Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Music Video - Shinedown - I'll Follow You

Music Video - Black Veil Brides - In The End

Music Video - Alter Bridge - ADDICTED TO PAIN

Music Video - Katy Perry - This Is How We Do

Music Video - Ariana Grande, The Weeknd - Love Me Harder

Music Video - Ariana Grande - Break Free ft. Zedd

USA: Ex-police chief named as member of Ferguson commission

Israeli prime minister and Mahmoud Abbas condemn synagogue killings

Video - President Obama Provides an Update on the U.S. Response to Ebola

9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui claims Saudi involvement

By Kristina Sgueglia and Deborah Feyerick
From his cell in a maximum security prison, terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui is reviving old allegations and making new ones against al Qaeda and a handful of Saudi royals.
The 46-year old French national is claiming that Saudi Embassy officials were involved in a plot to shoot down Air Force One to assassinate Bill Clinton and/or Hillary Clinton during a trip to the United Kingdom.
Moussaoui says he met with a Secret Service agent several months ago and told him what he knew. CNN has reached out to the Secret Service for comment.
In two handwritten letters filed this month in federal court in New York and Oklahoma, Moussaoui claimed that, during the time he was taking flying lessons in Norman, Oklahoma, he met with a Saudi prince and princess and that she "gave me money," and provided funding for 9/11 hijackers.
Lawyers for the Saudi government have repeatedly denied connections, maintaining Saudi Arabia was cleared by the 9/11 Commission. Moussaoui, who suffers from mental illness, is in the supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado, and is eight years into a life sentence, having pleaded guilty to terrorism and murder conspiracy in connection with the September 11, 2001, terror hijackings.
Moussaoui claims in both letters that he was attacked in prison on orders of terrorist Ramzi Yousef, who Moussaoui says tried to stop him from testifying against the Saudis.
Yousef, a convicted terrorist, is considered the mastermind in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and is in the same supermax prison as Moussaoui.
It is unclear at this time if prisoners in the Colorado federal prison are able to communicate.
Moussaoui claims he is being mistreated by prison officials in what he calls a "campaign of harassment and intimidation." Citing "venue" issues, Oklahoma Magistrate Judge Shon T Erwin ruled to dismiss the case of Zacarias Moussaoui v. Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The court also denied a request for appointment of counsel.
A ruling is not yet available with regard to the letter he sent to a New York judge.
In the letters, Moussaoui asks for new lawyers and says he wants to be moved out of the H-unit within the prison, which he calls a "Saudi stronghold." In exchange he says he would provide information against the Saudis. He also says he wants a warmer cell, not infested with rodents. He wants authorities to unblock his source to money so he can buy stamps to write to the inspector general.
Attorneys interview Moussaoui
Moussaoui reached out to a New York court, seeking lawyers for 9/11 victims, offering to provide what he believed to be important information pertaining to current 9/11 litigation, according to one of the four lead counsels, attorney Jerry Goldman.
Lawyers interviewed Moussaoui in late October.
The counsel believe the interview provided "relevant" and "critical" information pertinent to pending litigation, according to attorneys. The transcripts of the interview are being reviewed by the Department. of Justice and limited information can be shared about their contents, Goldman said.
Lawyers for Saudi government deny involvement
In a court document filed in September in the Southern District of New York in connection to the 9/11 terror attacks, lawyers for Saudi Arabia deny involvement, financial or otherwise, saying:
"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had no role in the attacks of September 11, 2001."
The Saudis' lawyers highlight that the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission, in 2004 found "no evidence" ... "the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded" either al Qaeda or the 9/11 hijackers.
The original complaint, filed over 10 years ago on behalf of victims and insurance companies, targets various terrorist organizations, and alleges Saudi involvement.
Lawyers want the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be dropped from the suit, arguing they had no involvement in 9/11 attacks.
The lawyers for the 9/11 families have requested extended time to reply to the motion for dismissal.
"Plaintiffs believe that Moussaoui's sworn testimony is not only relevant, but critical to their (opposition)," according to a court document submitted by the 9/11 lawyers.
Moussaoui diagnosed with schizophrenia
The expert who literally helped write the book on diagnosing mental illness testified during Moussaoui's 2006 trial that Moussaoui is schizophrenic.
Michael First, a psychiatrist who edited the latest edition of the profession's standard diagnostic guidebook, told jurors that Moussaoui also suffers from paranoid and grandiose delusions and disorganized thinking.
Both Moussaoui's sisters, who lived in France at the time of the trial, were diagnosed with forms of schizophrenia and took drugs to control their symptoms.
Moussaoui's father at the time of the trial was hospitalized in France with bipolar disorder.
Bin Laden distanced himself from Moussaoui
9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden at the time denied Moussaoui was part of the hijacking plot.
In May 2006, bin Laden released an audiotape in which he refutes Moussaoui's confession by saying, "I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission."
Blacked out 28 pages
The U.S. government commission report investigating the 9/11 attacks cleared the Saudi Arabian government of involvement in al Qaeda funding. The commission found that Saudi Arabia was a rich fundraising ground for al Qaeda, but said it had found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al Qaeda.
The Saudi government defended its nation's record in fighting terrorism, and urged then-U.S. President George W. Bush to unseal 28 classified pages of an 800-plus-page report on intelligence surrounding the September 11 attacks to allow the Saudi government to defend itself.
Bush refused the request, saying declassifying the entire report, which runs more than 800 pages, would compromise intelligence sources. Some of those still grieving the loss of family members from that horrific day are also on a mission to declassify the 28 pages from the congressional investigation into the attacks, pages specifically focused on the role of foreign governments in the al Qaeda plot. These 9/11 family members say President Barack Obama promised he would declassify those 28 pages, but now they say the White House does not even acknowledge them, or their requests.

The Consequences of Misunderstanding the Middle East

By Aaron David Miller
The Obama administration is conducting a "policy review" on what to do about Syria and Iraq. But rehashing the same strategy could just make a bad situation even worse.
What's worse for the United States -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or the Islamic State (IS)? Even before the reports this week of the beheading of a third American, Peter Kassig, my money was on IS. But recent reports suggest that there are some in the administration who may think otherwise, and a recent policy review is allegedly pushing the view that to really get at IS you need to fundamentally weaken Assad.
On paper that may well be true. But in reality, trying to get getting rid of Assad right now will almost certainly make the situation in Syria worse, boosting IS's standing and recruitment capacity while embroiling Washington in further battles with Iran and Russia that it can't possibly win. Such a shift would also reflect the fact that some of U.S. President Barack Obama's advisors have learned very little about the Middle East these past several years and almost nothing about the consequences of their own actions.
The fact is that the Obama administration has consistently overestimated the receptivity of this region to positive change as well as their own capacity to do much about it. Being on the right side of history doesn't always mean you're on the smart or winning side. Look at what's happened in the past several years. The Obama administration has gone down some pretty perilous paths. Hosni Mubarak's fall from power in the aftermath of Egypt's eruption in 2011 was probably inevitable and the administration had little choice but to get out of the way. But the notion that bad dictators would somehow be replaced by better governance was a fundamental misreading of the region's political landscape.
Too many within the Obama administration assumed that the secular, liberal, and progressive forces would prevail against the Islamists and the military and that the United States could significantly help make this happen. n the mistaken idea that hope and change -- so effective in getting the president elected -- were somehow relevant to the world of Middle Eastern politics. It all ended with the administration alienating much of the Egyptian political spectrum.
The administration's hope that the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi were somehow fitting partners in this new world shattered pretty quickly. As did the idea that Washington could use its leverage to get the Egyptian military and Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to create a new Egypt based on democratic values. In Libya, the administration assumed that getting rid of the "evil" and odd Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi would somehow magically make things better on the ground; in Iraq, that packing up and leaving would have few consequential results; and on the peace process the belief that Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas were just waiting for an American offer they couldn't refuse. Ditto on the Iranian nuclear issue. There's a pattern here. Either through inattention, bad analysis, or both, Washington has demonstrated that there's much about this region it just doesn't understand. First and foremost is that there are no comprehensive solutions to any issue right now. There are only interim outcomes, certainly not neat Hollywood endings where clarity and finality trump uncertainty and confusion. And the choices here aren't between good and bad, but largely between bad and worse. Bad would be no democracy in Egypt; worse would be Egypt controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood or just plain unstable and out of control.
All is not right in large parts of Arabdom, or, to paraphrase the Bard, something's pretty rotten there. It's a region of many failed and failing states -- with rampant dysfunction, decentralization, sectarian war, and bad governance. Our notion that we can fix things -- that we are the single driving force in seeking change at the top; the ones who create a moderate center; who can foster confessional harmony, delegitimize the jihadi narrative, get Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to play nicely with one another -- not only just doesn't add up, it's delusional. If these happy outcomes were to come about, they need real ownership on the part of the locals, driven by local interests and timetables, not by U.S. slogans or policies.
The latest flawed assumption of the can-do enterprise -- apparently tossed about in the most recent review of Syria policy -- appears to be the notion that if we can just get rid of Bashar al-Assad, our Syria policy will be functional and the war against IS more successful. The logic here is that Assad's murderous campaign against the Sunnis just empowers IS by alienating them; gives rise to the view in the region that Washington is masterminding some kind of anti-Sunni conspiracy by leaving Assad in place and cozying up to Shiite Iran; and that our Sunni Arab coalition is fraying because we won't do more to deal with the Assad problem.
The desire to take Assad and the regime out really isn't all that new. Hawks on this issue, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have long wanted a tougher approach to Bashar, not to mention the Saudis, the Turks, the Qataris, and most of the so-called moderates we're training. The logic is that unless you can end the civil war -- and making Assad disappear is the sine qua non on that one -- IS will continue to feed on sectarian hatred and bad, or nonexistent, governance. But if we think that's going to fix things, we really haven't learned much. Indeed, it will only make matters worse, much like getting rid of Qaddafi and Mubarak fixed very little, and even made things worse. And here's why.
The vacuum:
The notion that if we could just get Bashar out, so much of so much of the mess that is Syria could be fixed just doesn't add up. For all practical purposes Bashar is the regime, and it's highly arguable that a real "regime" even exists anymore.
For all practical purposes Bashar is the regime, and it's highly arguable that a real "regime" even exists anymore. The regime is a much diluted version of what it used to be -- an extended mob family with military, economic, and intelligence assets to deploy. Some of our friends in the region (see Saudi Arabia) would like to convince Washington that there are other Alawites who can be persuaded to fill the vacuum if Bashar goes: Cut local deals and cease-fires, and somehow engineer a transition to the new Syria -- whatever that means.
More likely, if the Assad regime collapses, those Alawites who remain will either flee if possible or prepare for sectarian civil war. To quote Samuel Adams on the patriots' predicament: We can either hang together or hang separately. If the last several years of watching Syria has taught us anything, it's that life out there is short, cruel, and breaks down brutishly along sectarian lines. Given the Assad regime's crimes against Sunnis, the odds favor killing, ethnic cleansing, and more killing of Alawites, not reconciliation. And this was likely the case even before IS's rise.
The consequences: That of course brings us to the question of who or what would emerge if Assad were to go. It stretches credulity to the breaking point to conclude that anyone other than the Islamists, particularly IS, wouldn't take over now and for the foreseeable future. Look at the other possibilities. The Free Syrian Army? U.S.-trained rebels? Any one of the 1,000 militias that have emerged? Syria's Arab and Turkish neighbors? You're kidding, right?
And then where would we be? Listen to this assessment by Joshua Landis (as he described it when I spoke to him on Nov. 15), probably America's top expert on matters Syrian:
"If the militias overran Syria's regime-controlled cities, a new major wave of refugees would set out for Lebanon and Jordan to spread the conflict into the rest of the Middle East. This is exactly what the United States does not want. It hopes to contain the violence inside Syria. The regime still controls some 65 percent of the Syrian people. Many regime-controlled cities have not been involved in war directly, such as Hama, much of Damascus, Latakia, Suwayda, Jableh, Tartus, Baniyas. For hundreds of militia men to overrun them would mean wide-scale looting and revenge against those who have fought in the Syrian army or are seen to be collaborators."
Caliph Ibrahim would love to take Damascus, the seat of the 8th-century Umayyad Caliphate, and claim the first truly major Arab city as his own. Sure, Assad would no longer be killing and alienating Sunnis -- but can you imagine the recruitment drive IS would launch and the success it would have? The taking of Damascus would draw thousands more Sunni jihadis to its ranks. Alawite and Christian Damascus refugee flows to Lebanon might prove overwhelming, and the United States might find itself not just with several thousand Yazidis trapped on a mountaintop but facing massive killings of Syrian minorities.
Indeed, as Landis told me: "The Islamic Front is also strong in the Damascus region and its Damascene leader, Zahran Alloush, has called for the ethnic cleansing of all Shiites in order to build an Islamic state along the lines of the Umayyads. This would also mean that Syria's Christians would be subjected to the jizya (poll tax) and treated as second-class citizens. The Alawites and Druze, who are considered to be pagans in Muslim theology, could well be treated as the Yazidis were in Iraq, asked to convert or be killed."
The rivals: And who exactly is going to help America in this enterprise? The Saudis and the Turks want Assad gone and would love to suck Washington into a war against the Syrian dictator. But what are they going to do when it comes to taking responsibility for building the new Syria, or more likely holding the dam against more IS gains in the old one? The only thing that will get the Saudis really motivated against IS is jihadi attacks in the kingdom.
One thing is certain: A U.S. war against IS will only complicate matters. Dealing with Assad's air defenses likely won't be much of an obstacle. But Iran will react, perhaps with additional support on the ground for Assad and by making trouble for the United States in Iraq. Given our wonderful relations with Vladimir Putin, the Russians will do what they can to make trouble, too. And with the al Qaeda-linked jihadists of al-Nusra Front sitting far too close to the Golan Heights, the Israelis will be scratching their heads trying to figure out why we're creating more opportunities for these radicals to spread their influence without thinking through who will fill the vacuum if Assad goes. The options: U.S. policy toward Syria is laced with anomalies and contradictions. The folks we're training to deploy against IS see Assad as the main threat; the allies in our coalition do too. And an anti-Assad policy runs headlong into Iran's own regional objectives of promoting Shiites and Alawites throughout the region.
Throughout all the noise and the cacophony of confusion and muddle, we need to keep focused on what our main interest against IS really is: It's a counterterrorism mission, not a nation-building one. It's a policy designed to pre-empt and prevent attacks on the homeland and against our interests and allies in the region.
A full-court press to get rid of Assad may be morally correct and have strategic advantages at some point, but certainly not now. If we want to change anything it ought to be to intensify our attacks against IS in Syria and Iraq. The Council on Foreign Relations' Max Boot has some useful suggestions on what more we can do against IS kinetically in a recent Washington Post piece. And, as my FP colleague James Traub allows, while U.N. proposals to cut local deals and cease-fire arrangements with regime elements are dealing with the devil, that's far more sensible than plunging down a path that could turn Syria into a jihadi state.
Sure, our Syria policy is a mess. But it can get a whole lot worse. Let's at least make sure that we aren't the ones who make it so.

Is incitement to blame for growing Middle East violence?

Opinion: Strategies against terrorism aren't working

The Global Terrorism Index now published in London records an alarming rise in the number of terrorist attacks worldwide. Present strategies are not working, says DW's Grahame Lucas.
The terrorist attacks by al Qaeda on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001 triggered a US-led military campaign dubbed a "war on terror" by US President George W Bush. Seen from today's perspective some 13 years later, one cannot avoid the conclusion that the war on terror has not ended terror at all. Rather, as the Global Terrorism Index notes, acts of terrorism are actually increasing alarmingly. In 2013 there were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks worldwide - an increase of 44 percent compared to 2012. Moreover, nearly 18,000 people were killed in these acts, a rise of 61 percent. If anything the war on terror has created more terror.
If we take a close look at the history of terrorism we see something quite clearly. In the past 50 years, the most effective way to end a terrorist campaign has been to draw the insurgents into a political process with the object of reaching a settlement. Northern Ireland is a classic example of this. As the report notes, 80 percent of the terrorist organizations that disbanded did so because an acceptable agreement had been brokered. During this time only ten percent of terrorist organizations ended their campaign of terror because they had reached their goals. But what is really interesting is that only seven percent of terrorist campaigns were ended by military means. That is an alarmingly low figure considering the cost in human life.
This suggests very strongly indeed that negotiations and participation should be at the forefront when it comes to dealing with terrorists. But in many countries military or paramilitary action remains the gut reaction of governments. The only problem is that in the age of asymmetric warfare insurgents are able to fight well organized armies with a considerable degree of success by restricting themselves to well publicized terrorist attacks and avoiding pitched battles. Nothing shows this more clearly than the failure of the Western mission in Afghanistan to stamp out the Taliban and their poisonous Islamist ideology. In other words, the military option is highly unlikely to achieve the required goals. Talk or don't talk?
But the other significant finding in the report is that the countries most affected by terrorism, namely Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria, are for the most part plagued by Islamist terrorism. This kind of religiously inspired violence seeks to impose a strict Islamic state against the will of the majority of the respective population. It is totalitarian by nature. Thus, the dilemma is clear: negotiations will not lead anywhere because pragmatic solutions have no chance in the face of Islamist ideology. And military action is unlikely to work. At best it can contain such movements, not defeat them.
Against this background one must fear the worst and expect that 2015 will see a further deterioration of the situation worldwide, while groups like Islamic State, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the Taliban spread their message of fear and hatred through more atrocities. Most of the victims are likely to be Muslims, as Sunni extremists slaughter Shias, and Shias for their part kill Sunnis.
There can only really be one course of action. The states most affected have failed to promote the participation of ordinary people in their own societies. They must work to improve the economic situation of the disaffected, give them access to education, prevent death squads from carrying out extrajudicial killings, and strengthen democratic structures. In the long run, this is the only way run to deprive terrorists of the support they need, and to isolate them in the countries where they operate. The West can foster this process but it has to start from within.

British Depocrisy and Freedom of Speech

By David Ferguson
I wrote an article recently about the Hong Kong Occupy demonstrations and the coverage they had received in the western media. I concluded my article: Whereas if tens of thousands of Hong Kong Occupy protestors had been out with their barricades on the streets of London, they would have been dispersed within days and many of them would now be in prison...
The British government could hardly wait to prove me right. Their own home-grown Occupy Protest was taking place in Parliament Square in London right at that very time, and it lasted precisely three days before the few hundred demonstrators were swept from the streets by the police. I looked in vain for any news of the events in my standard sources: the BBC, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph. Nothing. Plenty about Hong Kong, nothing about London.
Eventually I found a report on the Independent Television network website. It transpired that fifteen of the demonstrators had been arrested over the three days that the protest had lasted, and that one hardy soul had fought it out to the last, climbing onto the statue of Winston Churchill and staying there, alone, for 24 hours until he too was hauled off. In the great British traditions of free speech and liberty he has been charged with criminal damage, public order offences, theft, and offences under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 – presumably this last charge involves possession of a statue with intent to use it for the purposes of sleeping.
I was given further cause to reflect on the issue of freedom of speech in the west by a completely different set of events that have unfolded in Britain over the past couple of weeks.
I have been reading the account of Deng Xiaoping’s experiences during the Cultural Revolution, written by his daughter Deng Rong. It is a personal account of events, and because she was a child at the time, and because for much of the time she was held in confinement, Deng Rong was distanced from many of the worst physical atrocities that were carried out.
Even so, it was horrifying to read how, to punish him for his father’s ‘rightist tendencies’, her older brother Dong Pufang was imprisoned, tortured, and abused so badly by his classmates that he eventually tried to commit suicide by jumping from an upper floor window of the Physics Block at Peking University where he was being held prisoner. He failed in the attempt, broke his back, and has remained a paraplegic to this day.
Few westerners realise that the vanguard of the Cultural Revolution was not formed by time-served extremists in the Communist Party, workers, peasants, or soldiers, but by China’s students. They were the ones at the forefront of the ‘Red Guard’. Although relatively few in number they were loud of voice, and as is always the case with a mob, whoever holds the megaphone holds the whip hand.
Equally disturbing, on a different level, were Deng Rong’s unemotional accounts of the ‘denunciations’. Those which she witnessed were largely those of senior politicians who had fallen foul of the revolution. Elderly, battle-hardened veterans of the anti-Japanese War and the Civil War were forced to publicly debase and humble themselves before howling mobs of students who were not much more than children, struggling to invent imaginary crimes to which they could confess in order to appease their accusers.
It might seem odd if I say that what brought these historical events from 1960s China into such sharp focus concerned a rape case in Britain, so I should probably explain.
In April 2012 Ched Evans, a relatively prominent footballer with the English club Sheffield United, was convicted of rape. A fellow footballer, Clayton McDonald, was charged with the same offence under the same set of circumstances, but acquitted. Evans served 30 months in prison, and was released on October 17. Evans has maintained his innocence from the outset, and continues to campaign vigorously to have his conviction overturned. Further details of the case can be found on his website.
Part of Evans’ argument lies in the pernicious nature of the law. According to English rape law it is now the case that a woman who has got herself so drunk that she does not know what she is doing is held to be incapable of giving valid consent, and therefore any man who has sex with a woman in such a condition is guilty of rape and has no defence. The drunken woman has no responsibility for her actions; it is no defence for the man to claim that he was also too drunk to know what he was doing.
The pernicious effect of this law is that a group of people, selected at random from the general public, can be required to decide precisely how drunk a complete stranger was, at a very distant place and time, and on this decison and this alone a man's whole life stands or falls. One is entitled to ask on what conceivable basis - other than some totally arbitrary criteria - any normal person could make such a decision.
This is precisely what happened in the Evans case. The jury was obliged to make its ruling based solely on an asssessment of precisely how drunk the alleged victim had been, in a hotel room, a year previously. The pernicious nature of the law is thrown into sharp relief by the perverse nature of their judgement – of the two accused in the case; they found one guilty and one innocent.
This means very explicitly that they came to the absurd conclusion that the same woman, in the same place, was at one and the same time too drunk to give her consent, and not too drunk to give her consent.
Without even considering some of the worrying facts involved, which can be found in the court papers and on Evans’ website, one might think that the problematic legal circumstances of his conviction would incline any reasonable person to give his protestations of innocence some kind of fair hearing. In fact, the opposite has been the case.
Evans has been widely condemned for his ‘arrogance’ in refusing to express contrition for a crime which he maintains he did not convict. A mob of pitchfork-wielding progressives has determined that they will have their pound of flesh. Departing from their normal principle that every criminal is a victim of society who needs a maximum of understanding and a minimum of punishment, a raft of celebrities have trumpeted the view that Evans’ crime places him beyond redemption, and in particular that he should be prevented from ever playing football again. These include Nick Clegg, the Lib-Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, plus a gaggle of journalists from the ‘liberal’ end of the political spectrum.
Behind them is a much bigger, much uglier mob from the general public. Led by the opinion-formers, and largely ignorant of most of the salient facts and of the legal nuances of the case, they have taken advantage of the ‘freedom of speech’ offered by Britain’s media - and in particular its comment forums - to howl for blood.
So far, so much to be expected. What has become more disturbing is the treatment meted out to those very few public figures who have dared to offer any alternative viewpoint. Among these are two television personalities, Judy Finnigan and Michael Buerk, television presenters on ITV and the BBC respectively.
No sooner had Finnigan and Buerk spoken out, than they found that they, too, were being hounded by the progressive mob. The focus shifted ever so slightly from ‘Evans the rapist’ to ‘Evans and his friends the rape apologists’. In order to spare themselves and save their careers, both Finnigan and Buerk were forced into humiliating acts of public apology, where they confessed to their ‘wrong-thinking’, issued the proper ritual condemnations of Evans, and begged to be pardoned. This is what brought to my mind the link with Deng Rong’s book.
There is an obvious lesson here about how quickly calls for ‘freedom of speech’ can be transformed into calls for ‘freedom of speech for those who agree with me’. Would I dare to write this article if I was a journalist working in Britain? Would any mainstream media outlet publish it? They are happy to talk at great length about events in Hong Kong; events in Parliament Square are swept discreetly under the carpet. ‘Freedom of speech’ is a right that requires careful management by those who control the megaphone.
The Guardian newspaper went out of its way to prove the truth of this aphorism. On Sunday 16th one of its journalists, Barbara Ellen, visited the Evans story for the second time in its ‘public discussion’ section, titled “Comment is Free – but Facts are Sacred!” I attempted to post a comment on the article. The full text of the comment is here. Within minutes my comment was removed by the censors, my posting account was permanently closed, and I was banned from any further activity on “Comment is Free – but Facts are Sacred!” Truly, freedom of speech is far too precious a gift to be wasted on people who do not hold the correct opinions…
But there is a second issue too, about the process by which groups are transformed into mobs. As I thought of the Hong Kong demonstrators, the Occupy Parliament Square protests, and the Evans case, I found myself reflecting on the students who were the vanguard of the Cultural Revolution, how gullible and unworldly they were, how easily they were led astray by malign and cynical manipulators, how quickly their idealism was transformed into arrogance, intolerance, hatred and then violence - violence that they ended up inflicting not only on their opponents, but on each other - and how the results were ten years of chaos, anarchy, and ruin in China.
“Is it even permissible nowadays to express the view that you actually believe that Ched Evans is innocent? (I guess I'll find out in a few minutes.)
Because I don't believe he raped the woman. I've seen all the evidence that was put before the jury, and I find their decisions bewildering.
There are two videos that show the woman arriving at the hotel with McDonald. There is nothing at all in her conduct in either of these two videos to suggest that she was so drunk that she didn't know what she was doing. Based on the videos alone, you couldn't even say with any certainty that she was drunk at all. When she was tested the following day after her visit to the police station her blood alcohol count was zero. She never gave any evidence about what happened in the hotel room because her story all along was that she didn't remember anything between being in the kebab shop and waking up the following day.
The jury's decision was completely perverse. In convicting Evans while acquitting McDonald they essentially decided that the same person, in the same place, at one and the same time, was both too drunk to give valid consent to sex, and not too drunk to give valid consent to sex.”
In no way does this comment come close to contravening any of the paper’s published posting regulations. It simply expresses my view, and explains briefly why I hold that view. The Guardian newspaper is a private organisation and it is perfectly entitled to censor and ban whatever and whoever it pleases. But it should spare the rest of the world its nauseating, self-congratulatory rubbish about comment being ‘free’ and facts being ‘sacred’.

Hard diplomacy ahead despite China showing its softer side

By Ben Blanchard
But proof of whether President Xi Jinping is serious about narrowing differences that have marked his first two years in office will depend on how China's festering disputes are managed in the months ahead.
The possibilities for disagreement are many, from cyberspying to land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea and the deeply emotional issue for China of how Japan deals with next year's 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
China set nerves on edge with its air defense zone over the East China Sea, by sending an oil rig deep into waters disputed with Vietnam and by unveiling advanced new weapons, including a prototype stealth fighter.
But in recent days, China has gone out of its way to set minds at ease as Xi hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
China made conciliatory gestures to Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, and, with U.S. President Barack Obama, agreed to a climate deal and to lower the risk of misunderstandings during military encounters.
"We still have to observe what happens in the next six to 12 months or even longer. But I think that now we stand at the beginning of a substantive change in Chinese foreign policy," said Shi Yinhong, head of the Centre for American Studies at Beijing's Renmin University who has also advised the government on diplomatic issues.
Reliance on the military has been replaced by money to guide China's diplomacy, Shi added, pointing to the $40 billion New Silk Road fund and $50 billion China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank announced before APEC.
More than $120 billion has been promised since May to Africa, Southeast Asia and Central Asia.
"The message is that China sincerely hopes that it can play its role as a responsible power," the official China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial on Monday.
The root causes of past disagreements have, for now, been set aside.
State-run Xinhua news agency sought to temper expectations following Xi's meeting with Obama last week, saying that, despite the "amicable tone", "still much has to be done to translate promises into reality".
As if to remind the United States of China's growing military power, the day before Xi and Obama's summit, the Chinese military unveiled a sophisticated new stealth fighter jet at an air show in the south of the country.
"A lot of problems exist and there will be a lot of uncertainty in the days to come," said Jia Qingguo, dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University who has also advised the government on diplomacy.
China has long sought to address fears in the region, and globally, that economic growth will inevitably bring a more muscular diplomatic and military approach.
During a summit of Southeast Asia leaders in Myanmar last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed a friendship treaty, yet held to the line that Beijing will only settle South China Sea disputes directly with other claimants.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he and Xi had a good meeting in Beijing, but the Philippine military says there has been no sign of China reducing its presence in parts of the South China Sea that Manila also claims.
Then there is Japan.
China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, have argued bitterly for two years over disputed islands, regional influence and the legacy of Japan's wartime occupation of China.
While Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held breakthrough talks just before APEC, in recognition of the economic damage inflicted by their row, suspicion runs deep.
"Whether or not incidents or disturbances can be prevented from happening again between the two countries depends on Japan's attitude and actions," Han Zhiqiang, acting Chinese ambassador to Japan, was quoted saying in state media last week.
China has already promised high-profile events to mark next year's World War Two anniversary, offering another opportunity to accuse Japan of not properly atoning for its past.
"Japan is particularly worried about how the anniversary will be handled in China," said one Beijing-based Western envoy.
India presents another problem, with no sign of lasting resolution to a festering border dispute.
In recognition of the world's concerns, Xi, speaking to Australia's parliament on Monday, channeled an ancient expression to assuage worries: "A war-mongering state will eventually die no matter how big it is".
He did not finish the saying, whose last line reads: "Though the world is peaceful, you will be in danger if you forget about preparing for war".

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Kerry condemns Jerusalem attack, Palestinian incitement

US secretary of state calls Netanyahu to offer condolences, blames Palestinian ‘days of rage’ ; UN official calls terror attack abhorrent
US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned a Jerusalem terror attack that left four people dead Tuesday morning, calling on Palestinian leaders to halt incitement.
Kerry telephoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer condolences following the gruesome killing spree by Palestinian assailants at a Jerusalem synagogue, while other world leaders also expressed horror at the attack.
Kerry, in London for talks on Iran and the Middle East, called the assault an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality” and called on the Palestinian leadership to condemn it “in the most powerful terms.”
“Innocent people who had come to worship died in the sanctuary of a synagogue,” Kerry said, his voice quavering. “They were hatcheted, hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on Palestinians at every single level of leadership to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, particularly after the discussion that we just had the other day in Amman.”
Police said two attackers from East Jerusalem entered the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood shortly after 7 a.m. and began attacking worshipers at morning prayers with a gun, a meat cleaver, and an ax. Both terrorists were killed by police.
Kerry blamed the attack on Palestinian calls for “days of rage” and said Palestinian leaders must take serious steps to refrain from such incitement.
Netanyahu told Kerry that “this is a direct result of [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's] incitement. This is a despicable murder in a holy place.”
Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders earlier pointed the finger at Abbas and the Palestinian leadership for the attacks.
The European Union’s envoy to Israel Lars Faaborg Andersen wrote on Twitter that he was “horrified by and utterly condemn the despicable terror attack on worshipers in Jlm synagogue that left 4 dead and 4 badly injured.”
The United Nation’s special envoy to the region, Robert Serry, said in a statement he “abhorred the attack this morning on a synagogue in West Jerusalem. There can be no justification whatsoever for these deliberate killings, which he strongly condemns.”
He called on all sides to work to calm tensions in the region.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was in Israel on Sunday, lamented the attack, saying he hoped it would serve as “a loud wake-up call” that the current situation could quickly spiral out of control.
“That houses of worship are becoming scenes for deadly attack on innocent believers is a terrible crossing of a line in an already extremely tense situation,” he said in Kiev.
“I was in Jerusalem only a few days ago and could feel how tense the atmosphere there is,” Steimeier added. “What has now happened is a tragedy. I hope that this is now also a loud wake-up call. The tensions can quickly lead to a violent outburst. Mixing the many unresolved issues in this region with ‘religious confrontation’ gives this already serious conflict another dangerous dimension.”
Officials from Sweden, which recently officially recognized Palestine as a state, condemned the attack and called for an end to the violence.
Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad hailed the attack, saying it was in reaction to the death of a Palestinian bus driver. An Israeli autopsy had established Monday that the driver committed suicide, a finding rejected by his family.
“Hamas calls for more operations like it,” a spokesman for the group said in a statement.
Read more: Kerry condemns Jerusalem attack, Palestinian incitement | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-condemns-jerusalem-attack-palestinian-incitement/#ixzz3JRhhFRY6 Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Russia, China Concerned by US Attempt to Increase Influence in Asia-Pacific

Russia and China are concerned by the US determination to strengthen its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Russian defense minister said Tuesday after talks with his Chinese counterpart.
Senior US officials earlier said the Asia-Pacific region will become the top priority of the country’s foreign policy.
“We have also expressed concern about the US attempts to strengthen its military and political influence in the Asia-Pacific region,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said after talks with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan.
According to Shoigu, Russia-China military relations will be further enhanced with a view to form a collective regional security system. The parties discussed the response to the common threats in the region and particularly agreed on common steps in countering international terrorism.
At the most recent summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing US President Barack Obama promoted the idea of an ambitious 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership. Its terms have not been fully revealed, however it is believed intent is to curb the further economic expansion of China, as well as increase US influence in the region.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin labeled the Trans-Pacific Partnership as another attempt by the US to build the architecture of regional economic cooperation that benefits the United States.
Russia, China Plan Joint Exercises in Pacific, Mediterranean Next Year
Russia and China decided to hold joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean next year, Sergei Shoigu added.
"We plan to hold another joint naval exercise next spring in the Mediterranean Sea. A joint exercise is also planned in the Pacific Ocean,” the Russian defense minister said following talks with Chang Wanquan.
"Our military cooperation has great potential and the Russian side is ready to develop it in a wide range of directions," Shoigu added.
The Russian defense minister recalled that in May Russia and China successfully participated in joint Naval Interaction 2014 exercises, when a squadron of warships from Russia's Pacific Fleet sailed into the East China Sea to perform various training and defense scenarios.
Shoigu also mentioned the Tank Biathlon World Championship and Aviadarts Flight Skills Competition, where Chinese crews were participating, as a "good format for exchanging experience."
In recent years, Russia and China have enjoyed close cooperation in multiple spheres, including military issues. Russia has supplied China with weapons and hardware, such as Su-27 fighter jets, air defense systems and air defense missiles.
Russian and Chinese ground forces are taking part in annual military drills to prepare cooperative responses in case of destabilization in Central Asia.

Putin:'US wants to subdue Russia, but no one did or ever will'

The US has no plans to humiliate Russia, but instead wants to subdue it, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, adding that no one had ever succeeded in doing so – and never will.
Speaking at a forum of the All-Russia Peoples' Front in Moscow on Tuesday, the Russian leader said that history was not about to change, and that no one would manage to suppress the country.
"Throughout history no one has ever managed to do so toward Russia – and no one ever will," Putin said.
Responding to a question about whether America was trying to humiliate Russia, Putin disagreed, saying that the US wanted "to solve their problems at our expense."
He said that people in Russia really like the Americans, but it's the US politics that are not accepted so well. "I think America and its people are more liked than disliked by people here [in Russia]. It's the politics of the ruling class [in the US] that is likely negatively viewed by the majority of our citizens," he said.
The Russian leader said the US had managed to subordinate its allies to its influence – with such countries "trying to protect foreign national interests on obscure conditions and perspectives."
The Russian president has last met with his American counterpart last week, while attending the G20 summit in Australia. Despite the focus on the world economy, the crisis in Ukraine was one of the hottest topics at the G20. Talking about the summit's results at a press conference, US President Barack Obama did not announce any significant changes in his country's approach to Russia.
"We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy," the US president told a news conference, adding that his country was "also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles."
Before leaving Brisbane, Putin said that a solution to the crisis in Eastern Ukraine was possible. "Today the situation [in Ukraine] in my view has good chances for resolution, no matter how strange it may sound," he said, as quoted by Reuters.
The Russian leader also said he was satisfied with both the results and atmosphere of the meetings.
Australian authorities created an exceptionally friendly atmosphere for discussing solutions to economic challenges at the G20 summit in Brisbane, the Russian president said, dispelling rumors there were any confrontations.
"Our Australian partners created an exceptionally friendly working atmosphere, very heartfelt, I should say, that was conducive to finding solutions to the challenges faced by the global economy,” Putin said at a forum of the All-Russian People’s Front, adding that it was a pleasant surprise for him to see the warm reception of the Russian delegation from Australian citizens on the streets of Brisbane.
Answering a question about Abbott’s idea to “shirtfront” Putin over the downing of the MH17 jetliner, the Russian president said no such confrontation took place at the Brisbane summit.
"We had very constructive discussions of not only the themes that had brought us together, but some very grave issues involving the Malaysian Boeing. We discussed that in every detail. I can assure you that everything was decent and rather friendly," said the Russian leader.
Though many media outlets speculated that Putin had left the summit early, skipping a Sunday working breakfast because of an icy welcome at the G20, the Russian leader reiterated on Tuesday that practically all work had been finished by that time. “I addressed all sessions,” Putin said, adding: “Our stance was heard.”

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For Obama, Executive Order on Immigration Would Be a Turnabout

President Obama is poised to ignore stark warnings that executive action on immigration would amount to “violating our laws” and would be “very difficult to defend legally.”
Those warnings came not from Republican lawmakers but from Mr. Obama himself.
For years, he has waved aside the demands of Latino activists and Democratic allies who begged him to act on his own, and he insisted publicly that a decision to shield millions of immigrants from deportation without an act of Congress would amount to nothing less than the dictates of a king, not a president.
In a Telemundo interview in September 2013, Mr. Obama said he was proud of having protected the “Dreamers” — people who came to the United States illegally as young children — from deportation. But he also said that he could not apply that same action to other groups of people.
“If we start broadening that, then essentially I’ll be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” Mr. Obama told Jose Diaz-Balart in the interview. “So that’s not an option.”
But Mr. Obama is set to effectively reverse position from that statement and now says he believes that such actions can be “legally unassailable,” as a senior White House official put it last week. Mr. Obama is expected to announce plans soon to expand the program for Dreamers to shield up to five million people from deportation and provide work permits for many of them.
The president insisted over the weekend that he had not changed his position. During a news conference in Australia, he said that his earlier answers about the limits of his executive authority were prompted by people who asked him whether he could enact, by fiat, a bipartisan immigration bill that had passed the Senate, which would have provided a path to legalization for more of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants here.
“Getting a comprehensive deal of the sort that is in the Senate legislation, for example, does extend beyond my legal authorities,” Mr. Obama said Sunday. “There are certain things I cannot do.”
In fact, most of the questions that were posed to the president over the past several years were about the very thing that he is expected to announce within a matter of days: whether he could do something to reduce deportations and keep families together if Congress would not act.
The president was pressed on that very issue during a Google Hangout in February 2013. An activist asked whether he could do more to keep families from being “broken apart” while Congress remained gridlocked on immigration legislation.
“This is something that I have struggled with throughout my presidency,” Mr. Obama said. “The problem is, is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”
The president has at times hinted at his ability to make changes to the way immigration laws are enforced. In an interview in January 2013, Mr. Obama said that “we’ve got some discretion. We can prioritize what we do.” At a forum in March of this year, Mr. Obama talked about the need to focus enforcement on criminals and gang members, and not on others.
White House officials said Monday that the change in the president’s comments over the years reflects a change in emphasis, not a change in opinion. They said Mr. Obama’s previous comments emphasized the limits of his authority because at the time he was actively making the case for Congress to pass an immigration overhaul. Now, he emphasizes his ability to act.
Officials have said the president could announce a series of executive actions as early as this week. The move comes after a concerted lobbying campaign by immigration advocates demanding presidential action in the face of 400,000 deportations every year. And it reflects the president’s frustration that Republicans have blocked all efforts to pass immigration legislation.
At the news conference in Australia over the weekend, Mr. Obama implored Congress to pass a bill that would secure the border, revamp the legal immigration system and legalize many of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States.
“Give me a bill that addresses those issues,” he said at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Brisbane, Australia. “I’ll be the first one to sign it and, metaphorically, I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions that we take and we’ll toss them in the wastebasket.”
White House officials said the House speaker, John A. Boehner, made it clear that Republicans, who control both chambers in Congress next year, have no intention of passing a bill that the president could agree with. They note that Mr. Obama delayed any executive action throughout 2013 and 2014, hoping that Mr. Boehner would allow a vote in the House on a bipartisan bill that passed the Senate.
When that did not happen by the summer, officials said, Mr. Obama decided he should act on his own.
That decision puts the president in a different public posture from the one he offered in numerous interviews and speeches since 2010. In those settings, Mr. Obama was repeatedly urged to act on his own to reduce the number of families that were being separated by deportations. He rejected that idea and urged people to pressure Republicans in Congress to pass a bill.
In an immigration speech in San Francisco last November, protesters repeatedly interrupted the president, yelling, “Stop deportations!” Mr. Obama told the protesters that he respected their “passion,” but insisted that only Congress had the authority to do what they wanted.
“The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws,” he said. “And what I’m proposing is the harder path.”
And at a Town Hall in March of 2011, months before taking action to keep the Dreamers from being deported, Mr. Obama said the nation’s laws were clear enough “that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”
Republicans have seized on Mr. Obama’s past statements as evidence of what they call a shaky legal foundation for the president’s expected actions. In an email to reporters, the Republican National Committee on Monday asked, “When did we add a ‘politically convenient clause’ to the Constitution in the last four years?”
During the news conference, Mr. Obama said that in recent months he received legal advice from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. about the limits of what he could do to reshape the immigration system.
What seems clear is that the legal advice will support Mr. Obama’s current statements about his executive powers, not his previous ones.
“I would be derelict in my duties if I did not try to improve the system that everybody acknowledges is broken,” he said Sunday.

Obama stakes final 2 years on climate change

With limited time still in power, President Barack Obama is staking his final two years on climate change, pushing the issue to the front of his agenda as he seeks to leave an imprint on the world that will endure after he's gone.
It's a strategy rooted not only in Obama's long-stated concern about global warming, but also in political reality.
Two weeks ago, Obama watched his prospects for realizing his goals on education, wages and immigration all but evaporate as voters handed his party a stinging rebuke in the midterms, putting Republicans in full control of Congress for the remainder of his presidency. But on a trip last week to Asia and Australia, Obama sought — and found — fruitful opportunities to make a lasting difference on global warming.
In China, traditionally a U.S. adversary on environmental issues, Obama set an ambitious new target for cutting future U.S. emissions as part of a landmark deal in which China will also rein in pollution. In Australia, he pledged $3 billion to help poorer nations address changing temperatures while prodding Australia's prime minister to stop questioning the science of climate change.
"We're showing there's no excuse for other nations not to come together," Obama said in Brisbane, where he also pressed the issue with leaders of the world's 20 largest economies.
The emphasis on climate isn't all by choice.
Although Obama has long sought to rally action against climate change, White House aides say the issue has become even more attractive after the election because it's one where Obama has considerable leverage to act without Congress. Foreign policy is largely the domain of presidents, and at home, Obama has aggressively used his regulatory power to curb greenhouse gas emissions over fierce objections from Republicans and the energy industry.
"President Obama has made no secret that his climate crusade will proceed irrespective of what the American people want or what other global leaders caution," said Laura Sheehan of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which represents the coal industry.
Sheehan said Australia, whose prime minister rose to power promising to gut a hated carbon tax, is a "prime example" of lessons that some have learned but Obama has ignored. She warned the deal with Beijing, which allows China's emissions to keep increasing until 2030, will stall America's economy while China's continues to grow "thanks to affordable, reliable power."
Climate change advocates said the deal with China is paving the way for a successful global climate treaty that nations are aiming to finalize next year, because it ups the pressure on reluctant, developing nations like India. They argue a successful treaty is the world's best chance to avert the worst effects of global warming. Facing dim prospects for Senate ratification for a new treaty, the administration is considering strategies where the agreement could be labeled a voluntary expansion of a 1992 climate treaty, relying on joint political pressure to ensure countries comply with certain parts.
Yet on the domestic front, it's unclear how much more Obama can do alone.
Obama said his administration shaped its new goal to cut emissions at least 26 percent by 2025 based on existing legal authorities, rather than relying on future action from Congress. But Obama has already picked the low-hanging fruit: pollution limits on U.S. power plants and emissions standards for cars and trucks, to name the big ones.
Still, White House aides said Obama has enlisted his Cabinet secretaries to hunt for further steps he can take before the clock runs out on his presidency in early 2017. They pointed to increasing renewable fuels as one example. And on Monday, the White House launched a website— toolkit.climate.gov — to give state and local officials access to federal resources to combat the impact of global warming.
As Obama competed for a second term in the White House in 2012, he told his top aides he considered climate change to be a key piece of unfinished business, said Stephanie Cutter, his deputy campaign manager. If he won re-election, he told them, he would take on climate head-on.
"He sees climate policy as good economic and health policy, but also a moral obligation to future generations — including his own daughters," Cutter said.
Yet even some of Obama's existing steps could well be repealed by ascendant Republicans in Congress, who also have plans to stop the president from going any further. Republicans are finding common cause with many Democrats in trying to force Obama to approve Keystone XL, a proposed pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. And with the GOP set to take over the Senate in January, Republicans are already pursuing a concerted effort to gut his Environmental Protection Agency's rules on power plants, although Obama counselor John Podesta predicted they won't succeed.
"The president will complete action. It's a top priority of his," Podesta said Monday. "And I don't believe they can stop us from doing that."

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Afghanistan - Critics Say Aziz Remarks Worsen Pak-Afghan Relations

The recent remarks of Sartaj Aziz, the national security advisor to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, have provoked the anger of the Afghan government followed by huge criticisms from both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In an interview with BBC on Monday Aziz said that the militants who do not pose a threat to Pakistan's stability should not be targeted.
"Why should America's enemies unnecessarily become our enemies," Aziz said.
"We do not oppose the Afghan Taliban, it is an Afghan issue and we suggest Afghanistan to negotiate. We were supporting the Taliban during 90s, but not now, if they act against us, then we oppose them."
These controversial statements of Sharif's senior aide were followed by huge criticism by Afghans and his political rivals in Pakistan.
According to Pakistani politicians and analysts, such statements from Pakistan could further strain the relations between the two neighboring countries.
"Such statements, and that from a government official, can boldly impact the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Latif Faridi, a Pakistani analyst.
Another Pakistani analyst, Safdar Hayat, criticized Aziz's remarks resonating what Afridi said.
"Lately, the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan had improved, but such statements can again worsen the relations," Hayat said.
Meanwhile, the Police Chief of Kandahar Gen. Abdul Raziq, who has repeatedly accused Pakistan of backing insurgent groups, once again said that Pakistan is still interfering in Afghanistan, but warned that the Afghan forces are always ready to thwart the plans of Pakistan against Afghanistan.
"Pakistan has always carried out its overt interference into Afghanistan," Gen. Raziq said. "We and our security forces are ready to prevent the overt interference of Pakistan," he added, accusing the international community for ignoring Pakistan's aggression onto Afghan soil.
This comes as Maulana Fazl-ur Rahman, a Pakistani politician and pro-Taliban cleric, made a statement during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's visit to Islamabad that the war against foreigners in Afghanistan is legitimate.

Video - Malala Yousufzai address via video-link to the participants of the Malala Nobel Peace Prize Celebration


The number of people killed in Pakistan in terrorist attacks jumped by 37 percent in 2013, reflecting the rise of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its affiliated groups, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace
In its 2014 Global Terrorism Index, launched in London, the Australian-based research group reported there were 1,933 incidents in 2013, with 60 percent of the fatalities occurring due to bombings and explosions. “In 2013 there were 71 suicide attacks responsible for around 2,740 casualties,” it adds.
The report, which notes that over 80 percent of all global terror-related deaths occurred in just Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria, states that over 500 Pakistani cities had at least one terrorist incident in 2013, with “two or more incidents occurring in 180 cities.”
The Global Terrorism Index reports that there were almost 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44 percent increase on 2012. These attacks resulted in 17,958 fatalities, up from 11,133 in 2012. Iraq was found to be the country most affected by terrorism, recording a 164 percent rise in fatalities, to 6,362, with the Islamic State responsible for most of the deaths. Four groups: I.S., Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and the Taliban were blamed for 66 percent of all fatalities. But the report found that attacks had also increased in the rest of the world, with fatalities rising by half the previous figure, to 3,236 in 2013.
A total of 60 countries recorded deaths from terrorist attacks last year.
“Since we first launched the GTI in 2012, we’ve seen a significant and worrying increase in worldwide incidences of terrorism,” said Steve Killelea, executive chairman of IEP. “Over the last decade the increase in terrorism has been linked to radical Islamic groups whose violent theologies have been broadly taught. To counteract these influences, moderate forms of Sunni theologies need to be championed by Sunni Muslim nations,” he added.
Killelea urged leaders to reduce state-sponsored violence, reduce group grievances and improve community-supported policing to reduce the threat.
The report highlighted Angola, Bangladesh, Burundi, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Uganda as countries at increased risk from terror attacks. Despite the global spike, the report stressed that the risk to westerners remained slim.
According to its figures, a person in Britain was 188 times more likely to be victim of a murder, and in the U.S. 64 times more likely.

Pakistan - Malala addresses Nobel Peace Prize Celebration in Peshawar

maldsa9udasi0d by dailyvidz1 To bring change in our society, requires immense struggle, said Malala Yousufzai in her address via video-link to the participants of the Malala Nobel Peace Prize Celebration event at the Nishat Hall in Peshawar.
She told participants that women were deprived of their rights, adding that times have changed and women know what their rights are. For a society to prosper, its women must be educated, she said.
She reiterated her dream, that every child should have a book and pen. In order to spread the message of education we all must work together, she told the audience.
Addressing the ceremony, Awami National Party (ANP) General Secretary Iftikhar Hussain said, that his people are not scared of danger, adding that they know how to defend themselves. Hussain said, if Malala is being appreciated across the world, it is a matter of pride for us.
Iftikhar Hussain said, through education, Malala’s mission of a peaceful Pakistan can be achieved. He concluded that he will fight to fulfill Malala’s mission till his last breath.

Pakistan's Tahirul Qadri ends alliance with Imran Khan's party

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) has parted ways with Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), PAT chief Tahirul Qadri said Tuesday.
Addressing a party convention, Qadri said: “Those who are part of status quo and involved in corruption cannot become our allies.”
He said that the parties have different programmes, according to a Geo News report.
Qadri alleged that formation of a joint investigation team for probing the Model Town tragedy was a futile practice.
He said that the Punjab government has not arrested a single suspect in connection with the incident.
The cleric called for capital punishment for those involved in spreading sectarian hatred and claimed that the situation could be improved only after the “execution of some people”.
He said that both the civilian and military governments had never helped common people in Pakistan.
“We have never seen democracy in Pakistan for even a single day,” the PAT chief lamented.
Fourteen people, including women, were killed and dozens injured when clashes between PAT supporters and the police took place at the Minhajul Quran secretariat in Lahore's Model Town suburb June 17.

Pakistan: Kot Radha Kishan lynching: Family being pressured to withdraw case

Relatives of the Kot Radha Kishan lynching victims say they are facing threats and being pressured into withdrawing the case. The family members told a press conference on Monday that they were being offered land and money as compensation for the murders of Shama and Shehzad Masih. Shehzad’s brother Shahbaz Masih and his wife Parveen Masih demanded that the government provide them with protection. They said they had already informed the Kasur district police officer of the threats.
They also demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the mob violence incident. The family said that minority representatives should be included in the joint investigation team (JIT) assigned to the case.
“All we want is fair investigation of the case,” said Shahbaz, while demanding that Justice Waheed Saddiqui, a retired Federal Shariat Court judge, be included in judicial commission members.
They called for the commission and the JIT to make their reports publicly available immediately after completion of the inquiry.
Shahbaz also urged the Supreme Court take suo moto notice and order an inquiry into the attack.
Pakistan Interfaith League (PIL) Chairman Sajid Ishaq said that it was a test case for the country as government itself is a complainant in the case. “The government registered the case, terming the allegations of blasphemy false and baseless,” he said.
He demanded exemplary punishment for the culprits so that no one misuses religion as an excuse to ‘resolve’ personal enmities in the future. He said, “If the perpetrators of Gojra, Joseph Colony and the Rimsha Masih case had been punished, no one would have dared to burn Shehzad and his wife.” He said the victims’ family was feeling insecure and fearing another extremist attack. “We want the government to relocate the family to a safer place to protect them from the people pressuring them,” said Ishaq.
PIL Executive Director Nazia Ansari said it was time the government took steps to check the incidence of mob violence in blasphemy cases.

Pakistan - Asif Ali Zardari - Terrorist ideology must be defeated

Former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said here on Monday that defeating the ideology of terrorists was necessary to win the battle against militancy, DawnNews reported.
Mr Zardari, who was addressing a press conference, said the international community woke up too late to combat the menace of militancy.
The PPP leader said he had highlighted several times at international forums that the world was losing the war against terrorism.
“Terrorism cannot be defeated by simply fighting militants…the mindset has to be defeated as well,” he said.
“Our party, the Pakistan People’s Party, has sacrificed the most in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Speaking about the political situation in Pakistan, he expressed the hope that the current government would complete its five-year tenure.
“We fought against dictatorship for ten years and for the restoration of democracy.
“For the first time in Pakistan’s history a democratic government completed its term,” he said.
Mr Zardari said he wanted to complete the mission of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan's blasphemy law is a licence to kill with impunity

Nasir Saeed
The murder of Christian couple Shama and Shahzad Masih because of a blasphemy accusation against them came as the world was already condemning Asia Bibi's death sentence.
It may be seen as just another incident by the Pakistani government, but it cannot be dismissed so easily by the rest of the world - it raised the alarm and levels of aprehension are high.
While the damage to the country's image cannot be undone, but further damage can be avoided if the government is seen to be taking the matter seriously.
This incident has not just exposed Pakistan's treatment of its non-Muslim citizens, but also the prevailing hatred against them. Extremism and hate of religious minorities, especially Christians, has permeated Pakistani society and is devouring it from the inside. The Pakistani government, Ulemas, politicians, law enforcement agencies and judiciary are all equally responsible for what happed to the Christian couple. All the condemnation, statements by the Prime Minister that there will be no mercy shown to the killers, all the fatwas and all the compensation made by the Punjab Chief Minister, are futile if lessons are not learned, and if there is still no will to treat the causes.
There is a history of such attacks against Christians in Pakistan. If the powers that be so desired, they could put an end to them. But I am not very hopeful that they will. It is being suggested that had the perpetrators of previous incidents been punished, this incident could have been avoided. Instead, the government's inaction and silence is encouraging people to take the law into their own hands. Mob justice and vigilante killing are becoming dangerously popular. A large number of Ulemas have demanded punishment for those responsible, but this alone will not prevent the growing hate against Christians. Christianity is still largest religion in the world and the world is concerned about Christians in Pakistan, but it is not just the Christians, all those who believe in humanity and equality regardless of religion and race sympathise with them. We shouldn't forget the role of Christians in the making of Pakistan for services in the fields of education and medicine. There was time when almost 60 per cent of the population studied at Christian schools and colleges. This is the time to revisit our thoughts and treatment towards Pakistani minorities. Mere statements of condemnation won't work anymore. In today's world where religion is considered a personal matter and a basic human right, and religious freedom is protected and guaranteed, such atrocious acts of killing in the name of religion are beyond imagination in a civilized world, and yet they regularly happen to Christians. The continuous misuse of blasphemy law, killing in the name of religion, and treatment of religious minorities is very grave, and Pakistan may have to face the consequences if the situation persists. General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto both tried to bring changes to the blasphemy law but failed. I strongly believe that present Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif can and should do this, if not for the minorities or the world, but for Pakistan itself.

Pakistan's Shia Genocide: Shia students, driver martyred in roadside blast in Parachinar

A Shia student including a girl and a driver were martyred and five other students wounded in a roadside explosion near a school van in Nasti Kot area of Kurram tribal region’s Parachinar district early on Tuesday.
Takfiri terrorists of ASWJ-TTP planted a roadside bomb totarget innocent Shia students.
Political administration officials said that an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was planted on the roadside and detonated as the school van passed nearby.
The driver of the van and a child were killed in the explosion whereas several others were wounded. Officials added that the school van was completely destroyed in the blast.
Emergency and security teams reached the blast site.
The injured students were shifted to a agency headquarters hospital for treatment.
Kurram agency, which is close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, is one of the seven regions in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), governed by tribal laws.

Pakistan - The 25 million missing students

S M Naseem
The state’s responsibility to provide basic education underpins all major efforts to universalise elementary education from industrial Europe to the US and Japan.
A recent report by an NGO funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), run by a journalist/television personality/former diplomat/USAID contractor, on the state of elementary education in Pakistan has made the seemingly earth-shaking revelation that 25 million children, or roughly 50 percent of the children of schoolgoing age are not in schools. The report, titled ‘25 million broken promises’, is an obvious allusion to Article 25-A of the Pakistan Constitution promising the right to education “to all children of age five to 16 years”. It has used available data sources, none of which is tailored to the task at hand, to come to a conclusion in the hope of shocking the nation out of its slumber about a glaring aspect of our social dystopia.
The 25 million figure, although lacking validation by demographers on technical grounds, is itself not particularly disputable. For more than two decades since Dr Mehboobul Haq raised the banner of human development under UN auspices, a slew of statistics showing the gaping gulf between economic and social development in South Asia, especially Pakistan, has failed to move people out of their comfort zone. Indeed, if anything, it has inured the country through a stunningly potent mixture of “complacency and bureaucracy”, compounded by self-serving donor initiatives and NGO collaborations that prefer to sweep basic structural issues under the rug for the sake of not disturbing the status quo. Such complacency and inertia has resulted in the explosion of a middle-class intifada (uprising) in the country.
The state of economic and social accounting in Pakistan is among a myriad scandals that continue to plague and undermine the country’s economic management, which is often predicated on the need to embellish its performance to please donors or to fool the public rather than face ground realities. However, there is a high degree of consensus that the percentage of the population below the poverty line — which this author first estimated at 40 percent more than four decades ago — has increased considerably since then; some estimates put it at above two-thirds, depending on how one chooses to define poverty.
Lack of education is an important correlate of poverty and there is likely to be close correspondence between households that are very poor and those whose children are out of school. In order to provide clarity on the issue, the report needed to elaborate more on the various definitions of schooling and distinctions between the qualities of schools. If the idea is to focus on the right to education with a basic minimum quality of education, if not a uniform quality of education for all, a large number of those children supposedly in schools, especially poor schools, will have to be counted as out of school. The report ought to have focused on this aspect of the disparity in access to education, rather than simply counting those who, through some stretch of the imagination, can be said to be going to ‘school’.
In a rejoinder to the distinguished demographer Zeba Sattar, the authors of the Alif-Ailaan Report, Ms Naz and Ms Pastakia, admit: “The data is flawed. Publicly available sources for education statistics are marred by inconsistency, methodological problems and sampling issues.” If true, one wonders why the authors and the parent NGO and donors spent so much effort, resources and time on a task that could have been much more competently performed by a research-oriented organisation such as the planning commission, the ministry of education or many other organisations much better equipped than an ad hoc advocacy group, headed by a non-academic contractor and funded by donor agencies that have multiple political axes to grind.
Despite the furore about raising awareness about education in Pakistan, the social apathy towards education remains unabated and public concern remains largely synthetic and confined to a narrow section of the educated population. The emphasis on the constitutional underpinnings of the right to education influences the manner of its delivery, making it the state’s primary responsibility. The idea of basic education as a public good is universally accepted because of the positive externalities provision entails. This is particularly true where poverty, economic deprivation and social exclusion make it difficult for large sections of the population to access private education, an elixir that is being strongly advocated by some influential persons. Some argue that “in future the government should not set up its own schools but fund the private provision of education so that children get free schooling”. The argument is based on the fact that “compared with 45,000 government schools in Punjab there are more than 60,000 private schools”, which they take as evidence “that the parents have been voting with their feet” and rejecting the services provided by the government. Perhaps it would be more apt to substitute purses for feet and protesting against the abdication of its responsibility as a reason for the lower proportion of government schools and the upsurge in the number of private schools.
The state’s responsibility to provide basic education underpins all major efforts to universalise elementary education from industrial Europe to the US and Japan. In the second half of the 20th century, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other economies in East Asia and more recently Vietnam and Malaysia followed similar plans for state-funded general expansions of education. With the exception of Sri Lanka, neo-colonised South Asia has failed to achieve universal literacy and education, with part of the gap being filled by religious schools. In Pakistan, during the Bhutto regime an ill-conceived attempt to step up the state’s role in education by nationalising schools backfired in the absence of any increase in the funding for education. After Zia’s coup, the nationalisation policy was reversed, giving school privatisation a big boost. This trend gained further impetus through the structural adjustment programmes of donors, who pushed the agenda of private education and a minimalist role for the state, not only in economic but also social fields. After the enactment of Article 25-A, the government, instead of mobilising more public resources for education and social sectors, is eager to outsource its responsibility to the private and NGO sectors, which is likely to make the goal of universalising education even more remote.
The omission of these and many other institutional issues, including that of the continuing feudal hold in the countryside and of land mafias in the urban areas as well as the gaping inequalities in our economic system, make the Alif Ailan report sound like a hollow drum. Alif Ailan’s alarming numbers and bad news about out-of-school children are likely to fall on the deaf ears of those they intend to shock. However, those who matter remain largely unmoved, if not openly or consciously hostile to the idea of universal primary education.