Saturday, August 2, 2014
As House Republicans leaders scrambled to toughen up their border bills to win the support of their most conservative members, Democratic President Barack Obama blasted Congress for failing to send him an emergency funding measure to sign before lawmakers leave for a five-week August recess. House Republicans began Friday with a closed meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol, one day after a failed effort to pass a supplemental funding bill in response to an influx of children from Central America. Even the most conservative members emerged optimistic that the two border bills would now be changed to win the 218 votes needed to pass. Republican lawmaker Michele Bachmann said the bills now do what a core group of conservative Republicans wants: “Stopping the invasion of illegal foreign nationals into our country,” she said. No action in Senate The Democratic-run Senate left town without passing a border bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted House Republicans for adding to the agenda a second border bill that would end an Obama administration policy of allowing hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children years ago to stay. “House Republicans will vote to deport children who have been living in the United States their entire lives, all in a pathetic attempt to appease the Tea Party,” he said. President Obama criticized House members for crafting border legislation they know will never be taken up in the Senate and that he has said he would veto. “House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere,” he said. The president said Congress is leaving him no choice but to act on his own. “I am going to have to act alone because we don’t have resources. We have already been very clear, we have run out of money,” he said. Stopping the flow Republican lawmakers blame the president for contributing to the influx of 57,000 children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras this year, saying his rhetoric about immigration reform has caused confusion, which criminal trafficking gangs have exploited. Republican Congressman Tom Cole said the right thing to do is to send a clear signal to deter children from making the dangerous journey to America. “So we need to stop this flow. We need to do in a humane and appropriate way,” he said. House Democrats took to the floor in large numbers to oppose the border bills, calling them harsh and mean-spirited towards desperate children. Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez said Hispanic voters would remember the way Republicans treated the Central American children for many elections to come: “Because the way you treat one of us today is the way you have treated all of us, and we will remember that,” he said. Analysts say the president will likely have to shift funds to provide food and shelter for the children at the border, and that members of Congress will likely face the border issue again when they return in September.
There are several reasons the U.S. has spent as much as it has in Afghanistan, to so little avail.Recently, it has emerged in a report that the United States has spent more on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan than it spent on the Marshal Plan, which resuscitated Europe after the Second World War. According to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), congressional appropriations for reconstruction in Afghanistan have reached $109 billion in today’s dollars. On the other hand, the Marshall Plan delivered $103 billion in today’s dollars to 16 European countries between 1948 and 1952. However, reports comparing reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and the Marshall Plan do not generally take into account the fact that the Marshall Plan appropriations constituted a much greater proportion of the U.S. economy in the 1940s than Afghanistan reconstruction efforts do today. While the U.S. has spent $109 billion out of a $13-15 trillion economy on Afghanistan over 13 years, in 1948-1952, it spent $103 billion out of a $2 trillion dollar economy (adjusted) in only four years.
The incoming NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander, Gen. John F. Campbell has called reports regarding the surge of Taliban militants as exaggerated. Gen. Campbell is expected to succeed Gen. Joseph Dunford as ISAF commander and take over commander of the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan. The General suggested that the reports suggesting that the Taliban militants are gaining ground as U.S. troop levels fall and Afghan soldiers take on more fighting duties, are more about PR than battlefield realities. Speaking to reporters in Pentagon, Gen. Campbell said many of the claims were based on propaganda by the insurgents trying to intimidate the Afghan public into supporting them. “A lot of what you’re getting on how bad it may have been down in the south, or this attack there, or some of the things in the east, is we have kind of lost the information war here,” Gen. Campbell quoted by Star and Stripes said. He said, “The Taliban are trying to go do what they couldn’t do for the elections with these spectacular attacks.” The remarks by Gen. Campbell comes as reports suggest that the Taliban militants surged out of strongholds in remote areas of the south and taken over strategic territory around Kabul as well as elsewhere in the country. Campbell acknowledged the Taliban are making Afghanistan pay a heavy price. “It’s not much ado about nothing. There is very much some concern because of the numbers of civilians that have been attacked and killed is much higher,” he said. However, he insisted that there’s a fundamental difference between the war now and when he last commanded troops in Afghanistan in 2011. Campbell said the improved Afghan security forces are usually able to retake lost ground quickly as the Taliban could take and hold positions.
Pakistani model-actress Humaima Malick says she may have shot steamy and passionate kissing scenes with her co-star Emraan Hashmi for her forthcoming Bollywood debut “Raja Natwaral” but there is no vulgarity in the movie. “There is no vulgarity in the film at all. In fact, I am very proud that we have done many romantic scenes in the film and have shot beautifully,” Humaima said here Wednesday at the launch of a song from the film. Directed by Kunal Deshmukh, “Raja Natwaral”, also featuring Paresh Rawal and Kay Kay Menon, will hit the theatres Aug 29. “Everyone can watch the film with his/her kids and family,” she added.
http://www.nation.com.pk/ The unvaccinated children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas continued to thwart global efforts to eradicate polio as National Institute of Health, Islamabad confirmed two new polio cases today. The new cases took the nationwide polio count to 104 this year alone for ahead of last year tally of 93. Pakistan has recorded highest number of polio cases among the three endemic countries. One newly-infected child is the residents of the violence-wracked Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency. Polio virus detected in eight month old Hafsa resident of Bara. One year old Salma, resident of Peshawar was also found infected with virus.
http://tribune.com.pk/The file of a case registered against Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Rana Shoaib Idrees in January 2013 for allegedly attacking a police station and torturing policemen has gone missing, Express News reported on Saturday. A case has been registered against ASI Umar Daraz and Inspector Ghazanfar for allegedly being responsible to cause the file to go missing. Idrees was caught on tape attacking a police station in Faisalabad on July 19. The PML-N MPA and his accomplices allegedly attacked Khurarianwala police station in order to free their companions. They also reportedly tortured and injured Sub Inspector Riyasat Ali and other police officials, and damaged official property of the station. The Khurarianwala police had registered a case under various sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Pakistan Penal Code against nine identified and 50 unidentified men for taking the law in their own hands, damaging the police station, rioting and injuring policemen. However, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had granted Idrees protective bail till August 11. At this point, Idrees had defended himself, saying the footage that the police presented as evidence against him was over a year old, of an incident that occurred before the May 11 general elections – the file of this case is now missing.
Despite a year of talk, the facts remain the same. Losses in the power sector are at the same level they were last year when the government made what it called a one-time retirement of the circular debt.That extraordinary measure was taken to create some breathing room in which to implement the necessary reforms and bring down the losses, a goal that has evaded the government so far. The latest round of figures compiled by the power bureaucracy in its monthly report of operational data show that the gap between the amount of electricity provided to the distribution companies and the amount of units billed is just under 19pc in the fiscal year ended June 2014, the same level they were at last year. And this figure tells only half the story. In financial terms this means that electricity worth Rs211bn was lost in the last fiscal year. When recovery losses — the gap between the units billed and the amount of money actually recovered against those bills — are added to this tally the figure doubles, bringing us close to the approximate total of Rs550bn of the circular debt. A closer look at the data compiled by the power bureaucracy shows that all distribution companies of the country are contributing their fair share to these overall losses. For a while, the minister of state for water and power tried to peddle the story that the chief reason for the circular debt was that Punjab pays its bills but that Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa do not. The data provided by the power bureaucracy belies this claim; it shows that more than half the losses occurred in distribution companies in Punjab with the remaining half shared by those from Sindh, KP and Balochistan. It seems that inefficiency and incompetence do not have an ethnicity, and all apparent attempts to paint one province as superior in the matter of billing recoveries or distributional efficiency are without foundation. Why is this data not made public? The power bureaucracy is required to produce monthly reports of its operational data which includes details of all the electricity generated and provided to all the distribution companies in the country. The result is a report with 150 or so pages of detailed data on where the electricity is coming from and where it is going. There is no reason to keep this information out of the public domain, and the water and power secretary should seriously consider making the document available online, along with all back issues. In addition, financial data should be similarly gathered and disseminated, including cash flow statements, so that claims about operational efficiencies can be verified. There should be accountability of the power bureaucracy, and allowing some daylight into the dark corners where discretionary decision-making power lurks is the best way to ensure this.
Army troops would soon be guarding sensitive buildings in Islamabad, and patrolling the streets later, as the federal government’s decision to deploy them in aid of the civil administration came into effect on August 1. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had sent shockwaves across the country last week by revealing that the government had issued a notification on July 24 to requisition services of the armed forces under Article 245 of the Constitution. A day after a military spokesman disclosed on July 26 that the decision to call army was taken in a meeting, on the launch of the military operation against militants in North Waziristan, held on June 15, the minister accused those criticising the decision were making army controversial in a war-like situation. He said 352 troops were being requisitioned to assist police and other civic agencies secure Islamabad. “Army soldiers will be all over the city and will be able to reach a hotspot in case of an emergency within 10 minutes. The army will coordinate with police and Rangers directly and through the district administration,” he said. Senior Superintendent of Police Mohammad Ali Nekokara told Dawn that deployment of the soldiers under Article 245 will be finalised after consultation with the district administration. “I believe that collaboration between the Army, police and district administration became necessary for national security in the wake of Operation Zarb-i-Azb. Police have been collaborating with all agencies. That is why not a single untoward incident has been reported in the federal capital since the launch of Operation Zarb-i-Azb,” he said.As of now SSP Nekokara did not feel the need to put troops on patrol duties in the city, however. “They can be called to that duty if and when required,” he said.