Sunday, May 10, 2015

Arabic Song - Runa Laila

Turks fear Saudi alliance will drag country into Syria

By Fehim Taştekin

Although Turkey has long been implicated in the depths of the Syrian crisis, the Turkish public is newly anxious over claims that the Turkish Armed Forces are preparing to invade Syria to set up a buffer zone, following the fall of Idlib in late March to the Jabhat al-Nusra-led Army of Conquest.
Amid widespread speculation that the government will declare war so it can cancel the upcoming legislative elections, Gursel Tekin, secretary-general of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on May 7, “Turkey will enter Syria with a military operation tonight or Friday.” Tekin claimed he had been tipped off by a reputable source and added, “I am calling on the prime minister. Please get up and say, ‘There is no such madness. That is a baseless claim. Deny what I said.’”
The government remained silent for hours, allowing Tekin's accusation to generate even more excitement and speculation. The war agenda naturally found its place in election campaigns. Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP), told a gathering in Tunceli that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will do everything possible to take Turkey to war with Syria.
Ultimately, it was not the president or the prime minister who denied Tekin’s assertions, but Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz, while being persistently questioned by reporters. “Let him disclose his sources,” Yildiz said. “We suggest he should review his source.” It wasn’t enough, however, to temper the fears that Erdogan might go to war if he thinks he won't get the 400 parliamentary seats he so covets.
Even before Tekin issued his prediction, other developments were fueling such fears. The possibility of Turkey becoming a party to the Syrian civil war was also being driven by eyewitness reports that weapons financed by Saudi Arabia and foreign militants were entering Syria from Turkey and that Turkish units were deploying along the border.
According to information reaching Al-Monitor, illegal passages monitored by the Turkish army at the Hatay villages of Guvecci, Kuyubasi, Hacipasa, Besaslan, Kusakli and Bukulmez had been used for the transfers, which intensified clashes at Idlib and Jisr al-Shughur. Does all this activity presage Turkey entering a war that it is already a party to as a proxy sponsor?
A military source along Hatay’s border, where the massing of Turkish troops is visible, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that there are no preparations for a cross-border operation. About the situation at Yayladag-Altinozu, the site of constant heavy commercial truck traffic into Syria, the source said, “We know nothing about a military operation. There is no such preparation. The only unusual activity is the digging of ditches to prevent the smuggling of cars stolen in Turkey to Syria following a surge of car thefts in Turkey. If there had been preparations for a military operation, would we be digging ditches to impede our own movements?”
Murat Ozcelik, CHP deputy chairman and former undersecretary-general for public security, told Al-Monitor, “Especially President Erdogan may have the intention to send our army into the Syrian crisis. We know there has been pressure on the army for a long time. After we all learned what they discussed at the Foreign Ministry about the Tomb of Suleiman Shah from leaked voice recordings, we have become sensitive to any unusual developments. It is about deciphering such intentions after hearing rumors. But we can’t say that our army is preparing to start a war in Syria.”
CHP deputy Mevlut Dudu, electioneering in Hatay, told Al-Monitor, “I didn’t witness anything unusual. But people are afraid there will be war. They are already disturbed by clashes, now they are truly worried about news of a pending war.”
Mehmet Ali Edipoglu, CHP parliamentary foreign relations committee member, said, “There have been military movements toward the border for the past two months. Then came the fall of Idlib. That war was 15 kilometers [9 miles] from our border. Of course there is a possibility of Turkey entering the war in Syria. The border from Yayladag to Hacipasa is full of our soldiers. If the army gets the order, it will enter. But I think, instead of Syria, it is more likely that we will enter Iraq for the Mosul operation. Our army is not happy with our Syria policy. The soldiers are very uneasy about this. I don’t think that such a war is likely. It is not simple and easy.”
It is no secret that Turkey has built momentum with the Saudis if not to enter Syria now, then to galvanize a proxy war that in the long term could be even more perilous. After meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud during a visit to Riyadh Feb. 28-March 2, Erdogan had told journalists that they had agreed to boost support to the Syrian opposition to allow it to produce results.
The agreement stipulated that in return for Turkey’s support of the Saudi operation against Yemen, the two countries would join forces against the Syrian regime and form a bloc to counter Iranian influence in the region. Given the Saudi-Turkish agreement, the surge in activity along the Turkish-Syrian border cannot be a coincidence. The fall of Idlib followed palpable new military activity. According to one claim, developments in Syria are being managed from the Antakya Operations Room under the control of US and Turkish intelligence officials.
The CHP's Edipoglu shared information about this with Al-Monitor, stating, “It is true that the war is coordinated from here. The Antakya Operations Room doesn’t work out of a fixed location. Sometimes they meet in hotels. We warned our officials about this. We now hear that these meetings are held in a building guarded by intelligence services. It is possible to say that they are operating from multiple locations.” Meanwhile, the South Operations Room, in Jordan, is responsible for the southern front.
Turkey’s long-standing demand for a buffer or security zone in Syria returned to the agenda following an increase in military support to the northern front. The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), with Turkey onboard, approached the UN Security Council in late April with a request to declare part of Syria a no-fly zone.
Existence of the Saudi-Turkish partnership was exposed by the use of TOW anti-tank missiles against regime forces at Idlib and confirmed by the Syrian opposition. Khalid Khoja, head of the SNC, visiting Washington May 7 to seek support from the Barack Obama administration, told the Turkish daily Hurriyet about the simultaneous increase in weapons assistance to the southern front, supported by Saudi Arabia, and to the northern front, supported by Turkey. Khoja said, “Increased weapons assistance was noted in the recent clashes. Assad is retreating.” Khoja​, who had also met April 30 with Secretary of State John Kerry and Pentagon officials, said a critical juncture has been passed, and that after Idlib, the opposition's goal is to set up safe zones and then lay siege to Damascus.
That these developments are taking place on the eve of third-round, low-level meetings in Geneva is also noteworthy. The warring parties, as they have tried for the past four years, want to arrive at the negotiating table with strong hands. With the Geneva meeting approaching, the Syrian regime had made major gains on several fronts, notably, in Aleppo. The Saudi-Turkish partnership has thus upended an equation that was beginning to favor Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Beyond such calculations, will the alleged efforts succeed in dragging Turkey into a military adventure? Many people following developments believe that in light of the mechanisms imposing moderation and oversight in Turkey being in disarray, only tactical objections by the military can rule out such an eventuality. The objections of the military can best be summed up as follows: If Turkey enters, it can’t exit. The war will spread to the entire region.

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Bahrain - Regime forces surrounds largest Shiite Mosque, confiscate speakers and political banners

Eyewitnesses said that on the afternoon of Friday, May 8, 2015, members of the Bahraini regime forces raided Diraz, west of Manama, surrounded Al-Sadeq Mosque and confiscated a number of speakers and political banners, in addition to the Bahraini flags the prayers use in their protests every week after Friday prayer.

A crowded protest has been organized every week since several months in Al-Sadeq Mosque, the largest Shiite mosques in the country, whom the prominent cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, used to be his Imam before his health deteriorates.

Witnesses said that the regime forces raided Diraz, after the end of the protest, with a large number of patrols along with armored vehicle and headed towards Al-Sadeq Mosque to surround it. They also affirmed that civilian member affiliated to the security body were there too.

Witnesses also stressed that the regime forces confiscated everything related to the weekly protest that they tried to stop it using force many times ago. Later on, the regime forces deployed a checkpoint in the street leading to the country.

It is to mention that the Bahraini authorities have prevented all forms of licensed protests since September 2014.

Activists Slam Saudi Arabia's Record For Executions

By Revathi Siva Kumar

A global outcry against the beheading of five foreigners in Saudi Arabia has been raised by human rights groups. The concern is that this year will be marked by a surge in public executions, as 80 people have already been killed, compared to 88 last year, according to rt. 

Hence, in spite of mounting global criticism, Saudi Arabia went ahead with its execution of five foreign men allegedly for murder and theft. Just last month, Amnesty International had slammed the "macabre spike" in state-sponsored executions.
Adam Coogle, a Middle East analyst for Human Rights Watch, said: "From January to the end of July 2014 there were 15 executions, but they finished 2014 with 88, which shows clearly that the spike began last year and has continued," Coogle told the Independent. 
It was "shocking", said Peggy Hicks, Global Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch.
Amnesty International said that Saudi Arabia was ranked the third country with the number of executions in the world. In 2014, it was behind Iran, while China is thought to rank the highest. Iraq ranked fourth, and the US stood in the fifth place, said sputniknews. 
Amnesty International explained that Saudi Arabia's new leader has not shown a cessation in the execution of capital punishment for a number of offenses, including "blasphemy, treason, murder and drug trafficking."
Hence, the ascent of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to the Saudi Arabian throne has not improved human rights in any way.
"Any hopes that the arrival of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud might herald an improvement in human rights in Saudi Arabia have been crushed," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Director of Middle East and North Africa programs. He said that the new king is overseeing an "ongoing crackdown on government critics and peaceful activists, who continue to be intimidated, arbitrarily detained and treated as criminals."
"The first months of his reign have also been marked by an unprecedented wave of executions in a clear signal that the use of the death penalty is thriving in the Kingdom."
Coogle, however, did not feel that reaon for executions was due to the change in royalty.
"Personally, I would hesitate to relate the spike to the change of leadership," he said. "He certainly hasn't done anything to stop it but the high rate really began last August. It could be an issue with a backlog of prisoners or it could just be that they are sentencing more people to death."
Excluding China, where statistics were not released, at least 607 executions were known to have been performed globally in 2014, Amnesty International said in a report released in March, compared to 778 in 2013, which actually showed a decrease of more than 20 percent.
However, the report showed a rise in the number of death sentences handed down in 2014 compared to the previous year - at least 2,466 compared to 1,925 - an increase of more than 25 percent. The watchdog explained that the rise was due mainly to the unrest in Nigeria and Egypt, where hundreds of people were condemned to death.


Human rights group voices concern over Saudi treatment of migrant workers

Human rights campaigners voiced concerns on Sunday that undocumented migrant workers in Saudi Arabia are being detained in squalid conditions, beaten and deported to countries where their lives could be at risk in a crackdown on foreign workers.
Saudi authorities began a nationwide campaign in 2013 to deport foreigners working illegally or outside of sponsorship rules as part of labour market reforms aimed at reducing unemployment among its own citizens.
The move also came as Britain and the United States raised alleged cases of forced labour among some nine million migrant workers - of which two million are estimated to be undocumented - in the conservative Muslim state of 28 million people.
But the campaign to identify and deport irregular migrant workers has raised concerns about their treatment, with the UK government urging Riyadh to work with countries and specialist agencies to manage the return and resettlement of migrants.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its report that dozens of workers who were deported to Somalia and Yemen reported receiving little food or water, no medical care and being regularly beaten while detained.
"There were 300 people in the same jail cell, one on top of another," Nagi, a 57-year-old Yemeni from Aden, told HRW.
A series of emails, phone calls and text messages to Saudi officials in Riyadh and to the Saudi Embassy in London over four days were not returned for comment.
HRW said undocumented migrants are not allowed to challenge their deportation or apply for asylum, leaving them powerless to avoid being returned to countries where their lives or freedom could be threatened,
Many migrant workers who flee abusive employers and seek other work become undocumented under Saudi Arabia's sponsorship system, which bans migrants from changing jobs or leaving the country without their employer's permission, HRW said.
Police have carried out raids on businesses and residential areas in the deportation campaign, the rights group said.
Saudi authorities said they deported over 400,000 migrants in the first six months of the crackdown, and confirmed that 300,000 migrant workers were deported in the five months to March this year, an average of 2,000 a day, according to HRW.
"In seeking to enforce its labour laws, Saudi Arabia needs to be aware that these same laws sometimes encourage abuses that lead workers to become undocumented," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East and North Africa director.
"Saudi Arabia will never solve the problem of informal work until it fixes its labour system to root out long-term systemic abuses," Whitson said in a statement.

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Hillary Clinton Calls For Paid Family Leave On Mother’s Day

By: Jason Easley

Hillary Clinton’s Mother’s Day call for paid family leave illustrates why she is such a formidable presidential candidate.
Former Sec. of State Clinton said, “It is outrageous that America is the only country in the developed world that doesn’t guarantee paid leave. I have this new granddaughter, and I want her to have every opportunity, but I want every child in our country to have every opportunity. We know that when women are strong families are strong. When families are strong countries are strong. What more can we do so that it isn’t quite so hard? The answer is that we can do a lot if we do it together.”
Hillary Clinton is redefining and taking back the word opportunity for Republicans. In the Republican vernacular, the term opportunity is something that is reserved for wealthy men and corporations. Clinton is defining opportunity as equality and fairness, not just for women, but for children and families.
Her view of opportunity is what makes Hillary Clinton the candidate who could be 2016’s most pro-children and pro-family candidate for the White House. President Obama has fought hard for equal pay for women and paid family leave, but one gets the sense that it is Hillary Clinton who can achieve these goals.
It has been decades since the country has seen a candidate for president who so clearly knows who she is. Despite the media attacks and hand-wringing, there is a basic comfort that millions of voters already feel with Clinton. The contrast is best understood by watching a stampede of faceless and shapeless Republican candidates trying to bend themselves into what voters want.
When it comes to Hillary Clinton, it is all right there. Hillary Clinton presents a vision for the future that looks both attainable and easy to see.

How Hillary Is Winning

Frank Bruni

AS fleetly as Hillary Clinton vacuums up the money, she piles up the paradoxes.
She showed fatal weaknesses the last time she chased the presidency and her inevitability evaporated like a California puddle, but she’s somehow inevitable all over again. Invincible, even. Journalists have to remind themselves daily not to type or say “presumptive Democratic nominee” before her name.
She’s fashioning herself as someone uniquely attuned to “everyday Americans” while her husband fashions $500,000 speeches as amulets against the bill collector. Someone’s got to pay for the burrito bowls.
And her Republican rivals convince themselves that “I’m not Hillary” is their strongest argument and best bet, although the reverse holds true. At least for now, not being any one of them is her ace in the hole.
The 2016 race in its adolescence is between the dependably messy, perpetually maddening spectacle of the Clintons and a party with a brand-decimating profusion of mad hatters like the two who announced their bids and grabbed the spotlight last week, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson.
Advantage: Hillary Clinton.
That’s a clear takeaway from several surveys of voters released last week. They showed that despite her email shenanigans, despite the ethical muddle known as the Clinton Foundation, despite the growing confusion about whether the Hillary Clinton of 2016 will be of an ideological piece with the Hillary Clintons of yesteryear, voters will gladly take her, considering the alternatives.
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, she was six points ahead of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in head-to-head contests with either. She was 10 points ahead of Scott Walker.
Inexplicably and rather alarmingly, she was only three ahead of Rand Paul. The mysteries of the American electorate are boundless.
Meanwhile a New York Times/CBS News poll found that over the past month and a half, during which she weathered a veritable hurricane of negative news coverage, her favorability rating improved, and the percentage of voters who see her as a strong leader rose to 65 from 57. Nearly 80 percent of the Democrats surveyed deemed her honest and trustworthy.
There are many explanations. For starters, the hurricane I mentioned was experienced as a drizzle, if that, by many Americans, who aren’t exactly riveted by political news. Inasmuch as they notice journalists pouncing on the Clintons, they’re apt to shrug. The substance of the accusations is eclipsed by the familiarity of the tussle. It’s like lions on an impala: bloody, yes, but the natural order.
And the Clintons are being accused of what? Greed? There’s plenty of that to go around. Just ask Huckabee, a self-styled man of God and slave to Mammon.
As recounted by Trip Gabriel in The Times, Ron Fournier in the National Journal and Max Brantley in Salon, he’s a case study in financial high jinks, a master class in shamelessness. He reportedly used the Arkansas governor’s office “as a personal ATM,” in Fournier’s description, channeling public money toward private expenditures (a doghouse, Taco Bell) and accepting tens of thousands of dollars in highly questionable gifts, some from people who later received prominent political appointments.
More recently he did an infomercial hawking dietary supplements as a diabetes cure, even though reputable physicians and medical associations call it poppycock. Only three of the following four adjectives correctly describe that decision: tacky, mercenary, irresponsible and presidential.
Clinton benefits from not being Huckabee, who described Obamacare’s contraception provision as a big-government sop to women who can’t “control their libido,” blamed an absence of God in schools for the deadly shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 and then proceeded to write a book with a title that put firearms on a comforting par with breakfast food. Run, don’t walk, to pick up your copy of “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.”
Clinton also benefits mightily from not being Carson, who has lumped together homosexuality and bestiality and has likened Obamacare to slavery, President Obama to a psychopath and the United States under President Obama to Nazi Germany. It is said that Carson is a talented brain surgeon. I’m taking my cerebellum elsewhere if it ever comes to that.
And Clinton benefits as well from not being Carly Fiorina, who also declared a candidacy for the presidency last week. When Americans look askance at professional politicians, it doesn’t mean that they long for the polar opposite and are poised to award the presidency to someone who, in Fiorina’s case, has never held elected office, routinely failed to vote in the past, bungled her role as a surrogate for John McCain in 2008, had a miserable showing in her 2010 race for the United States Senate against Barbara Boxer, and claims a business expertise that’s long been in vigorous dispute. Her campaign will be powered by hubris, not logic.
REPUBLICANS crow about their deep bench. And they do have some formidable candidates, including Marco Rubio, who is an anti-Hillary in ways that could indeed work for him, and Jeb Bush. But Rubio and Bush share the bench with an unruly crowd that pulls them and the party too far to the right.
Republicans also take heart from their majority in the Senate and their greater number of governors. But voters behave somewhat differently in presidential elections than in other ones, which is one reason Wisconsin has remained blue even during Walker’s red reign.
The party’s image hasn’t gone through the intended upgrade after its defeat in 2012. According to the Times/CBS poll, just 29 percent of Americans now view Republicans favorably, though 43 percent feel that way about Democrats. That number is unlikely to improve much with the likes of Huckabee, Carson, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum roaming Iowa and foaming at the mouth.
Besides, these two words come into play: Supreme Court. I know voters who’d give more consideration to Rubio, Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich if they didn’t fear the kind of jurist one of them might nominate at the behest of the religious right. And the next president could easily wind up filling two vacancies on the high court.
That thought is the soil in which love for Hillary Clinton flowers. It’s a prompt for people who otherwise suffer bone-wearying Clinton fatigue to focus on her unquestioned smarts over her questionable scruples, her experience over her i.o.u.s, her sturdiness over her slipperiness. There’s a case to be made for her, and there’s motivation to make that case.
In another recent poll, by CNBC, she was the preferred candidate of voters with a net worth of $1 million or more. Apparently they, too, have made peace with her. Or maybe they just recognize a kindred spirit.

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Video Report - Putin and Merkel agree Ukraine peace deal not being respected

No Strings Attached: Russia, China Forge Ties Yet No Military Alliance

The two countries are not about to change their mutual relationship into a formal military alliance, analysts said.
Despite their significant ongoing cooperation, China and Russia are not planning to have any formal military alliance, said Tian Chunsheng, an analyst at the State Council’s Russian Development Research Centre.
The reinforcement of military and diplomatic ties between Beijing and Moscow has been encouraged by their common past and present-day inhibition by the West, but the fallout from the Sino-Soviet split in 1969 was a reminder to officials on both sides “not to repeat any historical tragedies by forming any alliance,” Chunsheng said.
The analyst noted that the current intensive military cooperation between China and Russia doesn’t mean they will build up, or form any official military alliance.
“Setting up a state organization, such as NATO, would violate the two countries’ fundamental principles.”

“Both Beijing and Moscow suffered a lot because of the ups and downs in their bilateral relationship during the 1960s and 1990s,” the analyst added.
Antony Wong Dong, a Macau-based military observer, said Beijing and Moscow would try to continue a “collaborative relationship” amid the containment efforts of the US and its allies.
“Beijing and Moscow remain friends because so far they have had no reason to break their ties in the face of all the actions of the Western allies,” Wong said.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to Moscow, China and Russia are expected to sign deals on energy, infrastructure and military cooperation.

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Putin: Russia can influence E.Ukraine, but it's up to Kiev to solve crisis

Vladimir Putin placed the onus on Petro Poroshenko’s government to follow through on the Minsk agreements to resolve the Ukrainian conflict in comments made at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow. “The success of the peace initiative depends on those who hold the reins of power. By this, I mean primarily the government in Kiev. In turn, Russia will try to exercise its influence with the leadership in Donetsk and Lugansk [regions],” the Russian president said.

We believe that Kiev needs to lift the economic blockade of the Donbass region, restore banking services, and carry out a constitutional reform with participation from the southeast of the country,” said Putin, who noted that all of these conditions were contained within the Minsk roadmap, signed by Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.
Putin admitted that there were “issues with compliance with the agreements on both sides,” but noted that systematic violence has decreased in the past three months, and said there was no alternative to the agreed peace plan.
Last month, the UN estimated that the total death toll for the conflict, which began a year ago, had exceeded 6,100 people. After a period of calm, violence between the secessionist rebels and the government, neither of which have renounced their territorial claims, has surged.
For her part, Merkel said that Putin “wields sufficient power over the separatists to at least ensure a ceasefire,” and called for “the territorial integrity of Ukraine to be restored,” mentioning not only eastern Ukraine, but Crimea, which became a part of Russia in March 2014.
Putin also returned to his persistent theme of Western double standards, citing the recent Saudi-led international intervention to restore power to Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was toppled by Shiite rebels earlier this year.
“There was a coup, the president gave up his powers, and now other countries, with whom we have good relations, are trying to return him to power. This is acknowledged as a coup. After a coup happened in Ukraine last year, we heard a bouquet of insults flung towards the deposed president Viktor Yanukovich, while those who seized power received every sort of encouragement,” said Putin, answering a question from the media.
“If we are going to approach similar events from such contrasting viewpoints, then we are never going to find common ground. In the international arena, it can’t always be that ‘might is right,’ but norms of international law, which are understood, applied and protected in the same way by all the participants,”said Putin, who called for the UN, and not blocs such as NATO, to become the arbitrator of international conflicts.
Thanking Merkel, who was the only leader of a major Western power to visit Moscow for the commemoration ceremonies marking the victory over Nazi Germany, Putin admitted that there had been “difficulties” between the two countries over “competing perceptions of the events in Ukraine,”resulting in a “cooldown,” but said that he had hopes that the situation would improve in the near future.
“Our countries cooperated even in much more challenging conditions, when there seemed to be insurmountable barriers,” said Putin.
Merkel then reassured him, saying “Germany is working with Russia, not against it.”

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Barack Obama slams Elizabeth Warren on trade comments


President Barack Obama has stoked the rising tensions with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the progressive Democratic base over contentious trade negotiations.
In an interview with Yahoo! Politics published Saturday, Obama said that the Massachusetts senator’s arguments “don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny,” and that “she is absolutely wrong,” on any trade deal’s potential to roll back the Dodd Frank Act.

Obama’s comments came during his visit to Nike headquarters in Portland where he is promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated between 12 countries.
Warren has argued that a bill giving Obama “fast-track” authority to approve the trade pact would “give Republicans the very tool they need to dismantle Dodd-Frank,” the 2010 law passed in the wake of the financial crisis and a signature accomplishment of the Obama administration.
The president didn’t hide his irritation at Warren’s comments, stating, “the notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure we don’t have what happened in 2007 and 2008, and then I sign a provision to unravel it? I’d have to be pretty stupid.”
Obama said Warren’s arguments were not based on substantive evidence. “This is pure speculation,” he said. The bill has drawn ire from both congressional Republicans and Democrats.
In a further jab at Warren, Obama suggested she was playing politics with the issue. Warren is being urged to run for president in 2016 by many in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. So far, she has declined.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, hasn’t taken a concrete position on the trade negotiations. Asked her stance by an MSNBC reporter, she replied, “Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security, and we have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive.”
The White House is under the impression that Clinton supports the trade deal.
Warren, meanwhile, has staked out firmer ground on the trade negotiations that would allow her to attack Clinton from the left, should she choose to run.
In Portland, Obama also acknowledged criticism from within the party’s progressives, but said some of his closest friends are “wrong.”
“I’ve run my last election, and the only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for the American workers and the American people and the American economy,” Obama said.

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As U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan, darkness falls on Taliban’s birthplace

By Sudarsan Raghavan

Inside a former U.S. military combat outpost, still ringed by curled barbed wire and blast walls, several massive generators are silent. Outside, factories that depend on the machines for electricity are either shuttered or on the brink of closing.
They are totems to one of the least-known American efforts to combat the Afghan insurgency: lighting up this strategic southern city, the cradle of the Taliban. But on this April day — nearly a year after U.S. troops vacated the base, leaving the Afghans in control — the more than $300 million American project to bolster the economy by supplying electrical power had literally broken down.
As the U.S. military’s presence and its aid dollars shrink, the cash-strapped Afghan government is unable to afford spare parts or fuel for the generators. Now, Kandahar, where Osama bin Laden ordered the 9/11 attacks, is growing darker, raising questions about the city’s stability and whether U.S. funds were properly spent.
A year ago, on good days, some enclaves received 12 to 16 hours of electricity a day. Today, sometimes weeks go by with no power at all, local officials and residents said.
“We are struggling to survive,” said Rohullah Noori, the marketing manager of Herat Ice Cream, which neighbors the base. “Our company’s life depends on electricity.”
Around this city, scores of businesses have closed or downsized as a result of power shortages. Un­employment is growing, as is resentment of the central government. Prices of basic necessities are rising, partly because of higher fuel costs to drive generators. Life has become a struggle — so much so that some residents pine for the days of Taliban rule.
“During the Taliban, we had city power and security. That was the best time,” said Sultan Mohammad, who sat in near-darkness inside his shop, unable to keep his soft drinks cold. “This is the worst time we’ve ever faced, without electricity.”
Local officials, as well as U.S. government investigators probing waste in American-funded projects, worry that insurgents could feed off the despair and gain more recruits, erasing hard-fought gains in security. Or jobless people could turn to crime or work in the opium fields, bolstering the narcotics trade and undermining another key U.S. goal.
“If the security in Kandahar becomes bad, it will impact all of Afghanistan,” said Sayed Rasoul, the regional director of the government’s power utility, known by its acronym DABS. “The Taliban was born here. All of Afghanistan’s revolutions started from here.”
The last time Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city, had round-the-clock electricity was in the 1970s.
“If the security in Kandahar becomes bad, it will impact all of Afghanistan,” said Sayed Rasoul, the regional director of the government’s power utility, known by its acronym DABS. “The Taliban was born here. All of Afghanistan’s revolutions started from here.”
The last time Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city, had round-the-clock electricity was in the 1970s.
On a recent day, the city had received no electricity from the dam for the previous two months because of intense clashes between Taliban and Afghan security forces.
“It was a waste of money to build these generator plants,” said Sayed Jan Khakrezwal, the head of the provincial council. “It was like placing clay over water to cross it.”
Kandahar is now a city of generators. They hum in factories, shops and government buildings. Some are as big as cars, powering entire shopping complexes. In poorer enclaves, streets are dark, the houses and shops lighted as they were in the 19th century.
In the past six weeks, the ­Etehad Bottling Co. has spent $11,000 for generator fuel. A year ago, when the U.S. generators provided most of the power, it cost a few hundred dollars a month. Last year, the company ran two shifts a day, employing 155 workers. Now there’s one, and 35 employees have been let go.
“We cannot compete in the market,” said Sayed Ahmad Sameh, Etehad Bottling’s manager, citing power shortages as the main reason.
To be sure, not all the economic downsizing is purely electricity-related. As most U.S. forces have departed, so have lucrative military contracts and aid.
But if the electricity situation gets worse, the bottling company plans to cut another 30 to 40 jobs.
The last time Abdul Qayum, an employee, was jobless, he worked in fields where opium poppies are grown.
“If I lose my job, I will return to the poppy fields,” he said.
‘Free energy, green energy’
Senior local government and national utility officials said in interviews that they urged American military and aid officials to provide a more sustainable source of energy months before the decision was taken to pursue the generator option.
“There were other permanent alternatives — wind, hydro or charcoal energy,” said Tooryalai Wesa, governor of Kandahar province. “With that kind of money spent, we could have had a very stable solar-powered system.”
Col. Allan L. Webster, joint engineering director for U.S. Forces Afghanistan, acknowledged that Afghan officials urged the consideration of more durable options. But large-scale power projects take “significant time and resources to complete,” he said.
Webster defended the fuel-supply initiative as a “bridging solution” that would “temporarily increase power until a permanent solution is achieved.”
In January 2011, months before the fuel-supply project began, a report commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that a local dam — the Dahla Dam — could be rehabilitated to provide hydropower to Kandahar.
The projected cost was roughly $40 million, 14 percent of the cost of the fuel subsidies. The potential power it would generate was 22 megawatts a day, slightly more than the two U.S. Army generator sites, and it was sustainable. In the past four years, the Dahla Dam area has never been a fighting zone.
“This is free energy, green energy,” said Rasoul, the regional DABS director, adding that it would have taken a year to build the hydropower plant. “But nothing was ever done.”
But Webster said the Army felt Kandahar had two better options to bring additional electricity: installing a third turbine at the ­Kajaki Dam and building a transmission line to connect the nation’s southern and northern electricity grids.
Today, those two projects — together costing U.S. taxpayers about $745 million — are several years from completion.
The U.S. government is now considering spending millions more on a proposal local officials made before 2011: a solar power plant. But the electricity from the plant will be nowhere near enough to meet the city’s needs.
There is still no permanent solution. Since the reductions in the U.S. fuel supply, the Afghan government has been unable to fill the gap. U.S. military commanders and aid officials had expected DABS to increase prices for electricity, which is heavily subsidized, to pay for fuel and timely repairs. But DABS officials said they fear price hikes would breed resentment and harm businesses even more.
“It has to be a big jump in price,” said Mirwais Alami, the commercial director for DABS. “The people will find it hard to accept it.
“Honestly, we don’t know what to do with Kandahar,” he said.

Members of Congress make a Mother's Day trip to Afghanistan

Four members of Congress - including two from Southern California - made an early Mother's Day trip last week to Afghanistan to talk with women serving there in the U.S. military, as well as Afghan women.

Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) made her 10th trip to Afghanistan, including every Mother's Day trip since 2009. Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) made her first trip to Afghanistan since being elected last year.
Davis and Torres delivered Mother's Day cards made by children in their districts. Joining them were Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.).
The four discussed with female military members the challenges of being away from their children while forward deployed.
With the Afghan women, the U.S. officials talked about their hope that the Afghan national security forces will recruit more women.
Before leaving for the trip, Davis was able to get support from the House Armed Services Committee for $50 million in the defense budget to help the Afghan forces recruit and retain women. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act awaits a House vote.

Celebrating Mother’s Day in Pakistan: The dark side of ‘motherhood’
By Hamna Tariq
On Mother’s Day, I gave my mother a cushion with the words “Happy Mother’s Day” sewn on it and I attempted to write a letter to thank her for all she’s done for my brother and me. I made sure that after working around the clock all year, she could get some time to pamper herself. My mother and I love to attend gender equality enhancement seminars together and we bond over a cup of tea in the evenings after I get out of school and she gets free from her work. But both my mother and I know that the idea of “motherhood” has a dark side where we live in Pakistan: all over our country, girls like me are forced to marry and become mothers before the age of 18. In Pakistan, one in 10 girls will be married before they reach the age of 15, one in four will be married before they are 18, and if present trends continue, nearly 2.5 million of the young girls born between 2005 and 2010 will be married before age 18. Marital rape is frequent and remains in a vacuum of the law as a contentious topic. And once girls in Pakistan are married, only a few of them use contraception in spite of their needs to space childbearing. This results in a large population of child mothers, many of them much younger than I am, who had no say in determining their futures.
“Her wish for me to live a life that is different from the majority of girls in our country.”
In 2012, at least 1,000 Pakistani women and girls who were mostly victims of child marriage were murdered in so-called ‘honor killings’ carried out by husbands or male relatives over suspicions of adultery or other illicit sexual behavior, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private organization. It said another 7,000 survived similar assaults, including acid attacks, amputations, and immolation. Unfortunately, child marriage, honor killings and domestic violence are not the only challenges facing girls in Pakistan. Pakistan has the world’s second highest number of children out of school, reaching 5.1 million in 2010. This is equivalent to 1 in 12 of the world’s out-of-school children. Two-thirds of Pakistan’s out of school children are girls, meaning over 3 million girls don’t have access to education. Education can make a big difference to women’s future earnings in Pakistan: women with a high level of literacy earn 95% more than women with no literacy skills.
I know how lucky I am: my family supports my choices and advocates for my education and healthy upbringing. My mother is an independent thinker and an outspoken supporter of women’s rights. Her wish for me to live a life that is different from the majority of girls in our country. She inspires me to continue her legacy of charting a path towards change for Pakistani women and girls. But my upbringing has not shielded me from the harsh realities of living as a woman in my country. Even though I grew up in a progressive household in Pakistan, I have never been outside my house without male accompaniment, and I am always covered head to toe. I’ve seen my cousins outside of the city married at fifteen to much older men. They did not protest; marriage is all they were raised to expect. Young feminists in the United States have no qualms about fighting for their rights in their home country, but I’m scared that if I return to Pakistan after university to begin a career in women’s rights, I may be harassed – or killed.
“There are ways we can pressure countries like Pakistan to protect girls and women.” HAMNA TARIQ The issues that plague Pakistani women are widespread across the globe. If nothing changes, there will be 142 million child marriages in developing countries between now and 2021 – or 37,000 girls per day. If nothing changes, as many as 30 million girls will remain at risk of genital mutilation or cutting before their 15th birthday. And if nothing changes, girls will continue to face the barriers that prevent them from pursuing an education. But there are ways we can pressure countries like Pakistan to protect girls and women. The United Nations is currently negotiating its post-2015 development goals, which will be finalized in September, to provide guidance and overall strategy for the next 15 years of international diplomacy and action. As the UN member states, including Pakistan, debate these goals this year, it is critical that they make girls’ rights a top priority and the central focus of the post-2015 goals. I know that the long-term well-being and stability of girls in my country and around the globe can only be guaranteed through sustained leadership from world powers and the UN. This is why I have spoken out for change. In anticipation of negotiations on the post-2015 UN development goals, more than 500 adolescent girls, including me, advised over 25 leading development organizations and issue experts to create The Girl Declaration, a document that lays out the key elements needed in the new development agenda to put the focus on girls, including standards for education, health services, safety, legal reforms, and sexual rights. It’s our hope that the UN listens to the voices of these girls from around the world and puts their rights front and center. Ensuring that adolescent girls grow up healthy, educated, safe and empowered is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty and building a better future for the world. By focusing international goals on adolescent girls, the UN can not only guarantee a better life for them, but can help tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing Pakistan, and the world today. My mother taught me to fight for the rights of women like me, and I will continue to advocate that no girl should be forced into marriage and early motherhood before she is ready. Hamna Tariq is a 17-year-old girl living in Lahore, Pakistan. She is a member of the Youth Advocacy Network in Pakistan and Advocates for Youth Girl Engagement Advisory Board, where she advocates on behalf of young women in national and International arenas. Her mother, Zoia Tariq, is a women’s rights activist in Pakistan.


The Saudi funded Takfiri Mullah who claimed himself Mufti known as Mufti Naeem Of Jamia Binoria, in his another decree termed that the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was an infidel because he belongs to Shiite Muslim School of thought.
The ShiiteNews Monitoring team obtained this controversial decree (FATWA) Of this Saudi-US funded Wahabi Mullah (Mufti Naeem) from his seminary website.
We bring to you in this article one of Mulla Naeems LUNAVERSITY’S example which will prove evident of what we have mentioned above. QUAID-E-AZAM Muhammad Ali Jinnah was an INFIDEL, states the lunaversity’s decree in the past. We have managed to obtain a copy of this decree which we present to you below:

In a reply to a question regarding Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the tribunal chaired by Mufti naeem stated that Shias to include Jinnah are Infidels period. When cross questioned he iterated that as Jinnah belonged to Shiite Sect and there remains only few shias that come under Islams Umbrella though they still will be considered heretics. He went to state that most sects of shias are infidel and have nothing to do with islam. He said that is not aware of Jinnah’s faith, but realizing that Jinnah’s funeral was offered by Mufti Taqi Usmani, it makes Jinnah Sunni Deobandi.
As evident from the above the teaching offered by the Lunaversity would leave a client in dismay and disdain. Can a decree be this ambiguous? I was told that a decree holds grounds backed by Quran and Sunnah and not par ones views.
Father Of Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Quaid-e-Azam was Asna Ashri Shia. It is a fact that Taqi Usmai offered his funeral, but it is annulled that prior this funeral another procession was offered by Maulana Syed Anis ul Hasan. If Jinnah was a Sunni Deobandi why was his funeral offered by a Shia Maulana. We await Mulla Naeem and Lunaversities answer.
Mufti Naeems (GODFORBID) Slander on Maula Ali (AS)
Whose Infidel?
It remains essential to know what an infidel is. An indifel against Islamic Jurisprudence is one who doesn’t believe Allah (SWT) or brings in his partners. Secondly one should believe in HIS prophet Muhammad (SAWWS) as his last and only prophet. The two remain mandatory for any believer for absence of one will make him an INFIDEL.
Shia and its Sects
Shias believe remain fundamental in the two aforementioned and further in the light of the same believe in the system of Wilayah. It is same as believing in the Caliphate after demise of Muhammad (SAWWS). Other sect of Shias though derailed from system of Wilayah are Bohris, Ismailis and Zaidis, remain staunch of the aforementioned two fundamentals of Islam whereby they as well cannot be termed as infidels.
It is to be noted that enemies of Islam against a conspiracy declared Nusairis as Shias, whereas Shias as well consider Nusairis Infidels as they consider Ali (AS) as Lord. Nusairis are not to be considered shias but infidels with no relation to any sect of Shia.
In the light of the above, we would suggest Musti Naeem and Co. to enhance their colleagues knowledge prior shoving out decrees par choice, as they are not only negligent of varied sects of islam but of their own. One the other hand we request the Government and Security Officials to take notice of these elements being true enemy of the state, lashing out acrimony between the nation through decrees, declarations and hate speeches. It is due these events that suicide bombers, lulled by paradise in heavens through killing infidels, explode themselves in Schools, Hospitals, Mosques, Churches, Forces Premises etc. Imagine the Sharia they talk of and its implementation through force. We request a full fledged operation against such elements which are not only against national interest but as well enemies of Islam.
We have plenty more of these decrees issued by Mullah Naeem and Co. through his Lunaversity which we shall make public soon.
Keep reading
It is in the advent that Pervez Rahid in the recent past mentioned to state that Madrassas as such (Banoria Town) are considered to be University of Lunatics (LUNAVERSITY). These lunaversities are around us not only manipulate religion by twisting varied meanings but as well bring in new forms and values in the name of MONOTHEISM.
This particular Saudi-Funded Mulla, his school of thought and his institutions have gone not only against the innate values of Islam but as well were against the creation of an Islamic nation – Pakistan. Evidences of the same will be provided in future articles showing their allegiance to Congress-India till date and their support towards their viewpoint.