Saturday, August 29, 2015

Taylor Swift - Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar

Video Report - Thousands rally in Beirut against political leaders

#SaudiStruggle - Saudi preacher accused of murdering and raping daughter released

A Saudi preacher who was charged with raping and murdering his five year old daughter in 2012 was released Wednesday on bail after a court dropped the charges.
The case of Fayhan al-Gamdi, a self-proclaimed preacher with a drug addiction past, shocked Saudi society as it emerged that his daughter, who lived with his ex wife, was burned and beaten to death using wires and hot rods. Gamdi had expressed doubts about his daughter’s virginity.
Mansour al Khunaizan, Gamdi’s lawyer, said that the court had dropped charges against his client accusing him of sexual assault after no trace of semen was found on his daughter Luma’s body. Khunaizan added that the charge of manslaughter was also dropped, and that the remaining charge was “excessive disciplining that resulted in death”- an accusation that comes under the domestic law.
The sentence was reduced to that charge, which the court of appeals upheld.
“The court of appeals has decided to release my client on bail and to refer the private laws case to a lower court to review it,” Khunaizan told Saudi daily al-Sharq.
The lawyer also cautioned media for misreporting the case and tarnishing his client’s reputation, vowing to take action should that continue.
Luma’s mother, who initially supported the death sentence for her ex husband, has instead agreed to accept the “blood money” of one million Saudi riyals as decreed by Saudi law.
“I have three other children [from a previous marriage] and a house to look after and I will need the money,” the mother said. “There is no interest for the family in the execution of my former husband.”
Gamdi was originally sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes in 2013. His second wife was sentenced to ten months and 150 lashes for not reporting the torture and abuse suffered by Luma under their watch.
Khunaizan argued that there was not sufficient evidence to support the claim that Gamdi had killed his daughter.
Luma died after being in a coma for four months. She was not buried until four months later, pending the investigation and autopsy procedures.
Luma’s parents divorced when her mother, an Egyptian national, was still pregnant with her. The mother said that Gamdi turned violent and beat her up after their marriage. The court agreed that Luma would be in her mother’s custody until she turned seven, and that she was entitled to visit her father.
The last visit was supposed to last for only two weeks, but Gamdi refused to let Luma go home to her mother.
“The last words I heard from her were ‘I love you, mum, and I always pray for you,’” said her mother.
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The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) says acts of sexual violence committed against women in Iraq and Syria by foreign-backed militants constitute war crimes.
In a statement issued on Friday evening, the UNSC members said that rape and other forms of serious sexual violence in armed conflicts are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
They urged the international community to remain united in holding accountable those responsible for such crimes and said all parties to the armed conflicts in Iraq and Syria should take all feasible steps to protect civilians from such “abhorrent” acts.
The UNSC released the statement after being briefed by Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura.
Takfiri Daesh militants have been accused of committing gross human rights violations in Syria and Iraq, including rape, summary executions, mass kidnappings, and massacres. Thousands of women and girls have been subjected to sexual violence by the Daesh terrorists in the two Arab countries.
Daesh also runs sex slave markets in areas under its control.
Earlier this month, the UN verified the authenticity of a price list the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group uses to trade the people it has captured as sex slaves.
“The girls get peddled like barrels of petrol,” Bangura said in an interview with Bloomberg, adding, “One girl can be sold and bought by five or six different men. Sometimes these fighters sell the girls back to their families for thousands of dollars of ransom.”

Saudi singer: People say, 'I hope you die, I hope you burn in hell, you're a slut.'

By Valerie Hamilton

Rotana Tarabzouni has a voice, and she's not afraid to use it. "In a religious sense, there are always going to be people that are extremely offended with what I'm doing, there are always going to be people that think that what I'm doing is just blasphemy," she says.
Tarabzouni grew up in Dhahran, on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia. By Saudi standards, her family was pretty liberal. Unlike most Saudi girls and women, she didn't cover her face when she left the house. Her family spoke English, and listened to Western music.
"My dad was a huge Led Zeppelin fan, he loved the Beatles," she says.
At school, she studied a traditional religious Saudi curriculum. But at home, she was listening to Top 40 stars like Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion. She always loved to sing. "It sounds so cliché, like in a film, but I really truly just sang in my room with a hairbrush."
Concerts in her room were about as far as it could go. A music career was out of the question, for one really basic reason. "The country doesn't allow me to step out of my home and get on a stage uncovered and sing."
In Saudi Arabia, music carries a major social stigma. There's a tiny underground music scene, but for women, especially, it's not like you can audition at clubs or play open mic nights. Instead, Tarabzouni finished school and worked in public relations for a Saudi oil company.
Here's the part of the story, though, where fate intervenes. On vacation in Boston, on a whim, she went to a casting call. She blew them away. And then she went back to Saudi Arabia and started thinking. There was a way to become a pop star in Saudi Arabia, she realized. She just had to become a pop star in the US first.
She says, "Everyone in Saudi Arabia listens to Katy Perry. Everyone in Saudi Arabia listens to Lana del Rey. Everyone in Saudi Arabia will hopefully someday listen to me too, but it has to be through this channel."
Now she lives in a small apartment in an artsy part of LA where she can meet producers, take voice lessons, and perform live onstage. She's building a professional singing life she could never have back home.
"The biggest limitation that Saudi Arabia puts on us is just they limit the sense of the possible."
Back home, other women were pushing that sense of the possible too. When Saudis protested the ban on women driving in 2013, Tarabzouni joined in, via YouTube. This is her cover of the Lorde song "Team," with lyrics in support of Saudi women's rights.
The video got more than 300,000 hits. Tarabzouni’s first taste of fame. Then came the attacks.
She says, "It's really horrible what people say. Like people will say like, I hope you die, I hope you burn in hell, you're a slut, this that and the other ... I have just two extremes: people absolutely hate me, and then people who are like, oh my God, this is so incredible, you are so inspiring.­"
Those are the people she's singing for; the thousands of Saudi fans following her on Instagram and Snapchat. She says living her dream inspires them to live theirs. "So many people from Saudi just send me messages saying, 'look what I just painted,' or 'listen to the song I wrote.' Little girls that are just really really really excited and believe that it's possible."
Tarabzouni hopes to release her first EP this year. The music business is as tough for her as anybody else, and for now, she's just trying to break in. And she hopes that one day she'll get the chance to perform back home.

Istanbul clashes: Protesters throw Molotov cocktails - Aug 28, 2015

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President Obama's Weekly Address: Meeting the Global Threat of Climate Change

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Video - #IStandWithPPP: Joint press conference of Sherry Rehman & Qamar Zaman Kaira

Level whatever allegation on PPP, but not that... by siasat_tv

Bilawal Bhutto - Kashmir solution central to regional peace

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the PPP believes that the people of Kashmir are a key to a final settlement of the Kashmir dispute and that the Party stands by them in their just struggle.
He said this while talking to a delegation of the APHC which called on him in Zardari House in Islamabad today.
The 20-member APHC delegation that called on him comprising of representatives of all parties in the Hurriyat conference included Ghulam Muhammad Safi, mir Tahir Masood, Mahmood Saghir, Yousuf Naseem, Abdul Hameed Lone, Shafi Dar, Ijaz Butt, Shamim Shal, Faiz Naqashbandi and others.
President AJK Sardar Yaqub, PM Chaudhry Majid, Speaker Ghulam Sadiq, senior minister Ch Yasin, finance minister Ch Latif Akbar, minister Matloon Inqilabi also accompanied the APHC delegation. Ms Faryal Talpur, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sherry Rehman, and Jamil Soomro were also present on the occasion.
Resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir is also central to peace in the region, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said.
It is also the PPP vision to take South Asia on to the path of peace and prosperity with respect and honour and without prejudice to the position on UN resolutions on Kashmir. This path is through confidence building, conflict management and creation of a trading bloc of nations to improve the living conditions of all people of South Asia, he said.
While measures like appropriate confidence building measures, greater people to people contacts and enhanced trade are very much needed to create a climate for durable peace in the region the centrality of Kashmir issue cannot be sidelined or ignored, he said.
He recalled that the Party under the leadership of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto succeeded in giving observer status to APHC in the OIC, proposed soft borders as far back as 1999.
Earlier on, the PPP introduced the South Asian Preferential Tariff Agreement as well as the concept of groups of people, like Parliamentarians and Judges, travelling in the SAARC countries without visas he said.
The PPP respects freedom and the fundamental rights of people. There can be no greater fundamental right than the right to franchise of a people, he said.
Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that while paying tributes to the brave people of Jammu and Kashmir the PPP chairman also reassured them that the PPP will always stand with them in their just struggle.
The right to self determination of the people of Kashmir is also enshrined in the UN Charter and cannot be wished away by force and brutal suppression, the ppp chairman said.
The Pakistan Peoples Party is committed to respecting the fundamental rights of the people and finding a just, honorable and peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of its people.
The Kashmiris should also be associated with the dialogue process as, in the ultimate analysis, they would be the final arbiters of their destiny, he said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned shelling across the LoC and Working Boundary over in which several innocent lives were lost on our villages and called for respecting the ceasefire understanding.
The APHC delegation thanked Bilawal for meeting them and said that the PPP had a history of supporting the kashmiris struggle which was widely appreciated in the held Kashmir.
Earlier the PPP Chairman met ppp delegations from the districts of Gujrat and Lahore and discussed with them party’s organizational matters and overall political situation.
Later he also met PPP office bearers of Rawalpindi and hosted dinner for them. The party meetings were attended by Ms Faryal Talpur, Mian Manzoor Wattoo, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sherry Rehman, Latif Khosa, Qamar Kaira, Tanvir Kaira and Jamil Soomro.

China praise for 'true friend' Pakistan as India snubs parade

China's invitation to the Pakistani military and perceptions of an anti-Japanese sentiment may have led to India rejecting a Chinese request to send troops for a high-profile military parade on September 3.

China's invitation to the Pakistani military and perceptions of an anti-Japanese sentiment may have led to India rejecting a Chinese request to send troops for a high-profile military parade on September 3. The Beijing parade next week will see as many as 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries march in China for the first time alongside the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which will hold a rare public display of some of its most advanced battle-tanks, bombers and missiles.
China had earlier this year requested India, as well as Pakistan and several other countries, to send high-level representation as well as a contingent of 75 troops for the parade, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Chinese officials had sought the attendance of President Pranab Mukherjee, who attended Russia's parade marking the event in May when Indian troops also participated along with those from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia and Serbia.
New Delhi, however, has rejected China's request. No Indian troops will participate, while Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd.) VK Singh will be the only top representative from Delhi - representation far lower than Beijing had asked for. Singh will hold talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi a day after the parade.
For India, participation would have meant the unusual occurrence of Indian troops marching side-by-side with troops from Pakistan. China had invited Pakistan around the same time that it had reached out to New Delhi. Pakistan has sent a contingent of 75 troops - whose rehearsals have been praised and covered widely in the Chinese media and on social media - while President Mamnoon Hussain will likely attend.
Among the other heads of state present in Beijing next week are Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korea's Park Geun-hye, South Africa's Jacob Zuma, Myanmar President Thein Sein and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. Troops from Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Serbia, Tajikistan and Russia will participate.
The view in Beijing is that only "true friends" of China were sending troops for the parade, according to leading Chinese strategic expert Jin Canrong of Renmin University. "One of the diplomatic aims behind the military parade is to make clear who will be China's true friends," he told the South China Morning Post.
Both the United States and Japan have also declined participation. In recent weeks, Beijing and Tokyo have accused the other of politicising the event. While Japan has suggested that China was using the event to highlight Second World War atrocities committed by invading Japanese forces to pressure Tokyo amid on-going maritime disputes, Chinese officials have hit out at the West and Japan for politicising the commemoration, pointing out that other countries have held similar events.

India and Pakistan: Jaw-Jaw Not War-War


There is no prospect of India and Pakistan coming to terms and settling their border differences in the foreseeable future, certainly not in the lifetime of the two countries’ present governments and probably not for much longer. Efforts to improve the relationship in other ways will also be precarious and uncertain.
That has been clear for years, but it became even more obvious at the end of last week when planned talks between the two countries’ national security advisers (NSAs) on cross-border terrorism were scuttled in a flood of accusations and counter-accusations.
There are two reasons for the lack of hope.
One is that there can be no deal while Pakistan’s army chief and the ISI intelligence agency are the country’s final authority, not the democratically elected prime minister—and there is no prospect of that ending. Both the army and ISI have for decades seen aggression against India as central to their existence and ambitions.
As a democratically elected government, India would not deign to engage formally with General Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief, or the intelligence chiefs. So, officials say, they have to take the country’s democratically elected leaders such as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (no relation) at face value, which can obviously be misleading to put it mildly. (The army chief does meet other country’s leaders—including David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, in London last January where the government gave him a ceremonial guard-honor welcome.)
The second reason is that India is implacably opposed to any third party becoming involved as an intermediary, so the chances for incremental improvements in the relationship become mired in antagonistic confrontations.
Countries like the U.S. and, to a lesser extent these days, the U.K., can advocate peace talks and military restraint, but they have learned to their cost not to offend India by trying to mediate. Consequently, there was no chance last week of a desperately needed third party being able to try to bridge the gulf over debilitating quibbles—mainly about the agenda for the talks and who the Pakistan NSA could meet in India aside from the formal events.
Viewed from abroad (I was in Bhutan reading Twitter and other news sound-bites), the events looked like a cross between a French farce, with characters rushing noisily across the stage banging doors, and a Chinese opera with actors belting out scripts to impress the audience without quite looking at each other.
This was a setback for Narendra Modi, who has wanted to draw Pakistan into a circle of improved subcontinental relationships that would lead to the sort of connectivity and interchanges that are routine between most neighboring countries elsewhere in the world. In South Asia, such a development has been stymied by decades of Pakistan-India antagonism. It has also been complicated in recent years by a growing Chinese presence.
Modi has however succeeded, to varying degrees, in showing how India can be friendly and useful—with Bangladesh where there has been a cross-border land swap deal and other talks, with Nepal on immediate earthquake relief and other initiatives, with Sri Lanka since the defeat of a pro-China president (who has lost two elections this year), and with Bhutan which is a long-term land-locked ally.
Modi’s hopes were raised on July 10 when he met Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city of Ufa where they were attending BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization summits.
The talks appeared to be unusually constructive. Sharif and his officials seemed to want to improve relations and join Modi’s circle of cooperation. With Pakistan’s security forces preoccupied with terrorism at home and a worsening situation in Afghanistan, Indian officials hoped that the country’s all-powerful army chief would support Nawaz Sharif acceptance of India’s request for talks between the two countries’ NSAs on “all issues connected to terrorism.”
Hopes rose when it was agreed that the foreign secretaries, Pakistan’s Aziz Chowdhury and India’s S. Jaishankar, would jointly draft and read out a statement after the meeting—a rare if not unique event. Constructive agreed points included meetings between border security forces, and Modi attending a South Asia regional summit in Islamabad next year.
As soon a Nawaz Sharif returned to Islamabad however, there were negative noises from Pakistan. The main complaint was that the statement agreed to discuss “all outstanding issues” but did not specify the usually included issue of the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Firing quickly increased across the Line of Control that divides the two countries in Kashmir, and there was a 12-hour terrorist attack and gun battle on July 27 at an Indian police station at Gurdaspur in Punjab near the border that killed seven people including four Indian police guards. On August 5, there was an attack on an Indian border security forces’ bus in Kashmir.
The NSA talks were planned for last weekend, August 22 and 23, to discuss terrorism, which India thought would provide it with an opportunity to pinpoint incidents of cross-border infiltration, and attacks such as the one at Gurdaspur.
But Pakistan began to insist that Kashmir should be specifically included in the agenda, which India said was against the Ufa agreement. Pakistan also said that its high commissioner (ambassador) in Delhi would be inviting leaders of separatists based in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, who want varying degrees of independence or autonomy from Delhi, to a reception before the talks.
That was a direct challenge to the Indian government because Modi had unexpectedly canceled talks between the two countries’ foreign secretaries in August a year ago after the high commissioner similarly invited the separatists for talks. India has tolerated these meetings for years, but Modi wanted to demonstrate that the separatists and their Hurriyat umbrella organization were not a party to India-Pakistan relations.
In Delhi, Ajit Doval, 70, the NSA and one of Modi’s closest advisors, who earlier headed India’s Intelligence Bureau, was playing a leading role. This inevitably changed the rhythm and tactics of the interchanges from the usual diplomacy.
Both sides announced that they had prepared detailed dossiers of each other’s terrorist attacks, Pakistan claiming that India responds to attacks in Kashmir with disruption in the province of Baluchistan and elsewhere. Maybe they were eventually content for the talks to be abandoned, which happened when Pakistan eventually withdrew last Saturday night. They then did not have to respond to the dossiers, which would inevitably have been leaked to the media.
Losing the Plot
Rakesh Sood, a former senior Indian diplomat, has commented in an article inThe Hindu, that “a diplomatic engagement was converted into an ‘us vs. them’ battleground.” Somewhere along the way from Ufa, “it was clear that the plot was lost sight of and the management of the process was reduced to a rhetorical tit for tat.” Other commentators have referred to what they regard as a lack of focused diplomatic preparation and groundwork before and after the Ufa meeting.
The story entered the realm of unreality when Indian officials indicated that they would not mind too much if Sartaj Aziz, 86, Pakistan’s NSA and a former foreign and finance minister, met the separatists’ leaders after, not before, his formal talks. That was after India put some of the leaders under house arrest for an hour or two in Srinagar, then released them, and then arrested others when they arrived at Delhi airport to stop them reaching the high commissioners’ reception.
That is surely where an intermediary could have stepped in and found a compromise, as could have happened on whether Kashmir could be just mentioned in the talks. But such an idea is heresy in Delhi!
India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said last weekend that there are “no full stops in diplomacy,” which shows that she knows the dance between the two sides will continue. There was nearly a trade deal in 2012 (which maybe could be resurrected), and earlier in the 2000s there was an almost-soft-borders’ deal, but they remained almost-deals.

Talking is however essential. Both countries have nuclear weapons. They have fought three (or four depending on how you count them) border wars since independence, and there is constant firing across the disputed frontier. Not to talk would be worse than what has happened in the past few weeks.

Sardar Ali Takkar ځان ارزان که ـ ډاکټر یار محمد مغموم