Monday, May 4, 2015

Yemen Music Video - Singer Arwa

Video - Cargo Plane Inferno: Airstrikes hit Yemen Sanaa Int Airport

UN condemns Saudi attacks on Yemen

The UN has asked the coalition led by Saudi Arabia to stop its strikes on airports in Yemen. The bombings hinder the delivery of aid and humanitarian personnel, the organization has said.
The United Nations condemned the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes on Yemen's Sanaa airport on Monday, saying it hindered the travel of humanitarian aid workers.
The UN is preparing an airlift of workers from Djibouti to the Yemeni capital, but "no flights can take off or land while the runways are being repaired," said Johannes Van Der Kaauw, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen.
"I strongly urge the coalition to stop targeting Sanaa international airport and to preserve this important lifeline - and all other airports and seaports - so that humanitarians can reach all those affected by the armed conflict in Yemen," the statement continued.
While the bombers continued to pummel the airport in the capital, a further 150 airstrikes targeted the one in the southern city of Aden, as well as to the west in Hodeida. The coalition led by Saudi Arabia backs troops loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Monsour Hadi, who are locked in fierce fighting with the rebel Houthis.
Witnesses and officials said the coalition also dropped weapons to tribes allied to Hadi's government on Monday, though newly appointed Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Riyadh was considering a ceasefire in order to deliver aid to civilians affected by the conflict.
"Saudi Arabia is consulting with members of the alliance…to find specific places to deliver humanitarian assistance, during which there will be a halt of all air operations," the official Saudi Press Agency quoted al-Jubeir as saying.
Saudi forces expanded their role on Sunday, sending "limited" ground troops, at least 20 soldiers, on a "reconnaissance" mission to Aden. At the same time, the coalition itself is expanding, with the Senegalese government confirming on Monday that they plan to send 2,100 troops to Saudi Arabia to help battle the Houthis.
More than 1,200 have been killed in the Yemen conflict, among them many civilians, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Yemen crisis: Terrified citizens caught between Saudi Arabia and Iran as air strikes and blockade threaten humanitarian disaster for millions

Latest deaths show that Saudi attempts to resolve Yemen's crisis by forcing the country's former ruler to break away from the Houthi fighters has failed. Patrick Cockburn reports on King Salman's dilemma

Dozens of Saudi soldiers and Yemeni fighters have been killed in clashes on the border between the countries as five weeks ofSaudi air attacks fail to bring the war to an end. Air strikes and heavy artillery fire in the southern port of Aden have left much of the city in ruins and the attempted incursion by Houthi fighters marks an escalation in a conflict seen regionally as part of the growing confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The Saudi interior ministry has said three of its soldiers were killed along with dozens of fighters from the Houthi movement, which has seized control of much of Yemen, when the Houthis attacked a border post in Najran province.
So far the air strikes have failed to force back the Houthis. The involvement of a Saudi-led Sunni coalition has connected the crisis firmly with the broader conflict between Sunni and Shia branches of Islam that is inflaming much of the region. The United Nations says that more than 1,200 people have been killed and 300,000 forced to flee their homes as a result of Saudi bombing and ground fighting, which is particularly intense in Aden.
“The scene is disastrous, not just in the streets where fighting is going on but inside houses where families are often trapped and terrified,” Ahmed al-Awgari, an activist in Aden, told Reuters. “Women and children have been burnt in homes, civilians have been shot in the streets or blown up by tank fire.”
Yemen is facing a humanitarian disaster, with half of its 26 million people already malnourished before the air attacks began. Aid agencies say that the Saudi air and sea blockade is preventing Yemen from importing food on which it is wholly reliant. This includes some 90 per cent of the wheat consumed in Yemen and other essentials. Hospitals are closing because they have no fuel for generators and have asked car owners with petrol to help move the sick and injured.
In the last six weeks Yemen has joined countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya that are paralysed by violence, but aid workers say that the Saudi blockade means that conditions are worst in Yemen.
The Saudis appear to have miscalculated in believing that they could split the Houthis, who follow the Zaydi variant of Shia Islam, from the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to whom many regular army military units are loyal. The Saudis want to return to power President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, but he seems to have little support and much of the fighting against the Houthis in Aden has been by southern separatists who want to restore south Yemen to the independence it enjoyed up to 1990.
The fragmentation of power in Yemen and the collapse of state authority has given al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) the opportunity to expand its influence. Long the target of US drone attacks, AQAP has taken over the port of al-Mukallah, the fifth largest city in Yemen after freeing 300 militants from the local prison. Several tribes that used to oppose AQAP now support it because it provides shock troops and suicide bombers to oppose the Houthis.
Isis is for the first time showing that it has strength in Yemen by publishing a video of its fighters executing 15 Yemeni soldiers whom it captured on 12 April in Shabwa Province. Two days later the video shows four of the soldiers, some of whom said they belonged to the 2nd Mountain Brigade, being beheaded by Isis executioners. A further ten soldiers were shot in the head.
Though two thirds of Yemenis are Sunni and one third Zaydi Shia, the country has not previously had the fierce sectarian divisions of Iraq or Syria. But the Saudis claim that the Houthis are the proxies of Iran and part of a general Shia offensive against the Sunnis across the Middle East may be self-fulfilling, particularly if Isis continues to massacre captives whom it describes as “apostates”.
The Saudi air campaign has turned what began as a factional conflict within Yemen into a regional dispute that will make it more difficult to resolve. Indeed, the beginning of the Saudi air war five weeks ago put a stop to negotiations which were about to succeed in establishing a power sharing government in the capital Sanaa according to the UN envoy Jamal Benomar. He told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that “when this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis.”
It may be that King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his younger son Mohammad, who is defence minister and chief of the royal court, saw the war in Yemen as a way of securing their power and removing rival factions in the royal family from power. On his throne for only  a few months, King Salman has been taking a harder line in the Saudi confrontation with Iran and the Shia. He has not only started an air war in Yemen but has given stronger backing to Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qa’ida affiliate, and other jihadi groups in Syria. These have recently won several victories in Idlib province over the Syrian army and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
A problem in ending the war in Yemen is that it will be difficult for King Salman to come out of it without a success if he wishes to avoid damage to his prestige at the start of his reign. At the same time, Saudi Arabia does not appear to have a plan other than the total defeat of the Houthis and their allies, something that is unlikely to happen because there is stalemate.
The original Saudi strategy was apparently to bomb the Yemeni army in order to pressure former commander President Saleh, leader of Yemen for 33 years up to 2012, to break with the Houthis, but this has not happened.


By Sara Al-Zawqari 

Abdulla Al Ariqy, like many Yemenis woke up this morning grateful that telecommunications and internet lines were still operating. News over social media said that telephone lines and internet will be cut off on Monday morning at 9am, local time. “Our house turned into a call center, family inside and outside Yemen were calling, messaging, WhatsApping, Facebooking, we were saying our goodbyes, it was insane I think the entire country panicked, we didn’t think it was going to happen so soon,” said Al Ariqy.
The Public Telecommunication Establishment (PTC) said that the establishment’s stock of diesel had been exhausted over that past four weeks due to the lack of petroleum derivatives, the limited amounts obtained from The Ministry of Oil, and the continuous power cuts. As a result, local and international calls and internet service will be cut completely in few days if no solution is found.
On Thursday the head of the Post and Telecommunications Union, said that Aden, Lahj, Al Dale, and Abyan will be the first cities to experience complete communication blackout, due to the violent armed clashes between the Houthis and the Popular Resistance which prevent the government from delivering diesel to these areas.
Private telecommunication companies have shut many units across the country, and  residents have complained about poor coverage. “We need electricity to operate our telecommunication towers,  with electricity  gone for weeks, we need to run generators which need diesel and diesel is not available any more, and its price shot up, I’m afraid if no solution is found, we will stop operating very soon,” said a senior technician in a private telecommunication company in Sanaa.
Yasmeen Mutahar a university student in Taiz said,  “We will be doomed this means we won’t know what’s happening, when we hear a bomb we call family and friends to see where it hit, we need news and social media to know what’s going on.”
The Saudi-led coalition have imposed air and sea blockade since the beginning of the operation on March 26th, they have complete control of air space, ports and there are no commercial planes or ships allowed in or out of the country. Basel Mohammed in Aden called it a catastrophe,” No one will know what’s happening to us, we need people around the world to know what’s happening, how will we call each other, call for help, call ambulances, or get in touch with relief organizations if we run out of food.” With the borders closed, when telecommunications stop, Yemen will be in danger of becoming completely isolated from the world.

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Christie’s Grip on Republican Politics in New Jersey Shows Signs of Slipping

At the height of his political celebrity, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey persuaded dozens of Democratic officeholders to back his 2013 re-election campaign. The implied transaction seemed simple: Support a well-liked Republican and win a measure of good will from him, perhaps even some acclaim by association.
One such attempted deal went notoriously wrong in Fort Lee, leading to the indictment on Friday of two former Christie appointees, and a guilty plea by another former associate.
Now, as Mr. Christie fights for his political future, it is New Jersey Republicans weighing how closely to associate with a governor whose popularity has faded in the polls. The issue is not some distant abstraction: The state’s entire General Assembly is up for election this year, and the next governor’s race looms in 2017.

Mr. Christie’s support is no longer an unalloyed asset to Republicans. State Senator Michael Doherty, a conservative lawmaker who has been critical of the governor, said the recent scandal would clearly affect the party in upcoming elections.
 “It’s going to be relevant to the reputation of the statewide Republican Party, and whether a Republican’s going to have a shot of being elected governor in 2017,” Mr. Doherty said.
Not so long ago, Republicans hoped that Mr. Christie’s electoral victories would provide a durable boost to the party. After nearly a decade out of power, Republicans were offered a toehold in Trenton and help competing in difficult areas of the state, including populous northern New Jersey.
Yet over the last year, some of the governor’s signature political trophies have been stripped away. A landmark pension-reform deal was struck down in court, denting Mr. Christie’s image as a problem solver.
Mr. Christie, who was first elected thanks in part to his profile as a clean-cut prosecutor, is now stuck parsing legalisms in an effort to play down his administration’s culpability in the events that led to the federal indictments last week.
The aide and appointees were accused of a conspiracy in shutting several lanes of traffic approaching the George Washington Bridge to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for his failure to endorse the governor’s re-election.
Mr. Christie, who is considering a run for president, has denied any wrongdoing and disavowed any knowledge of the retribution scheme. Paul J. Fishman, the United States attorney for New Jersey who announced the indictments, said there were no plans to charge anyone else in connection with the bridge inquiry based on the evidence gathered so far.
The governor is still expected to play an important role in the legislative elections this year, as the party’s most visible figure and its most formidable fund-raiser.
Jack M. Ciattarelli, a Republican member of the Assembly, called the indictments “infuriating and sickening.” He said he would take Mr. Christie at his word that he was not involved in the lane closings, but criticized the governor’s selection of associates. “People who work in his administration seem to have been intoxicated with his popularity, or their power, and they abused it,” he said.
Mr. Ciattarelli, who is viewed as a possible statewide candidate, added that Republicans would be wise to prepare for life after a Christie administration, likening the governor to a pair of presidents who largely defined their parties.
“Every party needs to move on and out from under the shadow of as dominant a figure as Kennedy was, as Reagan was, and here in New Jersey, as Christie is,” he said.
Even a gentle inching away from Mr. Christie would represent a significant departure for New Jersey Republicans, who have tied their fortunes to the governor’s, for better or worse, since his election in 2009.
Most New Jersey Republicans have remained publicly supportive of the governor throughout the ordeal of the long investigation. But there have been scattered signs that Mr. Christie’s once-firm grip on the state Republican establishment may have slipped along with his approval ratings.
As Mr. Christie has publicly entertained the notion of a run for the presidency, several prominent New Jersey Republicans once aligned with the governor have instead supported Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. Among them are Woody Johnson, the owner of the Jets, and State Senator Joe Kyrillos, the party’s 2012 nominee for the United States Senate.
Mr. Kyrillos, once one of Mr. Christie’s most enthusiastic supporters, also broke with convention when he publicly rebuked the governor last winter for mismanagement at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Despite periods of intense personal popularity, Mr. Christie has had only limited success at lifting the prospects of other Republicans. In 2013, the party made a major push to win control of the State Senate, hoping to ride Mr. Christie’s political coattails as he romped to re-election. Though he won a second term by more than 20 percentage points, Republicans failed to pick up a single seat in the chamber.
Still, the sheer breadth of Mr. Christie’s victories appeared to hold out the possibility of a larger political shift. In 2009, he won his first election by a wider margin than any Republican since Thomas H. Kean’s landslide re-election a quarter-century earlier.
National Republicans, reeling after their defeat in the 2012 elections, looked to Mr. Christie as a model for expanding the party’s electoral reach. Indeed, in his re-election campaign, Mr. Christie did the seemingly impossible, for a Republican: He won a clear majority of female and Hispanic voters, and split the youth vote almost evenly with his Democratic challenger, Barbara Buono, a state senator.
In his victory speech, Mr. Christie embraced the role, urging his fellow Republicans to campaign “in the places where we’re uncomfortable,” to court voters traditionally wary of conservative candidates.
Republicans, including Mr. Christie’s admirers, now say that the hope for a lasting realignment in their favor has waned. In places, the party’s gains have already been reversed: In last year’s elections, amid a national Republican landslide, voters ejected a Republican county executive, Kathleen A. Donovan, from the top post in Bergen County, the ultra-diverse population anchor of northern New Jersey.
Ms. Donovan, who had first won the job in 2010, a year after Mr. Christie’s first election as governor, said he had supported her energetically in her second, unsuccessful campaign. But other forces were decisive in the race, Ms. Donovan said.
“The demographics continue to change and trend toward Democrats,” she explained. “The governor has done the very best job he could, in terms of helping Republicans overcome Democrat numbers, but there are structural problems in New Jersey.”
The Democrats are not without their own challenges, having done little to fix the woes that allowed Mr. Christie to win office in the first place: high state and local taxes, a budget deep in the red and a lingering perception of ethical lapses after a long string of corruption cases. (Many were prosecuted by Mr. Christie, in his days as a United States attorney.)
Jon M. Bramnick, the Republican leader in the State Assembly and a potential candidate for governor, said the party planned to put Democrats on the defensive by focusing on their long record of tax increases. The main issue in this year’s legislative election, he said, would be making New Jersey an affordable place to live, and the Democrats’ record of doing the opposite.
Mr. Christie has agreed to play an active role in this year’s campaign for control of the legislative chamber, Mr. Bramnick said. “I think the overwhelming theme is not going to be Chris Christie,” Mr. Bramnick said. “I think the overwhelming theme is: Do you send back the same team that’s been there more than a decade?”
Representative Bill Pascrell, a Democrat who represents Fort Lee in Congress, cautioned Democrats not to grow overconfident about Mr. Christie’s downfall. After all, he noted, many of the party’s officeholders endorsed the governor for re-election and cooperated with his agenda in Trenton.
“There’s a lot of baggage out there on everybody’s shoulders,” Mr. Pascrell said. “Neither party is privy to virtue in New Jersey.”

Barack Obama is coming to David Letterman one last time

David Letterman’s final run of shows will have a presidential seal of approval. CBS announced on Friday that President Barack Obama will appear on the May 4 edition of The Late Show with David Letterman. The visit will mark Obama’s third time on The Late Show as President of the United States and eighth time overall. (He last appeared on the show on Sept. 18, 2012.)
Joining Obama on the May 4 broadcast will be actor Will Ferrell and musical guests the Avett Brothers and Brandi Carlile. Letterman’s final show is set for May 20.

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Hillary Clinton’s Bold Move

By embracing police and prison reform, she’s changed the terms of the criminal justice debate. Will any Republicans follow her lead?
n a major speech delivered last week in the wake of unrest in Baltimore, Hillary Clinton made a stirring and unequivocal case for reforming the criminal justice system. “There is something profoundly wrong when African American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts,” Clinton said. “There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes.”
The speech was hailed as significant for a number of reasons. For one thing, it confirmed that, 21 years after her husband signed a bill making the criminal justice system much more punitive, Clinton has definitively come to the conclusion that the nation’s out-of-control incarceration rate is a problem that needs fixing. The speech underscored that justice reform will enjoy full-throated support on both sides of the aisle during the 2016 election, which has attracted multiple candidates on the Republican side whostrongly believe America’s courts are sending too many people to prison for too long.
But Clinton’s speech was important for another reason, too, one that hasn’t been widely acknowledged thus far. In pegging her remarks about mass incarceration to the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and making a point of calling for both prisonand police reform in the same breath, Clinton was making a nontrivial connection between unfair law enforcement practices and unfair prison policy. And while that connection may seem self-evident to some, the fact is that politicians often treat them as separate issues, and many influential figures on the right who have come out as criminal justice reformers—including Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and the mega-donors Charles and David Koch—have not been willing to make the link.
Clinton, on the other hand, made the connection deliberately and clearly: Over the course of her roughly 3,500-word speech, she put forth a wide-ranging argument suggesting that the solution to America’s criminal justice crisis will not just be a matter of rolling back overly harsh sentencing guidelines or creating treatment programs for nonviolent drug offenders—measures that enjoy relatively broad support on the right—but addressing the broken trust between black communities and the police departments that are supposed to protect them. “Today smart policing in communities that builds relationships, partnerships, and trust makes more sense than ever,” Clinton said. “And it shouldn’t be limited just to officers on the beat. It’s an ethic that should extend throughout our criminal justice system. To prosecutors and parole officers. To judges and lawmakers.”

Again, it might seem obvious to some that politicians interested in justice reform should be treating the police-involved killings of Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray as being intimately related to the policies resulting in mass imprisonment of black Americans. But when you look at the bipartisan coalition for justice reform that has formed over the past several years, you’ll notice this connection doesn’t really get made except in the context of civil forfeiture, the controversial practice of police departments seizing money and property from people who have not been charged with crimes.
“The left and right have banded together to deal with mass incarceration … but you don’t see the same degree of robust joining together on policing,” said Nicholas Turner, the president of the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit that works for reform, in an interview. Turner added, “Hillary connecting this policing issue with mass incarceration is spot-on.”
Van Jones, the liberal activist who helped organize the recent Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform alongside Gingrich, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Koch Industries, told me much the same thing—that for all the air time prison reform is currently enjoying in conservative circles, policing tends not to come up.
“The bipartisan space right now focuses on what happens after a person gets arrested, not why the person got arrested,” Jones said. “So it’s: Are the sentences too long? Are the conditions of confinement conducive to rehabilitation? When someone comes home and re-enters society, can they get a fair shot? But there’s not a lot of bipartisan discussion at this stage about doing something about why people are being arrested, or the way they’re being arrested. There’s a big bipartisan sinkhole that’s growing and pulling everything into it, but policing has not yet fallen into it.”
To get a conservative take on the move Clinton made in her speech, I called former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who served three years in federal prison for tax fraud and making false statements before being released and remaking himself as a criminal justice reformer. “I think it’s two different issues,” Kerik told me. “I don’t think the police is a part of the criminal justice problem as much as … the courts and the laws. That’s a much bigger problem than the police. Mandatory minimums, our sentencing guidelines—that’s the problem.”
Kerik, who has compared prison to “dying with your eyes open,” added: “The cops go to a community to enforce the laws that have been written. That’s why they’re there. If it’s a minority community and there’s high crime, they’re going there because there’s high crime. They’re going to enforce the laws on the books. … When you talk about the racial disparities in incarceration, a lot of that doesn’t have to do with the police, it has to do with the laws themselves.”
Kerik’s views on this are largely representative of how the right thinks about law enforcement. Though it has become increasingly acceptable among Republicans to support making prison terms for nonviolent offenders shorter, the party’s long-standing dedication to “law and order” seems to be holding strong when it comes to policing.
Mark Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries who has emerged as the face of Charles and David Koch’s efforts on criminal justice reform, indicated in an emailed statement that while he acknowledges the distrust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they police, repairing that distrust is a matter of making changes to the way we prosecute people who break the law, not necessarily changing police practices.
“I think the whole CJ system is interconnected,” Holden wrote, noting that his remarks should not be seen as a response to the Clinton speech. “[We should] reform the CJ system so police can enhance public safety by going after violent criminals, instead of having them deal with all the issues we don’t want to deal with like mentally ill people, drug addicts, homeless, low level drug offenders. Our brave law enforcement officers signed up to protect and serve these communities but instead we have set up a system that puts them in perpetual conflict with the communities they serve. It isn’t right and it isn’t working. Our law enforcement and our communities deserve better.”
It will be interesting to see how the discourse surrounding criminal justice reform in the 2016 campaign will be affected by Hillary Clinton’s apparent belief that it doesn’t make sense to talk about prison reform without also talking about police reform. If she holds this line, it could create a point of contention between her and her Republican rivals, and serve as a revealing window onto the differences between how conservatives and liberals think about how criminal justice in the United States needs to change.
Is there a chance that, as influential conservative Pat Nolan told me after the release of the Department of Justice report on Ferguson, Missouri, reformers on the right will extend their critique to law enforcement, and stop treating prison and policing reform as two separate things? Joseph Margulies, a visiting professor of law and government at Cornell and the author of a forthcoming book about criminal justice reform in the 21st century, told me he thinks it’s unlikely.
“Among social conservatives, policing is still perceived as the thin blue line between order and chaos,” Margulies said. “To the extent that social conservatives are still attached to the idea of order, it’s very difficult to challenge the police, particularly if you believe that there is a lawlessness out there that needs to be restrained and controlled. That’s just always been an element of social conservatism. And while it’s under some strain now because it’s in tension with other [conservative issues] like overreliance on government … those are easier to apply in the prison context than in the police context.”
Clinton’s speech has been criticized by some on the left for ignoring the role her husband played in bringing about the problems she now says she wants to solve. But even if you think that’s a legitimate complaint, the fact that Clinton is unapologetically expanding the scope of what criminal justice reform should be deserves to be seen as a significant development.

Bill Clinton condemns efforts to 'take down' his foundation, defends paid speeches

Former President Bill Clinton accused critics of an effort to undermine the work of his foundation for political gain, saying there is no evidence that donors sought to influence his wife's work at the State Department even as he conceded that "it looks bad."

In portions of an interview with NBC News that aired on the "Today" show Monday, Clinton also defended six-figure speaking fees he has collected and said he'd continue to give paid speeches even as his wife runs for president.
"Oh yeah," he said. "I have to pay our bills."

The interview, which was conducted in Kenya during his tour of Clinton Foundation projects on the continent, was the first the former president has conducted since his wife launched her second bid for the White House.
Last month, a conservative author's new book asserted possible links between major donations to the foundation and favorable actions the U.S. government took on behalf of donors while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of State.

Peter Schweizer, the author of the book "Clinton Cash," has conceded in interviews that he has no proof of a quid pro quo, but has evidence of suspicious circumstances.
"There has been a very deliberate attempt to take the foundation down," Bill Clinton said. "There's almost no new fact that's known now that wasn't known when she ran for president the first time."
Clinton said he has never done "anything that was against the interests of the United States" through his foundation or in accepting speaking fees. "I asked Hillary about this and she said, ‘No one's ever tried to influence me by helping you," he added.
"No one has even suggested they have a shred of evidence to that effect," he said. In the 2008 campaign Clinton campaigned relentlessly on his wife's behalf, securing votes for her in sometimes far-flung corners of primary states but also occasionally distracting from her message with controversial comments. The new interview illustrated again that for all Clinton's political pluses, his efforts to dismiss negative stories often add fuel to the fire.
 Clinton volunteered that it was "amusing" to him to hear questions about whether his wife could relate to middle-class concerns because of the wealth they've accumulated since leaving the White House. He took what appeared to be a jab at Republican hopeful Jeb Bush, saying: "It's OK if you inherit your money, apparently."

"I'm grateful for our success. But let me remind you: When we moved into the White House, we had the lowest net worth of any family since Harry Truman," Clinton said.
Clinton said taking speaking fees was actually a way to avoid conflicts of interest that could arise from other sources of income, and that he turns down many speaking requests if he thought they might raise problems.
"It's the most independence I can get," he said. "If I had a business relationship with somebody they would have a target on their back from the day they did business with me until the end. Any kind of disclosure is a target. But it looks bad. There's no facts of course, but it looks bad."

Violence Connected to Images of Mohammed Arrives in the United States


Violence connected to images depicting the Prophet Mohammed has arrived on American shores.

Five months after an attack at the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and four months after a shooting at a free speech event in Copenhagen, two gunmen were shot and killed outside of a cartoon exhibit and contest near Dallas late Sunday evening. While the motive for the attack is unclear, one of the event’s keynote speakers, Dutch parliament member Geert Wilders, has been denounced by Islamist groups for his criticisms of the Muslim presence in Europe, and its organizer, Pamela Geller, is a long time critic of Islam. Two Democratic lawmakers recently asked the White House to ban Wilders from entering the United States.

It remains unclear whether the shooting is connected to broader extremist Islamic movements like the Islamic State or al Qaeda. Some Twitter posts by users associated with the group denounced the event in advance. Citing FBI sources, ABC news reported one of the gunmen is Elton Simpson, a target of previous terrorism related investigations. He had previously Tweeted using the hashtag #texasattacks.

The identity of the second gunman is still unknown. Simpson was convicted of lying to federal agents about traveling to Africa to join a terrorist group, according to ABC. A White House official told Foreign Policy that President Barack Obama has been briefed on the shooting, but did not offer additional comment.

The attack took place around 7 p.m. Sunday evening at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, a town about 20 miles outside of Dallas. It was billed as the “Jihad Watch Mohammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.” Its organizer, Geller, is the president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group.

Geller has drawn controversy in the past for her opposition to a mosque near site of the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan. On her blog and elsewhere she has warned of what she calls the “Islamization” of America.

The FBI raided an apartment in Phoenix as part of its investigation. Bruce Joiner, an officer providing security at the event, was shot as the two gunmen fired from their car but has been treated at a hospital and released. Early Monday, the bodies of the attackers remained in the vehicle as authorities searched for bombs in and around the car.

The event took place under heavy security. Just before the shooting, Wilders posted a picture of himself standing with a SWAT team he said was monitoring the event, hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The group promised a $10,000 reward for the best depiction of Mohammed.

While the Quran does not explicitly ban depicting Mohammed, it is a highly sensitive issue and generally frowned upon in modern Islamic tradition. Many Muslims consider it blasphemous.

Americans have stirred the pot in the past when it comes to depictions of Mohammed. In 2012, protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo after Mark Basseley Youssef, a U.S. resident, released the anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims.” Violence in Benghazi that left U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens dead was also connected to the low-budget film.

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Video Report - At least one killed as Taliban targets civil servants in Kabul

Can India and China Both Court Afghanistan?

While welcoming Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in India last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined that “the relationship between India and Afghanistan is not just between two countries or governments. It is a timeless link of human hearts.” With that spirit Modi made it clear that India would support Afghanistan’s security forces and open the Attari check-post in Punjab to Afghan trucks in order to increase trade between the two countries. Modi stated: “India will walk shoulder to shoulder with you and the Afghan people in a mission of global importance.”
In addition to proclaiming India’s support for Afghanistan’s security forces, Modi announced that India is “prepared to join the successor agreement to Afghan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement” which will “re-establish one of the oldest trading routes of South Asia.” For his part, Ghani signaled his disappointment with Pakistan over its refusal to allow direct trade with India via the Wagah border, and suggested that if the deadlock continues Afghanistan “will not provide equal transit access to Central Asia [for Pakistani trucks].”
But even as the Afghan President is welcomed in India, there is a sense that New Delhi is fast losing its carefully nurtured decade-old clout in Afghanistan. Compared to his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, Ghani has been lukewarm toward India. His visit to Delhi came long after his outreach to Pakistan and China, both of whom seem more firmly embedded in the peace overtures to the Taliban than India. Ghani has been to Pakistan twice and the Afghan Army Chief recently attended the graduation parade at Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul. The Ghani government has also been keen to see China take a more active role in the reconciliation process. India stands isolated with many in the country wondering whatever happened to the much-hyped Delhi-Kabul strategic partnership.
It is not that Delhi has not been active. Soon after the Modi government came to office in India, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Afghanistan in September 2014 to underscore India’s commitment to remain engaged in the country’s reconstruction activities in a significant way. Describing India as Afghanistan’s first strategic partner, Swaraj suggested that Delhi would always share the Afghan people’s vision of a “strong” and “prosperous” Afghanistan. Delhi has conveyed to the Ghani government in strong terms that India is there to stay in Afghanistan, even after the western troops have left. The Modi government is keen to expand its security profile in Afghanistan and has provided Kabul with military vehicles, choppers and automatic weapons in a bid to strengthen the army as a first step in that direction. It has also, after years of dilly-dallying under the previous government, taken a decision to invest $85.21 million in developing the strategically important Chabahar port in Iran, allowing India to circumvent Pakistan and open up a trade route with landlocked Afghanistan.
But while Delhi was preoccupied internally over the last few years with a weak government unable to make up its mind on substantive defense engagement with Kabul, other actors (China in particular) decided to step up their role. Ghani has lost no time in reaching out to China, which he visited in October 2014 when China hosted a conference to discuss peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Ghani called on the Taliban to join and enter an Afghan dialogue, and China echoed Ghani’s call, urging groups to “lay aside former enmity and join the political reconciliation process.” There was high flying rhetoric as Ghani said his country viewed China “as a strategic partner, in the short term, medium term, long term and very long term.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping reciprocated by hailing Ghani as an old friend of the Chinese people with whom China prepared to work towards “a new era of co-operation,” and “to take development to a new depth.” Despite China’s concerns that a deteriorating security situation could threaten greater investment, it agreed to give Afghanistan $327 million in aid over the next three years — $81.8 million in 2014 and the remaining sum between 2015-2017. More significantly, China also agreed to act as a mediator between Afghanistan and Pakistan while Ghani pledged to help China fight its own Islamic militants.
Both Beijing and Kabul recognize each other’s importance. Afghanistan has requested assistance from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in its fight against the Taliban. Providing assistance to Afghanistan may form a part of Xi’s wider plan to establish a 6,437 km “Silk Road” economic belt to connect China’s western regions with Europe by way of Central Asia. Security concerns have prevented Chinese investments in Afghanistan from getting off the ground.
China is interested in playing a larger role in Afghanistan, long seen as primarily a U.S. responsibility after its 2001 invasion. China’s Afghan policy is now feeling the pressure emanating from the withdrawal of western troops and Taliban surge threatening to give a boost to Islamist militancy in China’s western Xinjiang region. Much like the rest of the region, China remains worried about the withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan as it fears a broader destabilization of the region post-2014.
The growing problems in Pakistan have also alerted China to the reality that its leverage over Pakistan may not be enough in managing the regional turmoil. As tensions have risen in Xinjiang, the perceived Pakistan link to the Uyghur militancy has led to a reassessment in China of its approach towards Afghanistan, especially as concerns are rising in Beijing that Islamabad has was not been very effective in controlling the training of Uyghur militants in Pakistan. For all the hyperbole, the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan last month should also be assessed in this context.
Ghani’s visit to India has been an important opportunity for India to underline its role in the unfolding strategic dynamic in the region. The Modi government has to make it clear that, unlike its predecessor, it takes its responsibilities as a regional power seriously. Beijing is widely considered a more credible regional player and this has enhanced its profile in Afghanistan as well. India, despite being the nation most loved by ordinary Afghans, has given an impression that it is not serious about making hard choices. The Modi government’s success in changing that impression will determine if India will be able to preserve its equities in Afghanistan.

Gunmen attack school in Pakistan

Unidentified gunmen attacked a school in Pakistan on Monday and killed a guard, police said, raising fears of a repeat of a deadly school attack five months ago that toughened Pakistan's resolve to fight militants. 

Police said all teachers and children at the high school for boys were safe after the gunmen killed the guard in the central town of Dera Ghazi Khan, 500 km (300 miles) southwest of Islamabad. 

"We are still not sure how many gunmen there were and whether they are still there. The police are searching," district police officer Rehmat Ullah Khan Niazi told Reuters. 

Pakistani Taliban militants killed 153 people, most of them children, at a high school in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Dec. 16. 

That attack hardened Pakistan's resolve to fight Islamist militants who have been battling the state for years. 

There have been two grenade attacks on schools in the southern city of Karachi since early February though no one was hurt in either one.

Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - ''(خیال )'' - Poetry غنی خان

د فاټا استادانو د خپلو غوښتنو لپاره لاریون وکړ

په پېښور کې د ګل پر ورځ د قبایلي سیمو د سرکاري سکولونو استادانو د فاټا سیکریټرېټ مخې ته یو احتجاجي مظاهره ترسره کړه او د فاټا سکریټرېټ مخې ته سړک یې هم تر دوه نیمو ګنټو وتړلو او دوی له حکومته غوښتنه کوله چې څه رنګ یې څلور کاله وړاندې د بندوبستي سیمو استادانو ته ترقي او نور مراعات ورکړي ول نو هم دغه رنګ مراعات دې دوی ته هم ورکړل شي. نور تفصیل له پېښوره د غلام غوث په ویډیو راپور کې

Will Pakistan Be Declared A Secular State?

In a debate held in the Supreme Court on Monday, the issue that was under consideration was whether Pakistan should be declared a secular state or not.
After hearing petitions against the 18th and 21st Constitutional Amendments, a 17-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, said the if there is popular demand for this change then appropriate measures to do so need to be underway.
The Chief Justice inqured if such a process will be held through a constituent assemble and Justice Nisar asked “If a political party whose manifesto supported such a declaration comes to power, how does that party plan on making the country secular?”
Hamid Khan proposed a solution, by suggesting that it could be carried out through a referendum. Citing examples from pages of history, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa added that people and ideologies change over time and also cited the example of Bangladesh. He said that after partition from West Pakistan Bangladesh went on to declare their country a secular nation. Later, the Bangladeshi parliament attempted to declare the country an Islamic state through a constitutional amendment, but the Bangladesh Supreme Court annulled the amendment.


The international media has reported about the emergence of the ill famous terrorist organisation Islamic State on Pak-Afghan boarders.
According to reports, some militants with the flags of ISIS have been seen getting arm training in Pak-Afghan boarders. Experts are of the view that these militants are former Taliban fighters who have gone under the flag of ISIS. Earlier these militants had got training in Ustad Yasir camp in Luger province. Some pictures show that these militants are using sophisticated heavy weapons. According to American Fox News, this group is being run under Saad Bin Waqas Front but it cannot be said that how much this group is close to the leadership of Syrian and Iraqi ISIS.
As per the expert of global intelligence stratfor, Scott Stewart, the grabbed pictures reveal that the terrorist are former Taliban who prefer to join ISIS than Al Qaeda. It is pertinent to mention here that ISIS has already hinted that it will influence the Deobandi and Wahabi militants in Pakistan. Pakistani security forces are working day and night to keep Pakistan away from the influence of ISIS, which is famous for killing people with brutality.

Pakistan - FATA reforms: A wrong start

The Fata Reforms Commission, set up about a year ago, presented its report to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi on Thursday. Prepared by a five-member team of former government officials, director of an NGO, and headed by a retired bureaucrat, the report offers no new ideas to bring the tribal areas into the national mainstream. Instead, the emphasis is on preserving the antiquated colonial era power structure with small changes here and there. For instance, there is the recommendation that the number of the members of Fata Tribunal be increased from three to four, and it be presided over by a high court judge. Furthermore, members of the tribunal should be elected by a scrutiny committee and bound to dispose of criminal cases within 60 days and civil cases within 90 days. Then there is the suggestion of forming a governor's council for Fata comprising seven agencies and six frontier regions with vice chairman of every 'agency council' and 'FR council' as its members. Also to be included in the council are five parliamentarians and five experts, including women and minorities representatives. The council is to function as a consultative body for two years till the introduction of local government system, under which 90 percent of its members will be elected while ten percent 'selected'. 

The recommendations, in fact, the formation of the commission itself, is reflective of this government's lack of seriousness in bringing about transformative changes in the tribal areas. It is sad that in this day and age, an elected government's appointed commission is still talking of administering a part of the country through discriminatory, oppressive laws and an unrepresentative political system. There should be no two opinions on that the people of Fata deserve the same rights as those of any other part of the country. And for that to happen drastic changes are in order beginning with Article 247 of the Constitution that says no act of Parliament shall apply in the tribal areas without the approval of the President, and that the country's superior courts' jurisdiction will not apply to Fata residents. Remodelling is needed in at least three areas. First, the Frontier Crimes Regulations must be scrapped completely and replaced by the normal laws of the land and the justice system. Second, even though three years ago the Political Parties Order was extended to the tribal areas, the right to vote remains limited. Fata people must have universal suffrage. Third, a way needs to be found to determine local sentiments as to whether the tribal areas should have provincial status or become part of the adjoining KPK. The appropriate forum for initiating discussion and action on all these issues is the Parliament. That is where the government should seek advice and support on proceeding with a meaningful reforms plan for Fata. 

Something deserving immediate attention is the fact that the tribal areas are the least developed part of the country. Extreme poverty is rampant, which has helped violent extremists to find young recruits by paying them good salaries. Well thought-out socio-economic uplift programmes are needed. Indeed, the Fata Development Authority has started some fast track economic development schemes. It would help if implementation work is overseen on a continual basis by public representatives accountable to the local people. 

Pakistan - Let’s fly with Sabeen


Freedom to think is perhaps not a freedom in Pakistan

“Enough is enough!” they cried in unison. Holding hands, they formed wall after wall of a marching army, advancing across the broken landscape like Roman infantry. They chanted slogans against those loveless zombies who had long feasted on their souls. Sixty-eight years of vulgar abuse, of being reduced to something no longer recognizable, something diminished – a half-person, you may say. Surely this could spark madness in even the most placid mind; the sort of madness that makes men careless. When one’s concern for life yields to the desire for violent reparation and the spirit rebels against the mind’s tyranny. And it is from there that all darkness descends.
Of course, none of this really ever happened. But this, or some less melodramatic variant of this, is what goes through the minds of many of us when yet another life is hunted down by those who have usurped God’s role in deciding who lives and who dies.
I did not know Sabeen Mehmud personally. But in the wake of the tragedy that took her life, with testimonial upon moving testimonial emerging in cyberspace, it has left with me a curious feeling that even in not knowing her I somehow knew her. We all know that feeling. Because we all recognize ‘good’ where we see it. And in a country that does well to conceal or deny the good, Sabeen certainly made such an undertaking hard. Which is why her loss is such a big one.
Pakistan, you see, is an impressively generous country. Even the most libertarian states in the world could merely aspire to the freedoms that Pakistan affords its free citizens. There aren’t many places where men are allowed to stand by the roadside and relieve their bladders gratuitously in plain view. This just does not happen elsewhere, because to fully appreciate and internalize this level of freedom requires a special kind of insight into libertarian philosophy. Think of any problem under the sun and this Eden of freedom will not disappoint. Pulled over by a cop? Give him some cash. No cash? Give some loose reference of how you’re related to some high ranking officer in the Police department. Don’t know of any references? Just make one up. At some point you will notice that the Policeman will afford you a smorgasbord of possibilities to wiggle your way out of your mess. This is not an accident. This is by design. This libertarian utopia called Pakistan is quite ahead of its time.
But there is a catch, as there always is. Pakistan becomes less generous – almost fascistic – when it comes to a particular kind of freedom: the freedom to think. Enter this territory and say hello to the Stalinist gulag of the Pakistani state. This again is not an accident. The state, ahead of its time as it is, understands well that allowing people to defecate in a public park, to park in-front of an ambulance, to throw trash in the middle of a busy road, to bribe their way out of a traffic incident, to rape or murder for honor (a perfectly viable proximal cause in Pakistan), these are instances that offer no credible threat to those in power. And to the extent that something doesn’t threaten to disrupt the free-ride of our happy masters, they’ll happily turn away from the most satanic minded of transgressions.
But come the question of free thought and they understand well that it is not benign. Because when thought flies the perch of dogma, the landscape finally becomes clearer. Eyebrows start to go up and questions begin to emerge.
And this is why Sabeen Mehmud like many others before her was dangerous. She was dangerous because she was a bird in flight. And she wanted others to fly with her. Because reality is a funny thing. It’s never a constant, but changes with the perceiver’s own position from where they view it. And nothing, absolutely nothing, poses a more credible threat to the status quo than a shift in perspective. Men, who understand this status quo and benefit from it immensely, will always be the first to extinguish the first flicker of unfettered thought.
Sabeen Mehmud was that flicker. And what’s more, she illuminated many others around her. By opening a space – T2F – for artists, thinkers, and ordinary people to interact and engage freely, she had essentially handed down oxygen masks to people denied of oxygen. And alas, in this lay her greatest undoing. She had broken the deadliest contract. The contract that we Pakistanis had long signed off on: that we will collectively, with callous abandon, loot and pillage every jot or tittle of our land so long as it doesn’t upset the state’s apple cart.
If we want to truly honor Sabeen Mehmud and others like her, people who transacted their lives for a principle they deemed larger than themselves — the freedom to think and express — then let’s honour that principle with the same passion.
Let’s knock down the apple cart. Let us fly with Sabeen.