Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lady Gaga - Telephone ft. Beyoncé

Britney Spears - Work B**ch

Blood test can predict Alzheimer's: study

Researchers in the United States say they have developed a prototype blood test that can tell with 90-percent accuracy whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer's disease within three years. The test looks for 10 signatures of fatty proteins called lipids, according to a study published on Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine. It could help families of people developing the cognitive disorder make early decisions on how best to care for them and may also aid the search for treatment, the authors said.
Several years of clinical trials are likely to be needed to assess the prototype technique, the first blood "biomarker" to predict the tragic degenerative disease. Alzheimer's, caused by toxic proteins that destroy brain cells, is a currently incurable and fatal degenerative disease. Around 35 million people have the disease, a tally that is expected to reach 115 million people by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. "Our novel blood test offers the potential to identify people at risk for progressive cognitive decline and can change how patients, their families and treating physicians plan for and manage the disorder," said Howard Federoff, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington. It could also help efforts to treat the disease, he said in a press release.
Attempts to develop drugs for Alzheimer's have failed possibly because they are tested when the disease has progressed too far, Federoff said. These treatments may have a better chance of braking or reversing the disease if they are trialled at a much earlier stage, he said. The researchers started by taking blood samples from 525 healthy volunteers aged 70 and older. Three years later, they looked at a group of 53 volunteers who had developed symptoms of early Alzheimer's or a memory-affecting condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). The blood samples from this group were compared against the samples from 53 otherwise healthy volunteers to see what the difference was. From this, the scientists spotted the 10 telltale lipid proteins, which appear to be metabolised residues of brain cell membranes.

"300: Rise Of An Empire" debuts to top of North American box office

Warner's "300: Rise Of An Empire" rose to the top of the North American box office this weekend.
The Warner Bros.' sequel to Zack Snyder's "300" in 2007 collected 45.1 million U.S. dollars at 3,470 locations, according to studio estimates from Rentrak. The debut took in an estimated 6. 8 million dollars from 342 IMAX locations. That represented 15 percent of the film's total gross this weekend. Though there is a gap of seven years between "300: Rise Of An Empire" and "300" which opened with more than 70 million dollars, this 100 million budget sequel based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller and directed by Noam Murro told the battle between ancient Greek warriors and their Persian foes in the breathtaking visual style. The film attracted mostly young men. More than 60 percent of audiences were male and under 35. It earned a "B" from audiences, according to Cinemascore. Only 43 percent of critics from Rotten Tomatoes gave the film thumbs-up. "Mr. Peabody & Sherman", a 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation, opened in the second place with 32.5 million dollars at 3,934 locations. Being an adaptation of 1960s animated television characters, this film got strong reviews and 77 percent of critics recommended it according to Rotten Tomatoes. Also the movie received Cinemascore rating of "A" from moviegoers. In third place, the Liam Neeson-led thriller "Non-Stop" took in an estimated 15.4 million in its second weekend, with a ten-day start of 52.1 million dollars. Rounding out the 10 most popular films in North America this weekend, as estimated by studios, were "The Lego Movie" (11 million dollars), "Son of God" (10 million), "Monuments Men" (3.1 million), "3 Days To Kill" (3.1 million), "Frozen"(3 million), "12 Years A Slave" (2.2 million) and "Ride Along" (2 million).

Putin Tells Merkel, Cameron That Crimea Referendum Legal
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in phone conversations with the German and British leaders on Sunday that Crimea’s decision to secede from Ukraine and join Russia was within the framework of the international law. The Kremlin press service said in a statement that Putin discussed international efforts to settle the crisis in Ukraine and its breakaway region Crimea with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British PM David Cameron. “Putin stressed, in particular, that the steps taken by the legitimate government in Crimea are based on the international law and are intended to defend the legitimate interests of Crimean residents,” the statement reads. The political crisis in the former Soviet republic has led to the current standoff between Russia and the West over the fate of Crimea, an autonomous region with a majority ethnic Russian population. Crimean authorities have refused to recognize as legitimate the new central government in Kiev, which ousted President Viktor Yanukovych late last month, and on Thursday they announced a decision to become part of Russia. Ukraine has lost control of Crimea in recent days as thousands of troops without insignia swarmed the area, taking control of administration buildings and taking over military bases. The Kremlin denied they were Russian, saying they were local militias.

Journalists in cages

Breaking up with Vladimir Putin

Bilawal Bhutto’s adviser Surendar Valasai & CM Sindh discuss Thar relief efforts
The Adviser to the PPP Patron-in-Chief for Minorities Affairs, Surendar Valasai, called on Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah at the CM House on Saturday and discussed relief activities by the Sindh Government in the drought affected Tharparkar district. The Chief Minister said that the new deputy commissioner and the Superintendent of Police of Tharparkar district have been directed to ensure fair distribution of relief goods among the affected people, said a handout issued here. Surendar Valasai told the Chief Minister that around 50 per cent population of Thar district consists of minorities and they needed relief goods, adding that they are satisfied with the steps being taken by the government.

Karachi: CM House released today report of Taj Haider PPP Sindh Secretary General on relief activities at Thar
The General Secretary PPP Sindh Chapter Taj Haider who is also Coordinator of CM and nominated by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah to supervise the relief activities at drought affected areas District Tharparkar and get these accelerated said in his report released today that as many as 2763 bags so far has been distributed today on March 09, in all five Taluka of District Tharparkar and added that efforts are being made to gear up the transportation activities to be enable at least to distribute 8000 wheat bags per day. In his report Mr. Taj Haider said that 730 bags distributed in Mithi, 605 Islamkot, 220 bags at Diplo, 366 bags at Nagarparkar and 845 bags at Chhachhro today on 09, March. He said that he has made meeting with Major General Muhammad Saleem Aleem Chairman of NDMA, Colonel Salman of PDMA, and his team and the Administration concerned to carry out the relief activities on broad spectrum. He said that Major General Saleem Aleem Chairman PDMA, has also agreed to supply energy food supplements for the children. He said that PDMA has put together a package that will be produced from Utility Stores and give along with Wheat bags. 25,000 such packages will be distributed. They have been advised to take out 10kg Atta bags because 50Kg Wheat is already there and also to supply high energy biscuits. He said that during the meeting it was decided that all non functional ROs plants would be repaired and made functional to have a fresh water resources for the people and animals as well. He said that trucks filled with relief goods and send by KCCI has been arrived at Noukot and relief goods to be distributed tomorrow (today). Besides, the supplies from Zakat Department is also being sent by the Mr. Khalid Latif. In addition that Dr. Kareem Khawaja has established a Medical Camp with 05 doctors including the paediatric doctors to provide the medical cover to inhabitants. He said that he has approached to some private companies who has been agreed to supply high energy biscuits for the children of the draught affected areas of Tharparkar.

The Biggest Mysteries of Missing Malaysian Flight MH370

As the search continues for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, more questions than answers remain about the how the Boeing 777 jetliner could have disappeared.
Since the plane's disappearance early Saturday, revelations about the passenger list and plane's flight plan have left officials scrambling to decipher new complicated clues.
As officials and authorities work to unravel what happened, they remain hampered by the lack of physical evidence including the missing flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
If they can find the wreckage site and especially those two "black boxes" they hope that they will be able to get some answers about how and why the flight disappeared.

Video: Dozens die in Iraq suicide blast

GCC rift another blow to Erdogan’s Mideast policies

Turkey’s already waning influence in the Middle East has taken fresh blows as a result of the Saudi-led move to isolate Qatar because of its backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt’s decision to ban Hamas, which is widely considered to be a Brotherhood offshoot.
Qatar today remains one of the few regional allies of any note Turkey has left in a region where the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan once hoped somewhat ambitiously to be a major player. Madawi Al-Rasheed, in her March 6 analysis for Al-Monitor, provides the background to Saudi efforts against Qatar in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that clearly have implications for Ankara.
Turkey started losing regional influence after Erdogan abandoned the country’s traditional policy of neutrality in Middle Eastern disputes, starting with the crisis in Syria, and revealed his sectarian preferences. This development, dubbed the “Sunnification of Turkish foreign policy” by Erdogan’s domestic and foreign critics, also revealed Erdogan’s great affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) are not just seen today as staunch supporters of the Brotherhood, but also as a key member of what has been referred to as the “Muslim Brotherhood International.”
Tellingly, former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi — whose political future in the “new Egypt” appeared guaranteed at the time — and Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas’ political bureau, were invited by Erdogan to the AKP’s general congress held in September 2012, where they were the principle guests of honor. Both men had received standing ovations before and after delivering heated speeches in support of Erdogan and his party, during which they indicated that Turkey under the Islamist AKP was a main force that would help shape the new Middle East.
Erdogan, Morsi and Meshaal did not suspect at the time that there were regional forces — other than Israel — working to their detriment.
On the contrary, all three leaders saw themselves as unstoppable and considered their political future guaranteed. It was no surprise therefore that the coup in Egypt, which ousted Morsi in July 2013, should have caught Erdogan totally off guard. Neither did Erdogan expect a key regional Islamic power like Saudi Arabia — and a Sunni one to boot — to come out with such strong political and financial support for a coup led by Egypt’s predominantly secularist military. Turkey has been in the same with Saudi Arabia and Egypt over the Syrian question but the rift between these countries and Ankara developed rapidly after the Egyptian coup. It became more prominent after Erdogan unleashed an angry barrage of invective and maledictions, laced with religious imagery, against Egypt’s new rulers and their supporters.
Although Erdogan has been more circumspect in terms of accusing Saudi Arabia directly, his remarks concerning Egypt were nevertheless noted with dissatisfaction in Riyadh and other anti-Brotherhood regimes in the Gulf that supported the Egyptian coup. Egypt, for its part, downgraded diplomatic ties with Ankara and still refuses to send its ambassador back, accusing the Erdogan government of meddling in its internal affairs.
Erdogan also fell out with Iran and the Shiite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad over the Syrian crisis, leaving Ankara with hardly any potential for taking proactive diplomatic initiatives aimed at trying to stabilize the turbulent region. Turkey and Iran maintain a veneer of good ties, but continue to support opposing groups in Syria. Tehran accuses Ankara of prolonging the Syrian crisis, while government officials in Ankara say Bashar al-Assad — Erdogan’s principle regional nemesis — would not have survived so long without support from Tehran.
Turkey’s good relations with Israel — once considered even by regional governments as one of Ankara’s main diplomatic assets, given that it was on friendly terms with all parties in the Middle East — also remain at rock bottom.
These ties began to sour following Erdogan’s overt support for Hamas after he came to power. They took a nosedive after nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos when their ship, the Mavi Marmara, tried to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010 with the tacit blessings of the Erdogan government. Given this overall background, Turkey today is seen, from Tehran to Riyadh and from Baghdad to Cairo, as an unwelcome outside meddler in Middle Eastern affairs that has to be kept at bay. Saudi Arabian and Egyptian officials are also well-aware that Doha and Istanbul have become main hubs for leaders of the exiled Muslim Brotherhood.
These developments represent a series of blows to Erdogan’s plans to advance political Islam in Turkey and the Middle East. He is currently embroiled in what he sees as an existential struggle to ward off serious corruption charges at home, involving himself and his government, which has also pushed his Islamist agenda to the background for the moment.
Meanwhile, the gains in the Middle East by the Muslim Brotherhood started to be rolled back with the Egyptian coup, much to Erdogan’s annoyance. He is waiting for a strong turnout in the local elections at the end of this month, which he says will not only exonerate his government from corruption charges, but give him the power to fight against his enemies. These enemies undoubtedly include the Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose regime he continues to vilify at domestic political rallies in the lead up to the local elections on March 30. “Don’t forget that date is not just an ordinary one. It will also be the date when the spirit of our daughter Asma in Cairo will be beatified. Don’t forget she too was longing in Cairo for the things that we are experiencing in this country,” Erdogan told a rally in Adiyaman on March 4.
Erdogan was referring to Asma al-Beltaji, who was killed during a pro-Morsi demonstration in Cairo’s Rabia al-Adawiya Square in August 2013. Erdogan also recalled that Asma’s father, Mohamed al-Beltaji, had chanted, “Long live hell for cruel oppressors,” while he was being dragged to prison on the day his daughter was martyred. Erdogan can be expected to continue with this kind of language, especially if he comes out strong from the local elections, thus alienating himself further from those governments that represent today’s established order in the Middle East, who consider the Muslim Brotherhood as their enemy.
Madawi al-Rasheed points out in her analysis for Al-Monitor, “The Muslim Brotherhood's base in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in general remains the educated middle classes, a class that is destined to widen as a result of the expansion of mass education.” This suggests that time is on the side of the Brotherhood in the long run.
It is unlikely, however, that the Brotherhood will be allowed anywhere near a ballot box again any time soon in Egypt, or elsewhere in the Middle East, especially after the experience in Egypt.
Morsi’s overtly Islamist policies at the expense of other groups in Egypt after he came to power, a fact that was most apparent in the way his administration prepared the country’s new constitution, also cost him much sympathy in the West.
As long as the present Saudi regime and its GCC allies remain in power they will also ensure that Turkey under Erdogan is kept at a distance and prevented from playing a major political role in the region. They will also have support in this from principle Arab League members, starting with Egypt.
The Erdogan government’s friendly ties with Qatar and Hamas, on the other hand, will not alter the picture much. It is very likely that by the time the Muslim Brotherhood comes to a position of power again in the region, it will be too late for Erdogan, whose own position as a political player looks unlikely to survive that long.
Read more:

US-Russia Mideast cooperation in balance over Ukraine?

By Fyodor Lukyanov
In the absence of a diplomatic settlement between the West and Russia over Ukraine, Moscow may seek to capitalize on recent gains in the Middle East at US expense.
A new phase has begun between Russia and America: 25 years of assurances that the Cold War is over and that the United States and Russia are no longer enemies is ending with an open political confrontation over Ukraine. Washington's intention to impose sanctions against Russia threatens to radically change not only the atmosphere of relations, but also the nature of their cooperation. For the last year or two, this cooperation has basically been forced anyway, where it was impossible to avoid it — Syria, Afghanistan and Iran. There has been no other agenda since the New START Treaty was ratified and Russia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).
For Russia, Ukraine is an issue of principle, and cannot be compared with any other issue. As the Russian conservative magazine Expert wrote, "It is impossible to retreat any farther. … For Russia, maintaining our presence in Ukraine means much more than holding the G-8 Summit in Sochi and even more than membership in the organization itself." In addition to the cultural-historical and strategic reasons why Ukraine is very important for Moscow, this conflict is the culmination of a quarter-century of politics.
The majority of the population and a considerable part of the Russian establishment has the perception that for all this time (or most of it), the country has regressed, and has been forced to abandon its geopolitical position. In the beginning, because of growing weakness, then because of the collapse of 1991 and the ensuing deep crisis, and then out of caution and in the hope of achieving a "great deal" with the West by diplomatic and economic methods. The widespread opinion in Russia is that it all ended in failure, because neither America nor Europe plans to amicably recognize Russia as an equal partner. Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is certain that they only understand severity and force, such as that which occurred in 2008. Then, despite the universal indignation about the war in the Caucasus, no real sanctions were imposed, and at the same time, the question of admission of Ukraine and Georgia for NATO membership was withdrawn from the agenda.
The fall of Viktor Yanukovich's regime and the subsequent chaos in Kiev meant the prospect that the future Ukrainian state will be used to take revenge for previous failures of Western policy. It is no accident that everyone unanimously noted the unprecedented achievements of Russian diplomacy in 2013. Putin decided that the costs associated with intervention at this stage will be lower than the risks that Russia will face if Ukraine becomes much more nationalistic with the support of the West and, naturally, becomes a country oriented toward a Euro-Atlantic blueprint.
Nevertheless, the issue now is not Ukraine, whose prospects are extremely cloudy, but how to adjust Russian-American relations in the new context.
The sanctions are not reviving the Cold War situation: Back then, the superpowers did not use such sanctions. There was simply a parallel and barely connected coexistence with each other according to different principles, and there were limitations built into the logic of confrontation itself. Now, Washington's warnings are shifting the relations into an entirely different framework — actions of the United States and its allies against leaders they found disagreeable in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. Moscow has always been fundamentally opposed to sanctions as an international instrument: First, they do not achieve the desired result, and second, they set in motion a mechanism of pressure, whose ultimate consequence is military intervention. The Russian leader's position in the category of "rogue leaders" is extremely offensive and inevitably causes a severe response.
Putin is the type of politician who forgets nothing and leaves nothing unanswered. This has been observed many times and at different levels. Beginning with the activation of military-technical cooperation with Venezuela (near the United States) precisely at the moment when Washington turned Georgia (bordered by Russia) into its ally. And ending with symmetrical incidents with diplomats. At the same time, Putin has his own very precise idea about the scale of responses and about what lines should not be crossed.
In the Middle East, where Russian-American cooperation is most active, there are two types of effects — short-term and more foundational. In the short term, Russia is likely to dramatically reduce its interest in settlement of the Syrian situation, especially since official Damascus reluctantly and in response to rather strong Russian pressure agreed to continue the talks. The military-political situation in Syria allows Bashar al-Assad to have hope for victory, or at least for a long-term preservation of the current balance. Moscow will simply stop applying pressure on him, urging the need for diplomacy, but will continue to add to his arsenal when necessary to maintain the balance of power. The removal of chemical weapons will most likely not be slowed in any way, since this represents the implementation of Putin's idea, and moreover, stalling the plan would dramatically exacerbate the whole situation.
Cooperation on Afghanistan, more precisely assistance in the withdrawal of American troops from the country via Russia — is a much more complex issue. In August 2008, when Moscow's relations with NATO were frozen due to the war between Russia and Georgia and the political situation dramatically deteriorated, the parties deliberately did not touch upon the subject of the Afghan transit. The conversation then was about shipments into Afghanistan. In the same way, Putin completely ignored the protests within the country when the issue of providing NATO with a temporary airfield in the Russian city of Ulyanovsk was decided (it is an interesting coincidence that this is the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin). Since the beginning of the Afghan operation in 2001, which Moscow actively supported then, the Russian president has always considered this issue important for Russia. And this issue is not subject to changes in the state of affairs. Now it can turn out differently, although there are various possibilities. Everything will depend on the extent of the US sanctions, and to what degree they will be demonstrative and offensive. The Kremlin understands that as a last resort, the United States will do without the northern route, but it will be more expensive and require considerable diplomatic efforts from Washington in dealing with Pakistan.
Iran is the most interesting topic. There are plenty of opinions in Moscow now that the tentative rapprochement between Tehran and Washington is harmful to Russian interests. Russia will not interfere with the diplomatic process that began last fall, but it will try to win over Iran with offers of much greater strategic cooperation. Iran has long said that Russia is insincere when it talks about wanting friendly relations with Tehran, because ultimately it always looks back at Washington. Now there is a chance that Moscow will no longer do this and that it will chart a course toward closer and more comprehensive contacts with Iran. The promotion of military-technical cooperation is proceeding at a natural pace, which was overshadowed by the refusal to supply S-300 systems under President Dmitry Medvedev. Russian-Iranian cooperation greatly strengthened due to Syria, but the conflict between Moscow and Washington can advance an institutional development of this cooperation.
All in all, a serious confrontation between Russia and the United States promises to dramatically reshape the geopolitical balance of the Middle East. Over the past three years, Moscow scored a lot of points there — again, thanks to the consistent and uncompromising stance on Syria and the cautious attitude toward the revolution. Until recently, Russia did not really try to capitalize on these achievements and limited its efforts to expand markets. However, the clash over Ukraine may force Russia to conduct a more active anti-American course in the region, especially since many countries there are very annoyed at the strange zigzags that the United States performs.
Coordinating activities with China is also possible. Beijing cannot be considered an ally of Moscow and it views the Ukrainian conflict with great caution. However, China understands that the failure of Russia in Ukraine and the spread of Western influence there can shift the overall balance in favor of the United States and weaken the role of Russia as a counterweight. Therefore, China can seize the moment to strengthen military-political contacts with Moscow, particularly in the Middle East, where Beijing has significant interests.
The role of Turkey is a separate issue. Crimea, which has generated such passions, was historically under the dominion and influence of Turkey (until the last quarter of the 18th century). Crimean Tatars who inhabited the peninsula always maintained ties with their neighboring country (a large diaspora lives there), and when Crimea became part of independent Ukraine, Turkish influence grew rapidly. It is no accident that immediately after the crisis began in Ankara, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Sergei Naryshkin went there. It is important to Moscow that the Turkish authorities remain neutral in the conflict over Crimea. Turkey, meanwhile, may try to use the situation to its advantage, especially since things are not going well for Ankara in the Middle East and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is experiencing a severe political crisis. Diverting the public's attention to external affairs would be very timely.
Ukraine is the most acute international crisis involving Russia since the end of the Cold War. And it's not because of the strategic importance of this country. It's just that a conflict in a country that is psychologically very important for Moscow is occurring at a time when the previous world order ceases to be operative and a new one is beginning to arise. So, Kiev has unwittingly become the intersection of world history.

Putin: Crimea’s legitimate authorities are acting in compliance with international law

The Russian president also called his interlocutors’ attention to the fact that the current authorities in Kiev were doing nothing to curb the rampage of ultra-nationalist and radical forces
The legitimate authorities in Crimea are taking steps which are in compliance with international law with an aim to ensure the lawful interests of Crimea’s population, Russian President Vladimir Putin told British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel by telephone on Sunday.
“The Russian president also called his interlocutors’ attention to the fact that the current authorities in Kiev were doing nothing to curb the rampage of ultra-nationalist and radical forces in the Ukrainian capital and in many other regions,” the Kremlin press service reports.
The complicated socio-political situation in Ukraine and a referendum on Crimea’s future status slated for March 16 were central to Sunday’s telephone talks.
“Despite the existing differences in the assessment of what’s going on, the sides expressed common interest in the de-escalation of tensions and the earliest normalization of the situation on the peninsula,” the Kremlin press service went on to say. The Russian, British and German leaders discussed possible international efforts which could be exerted to settle the crisis and agreed to continue close working contacts, including at the level of foreign ministers, the Kremlin press service emphasized.

Crimea hopes to remain parliamentary republic if it joins Russia - speaker Konstantinov.

Voice of Russia, Interfax.
The Crimean leadership hopes Crimea will retain the status of parliamentary republic if it joins Russia.
"Parliamentary republic is our hard-won achievement which has proven effective. We would like to retain the status of parliamentary republic," Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Crimean legislature, told reporters on Sunday in answer to a question from Interfax.

50% in Iowa say Clinton should run for president

If either Paul Ryan or Hillary Rodham Clinton truly is on the fence about running for president of the United States, some pop-the-champagne poll numbers from a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll might encourage them.
But if Rick Santorum feels confident he could win Iowa again, the new poll could burst his bubble.
The Iowa Poll examined reactions in the leadoff presidential voting state to six "re-runs" — Ryan, Clinton, Santorum, Joe Biden, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry, politicians who ran for the White House in 2008 or 2012 who are being talked about again for 2016.
One key finding: There's a 30-point difference between Iowa Democrats' attraction to another Clinton bid (88 percent) and another Biden bid (58 percent).
Among Iowa adults overall, half think it's "a good idea" that Clinton, the former first lady and former U.S. secretary of state, run again. That's the high-water mark among the six candidates tested.
"If I'm advising Secretary Clinton, my biggest advice is that these are great numbers, (but) never take Iowa for granted," said Democratic strategist Robert Shrum, who helped lead Democrats Dick Gephardt and John Kerry to victory in the Iowa caucuses in 1988 and 2004.
More independents (50 percent) want to see Clinton run again than favor the candidacy of any other politician tested. Iowans' support for another Clinton presidential bid tracks closely with national support in a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll released last week. Fifty-one percent of Americans say they'd like her to run in 2016, including three of four Democrats. Forty-three percent want her to sit it out. The poll was conducted March 1-4.
When it comes to Biden, the thought of another presidential campaign makes most Iowans blanch. Only 33 percent of Iowa adults say it's a good idea, while 57 percent give the idea a thumbs down. The vice president gets a green light from a majority of Democrats (58 percent).
Women drive the gap between Clinton and Biden in the support each receives for running again. While 57 percent of Iowa women want to see Clinton try for the White House again, only about a third of women want another Biden race.
The poll of 703 Iowa adults was conducted Feb. 23-26 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
On the GOP side, Republicans clearly want Ryan in the mix again: 67 percent say it's a good idea for the 2012 vice presidential nominee to run for president this time.
"Paul Ryan is the consistently most popular Republican official in the country, no matter where you look," said Republican Brad Todd, a D.C.-based ad-maker.
Among Republicans, Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, gets slightly more support for a second bid than does Mike Huckabee, winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, at 65 percent. Both get a lot more support for a retry than does Perry (50 percent) or Santorum (48 percent), the 2012 caucuses winner.
Shrum, who was a senior fellow at New York University and soon will start as Warschaw Professor of the Practice of Politics at the University of Southern California, thinks Ryan's high regard in Iowa "says you have Republican caucusgoers who are getting serious about winning. The person who's doing the best in this list is also the most plausibly presidential."
With the GOP caucus crowd's conservative tilt, first-timers like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz can walk in and do very well, Shrum said. "That's probably true unless you have Paul Ryan running." Santorum, the guy Iowans got to know best in the 2012 caucuses and thrust into a last-second victory, has less than half of Republicans on board with the idea of another run. "He clocks in two points lower than Rick Perry among Republicans who think it's a good idea that he runs? This is the last Iowa caucus winner?" said GOP strategist David Kochel, who was Santorum competitor Mitt Romney's Iowa strategist last presidential cycle. "It looks like Santorum is one and done in Iowa." Shrum said: "What was appealing about him — the sweater vest and all that — looks very superficial now. They see someone they can't send to the White House." Republican poll respondent Buffalo Bonker, a 43-year-old Des Moines artist, thinks it's a bad idea for Santorum to run again. "I'm just opposed to the whole anti-gay-marriage campaign that he led," said Bonker, who caucused for Huckabee in 2008 and Ron Paul in 2012.
The poll numbers show Huckabee is still formidable in Iowa. The former Arkansas governor's star turn on Fox News has apparently had positive effects, GOP strategists said, reinforcing interest among his base inside the party. Huckabee does better with independents (39 percent say they want to see him run again) than any of the candidates tested except Clinton.
Poll respondent Abid Wahid Butt, 59, an independent voter from West Des Moines, said: "I think Santorum is too far to the right and that's going to hurt him. Huckabee, I think he's conservative, but he's more toward the middle. I think he still has a good bit of support, and I think he has a better chance of increasing his support base than Santorum does, definitely."
Huckabee gets slightly more support for a second run among women (45 percent) than men (43 percent). The other GOP candidates get more support from men for another bid than from women. Huckabee's support among women "is a huge selling point, especially for a social conservative," Kochel said. "Likeability is his biggest asset, clearly."
The numbers offer Perry, the retiring Texas governor, hope that he's making progress with rehab among GOPers in Iowa. Half of Republicans think it's a good idea for him to run again, as do 52 percent of Iowans who call themselves tea party supporters. Just a third of Iowans of all political leanings invite a rerun.
The poll was conducted just before Perry hit Iowa for another two-day visit with reporters and GOP activists.
"The good news is Republicans are willing to give him a second look and he's earned it, but among all voters for now, the damage to his image continues, due to the collapse of his last campaign amid bad debate performances and weak finishes in the first two contests," Kochel said. "Once the first impression is burned into the minds of voters, it can be difficult to erase."

Passport Theft Adds to Mystery of Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Investigators trying to find out what happened to a Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared en route to Beijing on Saturday morning were examining the usual causes of plane crashes: mechanical failure, pilot error, bad weather. But the discovery that two of the passengers were carrying stolen passports also raised the unsettling possibility of foul play.
By early Sunday morning, there was little to go on: no wreckage of the jet, a Boeing 777-200 with 239 people aboard, and other than oil slicks on the surface of the Gulf of Thailand that may have been from a crash, no clue that an accident had even taken place. The airline said the plane, which departed from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, had recently passed inspection, and Malaysia’s deputy minister of transport, Aziz bin Kaprawi, said the authorities had not received any distress signals from the aircraft. The plane was flying at 35,000 feet with no reports of threatening weather when it last made contact.
After officials in Rome and Vienna confirmed that the names of an Italian and an Austrian on the manifest of the missing flight matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand, officials emphasized that the investigation was in its earliest stages and that they were considering all possibilities, including terrorism.
“We are not ruling out anything,” the chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Saturday night. “As far as we are concerned right now, it’s just a report.”
Using a system that looks for flashes around the world, the Pentagon reviewed preliminary surveillance data from the area where the plane disappeared and saw no evidence of an explosion, said an American government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the subject matter was classified. A team of aviation experts led by the National Transportation Safety Board was on its way to the area.
If all aboard were killed, it would be the deadliest commercial airline accident since Nov. 12, 2001, when an American Airlines Airbus crashed just after takeoff from Kennedy Airport en route to the Dominican Republic.
A senior American intelligence official said law enforcement and intelligence agencies were investigating the issue of the stolen passports. The American authorities were scrutinizing the flight manifest closely, the official said, noting that forged travel documents are also used routinely by smugglers and illegal immigrants.
“At this time, we have not identified this as an act of terrorism,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity Saturday because of the continuing inquiry. “While the stolen passports are interesting, they don’t necessarily say to us that this was a terrorism act.”
A European counterterrorism official said the Italian man whose passport was stolen, Luigi Maraldi, 37, called his parents from Thailand, where he was vacationing, after discovering that someone by the same name was listed on the passenger manifest. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Maraldi reported the theft last August to the Italian police. The official said the passport of the Austrian man, Christian Kozel, 30, who is currently in Austria, was stolen about two years ago.
The European official said that he was surprised it had been possible to check in with stolen passports at the Kuala Lumpur airport and that an alert should have popped up on the airline agent’s computer. Security experts in Asia said the use of false travel documents was a growing problem in the region, but they differed on the significance of the two stolen passports to the investigation.
“My guess is that illegal migration is also a possibility,” said Xu Ke, a lecturer at the Zhejiang Police College in eastern China who studies aviation safety and hijackings and has advised the Chinese authorities. “There are many cases of falsified and counterfeit passports and visas for illegal migration that our public security comes across, even several cases every day.”
But Steve Vickers, the chief executive of a Hong Kong-based security consulting company that specializes in risk mitigation and corporate intelligence in Asia, said the presence of multiple travelers on stolen passports aboard a single jet was rare and a potential clue.
“It is fairly unusual to have more than one person flying on a flight with a stolen passport,” said Mr. Vickers, who publicly warned a month ago that stolen airport passes and other identity documents in Asia merited a crackdown. “The future of this investigation lies in who really checked in and what they looked like,” he added.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the director general of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation, said investigators were already reviewing video footage of the passengers. “There are only two passengers on record that flew on this aircraft that had false passports,” he said. “And we have the CCTV recordings of those passengers from check-in bags to the departure point.”
Malaysian officials also said Sunday that investigators had noted that five ticketed passengers failed to board the flight. Their luggage was removed from the plane before it departed, the authorities said.
Operating as Flight MH370, the plane left Kuala Lumpur just after midnight, headed for Beijing. Air traffic control in Subang, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the plane around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, Malaysia’s civil aviation department said. China Central Television said that according to Chinese air traffic control officials, the aircraft never entered Chinese airspace.
At a news conference in Beijing after the arrival of a team of employees to assist families of the passengers in China, an official of Malaysia Airlines said the missing plane had no history of malfunctions. “It was last inspected 10 days ago, well before scheduled service,” said the executive, Ignatius Ong. “It was all in top condition.” When pressed about possible security lapses, he repeated several times that the airline had no confirmation from the Malaysian authorities that passengers had boarded with stolen passports.
Malaysia, the United States and Vietnam dispatched ships and aircraft to the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand on Saturday to join an intensive search, and the state-run Xinhua news agency said China was sending a Coast Guard vessel and two naval ships. The Chinese Ministry of Transport said a team of scuba divers who specialize in emergency rescues and recovery had been assembled on Hainan, the southern island-province, to prepare to go on Sunday to the area where the airliner may have gone down. Lai Xuan Thanh, the director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, said on Saturday that a Vietnamese Navy AN26 aircraft had discovered oil on the surface of the water toward the Vietnam side of the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand, east of the Malaysian Peninsula. The oil is suspected to have come from the missing plane, he added.
But on Sunday, Malaysia’s defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, added a confusing twist, saying the plane might have gone down west of the Malaysian Peninsula. “We are looking at the possibility of an aircraft air turnback,” he said without elaborating whether the plane might have changed course for mechanical reasons or a hijacking, or why the authorities suspected the plane might have reversed course.
Malaysia Airlines said the plane had 227 passengers aboard, including two toddlers, and an all-Malaysian crew of 12. According to the manifest, the passengers included 154 citizens of China or Taiwan, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans, as well as two citizens each from Canada, New Zealand and Ukraine and one each from Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia — although the true nationalities of the passengers carrying the Austrian and Italian passports are still unknown.
The family of one of the Americans aboard the flight, Philip Wood, an IBM employee in Kuala Lumpur, said they had little information beyond what had been reported in the news media.
“We’re relying on our Lord,” Mr. Wood’s father, Aubrey, said from his home in Keller, Tex. “He’s the one who carries the load.”
The tickets to the holders of the stolen Austrian and Italian passports were sold by China Southern Airlines, which has a code share agreement with Malaysia Airlines, according to China Southern’s account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblog platform. China Southern said it sold five other tickets to the flight: to a Dutch passenger, two Ukrainians, and one Malaysian and one Chinese passenger.
Arnold Barnett, a longtime Massachusetts Institute of Technology specialist in aviation safety statistics, said that before the disappearance of the plane, Malaysia Airlines had suffered two fatal crashes, in 1977 and 1995. Based on his estimate that Malaysia Airlines operates roughly 120,000 flights a year, he calculated that the airline’s safety record was consistent with that of airlines in other fairly prosperous, middle-income countries but had not yet reached the better safety record of airlines based in the world’s richest countries.
Malaysia has not been targeted in terrorist attacks in recent decades, although the 1977 crash was attributed to a hijacking. But some of the planning for the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States was done in Malaysia, which has a relatively lax visa policy. The country is a major trading nation and a natural meeting place for a variety of groups involved in illicit activities.
The plane’s disappearance came at the end of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing, and took place at a time of rising concern in China about terrorism. Mr. Ahmad Jauhari of Malaysia Airlines said early on in a statement that there was speculation that the plane had landed safely somewhere along the route to Beijing. But in a telephone interview before reporting the sighting of the oil in the ocean, Mr. Thanh expressed concern about the aircraft’s fate.
“The possibility of an accident is high,” he said.

Afsha Zabi new 2014 Song

Malala campaigns for silent protest on April 17
Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012, will go silent for 24 hours on April 17 to show solidarity with children whose voices are silenced.
"It's our turn to affect a positive change, to stand up for equality and to empower others to join us. On 17 April, I will go silent to stand in solidarity with my peers who remain voiceless," she told an audience of thousands of schoolchildren and teachers at the 'WE Day' youth empowerment event in London on Friday.
She wants young people around the world to join her in the day of silence to highlight the need for the world to listen to children's voices.
The event 'We Are Silent' will mark the end of a four-day social media campaign organized by the Malala Fund and social activist charity Free The Children to raise the plight of children who are suffering and who are not heard.
"We have opportunities to raise our voices. We should use it to the benefit of these children," the Nobel Peace Prize nominee added.
The WE Day event sought to empower children to get involved in making a change through charity work and was attended by students from more than 380 schools across the UK.
Tickets to the show were awarded to children who had done one local and one global charitable action. It included musical performances and motivational speeches by Prince Harry, Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore.
Malala was shot in the Swat Valley in October 2012 after speaking out about girls' right to an education and airlifted to Birmingham, where she is now based with her family.

د افغانستان لومړی مرستیال ولسمشر قسیم فهیم وفات شو

ارګ په خپله یوه خبر پاڼه کې چې نن خپره شوې د نوموړي د مړینې اعلان وکړ. افغان ولسمشر حامد کرزي د هغه په مړینه خپګان څرګند کړی ، او هغه یې یو وطن دوست افغان او ستر مجاهد وباله. د ارګ تر مخه په افغانستان کې د دریو ورځو لپاره د ماتم اعلان شوی ، او ملي بیرغ به هم نیم ځوړند وي. تراوسه معلومه نه ده چې، قسیم فهیم د کومې ناروغۍ له امله ساه ورکړې. خو هغه شدید شکر درلود. قسیم فهیم د ولسمشر حامد کرزي د حکومت په دوران د دفاع د وزیر په توګه هم پاتې شوی دی. دی د احمدشاه مسعود په مشرۍ د شمالي ټلوالې یو پیاوړی قومندان و؛ چې له طالبانو سره په جګړې کې یې برخه اخیستې ده.

Afghanistan: Marshal Fahim dies from illness
First-Vice president Field Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim died Sunday of natural causes, a presidential spokesman said.
Aimal Faizi wrote on tweet "with deep sadness, the first vice president, Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim has passed away. May his soul rest in peace.” He said the government of Afghanistan has called for a three-day national mourning, during which the national flag will be half-hoisted for his demise.
President Karzai has expressed his deep grief and condolences to the nation and his family. Karzai called Fahim a true patriot and said his death was "a huge loss for Afghanistan."
Fahim, an ally of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Northern Alliance commander, had also served as defense minister in Karzai's first administration.
Fahim fought against the Soviets and went on to battle against the Taliban before they were ousted in 2001.
The son of Maulvi Abdul Matin, Fahim was born in the Amraz area of central Panjsher province in 1958. After completing his primary education in hometown, he was admitted to an Arabic Darul-ul-Uloom for Islamic studies in Kabul. After the 1979 coup against former President Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan, he migrated to Pakistan and returned in 1980 to launch an armed struggle in the Shigal district of eastern Kunar province.
The following year in summer, he entered Panjsher valley and joined Ahmad Shah Massoud forces as the commander of the Mujahideen in the northern sector. He mobilised Mujahedeen in Panjsher and other parts of the country. Fahim was Mujahedeen commander in the Andarab district of northern Baghlan province.
He had a significant role in mobilising Mujahedeen and used to travel to northeastern Baghlan, Takhar and Kunduz provinces in this regard.
In 1988, as a mujahideen commander in north of Kabul, he gained more ground against the Soviet army, advancing to Faryab, Jawzjan and Balkh provinces in 1990 and expanding and creating further solidarity among Shura-i-Nezar forces. After Dr. Najibullah regime collapsed in 1993, Fahim entered Kabul leading Mujahedeen forces and was appointed head of the KHAD under interim president Sibghatullah Muhaddedi.
He continued to serve as the head of intelligence under president Burhanuddin Rabbani, even when the Taliban took the power over most provinces in the second half of the 90s. After the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2001, two days ahead of the 9/11 attacks, Fahim was confirmed the leader of Mujahideen resistance forces until Kabul was reclaimed with support from international troops in 2001. Fahim was appointed as defence minister well as one of the five vice-chairmen after the new government was inaugurated in December, 2002.
In 2003, President Karzai confirmed Fahim would hold for life the rank of Marshal, Afghanistan's highest with all rights and privileges for his proactive role in the country’s independence.
After the emergency Loya Jirga, he was elected as first-vice president and minister of defence and was also honoured with the Ahmad Shah Baba Medal.
Marshal Fahim, who had survived many assassination attempts, was fluent in Dari, Pashtu and Arabic, but did not speak English. He left behind twelve children.

سندرغاړی هدایت الله وايي یوې ناکامې مینې لوی هنرمند کHadayatullah Great Pashto Singer

هدایت الله چې دپښتو موسیقۍ ستر نوم دی او په لسګونو کلونه یې د موسیقۍ د لارې د پښتنو خدمت کړی ، دا مهال په پېښور کې په خپل کور کې د بیمارۍ شپې تیروي.
هدایت الله د نوښار په ډاګ بهسود سیمه کې په ۱۹۴۰ کال کې پیداشوی دی. نوموړي ۲۵ کاله د زراعت په محکمه کې هم کار کړی دی. نوموړی دامهال د پېښور په کاکشال سیمه کې په کرایي کورکې اوسیږي. د مشال راډیو همکار خالد خان د پښتو ژبې ددې ستر هنرمند سره مرکه کړې چې لاندې يې اوریدلای شئ

Pakistan: PM’s in charge here?

There’s been many a contradiction on the path to these negotiations. The four-member-committee initiative to start with; an anti-climax of sorts after week-long sabre rattling by the ruling party, including the prime minister. Then its membership; strictly right-wing Taliban sympathisers, with no mention of minorities that have suffered and lost the most. And then the government’s commitment to talking, not fighting, it out, even as incidents of violence increased as the negotiations progressed, then stumbled, and resumed. And now this ceasefire, and yet more symbolic militancy, this time groups other than the ones we’re talking to claiming responsibility. But the prize came Wednesday evening, when the PM hinted results were near, and invited both teams for discussions just as security officials warned of terrorist attacks on Islamabad’s most sensitive buildings.
But despite these ambiguities, and repeated clarifications from the interior minister, one thing is crystal clear. The government, not the military, is in lead and clearly calling the shots. And for all the pains the prime minister has taken to stress “same page” solidarity – a couple of times from as far away as Turkey – it is not as if there have not been clear signs of friction. Newspapers are no strangers to inside sources, and these pages, along with numerous other publications, have repeatedly reported about how angry the army high command is. They have been losing men and material all the time this debate about sharia and Taliban has riveted mainstream media, all because the government accorded legitimacy to an otherwise recognised enemy of state, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, not to mention repeated beheadings of sectarian minorities and military personnel. But, to its credit, the army has not allowed any differences to come to the fore. Even in the most private exchanges, military personnel have stressed their subservience to the political democratic system. And even if most are not convinced of its leaning, there is not so much as mention of refusing to play Islamabad’s talks game.
But not crossing the line is one thing, and not losing sight of the prime objective is quite another. Nawaz’s sharia compliance, his conservative posture, and the desire for a peaceful outcome may be the epitome of sincerity (or not), but such ideals stop well short of spelling out clear policy objectives. Is cessation of hostilities the ideal N is aiming at, or is it establishing writ of state, and are both mutually exclusive in his understanding? And why doesn’t he address foreign hands, who have as little liking for sharia particulars as for Pakistan’s national interest? Also, at what stage will the government enlighten Pakistanis about what is to be done about those, from within the Taliban, who have innocent blood on their hands? Granted, the military has played the government’s game so far. But perhaps it’s best if the prime minister does not alienate the institution too much, to the point that willing partners have problems with who’s in charge here.

Pakistan: Army troops begin relief operation in Tharparkar, wheat supply underway

Army troops have been sent in to help Tharparkar affectees while distribution of wheat bags is also underway in the drought-hit areas of Sindh, Dunya News reported on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Sindh government has announced a package of one hundred million rupees for the drought hit areas of Tharparkar district.The announcement was made by the Chief Minister after a high level meeting in Karachi on Friday. Famine in Tharparkar has worsened to a dangerous level, raising the death toll of starving children to 124. Reportedly, shortage of food and drought has left people of Tharparkar fighting for their lives. The famine is ongoing for the past 3 years in Chachru Tharparkar; and according to Mathi hospital sources, the death toll of starving children has reached to 124.

Pakistan: Nisar losing influence with Sharifs?

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who appears to be losing influence in his PML-N since the last year’s general elections, is in hot waters again, this time for his latest speech in the National Assembly.
There are fears within the party that the minister’s remarks over Monday’s terrorist attack on Islamabad district courts may land the government in trouble after the threat by lawyers to launch a full-fledge movement from next week.
A number of PML-N members and legislators said if the minister did not take any remedial step to control the damage, the government might be forced to have a direct confrontation with the lawyers’ community.
Lawyers have been demanding Chaudhry Nisar’s resignation over his claim about the number of terrorists involved in the attack and for his statement that District and Sessions Judge Rafaqat Awan had been killed by one of his own bodyguards.
Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Chaudhry Ramzan, when contacted, alleged that the minister was intentionally trying to cover up the security lapse and “protecting” terrorists by rejecting the affidavits of lawyers who had not only seen the entire incident, but also received bullet injuries.
He said the minister was frustrated and upset as terrorists had exposed his hollow claim that Islamabad was a safe city.
The PML-N members are also terming the minister’s remarks as “uncalled-for and unnecessary” at this point of time when investigations are still incomplete.
They are of the view that Chaudhry Nisar should not have made such a statement, even if he had come to know about it through the officials in police or intelligence agencies. One of the senior PML-N legislators went on to compare Chaudhry Nisar with former interior minister Rehman Malik, saying: “I see no difference between him and Rehman Malik.” Another PML-N member commented that there was no need for the minister to make a long speech on a sensitive matter. “Policy statements are always kept brief and to the point and they are not expressed in extempore speeches,” he added. Sources in the PML-N claimed that Chaudhry Nisar, who once considered to be a close confidant of the Sharifs, no more enjoys that position, particularly after the general elections when he lost both his native National Assembly and provincial assembly seats. They said there was a strong anti-Nisar group within the party which had been active since the elections and it had succeeded in at least creating a considerable distance between Chaudhry Nisar and the Sharifs.
The party sources say that two senior party leaders, who are on key positions in the federal cabinet, are not even on talking terms with Chaudhry Nisar. Besides, the sources said, the party members were also unhappy with the minister due to what they called his “inaccessibility” and for not helping them in resolving their issues. Chaudhry Nisar has himself on a number of occasions admitted that many of his party colleagues are not happy with him due to his various actions, including cancellation of blue passports and withdrawal of security and official protocol.
The interior minister has not been able to attend the Senate session for the past many months due to the opposition’s protest for allegedly providing wrong information to the house in response to questions regarding the terrorism incidents and drone attacks. After refusal of Chaudhry Nisar to withdraw the wrong reply on the opposition’s demand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to give additional charge of the interior ministry to Minister of State for Education Balighur Rehman who has been assigned the task of giving replies in the Senate on behalf of the interior ministry. Despite repeated attempts, Chaudhry Nisar could not be contacted for his comments.

Pakistan's Loadshedding: 12-hour power cuts are back

If summer comes, power cuts cannot be far behind. Twelve-hour loadshedding came back to torment the country on Saturday as the mercury hovered around the thirties in southern Punjab and Sindh while plants with a combined capacity of over 3,000MW remained idle for one reason or the other.
Power generation remained restricted to around 8,800MW for the better part of the day and touched 10,000MW during peak hours (from 6pm to 11pm), leaving a gap ranging between 4,000MW and 5,000MW. Planners were left with no option but to enforce 10-12 hour load management in major cities. According to an official of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), the demand during the day was around 13,000MW. The peak hours added 1,500MW during the evening. The generation, however, was much lower for a variety of reasons.
An instant increase in demand came because of the rising temperatures in Sindh and southern Punjab. Karachi recorded a maximum temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, Hyderabad 32 degrees and Larkana 29. Even Bahawalpur and D.G. Khan went close to 30 degrees Celsius. People in these areas have switched their fans on and, in some cases, even air conditioners.
It has added to the demand around 3,000MW instantly. On the other hand, plants of over 2,000MW though available but remained idle because they are neither getting oil nor gas for the last many days, even weeks in some cases. Even available ones were not being run while plants of around 1,000MW were on routine maintenance.
“This gap could have widen grossly had provinces not drawing water heavily to save their standing crops,” says an official of the NTDC. They are getting around 80,000 cusecs, which are released during the peak hours to generate additional electricity. The power planners fear the worst to come in the coming days, as both dams were depleting fast and may hit the dead level in a week’s time, leaving the entire generation to a paltry run-of-the-river flows and widen the gap between demand and supply.
“It is just the beginning of a very bad and long summer,” says an official of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco). The company, along with all generation and distribution arms, is preparing for the worst summer for a number of reasons — declining recoveries, mismanagement at the top level, receding writ of the state and un-dependable generation, he said, adding: “Of all, the mismanagement is the top cause. None of the companies operating in the sector has professional management. All of them are being run by ad hoc heads who are more interested in saving their jobs and pleasing bosses than concentrating on their work.
“Ever since the present government took over, its campaign against theft has been a stupendous failure. The bill recoveries have dropped to 86 per cent.
The tariff issues in AJK and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still persist. None of the heads of any power company has been appointed. All these factors are haunting the sector and would continue till government shows commitment to the sector,” he concluded.

Pakistan: Blast on Quetta-Sibi Highway

An explosion on Quetta-Sibi Highway damaged a bridge affecting traffic flow at Dhadar on Sunday morning, Geo News reported. Levies sources said, the blast occurred under the bridge on the Quetta-Sibi Highway at Gokrat of Dhadar area.

Pakistan's 1.1 million heroin addicts :The surging tsunami

We must fight terrorists, spare no effort to stem the rising tide of sectarianism and immunize our children against polio, but that doesn't mean we lose sight of the even more deadly menace of drug abuse which takes more lives and destroys more homes than all other curses put together. In 1981, only one heroin addict turned up at a Peshawar hospital; his affliction was caused by a narcotic substance introduced in Pakistan by illicit manufacture that fled Islamic Revolution in Iran. In today's Pakistan, there are more than 1.1 million heroin addicts. Over the last three decades while the world has worked hard and greatly succeeded in curbing the use of illicit drugs, in Pakistan, however, a record-breaking 'progress' has been made in the opposite direction.
According to the Drug Use in Pakistan 2013, a report jointly authored the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Pakistan's concerned departments, nearly 6.4 million Pakistanis are drug addicts. Among them most popular is cannabis (4.8 million), followed by opiates (1.4 million; including 1.1 million heroin addicts) and nearly 0.2 million consumers of amphetamine-type stimulants like solvents, inhalants, alcohol, sheesha, and quite a few others over-the-counter prescription drugs. Some 420,000 of them inject drugs, many by using mutually-shared contaminated syringes at risk of deadly HIV transmission. The incidence of hard drugs such as heroin and cannabis addiction among women is quite low, but it is fairly high (25 percent of the total) in the use of pain-killers, tranquilizers and sedatives. Since drug abuse has acquired epidemic dimensions in Pakistan and appears to be the society's pre-determined fate the softer drugs have come to be accepted as a routine affair, disregarding their no less harmful effects in terms of socioeconomic disharmony. Given our drug abuse national scenario is the end-result of interplay of supply of opiates, cannabis, synthetic and over-the-counter prescription drugs and the obtaining socioeconomic factors much that should be done to confront this challenge is not in sight, yet. And perhaps there is not much possibility for this to happen anytime soon.
But that said it is just not possible not to stand up to this challenge of ever-spreading menace that is eating into the very fabric of national strength, social harmony and economic development. Not that all criminals are drug addicts, but proportionately they are more than others. Not that all Pakistanis arrested on landing foreign airports are narcotic smugglers but their number is significantly high. And the Pakistanis beheaded in Saudi Arabia on the charge of drug smuggling outnumber all others. There is the need to look into this problem through our own microscope, though the UNODC is always there to lend a helping hand. The areas that should come under a sharp focus include supply reduction, demand reduction, treatment-cum- rehabilitation and international co-operation. Nearly all the plant-based opiates reach Pakistan from Afghanistan. Poppy growing had literally stopped during the Taliban government but since their ouster narcotic business has regained its vigour and vitality, earning Afghanistan the top position among the opiates-producing countries. Most of it finds its way to markets abroad through Pakistan, leaving behind hordes of new addicts, bags of illegal money and considerably compromised anti-narcotics management. As for the demand reduction the situation is not very encouraging either. It's essentially the responsibility of society to put in place a suitable mechanism in terms of enhanced family supervision, awareness through education and media. But that's not happening, at least not in quantum adequate enough to obtain a viable anti-narcotic culture. We don't have the kind of 'narcotics-free streets' the US created as it came under a severe attack of Colombian drug cartels. Treatment and rehabilitation of addicts is there but only as an apology - for, it is simply an unachievable task. Of course, the UN and various governments are more than willing to help Pakistan curb and control drug abuse epidemic and they will succeed only as much as their counterparts in Pakistan. Given enormity of challenges to the very existence of the country the government cannot be expected to be fully delivering on this account. That the concerned citizens and civil society should be complacent too is not on. Under the circumstances it is the free, vibrant media, particularly television channels, so much effective in imprinting the public mind, that should come forward and help stem the tsunami of illicit use of drugs by the fellow Pakistanis.

Pak-Saudi Deal: ''A dangerous shift in policy''
Riyadh is making Islamabad alienate stakeholders at home and away
The assurances by the foreign office about Pakistan’s agreement with Saudi Arabia regarding regional security have failed to convince either Pakistani critics or foreign countries. What has surprised many is the ill-considered and undiplomatic reaction from FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam, who raised questions about the ‘intelligence level of those who are indulging in this debate’. The critics included parliamentarians like opposition leader Khurshid Shah, PTI vice chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and some of the knowledgeable media figures. Among the issues they raised were a basic shift in Syria policy and the agreement to supply anti-tank and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, which Saudia Arabia is reportedly purchasing for Syrian rebels. According to Ms Aslam, defence deals normally had “end-user certificate, which ensures that our weapons are not resold or provided to a third country”. Many think assurances of the sort are less observed in practice than visualised by the naive spokesperson. The Russian foreign ministry has strongly remonstrated, maintaining that it was “deeply concerned” by reports that Saudi Arabia was planning to buy Pakistani-made shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank systems to arm Syrian rebels based in Jordan. It has warned Riyadh against supplying the missile launchers to rebels as the move would endanger security across the Middle East. Moscow has ominously hinted that in the end they could be used far from the borders of Syria.
This should concern Pakistan in particular. Some of the weapons supplied earlier to the Syrian opposition by CIA finally ended up in the hands of al Qaeda affiliated ISIS, which led the US to revise its weapon supply plans. What is the guarantee that some of the shoulder fired SAMs would not end up in the hands of Pakistani militants, some of whom are reportedly fighting alongside the extremists. Nothing would then be safe, from the army’s gunship helicopters to Pakistan’s civil aviation planes.
Equally worrisome is the prospect of possible Pakistani cooperation in repressing home grown dissent in the Gulf. Repressive policies driven by sectarian concerns are again leading to protests in Bahrain. The policy of putting down peaceful dissent through disproportionate force has led to counter violence. Last week an Emirati and two police officers from Bahrain died in an explosion. Even the Gulf countries are divided over the policy formulated in the 2013 GCC agreement on joint security. Kuwait has yet not signed it in view of strong opposition from Kuwaiti lawmakers. The differences with Qatar have reached a point where Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain have withdrawn envoys from Doha. Pakistan can ill afford to become a partisan in a fractured GCC.

Sindh’s governance priorities

No one could accuse the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of good governance in recent years. In opposition the party is fire and brimstone, seething with ideas about how best to run the country or whichever province they are represented in. In government they invariably become incompetents as their string of failed policies, corruption charges, and inaction show. The latest debacle comes from Thar, a desert region in Sindh bordering India, where droughts occur routinely every two or three years. Sindh is the PPP heartland, and while the rest of the country fell to the PML-N virtually without a fight in the 2013 elections, the PPP kept its mandate in Sindh intact. The Sindh government’s negligence has now led to the deaths of a reported 121 children in three months in Thar from exposure and malnutrition during this year’s drought. Let us mull over this figure momentarily: 121 children, under five, many of them just a few months old. Who will be held responsible for this unforgiveable human tragedy? The Sindh government only took notice after news reports from the area showed that a localised famine was growing in severity. Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah paid an obligatory visit to a hospital and has announced a Rs 100 million food aid package, with Rs 0.2 million in compensation to the families. However, such a debacle would normally persuade any self-respecting democratic government to resign, particularly since grain stores were lying full awaiting distribution. So far no resignation, or even sincere remorse is forthcoming for this gross negligence. The army has moved in to provide emergency aid while the National Disaster Management Authority remains conspicuous by its absence.
The paltry cash recompense is made worse by the fact that Thar residents suffer from poor or non-existent facilities and communications. Thar’s people exist at a subsistence level, with little or no water, and rely on livestock to meet their needs. Qaim Ali Shah is trying to hide behind past disasters, particularly that 90 percent of Thar’s livestock was killed during the 2000 drought. This does not explain reports that hundreds of heads of livestock died of disease in 2010-11 too. Clearly livestock numbers grew again during the intervening decade, only to die off later. The 2012 floods destroyed grain storage areas near Thar, but people received no assistance in rebuilding them. All this begs the question why the PPP allowed the situation to persist in their five years in power at the federal level and six years (by now) at the provincial. Now PPP Patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari faces considerable embarrassment over the fact that while he was organising a multi-billion rupee wonderful Sindh Festival, dozens of babies were dying of hunger just a few miles away, his belated order to provide immediate relief notwithstanding.

Pakistan: The travesty of capitalist democracy

Lal Khan
The collusion between the lumpen gangs affiliated with these ‘democratic forces’ and the state apparatus has wreaked havoc for the ordinary people who have little or no access to wealth or authority
In the 67 years of Pakistan’s existence there has hardly been a period where the vast majority ever experienced genuine prosperity and mass contentment. The ruling elite, nurtured by the British imperialists, ensured that the struggle for national independence was restricted to the system grafted by imperialism onto the body politic of this South Asian subcontinent. In Pakistan, the ruling elites never had ideological unanimity on the political and social structures that would run this society. It was basically due to the debilitated nature of the capitalist economic model that created a capitalist class of a comprador character by its very nature.
With their failure to carry out an industrial revolution, they were forced into compromising with the remnants of the feudal elite on the one hand and play the role of imperialist toadies on the other. The society they have created is a mess in all fields of life. The Pakistani elite could not even create a proper capitalist or bourgeois class, let alone create a unified, modern nation state. The political haranguing amongst the various sections of the ruling classes was mostly imposed upon the social psychology by the state and the media to indulge the masses in backing one faction of the elite against the other.
This debate has traversed Pakistan’s chequered history except for the period of 1968 to 1969 when the masses entered the arena of history in a class struggle that strove to transform the system through a socialist revolution. In the last few decades, media and political debates have been confined to democracy versus dictatorship rather than ending the severe social and economic crisis from which the masses have been suffering. This debate transformed ‘democracy’ into a sacred cow and solution to all ills within society by hirelings that dominate and design our social and political intellect, and subjecting the masses to the unending mantra of liberals and conservatives, both of whom basically subscribe to the capitalist economic doctrine.
In an exploitative system there can never be a genuine democracy of economic and social relations. Dictatorships come in various forms and ideological streaks but their main role is to ensure the continuation of capitalist exploitation. As pressure builds from below and is on the verge of exploding and destroying the system and structures of the state, ‘capitalist democracy’ is used as a convenient tool by the ruling classes to perpetuate their loot and plunder — overnight they see the light and become proponents of ‘people’s democracy’. However, the masses continue to be plunged into the abyss of misery and poverty. The ruling class’s strategist experts embark on a road to bifurcate the economic conditions of the masses from the politics running this country. In the recent period even lip service and the artificial rhetoric of ‘the masses’ and ‘fighting against poverty’ have vanished from political jargon.
The present regime of right-wing capitalists is aping the economics of Turkey’s neo conservative Prime Minister Recep Erdogan alongside his autocratic methods and mindset. However, with escalating catastrophic violence and the crumbling economy, the masses are not only suffering economic brutalities but are being subjected to increasing repression by the police and other state institutions under this farcical democratic set up. This becomes more vicious at the lower tiers of society. The collusion between the lumpen gangs affiliated with these ‘democratic forces’ and the state apparatus has wreaked havoc for the ordinary people who have little or no access to wealth or authority. The treatment meted out to these toilers in and from the police stations and other security institutions is horrific to say the least. This political class of petit bourgeois hooligans in the urban and rural areas extort and humiliate ordinary people. This ‘majoritarianism’ of the incumbent regime has increased their despotism and they act like the emperors of the past. Nobody dares to question them and they are alienated from the realities of the lives of the masses. However, what is becoming clearer in Pakistan and on a world scale is that the economic crisis is eating into the political suprastructural and democratic facades set up to perpetuate capitalist rule. As Lenin once said, “Politics is but concentrated economics.” This is being proved by the situation at the present time. Even the staunchest crusader of capitalist democracy has to confess. In its latest issue, The Economist admits in a lengthy article, “Adjusting to hard times will be made more difficult by a growing cynicism towards politics...Money talks louder than ever in American politics. All this creates the impression that American democracy is for sale and that the rich have more power than the poor. The result is that America’s image — and by extension that of democracy itself — has taken a terrible battering...Political systems have been captured by interest groups.” This world crisis of capitalism is not going away anytime soon. Rather, it is going to further drag the human race into greater economic hardships and misery. There have been several mass upheavals in recent years expressing the economic distress and increasing torment of the daily lives of ordinary people across the planet. They were all guided to the safe havens of capitalist democracy by the crisis of leadership and bourgeois media. However, the struggles against ‘democratic regimes’ from Erdogan’s Turkey to Morsi’s Egypt were clearly for socio-economic reasons and not for political change as the media portrayed. Again we see the extreme hypocrisy and double standards of imperialism, as they were perfectly happy with the ‘movements’ against democratically elected governments in Venezuela and Ukraine, while their media conveniently ignored the uprisings against the Netanyahu regime in Israel and the mass revolt against the autocratic regime of Erdogan in Turkey.
However, the situation in Pakistan is not going to get any better under this democratic façade. Astute experts of the elite are full of doom and gloom. The question is: how long will the masses tolerate this increasing misery under capitalist democracy? The rise of obscurantism is a shallow and exaggerated notion put forward by the liberals to have their position supported. These fundamentalist forces of black reaction have very little mass support and their existence hinges on nurturing by sections of the state. John Adams, the US’s second president once said, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Even in advanced countries, the democratic set up prevailed till the capitalist economies improved living standards. Now, from Europe to Japan, capitalism is in a terminal crisis. This democracy is the rule of the rich by the rich for the rich. The working classes will attain democratic rights when they have their social and economic slavery abolished. This is incompatible with the very existence of capitalism.

Secretary General PPP Sindh Taj Haider supervises the relief activities at drought affected areas of Tharparkar
The General Secretary PPP Sindh Chapter Taj Haider who is nominated by the Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah to supervise the relief activities at drought affected areas of Tharparkar district has said that a huge stock of qualitative wheat has been made available by Sindh Government and the work for supplying wheat and providing health facilities to the famine victimize people have been started with free of cost. In his report, Mr. Taj Haider said that a big number of transporters have been engaged in this task. He said that in addition to 08 mobiles medical teams already working in the field, 08 doctors are being sent by Dr Adeeb-ul-Hassan Rizvi and many others doctors by Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) to provide prompt medical treatment to the needy patients. He said that the Sindh Government has decided to establish Medical Camp at each Taluka Hospital of Tharparkar for which doctors and Para-medics from Provincial Health Department were in the way to the affected areas besides, medicines, nutrition supplement and incubators are also being arranged. He said that full medial cover is being provided to all the patients admitted in the district hospital Mithi. However he made it clear that none of them is mal nutrition case. But there are cases of pneumonia, meningitis and diarrhea but general mal nutrition level has reduced resistance to combat diseases. He said that only in the month of Feb increase in death has been reported. Mr. Taj Haider informed that in addition provide medical cover to people, 15 veterinary mobile vaccination teams form Live Stock Department and 8 veterinary doctors from Thar deep an NGO are operating in drought affected areas, attending 50,000 animals parday while 500,000 more more vaccine vials have been called and to reach here at Mithi by next Friday. Besides, many trucks filled with fodder have been arrived and same is being distributed in the areas. Mr. Taj Haider said that monitoring and vigilance committees comprised of AC, Mukhtiyarkar representative from Food Department have been set up at Taluka level while MPA of the areas Mr. Mahesh Kumar Malani and Dadan Hingoro along with PPP office bearers, Notable reported form NGO were also are on the committee who are activity working in the relief works. He said that he has made marathon meetings with the administration of Health, Live Stock Departments PDMA, NGO Thardeep and others to boost-up the relief activities. Mr. Taj Haider also appreciated the other agencies like Pakistan Army for participating in relief activities and assured that all interested individuals and organization would be provided full administrative support.