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/human-rights-day-asian-human-rights-commission-outlines-2013-in-pakistan/#sthash.hR4jRhGr.dpuf

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: Supply disrupted: Hundreds stranded as residents protest against power outages

The Express Tribune
Hundreds of commuters remained stranded in traffic for over three hours on Monday as disgruntled residents of Rajar, Charsadda blocked the Tangi-Peshawar Road in protest against prolonged power and gas outages. Nearly 300 protesters led by Qaumi Watan Party MPA Sultan Muhammad Khan blocked the road near Rajar by burning tyres and pelting stones at vehicles heading to Peshawar.
They chanted slogans against the Water and Power Development Authority and natural gas supply companies for not providing them basic facilities.
Addressing the demonstrators, MPA Khan said under the leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf the people were passing through the worst of times with increasing lawlessness and the price hike. “While the coalition partners protest against Nato supply lines during the day, the trucks continue to pass through at night,” he claimed. “The provincial government is intentionally trying to cut off gas and electricity supply to Charsadda as the people of the district did not elect them.” He added if the issue is not resolved within four days then the protesters would march to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly building in Peshawar and protest for their rights.
Charsadda Assistant Commissioner Taimur Khan and police officials arrived at the site and assured the MPA the issue would be resolved. Following this, the protesters scattered peacefully after blocking traffic for over three hours. Miranshah
Meanwhile, hundreds of tribesmen from Mir Ali tehsil of North Waziristan Agency protested against the disconnection of power supply to the agency by tribesmen of Frontier Region (FR) Bannu. Led by elder Adeeb Gul Wazir, the protesters gathered in Mir Ali Bazaar and lashed out at the political administration because of lack of electricity since the past three days.
Wazir while addressing the protesters said Pathak Khel, Momand Khel and Bakka Khel tribesmen of FR Bannu disrupted power supply to North Waziristan Agency on Saturday by disconnecting an 11KV transmission line. He added officials of the North Waziristan and FR Bannu political administration were also involved.
The elder warned that if the supply was not restored they would block Miranshah-Ghulam Khan Highway for traffic to disrupt Pak-Afghan trade and political administration officials of the agency would be responsible for the consequences.

PPP condemns PM’s remarks about SZAB

Pakistan Peoples Party condemns the remarks of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif against the Party’s founding Chairperson Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as totally unwarranted and devoid of any understanding of the historical context of the nationalisation policies of 70s. In a statement Spokesperson of the Party Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the nationalization of seventies was necessitated by the brutal exploitation of the labor and working classes by the agents of crony capitalism. It was the call of the time and the result of the inevitable march of the historical forces that led to controlled and thought out nationalization. It required extraordinary vision, leadership and courage to take the exploitative bull of capitalism by the horns and rescue the poor and downtrodden workers, peasants and labor from exploitation. The Party is proud that its founding leader possessed the vision and courage to provide leadership in this regard, he said. It goes to the credit of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that he gave direction to the seething anger of the working class and thereby prevented a serious destabilization of the society. The Party is proud of its achievement, he said. The Prime Minister’s unwarranted remarks at this point of time lends credence to widely held suspicion that after completion of transition in all state institutions by the end of the year the government will expose its real and hidden agenda including a reversion to the days of crony capitalism based on sucking the blood of the poor. The Party will not permit a return to the days of crony capitalism nor the exploitation of workers, wage earners and labor, he said. “Let there be no doubt or mistake about it”.

Bilawal pledges to protect Human Rights

Daily Times
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the murder of Dalit girl Kaku Kolhi in Shadi Pali on the even of World Human Rights Day to be observed on Tuesday.
He reiterated his party’s commitment to protect the human rights of every citizen of the country without any exclusion. Expressing sympathies with Kaku’s family, Bilawal asked Sindh government to take special interest and follow the investigations to ensure the culprits do not slip off the hook. Nothing is more important than basic human rights in any democratic and civilised society, the PPP patron said, according to a release from Bilawal House. He said that safeguarding the basic rights of the masses has been the founding principle of PPP; led by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and vigorously pursued by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. In the course of valiant struggle for protecting human rights in the country, they both sacrificed their lives, he said. He exclaimed that basic human rights were not any kind of concession, privilege or a favour, and urged the Federal government to adopt concrete steps to curb violations. agencies

Punjab University hostel admin raid, 15 illegal occupants handed over to police

The Punjab University hostel administration in an operation against the illegal residents caught 15 outsiders and later handed them over to Muslim Town police station, Geo News reported Tuesday morning.
Punjab University administration said that on a tip-off they raided the University new campus hostel no. 18 in the wee hours Tuesday caught hold of 15 persons illegally residing in different rooms and handed them over to police by registering an FIR against them for illegal occupation of public property. More such operation against the illegal occupants of the hostel rooms would continue, said the administration of the Punjab University hostel.

Pakistan should heed Husain Haqqani's urgent message of reform

By: Stephen Kinzer
Cutting military spending and focusing on domestic issues could keep Pakistan from becoming a 'nuclear-armed Somalia'
Just four months after taking power, new leaders in Iran have begun a highly promising effort to pull their country out of its isolation and, perhaps, transform it into a stabilizing rather than a destabilizing force. There is little prospect that Saudi Arabia or Israel, which also feed regional tensions, will follow suit. Yet some dare to hope that Pakistan might.
The Middle East and surrounding regions are in a period of historic flux. Iran's new policies, upheaval in Egypt, horrific warfare in Syria, state collapse in Libya, and intensifying terror in Iraq reflect the collapse of old structures. One of those structures, in place for more than half a century, has been a Pakistan that falls steadily deeper into poverty while spending huge amounts on weaponry, fomenting terror in neighboring countries, and deepening its self-destructive obsession with imagined security threats.
Pakistan stands at an intriguing crossroads. A new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, took office in June. General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief of staff who nourished Pakistan's ties with Islamic militants, has just retired. The mercurial chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, will retire this week. Meanwhile, Pakistanis are expressing increasing disgust with their political system. In several parts of the country they have taken to the streets to protest murderous attacks by militants who count on clandestine support from within the government.
Pakistan is not about to crack down on terror groups or cut its military budget in order to build roads, schools and hospitals. Yet one prominent Pakistani, in a new book and a series of speeches, is urging it to do just that. He is offering a stark alternative to policies that threaten to turn Pakistan into what he calls "a nuclear-armed Somalia".
Most Pakistani politics is conducted within a narrow spectrum. Politicians spend much time debating the best ways to fight India, or take Kashmir, or dominate Afghanistan, or punish the United States for its real and imagined sins. Now comes a voice arguing that these debates are meaningless in a country that cannot care for its own citizens and is fast becoming a pariah state.
It is the voice of Husain Haqqani, a wily veteran of Pakistani politics who served as his country's ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011. During those years, Pakistani-American relations were fraught with tension and mistrust. Haqqani had to deal with fallout from the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and with the arrest of a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, for the murder of two Pakistanis. His diplomatic skill and dense web of contacts in Washington helped contain these crises and maintain a semblance of partnership in the increasingly poisoned US-Pakistan relationship.
Now Haqqani has published a book exploring the roots of this relationship and explaining how it became so toxic. Its arresting title is Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding. As a trenchant and unsparing account of how these two countries came to mistrust each other so deeply, despite pretending to be friends, this book is unmatched. Its implicit message – the need to remake Pakistan – is even more provocative.
Haqqani has been travelling around the United States, where he now lives, preaching this message. Officially he is on a book tour, but it feels like something more. Haqqani is laying out a radically different path for his homeland. His campaign is important not only to Pakistanis, but to all who are terrified by threats to global security posed by what Liam Fox, a former United Kingdom defense secretary, recently called "the most dangerous country in the world". In his speeches, Haqqani begins by rattling off statistics – 43% of Pakistani children do not attend school – and recounting episodes that reflect the barbarism into which his country has fallen, like the murder of health workers giving polio vaccines. Then he describes Pakistan's role in training Islamic militants who have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan, India, and within Pakistan itself. His critique of obtuse and delusional American policies toward Pakistan – he blames the US for helping to undermine Pakistani democracy – is devastating. He told students at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies on Tuesday: The United States has to find some other way to deal with Muslims besides either killing them or taking them out to lunch.
Haqqani concludes with his prescription for Pakistan: it sounds like common sense to many outsiders, but in Pakistan it is nothing short of revolutionary. To begin with, Haqqani wants his country to stop supporting militant armies and terror groups. He urges a reversal of attitudes toward India, which he sees not as a threatening enemy but as a potential partner. Domestically, he wants the government to redefine the meaning of security away from military prowess and toward the development of a modern society.
He said in his Watson Institute speech:
We are a warrior state, and we need to become a trading state.
This message finds applause in the United States, and "Magnificent Delusions" has been well received in India. Remarkably, reviews in Pakistan have also been favorable. Haqqani has succeeded in widening the bounds of political discourse in his homeland. No Pakistani politician, however, is yet ready to campaign for high office on such a radical platform. In his book and speeches, Haqqani does not mention the possibility that he might do so himself. He is well known in Pakistan; may have as many friends there as enemies; is a Sunni married to a Shia woman from a prominent family; and has both a communal and regional base. Whether such an erudite cosmopolitan would be comfortable crisscrossing his country in an armored car, or campaigning while wearing a bulletproof vest, is far from clear. Even if Haqqani is not ready to return and preach his urgent message in Pakistan, however, Pakistanis need to hear it. If they do not, worse times lie ahead for them and their neighbors.

Hagel Warns Pakistan Leaders Over Border Protests

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pakistani leaders Monday that if they don't resolve protests stalling some military shipments across the border with Afghanistan, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an aid program that has sent billions of dollars to Islamabad, defense officials said.
In response, the officials said, Hagel received assurances from the Pakistanis that they would take "immediate action" to resolve the shipment problem. The officials did not provide details on how that might be done.
Just last week, anti-American protests along one of the primary border crossing routes in Pakistan prompted the U.S. to stop the shipments from Torkham Gate through Karachi last week, due to worries about the safety of the truckers. The protests center on the CIA's drone program that has targeted and killed many terrorists, but has caused civilian casualties.
The defense officials said Hagel described a political reality on Capitol Hill that could complicate support for the billions of dollars of aid Pakistan now receives. It was Hagel's intent to try and pre-empt any problems with the aid, said the officials who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private meetings publicly on the record.
Hagel had back-to-back meetings Monday with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the new army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, in a move to further repair what has been a strained and sputtering relationship between Washington and Islamabad. Defense officials said Hagel is first high ranking U.S. official to meet with the Army chief, who took over at the end of last month.
After leaving Islamabad, he flew to Saudi Arabia where he is meeting with Crown Prince Salman, and then to Qatar, where he will speak to troops on Tuesday.
During the Pakistan meetings some of the more contentious issues also were raised, including Islamabad's opposition to ongoing CIA drone strikes and Washington's frustration with Pakistan's reluctance to go after the Haqqani terrorist network, which operates along the border and conducts attacks on U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. The officials acknowledged that little progress was made other than to agree to continue talking. Sharif's office said in a statement the prime minister and Hagel had "in-depth exchanges on a whole range of issues of mutual interest" including bilateral defense, security cooperation and Afghanistan. Sharif's office also said the prime minister conveyed Pakistan's deep concern over continuing U.S. drone strikes, "stressing that drone strikes were counter-productive to our efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis," the statement said. Shireen Mazari, the information secretary for the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, said in a statement Monday it's time for the government to speak forcefully to the U.S. to demand an end to the drone attacks. The party is leading the protests. Pakistan has called the drone strikes a violation of the country's sovereignty, but the issue is muddied by the fact that Islamabad and the military have supported at least some of the strikes in the past. Following their meeting in Rawalpindi, Hagel and Sharif echoed each other's desire to work to strengthen the countries' ties. The top military men discussed the defense relationship between the two countries and regional stability, according to the Pakistani army chief's office.
Hagel's warning to the Pakistanis about the supply route reflects what has been a growing frustration among U.S. lawmakers with Pakistan in recent years.
The Pakistani government blocked the supply crossings for seven months following U.S. airstrikes that accidentally killed two dozen soldiers on the Afghan border in November 2011. Pakistan finally reopened the routes after the U.S. apologized. The rift largely led the U.S. to sever most aid to Pakistan for some time, but relations were restored in July 2012. Since then the U.S. has delivered over $1.15 billion in security assistance to Pakistan. Some of the items include advanced communications equipment, roadside bomb jammers, night vision goggles and surveillance aircraft.
Since July 2012, relations between Washington and Islamabad have been improving. Sharif met with President Barack Obama and Hagel in late October in Washington.
The last Pentagon chief to visit Pakistan was Robert Gates in January 2010.
Hagel flew to Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he visited U.S. troops but declined to meet with President Hamid Karzai, who has rankled the U.S. by refusing to sign a security agreement before year's end.

Pakistan Youth Work to Solve Country's Conflicts

In Pakistan, thousands of civilians and security force members died in terrorist violence in 2013. Military campaigns and political outreach have made little headway in reducing the toll. But, Pakistani youth are trying to open a dialogue and end the violence, even in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions.
Teenager Malala Yousufzai became the international face of Pakistan's youth this year. Young and determined, she narrowly escaped death after being shot in the head by the Taliban for her outspoken advocacy of education for girls.
In Pakistan, there are many other young people like her, trying to make a difference by forging peace. Even in the country's violent tribal northwest, where guns are commonplace and tribal feuds a way of life, young people are working to resolve conflicts through dialogue.University student Mohammad Farooq Afridi is one of those youth leaders. He regularly leaves behind his school in the northwest city Peshawar, and drives out to village tribal communities to talk about alternative ways to resolve disputes.
“People have no patience, they don’t listen to the other side," he said. "I am trying to teach them patience and tolerance. People think more about revenge than resolution, even when they know the consequences, and it’s a never-ending cycle of revenge.”
Afridi has created his own organization called Khadim ul Khalq, or Servant of the People, and he receives some funding from international donors to try to help mediate conflicts.
Like Malala, Afridi believes education will bring change.
He says right now, many children do not study because parents say it is not safe to send their children to class. He wants to set up free street-side schools, cricket tournaments, mobile medical units, all staffed by volunteers. Afridi says he wants to work more on education because the state of education in his area is pathetic for vulnerable children. He says he wants children to have direction so that they avoid unsocial and unhealthy activities, like violence and drugs. In northwest Pakistan, recruitment by extremist movements is on the rise, fed by social exclusion, weak rule of law, and a battle between the tribal way of life and the state's attempt to exert control, says the U.N. Development Program's Marc Andre Franche. “One of the aspects that most encouraged me in Pakistan is meeting so many young people that are trying to make a difference, that are trying to change the situation in this country,” he said. With 56 percent of the country's population under the age of 30, Franche says such youth outreach programs are extremely valuable in bridging gaps in Pakistan Several non-government groups are training and funding youth peace-makers, bringing them to Islamabad to teach them conflict mediation techniques. Arshad Hamid is one of those students. He says in Hangu, where he is from, violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims is common.
“This sectarian conflict is scaring people, they don’t feel safe going outside, running their businesses, or even just having a social life. They are frightened," he said. "They never know if they are going to go out and die.”
While Hamid's efforts and others are still on a small scale, they are a hopeful sign that Pakistan's next generation is focused on finding new ways to solve old problems.

Study: U.S. TV ad campaign in Pakistan misses mark

Filed under Good Intentions and Good Money for Naught: the U.S. television ad campaign last year in Pakistan to persuade locals to stop hating America.
Steve Tatham, a British military officer and expert on propaganda efforts, penned a report on U.S. "information operation and strategic operations" that the Army War College published last week. One of his case studies involved television ads the U.S. government purchased in September 2012 on Pakistani national television to denounce The Innocence of Muslims, a video offensive to Muslims. The ads featured statements by President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Sounds reasonable, right? Perhaps to an American. Not so much to a protesting Pakistani, Tatham points out:
"In assessing the Pakistan TV advertisements, a number of questions arise, chiefly about accessibility and reach," Tatham writes. "First, of the large body of people who chose to riot, probably only a very tiny percentage had actu­ally seen the offending video. The video is 74 minutes in duration and a little over 400-megabytes (MB) in size. 'Highlights' could therefore have been available to smart phones, but it would be next to impossible to view properly without access to the web. While In­ternet penetration in Pakistan is undeniably growing, literacy in Pakistan is still less than 55%, and around 30% to 40% of the population live beneath the poverty line, which suggests limited access to the Internet via computer. At the same time, viewing the U.S. response required both access to a TV set and the ability either to understand English or to read the superimposed Urdu script. It is a reasonable supposi­tion, therefore, that many of the rioters had probably never seen the original video, nor the presidential ad­dress that followed, and that their knowledge of its ex­istence was largely second hand, transmitted through trusted community leaders and/or social networks such as mosques."
Tatham suggests that anger over the video was intensified by the perception that the "U.S. hates Muslims" based on the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and desecrations of the Koran both intentional and accidental.
"In this context, it seems optimistic that a few words in a TV advertisement from the U.S. Presi­dent, the embodiment of the western 'infidel,' could appease an enraged mob," Tatham writes.
And, unsurprisingly, they didn't.
"The ads have been running this week on seven different Pakistani television stations in cool tempers over the film," ABC News reported at the time, as Tatham points out. "But today's protests were the largest seen so far since the controversy began in Pakistan last week with the attempted storming of the U.S. embassy." Tatham credits the U.S. government for trying. But that's faint praise. He concludes failures of U.S. propaganda since 9/11 stem from "susceptibil­ity to ambitious contractors, an absence of 'intelligent customers,' and an apparent absence of understand­ing how communication can, and cannot, be realisti­cally employed to mitigate crisis and conflict."
His findings track with what USA TODAY has found in two years of reporting on those propaganda: hundreds of millions of dollars spent on poorly tracked programs that have enriched contractors.
Tatham takes note of our coverage, labeling me a "long-standing critic of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Information Operations (IO) efforts." That coverage has often been dismissed by the Pentagon's IO community, he writes.