Thursday, August 20, 2015

Music Video - August Alsina - No Love ft. Nicki Minaj

An ice cream meltdown: Ben and Jerry support Iran deal

Ben and Jerry, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, came out in support of the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday in an email to MoveOn.orgactivists, encouraging members to sign a petition supporting a donor strike - a pledge not to donate money to Democrats who are working to encourage the failure of the vote on the deal in Congress.
The ice cream moguls stated that Democrats working against the deal, which is a victory for American national security, are going to lead the United States to revisit an Iraq-like war.

The letter explained that when members donate to the Democratic party in "moderate chunks," the small amounts donated by each person add up to millions of dollars donated to the party each year. By threatening to withhold that money, they can "send a powerful message" to the Democrats working against the deal.

The pair claim that this deal is “the only peaceful way to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” and have signed the petition "not to contribute a dime to any Democrats who put us on a path to war."

"The bottom line is this: This agreement is the only way to keep us off a path to war. Major national security experts, our nation's top military brass, President Obama, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and a whole host of others all agree: the alternative to this diplomatic agreement with Iran would be war."

Ben and Jerry claim that this deal is a victory for American national security and that nearly 25,000 people have already signed the petition. 

"War means American women and men in uniform will die. It means tens of thousands of civilians will perish. And it means billions—maybe trillions—of taxpayer dollars (which should go to things like green energy development, health care, or schools) will be drained from the federal budget," they wrote. "You know who would love that? Big military contractors and their armies of lobbyists. But the rest of us would be in deep, deep trouble." 

They called on fellow members to join them in "sending a not-to-be-missed message" to the Democrats in Congress by agreeing to withhold any and all donations from anyone who works to sabotage President Obama's efforts. 

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Pakistan's “child-abuse” - Outrageous!

By Najam Sethi 

The “child-abuse” or “child porn” case (as billed by some newspapers) in Hussain Khan Wala village in Kasur district of Punjab has outraged everyone. Anyone who has seen videos of the criminal brutalization of children cannot but be shocked and angry. Understandably, there is a public outcry for swift and ruthless accountability of those who criminally abused children and blackmailed their families for extortion. Questions have arisen about the extent of child-abuse, number of criminals in the gang, their social and political outreach, and the role of the local police in ignoring the crime from 2008-12 and then trying to put a lid on it.
The fact that sexual abuse of minors is widely prevalent and deeply rooted has rarely been exposed in the media or combated in law. Nor has the police ever been trained or educated to respond to cases of child abuse, rape, domestic violence, honour killings, harassment of women and minorities, etc., in the same urgent manner in which cases of law and order, murder and theft are dealt with routinely.
The facts of the Kasur case have been distorted in the heat and dust kicked up by vested interests. The accusers feeding the media say hundreds of children have been brutalized. The police say the evidence in hand (video identification and volunteer admissions) so far points to a gang of about 22 criminals and 30 or so victim-children. Obviously, however, there must be many families who are not yet ready to admit being dishonoured and blackmailed.
The Punjab government has set up a Joint Investigation Team comprising police and Intel officials after the Lahore High Court refused to sanction a judicial commission. But this inquiry will not cut ice with the public. The local mood was evident when the IGP Punjab waded into the village with reassurances and was all but physically manhandled by the crowd. The CM has suspended junior and senior police officials for negligence and lack of serious purpose in addressing the complaints when they were first aired. This too is not likely to cool the simmering resentment and anger. The case has now been referred to a speedy anti-terrorist court and more arrests are in the offing. The government’s initial tepid response was much the same as the police’s – “yes, some miscreants have been up to no good, the local police is dealing with them, but the case is being blown out of proportion by some vested interests and the media as usual”. This was like sprinkling salt on an open societal gash.
There are other troubling “facts” that have been largely ignored in the outburst of collective rage but may shed some light on the vested interests of the main actors. How come this case has erupted now when the criminal practice of video-taping and blackmailing of victims in this village is at least seven years old? How come some of the accused are small time government servants who recently “won” an auction of a plot of 94 kanals of government land that was hitherto communal land? How come the Jamaat-e-Islami cadres in the area under the banner of a radical religious youth organization and PTI activists out to score points against the PMLN government have played a central role in whipping up passions and giving sensational briefings to the media?
According to SAHIL, an NGO researching child sexual abuse in Pakistan, there were over 3500 reported child abuse cases in 2014 (over 2000 from Punjab, followed by over 800 in Sindh) or 10 children were abused every day of the year, an increase of 17 per cent over the previous year. Of these, over 1200 cases related to rape/sodomy or gang rape/gang sodomy and 142 children were actually murdered after being physically violated. Among the victims, a majority of over 2000 were girls. Among the 6500 accused sexual assaulters, a majority were family, friends and acquaintances. Nearly 70% of the cases were reported in the rural areas. Police apathy was reflected in the fact that, despite being reported, the police only registered 70 per cent of the complaints/incidents. God alone knows how many parents did not report sexual abuse of their children because it would dishonor the family.
Clearly, child sexual abuse is widespread in society. But society and its public representatives have been loath to subscribe to civil and legal norms to combat it in Pakistan, unlike in the West where its pernicious outcrop is subject to strong deterrent laws and societal awareness and resistance.
Child sexual abuse, like violent persecution of minorities, oppression and exploitation of women and rape, must be suitably addressed if we are to be a civilized state. Will the Kasur incident spur appropriate legislation, police education and societal activism? Or, after the recent outrage has inevitably subsided, will child sexual abuse be relegated to the same dustbin where other societal criminal activities languish like child marriage, rape, honour killings and violence against minorities?
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Pakistani ID cards issued to terrorists for as less as $100 bribe

Pakistan has been probing a scandal involving its National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)officials receiving bribe for issuing identity cards to militants.
According to official documents, the country’s spy agency the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) has uncovered this during its ongoing anti-terrorism operation.
“It has been found that many NADRA officials are involved in facilitating miscreants and terrorists in obtaining fake identity,” a correspondence seen by AFP news states.
Including a retired army brigadier and a retired colonel, the names of 40 NADRA officials have so far popped up in the investigation.
Result of the current investigation reveals that the ID cards were issued to al-Qaeda and other militants such as Uzbek, Chinese and Maldivians for as less as 10,000 to 20,000 Pakistani Rupees. 10,000 Pakistani Rupees make less than $100 approximately $95.
An ID card was issued to Adnan EI Shukrijumah, one of the leaders of al-Qaeda’s external operation programme, who was wanted by the US over a plot to attack the subway system in New York City in 2009.
The US had announced a bounty of $5 million US dollars on top of his head.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Shukrijumah had also spent some times in the United States but killed in military operation in South Wazirisstan in 2014.
The investigation further reveals that a total of about 50,000 ID cards have been issued illegally in Pakistan.
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Has the U.S. really spent more on Afghanistan than on post-WWII Europe?

By Jon Greenberg

The days of a massive American military presence in Afghanistan are over. Afghan forces might benefit from about 10,000 U.S. trainers and advisers, but otherwise, the country’s security is in their hands. Yet after more than a dozen years of American engagement, the situation is fragile in the extreme.
Talks between the government of President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban are on hold with no date to restart. Military casualties are up 50 percent from last year. Nearly 5,000 civilians have died so far in 2015.
In this context, Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker offered his take on the results of billions of American taxpayer dollars invested in rebuilding the country. In an Aug. 4, 2015, cartoon, a bewildered Uncle Sam stands on top of a pipeline of aid to Afghanistan riven with cracks that spell the word "corruption."  Superimposed is a box that says, "The U.S. has now spent more on reconstructing Afghanistan than was spent on the Marshall Plan and the reconstruction of Europe."
A reader asked us to verify that comparison.
In terms of inflation-adjusted dollars, the statement holds up. But, as we’ll explain, it falls short on two points.
The primary source of the claim
Wuerker pointed us to one of many news reports during 2014. In June that year, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released one of its regular updates for Congress. In a short section, it compared the two programs.
"Adjusted for inflation, U.S. appropriations for the reconstruction of Afghanistan exceed the funds committed to the Marshall Plan, the U.S. aid program that delivered billions of dollars between 1948 and 1952 to help 16 European countries recover in the aftermath of World War II," the report said.
The Inspector General analysts wrote that in inflation-adjusted dollars, the United States had spent $103 billion on the Marshall Plan and $109 billion on Afghanistan.
The investment of American dollars is a fair yardstick, but experts noted others.
Two very different programs
While both efforts aimed to rebuild war-torn nations, the most striking difference is the Marshall Plan spent no money on the European armed forces. In contrast, about 60 percent of the aid spent on Afghanistan went towards arming and training the military and police. In fact, the Inspector General’s report makes note of that distinction. By its tally, building the Afghan security forces absorbed nearly $62 billion of the total. (To clarify, the total for Afghanistan excludes the cost of American military operations.)
The Marshall Plan unfolded long ago, so a short summary is in order for those who might not know it well.
The Truman administration and Congress created the Marshall Plan to stabilize the economies of Western Europe. In the early part, the program delivered hard goods such as food, animal feed, fertilizer and fuel. Later, direct aid shifted to providing raw materials and production equipment.
Aid also came in the form of grants and loans. In the dollars of the time, spending reached $10.3 billion. About half was invested in power plants, roads, railroads and agriculture. Another portion went towards debt relief. There were loan guarantees to spur American firms to invest in Europe.
Charles Maier, a Harvard historian, is a leading authority on post-World War II Europe. Maier told us that making comparisons across a span of more than 50 years is "notoriously tricky." The circumstances on the ground in Europe in the later 1940s and Afghanistan today are fundamentally different, Maier said.
"The European countries — outside Greece — were really functioning administrative systems," Maier said. "Few of those societal infrastructures have been operative in Afghanistan. Also, when the aid was being provided, there was no fighting in the recipient countries, except for the civil war in Greece, 1946-49."
Maier also emphasized that while the inflation-adjusted dollars might put the Afghanistan price tag above that of the Marshall Plan, when compared to the size of the American economy at the time, the Marshall Plan represented a much heftier commitment than U.S. aid to Afghanistan.
U.S. GDP then and now
During the years of the Marshall Plan, the size of the U.S. economy was in the neighborhood of $310 billion (in dollars at that time). So, with total spending of$10.3 billion on European reconstruction, the Marshall Plan represented about 4.3 percent of average GDP.
Maier then contrasted that with the Afghanistan spending between 2002 and 2014. During those years, the economy averaged about $14.3 trillion. The money spent on Afghanistan represented about 0.75 percent of average GDP.
"That's about one-twentieth of the Marshall Plan burden," Maier said. "This seems a much more rational way of thinking about the burden the U.S. was bearing."
Seen through the lens of the strain on the American economy, the Marshall Plan required more effort than rebuilding Afghanistan.
Our ruling
Wuerker said that the United States has spent more for Afghanistan reconstruction than it did to rebuild Europe under the Marshall Plan. While the math behind the claim adds up, it's important to know that the reconstruction programs are not identical.
The Marshall Plan spent no funds on military projects, while about 60 percent of Afghanistan aid was spent on security. The Marshall Plan was entirely focused on economic investments, while the spending in Afghanistan has been weighted much more toward establishing a secure space in which economic growth can occur.
The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

Pakistan - Gunmen On Motorcycles Kill Young Pashtun Actress Musarrat Shaheen

Ayoung Pashtun actress from Pakistan’s volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province has been shot dead by unknown gunmen, prompting police to launch a search for the killers.
(not to be confused with the actor, cum politician of the same name).
The 22-year-old Musarrat Shaheen was with her mother on August 19 in the province’s central district of Nowshera, about 35 kilometers east of Peshawar, when gunmen on motorcycles pulled up beside them and began shooting.
Police say Shaheen died from multiple gunshots wounds and that her mother also was injured in the attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Shaheen appeared as an actress in some Pakistani television programs and had starred regularly in locally produced serial dramas that are distributed on DVDs.
She was not related to the 57-year-old Mussarat Shaheen, a film actress and singer from the province’s Dera Ismail Khan district who became famous in the 1970s for her provocative dancing and, later, became a politician who challenged Islamic fundamentalists.

Pakistan - Kasuri points out ‘missing’ foreign minister

Commenting on recent defence agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India, former Foreign Affairs minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri has pointed out ‘missing’ of a Foreign Affairs minister from the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying Pakistan need a full time minister to deal foreign affairs accordingly.

Talking to Daily Times, Kasuri said that Pakistan was lacking a full time Foreign Affairs minister as the office was being held with the worthy prime minister himself who always has other engagements. At present, the Foreign Office has two bosses which is also creating hurdle in smooth sailing of the affairs, he said.

He said that the biggest achievement of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was that the UAE announced open support for India’s permanent berth in the UN Security Council. “Indian investment in UAE and defence pact between the two is an added advantage,” he added. He also said that Pakistan had failed in dealing with the Saudi-Yemen issue in a proper way.

“Saudi Arabia is a tried and tested friend of Pakistan and always supported it at all level and all forums,” he said, adding Iran is also a good neighbour. In Pakistan, both Saudi Arabia and Iran have following as Sunni people have soft corner for the Saudi kingdom while the Islamic Republic of Iran was dear to Shia people, he pointed out.

“When there is an issue between the Saudi kingdom and Iran, the government will have to deal with the issue carefully and wisely as we must know that these two countries are very important to us,” the former minister said. He also suggested to the government to deal the Yemen issue carefully and the two (Saudis and Iran) should be taken into confidence on it.

But the Foreign Office could not deal properly the Yemen issue, Kasuri said. The former minister is of the view that Pakistan should have talked to the Saudi kingdom and also go to Iran on the issue that could help keep the two nations near to Pakistan. To a question, he also said that Pakistan should appoint a full time minister for foreign affairs.

US Set to Suspend Military Aid to Pakistan

The United States government will not certify Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations in North Waziristan over recent months as adequately damaging to the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terror group. The U.S. Department of Defense has reportedly notified the Pakistani embassy in Washington of the development, according to a report by Dawn. The non-certification of the Pakistani counter-terror campaign, known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, will block the release of a new tranche of U.S. financial assistance for the Pakistani military from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). CSF support had been extended for a year with a specific stipulation that the U.S. Department of Defense would certify the effectiveness of Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan against the Haqqani network.
The development would drive a major wedge between the United States and Pakistan, two allies who have grown apart over their divergent interests and priorities in stabilizing the broader Afghan-Pakistan border. Beyond the financial implications of the blocked CSF tranche, the development will deal Islamabad a politically damaging blow. As the Dawn report notes, given the recent deterioration in ties with Kabul amid allegations from the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, that Pakistani has inadequately reigned in cross-border terrorists, including militants affiliated with the Haqqani network, the U.S. government’s decision to withhold certification vindicate Afghan perceptions.
The suspension of the next CSF tranche, once confirmed, will certainly sour U.S.-Pakistan ties, which haven’t been quite normal since 2011, when the United States’ most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. commandos in a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. With Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s scheduled state visit planned for October, Washington will have some time to work out their differences. The extent to which the CSF tranche suspension will affect Pakistan’s defense spending is unclear—reports earlier this year suggested that Islamabad had counted “payment from the United States’ coalition support fund for coalition forces in Afghanistan who are using Pakistani territory for logistic support” as part of its overall budget. Pakistan received last month’s tranche of $337 million from the United States, though suspension now will mean Islamabad will fall short of receiving the expected $1.5 billion in CSF aid for the current fiscal year.
In a coincidence of timing, reports that the U.S. government would withhold certification of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations came as Pakistan and Russia concluded a major defense deal for the sale of four Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters. As I noted last year, Russia lifted its self-imposed arms embargo on weapons deliveries to Pakistan, taking advantage, in part, of Islamabad’s recognition of souring ties with the United States and Moscow’s own search for new defense customers. The Mi-35 deal could lead to a broader Pakistan-Russia defense relationship but there will be some constraints for the two sides as they seek to expand cooperation, particularly Russia’s significantly broader defense commercial relationship with India.

Balochistan’s Bustard Debate

The Balochistan government has claimed that they earn approximately 2 billion rupees every hunting season and appealed to the Supreme Court to allow Houbara hunting to continue. However, hunting the Houbara Bustard is not an issue of economic profiteering but of environmental protection.
In response to the petition by an elder from Balochistan, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl provincial deputy chief Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on the issuance of permits and licenses for the hunting of endangered birds and also ordered the cancellation of all existing permits. Justice Jawwad Khawaja stated that these birds are the country’s assets but ‘we are dolling them out to foreign dignitaries and princes’. He went further to declare these acts as being similar to people selling their souls and bodies.
With this dispute between both opposing parties, it is hard to see whether either one has the best interests at heart- to preserve these birds. For the Supreme Court, hunting amounts to the surrendering of our sovereignty. The Baloch already feel that they do not have sovereignty over their own province. The decision of the Supreme Court to not let the government issue hunting licenses will only reinforce the sentiment. However, the issue is a simpler one and must be framed as such: Pakistani wildlife is endangered and must be protected. Arab princes hunting in Pakistan is not a matter of sovereignty, but of civic responsibility. Licenses must not be issued for the hunting, for the protection of Pakistani and Balochi wildlife, not to scorn rich Arabs.
The Balochi senator was of the view that permitting foreign dignitaries to hunt the bird brought prosperity and welfare not only to the people, but also the province. The dignitaries who come to hunt the bird have not only established certain projects but are also paying Rs 10 million for hunting 50 birds per season. Looking at these figures, it would have been strange if the Supreme Court verdict was not challenged. The economic argument is sound: should we protect animals or should we use the money to protect people? However, hunting is not a sustainable solution to the Balochi welfare problem, and there is no real evidence that the money is doing wonders for the region. The hunting is seasonal and risking losing a species to sport is ethically and morally wrong.
These birds are “vulnerable” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. Pakistan is signatory to the conventions. With their rapid decline in population, protecting them is a priority of the provincial government, along with the federal- by law. It is, once again, not a case of what belongs to whom, rather of preserving natural diversity.

Pakistan - Assailants kill another Ahmadi Muslim near Lahore

Gunmen on motorcycles shot dead a 37-year-old pharmacy owner from the Ahmadi community in central Pakistan, police said today. It is the latest attack on one of the country's most persecuted minorities.
The incident took place on Wednesday in the town of Taunsa in Punjab, some 320 kilometres southwest of Lahore. Police said four gunmen on two motorcycles rode up to the drug store owned by the victim, Ikram Ullah, and sprayed him with bullets before fleeing.
“Ikram Ullah was killed on the spot while assailants fled on their motorcycles,” Saleem Niazi, a senior local police officer told.
Police are searching for the attackers, he said, adding that the murder seemed religiously motivated. Saleem Ud Din, a community leader, condemned the killing.
“Continuous, seditious propaganda against Ahmadis all over the country is a primary reason of these kinds of incidents,” Din said in a statement.
Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims by the Pakistani government in 1974 because of their belief in a prophet after Muhammad.