Thursday, December 10, 2015

Music Video - Wildest Dreams - Taylor Swift

Saudi forces bombing Yemeni kids: Amnesty International

Amnesty International has decried the deliberate targeting of schools across Yemen by Saudi Arabia, which has been conducting indiscriminate bombings against the impoverished country since March.
On Friday, the UK-based rights group released a report titled, "Our kids are bombed," wherein it expressed outrage at the Saudi airstrikes against schools in the provinces of Sana’a, Hajjah, and Hudaydah in western Yemen between August and October.
In some of the attacks, which killed five civilians and injured at least 14 people, including four children, "the schools were struck more than once, suggesting the strikes were deliberately targeted," the rights group said.
"No evidence could be found in any of the five cases to suggest the schools had been used for military purposes," it added, saying that the resultant damage had disrupted the education of more than 6,500 children in those provinces.
The Saudi strikes were launched with the aim of undermining Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and bringing the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Riyadh ally, back to power.
Yemeni men walk past a building, damaged during a Saudi airstrike, in the capital, Sana’a, on November 29, 2015.©AFP
More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured since the strikes began. The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the Arabian Peninsula country’s facilities and infrastructure.
Saudi arms suppliers
Meanwhile, Lama Fakih, the senior crisis adviser at Amnesty, said it is "appalling that the US and other allies" of Riyadh "have continued to authorize arms transfers" to Saudi Arabia for bombing Yemen.
Last month, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) likewise said Washington had to stop selling bombs to Saudi Arabia while Riyadh was engaged in war on neighboring Yemen.
“The US government is well aware of" the Saudi "indiscriminate air attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen since March,” said HRW Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director Joe Stork.
“Providing the Saudis with more bombs under these circumstances is a recipe for greater civilian deaths, for which the US will be partially responsible,” he added.
Also in November, the US Defense Department announced that it had approved the sale of smart bombs worth USD 1.29 billion to Saudi Arabia, and that it was committed to supporting the Royal Saudi Air Force in the bombardment of Yemen.

Yemen crisis: Sanaa resident describes Saudi-led bombing as like 'being at the centre of an earthquake'

Rose Troup Buchanan

Yemen's capital city has been largely reduced to rubble by Saudi Arabia's continuing air strikes, with residents describing “huge explosions” and buildings shaking as if they were in the “centre of an earthquake”.

Riven by civil conflict since the 2011 revolution, Sanaa has endured a punishing bombing campaign from the Saudi-led coalition in support of ousted president Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The scale of the destruction across the country is devastating.
An estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Approximately 82 per cent of Yemenis need some form of humanitarian assistance, with more than half of the population lacking access to clean drinking water.
The escalation of the conflict in March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition started air strikes under Operation Decisive Storm, has seen at least 5,700 people killed – half of them civilians.
International human rights organisations have claimed Saudi and coalition forces may have repeatedly broken international humanitarian law (IHL).
“Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years,” ICRC head Peter Maurer told the Associated Press in August.
Since then, the situation has only deteriorated further.
The latest United Nations assessment of Yemen is predicted to state as many as 5,000 civilians have died in air strikes, with around 25,000 injured. Unicef estimates as many as 10 children are being killed every day. As the country’s infrastructure ceased to function, as many as 21 million people have been left without access to basic, life-sustaining services.
Against this bleak assessment the bombing has continued: anAmnesty International report in November alleged the Kingdom-led coalition used a British-made missile to destroy a civilian ceramics factory in Sanaa.

While much of the arms used are supplied by the US, the UK does provide some missiles, logistical support, airborne refueling and some intelligence.
A UK government spokesperson insisted they did not recognise the claims, adding that Britain “takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world.”
Sanaa remains under the control of Houthi rebels, who have seized and held much of the north of the country. To the south, government forces – under Saudi-supported President Hadi – remain partially in control, although they face pressure from al-Qaeda affiliate AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and also Isis, who Al-Monitor­ suggests may be capitalising on the region’s instability.

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi on hunger strike

Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been on a hunger strike since Tuesday after being transferred to a new, isolated prison, according to his wife, Ensaf Haidar.

Haidar, who lives in Canada where she and their three children were granted political asylum, confirmed the news by phone after tweeting it.

Colette Lelièvre, a Montreal-based campaign organiser with Amnesty International, said on Thursday the group had been told Badawi was transferred to a different prison for “administrative reasons”. Amnesty had not yet independently confirmed he had started a hunger strike.
Badawi, who created and managed an online forum, was found guilty in 2014 of breaking Saudi Arabia’s technology laws and for insulting Islam. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence in January, prompting strong criticism in Western countries of the kingdom’s human rights record.
“I call on his majesty King Salman to pardon my husband,” Haidar tweeted earlier in the day. “Please unite my children with their father.”
Lelièvre said Haidar would travel to France to accept the Sakharov prize on behalf of her husband during a ceremony in Strasbourg on 16 December. The prize, awarded by the European parliament, honours freedom of thought. 


The September stampede during the Haj in Saudi Arabia killed at least 2,411 pilgrims, a new Associated Press count shows, three times the number of deaths acknowledged by the kingdom three months later.
The AP figures establish the Sept 24 crush at Mina as the deadliest in the history of the annual pilgrimage which occurred just weeks after a fatal crane collapse in Makkah.
Saudi Arabia rebuffed criticism from its regional rival Iran and efforts by other countries to join a probe into the deaths. And while King Salman ordered an investigation into the tragedy almost immediately, few details have been made public since.
The AP count is based on state media reports and officials' comments from 36 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the Haj. Hundreds of pilgrims remain missing. The official Saudi toll of 769 people killed has not changed since Sept 26, and officials there have yet to address the discrepancy.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency has not mentioned the investigation into the disaster since Oct 19, when it reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also the kingdom's interior minister, was “reassured on the progress of the investigations.”
The crown prince is the next in line to the throne and any blame cast on the interior ministry, which oversees safety during the Haj, could reflect negatively on him.
The ruling Al-Saud family maintains its major influence in the Muslim world through its oil wealth and its management of Islam's holiest sites. Like Saudi monarchs before him, King Salman has taken the title of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Authorities have said the Mina stampede occurred when two waves of pilgrims converged on a narrow road, suffocating or trampling to death those caught in the disaster.
Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on crowd control and safety measures for those attending the annual five-day pilgrimage, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life, but the sheer number of participants makes ensuring their safety difficult.
The Haj this year drew some 2 million pilgrims, though in recent years it has drawn more than 3 million without any major incidents.
Iran was most affected by the disaster, according to the AP count, with 464 Iranian pilgrims killed. Mali said it lost 305 people, while Nigeria lost 274 and 190 pilgrims from Egypt were killed.
Others include Bangladesh with 137 pilgrims killed; Indonesia with 129; India with 120; Cameroon with 103; Pakistan with 102; Niger with 92; Senegal with 61; Ethiopia with 53; Ivory Coast with 52; Benin with 50; Algeria with 46; Chad with 43; Morocco with 42; Sudan with 30; Tanzania with 25; Burkina Faso with 22; Kenya with 12; Somalia with 10; Ghana, Tunisia and Turkey each with seven; Libya and Myanmar with six apiece; China with four; Afghanistan, Djibouti, the Gambia and Jordan with two each; and Lebanon, Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka each with one.
The second deadliest incident at Haj was a 1990 stampede that killed 1,426 people. The Sept 11 crane collapse at Makkah's Grand Mosque, which preceded the Mina disaster, killed 111 people.

Music Video - Kimbra - "Good Intent"

Video - Donald Trump Will Not Succeed in Dividing us. - Bernie Sanders

Donald Trump Will Not Succeed in Dividing Uss

Throughout history we have had demagogues who try to divert attention away from the real issues. Now we have Donald Trump who is trying to divide us up. That kind of stuff is not going to work in the United States of America.

Posted by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Middle-class families, pillar of the American dream, are no longer in the majority, study finds


The nation's middle class, long a pillar of the U.S. economy and foundation of the American dream, has shrunk to the point where it no longer constitutes the majority of the adult population, according to a new major study.
The Pew Research Center report released Wednesday put in sharp relief the nation's increasing income divide, which is certain to be a central issue in the 2016 presidential race. It also highlights how various economic and demographic forces have eroded long-held ideals about maintaining a strong, majority middle class.
Many analysts and policymakers regard the shift as worrisome for economic and social stability. Middle-income households have been the bedrock of consumer spending, and many liberals in particular view the declining middle as part of a troubling trend of skewed income gains among the nation's richest families.
Median-income voters, particularly non-college-educated men, are also at the core of billionaire Donald Trump's surprising surge in the Republican presidential campaign. His supporters' sense that their once-secure middle-class standing is in danger of slipping appears to be fueling much of the anger against the government and immigrant groups.

The tipping point for the middle class occurred over the last couple of years of the recovery from the Great Recession as the economy continued to reward highly educated workers, well-to-do investors and those with technical skills.

Rapid growth of upper-income households, coupled with an increase in less-educated low earners, has driven the decline of the middle-income population to a hair below 50% of the total this year, Pew found. In 1971, the middle class accounted for 61% of the population, and it has been declining steadily since.
The Pew research found that the shares of upper-income and lower-income households grew in recent years as the middle shrank — with the higher-income tier growing more. In that sense, the nonpartisan group said, “the shift represents economic progress.”
Pew defined middle class as households earning two-thirds to twice the overall median income, after adjusting for household size. A family of three, for example, would be considered middle income if its total annual income ranged from about $42,000 to $126,000. Pew analyzed data from the Census Bureau and the Labor Department, as well as the Federal Reserve.
Most Americans have traditionally identified themselves as middle class, even those at the top and bottom, reflecting a kind of cultural heritage tied to the American dream of self-reliance. But the Great Recession and subsequent slow recovery have shaken that image.
A Gallup survey this spring showed that just 51% of U.S. adults considered themselves middle or upper middle class, with 48% saying they are part of the lower or working class. As recently as 2008, 63% of those polled by Gallup said they were middle class.
This change in self-identification — and the reality of the shift documented by Pew — carries political ramifications as the state of the middle class continues to be a major focus of the economic debate in the presidential campaigns, with candidates, in time-honored fashion, invoking the middle class in their speeches and policy statements. President Obama has dubbed his programs “middle-class economics.”
Patrick Egan, a politics professor at New York University, says the Pew findings and the Gallup surveys suggest that the public may be more open to policies of redistribution.
“Americans are always kind of reluctant to embrace open class warfare,” Egan said. But “if more Americans are under the idea of placing themselves at the bottom, you'll see politicians follow.”
Although the median incomes of upper, lower and middle tiers have all lost ground since 2000, primarily because of the Great Recession in late 2007 to mid-2009, upper-income households saw the smallest decline through 2014, the Pew study found.
Seen over a longer period, from 1971 to 2014, the median income of all upper-income households increased 47% to $174,625. The median income for the middle tier rose 34% to $73,392, and for the lower income group, it was up 28% to $24,074. The median marks the halfway point.
Pew's findings add to strong evidence that the middle class has been thinned partly by a decline in manufacturing due to competition from imports as well as a broader polarization of jobs that has favored the most educated and technically skilled workers.
Elizbeth Espinoza and her husband, Carlos Arceo, both 38, fall squarely in the middle class, according to Pew. The Downey couple, who have two children, ages 4 and 6, gross about $110,000 between them, not counting benefits, such as healthcare insurance. By Pew's definition, a household of four is in the middle tier if total income is $48,347 to $145,041.
But Espinoza, who works as a student programming coordinator at the UCLA Labor Center, sees her family as barely straddling the middle class. The reason: high living costs, including $850 a month for child care and hefty student loan payments.
“I'm on the border of middle class, and I feel this way because I feel like being part of the middle class means being comfortable financially, and I think we struggle with that,” Espinoza said. “When you look at that
expense-to-income ratio,
it's just a lot more difficult
to have that comfortableness.”
Espinoza said that she and her husband were hopeful about their future incomes rising, but she doubts that they can move up to the upper-income tier. “I feel like upward mobility keeps getting harder and harder,” she said.
The Pew study did not address economic mobility — an issue that many economists believe is more important than the change in income distribution. But research on income mobility across generations has found the U.S. as a whole lags behind other Western countries.
The declining middle also reflects demographic shifts, such as the arrival of more low-skilled immigrants, which can be seen in the overall slippage of Latinos in the income ladder since 1971. By race, black adults made the biggest strides in income status from 1971 to 2015, although they are significantly less likely to be middle income compared with adults overall.
At the same time, the increase of women in the workforce since the early 1970s has tended to boost household incomes, as has higher college education enrollment. And of course, strong gains from stocks and high-tech ventures have fueled incomes for some.
As of this year, 9% of Americans are in what Pew called the highest-income category — up from 4% in 1971 and 5% in 1991. A household with three people had to have an income of more than $188,000 last year to be in this highest bracket.
In contrast, the share of American adults in the very lowest income category — a three-person household making less than $31,000 — rose to 20% of the U.S. adult population this year from 16% in 1971.
“The distribution of adults by income is thinning in the middle and bulking up at the edges,” Pew said.
Whether this trend continues will depend in large part on how household structures evolve. Soaring numbers of single-parent households since the early 1970s, for example, have increased those at the bottom of the income spectrum.
Also, trends in marriage rates, immigration, college education and the labor force participation of lower-skilled men in particular will all have a bearing on the future of the middle class in America, said Harry Holzer, an economist and public policy professor at Georgetown University.
The Pew findings, however, are not comforting, he said. “It does suggest, even when you adjust for demographics, it's a little troubling,” Holzer said. “We always expect things to be getting better.”

Video - A Message to Great Falls, Montana from President Obama

UNHCR: US campaign rhetoric threatens refugee resettlement

A UNHCR spokeswoman says rhetoric such as Republican front-runner Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the US imperils resettlement efforts. The UN refugee agency urged Jordan to let stranded Syrians enter.
A representative from the UN refugee agency has voiced concern over campaign rhetoric in the United States that could affect a crucial resettlement program for Syrians and others fleeing war and persecution.
On Monday, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump called for a border ban on Muslims in response to last week's shooting in San Bernardino by two people believed by the FBI to have been radicalized.
"We are concerned that the rhetoric that is being used in the election campaign is putting an incredibly important resettlement program at risk that is meant for the most vulnerable people - the victims of wars that the world is unable to stop," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said during a news briefing in Geneva.
Dozens of state governors in the United States have spoken out against the resettlement program.
"What (Trump) was speaking of was an entire population but this also impacts the refugee program," Fleming said, according to the Reuters news agency.
"Because our refugee program is religion-blind, our resettlement program selects the people who are the most in need," Fleming said.
According to the UNHCR, about 120,000 refugees are dispersed worldwide each year, including in the United States, which has the world's largest resettlement program. This year the agency expects that it will ask the US to take in 75,000 refugees, mainly from the Middle East and Africa.
Appeals to Jordan
Fleming also spoke about the fate of 12,000 Syrians stranded at the border with Jordan and asked Jordan to let them inside its territory.
"The lives of refugees will be at risk in the coming months," Fleming said. "So today the UNHCR appeals to the government of Jordan to allow refugees stranded at the border to enter the country."
Millions of Syrians have been forced to flee their country, which is embroiled in a civil war that has dragged on for nearly five years. Though many have opted to undertake the perilous journey to Europe, more have fled to neighboring countries such as Jordan and Turkey. The situation has worsened since November as a result of intensified airstrikes.

Hillary Clinton Has a New Plan to Crack Down on Corporate Tax Dodgers

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton detailed plans on Wednesday to crack down on companies that shift profits overseas, a practice known as earnings stripping.
Clinton is spending this week explaining how, if elected president in November 2016, she would address tax-avoiding “inversion” deals in which a company buys or merges with a foreign rival and relocates on paper to lower its U.S. tax bill.
“This is a technical term for a trick,” Clinton told a town hall in Waterloo, Iowa.
Earnings stripping is a widely used technique and covers a range of deals that shrink the taxable U.S. profits of multinational corporations while still allowing them to take advantage of some U.S. tax deductions.
Clinton’s campaign estimates that closing the “earnings stripping loophole” would raise $60 billion over 10 years that could be used to provide incentives for manufacturing, research and small business.
As an example, she cited the $160 billion plan by U.S. pharmaceutical maker Pfizer  PFE 0.81%  to purchase smaller rival Allergan  AGN -0.23%  and move its headquarters to Ireland. One of the “primary benefits” of that deal is earnings stripping, her campaign said.
Clinton, the leader in opinion polls for candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination, has called on the U.S. Congress to stop such deals by requiring the acquiring foreign entities to control at least a 50 percent stake in the combined company instead of 20 percent under current law. She has also suggested an “exit tax” on the untaxed earnings of corporations that use inversion deals to relocate overseas.
“I would close loopholes like what’s called ‘earnings stripping’ that corporations are exploiting. And if Congress won’t act, then I will ask the Treasury Department when I’m there to use its regulatory authority, if that’s what it takes,” Clinton said Wednesday.
The Treasury Department, after a wave of inversion deals, announced new regulations in September 2014, targeting certain tax-avoidance deals. The regulations did not take on earnings stripping directly, but the department reserved the right to make any future regulation retroactive to that date.
“That was a signal to me that they thought they could do something by regulation,” Harvard Law School lecturer Stephen Shay said in an interview.
Shay said the “sentiment in the tax community today is yes there is regulatory authority to do something” about earnings stripping. Shay has written on the topic and has spoken to Clinton’s campaign in recent weeks.

White House Finalizes Proposal To Expand Background Checks On Gun Sales

President Barack Obama's advisers are finalizing a proposal that would expand background checks on gun sales without congressional approval.
White House adviser Valerie Jarrett says the president has asked his team to complete a proposal and submit it for his review "in short order." She says the recommendations will include measures to expand background checks.
Jarrett spoke Wednesday night at a vigil for the victims of the Newtown shooting, according to a summary provided by the White House.
After the mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, Obama said his team was looking for ways to tighten gun laws without a vote in Congress. White House officials have said they're exploring closing the so-called "gun show loophole" that allows people to buy weapons at gun shows and online without a background check.

Video - President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act

Barbra Streisand on Trump: ‘This can’t be happening’

Singer and actress Barbra Streisand says she is in disbelief about the ascendant candidacy of Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump.
“When I listen to the things he says, I think, ‘This can’t be happening,’” Streisand said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter published on Wednesday.
“I mean, come on,” she added. “Don’t you have to have a background like Hillary [Clinton] or Bernie Sanders has?”
“But it is happening, so I encourage women — we’re 52 percent of the population — we have to get out and vote.”

Streisand, who has publicly backed Clinton’s presidential bid, said America needs “a woman’s sensibility” in the White House.

“We do. And we need people who make common sense, people who’ve had experience, people who are articulate,” she said.
The Academy Award winner said Clinton used to be “a bit stiff” as a politician, but now she has “found her voice.”

“At first she was a bit stiff, uncomfortable,” Streisand said. “But I know her in person, and she is warm and lovely and brilliant and speaks without notes.”

“When I first saw her speak, she was using a teleprompter, which she doesn’t need,” she added. “If you don’t know how to use it and make it real and add things in, it’s clumsy.”
“So I think she’s now amazing. She has found her voice, which is her voice.”

Hillary Clinton Says Donald Trump Is Supplying ISIS With 'New Propaganda'

Hillary Clinton invoked the five Sullivan brothers -- the most famous fallen World War II heroes in Waterloo, Iowa -- at her town hall gathering today on the subject of leadership, saying they "acted with resolve, not fear."
Clinton then transitioned to Donald Trump, whose name was met by boos, saying "he does traffic in prejudice and paranoia" by calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
"It's not only shameful, it's dangerous," Clinton said of Trump's rhetoric, telling the crowd of 400 that it "runs counter to what I and others who actually have been in the [White House] Situation Room, making hard choices, know we have to do. We have to enlist help from American Muslims, Muslims around the world in defeating the radical jihadists and the hateful ideology they represent."

Clinton said the vast majority of Muslims "here and abroad are on our side of the fight," and that we should be working with them to combat ISIS. The former secretary of state said Donald Trump is instead supplying ISIS "with new propaganda." Clinton didn't target Trump alone -- she said other GOP candidates are guilty of playing into the hands of terrorists as well.
"Their language may be more veiled -- less, you know, dramatic -- but their ideas aren’t so different," Clinton said at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center. "This is a fight we have to win. And I intend to do everything I can because it is a fight against a brutal enemy who twists a religion, Islam, to justify mass murder."
The five Sullivan brothers, who in part inspired the Academy Award-winning film "Saving Private Ryan," served together on the USS Juneau in WWII and died when their ship was struck by a Japanese torpedo fired from a submarine and sank. Clinton opened and closed her prepared remarks touching on their bravery and telling the crowd that it's okay to be afraid.
"There is no reason not to be afraid. When bad things happen it does cause anxiety and fear. But then you pull yourself together and especially if you wanna be a leader of our country," said Clinton.
After criticizing the Republican frontrunner, Clinton said that now is the time for us to come together "defend ourselves, take on this struggle."
In addition to talking about the Republican field and keeping our nation safe, Clinton highlighted her manufacturing plan after visiting the Waterloo company Cedar Valley TechWorks, which is home the largest 3-D sand-mold printer in the world.
Clinton also talked about her corporate tax loophole push, accusing powerful corporations of gaming the system. Clinton specifically cited the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which she says has "created new drugs with help from federally funded drug research," adding that "corporations don't need a tax break, you do."
Pfizer recently announced a merger with Allergen and that it would move its headquarters to Ireland, where Allergen is based. This would significantly lower the company's tax rate. Clinton opposed this merger last month, and this new "exit tax" she is proposing would apply to it.

Go To College Music Video (with FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA!)

Michelle Obama raps: Go to college

By Deena Zaru

First lady Michelle Obama dropped some rhymes in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of a college education, joining "Saturday Night Live" star Jay Pharoah in the "Got to College" comedy rap music video released by College Humor.
    The video is filmed throughout the White House, as FLOTUS sings and raps with Pharoah.
    "South side Chicago we all know we had to do overtime every night to make it tomorrow and everyone could really make their dream true," FLOTUS raps. "Hey kid, listening in Michigan that could be you."
    The video is part of the "Better Make Room" campaign launched by the first lady's Reach HigherInitiative targeting 14-19-year-olds "to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university."
    While this may be the first lady's first full-on rap debut, Obama is no stranger to singing and dancing.
    Noting her talents, famed Barack Obama impersonator and YouTube star Iman Crosson -- known by his stage name Alphacat -- asked FLOTUS "How many calories do you burn every time you 'turn up'?!"

    The first lady responded with a Vine of her own posted by the White House that went viral.

    Holding up an actual turnip, the first lady bobs her head to Lil Jon's hit "Turn Down for What" and says "Turnip for what?" referencing the famous lyrics.

    Video - Is there evidence of Trump-Clinton conspiracy?

    Video - President Obama Meets with the President of Israel ( Dec 9, 2015 )

    Video - President Obama and the President of Israel Speak at the White House Hanukkah Reception ( Dec 9, 2015 )

    Pashto Music - Sitara Nawabi - Ashna Ta Da Para

    Russia considers going to war with ISIS in Afghanistan after terrorist militants invade country

    Russia is "very seriously" considering going to war with Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, it has been revealed.The proposed action was revealed by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at a press conference this morning.She told reporters: "The Russian Federation says that it is necessary to consider the scenario of preventing terrorist threats over Afghanistan very seriously." Russian forces began bombing ISIS targets in Syria, as well as the Free Syrian Army and other rebel fighters in September. Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, is a supporter of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. However this move would see Russia stretch its military reach beyond war-torn Syria, into the troubled region of Afghanistan where ISIS fighters are said to be recruiting members of the Taliban. Mrs Zakharova also continued Russia's war of words with Turkey after a fighter jet attacking Syria was shot down by Turkish forces, claiming that the Su-24 plane was in its airspace. The spokeswoman denied allegations from Turkish officials that Russia is carrying out "ethnic cleansing" in Syria.Instead, Mrs Zakharova hit back at what she claimed was Turkey's "reckless steps and provocative actions". Yesterday Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the incident on November 24, which resulted in the death of a Russian pilot, gave grounds for war. However Russia decided against "symmetrical response". Mr Medvedev told a Russian TV station: "What did 20th-century countries used to do in a similar situation? A war began."That was a direct assault on a foreign state. In the present situation a war is the worst what could happen. "That’s why a decision was taken not to give a symmetrical answer to what the Turks had done."Yet we had to make them understand they’re going to hold responsibility for their actions. "Exactly for that reason and for the safety of our citizens the relevant decisions were taken."

    Kandahar attack: Bloody Taliban assault on airport overshadows Afghanistan peace talks

    James Bennett

    A Taliban attack on a key Afghan military airfield has left dozens dead and cast a shadow over Afghanistan's security and its relationship with neighbouring Pakistan.
    As Afghan president Ashraf Ghani headed to a peace summit, Taliban insurgents were using the cover of darkness to mount an attack on the airfield at Kandahar, in his country's south.
    "Fifty of our innocent countrymen, including 10 soldiers, two policemen and 38 civilians, were martyred in the attack," the Defence Ministry said in a statement, adding that 37 others were wounded.
    According to one Afghan army commander, 14 attackers, four wearing suicide vests, breached the outer perimeter of the compound, which is home to both Afghan and NATO forces.
    The incident is a major embarrassment for the Afghan security forces who were supposed to have secured the area.

    Families used as human shields

    Witnesses said the militants had taken families hostage, using them as "human shields" after storming the sprawling complex, and slowing down the military's clearance operation.
    "The fighting started around 6:00pm [Tuesday, local time] and intensified over the night," 30-year-old university student Izatullah, who lives inside the complex, said.
    "Soldiers were calling on Taliban attackers to let women and children go, but the attackers declined. We could hear children screaming during the fighting."
    The Afghan defence ministry on Wednesday evening said nine insurgents had been gunned down, one was injured and another was still holed up inside a building.
    "Unfortunately during the battle, 37 innocent Afghans were killed and 35 others injured," the ministry added.
    The militants managed to breach the first gate of the high-security air field and took up position in an old school building, engaging security forces in fierce firefights.
    The Taliban posted a picture on their website of the militants it said were involved in the brazen attack.
    It shows 10 young men sporting trimmed beards, Kalashnikovs and identical military uniforms.
    The face of one of them is obscured with blue ink for reasons that were not revealed.
    "The martyrdom seekers ... entered Kandahar airbase undetected ... and began thunderous attacks," the post said.
    It claimed the assailants reported via telephone that some 80 Afghan and foreign forces had been killed and 13 armoured carriers destroyed.
    The insurgents are regularly known to exaggerate battlefield claims.

    'Enemies of Afghanistan are the enemies of Pakistan': Sharif

    Local commanders have reportedly said they intercepted militants communicating in Urdu, commonly spoken in neighbouring Pakistan.
    "Most of the time, the insurgents, they are coming from Pakistan to Afghanistan," said Samim Kharpalwak, the Kandahar governor's spokesman. "This is the problem."
    Afghanistan has long accused its neighbour of providing safe haven to Taliban insurgents, who have been mounting an increasing number of attacks since most foreign forces left Afghanistan last year.
    The militants briefly seized the northern city of Kunduz two months ago, prompting US president Barack Obama to defer a further troop reduction.
    Many analysts say the increase in violence is also a result of confirmation in July that Taliban commander Mullah Omar had been killed, creating a power vacuum.
    As a result, peace talks had collapsed, and the Kandahar attack coincided with an attempt to revive them, as regional leaders met in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
    As the gun battles continued across the border, Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif pledged cooperation.
    "Afghanistan is a sovereign state and international community fully respects its sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.
    "The democratically elected government in Afghanistan is the only legitimate authority in the country in accordance with its unanimously-adopted constitution.
    "Enemies of Afghanistan are the enemies of Pakistan."
    It was a sentiment Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani welcomed.
    "There was considerable uncertainty whether Pakistan would truly acknowledge a sovereign Afghan state, with its legitimate government and its legitimate constitution," he said.
    "Your words today have gone a very long way to assure us in this regard and that opens up the possibility of a sustained dialogue among us."
    But not only does this latest attack signal the continued opposition to peace amongst some insurgents, its reputed links to Pakistan are sure to place doubt in Afghan officials' minds about their neighbour's willingness or ability to crack down on them.

    UK: Christians stage a rally in favour of a Pakistani persecuted by Muslims for converting to Christianity

    Christians from all over UK, assembled in Bradford to express support for the persecuted Pakistani Christian who had converted from Islam.

    According to details, hundreds of Christians from all over UK, amassed at the Bradford Town Centre, on December 5, Saturday, in order to show solidarity with Nisar Hussain, a Pakistani who had converted to Christianity from Islam.
    Nissar Hussain, who had converted to Christianity in 1996, along with his wife Kubra and brought up his five children as Christians. Despite living in the UK, the family is facing severe persecution from Muslim family members and Muslim neighbours.

    Nissar and his family are facing persecution since fifteen years, which has left the family in a state of constant trauma. They are made to face verbal abuses from their neighbours who are bent on driving them away from the neighbourhood.
    A recent episode of his prolonged sufferings occurred on November 17, when two unknown assailants attacked him, while beating him severely with a cricket bat. Nisar Hussain was left severely injured with a fractured knee cap and a hand. He has been singled out on and off by Muslims for quitting Islam and embracing Christianity.

    Nisar Hussain who has been facing this reprisal from Muslims because of converting to Christianity, from Shiite Muslim faith. He says that he is believed to be an apostate by his former family and Muslim neighbourhood. Only during the course of 2014, his car’s windscreen was smashed about six times, by unknown assailants. Moreover, his eldest son, who is student of final year in medical college, has had his car’s windscreen smashed once.

    Apart form Christians, people from other faiths also assembled at the Bradford Town Centre. British Pakistani Christian Association organized this rally in collaboration with Muhammad Fayyaz who himself is a convert to Christianity from Islam.

    However, Kubra wife of Nisar Hussain, his eldest son and the youngest daughter participated in this rally. Nissar Hussain could not attend this rally owing to his sever injuries from which he has not recovered fully.

    “My family and I are humbled by the response of the British public. We now know we are not alone and thank everyone for their support, prayers and campaigning. I am sorry I could not join the peace rally but I was there in spirit and pray that this small action might bring a change in our situation,” Nissar Hussain said.

    - See more at: