Friday, November 28, 2014

Music Video - Fifth Harmony - Sledgehammer

Analysis: Middle Eastern states struggle to maintain current order and control of territory

Divided sectarian societies with traditional tribal culture, Arab uprisings, non-state actors such as Islamic State and al-Qaida, social media and even world powers, are contributing to the weakening of states in the Middle East. All this is increasingly significant as they struggle to build fences, put down uprisings and maintain their territorial integrity.
The definition of a state is “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory,” according to Max Weber, in his 1918 lecture “Politics as a Vocation.”

How many Middle Eastern states can claim to meet such criteria? Not many. Perhaps Israel, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and some others can say that they monopolize the use of force in their states.

Others such as Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Egypt are wracked with internal divisions and violence from opposing groups, and it seems to have gotten worse since the “Arab Spring” began.

However, even within the states that are deemed stable for the most part, controlling the use of force in their territories, violence and disputes are still on the fringes.

For example, even Israel persistently deals with controlling its territory, building a fence on its southern border with Egypt to stem the tide of illegal immigrants and other terrorist infiltrations.

Egypt is dealing with a similar problem on its side of the border, and its battle against an Islamist insurgency in Sinai that has spread into other cities perpetually tests the state.

Saudi Arabia has increased its forces on its northern border with Iraq and is strengthening its fence system there. In addition, tensions are emanating from its Shi’ite population and Islamist groups.

Islamic State’s control of swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, the growing independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and porous borders between Syria and all its neighbors, are just some of the recent evidence of the weakening of the Middle Eastern states.

Israel continues to consider building hi-tech guarded fences along its other borders, though it still seems vulnerable to tunnels penetrating from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in the North.

Attacks and rockets by terrorist groups as well as riots by Israeli Arabs test Israel’s hold on absolute power, but do not threaten it.

Turkey is another example of a state that is largely controlling force within its territory with some exceptions in Kurdish areas and along its border with Syria, where rebels consistently cross back and forth, though perhaps with some kind of government coordination or approval.

Elijah J. Magnier, the chief international correspondent for the Kuwaiti-based Al-Rai newspaper, told The Jerusalem Post that regional players are faced with the necessity to unite their forces and put their struggles on the side to face Islamist groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Even “enemies like Iran and Saudi Arabia are united today” to defeat Islamic State, he said.

“Therefore, the war on Islamic State is strengthening rather than weakening the regional relationships,” said Magnier, pointing out that Saudi Arabia is sending an ambassador back to Baghdad after 11 years.

Middle East Quarterly editor Prof. Efraim Karsh, a Middle East scholar at King’s College in London and at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Ramat Gan, told the Post, “The main impetus for Middle East developments is indigenous rather than external, including the delineation of the post- World War I borders, where the Hashemites played a crucial role – Jordan and Iraq were established on their behalf.”

Asked if Western policy in the region is promoting the breakdown of state borders, Karsh responded, “The West’s ability to shape the region is limited, but still there,” adding that it served as a catalyst for the disintegration of Iraq by toppling former leader Saddam Hussein.

The West’s failure in establishing a new government after the 2003 invasion of Iraq is more evidence of the West’s limitations, he said.

World powers cannot “control the scope and nature of resurgent Islam, are too timid to go all the way with Iran, restrain Turkey’s resurgent neo-Islamism or even to force the Palestinians to accept Israel’s existence.”

“So, in the final account,” according to Karsh, “the staying and/or disintegration of certain states will depend on how well these states handle their formidable challenges, not what the West does or does not do.”

As for the importance of social media in mobilizing society, Karsh commented, “I believe the impact of the social media, Internet and latest technological gadgets on the recent upheavals in the Middle East has been grossly overrated.”

“The nation-state in the Middle East is an idea that bristles with difficulties. Not only is the idea of a nation itself by no means simple and straightforward... but also the very notion of a state is quite difficult to fit into the political thought that is traditional to the Middle East, namely, Muslim political thought,” wrote the Middle East historian Elie Kedourie in an article, “The Nation-State in the Middle East,” published in 1987.

“The European state is an importation, at variance with Middle Eastern traditions,” he wrote.

And so Kedourie raises the dilemma that the region’s states have been struggling with since their creation – their own legitimacy.

It was the Sykes-Picot Agreement reached during World War I that first charted out how to partition the Ottoman Empire. The British and French carved up the region according to their interests, not paying adequate attention to ethnic groups. But it was local parties, that shaped how the modern map of the Middle East turned out.

“As I argued on numerous occasions, the contemporary Arab state system has been predicated on shaky foundations from the outset, going directly from a traditional imperial order – Ottoman – to a neo-imperial mode – pan-Arabism – without passing through the necessary stage of nation and state building, as Europe, for example, did.”

Such a process would allow Middle Eastern societies “to transcend their parochial loyalties and develop modern-day state nationalisms and civil societies.”

Instead, these societies have maintained a deeply devout existence until this very day, “refusing to substitute their millenarian supremacist identity for the imagined ‘Arab Nation.’” “The deadly combination of local patriotism and religious zeal may well lead to the disintegration of certain states,” said Karsh.

“Confronted with the first major opportunity to go ‘back to the future’ and reestablish the region’s core religious underpinnings, they did so, hence the sweeping Islamic resurgence.”

Karsh countered, “As a matter of fact, the Sykes-Picot Agreement did not shape the form of the contemporary Middle East, as even a casual glance at the map would reveal.”

“The vast Arab empire it envisaged never materialized, its designated territory being divided between the present-day states of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan [later Jordan], Israel, as well as the Palestinian Authority,” he argued. “Conversely, Turkey emerged from the war a significantly larger country than the truncated state it was intended to be.”

“That the Sykes-Picot Agreement has come to be associated with the much maligned borders of the post-World War I Middle East, is a direct result of propaganda by the Hashemites and their Western champions, articulated most forcefully in George Antonius’s 1938 The Arab Awakening – unquestioningly adopted by generations of academics, politicians and pundits.”

And consequently the weakening of Middle Eastern states continues to be driven by local dynamics as the traditional states seek to fend off challenges from non-state actors such as Islamic State while keeping their own populations at bay

Man dies after shooting at Mexican consulate, other sites in Texas capital

A man apparently upset about U.S. immigration policy was fatally shot early on Friday after firing more than 100 rounds of ammunition at the Mexican consulate, a U.S. federal courthouse and police headquarters in the Texas capital, police said.
The suspect, whose name was not immediately released, was an Austin man in his 50s who had a criminal history, police said.
Police said they were investigating whether he died of a self-inflicted wound or from a shot fired by a mounted officer who was bringing horses into a stable near police headquarters. No one else was injured in the incident, police said.
"The sergeant was right there getting ready to put the horses away for the night," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. "As he held two horses with one hand, he discharged at least one round with a single-handed shot."
The suspect also tried to set fire to the Mexican consulate, police said. In a statement, the Mexican Foreign Ministry expressed its "deep concern and condemnation of the incident."
Acevedo said the targets indicated the attack may have been over U.S. immigration policy.
"When you look at the national debate right now about immigration, that ... comes to mind. Sometimes our political discourse becomes very heated and sometimes very angry," Acevedo told reporters.
President Barack Obama this month imposed the most sweeping U.S. immigration changes in a generation, easing the threat of deportation for some 4.7 million illegal immigrants.
Police said they received a call at 2:22 a.m. about shots being fired in downtown Austin. The three buildings were hit in a shooting spree that lasted a few minutes.

No bombs were found on the suspect or in his vehicle, Acevedo told CNN. Police said they also were examining the man's home in north Austin.

Music Video - Hilary Duff - Chasing the Sun

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Turkish Newspaper Slams Media Ban on Corruption Inquiry

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily released an official statement after media were banned from covering a parliamentary inquiry into a major corruption scandal.
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily on Friday released an official statement questioning a recent media ban on covering a parliamentary inquiry into a major corruption scandal.
"Until recently, publication bans were just an unpleasant memory for senior journalists who were on duty during the era of military regimes. In 2014, however, such bans have returned as a practice of our day, not only the past the ban on reporting the parliamentary commission's work to investigate corruption allegations, given by a civilian judge, is a first in this regard," the newspaper's statement said.
The newspaper underlines that the bans make a mockery of the government's declared position of expanding freedoms and advancing democracy, continuing in this vein by stating that democracy can only exist in an atmosphere of openness, and that it is a human right to be informed.
The journalists of Hurriyet Daily urge Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to resolve this issue and free Turkey of an image as a "country of bans."
On Tuesday a court in Ankara banned Turkish media organizations from reporting on an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into corruption allegations concerning four former ministers of the Turkish cabinet so as to "prevent damage to the individual rights." The decision came days before the ex-ministers began testifying before the court.
In December 2013, Turkey carried out an anti-corruption operation, as a result of which many officials, businessmen and their relatives were detained in suspicion of fraud, bribery and abuse of power. Four ministers were accused of corruption — Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler, EU Affairs Minister Affairs Egemen Bagıs and Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar. All four resigned.

Ukraine Must Confront Its Corruption Problem

While the war in Ukraine's east again threatens to explode into open conflict, Kiev is simultaneously fighting an even greater impediment to Ukraine's long-term stability: endemic corruption.
According to the most recent figures from international corruption watchdog Transparency International, Ukraine was ranked 144 out of 177 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index, placing Ukraine at the bottom of the rankings — tied with Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria and others.
While Ukrainian government graft is widespread, public procurement corruption tops the list of challenges that the government in Kiev must confront. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has stated that Ukraine's government makes about $25 billion in purchases in state purchases yearly, 40 percent of which — or $10 billion — is lost through graft.
"Public procurement is the most problematic sector where corruption is rife. Sometimes for certain things, the level of corruption in a tender can be up to 40 to 50 percent," said Sergiy Gula, a government procurement expert at Transparency International Ukraine.
"The most common type of corruption in government tenders is either unlawful use of a single party or an associated company — a fictional competition or tender is won by a predetermined firm, even with the worst and most expensive proposal," Gula said.
Corruption in the purchase of drugs for HIV/AIDs uncovered by the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kiev supports Gula's point. In a typical scheme, several companies controlled by one owner "compete" with each other to win millions of public funds. The end result of drug corruption procurement is that only 43 percent of HIV-infected patients obtain the drugs they need.
Another recent example of associated party procurement was the 2011 purchase by state-owned energy company Naftogaz of an offshore drilling rig for $400 million — a rig sold everywhere else on the world market for $250 million. In the Naftogaz case, the only two bidders — Highway Investment Processing LLP and Falcona Systems Ltd — were both nominally owned by two Latvian citizens.
What should Kiev do to clean up Ukrainian government procurement? A recent law passed by Ukraine's parliament creating an anti-corruption agency is a start. The law requires all Ukrainian public officials to file public declarations of their incomes and assets, which could help ferret out government employees who have benefited from procurement corruption schemes.
Although this new law is a successful step toward reform, Ukraine should implement further measures that specifically target public procurement corruption. According to Alexandra Ustinova of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, purchasing by state enterprises remains very opaque, as 90 percent of state companies still do not provide any public information on their procurements, ensuring that the process remains wide open to graft.
To increase public procurement transparency, Ukraine's new government could imitate Chile. In 2003, the Chilean government created ChileCompra, an e-commerce platform that places all government procurement information such as tenders, awards, bidding processes, and rules and regulations in a single online portal.
According to a study from the United Nations Development Program, the creation of ChileCompra has dramatically increased transparency in government procurement by ensuring that all government purchases remain arms-length transactions between buyers and sellers, thereby reducing the opportunities for corruption. Ukraine should implement its own version of ChileCompra and ensure it includes both state enterprises as well as government agencies.
Given the scale of procurement corruption in Ukraine, however, Kiev should take one more step even beyond creating a Ukrainian version of ChileCompra. Ukraine should take the radical step of outsourcing the procurement by any central government or state-owned companies of all goods and services worth more than $100,000.
An NGO, which we'll call — for the sake of argument — the Ukrainian Procurement Authority could be established. The Procurement Authority would reside entirely outside any Ukrainian government ministry and be composed of nongovernment employees. Any tender or purchase of good and services above $100,000 by any government entity would be overseen by the outside Procurement Authority.
Here's an example of how this could work. Naftogaz needs million of dollars worth of new gas pipeline equipment. Rather than leaving the tender specifications to be drawn up entirely by Naftogaz staff, Procurement Authority employees would first need to sign off on all of the language in the tender to ensure that it is not designed — or "scoped" to use typical procurement language — to favor one bidder.
Once all bids are received, Procurement Authority staff would oversee the evaluation committee to select the winning bidder. Although the evaluation committee's decision would be determined by majority vote, a Procurement Authority employee would need to provide final approval of the committee's decision — in affect giving this person a veto over any decision made by Naftogaz employees with which he or she disagreed. Finally, a contracts officer or lawyer from the Procurement Authority would need to sign off on the final contract between Naftogaz and the winning bidder.
To ensure the complete independence and incorruptibility of the new Procurement Authority, it should initially be funded in full — including staff salaries — by donors such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Western governments. All staff hired would receive a minimum salary of $1,000 per month, and technical assistance would be provided by Western expatriates with expertise in government procurement from across a wide variety of economic sectors.
Based on my experience at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where I managed a portfolio of economic reform technical assistance projects in the former Soviet Union, some rough cost estimates can be made. If we assume an initial employee base of 200 Ukrainians and 20 expatriate procurement experts, the cost to fund the Procurement Authority would come to about $10 million per year.
Although Ustinova noted that Ukrainian legislation does not currently allow for the participation of NGOs such as my proposed Procurement Authority, Western donors should require this legislation to be updated as a firm condition for further aid to Ukraine. While Ukraine signed a $17 million loan agreement with the IMF last April, experts now foresee Ukraine requiring a further $19 billion in assistance in 2015, giving Western donors unprecedented leverage over Kiev.
In this context, a five-year donor commitment to underwrite the costs of the new Procurement Authority comes out to $50 million, or about 0.25 percent of the aid Kiev may need — a small price to pay if this saves Ukraine billions of dollars per year.
Does my proposal require the Ukrainian government to outsource a substantial piece of its sovereignty to a foreign-funded NGO? Absolutely, and that's the whole point. The Ukrainian state has been by far the greatest impediment to the country's success, and therefore solutions to Ukraine's problems are most likely to come from civil society organizations such as the Anti-Corruption Action Center rather than the government.
Put simply, after nearly 25 years of incompetent and predatory governance, Ukraine needs complete reform, not mere tinkering around the edges, and before making a further $19 billion commitment to Kiev — a commitment ultimately underwritten by Western taxpayers — donors should ensure that Ukraine is well and truly on the path to reform.

​E-cigarettes contain 10 times the carcinogens of regular tobacco – study

Electronic cigarettes contain up to 10 times more cancer-causing substances than regular tobacco, according to the latest study by Japanese scientists.
A team of researchers from the Japanese Health Ministry examined the vapor, finding carcinogens like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The former was found in quantities exceeding traditional cigarettes by 10 times.
"Especially when the... wire (which vaporizes the liquid) gets overheated, higher amounts of those harmful substances seemed to be produced," researcher Naoki Kunugita said.
Kunugita wanted to raise awareness about the fact that “some makers are selling such products for dual use (with tobacco) or as a gateway for young people" to start a smoking habit.
E-cigarettes are largely represented as a safe way of smoking, not harmful to one’s health.
The report was submitted on Thursday by Kunugita and his team at the National Institute of Public Health, AFP reported. Japan’s Health Ministry stated that it is examining the results to develop ways to regulate e-cigarettes.
The researchers analyzed several kinds of e-cigarette fluid, using a special ‘puffing’ machine that inhaled 10 of 15 puffs of vapor.
E-cigarettes work by heating flavored liquid, which often contains nicotine, and creating a vapor.
AFP Photo/ Joe Raedle
AFP Photo/ Joe Raedle

Since they appeared in 2003, invented by a Chinese pharmacist in Beijing, their use has skyrocketed into a market worth about $3 billion. Bloomberg Industries say sales of e-cigarettes will exceed those of traditional cigarettes by 2047.
Japan, like many other countries, doesn’t regulate electronic cigarettes, so they can easily be bought online, but are not available in shops sometimes.
In August, the World Health Organization urged the governments to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, saying the devices represent a “serious threat” to unborn babies and young people.
The WHO also called to ban e-cigarettes in indoor spaces.
A month later, France introduced a ban on smoking electronic cigarettes in schools, on public transport, and in enclosed workplaces.
E-cigarettes have just been banned in Punjab, India, in an attempt to curb smoking, especially in educational institutions.
Earlier this year, US health authorities said that the number of young people who have tried e-cigarettes tripled from 2011 to 2013.

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Most Americans With HIV Aren't Treated


Only 3 in 10 people with HIV have the virus in check. Young people have the worst results.

Community Health Educator Nanah Fofanah helps guide a man through a free oral HIV test inside the Whitman-Walker Health mobile testing vehicle on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day near the Anacostia Metro station Feb. 7, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
A community health educator administers a free oral HIV test in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 7, 2013. Fewer than half of 18- to 24-year olds with HIV have been diagnosed, according to the CDC. 
Young American adults with HIV are the least likely age group to have the virus under control, with only 13 percent receiving medications that suppress the virus that causes AIDS, says a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers, who used data from 2011, note that just fewer than half of 18- to 24-year olds with HIV have been diagnosed, which they say underscores the need for more HIV testing in this population.
“It’s alarming that fewer than half of HIV-positive young adults know they are infected,” Dr. Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said in a statement.  “Closing that gap could have a huge impact on controlling HIV – knowing your status is the first critical step toward taking care of your own health and avoiding transmission to others.”
HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, kills or damages the body's immune system cells, which protect people against diseases. HIV is spread most often through unprotected sex with an infected person, but can also be spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of someone who is infected. Women can also give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth. The most advanced stage of infection with HIV is AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. When not treated, the virus can be fatal. 
But people who are infected and take antiretroviral medications can suppress the virus, allowing them to live a normal lifespan and reducing the risk of transmission to others. Treatment has been shown to reduce sexual transmission of HIV by 96 percent, and U.S. clinical guidelines now recommend that everyone diagnosed with HIV receive treatment at the time they are diagnosed. 
HIV medicines help people with HIV/AIDS live longer
Medical care and antiviral medications help people live longer. 
CDC considers the virus to be an epidemic, and Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, calls it a "very significant health threat." One million people live with the disease in the U.S., and 50,000 more are infected each year. Other than helping individuals infected with the virus live healthier lives, treatment greatly reduces HIV transmission, Frieden says.
Results from the study were grim for the general population. Just 30 percent of Americans with HIV had the virus under control in 2011, and approximately two-thirds of those whose virus was out of control had been diagnosed but were no longer receiving care. 
HIV stages of care provided by the CDC
Care for people with HIV/AIDS
The Vital Signs report, published Tuesday by the CDC, did not find statistically significant differences in viral suppression by race or ethnicity, sex or risk group. "This is encouraging and reflects a strong national effort," says Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
The efforts are an essential component of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, launched in 2010.  Key goals of the strategy include reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.
A key finding in the study shows treatment increases with age. The percentage of those who had the virus under control: 
  • 23 percent among those aged 25-34 
  • 27 percent among those aged 35-44
  • 34 percent among those aged 45-54
  • 36 percent among those aged 55-64
  • 37 percent among those aged 65 and older
“There is untapped potential to drive down the epidemic through improved testing and treatment, but we’re missing too many opportunities,” Mermin said in a statement. "Treatment is crucial.  It is one of our most important strategies for stopping new HIV infections."
In 2011, it was found that 40 percent of people living with HIV received regular HIV medical care, and that 37 percent of people living with HIV are prescribed HIV medications. 
Across ages, of those receiving medical care for HIV, 92 percent are prescribed HIV medications and 76 percent achieve viral suppression. 
About 14 per cent of people who have HIV do not know it because they have never been diagnosed. 
Among the nearly 840,000 people who had not achieved viral suppression, the following data were released:
  • 66 percent had been diagnosed but were not engaged in regular HIV care
  • 20 percent did not yet know they were infected
  • 4 percent were engaged in care but not prescribed antiretroviral treatment
  • 10 percent were prescribed antiretroviral treatment but did not achieve viral suppression 
Mermin says some people have difficulty getting the care they need because they do not know where to go or have trouble accessing care. Others have life circumstances, such as poverty, homelessness or substance abuse, that make it difficult to seek HIV care and testing, he says. 
Abstinence is the only certain way to get rid of the risk of HIV, Frieden says, but reducing the number of sexual partners can also reduce the rate. 
"For people living with HIV, it’s not just about knowing you’re infected – it’s also about going to the doctor for medical care,” Frieden said in a statement  “And for health care facilities, it’s not just about the patients in your care – it’s every person diagnosed, and every person whose diagnosis has not yet been made. Key to controlling the nation’s HIV epidemic is helping people with HIV get connected to – and stay in – care and treatment, to suppress the virus, live longer and help protect others.”

U.S.A. - A legal immigrant’s plea for understanding

By Fareed Zakaria

Opponents of President Obama’s recent action on immigration — and of any kind of legalization policy for undocumented workers — often argue that these initiatives are not fair to America’s legal immigrants. These people, it is said, played by the rules, followed the law, paid their taxes and are horrified to see people rewarded who did the opposite. I’m sure some legal immigrants feel this way, but not many. A poll released this weekshows that 89 percent of registered Hispanic voters approve of Obama’s action.
Why is this? I can only speak for myself. As a legal immigrant, I don’t harbor any ill will toward those who came into this country illegally. To be clear, I don’t approve of breaking the law. I think the stream of border crossings should be slowed to a trickle, and I favor immigration reform that would secure the borders, substantially reduce the numbers who come in via “family unification,” substantially increase the quotas for skilled workers and allow a small guest worker program. My views on immigration are in the middle of the political spectrum. But I don’t view illegal immigrants with any hostility.
My path to citizenship was long and complex. I first knew that I wanted to become an American in 1984, when I was a sophomore in college. But the only way to realize this dream was to stay on my existing legal track, which was a student visa, and then work toward the next one. I went through two student visas and a “practical training” permit, which allowed me to work for 18 months. Then I needed sponsorship for a work visa, something my employer had never undertaken and was wary of. I offered to pay the legal fees myself, a fifth of my annual salary. That got me an H-1B visa, and after a few years, I could apply for a green card. After five years on a green card, and with no legal problems, all taxes paid and having passed a civics test, I applied for citizenship. I was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in June 2001 — 17 years after I began thinking about it.
And yet, I don’t mind that some people who crossed the Mexican border one night a few years ago might get legal status soon. I was playing by the rules because I knew the rules, understood how they worked, figured out what I could do to advance my cause within them and waited patiently through that process. I was fortunate enough to have had a good education, strong English-language skills and other tools that made it easy for me to navigate the maze that is legal immigration. Most of the people who come to the country illegally are much less fortunate, have fewer options and lack the knowledge or the capacity to slot themselves into the system.
They know one thing: They want to get to the United States. They try to come here on pain of death, sometimes attempting to cross the border several times before they finally get in. Once here, they work long hours, picking fruit in 100-degree weather, building homes, cleaning hotel rooms or taking care of infants. They are usually taken advantage of by employers who know they have no legal recourse. They avoid getting into trouble with police because they know that would mean deportation. They save money and send it back home to their families. I look at these people and think they should not have broken the law. But the society that allowed them to stay for years, employed them and used them is also somewhat complicit in their status.
As we watch the advanced industrial countries around the world get older, slower and less inventive, it seems clear that the toughest problem for the rich world is how to infuse their already-prosperous societies with drive and determination. The United States gains enormously from its millions of young immigrants who were desperate to come here and determined to find their American dream. They were willing to take huge risks and work furiously with the hope that they could make a life in this new land. These people should be considered natural Americans. And one day, they will be.

U.S. - The New G.O.P. Showdown Threat

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama announced with great gravity the other day that Republicans had decided not to impeach President Obama over his plan to allow millions of immigrants to remain in this country without fear of deportation through his executive authority. But that concession is not the end of the matter. He is planning much more serious mischief: using Congress’s power of the purse to pressure the White House into backing off.
Condemning the immigration action as “unlawful,” Mr. Sessions says he and other Republicans may filibuster any attempt to pay for government operations through the full fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1. Instead, he wants to pay for government through a series of short-term bills, possibly month to month, with each one trying to overturn Mr. Obama’s actions.
That raises the possibility of a budget shutdown fight every month for nearly a year. And Mr. Sessions’ voice will count in that fight — he is in line to be the new chairman of the Budget Committee.
Some Republican leaders, including the next majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, have tried to take a loftier position, saying they want a full year’s spending bill to avert a widespread shutdown. Nonetheless, they are seriously considering using short-term bills to pay for immigration enforcement. That approach is an implicit and reckless threat to close down immigration agencies to prevent them from issuing work permits to immigrants.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner has refused to rule out the possibility of threatening either a narrow or a full-scale shutdown to get Mr. Obama to back off his plans. Did Mr. Boehner learn nothing from the 16-day shutdown the House imposed on the country in October 2013? That deeply irresponsible act — a futile tantrum aimed at the health reform law — harmed hundreds of thousands of government employees, along with countless citizens who depend on important programs. It hurt the reputation of the country, and particularly that of the House and the Republican Party.
Still, he has decided not to anger the most extreme wing of his party, which is agitating for obstruction. When one prominent House Republican — Harold Rogers, chairman of the Appropriations Committee — pointed out that these tactics probably wouldn’t work because many immigration services are funded by fees, not appropriations, he was shouted down by House leaders, who said that he was not speaking for them.
Mr. Obama would presumably veto any spending bill that damages the immigration system or domestic security, at which point Republicans would no doubt blame any resulting shutdown on him. As Senator Ted Cruz of Texas wrote recently in Politico, “If the President is unwilling to accept funding for, say, the Department of Homeland Security without his being able to unilaterally defy the law, he alone will be responsible for the consequences.”
When Congress returns on Monday, it will have only a few business days to choose its approach before the current spending bill runs out on Dec. 11. To be the “mature governing body” that some Republicans promised, Congress needs to pass a full year’s spending bill for every department, along the lines of the bipartisan budget agreement approved last December.
Once Republicans take over both houses of Congress next year, they have every right to pass an immigration bill of their choosing, which Mr. Obama would have a right to veto. But threatening to shut down the government or any part of it to achieve their aims is outrageous.

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Afghanistan: Haqqani Network’s Major Coordination Center intercepted in Kabul city

The Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) intercepted a major coordination center belonging to Haqqani terrorist in Kabul city.
NDS spokesman Sediq Sediqi told reporters on Friday that the coordination center was used to plot, coordinate and implement major terrorist attacks in Kabul city.
Sediqi further added that the coordination center was located in the 8th police district of Kabul city and was operated by a Haqqani network operative who has been identified as Sefatullah.
He said Sefatullah was appointed by Haqqani network intelligence chief Sher Khan Mangol to plan and coordinate attacks in the city.
According to Sediqi, the coordination center was also used to store suicide bombing vests and manufacture improvised explosive devices including magnetic bombs and suicide vests.
This comes as the militants attacks have been rampant in capital Kabul during the past two months where insurgents have launched coordinated attacks in various parts of the city, including civilian and military installations.

Ghani Warns Against Afghan 'Proxy War'

Afghanistan's new president has warned he will not let his country become the battleground for a proxy war.
President Ashraf Ghani issued his warning on November 26 to South Asian leaders meeting in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.
The departure of NATO combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of the year has raised fears that rivalry between India and Pakistan could escalate.
The two have long accused each other of using proxy forces to try to gain influence in Afghanistan.
Ghani told leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif, "We will not permit anybody to conduct proxy wars on our soil."
During his first face-to-face talks with Modi, Ghani accepted an invitation to visit India in 2015.
India is the largest regional investor in Afghanistan.

Video Report - Sikhs And Hindus Flee Afghanistan As NATO Pulls Back

Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus have fled Afghanistan this year, citing mounting persecution and fears of the Taliban as international forces wind down their military presence. The few thousand who remain describe a community under siege.

Video - Afghan First Lady Says Women Used To Be Treated With Respect

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani has told RFE/RL that Afghan women used to be treated to much greater respect than they are now. Ghani, who was born and raised in Lebanon, says that when she first came to Afghanistan in the 1970s the indigenous culture acknowledged the important role that women played, and that Afghans need to return to this.

د باجوړ وړې نجونه پولیټیکل چارواکو ته وسپارل شوې

له باجوړه د قامي اسمبلۍ غړی شهاب الدین خان وايي، د سیند او پښتونخوا صوبایي حکومتونه باید د هغو خلکو په ضد ګامونه پورته کړي، چې جعلي مدرسې چلوي او د خلکو بچي پکې ساتي

په کراچۍ کې له یو کوره او مدرسې نیول شوې د باجوړ۳۶ ماشومانې جینکۍ نن پنجشنبه عدالت ته تر وړاندې کېدو وروسته د باجوړ پولیټیکل چارواکو ته وسپارل شوې.

په دې موخه له باجوړه مرستیال پولیټیکل ایجنټ فیاض خان د زیارت پر ورځ کراچۍ ته رسېدلی دی.
 نوموړي وړاندې مشال ریډیو ته ویلي ول، هغه ماشومانې چې پلرونه یې ورپسې کراچۍ ته راغلي دی، ورته دلته وسپارل شي او نورې
به باجوړ ته استول کېږي.
له باجوړه د قامي اسمبلۍ غړی شهاب الدین خان چې کراچۍ ته د دغه کوچنیو نجونو د برخلیک مالومولو لپاره ورغلی دی، له مشال راډيو سره په خبرو کې وویل، ماشومانې به د هغوی پلرونو، نورو نزدې خپلوانو او د کورنۍ غړو ته د قبایلي مشرانو او ملکانو په ضمانت وسپارل شي او په دې لړ کې به په باجوړ کې نورې پلټنې هم کیږي.
((که په راتلونکې کې له دې ماشومانو سره کوم زیاتې کېږي، یا خپلو میندو پلرونو ته میلاو نه شوې نو دغه ملکان او مشران به ضمانت کوي، دا مسله لا ختمه نه ده.د دې پلټنې به په باجوړ کې اړونده »متعلقه» ادارې بیا کوي چې ولې یې پلرونو خپلې لوڼې د داسې غیر ذمه دارو خلکو په لاس ورکړي دي؟))
 نوموړي وویل صوبایي حکومتونه باید د هغو خلکو په ضد ګامونه پورته کړي، چې جعلي مدرسې چلوي او د خلکو بچي پکې ساتي
((په جندل کې که د دې مدرسې بله څانګه ده او یا د کراچۍ دا مدرسه ده، دا د پښتونخوا او سیند حکومتونه ذمه واري چې په حقله یې تفتیش وکړي. زه سیند حکومت ته خواست کوم چې د داسې خلکو پر ضد اقدامات وکړي، چې له باجوړه دلته ماشومان راولي او بیا ورسره دا ډول سلوک کوي))
بل خوا د هغې مدرسه چې دا ماشومانې په کې ساتل کیدې، د استادې حمیدې او ملازم ایوب پر ضد د کراچۍ په ابراهیم حیدري تاڼه کې د زیارت په ماښام یوه بله مقدمه لیکل شوې ده. تر دېمخکې د کراچۍ په لیاقت اباد سپرمارکیټ تاڼه کې هم د دغې پېښې ضد مقدمه لیکل شوې وه. پولیس وایي د تعزیرات پاکستان د ۲۴۳ مادې لاندې د مدرسې استادې حمیدې د قانون سرغړونه کړې ده.
یاده دې وي د چارشنبې پر ورځ د کراچۍ پولیسو د دغه ښار په لیاقت اباد کې له یوه کوره ۲۶ ماشومانې نیولې وې، له دې وروسته امنیتي ځواکونو له دوو مدرسو ۱۰ نورې ماشومانې نیولي وې. دا ټولې ماشومانې د قبایلي سېمې باجوړ ایجنسۍ سره تعلق لري.

To Escape Taliban Threats, Pakistani Journalist Turns To Human Smugglers

Noor Badshah Yousafzai now survives on handouts from a UN-funded program to help the victims of human smugglers find new lives in Europe
Three months ago, the 22-year-old Pakistani journalist invested a large part of his earnings to buy a Turkish tourist visa and fly to Istanbul. Once there, he paid a hefty sum to a human smuggling racket to help him illegally cross into Harmanli.
The small Bulgarian town, near the Turkish border, is one of the first stops for immigrants aspiring to settle in the European Union.
Yousafzai was desperate to flee the southern Pakistani seaport city of Karachi. Since early 2013, he had been reporting on the growing influence of the Taliban in the city for the Urdu-language daily "Janbaz," which is known for covering violence in one of the country's most dangerous cities.
Some of Karachi's impoverished neighborhoods had become sanctuaries for the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after military operations in 2009 flushed out the erstwhile umbrella insurgent group from its refuge in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
"Immediately after I began reporting about its increasing strength, the Taliban started threatening me. I even wrote under a pseudonym, but it didn't help," he tells RFE/RL's Gandhara website. "Eventually, I concluded that the militants could kill me anytime and leaving Pakistan was my only option," he says.
Yousafzai suffers from osteoporosis, a bone disease causing brittleness and susceptibility to fractures. He says his life in exile in Bulgaria is miserable but that he had no choice.
"After I began receiving threats from the Taliban, I fled to Buner, my home district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," he says. "But the threats followed me there. [The Taliban] network extends across the country."
Yousafzai says sharing his concerns with security officials was never an option because they had failed to help other journalists who had been threatened by militants. "I was afraid that if I went to the police, I would be in more danger," he says. "Therefore, I opted to be silent and preferred to leave the country."
Pakistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. According to global media watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists(CPJ), 56 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 1992.
However, Pakistani media researcher Adnan Rehmat says more than 100 journalists and media persons have been killed and more than 2,000 injured since early 2000.
CPJ Asia director Bob Dietz says that, despite various pledges, Islamabad has failed to act on promises to end impunity for those responsible for attacking journalists. "Very few of the promises are being followed through," he says. "I have not seen a real commitment to prosecuting cases in which journalists come under attack."
Rehmat says Pakistani journalists face threats from many sides. "Until three years ago, the primary threat actors were militant groups, [mainly] sectarian and religious groups," he says. "But now we have found that the country's powerful security establishment and political parties are also involved."
In Bulgaria, Yousafzai says he hopes the situation will improve for Pakistani journalists. "I feel very sorry that I had to leave before graduating from college," he says.